Nsogbu*, came knocking at our door
With open arms we welcomed him
Into the sacred heart of our obi*
It is said, an only palm kernel doesn’t get lost in the hearth
What happens when it entertains neighbours in its flame?
How then will the owner distinguish his own?
Shall we continue to roast in our own charcoal?
Anyanwu*, can’t you see how dark our sky has become?
Nri* would have challenged its chi* to a wrestling contest
But she has no strength left to put up a fight
Her wings are like the petals of a wilted hibiscus
There is no difference between her beak and body
These gods are gourmands; always thirsty for libation and hungry for
They too are to blame, for while they feasted
Hawks preyed on their subjects, who were helpless like motherless chicks
I see the empty stalk, sucked limp off its nectars
Oh, dry bones in this valley skirted by fleshy mountains
Shall evenly rise against the odds
Just like thick smoke of oblation ascending to the heavens from Amadioha’s* shrine
Not even the deities of gravity can curb your ascension
At the sound of the agogo*, let it be declared
That the fallen iroko isn’t dead, he was only asleep
Kukuruku!* It’s time to wake up. Arise!
And fill the forest with your rejuvenated presence
Lions will bark, dogs will roar
The eagle will walk, while the ostrich soar
Blind eyes will speak and deaf ears will see
Let the eze-mmuo* conjure the distant gods
For the new dawn shall take them by
Our mouths shall chorus new songs
Under the yellow smile of the full moon
Shall we sit in harmony sharing tales
Of exploit and collective bravery
Oh, Ojadili!* Thou man of insurmountable valour
Fearless like Jaja of Opobo*
Bring the calabash of palm-wine
On Eke* we shall dance to the chiming rhythm of the ogene*
Throb our feet to the percussions from the ekwe* and udu*
Intoxicating tunes from the oja* shall get us drunk
Celebration we must, for the victory to be won
The kola nut understands all dialects
Listen and share this language of hope with us
May its taste never get sour in our mouths… ise!*
Translations of Igbo words (in asterisk)used in the poem
1. Nsogbu means trouble or problem.
2. Obi is like a small hut or house specially reserved for the head of the family in traditional Igbo society.
3. Anyawu means eyes of the sun and is also a form of deity in the traditional Igbo cosmology.
4. Nri is a mythical bird, folklore has it that it once challenged its chi (god) to a battle after having too much to eat.
5. Chi means personal god or deity.
6. Amadioha is the deity of thunder.
7. Agogo is a local gong mostly used by town-criers to create awareness when delivering a message.
8. Kukuruku is the sound made by a crowing cock.
9. Eze-mmuo means a chief priest who consults the gods on behalf of the community.
10. Ojadili is a folklore hero said to be a great warrior who fought and conquered deities in the land of the spirit or supernatural realm.
11. Jaja of Opobo was a nineteenth century king of the Opobo people, south-eastern Nigeria, who was banished into exile by the then colonial British government because of his defiance.
12. Eke is the first market day in the traditional Igbo calendar.
13. Ogene is a metallic gong-like musical instrument.
14. Ekwe is a percussion instrument. 15. Udu is a percussion instrument
16. Oja is a traditional flute.
17. Ise! Is an exclamation for agreement in prayers just like amen in Christianity