Thursday, December 01, 2005
Forced labor in NIgeria.
I watched them coming toward me, mouth jerking as in worked by wires,
eyes open with beggarliness, arms stretching in violent outreaching,
eye milky drawing on me, killing me with my thoughts.
My country, Nigeria with every scenery to show for her ordeal.
The view of trafficked children working on the streets, children not
yet in their teens, hawking along the busy road, how many have met
their death? How many have been exploited and abused and used?
I read about them in the foreign media, and I wondered why not in my
own country are there publications on the subject? Yet I read on the
BBC web site that Unicef estimates that human trafficking is the
most lucrative trade in West Africa. Why? This discovery will shock
you when you realize the support that human trafficking enjoys at
almost every level of the Nigerian society, and more shocking is the
fact that the trafficked children were rented out with the
collaboration of the victims' own immediate families, Many of the
victims are too young to understand their rights or are illegally
recruited from the north or the poorer village tribes by individuals;
forced to work as hired hands and forced to work against their will,
What does a house help mean? What is the hidden meaning behind the
words, what does "a slave", mean, is there any difference
two, and maybe we are ignorant of these terms but are we really? Are
we really ignorant about our past, is the government blind to the
plight of these children being taken into 'slavery' or when their
immediate parents, aunts and uncles were being tricked into taking a
loan, a loan that may tie them into the bondage of slavery forever
children work in exploitative and/or dangerous conditions.
According to the United Nations census (Unicef ) there are no fewer
that 15 million children working in exploitative labor in Nigeria,
but they are wrong, as an African and a traveling nomad I can paint a
bigger picture of the "21st century slave trade."
I had my first intimate sexual encounter when I was but seven years
old with a house help not yet in her teens. Children not yet in their
teens are forced to learn about sex or to work in the sex industry.
As the writer in me grows, so does the knowledge grow that this
trade will continue and as it continues , it will continue to use new
terms even though it is illegal under international law.
Trafficking is the fastest growing form of slavery in the third world
nation today, yet protection for the victims of this crime is never
In the morning when men still longs for their women, I start out at twilight, before all nature awoke, and as the clouds in its blanket of blues hangs over my head I heard a pheasant jazz across the field.
The trees stands out like accusers, the weeds seems to bow as I walk by, the wind have its own voice, applauded by the clapping leaves, I felt the chill from the contact as low branches along the narrow parts merge flesh against nature green
It is what I like about my works, the poetry I write, and of fiction I composed, of our ancestors and of nature, to be first along this ancient path, with my pad and pen, the spirit still lives in my works
And while the shadows stand watching
I seek the sculptured speeches
The dialect of old in terrace work
In time to put it to the proof
“Each section seems to welcome me, drawing on me dictating my thoughts, and I remembered the feeling, like a pioneer, the feeling of possession, my mind telling me, this is mine, all of nature is in me
Moving through the familiar parts, this scenery was my story book, something in its peacefulness calls me inward, the beauty of nature in the scent of our lineage, these things are special to me, like nothing else in my life ever will
This happiness is rampaging through me when ever I set sight on a topic of interest; an ancient tree, a lost artifact, of mud swing and the trill of discovering new things,
In my line of sight nature works with my state of mind, imagine the valley adjacent to my tribe as a slave pit, or the yam tendril entwining a woman to me in my dreams, as of now I thought of Ken and the Ogoni Eight
And suddenly crawling groping grapping, Arms of branches reaching to strangle the words out of me, Nature Unguarded utterance that may lead them to prints keeping watch over my steps, The roaring pathos Shrill loud and trembling, Pictured the bleak interior of a slave passage, Stealing into my heart taking notes of all that I do In poetry form, Seeking reason to deny my fear
The pain communicated through flesh
The clacking of separation
The slithering of movement
The pumping in my ear and vein
And I was fighting as the rope burned into my neck
Searing like fire
And something gave as the areole of the lung inflated
The unheard music in a captive cage
The rope were tight playing the song and were the Ogoni song, the air spoke the words, and was the Ogoni words, thought out words in rain of memory falling down healing hurts over the Ogoni land
The pen groped the pregnant air with blindfold I try to see the flesh left behind on the path as whole selves were briefly recalled with the shock wave of sudden death
Yet the yearning of my hearts beat on the path and old tree stir trying to speak of an Ogoni hanging on its branch, and the selves roared in me, blasting me with these grammars, the cords were still on my throat hanging me with the Sosa boys
In my pad the eight lifted each other up in prints that wordlessly wail as soul that rose out of flesh went over the shell-shocked oil well
Tangled in prison clothing In my poems you will hear an Ogoni cry as the ripped flesh exposes the desperation with the same Rotten English
From nature I listened to the music and I write about it, scene my mind knew note by note the words more our came back to me black hands feet and faces Igbo, Hausa, Edo and all ethnic grammar with the pulse and softness of it
Like a blade of grass bending to the wind, along the field my pen responded to the fury in my mind my writing were not mine, I was the Ogoni, the Ogoni and all minority were all me, and the spirit lives