“Of Angered Gods/ Merci, Bismarck” by Babatunde Fagbayibo

Merci, Bismarck + Of Angered Gods


Of Angered Gods

Daily, in ones, twos, … multitudes,
we engage in that which
denigrates
defies
denies
our source. We negate that which
ordained our nativity, acting like ours was
a blank past – with no names, no thoughts,
no passion, no colour.

And yet we ask: Why are the
gods angry?
Loudly, and in hushed tones,
we probe:
What happens to a river
that forgets its source? Does it dry up,
or flow aimlessly?

Since we still exist,
we conclude that the gods have rather laid
the latter curse on us, to flow aimlessly.
For our present has neither definable pattern nor
discernible rhythm. Our roads have diverged into
innumerable routes, making progression
a futile exercise.

And will we ever approach the gods,
to seek penitence? Not only for our
sins but those of our fathers and mothers?
We shudder,
for the response is one we are
not prepared to digest and implement.
A silent response that screams genuine
acknowledgement.

So we persist. We
continue to anger the gods.
Silently hoping that one day,
the anger of the gods will expire.


Merci, Bismarck

‘Ich bin ein Berliner’
we proclaim in deeds.
Berlin is our root, the motherland (and fatherland!).
We are the true Berliners
for the city is the foundation of
our ‘reality’.

Thank you, Bismarck
for without your ingenuity,
we’d not be Africans.
For without your proactive gesture,
we’d not understand the art of nationalism.

Obrigado, Bismarck
for these frontiers.
They hurt so much, but we love them.
They say they are artificial lines
but we don’t care.
These lines are the guarantors of our (in)sanity.
We need these lines to help keep the other out –
Kwerekweres … bloody foreigners …
Yes they are black; yes they claim to be ‘Africans’,
but that shouldn’t be our problem.
They must not despoil the sanctity of these beloved
lines.
We shall continue to stop them – bloody foreigners.
We don’t want to offend the gods of Berlin,
who gave you the divine wisdom to create these lines.
They must go back to their own lines.

Oh Bismarck, Merci beaucoup
for without you
French, English, Portuguese …
would have remained foreign languages.
Now we speak these languages so well.
It does magic to our egos … it gives us swagger.
Do we care whether or not our ancestors understand
these languages?
NO.
Let them learn it in the land of the dead.
For nothing shall take away these beautiful, sophisticated
lingua francae from our tongues.

Many, many thanks Bismarck
for without your divine logic
our leaders would have created a
United States of Africa (?!).
What an affront to your memory!
Sacrilegious!
Anyway,
you’d be content to know that
they are even more Berliner than the rest of us
since all they do is talk, talk, talk …

Bismarck,
We shall replace you with our ancestors.
We shall sacrifice goats, cows, chickens …
we shall pour libation.
We need not erect physical statutes or
name, roads and bridges after you
You’re already ingrained in our psyche
For every action against unity is a tribute
to your legacy.
Long live Bismarck!


Babatunde Fagbayibo (@babsfagbayibo) teaches international law, and has keen interest in African affairs. His poems have been published on Kalahari Review, LitMag, LitNet and will soon appear in Aerodome. He blogs at Rethinking Africa.