See how you dance by the river banks
Throwing your green hands up
And swerving to and fro to the airs rhythm
With the suns warmth you waltz
Nodding to the chattering of your pals
When a strong wind comes you wave
Faltering and bowing to the winds grace
Enjoying yet the rough caressing of the airs
So firm your stem look but tender they are
The better half of the day you sit by the riverside
Listening to the talk of the wayside toad;
And his merry kinsmen
As they tell the tales of men and women
Who come to the river by the day
To wash their bodies and their clothes
The little fishes listen too to the tales
Wandering about when all is serene
Scuttling off when a shadow appears before them
But all this while, you stay nodding about
In a fix of dance and amusement


Come this thunder, 1967

Come this thunder
When the nights glitter with explosions
The resemblance of fire-cracker carnivals
And as the rattling for supremacy
Is heard from heartless machine guns
Spewing the seeds of destruction
Upon unfortunate children and men
‘Kwaa-pu kwaa-pu kwaa-pu, unu dum!’
‘Leave here,’ the emissaries of death say
Flying limbs, headless bodies and chaos
Destruction to humanity and justice
But the world stood watching
As children turn pale, clutching
Hungrily to their protuding intestines
No salt, no salt, no salt!
Meanwhile the jets throw their bombs
Murdering defenceless people and clans
The infantry is filled with anger
Bloodthirst, frustration and revenge
And the world watched it all
It was an action packed movie

But let the fowl allow the worm be
No matter how they chose to live
For freedom is deserving to all people
Who desire it wholeheartedly

Line 8: Kwaa-pu kwaa-pu kwaa-pu, unu dum! An Onomatopoiea for the sound of heavy artillery and in Igbo meaning ‘Leave here, leave there, leave here, all of you!’

For the Biafran babies and Christopher Okigbo

Learn Igbo language here.