Oil Wails
(Port Harcourt, January 2016. For the fear of “educated militancy” in the Niger Delta)
The price I pay for peace is too great, 
the price I pay is a disgrace.

Do I,
wail my wails to the whales, 
or listen to your fairy tales?
I am here,
carrying my file to join every file, searching for ghostly jobs.

You say I am not schooled,
but I stand before you a Master: Master of Papers.
Tell me why, 
I should not buy a gun, 
and swap it for monthly pay?

Or should I rather, 
give back the guns you shared, 
in the creeks during your campaign?

If Ebi*, good Ebi, 
is paid as a militant, why shouldn’t I be?
The price I pay for peace is too great, 
the price I pay is a disgrace.

Do I,
stand still and watch, 
like Rio’s lifeless Jesus**?
Dagogo is there, 
building his third mansion from a white man’s ransom.

You know that this Delta is ill,
Yet I stand before you, a Doctor: Doctor of Coloured Papers.
Tell me why 
I should not cook sweet crude 
so that Mama could eat food?

Or should I rather 
close my eyes when I see you, 
shut the chiefs’ mouths with Naira notes?

If a battalion, armed battalion 
guards one expatriate, why shouldn’t they me?
e price I pay for peace is too great, 
the price I pay is a disgrace.

Because I, 
wail my wails to the whales, 
as you own all the oil wells.
My brothers are here, 
killing themselves with your gun; my kinsmen are on the run

You think I am fooled,
but I stand before you a Freeman, free from all your deceit!
Tell me why 
I should not torment the creeks, 
as our rivers no more have fish?

Or should I rather 
sing your praise in the streets 
because you promised to make me rich?

If a bullion van, 
an armored bullion van 
negotiate my free speech, why shouldn’t I decline?

(*an Ijaw name meaning “Good”

**a statue of Christ The Redeemer on a mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, overlooking the city)

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