Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tribute: Ken Saro Wiwa (1941-1995)

It is me against Dutch Shell---no it is us
Me and my kins our district raped

Black gold brook through these infinite canals
And our babies are famished turmoil swayed
As mace --- the soil is barren like desert sands
Abacha laughs his face hidden as we grumbled
Behind slashed overfed cheeks and wall of shades
While me and my people to the clouds wail

We eat smog so the engines
Of Brussels and Detroit dart our votes silenced

It is me against Dutch Shell --- no it is us
I pursue the pen and a naked soul exposed

And an ample unlock jaws part for answers
That bay to be heeded beside this Dutch that dished
Our hopes --- is it spurious that I hike and swims
In the way of the great one who toiled?
In the name of the Mahatma who thump an empire this
I say bring the gibbet and I stay it with smiles untied

I embraced the Greek walking in his foot steps
Let me go to a cold interment but we shall win as the wind

It is me against Dutch Shell ---no it is us
Even here to these stones here I shall not be rested

My voice from these slabs --- let my Ogoni people persists
Their quarrels like pepper birds --- crying he was the son of the land
He fought well like the great Chaka what is
Death but respite let me enter this soil in this Niger Delta and
It intertwines with me --- the land as it revel my skeletons
The chattels of my fathers from there still wounded

Speak I shall --- watched still these dire lethal flames
That flares the open skies the Dutch untouched

It is me against Dutch Shell ---no it is us
Now tell me pretty pardon the felony arraigned

That I taunts and howls for humanity’s sake ---oh bogus!
That my people are fettered in their own house and
The toxins the Dutch feeds them are wares
My people guzzle benzene it corrupts their crops bid
Them cancer---it eats their livers I see their lingering stares
Yea I am still Ken Saro Wiwa, the Okonkwo of the Delta

The Ogoni prince, the fearless warrior, I am him all this relay
I shall never go away even bind here with them I fight*

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

No Shame Here

By Ralph Geeplay

Jewel Howard Taylor is still furious three years later since President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf turned over her husband, oh her her ex husband Charles Taylor to the international community for persecution. Apparently, she has hidden her venom well, or has confided privately to others until Sirleaf published her book (HarperCollins) last month, “This Child Will Be Great." In her memoir, Sirleaf detailed the hand over process of Charles Taylor and her now sour relations with Mrs. Taylor, the Bong County Senator. Jewel recent brief interview with the FrontPage Africa internet based news magazine showed her disapproval. Her interview was interesting, if anything to say the least.

Jewel is reasoning, however abstrusely crafted is that she had a pact with Johnson Sirleaf during the ensuing Liberia second round presidential election in 2005, that in return for her support, if Sirleaf won the presidential election she would consult 'Jewel' before turning the blood thirsty Charles Taylor over for prosecution. To top it off, she called Charles Taylor a hero and warned he could still win the Liberian presidency if he contested the Liberian presidency today. While her interview draws a crackling laughter, her statement should not have gone un-noticed and unchallenged in a society still reeling from the wounds Taylor inflicted on the Liberian people and the West African sub region. In any other sane democracy her comments would have been denounced on the senate floor and a fledging civil society would have demanded her apology for her freakish humor. But no, she gets a pass!

There is also a freezing disdain when Mrs. Taylor suggests that bye gones must be bye gones especially when the issue of Charles Taylor, his National Patriotic Party and Front are broached in the public square. Apparently, her connubial love affair with him has blinded and placed her an active zealot in his defense while we lick our sores from his whips. To list the crimes Taylor committed against the helpless and innocent while he headed his rebel movement and the Liberian government is mind blowing. The jury is out on many of his associates and the recent conviction of Charles Taylor Jr. in U.S. courts attests that no matter how long a truth is crushed, it will rare its fine head

Public officials like Jewel must not have a faltering tongue because of the impending hurt and damage and the insensitivity that their statements could potentially have on the people they seek to govern. It therefore becomes another miserable day in Liberia and the accepted littleness of her vision as a leader when she neither sees the pain and suffering Liberians endured while Taylor was rebel leader and president. It makes all the more no sense either that she enjoys remunerations given to her by tax payers. Her only regret for divorcing him, she claims was his promiscuity, as she puts it “he had plenty women,” ignoring his many crimes and vices.

Charles Taylor who disgracefully declared himself the most ‘mischievous’ Liberian of his time in a press conference he gave as president was probably the most accurate self painted portrait of the man!

Upon chance reflection, everyone knows that Taylor is probably the worse leader Liberia has had since the foundation of country as a nation state in the 1800s. He wasn’t only content with dehumanizing his own people, but his territorial ambition in search of precious stones and wealth, and to obtain them at any cost led him to cruelly hacked innocent Serra Leoneans limbs, invading neighboring Guinea and meddling in the Ivory Coast. All this because Charles Taylor wanted to be the man, ignoring Liberian unique place as Africa’s first independent country and a non align nation that helped foster the creation of the United Nations and a signatory to many international conventions and treaties. Such views as espoused by Jewel are therefore antagonistic to the values that informed an open society where its leaders must responsibly articulate a public agenda that fosters peace, reconciliation and national development.

But Mrs. Taylor is on record several times bemoaning the personal loss of the dictator. Her excuse is that they have children. Does it surprise anyone why Sirleaf wants no part of her? It came as no surprise, when Mrs. Taylor led a well publicized prayer service for her husband last year, many bowing their heads in shame. How the people of Bong County continue to endorsed Mrs. Taylor and remained silent while she represents their interest in the Liberian congress says a lot about Liberian politics today. It is anything goes once you show up to work everyday well attired and attached the title Honorable Senator to your given name. But at least Jewel deserves tons of commendation for coming out and expressing her views in the open for all to see and hear. At least we now know what the inner cycle within the NPP still thinks: That Taylor is still electable and that he is a hero. To whom we still don’t know, but at best these are fools dream.

The elections that the NPP won in 1997 were to put it mildly a verdict that the Liberian people were tired of running and a response to Taylor’s burly threats that he would resume fighting if he was not handed the Executive Mansion. The Liberian people by their actions sought the protection of their own interest and he betrayed it. And who can forget the catching phrase “Above All Else The People!” This must have steroid a lot of people today, that Liberian politics is so sordid that despite their past actions they are still electable, that their actions in the past are not what determines our interest as electorates. Wrong! The Liberian electorate is becoming more sophisticated and ever more informed to vote their bread and butter issues while protecting their interest and the image of the country from the cabals who mercilessly preyed on them when time was against them. Times have changed. Hasn’t it?

But Liberia is a by-product of itself and with time it will self correct. The moral dictates that informs any society and its politics are linked to the socio-economic fiber that grouped its people; we have had a trouble history and still continue to do. We in this generation since the guns went silent must fight for ideals and truths as we moved from one cycle to another, and along the way the bad apples must drop from the tree and find their proper place while justice prevail. A retort to Mrs. Taylor in a classic Liberian expression would come something like this: Damn, the woman ain’t gat no shame yah!