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Africa Africa, Poetry and Love culture/tradition education folklore Nature nature poems Nigeria Pastoral Poetry

Poetale: The Nomad

When twilight came
I took a walk, for some air
And down the roadside I went.
There a young man stood
Bearded heavily unlike myself
Throwing corn seeds into his mouth
And grinding them with such relish
That his brown teeth showed off
He stood a little close to my fence
And I decided to go chat with him
He smiled when I came close
He doesn’t look like someone from here
Yes, I seen those tribal marks somewhere
He must be from the North,
Sannu!‘ I hailed
Sannuku!‘ he replied
Eying me carefully
‘Do you wanti some agwado?’
‘No thank you.’ I replied
I saw his garment flow up,
Sailing with the mild breeze
Like a kite on rampage
The dress leaned deep into his flesh
And his muscles exposed
Kai, do you speak Hausa?’ he asked
‘No, very poor in that regard,’ I answered
‘Okay oh,’ he turned to call his cattle
Then I realised he was a shepherd
I relaxed a bit, wearing a new smile
My new friend must have something
To tell me about his travels and animals
He saw my smile and grinned
‘Tell me about your best and worst times,
Of shepherding and your herd’
I started without thinking…
‘My best time is when my herd feed
On a valley full of healthy green grass’
He said in nearly perfect English
‘When the sun is high above the firmament
When cows give birth in the dead night
And when I hear my favourite calf moo,’
He closed his eyes to remember more
‘What about your worst moments?’
It seemed I shoved him back from his dream,
For he suddenly opened his red eyes
And shot a blazing stare at my mouth
‘Why are there wars in Africa?
Why men kill each other?
Why are streams dry
And oceans rising?’
He asked with a frown.
‘I was born into such society
That settle disputes with violence
There’s hate, tribalism and distrust
Tribe against tribe, people against people
And hate is substituted for love…’
He pulled a twig off the long grass
‘How can we live in a society without love,
Without faith and trust for one another?
Why fight and not dialogue to achieve peace?
Why bomb a land already stricken with drought?
And cause lack of food and drinking water?’
The air grew colder…
‘I tell you I have seen things. It is time to go home…’
He said painfully, holding his stick back
‘Well as for my worst moments
I see people suffer, Yes I have
For nothing sake, I hate to see children suffer
And people suffer for other people’s crimes and atrocities
It makes little sense to me but that is the world,
We love and live in. Injustice, inequality, intolerance, ignorance…’
I could see through his pain…
‘It is only love that can save us all,’
He said as his flock gathered together
Tssski-ing, he called them, making a clicking sound from his tongue,
Hanging his long stick and hat behind his back,
He waved heartily and marched off, leading his cattle away,
I realise that the world still have some beauty and good in it


Commentary.
Sannu… Hausa salute
Agwado… Corn in Hausa


The Hausa/Fulani is a tribe spread across West Africa and predominantly in present day Northern Nigeria. They are known for their unique culture, tradition, arts and food.

By Oke Iroegbu

Finance Graduate, Bibliophile and Bard of Ovim, his hometown. Read more at www.oiroegbu.com/about

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