A Poem by Bethany Chijindu
We take a few steps forward
Then just as we think we are making it
The walls begin to crumble
There is Hunger in the land
Then we discover too late
That we built on sand
However, before the great tumble
Cracks appeared long ago
Long before the foundations, we built on shattered
Yet we failed to pay attention
Instead, we listened to stories
Tales our leaders spouted
Narratives that drove us apart as a people
Pitting brother against brother
We were more concerned about amassing and keeping wealth.
Hiding the ill-gotten treasures in our little enclaves
The riches we procured through lying and stealing
Blinded by tribalism and racism
We forgot that together we accomplish more
We failed to see strength in our unity
Not realizing we are now nations
And that to be successful we need all hands on deck.
Instead, our leaders play with our lives
We have become minced meat in their hands
They consider us nothing
Until campaign season comes around and they need our votes.
They come with their false promises wrapped up in gifts like food like rice and mealie.
And laced with sweet words, promising heaven on earth
They come seeking to buy our votes
Dishing out money to the throngs that gather around them
Yet we fail to realize our votes are not cheap
Like Esau’s birthright
They are precious stones to be treasured
People fought and died to give us that right
Yet we give it away so cheaply
For a pot of stew, to feed our temporary hunger.
We fail to see the long-term consequence of that singular act
Until it is too late
So we watch from the sidelines
As the leaders soon forget their promises
Sitting on their thrones
Basked in the aroma of power and wealth
They begin to squander our hard-earned wealth
Instead of building schools, roads and hospitals
Money is spent making deals and getting richer
As the poor get poorer
Moaning in misery
Praying for help.
Years pass and then election time comes along again
The leaders remember the people again
So they come rushing to the hinterlands, the townships and villages
Seeking once again to buy our votes
They come in their long motorcades
In return smiling and waving
With songs and dance, we welcome them
When opposition arises, challenging their record
The harder they work in trying to impress the people.
When that seems to fail
They go back to their favorite tactic of divide and conquer
Sowing seeds of discord that are then watered by statements that incite
People not realizing the danger they are in
Swallow it all as if it is dew from heaven
Before long they are blinded by hatred
Failing to see that their leaders played them like fools.
It is no surprise then that our foundations remain weak
For we never bothered to strengthen the foundation
So why then do we act surprised that the house came crumbling down
Because time after time, we rebuild, but we never lay a secure foundation
So we are bound to repeat the same failures of leaders past.