By Nana Fredua-Agyeman

In memory of Ken Saro-Wiwa

(Only the weak fight with Guns)


Between the cockroach and the cock
All disputes are settled with a peck.You eat the gods’ sacrifice
And you owe them twice;
No crow to bring you kernels
No stone to crack them;
The pigeons’ pinions are wet
Their legs tied to their nests.

Pocket torn
Stomach churning

Maize farms yielding swallow-birds
Thieves singing praises for their daily bread
They sow not: reap the lot
My eyes dry…cries high
I see a light
It shines not from the sun
I know not the time
The place?

Keep pace with me
Know my face
Erase every trace of this message
From your conscience
From your system
From your soul …transient images in a whirling thought;
I did no wrong
They said,
I am a threat Sudden lights…callous slaps
Metal doors…padlocks
Lost …found
Seeking internal peacecrush


A priest…a patriot…a threat perhaps
Depends on who’s asking;
Thousand five hundred years
First logical payment
How many times have virtues not lost?

Stomach whining
Pocket torn

Rodents snuggling in the arms of the cassava farm
Pots of maize ready to trap their fruiting greed
They sow not: reap the lot.
The pregnant ceiling
To deliver its conception
Unto my torrid throat.
My blanket is sodden
My warmth is trodden
In turns in the dreary den;
Heard it through the wind
Her tears tortured my heart
Her cries torched my mind. I did no wrong
They said,
I am a threat
Courtrooms…paid attorneys
Ignorant jury…false witnesses
Greased judges…strange charges
Guilty verdict…Death Sentence:A threat to the fattening apes
A havoc wrecker
Just try and uncover a bin of sin
Especially if the can of worms
Is lodged firmly in the fish’s head.


Are my people still dying?
Hmm…better be quiet
Today they have my pen
In the morrow my tongue
Or mercifully still my mind;
Who said the pen is mightier?
What if you’re a fatuous imbecile?…or even a dumb amputee?
Or a frog against the cobra? But Galileo Galilee died
And Socrates
And Christ;
After all what is a mosquito
On a dead man’s toe?

Pocket torn
Stomach turning

I only asked why
When I should’ve applauded
And be a quiet celebrant Of Ananias’ wealth—Partaker of the sold lands;
I asked why When I could’ve said:“Wow!
What a beauty”
When I could’ve hitchhiked
To our village’s junction
Walk the rest of the million miles
Swim the remaining thousand with smiles
To my tribesmen
And say to them
With the pride
Of a dying cockroach:“I saw it first.”
But foolishly I asked why! I did no wrong
They said,I am a threat Courtrooms…journalists
The traitor…the Devil

A havoc wrecker
A threat to the milk cows
An anomaly to be corrected
A disease to be cured
A stain to be cleanedA parasite to be pruned.


I can’t shut up!
It would tantamount to betrayal
I would be the loser;It is not for nothing that the roach
Puts up a fight against the nursing hen
The clouds are getting darker
Death is imminentI won’t surrender
No!Not ever!

Stomach thundering
Pocket torn

I only saw barrels of our boiling blood

Being exchanged for fleets of Royce
Besides there are no roads to our village
And no bridges over the river
So I asked why?
A simple, harmless, monosyllabic ‘why’! I did no wrong They said,I am a threat
Then…Green uniforms…thick phalanx
Mob attack…numerous slaps
Darkness…unconsciousness So I know
Never ask When it’s clear


The second payment
Bullets buried in the heart
I would want nothing
To be engraved on the tombstone
Of your mind’s mind…the cove of gory remnants
(Though I would have noneIn the hearts of the wicked and the weak)
But my deeds and your needs;
None to weep! Lest we die;
Tell Papa Not to sleep but to ask them why
The road to our village is still not there
Nor the bridge over the river
Though they’ve slaughtered His only son on the penal altar;
Tell Papa to tell them
That our children still crack nuts
Under the seasonless almond tree
They still die young of nothing but empty stomachs filled fully with stones
They should tell them…
That though a bird flies in the air
It feeds from the ground
Where its feathers fall after death;
That the benevolent gods of our land
Are counting the timeless days
Hovering in their breaths…The clay
Left in their bones and blood and bodies;
That never is it absolute or final in itself
The triumph of the wicked;
That soon, always soon, truth
Like the seedling of the Odum tree
The smell of wine
The air we breathe…
Overcomes falsehood As Good overcomes Evil;
That what Evil fears most
Is the resolve of the weak
And ours is the sea,
The heavens
The village’s gods
Our hearts…its needs
Our lives…its very soul
Our unshakable will to succeed: Our resolve is them.
Another would come after me
Who has been enlivened
To ask why From…Zion
They’re no more.

Copyright by Nana Fredua-Agyeman