BY MICHAEL AFENFIA

If there is any venture I love to embark on from time to time – as much as it is within my capacity, it has to be helping young creatives attain the peak of their potentials.

From the number of years I have been involved in creative writing and the encounters I have had with young people, I have no doubt that Nigeria is blessed with several immensely talented people who are capable of becoming world-beaters. That is by no means an exaggeration – success stories that attest to this abound around us.

This is why recently, riding on the wave of the xenophobic attacks in South Africa against fellows Africans, I asked young Nigerian writers to unleash their creative side and let the world know how exactly they felt—and likely still feel—about the treatment meted to other Africans on our own continent.

The winning entry would get a cash prize. And yes, as with the other contests I had organised in the past, the quantity and quality of entries surpassed expectations. The quality was so topnotch that arriving at only one winning entry of the impressive lot was a tough call. But, of course, the judges were well aware of their duties and proved themselves to be up to the task.

A young man by name, Ubaji Isiaka Abubakar Eazy, with an entry titled “Write a Poem” emerged tops. So, today, I bring you Ubaji’s winning entry in which he voices his views against xenophobia!

Enjoy!

Write a poem
They tell me
Write of the horror and animosity
Be our voices and let them be heard
As we fall to our death impaled with stones,
Knives, and planks wielded by our assailants.
Write a poem
They urge me
A creative should know not silence
When barricaded by the wall of cruelty.
Write a poem
Let the muse sing
Tell the tale of brothers killing brothers
While gleefully pilfering their property.
Write a poem
Tell that story of how the monkey
Rescued the lion from a trap hole
Only for it to turn around
And tag the monkey its food.

Write a poem
I am told
Remind them the legacy of Madiba
Ask them how…
How does one soon don the garb
Of the monster he once fought against?
Write a poem
They tell me
But I look on quietly, flummoxed and dazed
My hand neither knows where to start
Nor where to end this horrific tale
My blood is infused with wonder
How does one explain this curse of Cain?
Apologies please, my ink is frozen
And wants not to write this sad tale.



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