This Book is distributed Free.

Its message is to promote peace and encourage people to stand up and speak out against violence.

POEMS OF PEACE Copyright © Shehu Sani, 2012

ISBN 978-978-922-924-6

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means without written permission of the copyright owner.

All correspondence about this book should be directed to: the Author on sani_shehu08@yahoo.com or +2348034532590

Printed by: LABARI COMMUNICATIONS NJ 18 Gwari Road, Kaduna, Tel: +234 8033146027 Email:graphiclinkkad@yahoo.com

Photo appreciation to willing contributors.

TABLE OF CONTENT

Introduction Dedication My City Boils Pictures Tells Lies What I Share Midnight In Maiduguri The Blood Of The Innocent You Can't Hide This Is My God For The Child That Need Peace Heaven Tell Living By The Gun Seeds Of Hatred The Mind That Hates Peace Of The Mind A Day Of Peace The Land Of Bombs Magreb This Is My Land I Dreamt Of A World Of Peace War Gunmen A City Under Curfew

I Vii 1 2 4 6 8 9 10 12 13 14 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27

A Tree Makes A Forest I Need Not A Land Of Gold The Animal In Us Zonkwa The Weapons Of Peace Human Mind I Have Seen War In My Time Woe Betides My Land How Peaceful Can You Live You Walk By The Dead I Am A Conqueror I Am A Human Being The Peace We Lost Speak The Truth Today Is Good Friday When Will The Rain Fall Lake Chad Dying Pure He Is The Shield Of Peace My Tomorrow What Is The Worth Of Life Beauty In Difference Eternal Peace A Journey I Walk In The Ruins Be A Man The King Lies Dead The Faith In Ethiopia

29 30 31 33 35 36 37 39 40 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 50 51 52 53 55 56 58 59 61 62 64 66

Kill My Body When The Poor Arises I Am Dead Somalia Let The Church The Politician Kuru Janta Dogo Na Hauwa The Leaves Fall Sound Of War Take Your Peace Before You Kill The Cleric A City In Peace Gold An Unbeliever Sell River Kaduna He Is Not Oh Belfast The Gangster In Jail This Land My City I Speak Where Is The Love I Am A Bird Peace

67 69 70 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 82 84 85 87 89 90 91 92 93 94 96 98 99 100 101 103

I Sit On The Moon My Dream We Differ Riyom Rock A Crusader's Day Breivik The Police You Call Me A Terrorist When The Swords Are Out Where Were You Season Of Bloodshed Tree Of Freedom When I Ran Vengeance Testing Times The Mosque Give Me Call Me Oh Mother Earth Last Flight Lessons Of Life The Search Die With Honour Blood Trails My Vote My Infant Newspaper Reviews

104 106 108 109 110 111 112 113 115 116 118 119 120 122 123 124 126 127 128 129 131 132 133 134 135 136-150

INTRODUCTION

These anthology is written for the sole purpose of promoting peace, encouraging peace efforts and inspiring peace advocacy and renunciation of violence and terror perpetuated in the guise of ethnicity or religion or politics. Specifically, these poems are intended to motivate, give hope and courage to people living in societies wracked by deadly, atrocious sectarian, ethnic or communal violence and terror. These collection of Poems are not conventional sonnets that conform to the strict rules and stereotype of literature or academics. Rather, they are literary intervention to inspire the minds and reinforce the spirits of victims of violence, residents of flashpoints and ordinary people passionate about peace. Some of these poems unambiguously addresses the proponents of violence and terror. The poems appeals to their minds, souls and conscience: the message here is to project the futility of their sordid acts, its bestiality and the natural and predictable consequences of it. The poems are not just out to condemn violence but to neutralize the justifications for it and win the hearts of all warriors to the side of peace. It should be noted that
i

these pacifist poems does in no way advocate or encourage placid surrender or submission to totalitarianism, oppression or any form of subjective injustice and evil in the name of peace. Readers will clearly decipher some of the poems as respectful of the dictum of injustice begatten violence and the rights and obligation of oppressed people to free themselves. These poems are prescriptions for peace particularly for people of Northern Nigeria for whom over three decades have been experiencing sectarian and ethnic violence between Muslims and Christians and now facing an atrocious insurgency. These violence has consumed thousands of innocent lives and a couple of the perpetrators. Muslims and Christians, women and children, the young and the old, professionals informants and artisans, academics and students, police, peacemakers and warmongers, church goers and Islamic preachers, insurgents and counter insurgents, nationals and foreigners have been wasted by this monstrous evil of sectarianism and intercommunal and ethnic violence. These poems may also be useful to the people of Northern Ireland, Kashmir, Bosnia Herzegovina and some communities in Myanmar, Thailand, Pakistan, Egypt, Middle East, Phillippines.
ii

Some of the poems directly challenges intolerance and demystify fear and berates the proposition and ideology of hate disguised in faiths and beliefs. Some of the poems are narratives about the outcomes of violence; the acts, the carnage and the soullessness associated with it. There are also poems that points to the root source of violence as it concerns social stratification of depressed in iniquitous societies and political and economic dynamics that undermines peace and thereby incites or ignites or sustains violence or terror. A couple of the poems are messages to political leaders whose doings or undoing provokes a social or political reactions. Community and religious leaders will find some of the poems quite unsettling and unconformable as they unequivocally mirror their role in fanning the embers of discord, and in some shots respectfully admonishes them to redirect their minds or their followers to the path of tolerance and peace. These poems are literary mirrors in which intolerant societies can see their bloodletting present and chequred future. They are also crystal balls to see the promise and value of peace. The psychological and emotional state of people living in societies gripped by terror and violence is demanding
iii

of inspiration and motivation that will lift their spirit to stand up and speak out against violence and for peace. These poems may not achieve their goals but their mission is unambiguous. Poem cannot end violence and terror. Poems do not lead to peace. What poems do is to appeal to the minds, the soul, the spirit or the heart because there lies the source of the thoughts of violence and the resolve for peace. This poems are written between 2011 and 2012 at home and in journeys within Northern Nigeria and other travels to countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Ethiopia and Ghana.

iv

The real lasting victories are those of peace, and not of war....
Ralph Waldo Emerson

v

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other....
Mother Theresa

vi

DEDICATION

To all those who lost their lives in the ongoing violence in Northern Nigeria

vii

MY CITY BOILS

M

y city is boiling I can see the evaporation of peace My city is boiling I can see the steam of violence My city is boiling I can see the bubbles of anger My city is boiling I can feel the heat of intolerance My city is boiling I can see the vapour of vendetta. My city is boiling I can see the flames of death My city is boiling I can see the stokes of hatred

1

PICTURES TELLS LIES

F

rom your face I cannot see your heart From your smiles I cannot see your intention From your courtesy I cannot see your plots From your calmness I cannot see your anger From your handshake I cannot see your fist From your friendship I cannot see your perfidy From your godliness I cannot see your evil From your words I cannot see your actions
2

From your confidence I cannot see your fears From your beliefs I cannot see your peace From your religion I cannot see your holiness From your wealth I cannot see your cleanliness From your body I cannot see your spirit.

3

WHAT I SHARE

I

share your faith But excuse me your interpretations I share your beliefs But excuse me your extremism I share your vision But excuse me your ambition I share your dreams But excuse me your desperation. I share your mission But excuse me your violence I share our passion But excuse me your interest I share your advice But excuse me your lifestyle I share your love But excuse me your lust
4

I share your race But excuse me your hate I share your patience But excuse me your limitations I share your hope But excuse me your despair I share your commendation But excuse me your sycophancy I share your exploration But excuse me your exploitation I share your respect But excuse me your fear I share your obedience But excuse me your cowardise.

5

MIDNIGHT IN MAIDUGURI

T

his is a night in the Sahel Where the sand drenched in blood And the wind blew the spirit of the dead No night life, As all lives are on the edge This is a night in the Sahel Where the sun set earliest And all take refuge for fear And for survival Through the wall of my room I can hear the explosive sound And the roar of terror Shaking the immovables I can hear the siren And the matching boots Of the angry soldiers, Searching for the murderous lot

6

From the window of my closet I can, despite the darkness, See the bellows of smoke Of a murderous mission. A city under siege Of stalking annihilators And marauding knights A city in chains That lost; Its freedom Its beauty And its peace A city in perpetual midnight

7

THE BLOOD OF THE INNOCENT
FOR PROF. JEROME AYODELE, PROF. ANDREW LEO AND 16 OTHERS 24/4/12

he blood of the innocent Is holy and pure The blood of the innocent Cannot be drawn without a price The blood of the innocent Hunts and hacks the felon The blood of the innocent Never dries up with the wind The blood of the innocent Never burns up with the heat The blood of the innocent Never sinks in the sands of time The blood of the innocent Torments its drawer The blood of the innocent Flows stronger than a sea current.
8

T

YOU CAN'T HIDE

Y

ou can't hide When you kill my friend You can't hide When you burn my house You can't hide When you maim my neighbor You can't hide When you molest my sister You can't hide When you ruin my life You can't hide When you deny my truth You can't hide When you steal my freedom You can't hide When you wreck my peace.

9

THIS IS MY GOD

M

y God is of peace I don't know of yours My God is of freedom I don't know of yours My God is of unity I don't know of yours My God is of progress I don't know of yours My God is of morals I don't know of yours My God is of love I don't know of yours My God is of compassion I don't know of yours My God is of harmony I don't know of yours
10

My God is of togetherness I don't know of yours My God is of knowledge I don't know of yours My God is of respect I don't know of yours My God is of discipline I don't know of yours My God is of dignity I don't know of yours.

11

FOR THE CHILD THAT NEED PEACE

F

or the child that needs peace We gave him war To the child who needs food We gave him hunger For the child who needs unity We gave him discord For the child who needs freedom We gave him bondage For the child who needs happiness We gave him sorrow For the child who needs smiles We gave him tears For the child who needs knowledge We gave him ignorance For the child who needs the future We gave him the past

12

HEAVEN

T

here is no Heaven For the killer of my child There is no Heaven For the wrecker of my peace There is no Heaven For the ruiner of my life There is no Heaven For the extinguisher of my hope There is no Heaven For the shatterer of my dreams There is no Heaven For the crusher of my future There is no Heaven For the breaker of my heart.

13

TELL

T

o the man of evil Tell him of good To the man of war Tell him of peace To the man of slavery Tell him of freedom To the man of shame Tell him of honour To the man of terror Tell him of resolve To the man of despair Tell him of hope To the man of Darkness Tell him of light To the man of fear Tell him of courage
14

To the man of submission Tell him of resistance To the man of chaos Tell him of order To the man of greed Tell him of mortality

15

LIVING BY THE GUN

Y

ou live by the gun And never will you live in peace. You live by the gun And never will you live in freedom. You live by the gun And never will you live in family You live by the gun And never will you live in heaven You live by the gun And never will you live in honour You live by the gun And never will you live in the open You live by the gun And never will you live in life You live by the gun And never will you live like human.
16

SEEDS OF HATRED

T

he seeds of hatred Is in the words we utter The seeds of hatred Is in the treatment of others The seeds of hatred Is in the signs we show The seeds of hatred Is in the things we do The seed of hatred Is in the gospel we preach The seed of hatred Is in the life we live The seed of hatred Is in the lessons we teach. The seed of hatred Is in the legacy we leave The seed of hatred Is in the habit we hold The seed of hatred Is in the thoughts in our mind
17

THE MIND THAT HATES

T

he mind that hates Dwells in pain The mind that hates Will always be in sorrow The mind that hates Will always be in anger The mind that hates Will always be in vengeance The mind that hates Will have a heart full of evil The mind that hates Is a mind in hell The mind that hates Lives in the shadow of demons The mind that hates Tears everything apart

18

PEACE OF THE MIND

P

eace of the mind Frees your heart from hate Peace of the mind Frees your heart from fear Peace of the mind Frees your heart from pain Peace of the mind Frees your heart of burden Peace of the mind Lifts your spirit above Peace of the mind Helps your body grow Peace of the mind Beams in light of hope Peace of the mind Inspires you to achieve.

19

A DAY OF PEACE

I

s there a day of peace When there will be no war. Is there a day of peace When there will be no violence Is there a day of peace When there will be no injustice Is there a day of peace When there will be no disharmony Is there a day of peace When there will be no disunity Is there a day of peace When there will be no one to murder Is there a day of peace When there will be no one in bondage Is there a day of peace When there will be no fear Is there a day of peace When the night will be as bright as the day Is there a day of peace When no one will be hindered.

20

THE LAND OF BOMBS

W

ill my son ever be back In the land of Bombs Will my son ever learn In the land of Bombs Will my son ever grow In the land of Bombs Will my son ever live In the land of Bombs Will my son ever worship In the land of Bombs Will my son ever be free In the land of bombs Will my son ever love In the land of Bombs Will my son ever be compassionate In the land of Bombs Will my son ever walk In the land of Bombs Will my son ever succeed In the land of Bombs
21

MAGREB

L

et the magreb Be of peace not of war Let the magreb Be of green not of famine Let the magreb Be of harmony not of disquiet Let the magreb Be of justice not of cruelty Let the magreb Be of plough not of gun Let the magreb Be of freedom not of hostage Let the magreb Be of light not of darkness Let the magreb Be of the future not of the past

22

THIS IS MY LAND

T

his is my land I will always defend This is my freedom I will not let go This is my home I will not leave This is my pride I will never sell This is my conscience I will not betray This is my heart I will not break This is my resolve You can never take away This is my future You can never hold hostage.

23

I DREAMT OF A WORLD OF PEACE
VICTIMS OF UNITED NATIONS HOUSE BOMBING, ABUJA. 26TH AUGUST, 2011

I

dreamt of a world of peace I woke up in a land of violence I dreamt of a world of love I woke up in a land of hate I dreamt of a world of unity I work up in a land of disharmony I dreamt of a world of hope I woke up in a land of despair I dreamt of a world of freedom I woke up in a land of bondage I dreamt of a world of justice I woke up in a land of inequity I dreamt of a world of sharing I woke up in a land of self.

24

WAR

W

ar build empires War ruins empires War makes kings War ruins kings War build boundaries War ruins boundaries War makes nations War ruins nations War create pride War ruins pride War frees people War enslaves people War brings peace War ruins peace War brings equality War ruins equality War brings justice War ruins justice War brings hope War brings despair
25

GUNMEN

Y

ou bring sorrow to homes And think you are invincible You bring bereavement to homes And think you are invincible You bring widows to the streets And think you are invincible You bring orphans to the wild And think you are invincible You bring mourners to the family And think your are invincible You bring bodies to the morgue And think you are invincible You bring tears to the eyes And think you are invincible You bring tension to the town And think you are invincible You bring horror to the village And think you are invincible You bring darkness to the clime And think you are invincible.
26

A CITY UNDER CURFEW

I

walk alone in a city under curfew The busy street is empty. I walk alone in a city under curfew The shops are closed I walk alone in a city under curfew The market is deserted. I walk alone in a city under curfew The schools are shut I walk alone in a city under curfew The offices are abandoned I walk alone in a city under curfew The theatre is unattended I walk alone in the city under curfew The mosque is shut. I walk alone in the city under curfew The church is closed.
27

I walk alone in a city under curfew The vendor is absent I walk alone in a city under curfew I can see armed troops on vigil I walk alone in a city under curfew I can see vultures on carcass I walk alone in a city under curfew I can see the burnt tyres of anger I walk alone in a city under curfew I can see the starving lots through their windows I walk alone in a city under curfew I can see the triumph of evil I walk alone in a city under curfew I can see the dearth of peace.

28

A TREE MAKES A FOREST
BABAKURA FUGU 18th SEPTEMBER, 2011

A

tree makes a forest If the tree stands for peace A tree makes a forest If the tree stands for love A tree makes a forest If the tree stands for justice A tree makes a forest If the tree stands for truth. A tree makes a forest If the tree stands for freedom A tree makes a forest If the tree stands for unity A tree makes a forest If the tree stands for light A tree makes a forest If the tree stands for knowledge.
29

I NEED NOT A LAND OF GOLD

I

need not a land of Gold, But of peace that I can live I need not a land of riches, But of peace that I can sleep I need not a land of wealth But of peace that I can walk. I need not a land of opulence, But of peace that my children can grow. I need not a land of pride, But of peace that I can be free I need not a land of milk and honey But of peace to eat my fruits. I need not a land of bounty, But of peace that I can speak. I need not a land of plenty, But of peace, of modesty and dignity. I need not much But of little that I can love.
30

THE ANIMAL IN US

T

here is a beast in everyman

That pushes him to war. There is a dove in Everyman That pulls him to peace There is a giraffe in everyman That lifts him to reach heights There is a bird in everyman That thrusts him to fly There is a cheetah in everyman That makes him to run There is a lion in everyman That gives him strength There is a dog in everyman That makes him loyal There is a fox in everyman That makes him clever
31

There is an elephant in everyman That makes him feel big There is a bear in everyman That makes him endure cold There is a tiger in everyman That makes him wild There is a camel in everyman

32

ZONKWA
18TH APRIL, 2011

A

sleepy town That became a hatchery Where men became beasts Devouring the weak and the meek Men became monsters Snuffing out life in a manner most cruel A sleepy town Peopled by the downtrodden Eking out a living in a depressed clime The cannibals visited on a day Of hell Encircling, Hacking, And roasting The old, the young and the infant A family wasted For nothing but their faith
33

The demons soaked In the blood of the innocent Pillaged and razed They ruined homes And lives forever A sleepy town once alive Now a Ghost Left so by unholy vandals On the command of The Lucifer

34

THE WEAPONS OF PEACE

U

se your diggers to build a temple of peace

Use your swords to slay ignorance Use your machetes to cut down intolerance Use your spears to tear the drums of war Use your guns to shoot the Lucifer of intolerance Use your louvers to slaughter the beasts of strife Use your sickle to chop down the bushes of violence Use your mind to tear down the walls of hate Use your pen to write the script of forgiveness Use your tongue to preach the word of life Use your time to understand your neighbor Use your energy to build a pyramid of love.

35

HUMAN MIND

H

uman mind A difficult ocean to navigate Human mind A territory yet to be conquered Human mind A mystery difficult to decipher Human mind A source of peace and of war Human mind A flexible fibre prone to danger Human mind A treasure of good and infamy Human mind A place of giving and taking Human mind A fountain of hope and tragedy.

36

I HAVE SEEN WAR IN MY TIME

I

have seen war in my time Let your time be of peace I have seen prison in my time Let your time be of freedom I have seen poverty in my time Let your time be of prosperity I have seen despair in my time Let your time be of hope I have seen evil in my time Let your time be of good I have seen tension in my time Let your time be of calmness and quiet I have seen deception in my time Let your time be of truth I have seen hate in my time Let your time be of love.
37

I have seen might in my time Let your time be of right I have seen tears of sorrow in my time Let your time be that of joy I have seen drought in my time Let your time be of bounty I have seen terror in my time Let yours be that of reason I have seen disunity in my time Let yours be that of harmony.

38

WOE BETIDES MY LAND

W

oe betides my land; The innocent at the mercy of the weld. Woe betides my land; The children haunted by predators Woe betides my land; The hostages' life is on ransom Woe betides my land; The debauched rule the pauper Woe betides my land; The famished amidst plenty Woe betides my land; The widow cries unheard. Woe betides my land; A new day is always the same day.

39

HOW PEACEFUL CAN YOU LIVE

H

ow peaceful can you live In a land bewildered in violence How comfortable can you live In a land of paupers How much merry can you make In a land of sorrow How rich can you be In the land of the poor How cheerful can you be In the land of anger How sleepy can you be In the land of insomniacs How protected can you be In the land of intolerance How joyous can you be In a land of tension
40

How free can you be In a land of fear How secure can you be In a land of victims How safe can you be In a land of the vulnerable How much can you keep In a land of want How healed can you be In the land of the sick

41

YOU WALK BY THE DEAD

Y

ou walk by the dead

And think you are immortal You walk by the victims And think you are invincible You walk by the poor And think you can never be You walk by the needy And think you are insulated You walk by the sick And think you are healthy You walk by the hungry And think you acquired enough.

42

I AM A CONQUEROR

I

am a conqueror Blind to the heights of the mountain on the road I am a conqueror Deaf to the noise of mischief around me I am a conqueror Blind to the impediments of success on my way I am a conqueror Deaf to the sounds of impossibility in my surrounding I am a conqueror Blind to the distance of my journey I am a conqueror Deaf to the roar of the beasts on my path I am a conqueror Blind to the vastness and the turbulence of the ocean on my route. I am a conqueror Blind to the stormy weather above me I am a conqueror Too deaf to hear the thunder of despair.

43

I AM A HUMAN BEING

I

am a human being So I must reason. I am a human being So I must love I am a human being So I must share I am a human being So I must tolerate I am a human being So I must be compassionate I am a human being So I must let live I am a human being So I must be humane I am a human being So I must keep the peace

44

THE PEACE WE LOST

T

he peace we lost Littered our streets with corpses. The peace we lost Sent us out of our homes The peace we lost Brought sorrow to our peaceful homes The peace we lost Kept us distance apart The peace we lost Spread the fear in us The peace we lost Ended the unity we had The peace we lost Crushed the hope we had The peace we lost Extinguished the light that beared

45

SPEAK THE TRUTH

S

peak the truth to terror That you may have peace. Speak the truth to power That you may have justice Speak the truth to hate That you may have love Speak the truth to fear That you may have dignity. Speak the truth to bondage That you may have freedom. Speak the truth to vices That you may have morales Speak the truth to deceit That you may have the truth Speak the truth to evil That you may have good.

46

TODAY IS GOOD FRIDAY

Today is Good Friday
Melt the swords to hoes Melt the guns to ploughs Melt the arrows to spades Melt the spears to sickle Melt the matchets hammer Melt the bullets to pots Melt the knives to diggers Melt the axes to hoofs Melt the cutlasses to nails Melt the riffles to umbrellas Melt the fences to bridges Melt the tanks to doors

47

WHEN WILL THE RAIN FALL

When will the rainreason fall To end the famine of
When will the rain fall To end the draught of peace When will the rain fall To end the hunger for harmony When will the rain fall To end the baking of truth When will the rain fall To end the heat of violence When will the rain fall To cool the heart of the victims When will the rain fall To send the lightning to the killer When will the rain fall To flood the dens of plotters
48

When will the rain fall To grow the seed of peace When will the rain fall To wash the stains of blood When will the rain fall To replenish all that was lost. When will the rain fall To end the overheat

49

LAKE CHAD

T

his is a mother That feed us all This is a sail That sustains our life This is a relief From the fury of the desert This is a shade From the scotching Saharan sun This is freedom From the bondage of the sand This is breeze From the suffocating veil This is life From the death in the grid

50

DYING PURE
FOR MADALLA

Y

our innocence is your purity

Your purity is your holiness Your holiness is your freedom Your freedom is your immortality Your immortality is your eternity Your eternity is your exception Your exception is your memory Your memory is your triumph Your triumph is your respect Your respect is your pride Your pride is your dignity Your dignity is your repute Your repute is your peace Your peace is your courage Your courage is your epitaph

51

HE IS THE SHIELD OF PEACE
SUNDAY BADANG 15TH FEBRUARY, 2012

H

e is the shield of peace

Who walks with courage And confidence to save our souls He is the shield of peace Who dares the dreaded He is the shield of peace Who wrestles the lion that others may go He is the shield of peace Who blocks the flood that sweeps away. He is the shield of peace Who breaks the chain that others be free He is the shield of peace Who died that others may live.

52

MY TOMORROW

M

y tomorrow Should be free from hate My tomorrow Should be free from vendetta My tomorrow Should be free from deaths unwanted My tomorrow Should be free from rancour My tomorrow Should be free from want My tomorrow Should be free from discontent My tomorrow Should be free from complex My tomorrow Should be free from debt
53

My tomorrow Should be free from greed ? My tomorrow Should be free from bigotry My tomorrow Should be free from mindset My tomorrow Should be free from xenophobia.

54

WHAT IS THE WORTH OF LIFE

W

hat is the worth of life When it shall end What is the worth of wealth When its vanity What is the worth of war When peace must reign What is the worth of hate When love conquers What is the worth of cruelty When good triumphs What is the worth of a storm When calm is what all wants What is the worth of lies When the truth will eventually win

55

BEAUTY IN DIFFERENCE

F

lowers are different Yet all are flowers Birds are different Yet all are birds Trees are different Yet all are trees Fragrances are different Yet all are fragrances Pens are different Yet all are pens Days are different Yet all are days Colours are different Yet all are colours Rocks are different Yet all are rocks
56

Foods are different Yet all are foods Lights are different Yet all are lights Sounds are different Yet all are sounds Stars are different Yet all are stars Animals are different Yet all are animals People are different Yet all are people.

57

ETERNAL PEACE
FOR LAWRENCE ADENIYI

est in peace And rise among the innocent Rest in peace And rise among the free Rest in peace And rise among the young Rest in peace And rise among the unblemished Rest in peace And rise among the dignified Rest in peace And rise among those with honor Rest in peace And rise among the righteous Rest in peace And rise among the heroes
A University of Maiduguri student killed by stray bullet (16/4/12)

R

58

A JOURNEY

A

journey Frees a mind A journey Casts a light A journey Lifts the spirit A journey Builds the dream A journey Keeps the promise A journey Bonds the tie A journey Beats the time A journey Kills the boredom
59

A journey Ends the doubts A journey Heals the wound A journey Makes it work A journey Nips the bud A journey Propels the man A journey Cracks the nut A journey Pulls the mat A journey Seals the deal

60

I WALK IN THE RUINS

walk in the ruins And saw the ashes of my tools I walk in the ruins And saw the wedding ring of my neighbor I walk in the ruins And saw the medals of my friend I walk in the ruins And saw the shattered windscreen of my school bus I walk in the ruins And found the charred remains of my poppy I walk in the ruins And found the damaged certificate of my friends' father. I walk in the ruins And found the pieces of once priceless treasure. I walk in the ruins And found the childhood photos of my granny. I walk in the ruins And found the madness in us.
61

I

BE A MAN

B

e a man of Peace Like Alfred Nobel Be a man of Harmony Like William Penn Be a man of Dream Like Martin Luther King Be a man of Tolerance Like Mahatma Gandhi Be a man of Spirit Like Desmond Tutu Be a man of Resolve Like Gaman Abdul Nassir Be a man of Vision Like Kwame Nkrumah Be a man of Hope Like Yitzak Rabin
62

Be a man of Dignity Like Yessar Arafat Be a man of Inspiration Like Che Guavera Be a man of Mission Like J.F. Kennedy Be a man of Change Like Deng Tso Ping.

63

THE KING LIES DEAD

T

he king lies dead

And the crown is yonder The king lies dead And the throne is lonely The king lies dead And the knights are helpless The king lies dead And the palace is silent The king lies dead And the drums are quiet The king lies dead And the regalia is hung The king lies dead And the body decomposes The king lies dead And the princes are humbled
64

The king lies dead And the Queen is without gold The king lies dead And the maggots are waiting The king lies dead And the king must leave the palace.

65

THE FAITH IN ETHIOPIA

T

here is a land in the East Of flowers of peace And coffee of unity. There is a land in the East Of faiths in diversity And diversity in harmony There is a land in the East Where faith is love And faith is peace There is a land in the East Where God is truly one There is a land in the East For others to learn; How to live And let live.

66

KILL MY BODY
*CHRIS McMANUS, FRANCO LAMOLINARA AND EDGAR FRITZ

K

ill my body But you can't rule my life Kill my body But you can't kill my soul Kill my body But you can't halt my triumph Kill my body But you can't cage my heart Kill my body But you can't dictate my conscience Kill my body But you can't control my thoughts Kill my body But you can't determine my beliefs
*The British, Italian and German hostages killed in Sokoto and Kano.

67

Kill my body But you can't lead my spirit Kill my body But you can't end my truth Kill my body But you can't stain my innocence Kill my body But you can't own my words Kill my body But you can't wipe my memory Kill my body But you can't make me you.

68

WHEN THE POOR ARISES

W

hen the poor arises They chases the demon of infamy When the poor arises They melt the shackles of evil When the poor arises They wake the spirit of truth When the poor arises They end the drought of reason When the poor arises They crushes the wall of bandage When the poor arises They unleashes the torrents of freedom When the poor arises They plant the seed of hope When the poor arises They build the temple of justice When the poor arises They kill the monster of fear When the poor arises They alight the hole of darkness.
69

I AM DEAD

I

am dead Now living far away from you. I know where you are You know not where I am I can hear you You can hear me not I can see you You can see me not I know what you see You know not what I see I know that mystery That puzzles you I know the truth That you may be in doubt I know the end That you always dread I saw the small things In your big things
70

I saw the big things In your small things I saw the people That I know I saw the people That I only read

71

SOMALIA

A

once beautiful land Now wrecked by war A once beautiful land Now possessed by evil A once beautiful land Now shattered by horror A once beautiful land Now gripped by infamy A once beautiful land Now infested by pests A once beautiful land Now ruined by terror A once beautiful land Now occupied by rodents A once beautiful land Now spreading its vice A once beautiful land Now needing peace A once beautiful land Now needing unity.
72

LET

L

et your love be the sun That shines on all Let your smile be the moon That can light the dark Let your tongue be the rain That brings succor to all Let your heart be the earth That's a home for all Let your home be the fresh air That all can breath Let your face be the roses That all love to inhale Let your life be the lyrics That bring harmony.

73

THE CHURCH

D

on't ruin the Church For it is a place of peace Don't wreck the Church It is a temple of God Don't blast the Church It is a place of healing Don't Break the Church It is a temple of prayer Don't ruin the Church It is the house of God Don't crush the Church It is the home of unity Don't annihilate the Church It is the spot of blessing Don't rift the Church It is the platform of glory Don't uproot the Church It is the light of knowledge Don't kill the Church It is the soul of life

74

THE POLITICIAN

T

he politician Spill the blood of others The politician Waste the lives of others The politician Need the sacrifice of others The politician Want the praise of others The politician Savour the sweat of others The politician Reap the labour of others The politician Keep the belonging of others The politician Love the praise from others
75

KURU JANTA
2ND FEBRUARY, 2010

W

here is Janta A place once raided Where is Janta A place once razed Where is Janta A place once ruined Where is Janta A people once annihilated Where is Janta A life once wasted Where is Janta An outslart visited by demons Where is Janta A mother once killed Where is Janta A child once killed Where is Janta A generation once wiped out Where is Janta A future once muzzled.
76

DOGO NA HAUWA
7TH MARCH, 2010

N

a Hauwa's fateful night Was a night of evil Na Hauwa's fateful maul Was a night of the machetes Na Hauwa's night Was a night at terror Na Hauwa's night Was a night of murder Na Hauwa's night Was a night of horror Na Hauwa's night Was a night of screaming Na Hauwa's night Was a night of the heat Na Hauwa's night Was a night of monsters Na Hauwa's night Was a night of inhumanity Na Hauwa's night Was a night of fright
77

THE LEAVES FALL

T

he leaves fall

To herald the spring The sun rises To herald a new day The moon rises To light the night.

78

SOUND OF WAR

D

rums of war

Beats my heart Blasts of war Shatters my windows Sirens of war Raised my blood Gun shorts Raised my fears Screaming of victims Raised my feelings Brking of soldiers Raises my concern

79

TAKE YOUR PEACE

T

ake your peace

Without my freedom Take your peace Without my hope Take your peace Without dignity Take your peace Without my pride Take your peace Without my rights Take your peace Without my future Take your peace Without my faith Take your peace Without my independence
80

Take your peace Without my family Take your peace Without my conscience

81

BEFORE YOU KILL

B

efore you kill

Think of the sorrow you will bring Before you kill Think of the pain you will inflict Before you kill Think of the orphans you will make Before you kill Think of the widows you will make Before you kill Think of the lives you will shatter Before you kill Think of the ones you will leave behind Before you kill Think of the hell you will be Before you kill Think of the enemies you will make
82

Before you kill Think of the horror you will create Before you kill Think of the dream of your father Before you kill Think of the prayer of your mother Before you kill Think of the face of your children Before you kill Think of the futility of violence Before you kill Think of the inevitable triumph of justice Before you kill Think of the glory of peace.

83

THE CLERIC

L

et your sermon be of peace

Let your Gospel be of tolerance Let your prayer be of harmony Let your preachings be of hope Let your deliverance be of good Let your blessing be of love Let your words be of unity Let your scripture be of relief Let your assembly be of compassion Let your faith be of humanity

84

A CITY IN PEACE

O

ne child is fed

Five are hungry Is this city in peace? One child has hope Five in despair Is this city in peace? One child in school Five in the street Is this city in peace? One child has home Five are urchins Is this city in peace? One child has justice Five do not Is this city in pace? One child have a dream Five cannot sleep Is this city in peace?
85

One child is protected Five are neglected Is this city in peace? One child is healthy Five are sick Is this city in peace? One child is councelled Five are not Is this city in peace? One child is happy Five are angry Is this city in peace?

86

GOLD

T

o the hungry Food is Gold To the sick Health is Gold To the blind Sight is Gold To the deaf Hearing is Gold To the lonely Company is Gold To the illiterate Knowledge is Gold To those in the dark Light is Gold To the victims Justice is Gold
87

To the oppressed Freedom is Gold To the despaired Hope is Gold To the vagrant Home is Gold To the young Future is Gold To the war weary Peace is Gold

88

AN UNBELIEVER

I

am an unbeliever In the path of violence I am an unbeliever In the cause of evil I am an unbeliever In the route of injustice I am an unbeliever In the triumph of terror I am an unbeliever In submission to fear I am an unbeliever In silence for fear I am an unbeliever In the might is right

89

SELL

S

ell your freedom And be a slave Sell your conscience And be a maid Sell your rights And be in bondage Sell your pride And loose your honor Sell your future And be without hope Sell your body And loose your morals Sell your peace And be at war Sell your faith And ruin your spirit.
90

RIVER KADUNA

t dissects and nourishes a city On the savannah In it swims crocodile of No harm In the harmattan it recede But not extinct In the rains it boost in Tally with the angles of The clouds. It moves in grace and in nature On its banks are warring Religionists with a perennial Ritual of mass murder They colour its flows with the Blood of the innocent and the belligerents They float it with carcass Of those they raid Hack, and disemember River Kaduna Nature’s glory and gift Nature’s relief in aridity Is now a fence of faiths
91

I

HE IS NOT

e is not blind who cannot see He is blind who cannot reason He is not deaf who cannot hear He is deaf who cannot listen He is not lame who cannot walk He is lame who cannot love He is not leprous who has no finger He is leprous who nurture hate He is not dead who does not live He is dead who have no conscience. He is not poor who does not have He is poor who have no morals. He is not human because he is a man He is human who has compassion. He is not strong because he is muscular He is strong who can dare. He is not rich because he have He is rich because he can share.
92

H

OH BELFAST

h Belfast I am thy visitor in spirit Oh Belfast I can see the drizzling rain of your intolerance. Oh Belfast I feel the heat of your contending faiths. Oh Belfast I can feel the coldness of your handshakes. Oh Belfast I can see the storm of your anger. Oh Belfast I can see the lightning of your hate. Oh Belfast I can see the flood of your fury. Oh Belfast I can see the embarkments of your divisions. Oh Belfast I can feel the breeze of your ceasefire. Oh Belfast I can feel the air of your peace.
93

O

THE GANGSTER IN JAIL

he Gangster is in jail The master is on leisure. The Gangster is in jail The master is on picnic. The Gangster is in jail The master is in theatre. The Gangster is in jail The master is on horse riding. The Gangster is in jail The master is in the beach. The Gangster is in jail The master is with family. The Gangster is in jail The master is in the casino. The Gangster is in jail The master is in the concert.
94

T

The Gangster is in jail The master is gone yachting. The Gangster is in jail The master is gone shopping. The Gangster is in jail The master is in the art gallery. The Gangster is in jail The master is smoking a pipe.

95

THIS LAND

R

uin this land

And here you will be buried. Raze this land And here you will be buried Wreck this land And here you will be buried. Be cruel to this land And here you will be buried. Be unjust to this land And here you will be buried. Be rude to this land And here you will be buried. Squeeze this land And here you will be buried. Unsettle this land And here you will be buried.
96

Burn this land And here you will be buried. Annihilate this land And here you will be buried Bake this land And here you will be buried.

97

MY CITY

M

y city Was a paradise Where peace reigned My city Was a shade That gave solace My city Was a home For all to live My city Was a destination For all on a journey My city Was a pride For all who knew My city Was a relief For all in pain My city Was a breeze For all in sweat
98

I SPEAK

I

speak of freedom I was called a rebel I speak of rights I was called an activist I speak of justice I was called a dissident I speak of progress I was called a leftist I speak of truth I was called a critic I speak of change I was called a revolter I speak of peace I was called a pacifist

99

WHERE IS THE LOVE

W

here is the love you preach When you can injure Where is the love you preach When you can kill Where is the love you preach When you can burn Where is the love you preach When you can hate Where is the love you preach When you can fight Where is the love you preach When you can incite Where is the love you preach When you practice not what you preach.

100

I AM A BIRD

I

am a bird I have no border I am a fish I can swim against currents I am a cat I have nine lives I am a vulture I can be patient. I am a tortoise I live longer I am a tiger I fear no foe I am a cheetah I can chase my goals I am a horse Full of strength
101

I am a lion Feeling like the king I am a lamb I hurt no one I am a bull In the defence of my right

102

PEACE

P

eace, Is the serenity of the wilderness Peace, The calmness of the ocean Peace, Letting others be Peace, Letting others live Peace, Letting others speak Peace, The cage of rancor Peace, The roof of harmony Peace, The clarity of the sky Peace The greenery of life
103

I SIT ON THE MOON

I sit ondownmoon the Gazing below
Free from the hindrances I know And the ones I know not I sit on the moon And have a panoramic view of all Of those withheld far and near I sit on the moon And see large things Big things made small I sit on the moon And see the beginning and the end Of a long road I sit on the moon And see the treachery of friends And the plots of foes I sit on the moon And see the length of rivers Worth of oceans
104

And height of mountains I sit on the moon And see the rusty roofs of the poor And the glittering roof of the rich All at the mercy of heavens. I sit on the moon And see the woes of those in war And see the serenity of those in peace And know better I sit on the moon And see the innocence of the children And the tragedy of the old I sit on the moon And see the limitation And vulnerability of man.

105

MY DREAM

I

dream of a world without war Where can I find it? I dream of a world without hate Where can I find it? I dream of a world without hunger Where can I find it? I dream of a world without injustice Where can I find it? I dream of a world without pain Where can I find it? I dream of a world without poverty Where can I find it? I dream of a world without tragedy Where can I find it? I dream of a world without flood Where can I find it?
106

I dream of a world without repression Where can I find it? I dream of a world without lies Where can I find it? I dream of a world without terror Where can I find it? I dream of a world without evil Where can I find it? I dream of a world without hunger Where can I find it? I dream of a world without vice Where can I find it? I dream of a world without borders Where can I find it?

107

WE DIFFER

W

e differ in races But we are all humans We differ in looks But we are all humans We differ in languages But we are all humans We differ in faith But we are all humans We differ in status But we are all humans We differ in tribes But we are all humans We differ in gender But we are all humans We differ in nations But we are all humans
108

RIYOM ROCK

O

n the Riyom rock I stood To view the beauty of my city I saw it in flames To view the scenery of my country I saw it in flames To locate the roof of my house I saw it in flames To sight the circus I love I saw it in flames To catch a glimpse of my school I saw it in flames To view the market I shop I saw it in flames To locate the office of my father I saw it in flames To sight the shop of my mother I saw it in flames To find my people's sense of reasoning I saw it in flames.

109

A CRUSADER'S DAY

T

his is a day of rage, When reasons take a flight The demons of death decend, Walking on the streets, Stalking the innocent in their abode Their Agora and their temple of faith They abode, their temple of faith They swag matchetes and swords They tuttle guns Deranged by bigotry and Faith of murder In their delusion of divinity and death They extinguish a sacred life that should only be Taken by the heavens. This is a day of rage, A day of raid A day predators of women and children Beatify their dastardly acts They liter homes and routes with Bodies of the people of the other faith They in their volution choose to kill And call it a divine command They in their volition kill And call it a defence.
110

BREIVIK

O

h lucifer We know of your evil since yore, But why should you send your flames to the infant, To the young Oh Lucifer You came in the robe of Mcveigh And of laden And now of Anders Oh Lucifer Hell is thy name And thy place Oh Lucifer You kill the hope, The dream, The promise which tomorrow holds Oh Lucifer You kill the flesh Await the reckoning Of the spirit of the innocent.

111

THE POLICE

Y

our calling is to protect But under you we become vulnerable Your calling is to serve But before you is disservice Your calling is to listen But with you we meet deafness A human in your custody should Be a treasured life on transit to justice A being in your custody is stripped: Of humanity, Of honour, Of integrity as he is of freedom In your dungeon is hell, Of men and women whose guilt is yet ascertain; On the sight of bigger guns by muggers and terrors, You take to abscond in freight and debility.

112

YOU CALL ME A TERRORIST
MAIDUGURI MASSACRE 28 JULY 2009

Y

ou seized my land

You call me a terrorist You rape my aunt You call me a terrorist You kill my son You call me a terrorist You demolish my house You call me a terrorist You ruin my life You call me a terrorist You chained my hand You call me a terrorist You wrecked my future You call me a terrorist You humiliate my people You call me a terrorist You burn my crops
113

You call me a terrorist You appropriate my cattle You call me a terrorist You shot my leg You call me a terrorist You jail my brother You call me a terrorist You crush my hope You call me a terrorist You deny me peace You call me a terrorist

114

WHEN THE SWORDS ARE OUT

W

hen the swords are out The devil is unleashed When the swords are out Reason takes a flight When the swords are out The gate of hell is open When the swords are out Anger is an the match When the swords are out The rain of blood falls When the matchets are out The voice of restrain is inaudible When the matchets are out The rose of love are burnt.

115

WHERE WERE YOU

here do you stand When our peace was unsettled Where do you stand When our freedom was attacked Where do you stand When our dignity was violated Where do you stand When our hope was dashed Where do you stand When our future was strangled Where do you stand When our homes were burnt Where do you stand When our resolve was tested Where do you stand When our right was trampled
116

W

Where do you stand When we were hunted Where do you stand When we were humiliated.

117

SEASON OF BLOODSHED

D

ark cloud of fear hungs over the sky. Vampires prowl the land, Swerving the swords of faith And the garb of tribes. Decapitating the helpless, Annihilating the weak. Lives are gruesomely auctioned at ease The season of mourning and grief is here A season of uncertain day and scary night Mist of blood stains the walls, No one is sure, no one is safe. The flood of lunacy sweeps the fotress of reason Overflooded stream of blood flows with corpses. The mosques are on check, And the churches are unsafe Fear of death Silence of fear Limits the words and guts of men.
118

TREE OF FREEDOM

T

he tree of freedom, Withstands the wind of terror. The tree of freedom, Defies the matchets of violence. The tree of freedom, Overcomes the cloud of fear The trees of freedom, Survives the axe of torture. The tree of freedom, Defies the quake of intolerance. The tree of freedom, Withstand the flood of Hatred. The tree of freedom, Overcomes the drought of infamy.

119

WHEN I RAN

I

ran to my Home, The killer hunted me. I ran to the Street, The killer hunted me. I ran to the Farm, The killer hunted me. I ran to the Market, The killer hunted me. I ran to the School, The killer hunted me. I ran to the king, The killer hunted me. I ran to the Police, The killer hunted me. I ran to the Church, The killer hunted me.
120

I ran to the Mosque, The killer hunted me. I ran the Park, The killer hunted me. I ran to my resolve The killer left me.

121

VENGEANCE

n Vengeance You equal your foe, In Forgiveness, You are above your foe. In hate Your heart is in shackles In love Your soul is free. In compassion, You match forward In evil, You await recourse In justice, You get peace In peace, You get justice. In sword, You get blood In dialogue, You understand In violence, You get deaths In affection, You get life.
122

I

TESTING TIMES

C

rises Times Tests;

The Courage of men, The Patience of women The Wisdom of leaders The Resilience of a people. Violent Times Tests; The Limits of pacifists, The Hopes of optimists, The Strength of a nation. Bad Times Tests; The Love of friends, The Faith of believers, The Endurance of family, The Worthiness of neighbours. Peace Times Tests; The Prudence of the artisan, The Harmony of the village, The Justice of the commune.

123

THE MOSQUE

D

emonize not my mosque Its my source of peace Demonize not my mosque, Its my fountain of freedom. Demonize not my mosque, Its my temple of faith. Demonize not my mosque, Its my arena of felicity. Demonize not my mosque, Its my forum of brotherhood. Demonize not my mosque, Its my fence of security. Demonize not my mosque, Its my buffer against vices. Demonize not my mosque, Its my tower of justice.
124

Demonize not my mosque, Its my oak of hope. Demonize not my mosque, Its my fortress against anger. Demonize not my mosque, It's the harbinger of my restrain. Demonize not my mosque, Its my rock of truth.

125

GIVE ME

G

ive me peace

And not your treasures of war Give me freedom And not your diamonds of bondage Give me love And not your jewels of hate Give me respect And not your Gold of indignity Give me justice And not your laurels of power Give me truth And not your litany of lies Give me hope And not your package of promises

126

CALL ME

C

all me a coward, I will not kill Call me a traitor, I will not hate Call me a weakling, I will not fight Call me an outcast, I will not abuse Call me a dumb, I will not lie Call me a leper, I will not slaughter Call me a hypocrite, I will not stab Call me a black sheep I will not avenge.
127

OH MOTHER EARTH

h mother earth Thou hath swallowed the king and the subject Oh mother earth Thou hath swallowed the mighty and the lowly. Oh mother earth Thou hath sapped up the saint and the sinner. Oh mother earth Thou hath squeezed up the hero and the villain Oh mother earth Thou hath sandwiched the crude and the wicked. Oh mother earth Feed the innocent with thy honey. Oh mother earth Feed the victims with thy milk. Oh mother earth Feed the good with thy air. Oh mother earth Treat the humble with thy courtesy and generosity

O

128

LAST FLIGHT
FOR DANA AIR CRASH VICTIMS MAY 2012

hey departed with hopes For a mission to be accomplished They left with smiles That we gave them in our homes They took our hearts And our message of love. They ascend to the clouds Away from the earth of our trouble They torch the face of heaven With the robes of their innocence. They roast in the flames Of our failures and waste They cleansed their souls In a manner so cruel

T

129

They descend in pain But to rise in glory They left us in grief That we shall meet in smile They are all that we miss For a heaven that loves them most.

130

LESSONS OF LIFE

n the time of Crisis, Learn the art of Survival In the time of Peace, Learn the art of Self Preservation In the time of Abundance, Learn the art of Prudence In the time of Austerity, Learn the art of Hibernation In the time of Chaos, Learn the art of Discretion In the time of Love, Learn the art of Respect In the time of Uncertainty, Learn the art of Vigilance In the time of Prosperity, Learn the art of Gratitude In the time of Freedom, Learn the art of Guardianship
131

I

THE SEARCH

he shooting is on sight The killing is at sight The search is for the terrorist The rights are muzzled The freedom are curtailed The privacy is violated The search is for the terrorist The woman is molested The man is humiliated The movement is restricted The search is for the terrorist The mother is disemboweled The child is chained The father is detained The search is for the terrorist The day is gloomy The night is raid The search is for the terrorist The innocent are squeezed The innocent are repressed The innocent are tortured The search is for the terrorist
132

T

DIE WITH HONOUR
THIS POEM IS DEDICATED TO MISS FRANCISCA NGOZI, 23, WHO WAS KILLED BY ROBBERS FOR RESISTING RAPE ON 29TH JULY, 2012

133

BLOOD TRAILS MY VOTE
FOR THE VICTIMS OF THE 2011 POST ELECTION VIOLENCE

orrent of blood Drenched my vote Balls of fire Incinerated my vote Bullets of the knights Shot my vote Billows of smoke Chocked my vote Machetes of the furious Chopped my vote Pen of the fraud Invalidated my vote Thuggery of the thug Ruined my vote Heist of the dreamer Denied my vote Corpses of the innocent Criminalized my vote Perpetuation of the tyrants Disempower my vote
134

T

MY INFANT
FOR FATIMA, MY DAUGHTER

M

y little infant, I welcome you with my guilt For ushering you to the land of turmoil And in the times of tumult. In the raging flame of chaos Shall your heart be casted In the gusting wind of bewilderment Shall your pillar of focus stand In the looming darkness of the times Shall your glowing light shines In the hanging clouds of fear Shall your kite of courage fly In the ashes of despair Shall your hope arises In the cold winter of hate Shall your heart warm for love In the stagnant pool of boredom Shall your Boat of change assail In the thick forest of Bondage Shall you trace and thread the path of freedom
135

Newspaper Review
30TH September, 2012

THE POEMS OF PEACE IN THE SEASON OF BLOODSHED
Author: Shehu Sani Reviewer: Yemi Adebisi Publisher: Labari Communications Kaduna No of pages:138

Violence is like a double-edged sword. When it loses its control, it kills and maims regardless of which ever direction it faces. Many women have become widows overnight. Orphans litter the streets; widowers languishing over the irreparable loss of violence. Investors are scared away for fear of bombshell. Schools, hospitals and marketplaces are closed down for the fear of death, an apparent recurring decimal, and its agony. Despite the pains and recorded loses, it appears it lingers on and on. Who does this profit to see human blood flow on the streets like waste waters from the drains of breweries? When will this end either? I think it was after he recovered from this soliloquy that the renowned Civil Rights Activist, author, poet and playwright, Shehu Sani, retired into his library to pour out on papers out of his rare depot of esteemed knowledge, about 92 poems that makes this peculiar anthology. This according to him is to promote peace and encourage people to stand up and speak out against violence especially in northern Nigeria. The book, which he decides to distribute freely to every Nigerian, is also written to inspire peace advocacy and renunciation of violence and terror perpetuated in the guise of ethnicity or religion or politics. In a soft language, Sani says in the introductory page that his poems are prescriptions for peace for people of northern Nigeria, whom, according to him, for over three decades have been experiencing sectarian and ethnic violence between Muslims and Christians and now facing atrocious insurgency. The violence which has consumed thousands of innocent lives, appear uncontrollable judging by daily records of the

136

brutality. Though his focus is on northern Nigerians, he also declare that some of the poems take care of the interest of other warring regions such as northern Ireland, Kashmir, Bosnia Herzegovina, Thailand, Pakistan, Egypt and Philippines. While some of the poems challenge directly act of intolerance and demystify fear and berates the proposition and ideology of hate disguised in faiths and beliefs, others are narratives about the outcomes of violence, its acts, carnage and soullessness associated with it. A number of poems in Sani's anthology of peace address the source of violence. Others however pass messages to political leaders whose doing or undoing provokes social or political reactions. The roles played by both community and religious leaders, which embarrassingly worsen the situation of the deplorable condition of war in the midst of peace, was also given a rare attention in the book. Through the pinhole of most of the poems, one can see clearly the picture of intolerant societies. Sani must have used the poems to appeal to the minds, souls and spirits of the aggrieved innocent citizens to achieve a resolution for peace and tranquility. The first poem, My City Boils, carefully paints the picture of the beginning of violence in the North when peace has evaporated and the vacuum was filled with steam of violence, flames of death, vapour of vendetta and bubbles of anger. In Pictures Tells Lies, and What I Share, the poet expresses the agony of betrayal as a consequence of violence. For Midnight in Maiduguri, it was a report of how the 'demons mourn the devil'. The death toll boomeranged. There was no whisker of hope in the biblical valley of dry bone as souls lay lifeless waiting for mass burial after counter attacks from suckers of blood. It says: This is a night in the Sahel/Where the sand drenched in blood/And the wind blew the spirit of the dead/No night life/As all lives are on the edge…A city in chains/That lost/Its freedom/Its beauty/And its peace/A city in perpetual midnight. The Blood of the Innocent and You Can't Hide appear to have reminded the killers of the imminent repercussion ahead of time as it preaches how

137

it hunts and hacks the felon. In an attempt to show his rejection of the terms of war songs on the lips of the 'murderers', the poet explains in For the Child that Need Peace how painful it is to face derision at the hour of expectation. It reads: “For the child who needs freedom/We gave him bondage./For the child who needs happiness/We gave him sorrow…” The poet could not help but to rain heap of curses on the killers in Living By The Gun. The poem flows with the tears in the anger of the worried poet. It partly reads: “…you live by the gun/and never will you live in peace…you live by the gun/and never will you live in honour…” (16) The poet suddenly becomes a preacher in Peace of the Mind (19) as he counsels the ignorant killers about the subject of peace. He reminds them that it is the peaceful state of mind that would free their heart from hatred, fear, burden and pain. In A Day of Peace, the poet dreams about the end of the war when there would be no more murder, disharmony, injustice and violence. Sound of bombshell rocking the cities of the North have sacked and scared away the peace of the land. Therefore in The Land of Bombs, the poet ruminates on the anxiety in the cities known for peace initially. He carefully imagines the safety of innocent children in the midst of bomb blasts. “Will my son ever grow/In the land of Bombs. Will my son ever be free/In the land of the bombs.” etc. (21) The poem is an attempt to leave a substance of guilt in the heart of the bombers for possible reconciliation. On August 26, 2011, the bombers did their worst when the United Nations House was bombed at Abuja. Sani remembers the sad day in a poem he entitled I Dreamt of a World of Peace. He expresses in the poem, the shock, disappointment and possible consequences that the action left after a year. Though gold may be a precious luster, but the poet says in I Need not a Land of Gold (30) that peaceful coexistence is more precious than gold. Advocating for peace at all cost, Sani blows his poetic trumpet in The Weapons of Peace, condemning war, proffering alternatives. “Use you diggers to build a temple of peace/Use your swords to slay ignorance/Use your matchets to cut down intolerance…” (35).

138

In what sounds like a letter to the unborn children, the poet must have recommended in I Have Seen War in my Time (37) that incessant killing must end with this generation. Sani aptly remembers the world Generals of peace in Be a Man (62), describing them according to their respective worth to immortalise the need for peace in the land. His endless list includes Alfred Nobel, William Penn, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Yessar Arafat among others. Before You Kill in page 82 warns killers of its consequences. It reminds them of the sorrow it will bring, the pain it will inflict, the lives it will shatter and the widows it will make. Die with Honour, a poem dedicated to23-year-old Miss Francisca Ngozi, who was killed by robbers for resisting rape on July 29, finds a good space in the book. Other poems like Season of Bloodshed, Oh Mother Earth and Lessons of Life appear to be romantically deadly as it paints the stings and sorrows of death. Last Flight in page 129, dedicated to Dana Air Crash victims of May 2012 is a great piece of avoidable waste of lives in Nigeria. No fewer than 12 coloured photographs of victims of Boko Haram insurgency were used to conclude the book. Sani's quest for peace and freedom from bondages and carnage as reflected in the book is commendable. His efforts have gone into the book of memories as a soldier who has fought in his time to safe the afflicted. That this book is free just like The Children of Jos, which he published recently on virtually the same issue, shows how committed to freedom the brave writer is. The book is recommended to every lover of peace in the world.

139

Newspaper Review
30TH September, 2012

PRESCRIPTION FOR HARMONY
By Adewole Ajao The Poems for Peace by Shehu Sani Labari Communications, Kaduna, 2012 With the whole idea of poetry being inspired by human experiences, it is not surprising to find negative episodes spurring positive poems to soothe these painful realities of human existence. Such is the thrust of Shehu Sani's Poems for Peace, an anthology that is intended to motivate, encourage and heal those hit by the numerous feuds that have wracked the polity. Also tagging it a literary intervention meant to inspire minds and reinforce the spirits of victims of sectarian feuds, the aims seem very lofty given its effects on the poet who is moved to ink 127 pacifist poems of varying complexities. These numerous concerns with various issues also creep up between the lines that sustain his themes. A notable mark of Sani is the adherence to sonnets. These are not just the conventional 14-line versions. There are deviations and some free verses that narrate his travels to Argentina, Brazil, Ethiopia and Ghana. A descriptive sonnet like “My City Boils” is a tearful introduction into the evaporation of peace in Northern Nigeria. Sani's choice of adjectives give the message of a community turned on its head, while its people take up arms against one another-an apt peek into the current scenario that has left wanton destruction and anomie in its wake. Such chaos has doused the flames of comradeship, eroded trust and the camaraderie existing amongst different religions. This negative trend continues in “Pictures Tell Lies”. The 26-line poem is not just about friends who are actually enemies but it burrows into the notions of appearance and reality. Such t a l k o n o p p o s i t e s r e a c h e s t h e a p o g e e i n “ Te l l ” . With the poet criticises the numerous actions that have led to unnecessary waste, the whole idea of karma comes up in “Heaven.” This

140

regular sonnet is an argument against the religious fallacies adopted by those who rock the boat of the polity by stoking feuds and other sour episodes in the name of the Almighty. Peace is advocated by Sani who urges this in “A Day of Peace”. This light departure however seems like a mirage given the ratio of dire straits in the anthology. Real situations like the UN building bombing in Abuja, city curfews and Woe Betides My Land, portray a land that has stopped revolving. There are also poems on the Dana Air crash, Madalla, Sunday Badang, late University of Maiduguri student Lawrence Adeniyi and a tribute to the foreigners killed in Sokoto and Kano. It is hard to be immune to such an outpouring, including his seeming distaste for politicians. He tags them lazy, overfed and swayed by praise. His pen also documents remedies for the dark issues at stake. Religion and a need for co-existence are harped on with calls for religious leaders, in “The Cleric” to exude harmony, love, tolerance and belief. Such virtues also come with a need for tools of war to become building blocks of peace. Such symbolism is extended to the weather, with the rain becoming an ambivalent entity. Apart from being a source of respite, it is also a tool of vengeance when the poet calls it to “send lightening to the killer”. It is not surprising to find these traces of the modern era coming with some psychological trauma, and it all looks bleak. Fortunately the poet displays that optimism that light will always overcome darkness. This comes with a non violence ideology professing prudence, respect, discretion, vigilance and others in “Lessons of Life”. Amidst some discernible publishing errors, Sani's compilation is a stirring narrative that transcends Nigeria and drives home his call for change. Despite the stark simplicity of many of the poems, they are extremely profound given his use of language and style of fluctuating moods. These are capped by the book's publication features and some pictures within the crisp pages.

141

Newspaper Review
Saturday, 06 October 2012

SOOTHING VERSES FOR A TROUBLED WORLD
By Femi Alabi Onikeku

A FEATURE that immediately draws the attention of a first-time visitor to Shehu Sani's Poems of Peace is the anthology's timeliness. Typical of a poet whose nerve endings are rudely stimulated by contradictions of social reality, Sani responds in 94 interpretations of the theme of man's inhumanity to man. Hitting the stands the year Nigeria marks a 52nd independence anniversary shadowed by bombings, assassinations, kidnappings and dare-devil robberies, there could not have been a better reflection of a country's descent into chaos; and appeal for sanity. With My City Boils, the reader is greeted to an appetiser that promises many a mind-watering cuisine. In 14 lines of vers libre, the poet weaves a sequence of consistent imageries around the metaphor of the boiling city. He accordingly sees: 'the evaporation of peace', 'the steam of violence', 'the bubbles of anger', 'feel(s) the heat of intolerance', 'see(s) the vapour of vendetta', 'the flames of death' and 'the stokes of hatred'. While the poet drives, full-throttle, his 'boiling' concern, he, however, displays the awareness of a writer who appears to have mastered the essence of auditory appeal. In simple diction and lineation, Sani, throughout the poem, deploys a pattern of melodious repetitions with 'My city is boiling/ I can see…' The terseness of the poem is highly suggestive of the anguish of an observer watching helplessly as a beloved city– 'My City'– undergoes nightmarish transformation from 'peace' to 'hatred'. At another plain, Sani's introductory lines, like most of his output, assume larger significance beyond reference to any particular subject. This, importantly, underscores the poet's ability to spin verses of universal value. It is not only 'My City', therefore, that boils: from the blasts of suicide bombers in far away Iraq or Afghanistan to the

142

psychopathic killer on a spree in some American city, the world, in Sani's pen, might have been one huge red-hot kettle. Sani, in When I Ran, appears to be saying that only the awakening of resolve by victims of persecution or violence, rather than passivity, would halt the wheels of killings. He makes subtle replay of the drama between the hunter and the hunted: a typical portrayal of violent situations around the world. Running ahead is the hapless victim, referred to as 'I', who is pursued by the assailant– 'The killer'. The hunted seeks solace in several places pregnant with symbolism: 'my home', 'the street', 'the farm', 'the market', 'the school', 'the king', 'the police', 'the church', 'the mosque' and 'the park'. Ironically, the hunter appears unmoved by whatever these supposed places of refuge denote or connote: When I ran to my Home/ The killer hunted me/ When I ran to the Street/ The killer hunted me/ When I ran to the Police/ The killer hunted me… And just as the reader begins to wonder when the cycle of pursuit would cease, the poet shuts the lines with refuge of an entirely different sort: I ran to my resolve/ The killer left me! In a defiant economic clime, Sani exemplifies laudable resolution of the conflict between profiteering and civil rights activism. Else, how might the poet's public explain a 129-page collection that opens with the intro: “This book is free! Its goal is to promote peace and encourage people to stand up and speak out against violence.” Lovers of poetry, served in easy-to-digest lines with a refreshing drink of reader-friendly aesthetics and contiguous themes, would find in Sani a master chef, who knows not just his 'onions', but also how to tickle readers' lobes into pleasant flights of imagination.

143

Newspaper Review
14TH September, 2012

CRITICS POETRY..... AN ACTIVIST WAR FOR PEACE
By Terh Agbedeh Many people desire to live in a peaceful world but will not lift a finger to do the things that will bring peace. This is not the case with the renowned civil rights activist, author, poet and playwright, Shehu Sani, who just released a collection titled: The Poems of Peace The first page in the collection of poetry, The Poems of Peace: In the Season of Bloodshed by Shehu Sani states: “This book is free. Its goal is to promote peace and encourage people to stand up and speak out against violence”. Another striking page is the dedication; “To all those who lost their lives in the ongoing violence in Northern Nigeria”. More fitting words could not have come from a man who has been involved in a life-long war for peace; not only in the north where he hails but all across the country. Indeed, the poems speak to one and all; after all, if one person among the over 160 million Nigerians is involved, then, every one of us is affected. The poems, most of which read like chants and can be recited like a mantra, are a tangible reminder that we are one people in the pursuit of the same things. Midnight in Maiduguri presents a city 'soaked in blood' resulting in the death of a nightlife. The lament is not only for the lost night life, it is also for the chains that have shackled the city resulting in the loss of freedom, beauty and peace. This leads to its new status as A city in perpetual midnight. If that appears shocking, it is only a window into desolation that is prevalent in most of the poems. But the poet's desire is not to shock, it is rather to awaken the docile by painting the picture as it truly is. This is no doubt why some of the poems are dedicated to individuals lost in the violence; The Blood of the Innocent for Profs. Jerome Ayodele,

144

Andrew Leo and 16 others; I Dreamt of a World of Peace for victims of the UN House bombing, Abuja on August 26, 2011 and He is the Shield of Peace for Sergeant Sunday Badang, the police officer killed in Kaduna. Lawrence Adeniyi, a University of Maiduguri student killed by stray bullets on April 16 and the British, Italian and German hostages killed in Sokoto and Kano, also have poems dedicated to them. For the former Eternal Peace and the latter Kill my Body. But the poems are not just about the lack of peace and the pain left in its place, written in everyday language anyone can relate to, they also chart a way out of the quagmire the country is submerged in. Peace of Mind for instance, ends with the words, “inspires you to achieve”. Everybody knows that those who have achieved would like to have peace so as not to lose what they have. Peace talks of peace in the serenity of the wilderness, calmness of the ocean, letting others be and other things that gladden the heart. The last poem in the collection, The Mosque is like the one on page 74 titled The Church. It is fitting to have these two poems since the two religions represented by the places of worship, carry the can for spreading violence either by word or deed. If the worshipers imbibe the message in these two poems, the country may well have the peace the poet dreams about. This is one book of poetry every Nigerian should posses and read. Government and civil minded individuals with the wherewithal must make it a point of duty to make this book available to all. The collection closes with four pages of gory pictures that represent what intolerance and violence have done to not just its people but also its image on the international scene. This is a Bible of peace from someone who has been dogged in the campaign against violence and for the institution of peace.

145

Newspaper Review
30TH September, 2012

SONGS OF PEACE FOR A TROUBLED LAND
Written by Akintayo Abodunrin

Radical human rights activist, Shehu Sani, condemns the violence ravaging the country, especially Northern Nigeria in his latest offering, a collection of poems entitled The Poems of Peace in the Season of Bloodshed CIVIL rights activist, Shehu Sani, is also a pacifist who has never relented in condemning violence. He is continuously pleading for peace and has done so with previous works including 'The Killing Fields', 'Scorpions Under Pillow' and 'Political Assassinations in Nigeria' amongst others. The writer, who was jailed for life by the Sanni Abacha military junta before he was released in 1999, is continuing his sermon of peace in his latest work, a collection of poems titled 'The Poems of Peace'. As is obvious from the title, harmony is what most of the 94 poems in the 129-page-book preach and the theme is one that cannot be overstressed given the prevailing violence and insecurity in the country. Long before the Boko Haram insurgency snowballed into an open war against the state, Sani had declaimed the violence that was sweeping across the land, calling for restraint and highlighting what should be done to control the needless bloodletting. Though it appears his message is not being heeded, this has not discouraged the rights activist who treads a familiar path in 'The Poems of Peace' which are not exactly great but functional poems. They are simple poems which the poet himself admits should not be assessed for their stylistic accomplishments but just for their message(s). “These collections of poems are not conventional sonnets that conform to the strict rules and stereotype of literature or academics. They are literary intervention to inspire the minds and reinforce the spirits of victims of violence, residents of flashpoints and ordinary people passionate about peace.”

146

The poems, he continues, “are prescriptions for peace, particularly for people of Northern Nigeria for whom over three decades have been experiencing sectarian and ethnic violence between Muslims and Christians and now facing an atrocious insurgency.” He further likens the poems to “literary mirrors in which intolerant societies can see their bloodletting present and chequered future. They are also crystal balls to see the promise and value of peace.” But our poet is not an idealistic pacifist; he is a realist who knows too well that poetry in itself cannot end violence. “Poems cannot end violence and terror. Poems do not lead to peace. What poems do is to appeal to the minds, the soul, the spirit or the heart because there lays the source of the thoughts of violence and the resolve for peace.” This is what he then proceeds to do with the 94 poems, painting a grim picture of what Northern Nigeria is, compared to what it used to be when things were calm. He laments thus in the first poem, 'My City Boils': “My city is boiling/ I can see the evaporation of peace/ My city is boiling/ I can see the steam of violence/ My city is boiling/I can feel the heat of intolerance/ My city is boiling/I can see the flames of death.” He does the same in another titled 'My city' Sani tells perpetrators of the violence that they can run, but cannot hide in 'You can't hide' while condemning hatred in 'Seeds of hatred' and 'The mind that hates.”. The poet cries out for the much elusive peace in 'Magreb', 'This is my land', 'The weapons of peace', 'The peace we lost', 'Let' and 'I dreamt of a world of peace.' He says in 'Magreb': “Let the magreb/ Be of peace not of war/...Let the magreb/Be of justice not of cruelty/...Let the magreb/Be of light not of darkness/ Let the magreb/Be of the future not of the past.” The president of Civil Rights Congress urges restraint in 'Before you kill' and tells religious leaders not to fan the embers of discord in poems including 'The church', 'The cleric' and 'The Mosque'. Though a pacifist, some of the poems do not advocate passive surrender to oppression and injustice, stressing that injustice leads to violence and recognising the rights of oppressed people to free themselves. Though a commendable effort that can bring changes if readers take its message to heart, the collection could have benefitted from a table of contents and grouping of poems addressing similar issues together.

147

Newspaper Review
18TH September, 2012

INSURGENCY: SANI SEEKS REFUGE IN POETRY
By Akeem Lasisi Pro-democracy activist, Sheu Sani, dialogues with the forces rocking the North with violence in his new collection of poems, The Poems of Peace in the Season of Bloodshed, writes AKEEM LASISI As the expectation of a dialogue between the Federal Government and the dreaded Boko Haram continues to be enmeshed in intrigues, human rights activist, Sheu Sani, has taken his case to the muse. He is a principal figure among those whose names were suggested to mediate in the crisis, with speculations that the sect had nominated him for such a discussion. He has also been very vocal in his call for dialogue. But perhaps because the one envisaged by him and many other Nigerians is not forthcoming – FG says it is already involved in a systematic dialogue – Sani has engaged poetry to bare his mind. His new collection of verses, The Poems of Peace in the Season of Bloodshed, is a poetic reflection on the challenges that insurgency and other related violent crises now constitute to the polity, especially the North. Sani, who is also the author of Prison Anthology: A Collection of Poems is not a poet in the mould of specialists like Niyi Osundare, Tanure Ojaide or dry-meat-that-fills-the-mouth Wole Soyinka. So, you do not expect from him poems that glide through the ears and souls in intensely metaphoric wings. Even if he is capable of engaging in such stylistic spree, he seems not to have the time to do so. Like the proverbial man that bears an ember on his palms, who cannot thus afford to pause to settle a street fight, he is very much in a hurry to bear his mind on the havoc that religious and tribal conflicts have wreaked on the country. This is not too much of a sin when functionality is the issue. Perhaps all one can query him for are a few grammatical slips especially in the Introduction segment of Poems of Peace. Besides, Sani does not pretend at all as he concedes that the pieces are not

148

conventional sonnets that conform to the strict rules and 'stereotype of literature and academics'. He says they are poems of necessity eagerly in search of peace. Sani notes, “Some of these poems unambiguously address the proponents of violence and terror. The poems appeal to their minds, souls and conscience. The message here is to project the futility of their sordid acts, its bestiality and the natural and predictable consequences of it. The poems are not just to condemn violence but also neutralise the justifications for it and win the hearts of all warriors to the side of peace.” He claims that some of them directly challenge intolerance and demystify fear and berates the proposition and ideology of hate disguised in faiths and beliefs. Some of the poems are narratives about the outcomes of violence; the acts, the carnage and the soullessness associated with it. “There are also poems to the root source of violence as it concerns social stratification of depressed in iniquitous societies and political and economic dynamics that undermine peace and thereby incite or sustain violence or terror. What poems do is appeal to the minds, the soul, the spirit or heart because there lies the source of the thoughts of violence and the resolve for peace,” Sani stresses. In this wise, his poem about Maiduguri, titled Midnight in Maiduguri, creates a very pathetic picture of what the Borno State capital has suffered in the hands of insurgents. He laments, “This is a night in Sahel/ Where the sand is soaked in blood/ And the wind blew the spirit of the dead/ No night life/ As all lives are on the edge.” He further compares the night to the one in Sahel, since the sun sets too fast while all take refuge for fear of fear. “Through the wall of my room/ I can hear the explosive sound/ And the roar of terror/ Shaking the immovable.” In My City is Boiling, Sani also cries about the plight of a community where peace has evaporated. He does not need to mention any city or town, but anyone familiar with the Boko Haram story will have the likes of Maiduguri, Kano, Damaturu and Jos coming to mind as he or she reads it.

149

He writes, “My city is boiling/ I can see the evaporation of peace/My city is boiling/ I can see the steam of violence/ My city is boiling/ I can see the flames of death.” Another situation that the activist poet captures right is that of suspicion that has overturned the sense of friendship and natural love, especially in the affected areas. Shocked that mutual distrust is the order of the day, he writes in Pictures Tell lies, “From your face/ I cannot see your heart/ From your smiles/ I cannot see your intention/ From your words I cannot see your actions. The poet in Sani is even more critical in some areas. He, in What I Share, dissociates himself from extreme tendencies, saying, “I share your faith/ But excuse me your interpretations/ I share your beliefs/ But exercise me your extremism/ I share your advice/ But excuse me your lifsestyle/ I share your race/ But excuse me your hate.” But he goes very philosophical in some poems, a way of trying to get answers to the puzzles that surround the abnormalities he sees in society. He does this in The Man that Hates, What is the Worth of Life and Trees of Freedom.

150

151

152

153

154