African Verse

 

Absence from Africa

Africa – A Geographical Expression

 

Africa In My Heart

 

Africa’s Rewards

 

Awo

 

Bad, Coarse, Worse Verse

 

Because They Must

 

Biafra: Britain’s Shame

 

The Blacks Get a Nation

 

The Bubble of My Times

Caring For You

 

Catharsis – Crimson, Purple, Black, Blood

 

Coastal Oil and Troubled Waters

 

The Colonial Gauleiters

 

Continental Drift

 

The Diaspora

Due Process

 

Entrapment

 

An Epiphany

 

Exile (A Dagger in the Heart)

 

Going Native

 

Good Morning Africa!

 

The Guarantee

 

Honest Injun: Surprised?

 

I Don’t Care *

 

Ikoyi Bush Telegraph Poetree

Incarceration

 

In Love with Africa

 

In Memoriam

 

It’s the Economy, Stupid!

 

John Locke’s Essential Rebellion in Africa

 

Labour Since 1945: Jerusalem at Home, Holocausts Abroad

 

Lawmaker - Outlaw

 

Lib Lab, Suck Suck

Like HTML

 

Limbo Land

 

Living Dangerously

 

Long Live Nigeria

 

Man of Straw

 

My Brother’s Keeper

 

My Love Walks Tall

 

Nigeria?

 

1968

 

Not Really

 

Orientalism

Our English Friends

 

Our Green Years in Africa

 

The Reunion

 

Self-Censorship: Verso, X, Y, Zed

 

Shadows

 

Tales of the Secret Service

 

This Book Has Fallen

 

Transparency

 

Treason is Sneaky, Via the Rear Entrance

 

We Didn’t Know

 

Whatever Happened to Harold Smith?

 

What Is It?

 

When Britain Ruled in Africa

 

White Man’s Juju

 

Widows and Orphans

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My Brother's Keeper*

 

First they came for the Yoruba, I did not

Speak out because I was not Yoruba

 

When they came for the Ibo, I did not

Speak out because I was not Ibo.

 

When they came for the Ogoni, I did not

Speak out because I was not Ogoni.

 

When they came for the Christians, I did not

Speak out because I was not Christian.

 

When they came for me... There was

No one left to speak out for me.

 

* Paraphrase of Testament by Pastor Niemoeller, who died in a Nazi death camp.

Lagos , 1955-57

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We Didn't Know

 

Eureka ! The white men

Have discovered us!

 

We didn't know we were lost

Till white men brought us baubles.

 

We didn't know we were savages

Till they made us slaves

 

We didn't know black skin

Was ugly, or white skin nice.

 

Or our bodies should be covered, or

That white men lusted for our women,

Or that they envied our unspoiled ways,

Or that their greed for our Africa

Would be insatiable.

 

We didn't know, and our learning curve

Is caked with the blood of our people.

 

Lagos , 1955-60

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White Man's Juju

 

Joel, our African driver pleaded for

A uniform and drove around

In a General's gear and

Policemen saluted.

 

Joel, our driver, slept with

His absent brother's wife, but

Feared the family juju

Might tell all.

 

Joel, our driver, improved English

As he learned its ways, and

Coined 'deparked' as an

Alternative to 'departed'.

 

Joel, our driver, reminded us that

If he had juju, we had

Superstitions. 'Touch wood, master'

He laughed.

 

Joel, our driver, said African

Juju was inferior to the white man's.

African juju might hopefully

Keep children well, but white

Man's juju provided doctors, drugs,

Hospitals, pretty wives, girl friends

Big meals, big houses, big cars.

 

Joel, our driver laughed when we

Denied a white man's juju.

 

Joel, our driver, was clever, wise

And a joy to know.

'Master,' he said. 'Money is

White man's juju.’

 

Lagos , 1955-60

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Widows and Orphans

 

'You're Smith, aren't you?' he queried.

'Yes, that's right,' I replied.

How did he know?

I had parked on the Marina

So I could walk. Better that than the

Lagos afternoon siesta, the little death.

He'd pulled over in a khaki Land Rover.

 

'They're coming for you.

Get our now before they kill you.'

'Who...?' I began.

'I'm attached to the Secretariat.'

 

MI5 or 6? A spark of thought -

The Governor General had said

He'd have me killed.

 

'It could be you?' I asked.

'Get away immediately!' he ordered

And turned away.

'They've cancelled my

Widows and Orphans' entitlement,' I said.

'They're coming for you.' He repeated,

'Get out now!' and drove away.

 

I felt suddenly cool although

There was no breeze.

 

Lagos , 1960 

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Shadows

 

'Your story is dynamite,'

Said the Shadow Lord Chancellor.

'And you will never be allowed

Into a British Court of Law.

Government will settle - out of court.

A huge sum of money

In exchange for your word.'

 

Later a knighthood too

Was added by Sir James Robertson.

His actual words were,

'Honours of your choice; the highest.'

 

For four years

I had said, 'No, sir.'

And very resigned and sickened,

And ill and totally shattered,

I accepted the injustice, the criminality

The murder of a nation

And shame of Britain too.

 

I walked into the margin

Of history, and became a non-person.

'No, sir,' I said, and was ruined

Because Sir James said

That a squalid end to Empire

Was necessary.

 

And I said that

It was necessary too for me

To protest and say no,

And exit into the shadows.

 

London , 1964

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Not Really

 

In Lagos , Nigeria , in '56

A showpiece of democracy was

Being fashioned -

But not really.

 

The model colony -

Three nations in one -

Was to be set free -

But not really.

 

Oil had been discovered

By Shell BP,

Which would ensure prosperity

For the new country -

But not really.

 

The British would leave

For the old countree

In October sixtee

When the Smiths

Had drafted preparatree

Laws befitting a new nation.

Hallelujah! Not really.

 

For Whitehall had other plans

And Africa 's largest nation,

After ten years of treason, would

Plunge into a holocaust, a blood bath

Where the demon British

Brought to fruition

A decade of treason.

 

London , 1970

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The Diaspora

 

The dispersal, the refugees, the haunted,

The emigrants, the transported, the migrants,

The stateless.

 

A Nigerian with a PhD

Drives a taxi recklessly.

The tall towers lining

The bush tracks of New York

Are Lagosian.

 

In Central Park he thinks of palm trees

And the wine. On African literature he is

Matchless and introduces Amos Tutuola [1]

To cast him aside as a

Faux illiterate.

 

He is proud, even brazen, and can hardly

Be pitied or even secretly sympathesised, if

There were such a word. And he would know

For his knowledge of English and its grammar

Is faultless.

 

It pleases us to know that his superior intellect

And put-downs of his hosts

Mask the visits of the ghosts whom Amos

Wrote about when he spent the day,

Laughing to himself as he scribbled on his veranda desk

Outside my office in the Labour Department

On the Ikoyi Road

 

I teased him for the primitive reputation

Which kept the Faber royalties pouring in.

A primitive, whose hobby was

Building radio sets.

 

Nigeria - and the British should know -

Has three million ghosts of innocent folk

That Amos could not have nightmared in 1955,

As we joyously contemplated Independence ,

Freedom, Liberty and Progress.

 

A Nigerian with a PhD

Drives a taxi recklessly,

But sometimes screams into the Bronx

And Brooklyn night of wanton deaths

And mighty wrongs;

And weeps for what our Africa

Might have been.

 

Wiltshire, December 1999

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(For Noam Chomsky)

 

Our English Friends

 

All things bright and beautiful

Dear England sent them all.

Grammar Schools and Chapels

And also Kingsway Stores.

 

In Lagos there was the Marina

And a 'whites only' Victoria Beach,

And Government House with a sentry,

Which was the Governor's seat.

 

All things wise and wonderful

The English walked so tall.

The villas in Ikoyi

With geckos on the wall.

 

The English Club so cool

The links so fine and green

The children in the pool

Yet nothing what it seemed?

 

The Courthouse was in Tinubu.

Somewhere, a private Zoo.

A Museum and a Library

CMS Bookshop too.

 

A racecourse for race meetings,

Glover Hall for concerts too,

A Labour Exchange at Alakoro,

And Carter Bridge for views.

 

Deep storm drains were a feature

And Leventis and PZ too.

Also UTC and cinemas,

Plus all denominational pews.

 

All this in our capital

Made Lagos seem quite fair

Despite the shanty dwellings,

Too often beyond repair.

 

Add markets and processions

Drums and hullabaloo,

An airport at Ikeja,

Ships moored in the lagoon.

 

The Brits in shorts of khaki

Their wives in Kingsway frocks

Amid crowds of lappered ladies

Greeting kin at Apapa docks.

 

Lagosians in the fifties

Might have suffered colonial blues

But before a fake Independence

To Britain they were loyal and true.

 

The Brits rigged the Independence elections

And treacherously put the North in charge

The Brits got control of the oil

Its stooges ruled by force of arms.

 

If this was liberty and freedom

Then bring back British rule,

With English laws and benevolence

Even if we were fooled.

 

We believed the English honest

As in cricket and fair play

In words of honour and decency

And game playing by the rules.

 

When we had Queen and Empire

And waved the Union flag,

British holocaust was unthinkable -

Now we mourn three million dead.

 

Why did our English rulers

Bring us to this state?

Did our peaceful peoples really

Deserve this evil fate?

 

Did millions really have to die

For Britain 's bloody oil?

Shame on those in England who

Brought suffering on us all.

 

Wiltshire, December, 1999

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Lawmaker - Outlaw

 

To create the laws of a great new nation -

That was my task, my duty, my privilege.

My handiwork, the Nigerian Factories Act,

Was hailed as the finest of all laws,

The best presented, the most beneficial, the most noble.

 

'Write it in secret', I was ordered

By George Foggon, the new broom Nazi

Commissioner of Labour.

 

Six weeks later, Nigeria -

The mighty African Empire -

Had a draft Factories Act, and no one knew.

My role was unacknowledged.

 

Later Foggon said I was unfit

Ever to be employed by anyone.

I had all the faults of my race

And was disloyal, arrogant, and

Horrible with a variety of Thesaurus synonyms.

 

This because I protested for four years

Through official channels at

The destruction of democracy in Nigeria .

 

The carrot - a knighthood.

The stick - death.

A decent spy said, 'Flee!'

The CIA said 'Flee!'

And offered protection, a refuge,

A safe haven in Washington .

 

A refugee lawmaker on the run

Is not finely presented.

He is not noble and certainly not beneficial.

The Lawmaker is outside the law tho'

He protected the safety and health

Of many millions.

 

However, lawmaking did not prevent a

British-caused war which killed

Three million innocents. His own safety

And health are at serious risk.

 

I was a lawmaker, now

I am a fugitive outlaw

An unacknowledged legislator of mankind.

 

Wiltshire, June 2000

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1968

 

In 1968, so we are told

No British forces were involved in war.

A record since 1939

Which must be reason to celebrate.

 

Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah.

Three spontaneous cheers

And raising of headgear for 1968

The year of peace.

 

But what, you ask, about Biafra

And a war against nationalists

Which took three million lives?

 

My friend, civil wars don't count

And it was a tribal conflict anyway.

 

Wait a minute, hold your horses.

I was there in 1960 when

We rigged the Independence elections

Against the Yoruba and Ibo

And gave the nation to

Feudal Hausa henchmen,

Allies of the Brits!

 

We destroyed democracy and

In 1966 the nationalists

Took back by force of arms

What was rightfully theirs.

 

A counter coup conspired by the Brits

Put our thugs back in power - so there! -

And encouraged them to wage war on the

Ungrateful nationalists who were

Incipient Bolsheviks, and wanted to

Rob us of our oil. What rotters!

 

We saw them off and killed three million

Before our blood lust was satisfied,

With more bullets and guns and shells

Than the British Army used in World War Two.

We made massive profits - and that in 1968

A year of peace, when no British forces were

Involved in War.

 

And that is a prime example of

The finest British bullshit, we say.

 

Wiltshire, July 2000

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                                                            (For Edward Said)

 

Orientalism (The Nigerian Transfer)

 

Of power to British stooges;

Of our oilfields in perpetuity;

Of our customs to anthropologists;

Of our rhythms to musicologists;

Of our beliefs to Christianity;

Of our shrines to archaeologists;

Of our markets to superstores;

Of our peace to bloody war;

Of our caring to selfish greed;

Of our bodies to early graves.

 

Wiltshire, 2000

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Because They Must

 

In the 1950's

When we were there

No horns could be sounded

In Tinubu Square .

 

The traders and clerks

In indigo blue

Chatted and laughed

As Lagosians do’

 

In Kingsway Cold Stores

The Colonial mums

Shop to fill up

Imperial tums.

 

In Ikoyi the fridges are

Purringly full

Of burgers now distant

From abattoir culls.

 

And somewhere in

Africa 's deepest bush

Animals go hunting

Because they must.

 

Wiltshire, December 2000

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Treason is Sneaky, Via the Rear Entrance

 

'No one will believe I would do it,'

Said Sir James.

He had just confessed to rigging

Nigeria 's Independence Elections.

 

The Governor General's secretary

Had phoned. What was his name?

At seventy-three names come

And go. Later perhaps.

'You will say nothing unsavoury.'

'Like rigging the elections?'

'No, that's why he wants to see you.

The other stuff -

Buggering small boys.'

'Sure, fine. No buggery.'

'Good chap. See you later.

Come in at the back.

There's parking...'

 

'I want you to know, Smith,'

Said Sir James,

'How much trouble you are in.

We did all the things you say.

You know far too much.

You know the penalty

For disobeying orders

On active service.'

'I am a civil servant, sir.'

'The Colonial Service is the Army

And I am your Commander-in-Chief

As well as Governor General, you know.

 

'If you do return to UK

You will never be employed again.

Think of your wife and children.

A top position in the Foreign Service,

Honours, permanent exile. All

In exchange for your word.'

 

This was not unsavoury?

And future elections

Would all be fixed - necessarily.

And then coups by the cheated

And war, bloody war

I could see before it

Inevitably happened.

 

'Why, sir?' I pleaded.

'It is necessary,' said Sir James.

'No, sir,' I protested.

'You know far too much

To be allowed

To walk away,' he said.

 

But I did,

And exchanged pleasantries

With the very personable

John Bongard,

His personal secretary,

Before exiting by the

Back door to the Empire.

 

Wiltshire, 2000

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Biafra - Britain 's Shame

 

The anguished scream

Of an English officer

And gentleman,

One Auberon Waugh.

 

'This extraordinarily disgusting

Episode' in

British Imperial history

Must mean the end of the road

For Britain as a country

Fit for world power..’

 

Well said, dear, compassionate Auberon,

Though deeply scarred from childhood,

Unworthiness never checked

British blood lust.

 

Goodbye, dear Auberon,

However flawed,

You represented

A decent England

And stood for civilised values

Against Cold War Whitehall warriors,

The heirs of Hitler.

 

Wiltshire, January 2001

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The Blacks Get a Nation

 

Well, kind of (sixty years later)

For on January One

One nine zero zero

An African chunk on the Westside

Became Nigeria

And a British Protectorate.

 

Black became pink

And Manchester wraps millions

Of Yoruba girls in Technicolor garb

Before even Sanders of the River

Was shown in Lagos '

Shanty Kinemas.

 

The Empire,

A journo opines globe-wide,

Has one heart, one head,

One language, one policy,

(And an arsehole in Whitehall ?)

 

Roll on 1960.

Hi-life Zik, Awolowo,

Squalid betrayal by the British

And a shitty stooge,

Name of Balewa.

 

Goodbye, Colonial boys,

Polo players and pension takers.

Lips sealed lest British treason

Is revealed.

A splendidly squalid goodbye

To Paludrine, Tilley Lamps,

The Lagos trot,

Apapa, Kingsway Stores,

Kano , Jos, Enugu , Ibadan .

Welcome Lumpers,

Purley, Cheltenham ,

Cotswolds and life

Without Africa ... and honour.

 

Wiltshire, January 2001

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The Bubble of My Times

 

I am trapped inside

The bubble of my century.

 

In 1900, one in four

Of the world's population

Was ruled by the British,

And the Wright Brothers would soon fly.

 

In 1927 another Smith was born,

In 1941 built mobile

Power stations for the USSR ,

And was told about the atom bomb

At Metropolitan Vickers.

 

In 1946 I joined the dam busters,

And with the remains of the Afrika Corps

Swam in the Bitter Lakes ,

And watched Jew-hater Bevin

Do his dirty work impartially

Against Arabs and Jews,

All Christ's descendants and in-laws.

 

I saw Africa abandoned and raped,

And murdered and loved for its oil,

Circa 1960 in Nigeria .

 

In 2001 it got worse,

And our God is OPEC.

 

At 73 I am beyond despair,

And marvel at Whitehall evil

And the dumbing-down of Britain .

 

Mediocrities walk

Where great men triumphed.

Welcome to Blair and Hague land.

 

And dream of Africa and its people,

And innocence and life, and the Nile

And the Niger , and the failure of the 20th Century.

 

The Twentieth Century fucks.

 

Wiltshire, January 2001                                                          

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Colonial Gauleiters

 

The Colonial Chums I liked

Like Orwell, Virginia Woolf's hub Len,

Joyce Carey and another two or three,

Like Phil Haywood of Education,

Made history modestly

And must be honoured by me.

 

Others like Commissioner Foggon,

Deputy Commissioner Cook,

Chief Secretary Foot and HE

Were small beer Nazis

And Gauleiters like George,

Who said Nuremberg was a joke -

For obeying orders was a rule

Which excused stuffing gas ovens,

And killing Babies and Homos

And Jews and Gypsies,

And Trade Unionists and Priests,

Communists, Russians and

Sundry Slavs, etc. etc.

 

Cook could have fucked

For Scotland International

If buggering boys from the Alakoro Exchange

Was an Olympic event.

George said he did it unofficially

And out of office hours,

So that was all right.

 

Destroying democracy was a duty,

For blacks were children.

And in loco parentis

We did only the necessary.

And the faux Foots agreed

For getting on

And covering up

Dirty colonial deeds

Is their creed.

 

Where are they now?

The Army and Navy,

Home and Colonial,

Imperial Wine Gums, Mints

And Empire Day

And the Empire News?

 

The China Inland Mission

And the C M S

And Bishops of Bulawayo ,

Lagos and Zambesi,

And dedicated Missionaries

And Methodists and Salvationists,

What happened to them?

 

Does the Nile still wend its way

Through the Sudan ? And the Niger

Mythologise and mystify,

Seep through the Delta

As ever?

 

Are the Palm Wine ruffians,

White slavers and Adventurers,

And Explorers and British Colonials,

And Gun runners, and mercenaries,

And SAS, SIS and MI5

All history? Not quite.

 

While BP, Shell, Amoco,

Esso and Total,

UAC and RTZ -

The new initials -

Take their place

In raising throughput and raping

Poor bloody Africa

Again and yet again.

 

Wiltshire, January 2001

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Ikoyi Bush Telegraph Poetree

 

Richmond Postgate of the BBCee

Arrived in Lagos and asked to see

Artist intellectuals like you

And mee.

 

Michael Crowder and

Robin Horton and Peter

Marris and Cyprian Ekwensi

And me.

 

Cyprian wrote novels

Robin did anthropologee

Michael a cultural magpie

Peter sociologee.

The poet was me.

 

The future was bloodshed

Chaos and anarchee.

I cried bitterlee.

The elections were rigged.

I saw plots, treason

And conspiracee.

 

'You are prejudiced, jaundiced

And bitter,' said Rich,

Who saw none of this

At the BBC.

 

Michael was my double

Though brown-eyed not blue.

We shared so much -

Laughter and generosity

And kindness and curiosity - but not

His homosexualitee.

 

Michael was blackmailed -

To shut me up -

By the Governor General

Sir James Robertson.

And he was outraged,

But later hymned praise

Of the jolly bear-like thug

With orders of honour and

Nobility, who engineered the

Murder  of millions

Sans humanitee.

 

Three became professors

And Cyprian a rebel. I was

Expelled and hunted down

And Richmond rejoined the BBCee.

 

Some would say later

That Smith had the gift

Of prophecee.

But you knew better

And are not surprised

That I did not prosper,

For truthfullee

The gloom, the horror

The dark I forseed

Imprisoned me.

Is that what poets are for -

To observe in stillness

Colossal evils with humilitee?

 

Wiltshire, January 2001

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In Love with Africa

 

Despite the paludrine

And other anti-malarials,

Despite the vaccines and

Antibiotics

We are in love.

 

Africa gets in your blood,

They say, but some are immune.

Those of us who are infatuated,

Besotted even, are thrilled

And excited and frightened too.

 

'Let's go home to Africa ', said Helen.

She was a child and had

No idea of black and white,

Of racism, race hatred or difference.

 

We returned home to Lagos

And British treachery.

But no matter.

Africa is accustomed to treason.

 

At home in Ikeja and

Ikoyi, EB and Ibadan ?

And rains that flood

The stinking drains?

And the insidious heat

That creates a little death

Of a necessary siesta?

 

Oh to be in Africa

With the geckos on the walls,

The sandfly chewing ankles

The cicadas and the storms.

 

And African people

So decent and so warm.

Oh to be in Africa

Yet never feel alarmed.

 

But needed and required,

And useful and desired,

And called on and appreciated.

Africa is our home.

 

 

We are the English in Africa

Cut off from our roots

We have fallen in love with a Continent

And know we are absurd.

 

And that our passionate desire for acceptance

Will end in rejection and despair

And return to our insipid homeland

Of plastic and weak beer.

 

Oh to be in Africa -

Now we are retired -

With frangipani and flame of the forest,

Canna lilies and moonflowers.

We love a dark continent

And share in its great pain.

 

Oh to be in Africa

With all its gaping wounds

The massacres and cruel wars

The coups and corrupt regimes.

 

This strange love of a place

That intrigues and enchants us still

Will perplex us to the end

And we will never sort it out.

 

Goodbye, dear love, dear Africa ,

The sun, the heat, the thrill.

You gave us warmth and happiness

And memories tender still.

 

Oh to be in Africa

Where once we were young and true!

 

Wiltshire, January 2001

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Labour Since 1945: Jerusalem at Home - Holocausts Abroad

 

Victorious Britain in 1945

Was bankrupt

And idealistic

And built a New Jerusalem.

 

Our great Empire

Was bogus, a sham,

Like Britain and its cars

Ramshackle.

 

Morally a great power

Britain was bust.

The Empire had to go, but where?

Confusion reigned.

 

Dead dog Britain ,

With US aid,

Opts for Cold War

And Korea .

 

Dirty work abroad

James Bondery the theme.

Fuck blacks and wogs for oil

To prop a socialist dream.

 

Persia , Suez , Nigeria

All get the dirty stick.

Barmy, decent Britain

Now vicious, cruel and sick.

 

Disguise chicanery

A Commonwealth theme.

Cover up the squalor.

Visits by the Queen.

 

SAS in stealth

Slaughter Imperial dreams

Murder and assassinate

The democratic theme.

 

Britain was benevolent.

Was bankruptcy the reason

It turned its back on decency

And favoured bloody treason?

 

Wiltshire, January 2001

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Self-Censorship. Verso, X, Y, Zed

 

Publishers Guardian,

Pepper Red and Zed,

Verso and New Left,

Leave out three million British bullets and

Nigeria 's honoured dead.

 

Lapping on TV

Has no time for me

Or truth about

British blood lust in Africa ,

Called Biafra -

Or even Nigeria .

 

The Smiths are unpeople,

Mark Curtis of Chatham House

Rightly proclaims,

And then ambiguously deletes our name.

And Nigeria 's holocaust finds no place

In the Index to his excellent

Zed books. Hall of Shame,

British evil abroad since 1945.

 

Noam says it is

And it is long overdue

So he claims.

 

'The Biafrans

And the Smiths

Are unpeople,' says Mark.

And so we remain.

 

Wiltshire, January 2001

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Africa

 

Africa, Africa .

Oriental.

Afrique.

Whence come these names

For a Continent

Unique?

 

Africa, Africa .

Snowy mountains.

Delta creeks

And deserts.

Green savannahs

And forests of teak.

 

Africa, Africa .

For the suffering

Of its peoples,

The Holocausts

And the laughter and lament

Of a troubled Continent.

 

Africa, Africa .

Each baby, newly born,

Testifies your courage

And age-old beliefs.

We will survive and dream of

A black eternity.

 

Wiltshire, February 2001

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Awo

 

Tell me, Zik and Awo too,

Were there geniuses around like you

When Britain played its age-old game

Of divide and rule?

 

Why, Zik, did you fall for

Governor General of nothing,

Rather than Prime Minister

Of Nigeria and Africa ?

 

Why, Awo, did you allow a war

Against Zik and join the North

In British skulduggery?

Because you had served

Time in prison and

Concluded that

Zik had it coming?

(Which he undoubtedly did.)

You settled a score

And three million died

For your pride,

Dear Awo.

 

 

Wiltshire, February 2001

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Coastal Oil and Troubled Waters

 

The seven littoral states

Of Nigeria

(A nation in deep trouble

That we love),

Namely Akwa Ibom, Boyelsa,

Cross River, Delta, Edo ,

Ogun, Ondo and Rivers,

Are asking the Attorney General

To stop stealing their oil,

As Britain did too.

The Urhobo Historical Society

Has put it more politely, elegantly,

And at greater length, but

We all fear what the

Outcome might be.

 

I am perhaps prejudiced.

Carol was secretary to the

General Manager of BP, when

Shell-BP were prospecting in the Delta.

Carol's boss, Cliff Simpson,

Feared there was a tragedy

Here in the making.

 

My job was to protect the Health and Safety

Of the Nigerian people

And my laws,

Said the British Attorney General,

Were the finest, best presented

And drafted that he knew.

If only I could draft

Laws to help those

Wonderful people, namely,

The citizens of

Akwa Ibom, Boyelsa,

Cross River, Delta, Edo ,

Ogun, Ondo and Rivers.

 

It was my privilege

Once to serve

These fine people, and if

The Nigerian Attorney General's mentor,

The truly great Awolowo

Were here today

(I loved him too),

And running Nigeria

As he was meant to do,

He would bring his great

Wisdom to bear,

And justice would prevail.

 

Awo was a true founder of his nation.

Though British, I too was hounded

And criminalised. 'Treated like

An African', someone said.

 

The truth about Awo

Has yet to be told,

And all my efforts

Have been foiled by the British.

 

Chief Bola Ige, the Attorney General,

Can't appreciate how Awo's suffering

Was associated with Delta oil,

Which Britain contaminated by anointing

A great Empire of Nations

With the blood of

Millions of innocents.

 

Bloody, bloody Britain ,

To soil a fine record

With this foul Treason!

 

I pray for the souls

Of three million dead.

I pray for the Nigerian Commonwealth

Of nations,

Crazily combined for no

Good reason.

I pray that British war criminals

Will one day be condemned

For destroying these

Fine nations.

And I commemorate,

Celebrate and rejoice

In the diversity and richness

Of all Nigeria 's peoples,

Of whom the peoples of

Akwa Ibom, Boyelsa,

Cross River, Delta, Edo ,

Ogun, Ondo and Rivers

Are great examples

 

Wilshire, February 2001

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Continental Drift

 

Is the world map

Still hanging on the wall

Of our classroom,

The pink British Empire -

Resplendent, cocksure?

 

The script at the bottom

Says, 'Phillips of London ',

And the chart

Was acquired

At the CMS bookstore.

 

The Brazilian quarter

Of dirty old Lagos

Roars like a circus

Of tigers and lions.

There are elephants and crocodiles

Lurking in the undergrowth,

And mammy wagons and traders

Complete the uproar.

 

The shape of our Africa

Is etched on my memory -

The oceans of blue

And far away, Brazilian shore.

We acquired our geography

From Hollywood movies,

A Coca-Cola land of rum and coffee beans,

The Yankee dollar and the poor.

 

Our people in the slave days

Were the cargo of frigates,

Chained by Bristol sailors,

All shipshape down below.

While Liverpool captains

Calculated columns of profit

And cursed the subtraction

For the dead overboard.

 

In a tabernacle schoolroom

We chanted our tables

While the rain beat down

On a corrugated roof.

And we squeezed together continents

Made separate by an ocean

Eons of time ago

Before mankind began.

 

Yet our peoples had in history

Already stitched these lands together.

How else could we live

In a Lagos Brazil ?

On a tabernacle wall-chart

In dirty old Lagos

We felt the heartbreak,

The suffering of our forebears

Sent as slaves to Brazil .

 

Through Colleges, Academies

And Universities we progress,

With Libraries new plundered

And ransacked Treasuries.

From tin tabernacle teaching

We're now executives and accountants

And barristers and solicitors

With PhD degrees.

 

The Ibo we helped vanquish

At the behest of the British,

They tried to steal the oil

That belonged to Shell BP.

The Ibo left their dead

And their bikes and their bush tracks

For the USA of our primeval ancestors,

While we Yoruba

Drove Mercedes

Round Lagos motorways.

 

Now we're united in a Diaspora

That's not our making.

We're Yankee teachers and

Accountants and Digital Computees

In Brooklyn and Texas , Chicago and Washington ,

Harvard, MIT and Silicon Valley ,

And the Florida Keys .

 

We've long outgrown the tin

Tabernacles of our infancy,

The Cherubim and Seraphim,

The Holy Roman doctrine of our youth.

We're rootless black intellectuals

In world's still uncharted

On the wall map still swinging

On a wall in old Brazil .

 

Wiltshire, February 2001

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Exile (A Dagger in the Heart)

 

I was a blue collar guy

Apprenticed to Metropolitan Vickers

And Lancashire Dynamo, a journeyman

Building mobile power stations

For the wartime U S S R,

And an air gunner-to-be

At fifteen as an air cadet,

RAF Volunteer Reserve,

A kamikaze kid.

 

An anti-Stalinist

Working for Russia ?

Me and Churchill both.

The Smiths are patriots

With missing limbs as proof.

A wartime intake on

Active Service,

Though peace had been declared.

A year in Egypt , under fire and

Recommended for a Commission.

I loved this blue collar RAF.

 

In Manchester I meet

Prime Minister Attlee.

I am a Labour leader to be

And denounced in the Press

For converting Conservatives

To the Labour ranks,

And attacked by Communists

For converting Communists,

And the Communists

Exile me from my Union ,

My craft, my fellow engineers.

 

They can't do this?

They did.

I am an Ex -

Ex engineer,

Ex Trade Union activist,

Ex blue collar worker,

Ex Labour candidate,

And blacklisted,

Unemployable. Exiled

(Join us, says MI5)

 

Scholarships to Oxford .

And with Diplomas,

And Degrees,

And highly commended,

And recommended,

H M Government

Seeks a law-maker journeyman,

For its African Empire

Is bolshie and will be placated

If good guy Smith

Window dresses

For a fake Independence .

 

Smith protests

And protests

And protests,

And is sent packing,

And is declared a traitor,

And highly commended,

And cleared,

And vilified,

And criminalised,

And blacklisted,

And declared innocent.

(Join us, says MI6).

 

Africa needs me, yet again

Whitehall declared

You are a good guy,

A hero.

Africa awaits

And on the Boeing

Is an ex-Sudan thug,

Also Lagos bound,

With a mission.

Charged to demonise.

Demoralise, destroy

The Smiths, for

Treason of course

Is on course,

Of course.

(Join us, says the CIA).

 

Sir James was brisk

And to the point.

"You deserve death,

The usual sentence for disobeying

Orders on active service

For an officer."

And he is my

Commanding Officer in Chief.

"Be a good chap.

You've seen how beastly we can be.

Your poor wife, your children -

You are making me be cruel."

('A safe haven in Washington ,' says the CIA.)

 

The highest ranks of the

Foreign and Diplomatic Service

Beckons.

We salute you.

We respect you.

We honour you.

Arise, Sir Harold,

And become

One of us!

However, he added quickly,

Your word of course

And permanent exile -

A necessary precaution -

You will never see England

Again.

 

Again? Again!

Never see England again?

Permanent, life-long

For ever...

For I am a traitor

And on probation

And cannot be trusted

To honour my word.

To be a criminal

For ever,

As Sir Harold Smith,

Ex blue collar engineer,

Ex blue collar air gunner,

Of Magdalen College ,

The University of Oxford ,

Master of Arts,

Diploma in Administration,

Law maker,

Diplomat, Ambassador-to-be,

Like my student chum

Rodric,

Ambassador to Moscow ,

Head of the Secret Service.

 

You will never be employed again.

No Sir!

You will be in deep trouble.

No Sir!

Nobody will believe you.

No Sir!

You will be barred from the Press.

I will be banned, branded,

Damned and

Destroyed.

So be it.

 

Sir James

Doesn't care.

He needs me

To defy him.

There was a vacancy.

He strides to the door

And might have struck

This traitor,

But thrusts me out

Of his office, the Empire,

The Commonwealth,

The United Kingdom ,

Britain ,

England ,

Into Exile.

 

And Oscar,

Late of Magdalen,

Says, "Welcome Sean

To Exile for

You're a journeyman again and

Internal or external,

It's the same

Dagger in the heart.

 

Wiltshire, February 2001

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Honest Injun: Surprised?

 

When honesty and

Getting on collide,

Number two loses out

To number one.

Surprised?

 

The boy scout code

Belongs in the Jurassic

With courtship,

Fidelity and family.

Surprised?

 

Words of honour

Really do count, however.

HM Government demanded mine

To cover the necessary killing

Of three million.

Surprised?

 

A knighthood and a fortune

And a VIP job,

If you'll just agree

To a criminal job description.

Surprised?

 

See my website

For the above

And the usual Whitehall cover-up

By Blair and Cook, et al.

Surprised?

 

Wiltshire, February 2001

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I Don't Care*

 

I don't care - if British rig my elections?

I don't care - if military take away my vote?

I don't care - if Zik wear Admiral's uniform?

I don't care - if you destroy Action Group?

I don't care - if Northern stooges run Government?

I don't care - if Britty Balewa is made Boss?

I don't care - if you lock up Awo?

I don't care - if you destroy Nigeria ,

Kill democracy, murder our men,

Starve our women and children?

I don't care for any of this.

And I don't care if you marry lorry driver either?

 

 

* 'If you marry taxi driver, I don't care.' (Hi Life popular song. Lagos . Circa 1957.)

 

February 2001

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                                                Lib Lab, Suck Suck

 

Don Foster of Bath , a decent lad,

Is honest as the day is along

(Even allowing for Summer Time.)

 

                                    Don Foster of Bath , MP,

Could blow the whistle

And bring down a Government.

Will he? Not a chance.

 

A Lib Lab Pact,

Whether open or closed

Ensures the

Third alternative

Is honestly a sham.

Believe me!

 

'Expose the Secret Service

Is not an option,' says Don.

'For my leader, Paddy Ashdown,

Was a secret Secret Agent

 

Hush, hush,

Believe me, I'm a Liberal.

Honest!

 

Wiltshire, February 2001

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Like HTML

 

Like HTML,

Which is rarely seen

By the casual reader

Of computer composed copy,

Behind the law-abiding

Whitehall scene

Is one thousand million p.a.

Pounds of Secret Service

Financed jungle.

Rarely seen

Because obscene

Which manipulates

What casual citizens

Know.

 

There are also many volumes

Of Media Law to do with

Secrecy, Censorship, Defence,

States of War and Treason,

For the State is at war

With the Fourth Estate

Hopefully.

 

The only law in this

HTML jungle

Behind the scenes

Is that no law operates here.

The traitor or victim

Or whistle-blower or prick -

Take your pick -

Has no rights

Or entitlement to justice

Whatsoever.

 

He is casually mired,

Denied employment,

Denigrated,

Health destroyed,

Tempted to self-destruct.

'Suicidal? Oh, good,' say MI5,

' Mission accomplished.'

 

Should he not easily break

But keep on trying

To communicate

With the enemy,

The British public,

There are extra measures

We can take,

Like breaking his marriage

By scandal created

For this purpose.

Fit him up in theft

And worse, and as he's innocent

He'll spend some years

Proving he's really clean.

Then tie him to pornography -

A speciality of the Spy filth brigade.

We ensnare, entrap,

Fit up, make form

Even with murder

If the occasion demands.

 

The world moves on.

Our victim's state secret

Is now common knowledge

But the victim is still

Demonised, destroyed,

For the HTML is timeless

And his sentence is for life.

 

I am now seventy three.

Oh, don't pity me.

A knighthood was offered

And a fortune in cash

To this poverty-stricken jerk

Once, for his silence

And his word.

How absurd!

He forced us to be cruel.

 

True, the elections we fixed

In our African empire

Brought on civil war

And three million dead.

We thought of making it

Three million and one,

But he fled

And, when discovered,

Was gravely ill from

Poisoning by Porton Down,

A Defence Minister said.

 

A Rear Admiral phoned

To say you are free

So far as this Ministry

Is concerned.

The Editors on our voluntary

Self-censorship Committee

Have set you free,

Though they will not publish

For fear of bad

Publicitee.

'I'm sorry about that',

Said the Rear Admiral.

'I hope you're

Not too fucked up

With our secrecy.

Nothing personal, old chap.

It's the English disease.

 

'Don't lie to me, you fuckers,'

Said Patten of Bath .

'I'm a Minister of State,

And if Harold Smith

Is kidnapped by Mossad

Acting for our African chums.

The reporters could be

Waiting, outside my gate.

 

'So SAS his safety

In the dark, with deadly arms

Around his home

For although I can't be seen

To participate

I may need a cover story

If he meets his fate.'

 

My neighbours, awaiting poachers,

Are truly fascinated

To see men in black

Surround the Smiths' home

To fight off Mossad killers,

Who also wish

To silence the Smiths.

Why don't they collaborate?

 

Let's fuck him with

His neighbours.

He's an enemy of the Queen.

And if patriotically

They kick his arse

The police will be busy

Checking parked cars,

And he has it coming

Anyway.

For the Smiths are the enemy

Of our secret state.

 

Our secret police,

Like HTML,

Are rarely seen

Especially by Editors,

Unless they are unique

Like Jack Brennen of

The Wiltshire Times,

Who believes -

(Where've you been, Jack?)

That journalism is an honest craft,

And truth is might

And shall prevail.

You gave us heart.

God bless you, Jack.

 

Wiltshire, February 2001

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Limbo Land

 

Nigeria is in limbo because

When the Brits departed

They did not legitimately

Elect a lawful Government.

 

The crooks we placed in power

Were our stooges

As everyone knew,

But the Brits

Didn't give a fuck

For laws, decorum

Or all that truck.

 

The jackpot the Brits got

Were oilfields so rich.

They have involved every

British Government since

In a colossal cover-up,

A great criminal conspiracy.

 

Must the Smiths stand alone

In speaking up

For what our people think

This nation represents?

 

Wiltshire, February 2001

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Living Dangerously

 

Some people think

Nigerians don't laugh.

They're too busy sitting around,

Thinking of some new wheeze

To fleece the Brits

Who let their greed

Run away with common sense.

 

You think they have no sense of humour,

And they lived with the

British here, all those years!

In my office at Ikoyi

Not a sound

Except the fan swishing.

I'd leave, and pop back for something.

A circus, pandemonium. Gales of laughter.

A couple lying on my desk smoking.

My clerk in my chair trimming his nails.

They never let me have a good time!

 

Amos Tutuola laughed,

Mainly at me, when I told him this.

He only had to see me and he'd

Start shaking his head and laughing.

No good asking him why -

I really liked him.

 

One day, discussing politics -

I was on dangerous ground -

I said maybe it wasn't a good idea

To keep his money in Zik's Bank.

'It could be dangerous,' I said.

Amos said he'd take the risk, and added,

'You think I live dangerously, Mr Smith?'

 

Then he laughed and laughed

Till he had to lean on the wall

So as not to fall down.

'You're the one living dangerously, Mr Smith.

Mr Cook (the Deputy) would like to

Cut you into slices,

Put you through a mincer

And feed you to the crocodiles.

 

'And Mr Foggon?' (the Commissioner), I asked.

'He'd pay for a ringside seat.'

'Amos, Amos, what's new, Amos?' I asked,

But Amos had fallen off the

Veranda.

 

Wiltshire, February 2001

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Man of Straw

 

There are

Myths and

Misunderstandings

About our dear

And beneficial

MI5

Said Jack - radical - Straw.

 

We investigate only

Subversives, hard core

Who intend to do

As we did

And overthrow, as in Nigeria

Democracy

By violent means,

Starting with Independence

Elections, which we -

As is our rule -

Rigged in favour of a

Criminal element,

For we are fools.

 

Young Jack had a file

Which proves MI5

Sometimes gets it

Right.

Are you all right,

Jack?

 

Wiltshire, February 2001

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This Book has fallen*

 

From its author's high

Standards. Why, we ask,

When Karl Maier describes

The Murder of a Nation,

Does he not tell us

Why the British did it?

 

Karl's superficial description

Of the most corrupt nation on earth

Would otherwise pass muster.

He excuses himself from

Indicting the British

Because it would take many

Volumes of history.

Not necessarily, Karl -

Try half a page?

 

Karl left out the White Tribe

Which fixed the Elections at Independence ,

Installed a gang of criminals,

Who waged war on democracy,

Produced a civil war, coups,

Murders assassinations and

Total bloody chaos for forty years.

How's that for starters, Karl?

You're not really CIA?

Not a good package, Karl!

 

* Karl Maier. 'This House Has Fallen'. Allen Lane , 2000.

 

Wiltshire, February 2001

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Whatever Happened to Harold Smith?*

 

The Nigeria that we knew

Was publicised

As a Crown Colony

And a showcase

For democracy,

Having been a model Colony.

 

At Independence

This vast empire

Of scores of nations

Voted against nationalists

Who wanted Independence .

If you believe that,

You'll believe anything,

But the British counted

The vote.

 

'I rigged the elections,'

Sir James Robertson said.

'See how much trouble you're in?

But they won't believe you

For they'll not believe

I could possibly

Do such a thing.'

 

He had a double knighthood,

Represented the Queen,

Was Governor General

And Commander in Chief,

And I was only,

Harold Smith.

 

* A film on release in 2000

 

Wiltshire, February 2001

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For the Chomsky Family

 

What Is It...?

 

In awe I salute

The Delta Congress

Through its splendid website

For a matchless intellectual

African voice.

 

A phoenix has risen

Apparently effortless

To leave the BBC and CNN gasping.

Will African intellectuals

Develop a superiority complex?

 

The US is vulgar,

Russia shambolic,

Britain full of has-beens

And China an enigma.

 

Africa has been devastated

Yet is eternally fresh,

Virginal and innocent

And will conquer Euro-disease

Euro-corruption, Euro-bullshit.

 

From holocaust ashes

The Delta peoples,

Defiant and smiling

With well-springs of steel

And good manners,

Forgive our trespasses.

 

God damn!

What is it with these Delta people?

 

Wiltshire, February 2001

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When Britain ruled in Africa

 

When Britain ruled in Niger lands,

She was fit company,

If slow to spend, and comprehend

There were sensible whites,

Whose taint was slight,

Who ruled tri-minimally.

 

When British rule in Africa generally

Was withdrawn in the sixties,

The African rulers were undermined

And also despised

Unless arse-licking stooges

Of a British kind.

We favoured Hausa and the Fulani,

And gave them the kingdom's keys.

 

When fuck-up time to Africa came

Was it our responsibility?

We kept control of the oil supplies

And turned a blind eye to war

And the waste of three million lives,

And denied the British holocaust.

 

Wiltshire, February 2001

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Absence from Africa

 

The Nile ,

The Niger ,

The Zambesi,

Carol.

 

Absence from Africa is cruel,

Because driven away

By British threats of death.

 

However, although it is a cliché

To say that absence

Makes the heart grow fonder,

How can that be of Africa

When our love was and is

Overwhelming?

 

For Carol, as for Africa ,

When she is away I grieve.

But my heart is full

Before she goes.

Still is a great joy

When she returns.

 

Carol and Africa were one,

And my heart responds

To both, a continent

And Carol, the same,

For both are loved dearly,

And Carol was Africa ,

And together we were at home

With African people.

 

Africa was home,

And home was Carol, and

Helen and Louise

Feeling good in Lagos -

Ruined by the British

And then labelled

Totally corrupt.

 

Well, they would, wouldn't they?

And they did.

Perhaps proving,

In so doing,

That not all the Brits

Fell in love with Africa .

Isn't that sad?

 

Nile , Niger , Zambesi,

Carol, Helen and Louise.

Nile , Niger , Zambesi,

Africa our home,

Our love, our family.

 

Wiltshire, March 2001

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                             Africa - A Geographical Expression

           (And School Certificate Subject*)

 

British Africans, like Nwokedi,

Agents of the Queen and OBE,

Are left to rule

After a pretend departure

And face a dilemma.

 

They despise the Africa

From whence they came,

And dream of an England

Of cricket, cream teas

And School Certificate Shakespeare,

Where their good manners, old chap,

Will permit of course - well perhaps -

Total acceptance

Despite a black skin,

For they are Persil white underneath.

 

They are twixt and between

And are further confused

When Brits at ease

With African aspirations,

Like Michael Crowder,

Whom I introduced to Francis,

Love Africa more than they do.

 

How can that be?

Don't they see the dirt,

The shitty ways, the ignorance

The palms and bush tracks,

Old chap?

 

Why come to dreadful Nigeria

When Cambridge beckons?

'Don't you see, Sean,'

Said Francis to me,

' Africa is awful

And Nigeria 's not a country

At all, but simply, as

Awo says, only

A geographical expression.'

 

Which comforted Francis

As the most powerful civil servant

When he played a major role

In destroying Africa 's

Leading nation, and centrally

Plunged a dagger in its heart.

 

Isn't this the real tragedy

Of British colonial rule?

To produce men of ability

Who despise their own country?

For our own ends

We plant treason in the hearts

Of decent people.

 

* The 16+ examination before GCE and GCSE.

 

Wiltshire, March 2001

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Africa in My Heart

 

The foreboding I felt in Egypt

By El Hamra, the red mountain,

Peering toward the red sea.

 

The bitter lakes

Matched my bitterness,

For I saw peaceful peoples

Doomed to conflict

And red bloodshed.

 

The year was 1947

And in 1948 Palestine was ignited,

And red flames And red blood

Were everywhere.

 

The foreboding I felt in Nigeria

Around Lagos

The red laterite soil,

The red sunsets.

 

The British were plotting

Mock celebrations of Independence ,

A national anthem,

New hotels, embassies,

Mercedes cars,

Symbols of corruption.

 

The year was 1960

And I had taken a stand

Four years earlier.

Now my friends were blackmailed into silence.

Bloody red war was near.

 

The year was 1966

And by a Lockean dispensation

Revolt against tyranny was legitimised,

And young Majors did their duty.

 

And the British waged total war

Against the African people

And killed three million

To celebrate the end of Empire.

 

Africa is in my heart.

Africa my soul,

Africa my dedication,

Africa my code, my belief, my being.

 

Poor bloody Africa

Spilling its red blood

To feed

Imperial British greed.

 

Wiltshire, March 2001

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Africa 's Rewards

 

After Africa , in distress

We reach London .

Carol teaches with success

And we work charitably

And wait twelve years

For a proper diagnosis

Of a tropical disease,

Though our minds are sick too

Of British treason in Africa ,

Find no textbook,

Medical or political,

Cures that.

 

Yet charitable work for decades,

An act of faith

Repays us well.

We're not sure why.

Perhaps to be reminded

Of true perspectives,

And what real troubles are.

And we're renewed

And come full circle

And welded together

And stronger than before,

Seek to help Africa from afar.

 

And Africa more bloody,

More crippled with disease,

Is not short of well-wishers

Though Britain is not one of these.

 

We must be patient

And bide our time,

For treason one day will be exposed

And history put to rights,

And a true diagnosis

And a cure found

For Africa 's troubles

By African people,

Who will find fulfilment

As we have done

In loving Africa .

What better reward

Can there be?

 

Wiltshire, March 2001

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Bad, Coarse, Worse Verse

 

The Writer:

 

The lady on the keyboard

Is averse

To computing

Rough, unsteady rude verse.

 

Especially when her husband's

Had a drink

And he tells those

Labour fuckers what he thinks.

 

When he sets the common people

In their stride

In a march for human rights

And people's pride.

 

When Africans are starved

Into submission,

When Asians are bombed

Into oblivion,

When media TV creates

Bent opinion,

His tone is classic Chomsky -

Pure derision.

 

The Keyboard Operator

 

Your rage, dear heart, I understand.

You grieve for the people

Of this land.

I share your love,

Your hopes, ideals,

Your compassion, for

You are, dear heart,

Cut to my own fashion.

 

Yet when relieved

Your verse to my machine

Is delivered,

It is delivered.

It is delivered

To my heart.

 

I feel the pain.

I feel the pain

Of all the suffering,

And pray my typing

Could diminish

By a grain

The sum total suffering

Of all world pain.

 

Wiltshire, March 2001

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Catharsis - Crimson, Purple, Black, Blood

 

To purge, purify and cleanse

By tears, as in drama,

To relieve tension and anxiety

By bringing repressions

To the surface and

To consciousness.

 

Africa!, Africa ! Africa !

Africa screams out for catharsis,

For release from pain,

The bloodshed, the holocaust,

The slaughter, the wars,

The chaos, the killing -

All Africa 's fault?

 

The Aids, the TB, the sex plague.

The dying, the dying, the dying!

Pray for Africa .

Ask forgiveness for Africa .

Scream for Africa and the children.

 

And in white western cities,

The architects of so much African evil

Tut tut, and say, 'Dreadful business,

After all we've done for them.

It's true we destabilised -

For a good end - the Cold War.

It's true we fixed elections,

As at Independence in Nigeria .

It's true we flooded Africa with guns.

It's true we were cruel to get

Cold War oil, minerals, gold.

 

We give them aid.

We give them charity.

We'll give them drugs

If they pay for them.

 

It's a bloody shame about Africa .

Dreadful about the children.

We feel it so strongly

That we switch off the news

All the time.

One can only take so much.

 

It's their own fault you know.

One gets compassion fatigue,

And we've doubled our Oxfam donation.

It really is a bloody shame about Africa .

 

Christ, people like us need

Catharsis from all that!'

 

Wiltshire, March 2001

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Due Process

 

When a Lord Chancellor

Of Great Britain ,

If only the next one up

I.e. a Shadow,

Who was at Magdalen

Years before me

And got a third -

I don't know why

I say that,

But everyone does -

And the hell of it is,

I can't remember his name,

But anyway he told

Tom Sargant of Justice

To tell me

That he'd reviewed my case

And the interrogation of me

By the most eminent

Cross-examiner in the kingdom -

Let's call him XYZ,

A QC, a Tory MP -

Sir John Foster, of course

 

Where was I? Oh yes.

So Tom Sargant tells me

That I will never ever

Be allowed into

An English Court of Law

(Yes, Tom said 'English')

And so I could have

Out of court, says the Shadow Chancellor

A huge sum of money

Now.

Gardiner was his name.

 

'Great,' I said,

'But I was

Protesting the rigging of the

Independence Elections in Nigeria .

Yes, I have suffered financially,

But...' 'Yes,' said Tom,

'And you would have to give

Your word

Never to speak of that again.' I said,

'They offered all that and

More before, and a knighthood.'

'I can't...' said Tom.

'Advise me. I know,' I said.

 

'Thanks Tom, but no.'

And walked out of due process

And Magna Carta

Into outlawry,

For the law only applies

To subjects within the law.

Outlaws as criminals

Are within the law, naturally.

However, innocent subjects

Who, in defiance of Government,

Reveal State secrets

Involving criminality and

Defence of the Realm

Are most definitely

In an awful lot of trouble,

Which double knighthood, etc. etc.

James Robertson told me

In his study in Government House

Where he was Governor General.

He was a criminal,

But I was branded

An outlaw.

 

He had just told me

My suspicions were totally correct

And he had, acting on orders from

Whitehall ,

Rigged the Independence Elections

So the victors were told they'd lost,

And the losers also were told

They had lost.

But by special dispensation

Of the British government

And the Opposition leaders too, they

Were now the victors

Subject to certain conditions

Like, to get rid of the

Guys who really won, pretty smartly,

By hook or by crook

(An apt phrase)

Before they came

After you bastards

With a gun! So

If anyone out there

Can tell me how to get

Due process or whatever,

My address is Turnpike House

Widbrook, Bradford-on-Avon,

BA15 1UD,

And my name is Harold Smith.

 

For the Record

 

The Shadow Chancellor,

I now recall,

He was my lawyer!

I had a Lord Chancellor!

I was his client!

'Expenses paid by Justice,

The British branch of the

International Commission of Jurists', said Tom.

Did they tell all the other

International Jurists? About my case?

And the deal they put together

With top politicians,

Which I rejected?

 

God, I've forgotten his name

Again.

I've now also forgotten again

The interrogator, a QC and Tory MP,

And famous.

He was pretty horrible

To me, and suddenly he

Took my hand

And smiled and said, 'I believe you.

Sorry, but I had to test you.'

 

And later Tom said he,

The QC,

Liked me,

Believed me,

Knew I was honest, truthful,

But didn't like my mentioning

Homosexuality -

A popular pastime amongst Colonials -

Because his secretary

Might not have liked it.

 

His secretary?

'Yes, she was behind a screen

In the corner,

Taking everything down

In shorthand,' said Tom.

'I didn't know that!'

'You weren't meant to.

You came over well

In the transcript,' said Tom.

 

We only saw you,' said Tom,

'Because this was of great

National importance

And involved Government

And State secrets,

And you spoke to Amery,

Macmillan's son-in-law.

And top civil servants are involved,

And the Cabinet,

And probably the Privy Council,

And Labour leaders too.'

 

We sat in this Joe Lyons -

Or was it posher -

Near all the Courts,

.'Why?' asked Tom desperately.

 

'The Governor General wouldn't say.

He said it was necessary,

Tom,' I said.

'I don't know why

The British have

Fucked up democracy

In Africa .'

 

Gerald Gardiner - that's the name -

Became Lord Chancellor in the

Wilson Government in 1964.

Sir John Foster was the QC

And Tory MP.

 

'This isn't really

About me, or Carol,'

I told good, decent Tom.

'We witnessed

Murder most foul

In poor bloody Africa .'

 

'I know, I know,'

Tom said sadly.

'You will do

What you have to do.

God be with you.'

 

And the Brits murdered

Three million in Biafra

After they'd cheated them of victory

In the Independence Elections

And I was taken for a ride

By Justice.

 

It was a squalid end to Empire.

 

Wiltshire, March 2001 

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Entrapment

 

Day one in Africa -

The Commissioner explains,

After his Deputy has departed,

That Mr Cook is an evil pervert

And he's going to sack him.

My prospects are excellent.

 

Day two in Africa -

The Deputy explains,

In the absence of the Commissioner,

That this useless arse-licker,

A one-time Exchange clerk

And German Control Commission

Gauleiter, will not last long.

'We will work together to get him out.'

My prospects are excellent.

 

Day three - the Commissioner

Orders the drafting of a Factories Act.

The Deputy says, 'Ignore it!'

'May I have that in writing?'

Produces anger, rage and threats.

The Deputy is merciful

And the offer renewed

And declined.

War is declared.

 

Sabotage, disruption, disorder

Prevail.

The Commissioner retreats to a bunker.

Someone has to take the flak.

Someone has to work

At home,

And a Factories Act is born

On a kitchen table

To hosannas of praise

By the Attorney General.

And the Deputy warns

Of danger to life.

And the Commissioner says

'We won't give you credit for this,

But you will be rewarded one day.'

 

Entrapment is pernicious.

Be careless and get dropped in it.

Be too suspicious, life is misery.

However, beautiful girls appear -

The Minister's nieces. Dozens?

All happy, care-free ladies.

Orders to chauffeur them home,

To the hospital.

 

She has a headache.

Take her home.

Stop at the store for aspirin.

Please buy it, my headache -

I have forgotten my purse.

Oh dear, some small purchase -

Please pay for me.

Lingerie? Panties, bra!

You are so sweet to buy

These presents for me!

 

An African friend, Nwokedi

Mounts a rescue

And announces to everyone

How much I enjoyed

This delightful tease -

A joke, a prank.

'And here,' he says,

'Are the pounds you spent.

A less decent chap

Would have expected

Favours in return.'

 

A very large African businessman

Produces a wad of banknotes

When no clerks are present.

Sprint from the office,

Have him shown out,

Thrown out.

 

A riot at the Labour Exchange,

With staff calm a crowd,

Very excitable. Clear the grounds

And bar gates.

And screams as the gates are

Mysteriously open. And alone you

Face a charging mob

And stand your ground

For a second, before being

Lifted up and carried

And eventually pinned against

A building wall.

And you raise the arm

Of a giant thug

And declare him the victor.

To run would have been

A fatal error.

The mob's mood changes

And laughter and cheers

Greet the humiliation of

The big white chief

Who is really only me.

 

The Commissioner says,

'It's nothing to do with me!'

And his Deputy, enraged, says,

'You were lucky that time!

Next time...'

 

But the next time

Is the Deputy's triumph

Over his boss,

Who he knows has taken bribes.

'And now I've got him!

And you!...'

 

And worse, much worse -

The Independence Elections

Are rigged by our people,

And I say, 'No!'

And the Commissioner,

Now his Deputy's slave

Because of guilt,

To appease his Deputy

Sacks me.

 

The Deputy Governor General

Sir Ralph Grey

Says, 'No way

Can you sack an honest man

Of great service to the State.

He is to be commended

And you, Commissioner

Are ordered to shake his hand,

And to cease this bad behaviour.'

 

The Commissioner's revenge

Is to get a lawmaker

Sacked in civilian life,

And again he is reprimanded

By Whitehall .

And a lawmaker reinstated

Returns to Africa ,

Where elections are rigged

And crooks put in charge,

And the British

Issue death threats.

 

Pursued from job to job

Around the kingdom.

The Prince comes along

And lends support.

A Minister complains

To the Prime Minister -

His father-in-law.

A Lord Chancellor-to-be

Offers vast Government

Compensation in return for

A lawmaker's honour.

 

Out in the wilderness,

Free, broke and clean,

One speculates about

Treason, entrapment

And Whitehall criminality.

What can one say but,

“That filth

Is not for me.”

 

Wiltshire, March 2001

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                                                                                    For Emeka

 

Good Morning, Africa !                        

 

It wasn't our fault!

We're not to blame!

Our children are innocent!

As are their fathers and mothers!

 

Transparency says we're corrupt,

That Nigeria is the pits,

But Britain is tops

And honest

And clean

And decent,

And they didn't rig

Our elections (honest!)

Put crooks in charge (honest!)

Steal our wealth (honest!)

Steal our oil (honest!)

As years ago they didn't

Steal our children,

And didn't

Sell them into slavery.

The British had reformed anyway

And been good to us for a time

Until 1960,

When the bad old habits

Took over again.

 

Brothers and sisters,

It is you, not the Brits,

Who are not to blame.

It wasn't your fault, Africa !

You are honest.

You are clean.

You are decent.

 

So, walk tall, Nigeria !

Swagger a little, Africa !

And look down on

Those bloody, corrupt Brits.

And if you can find it

In your hearts

To forgive the brutal slaughter of

Three million innocents,

Do it! For you are the good guys,

For you are the tops,

The best people,

The good people.

 

The truth will out one day, Africa !

For Emeka Onono

Has told me so.

Good morning, Africa !

 

Wiltshire, March 2001

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The Guarantee

 

If left switched on

The bulb in this torch

Will last for twenty years

Guaranteed, well almost.

The battery - an hour?

My life, a split second of cosmic time.

 

This clock is radio controlled

And won't lose a second

In a million years,

Guaranteed, well almost.

And the clock?

Binned one Monday morning,

Only a million years too soon!

 

I am seventy-three

And only yesterday

I was a blue-collar guy,

An engineer building

For the mighty Zambesi

The Victoria Falls Power Station.

Are the turbines still spinning,

The switch-gear still distributing

And lighting up Africa in

This third millennium?

 

I am in the danger zone,

My guarantee almost expired.

My turbine is faltering,

My switch-gear failing,

One nightfall soon

My power plant will fall silent.

 

In Egypt by the Nile

Inside a tomb

I touched a bandaged lady.

Who was she?

What was her name?

A Carol too, my destiny?

Taken from the sunlight and the Nile

Into this darkness, and disturbed

By Harold Smith ( in some Euclidean symmetry?)

By Harold Smith, an Air Force sparks,

Who flew machines (like a toy bird or kite)

Over her ancient homeland.

 

 

And again in Niger lands

We needed all the power

And light we could command

To confront evil and the dark

In the hearts of the powerful,

Whose moral fuses had blown.

 

The Nile ,

The Niger ,

The Zambesi,

The Mersey of my boyhood

In the Barlow meadows.

These four rivers

Flowed through my brief span

Before I too returned to dust.

 

I hope I gave some satisfaction

And lived up to some degree of

My electricity guarantee.

 

I fought to illuminate

Whitehall 's heart of darkness.

 

Wiltshire, March 2001

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Incarceration

 

The Carter Center

In Atlanta , Georgia ,

Hearing of my plight,

Asks if Harold Smith

Is incarcerated and where,

Which is sweet

Of the wonderful

Carter family

To care.

 

Correction to Atlanta -

No incarceration except

As a figure of speech,

As in life sentence as traitor

And sentenced to total ruin

Of wealth, health, et cetera.

 

Friends were threatened, however,

With imprisonment

For homosexual practices.

Real in one case,

Imagined in another.

In the latter case worse,

For how to deny what

Never happened?

And Michael was promiscuous,

But not with me.

 

Shut up, Smith, or

Michael Crowder of

Nigeria Magazine

And Philip Williams,

Nuffield Fellow and

Future Gaitskell biographer,

Will be locked up

And ruined too.

It was said of the

Great Gatsby only

That he murdered a man.

 

By the way,

Following failed entrapment -

Bribes, theft, grand larceny,

Graft, whores, queers -

We have made you

Lieutenant Colonel,

The better to cashier you

For running off with

Regimental Mess Funds

And the Regimental Goat.

 

Dear Carter clan.

Three million died

Of blockade and British bullets.

And a nation so new

And its democracy too

Were destroyed.

Please pursue.

 

The Smiths are fine.

Think not of us

In Widbrook, Wilts, UK ,

But of three million innocents

And the Whitehall gents

We hold accountable

For their deaths.

Amen!

 

Wiltshire, March 2001

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It's the Economy, Stupid!

That's Why You Starve!

 

We can control:

 

Steam turbines,

Electricity,

Atomic fusion.

The speed of cars,

The rate of combustion,

The beat of the heart.

 

Yet we cannot control:

 

Supply of arms,

Supply of mercenaries,

Supply of troops,

Supply of coffins and/or

Body bags.

 

We can increase:

 

The length of life

With sound nutrition

I.e. lots of good nourishing food,

Particularly protein.

 

We choose not to control:

 

War and starvation,

For there are problems

Of supply and distribution.

I.e. when we supply it, they eat it,

And we're back to square one.

 

When there's a plague and starvation,

Declare a blockade because there's a war,

Or was or will be.

Next question please.

 

Our hearts bleed -

It goes without saying.

We'd rather give you food

Than the bullets.

But bullets fuel our economy.

 

The answer to any erudite,

Scholarly, academic, complex

Questions in this verse -

It's the economy, stupid!

 

Wiltshire, March 2001

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                                      John Locke's Essential

                                              Rebellion in Africa

 

In 1966 Nigeria exploded.

British-trained African Majors

Overthrew a tyranny

Britain had installed.

There was rejoicing

And British chagrin.

 

The Brits responded

With countercoup and murder

On the streets,

And reimposed the tyranny

And waged war

On the nationalists.

 

When in 1960

The British destroyed

Democracy in Nigeria

By declaring the losers

To be the victors at Independence ,

The seeds of legitimate Rebellion were sown.

 

The justice, the necessity of

Rebellion against tyranny

Were set out by John Locke,

Who declared the right to Liberty ,

And was the father

Of the Enlightenment

And inspiration for

The US Constitution.

 

And the British?

Immoral, evil, villainous,

Traitors, criminals

And murderers,

And much more -

The countrymen of John Locke!

 

And Transparency tell us that

Nigerians are the most corrupt

And the British, honest and decent.

And Transparency is therefore

An umbrella for falsehood,

Treachery and mischief.

 

Wiltshire, March 2001

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My Love Walks Tall

 

My love walks tall

Through this poetry.

Though I'm a nobody,

A poet's perks are these.

 

Though I'm broke as a peasant,

Drive an old banger,

Despite my seniority,

Though my friends have millions,

That means nothing to me.

 

Yes, they have wives

And happy families -

I state the plural

For some have had two or three.

 

For we live in a cottage

And it's pretty road noisy,

Not exactly luxury,

Yet we have something special,

My life's all poetry.

 

For I live inside a poem,

A verse written for me

And Carol's the poet,

For she created me.

 

She lets me do my thing,

Really any old thing.

There's not much bread in what I do,

Yet she treats me

As her very special guy.

 

My lyrics I know

Will never do an Elton John.

No Cole Porter I,

I'm a peanuts sort of guy.

 

Yet when I study a tree,

And rush home to tell Carol

That spring's erupting again,

And she expresses wonder,

I feel rewarded

For observing life renewed.

 

And I put it in words

Rather ordinarily

Like these, like me,

For Carol my poet,

Who created me.

 

Wiltshire, March 2001

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                                      Nigeria ?

 

Change your name?

Gold Coast to Ghana

We can understand, but

Change it back!

Sierra Leone and Gambia -

Who gives a damn?

 

And Biafra was poetic

To what was there before.

And the North is the North,

And the West is the West,

And Nigeria is black.

Is that really the best?

 

For a nation so large,

A nation defamed by a corrupt world,

So guilty of criminal intent

To a continent screaming for help,

Names for a colour

Disparaged like dirt -

You deserve better.

 

Transparently Britain

Was evil for centuries

Before they destroyed democracy.

In Nigeria in 1960.

And yet Britain is clean,

And decent and good,

Because British hypocrisy is legendary

And its bloody record is lost to history,

For the British wrote the book.

 

Where are this African giant's historians?

To rescue its good name,

To reclaim from the dark

A Commonwealth of peoples,

Innocent of blame,

Who deserve fair play,

Justice and a break.

 

To win a British PhD,

Nigerians twist their history.

Time to turn away

From this Britishry

And tell the truth objectively.

 

 

My friend Michael Crowder,

A historian of repute,

Wrote histories of Nigeria

Which are a lie for what he left out,

Though he gave me his word

That he wouldn't.

He was blackmailed to lie

When his homosexuality

Was a criminal offence.

 

And Michael, like Peter Cook -

The Deputy Commissioner of Labour -

Was very promiscuous,

But for reasons of State

Cook's reign of terror won favour,

For it involved the British élite,

While Michael was just a

Beginner without influence.

 

I sympathise, Michael.

It's human to be frightened.

But you claimed to be in love

With Nigeria 's peoples, and yet

You betrayed them.

So we take away your historian's chair.

It is vacant and awaits an African scholar

Who will tell the truth

About the peoples of this slab of

The African continent,

And expose the evils about Britain

Concealed by its own false

History fabricators.

 

Wiltshire, March 2001

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Our Green Years in Africa

 

Our green years,

Seen through

The pain of old age,

Are still fresh

And clean and a joy.

 

In Lagos -

Excitement, laughter, drums

As a continent

Awaits liberation

Its fate?

Not necessarily.

 

The lagoon,

The creeks,

The beach,

The retreat

From morality,

Sanity,

Reality,

By what had seemed

A benevolent regime.

 

Primitive schools,

Some medical care,

Decent policing,

Sewage beware,

Clean water,

And an introduction

To civilisation.

 

And laughter, gaiety,

Bicycles and palm wine,

Textiles, markets,

Hi-life and sunshine.

And unnecessary funerals of babies,

And storms,

And rain, rain, rain.

A vast empire of nations

Suddenly has fame

And is being framed.

 

Forced to co-operate

With our treacherous Brits,

Zik and his chums

Sign away power

To the bad guys,

And Nigeria is doomed

To forty years of blood and chaos.

 

And the joyful Nigeria

We knew

Carries the burden of

Three million dead,

And the title of

Most corrupt nation

On earth,

Which rightly belongs to Britain

For replacing our green love of Africa

With decades of grief.

 

Those green years of ours

And Africa 's youth

Were interlocked and woven through.

We screamed a warning

That wasn't heard,

And were forced to flee

From the peoples

We loved.

 

Green years,

Green palms,

Blue costumes,

Blue lagoon,

Red laterite,

Red blood,

And a proud nation of promise

Made a pariah

By the British.

 

Our green years in Africa

Viewed through decades

Of treason and pain.

Will Africa ever

Be green again?

Will young Brits

Like the Smiths

Be welcomed as friends

And treated as family,

Brother and sister,

When they knew us,

By the beautiful peoples

Of our once green Africa ?

 

Wiltshire, March 2001

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The Reunion

 

At Magdalen, Oxford ,

Everyone remembered me,

Especially those

Not in my years - 1952 to '54.

 

While those in my years,

While remembering me,

Had lost the details of their lives

Which then enchanted me.

 

David had a smoking jacket.

'No, I did not.'

'You played the piano...'

'I don't play.'

'...And laughed at my lyrics.'

'You write songs?'

 

'I wrote a line

About jealousy making

Acid drops of dames,

Which had you in fits of laughter.'

'Really? I don't recall.'

 

His wife said later,

'He did play the piano,

And I recall the jacket well,

But those years in Africa

Were hell for him.’

 

And now he runs

An old people's home,

And he's forgetful too.

I hoped this College get-together

Would remind him of his youth.'

 

The Labour Club boys

Were now rich bankers,

And my, their wives

Were young and pretty,

But they were replacements,

Not the original works.

 

And the New Buildings,

We remarked,

Were fifty years older and,

Being cleaned, looked worse.

 

And the new President Smith,

A wonderful fund-raiser,

Had turned everything upside down,

And expanded and extended

And extracted and expended

Millions of old boys' cash

To change what was

Topsy-turvy and loved.

 

Why did we go,

We dry old sticks

To revisit our youth?

And reminisce of a College

Barely understood in that first tour

In the years '52 to '54.

 

Wiltshire, March 2001

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Tales of the Secret Service

 

Mossad were giving

Package tours a new meaning

By kidnapping critics

Of Nigeria 's military regime.

 

African secret police

Were terrorising critics of Nigeria in London

With maximum tolerance because

Britain installed these thugs

Illegally at Independence .

 

We told Minister Patten

Of our fears. He was Tory Chairman

And he agreed,

And despatched a squad

To protect us at Widbrook

For we had warned we

Might flee to his nearby,

Police-protected home,

As he was a neighbour.

 

That in 1991

And Carol entered into years

Of clinical depression

Because she had thought

Patten's special secret police squad

Were Mossad.

And what's the difference

For both were united

In agreeing we were the enemy,

For we loved democracy

And despised treason.

 

A great comedown for

Imperial Britain ,

A fine record of Empire

Ruined at its winding-up

By treason.

 

And fine Israel too,

Emulating the Nazis!

This gives us enormous pain

For we were Zionists

And pro-Israel to the limit.

Yet now we see the justice

Of the Palestinian cause

Reluctantly, and believe

We were slow to appreciate

The justice of the Arab cause.

We, who fought for Israel ,

For Zion .

 

For we are confused

Because the Jews have

Not learned the proper, the

Appropriate lesson from

Nineteen forty-eight,

From the Holocaust,

From the message of

Civilisation.

 

Holocausts are not uncommon

And the Nazi version

Was the most evil and mechanised.

And the Germans were a

Highly civilised nation.

 

Israel , Israel ,

We believed in you.

We stood by you.

But Arabs were tolerant,

Kind, and in 1947 there was

A rich Jewish community

In Cairo . I know,

Because I was there.

 

Israel , thwarted, twisted,

Corrupted, spoiled by the

Holocaust.

Make peace with your Arab cousins.

 

Mossad threatened

Enemies, like the Smiths,

Of Africa 's military

Dictatorships.

 

Patten's boys made clear

That we were threatened,

And now backtracks, and

The Wiltshire Police tell my neighbour,

Who was guarding his chicken farm

In 1991 from green terrorists,

That his son-in-law was dangerous.

And it was not the Smiths

Who were targeted by an SAS hit squad,

Albeit to defend us from Mossad.

They were there to keep watch

On his lousy son-in-law.

So why did closer neighbours

Observe the squad surrounding,

Not the chicken farm,

But our cottage?

 

So be it.

Who cares?

In our great democracy

We are outlaws, terrorists,

For defending democracy

Against fascist British

Governments who are false.

So be it.

The odds against the

Smiths are considerable,

Thus proving the

Strength of our cause.

We cannot win.

The struggle is our victory,

And the true value of democracy.

Fight on, the common people!

 

Wiltshire, March 2001

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Transparency

 

We're going to take

This bloody Colony

And turn it into a democracy

Said the Brits.

Do you hear?

Are you sincere?

 

We're going to take

A model Colony

And pretend it's

A showcase democracy,

Yes. Then we'll steal its oil

And the pirates we leave behind

Will rob the country blind

As a consolation prize.

And we don't care.

 

We robbed this country blind

Once before, said the Brits.

We put its people in chains

And took them on a package tour

To the USA

In a rather special way.

Do you hear?

Are you sincere?

 

You cotton-picking nobodies,

You're going on a one-way cruise

From Nigeria

In a rather special way

To the southern USA .

Do you hear?

Are you sincere?

 

In nineteen-sixty

An Independence we declared.

We said, you're all free

So long as you work for me.

You've got total liberty

So long as you vote for me.

And we don't care.

Do you hear?

Are you sincere?

 

We fucked Nigeria up

For a few more years,

Then some Ibo heroes

Who had had enough

Shot the bastards the Brits put in charge

And for one or two hours

We felt really free

Until the Northern Army

Killed our liberty,

And we did care.

Do you hear?

Oh yes, we cared.

 

Now Nigeria is the world's

Biggest basket case,

And it's all our fault,

Though we never had a say.

And the British Crown,

Which fucked us up and down,

Is honest as the day is long,

Though they stole our people,

Our oil

And our democracy.

They taught us all about democracy.

No one ever got it for free.

And independence can't be given.

It has to be won by sacrifice

Like Freedom and Liberty .

 

Wiltshire, March 2001

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In Memoriam

 

Christopher Okigbo,

African poet,

Killed by the British

In so-called Nigeria .

 

A magnificent life,

A truly heroic end,

At one with Shelley,

Byron, Keats.

Romantic, a

Splendidly fine

Ending.

 

A British education,

Western values,

Poetry, literature,

Fine feelings

In an African clearing,

In a bush school.

 

Dear Christopher,

You were one

Of three million – UN figures -

Killed by British treason.

Truly a man of the people.

Whitehall feared you,

Westminster was terrified.

Your death will yet be

Celebrated in a Universal

Poets’ Valhalla

With Geoffrey Hill.

 

Wiltshire, August 2002

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                                                An Epiphany

 

I am Muslim,

I am Yoruba,

I am a Westerner,

I am a Lagosian,

I am educated in English,

I am seventeen,

I am a woman,

I am a clerk,

I am pretty.

 

I think that's all - oh yes,

I am an African, of course.

Of course?

Will last but not least do?

Of course.

I am proud to be a Nigerian.

That will do very well.

 

 

Wiltshire, November 2003

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Long Live Nigeria !

 

I am your witness!

I have seen mighty wrongs

Inflicted on peaceful,

Law-abiding citizens.

 

Before my time,

These same people

Were sold into bondage,

Cast into the sea when sick,

Separated from their fathers,

Their mothers, their kin,

Sold by good, Christian, white folk

Doing the devil's work.

 

I am your witness

That, when slavery stopped,

Business was falling off.

Now it was your property

That was coveted,

And not just your ass.

This time it was your

Nation that would be stolen.

And so it came to pass

That the British passed this way

And came to stay.

 

I am your witness

That, when the world said,

This cannot be,

You must be free,

The British talked democracy.

Heads I win,

Tails you lose.

I'm going to let you vote,

And I'm going to tell you

That the people, who

Want me to stay,

Will rule you from now on.

I call that democracy.

It may look like slavery.

The difference is,

You voted for it,

And if you disagree

I'll put you in jail

With Awolowo

And Enaharo,

And all the other

Patriots, who give me trouble.

Do you hear me, boy?

 

I am your witness,

For I protested

When I saw criminality

Faked up to look like law;

When I saw democracy destroyed,

Freedom denied,

Liberty denigrated,

The people tricked.

For we have been here before,

Placed in bondage

By those who envy us.

Our goodness, our kindness,

Our loving children,

Our respected parents,

Our elders, our beliefs,

Ourselves.

 

I am your witness,

And now I have given

You the testimony

That will set you free.

For when Nigeria awakens

And finds its destiny,

No despotic nation on earth

Will have chains strong enough

Ever again

To bind our limbs.

 

Nigeria is on the march!

Hear those drums beating!

Hear those hymns singing!

Hear our women laughing!

Hear our children playing!

Hear our elders dreaming!

Hear our people praying!

We have got the message now -

We see the promised land.

Long live Nigeria !

Long live the promised land!

Long live the People's Republic!

 

Wiltshire, November 2003                   

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Going Native - A Return Match

 

I followed in the footsteps

Of another lawmaker -

Samuel Moore -

A Chief Justice,

When I served in Nigeria .

He was also a Manchester man.

 

Moore was, firstly, a friend

Of Fred Engels,

Who lived on my patch

In Moss Side.

And he boasted about

His African girlfriend

To Karl Marx.

Princess Road now

Runs through Engel's home

Where he kept his lady.

 

From the Niger Company

Through British rule

Until a fake,

Flag retreat,

When Britain

Waived the rules

In 1960

Was only seventy years.

And now I'm seventy-six.

 

When I returned

From Africa in 1960

The Brits

Threatened to shoot me

For blowing the whistle.

When  Samuel Moore  returned

To Manchester ,

He translated

The works of Marx,

Including

The Communist Manifesto.

Curiously Moss Side

Has now gone African too.

 

A return match

Around the

City ground

At Maine Road ?

Where Engels

Had a posh house

With stables

And servants' quarters.

 

Wiltshire, January 2004

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Caring for You

 

Our politicians are human -

They suffer too.

However they encounter so much grief

That they need to cool it,

Scale down

The human sacrifice,

To keep it manageable,

To ration their concern,

Lest compassion

Run to waste.

 

In fact,

We care too much -

If that were possible -

And in the meantime

Remember,

If we appear unconcerned,

It's but an act

To cover up the fact

We don't really

Give a fuck at all.

For you

And yours

And them

As was,

Are dead.

However,

Nothing is ever

Going to bring them back.

Thank God.

The legacy

Of British treason,

Spelled out by

Anthony Enaharo.

 

The social revolution

Schools sprouted

Throughout the bush

With dispensaries

And the ideals

Of liberty, freedom,

Equality.

 

And today

All that remains

Are mud bricks

And broken walls

Of our dreams.

 

The North

As poor,

Illiterate as ever,

And now ruled

By fundamentalists.

 

We struggled.

We fought.

We lost so much,

But foundations were laid

Others will one day follow.

 

Where this brave

Band of brothers,

Awolowo and Enaharo

And the Action Group

Idealists once forged

A path,

They will follow -

The future generations -

In your footsteps.

 

I spoke of this

With Anthony

By phone

One Sunday evening,

Eighth of February,

Two thousand and four.

 

I witnessed an

African tragedy.

The British did it

Alone, in their evil.

 

Wiltshire, July 2004