Across swollen waters
To you, thousands of us were
Pieces of wood, tusks, brass
To tickle the fancies of heartless merchants and enablers of violence
But you were wrong.
A heist of brass and wood and ivory
Murderous desecration of our revered palace
Over a hundred years and you are yet to nod in sleep
Slowly your crimes sought you out.
Secured in mounted cells I wonder
What you learn when you grope my bloodless frame
In contrived musings in citadels of stealing
Knowing you cannot know me on the altars of twisted history?
Awestruck at the loving work of ancestral masters
You derided them
Vilified cultures of justice
Burnt, smashed, and plundered all night
Setting off before cockcrow
You couldn’t imagine that akukor
Will still crow years after entombment in your armoured cases
Thousands of market days ago
I was denied regal splendour of ethical multiversities
In the ancient kingdom where thieving was strictly outlawed
Who would dare the gods to be a thief?
Wrapped in the cloak of darkness,
Hopeless but trying to escape the spite
Of a society run on honour and love
To you everything was game
To you everything is game
With power you assumed the right to plunder
With might your imperial right to grab
Obnoxious culture grab!
In awful sheets
Hidden below bloodied boards
Swung across stormy waves
The raucous joy of receiving stolen blood
Shocked me for over 120 years until
I heard the shout Bring Home our Life!
Give me freedom
Don’t loan me to my home
Let me escape those dreadful eyes
Those stares and whispering pierced my soul
The sheer wildness and aloofness of false connoisseurs
Scheming wretched plans to disembowel my essence
My worth isn’t on being on your pedestal
Send me home!
Ancestors did not cast me to be a spectacle
By me we spoke to generations long born and gone
And generations yet unborn
The flashing of the eben
The slashing of the ada
All spoke volumes as we celebrated life and cautioned against evil
Send me home!
Oh, that I may be touched by blessed clay
Oh, that my king may look at me and hear
The rhythms of the past
And warn against the madness of plunder