For an American Friend

From Black Session | Buy here

My dear friend
a bright woman of ideas and letters
noble of deed
blessed with riches, a golden heart light as a feather
blessed with beauty, intelligence and character
eyes clear and bright as noon
but naïve of the ways of this world –
the ways of the gods and of their men,
the lords of this earth and their warriors,
the kings of this world and their priests,
the architects of history and their friends,
the engineers of global processes and their soldiers.

Hoping to affect her understanding of the ways of this world
show the affairs of the gods and their men
the lies of history made
human reality schemed
expose the underbelly of global processes
I suggested and she agreed we go on a trip round this earth
to the terrain where it all began –
the fated encounter of the gods and men,
of the sky and the earth,
Nut and Geb,
up and down,
the north and the south.

We started in Cairo and Alexandria –
where the gods and men made contact,
the sky and the earth met,
Nut and Geb coupled,
the Atlantic and the Mediterranean collided,
reconciled, colluded.
And on to Mombasa, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar,
Maputo, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth –
where the Atlantic and the Indian met, battled, bloodied the sea, the land.
Then to Luanda, Douala and Yaoundé,
Badagry, Porto-Novo, Lomé, Accra and Elmira,
Freetown, Dakar and Gorée Island,
Sao Vicente and Santiago –
where ships once docked, their cargo the lambs of history shackled.
Then across the great sea to Salvador de Bahia, Kingston,
Port-au-Prince, Santiago de Cuba, Havana, New Orleans, and Charleston –
where the lambs nourished a new world,
their sweat enriched all, gods and men.

After moons of globetrekking
our resources lowending
we decided to take a break
some time off to rest
to ponder and discuss what we had experienced and seen
to spend time with family and friends
to replenish our resources
and then continue our journey tracing the path of the lambs
by again crossing the great sea from our homes here atop the New World –
this city of the radiant lady of the harbor, her eternal flame held torch high for all the world to see –
to the other side of the earth, the Old World.

The plan was we visit in the Old World some of the lands where
the story of the lambs, the enriching effect of their sweat on those lands
are seldom talked about, not well-known.
Ostend. Antwerp. Copenhagen. Oslo. Stockholm. Nagasaki.
Then visit some of the lands well-known.
London. Liverpool. Bristol. Edinburgh. Amsterdam. Brussels. Nantes. Bordeaux. Marseille. Barcelona. Seville. Lagos. Lisbon.

But we did not.

“I’ve seen enough, my dear. I’m glad we took this journey into the world … I am exhausted from the weight of it all … I now appreciate our true history, the substructure of our existence, the real source of our wealth, the backbone of our well-being … I am really humbled by the things I’ve seen, the people we’ve met, the lives I’ve witnessed. So much we don’t know about ourselves … about the world … what makes our comfortable life possible …” she pauses, clear bright eyes cloudy.

© 2023 Ségun Ògúntólá

© 2006 Ségun Ògúntólá