Breaking the Igbo Kola Nut

God our tryst maker
Our lover and He who knows all
Chineke m, ke bi nigwe!
Maker of the Universe
He whom fetches water with a basket
To disgrace the bucket
He who whips us with one hand
And consoles us with the other
He who stills a raging sea
He who made the Kola nut
The King of all foods!
We come to You, our maker
We break the Kola nut
Before You, maker of the Kola
The food that never fills the stomach
But it is the King of all food!
We have the Cassava and the Yam
But the Kola is the King of all food
It is not eaten with Palm oil
It is not pounded on mortar
Nor stewed in a dish of porridge
It is not meshed in meat or fish
It stands alone, all alone
Like the Iroko in the forest!
It is not food for children
But this food is for men!
Our farms shall be fruitful
Our children more fruitful
Our streams shall have fish
And our forests shall have vegetables
The heat of the sun won’t scorch us to death
The pain of pregnant women
Shall become a joy in the morning
The clouds shall water our gardens
We shall eat of our sweat
Make us contented with what we have
You have given us the yam
You have also given us the knife to cut it

Learn the Igbo language here.

Let the moon shine when she must
Let the Sunshine when she must
Let the wind bring us good tidings
And let us see many smiles
On the faces of all in the hamlet
Let the Eagle perch
Let also the Kite perch
Any that forbids the other from perching
Let his wings break!
If one seeks downfall for us
Let such befall those people
Let not our enemies hostile light burn us
We shall have our children as the Hebrew women
Our children shall have their own
And our children’s children
We break the Kola!
Iri di nwata na okenye nma!

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I wrote this poem some time ago. I had found it necessary to revise and edit some lines of the piece, seeing that tradition is something dynamic. I seek to share a bit of my African culture. The Igbo is a South Eastern Nigerian tribe, an enterprising nation situated on the Niger Delta of Nigeria. As a growing kid some
decades ago, I have witnessed Igbo Kola breaking
traditions- a series of cultural rituals performed more like prayers. It’s typically used to welcome visitors, especially at festivities.

Line 3: Chineke m, ke bi nigwe: Igbo language for My God who lives in Heaven.
Line 55: iri di nwata na okenye nma! Igbo for food good for both the young and elderly
Study Questions.
1. What are the figures of speech present in the poem?
2. Discuss the imagery.
3. Would you classify this as a traditional poem? Why?

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