Obakki kede Otino

You are the paramount chief

The high clergy of our people

Tell us, then, the source of your wisdom

“It is the free abandon of a child

She laughs, knowing not her poverty

She runs, knowing nothing of honor

She climbs, knowing the mango is ripe

Did you expect to come here seeing suffering?

We did not intend to become like you

We had not asked for these schools

Have you ever danced naked?

Do so, then tell me you learned nothing

Your hospitals have brought many afflictions

Our mothers once cut us open

Pouring the millet brew in the proper place

Yelling only in ululation, never in pain

When the children were so many

And passing on land became toilsome

Our wives digested their herbs

And we played sex without concern of tomorrow

Before you brought offices and titles

The elders would rise before the sun

Scattering earth upon itself

Until the night fire called us home

And the goats crowded us in delight

We would drink and dance and share our stories

Finally sleep would find us

But that was before you trapped our spirits in boxes

We knew every name from one hill and forest to the next

But our people now pass by one another in great haste

On the backs of foreign animals

Our hamlets are islands

Their outer lands, the waterways

Suitable only for moving, not for digging

So our wisdom lasts a moment

Just as a child lasts a moment before it matures

Our wisdom has become like wind

It once stood firmly in these plains

But now that you have come

It blows where it pleases.”


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