Poet Oumar Farouk Sesay pays tribute to the Importance Of Personal Responsibility in Sierra Leone
Oumar Farouk Sesay is a leading Sierra Leonean poet. His first volume of poems, "Salute to the Remains of a Peasant" was published in 2007. His second collection of poems, "The Edge of a Cry" was published in 2015 by the Sierra Leonean Writers Series (SLWS). Farouk is a graduate of Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone.
BECAUSE WE ARE POOR
(For those who use poverty
as an excuse for our failings as a people)
So, because we are poor, we must quarry
the mountains, gouge the boulders, let them roll
downhill. So, when it rains, the entire mountain
will peel off and cascade down the slope to end
our life of misery.
Because we are poor, therefore, we must fell the
hundred years old trees, deplete the biodiversity
and haul the trees to China for nickels and dime
like a man selling his kidney to buy whisky.
Because we are poor, we must cut down trees
at the Guma valley reserve to starve the dam of water,
then we demolish reservoirs and obstruct the pipe
network to build our houses on mountains.
From our mountain top homes, we spew abuses
at Guma management for not supplying water
to our homes.
Because we are poor, we must block the drainages,
streams, estuaries, and pathways to create
breeding pits for diseases so when we die of ailment
We blame it on the witchery of the old woman next door
Because we are poor, we must build our shanty homes
On water pipes and put our shit in a plastic sheet
And throw our shit to the neighbours' pipe we cut last night.
So, when it rains the shit in the plastic sheet and the leaking
pipe guarantee that we all fall sick with typhoid
Because we are poor, we must not push our children
to study and pass exams through a merit-based system
instead, we scrape and “dreg “to pay for “leakages” for them
to graduate as academic rogues
Or we turn a blind eye to the sex for marks syndicate
to complete the damnation of a nation in the mighty name
of our poverty
Because we are poor it is like a license not to obey
the law or enforce the law. It is a province of Freedom
with no lines of demarcation to create sanity.
It is the right to retail justice according to one’s ability to pay.
Because we are poor, we must scoop fuel from
A leaking Bowser, obstruct traffic, endanger the lives
Of innocent people, so when the fire erupts it kills
Everyone and plunge the survivors into unimaginable misery
Because we are poor, we must not investigate such
a wanton tragedy to place blame and punishment
where they belong. We just drape the national flag on
the coffins of those whose intransigence caused the
tragedy and the ones they killed. Like the proverbial
pounded chicken, we can’t tell where the anus was
before the pounding.
Because we are poor, we must not speak the truth
to power for fear that we might forfeit the crumbs
they toss in our direction to prolong our agony,
so, we enter anuses instead of a cave to hide our poverty
Because we are poor, we must therefore lack compassion
for each other and we must degenerate to lesser beings
without self-worth, so when another person is in distress
we steal their possessions instead of helping them
Because we are poor, we must sell our inheritance
And venture through the Sahara Desert to cross
the Mediterranean in search of greener pastures
only to die and leave our siblings in deeper poverty
Because we are poor, we must incinerate this garden
of Eden, poison the waters of our rivers, give away our
minerals for a pittance, cremate our heritage and keep
the ashes for our children in a vase with the inscription:
“We were poor, so we burnt what we had to become nothing”
Really? Because we are poor, we must demean our humanity
And sell our birthrights for coco ebeh?
By Oumar Farouk Sesay