wordings of the soul

Farewell Stranger By Iloh Onyekachi

POSTED 07/04/2018 20:18
2763 Reads Farewell Stranger By Iloh Onyekachi, Poetry on Tushstories
(for Independence Day, 1960)

It is a good thing; a thing of joy
that the stranger has been sent away from our midst
and we the sons of the soil should talk, break the kola
and commune with our fathers freely

We once shared our hut with a stranger
and he ruined our harvest joys and
we became strangers, he made us speak
like children to their mother

When a guest is in the house
our tones are hushed and defined
not out of modesty, but out of fear
a fear of the seen and unknown

The land too speaks in hushed tones
the lowing of the cattle is filled with anguish
the whispers of the wind filled with regret
and our village square filled with longing

For our feet which have kept home
for fear of the stranger who sits
under our roof and calls it wretched
and his stick that smokes like Amadioha*

But brother, tell me what should be done
when our kinsmen with whom we should tell him
“woe, be gone!” have kept mute
because he leaves them leftovers

This stranger...No! He is no stranger
(his face and vices are now familiar like the sun)
now commands us on how to run our hut
ha! The child in the womb is pregnant

Now the stranger is gone
and we shall chastise our brothers who out of greed
sold for a derelict calabash of customs their birthright
thereby forfeiting the taste of harvest joys

The war is won and we have lowered our machetes
And with one pair of eyes behold the sun
who has raised his blazing crown of glory
in our many skies

Long before a faint comet zoomed
the white man’s pitch dark sky
and we shall not forget especially
The prodigal sons of the soil
who traded their head for a cap
and went hunting rats while their father’s hut
fell to the earth in foul disintegration.

*an Igbo god of thunder

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