Because our generation needs a voice

For a girl, whose name we do not know

Screen shot 2014-07-23 at 10.15.54 AMThe news of the discovery and rescue of one of the Chibok girls yesterday brought back to our national psyche, an issue we have, it seems, made a concious effort to forget.

Today, I stumbled upon the new TV ad by TBWA\Paris for GMF, titled “We stand for those who”.  What caught my attention, apart from the beautiful story-telling, was the hauntingly angelic and depressingly beautiful music by none other than Hans Zimmer.  The voices of the choir singing “God Yu Tekkem Laef Blong Mi” suddenly took my mind to the Chibok girls.  I let myself imagine that they were the ones singing.  What if they had never been taken?  What has become of them (the ones that are alive)?  Will we ever see them?

What are their names?

As I pondered on these questions, and for the first time in many months, I was moved to write a poem.  So, here it is: my tribute to these girls who, as far as I am concerned, have been failed by not just the Nigerian State, but by all of us who, to some extent, have forgotten to remember them.

One day they will tell their stories.


For a girl, whose name we do not know.

Deep in the forest of Sambisa
A little girl sits.
Surrounded by the undergrowth of despair,
She blossoms into a young woman –
Her innocence plucked for the pleasure
Of a high priest.
Sacrificed on the altar of religion,
Her scent ascends,
Her faith, a burnt offering –
To the death of a god she once believed in.
This is her testimony.
And if there’s a god above,
She doesn’t care.
Not anymore.
Her lips are patched
From want of new prayers,
Her hopes pierced by a thousand rays
Of many false days.
She embraces the dark and makes it her own.
She is the Queen of the night.
She was born in darkness.
She was stolen in darkness.
She bled in darkness.
Now, she births in darkness.
She is the Queen of the night.
One day, she will tell her story.
She will tell tales of bonfires where her school once stood;
Of bearded men with long-sheared consciences;
Of wide-eyed girls forced into womanhood;
Of a nation deaf to the pleas of its children.
One day, she will tell her story.
But tonight, she fights for survival.
She pushes against hope, a child, to birth.
Her blessed curse.
Her adoring shame.
Her mark of Cain.
A cruel gift from a god she once believed in.
One day she will tell her story.
But tonight, she dies a little more.


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