BAROKA – Lion and the Jewel

They call me the lion,

Ilujinle is my jungle

Pay no hid to the village mad man

I have no hate for him.

Would it profit me to

pit my strength against

a weakling?…

you see I change my wrestlers

when I have learnt to throw them


Lakunle’s efforts are like that of a woman

pouring water into a basket; for

Ilujinle shall remain my jungle.

I’m I not Baroka, the King of the Jungle.


They say I paid off the contractors.

In defence of my honour,

I’ll utter no utterance.

Let my ever present enemies

speculate, it is okay.

Mystery is my first love;

I live, sleep, bath in it ray.


For now, I have no love

but Sidi, till another battle

offers to be conquered;

she was an easy prey.

It took only the right ingredients:

a plan, the leak, Sadiku’s flaming mouth

and the prey walked into the set trap.

I use what I have to get what I want,

Am I not Baroka

King of the Jungle.


To think I paid her no heed

till the stranger brought her

beauty out like the morning dew

then I remembered it had been

five full month since I last

warmed my bed with a new blood.


My pen runs like a desertwritten

about the great man of south Africa.

Pardon my ignorance – I meant

“the great man of the African race.”

His name has inspired Music, Art and maybe Science.

His name has motivated songs, plays and poems.

His name has stirred much more than I can write.

His name has inspired so much,

that I now fear that my words would not do him justice.

I fear my rhymes would slide with effort

and my literary devices

would fail to paint him a perfect portrait.


But at this moment of his death

I dare not remain mute

lest the world think I knew him not.

Lest the world take out of the numbers

of the people who bow in respect to his name.


Indeed, Death has cheated us of a great man

but this great man, has cheated death.

Yes, he did by living a life worth living.

By fighting for his race.

By putting others’ needs before his.

By being larger than the life he lived.


On this day

My fingers join that of other writers

in dancing the dance of alanta on the keyboard.

My fingers unite with that of other writers

in hugging the pen and swirling on a hard dance floor.


On this day

I open my case of borrowed words

to bid farewell to a man of valour

who showed us all how to cheat death.




It is shackles on my ankles,
My thoughts are tied to it.
I walk like a zombie on the streets,
my thoughts are troubled by it.

My hands are callused for it
my clothes are in tatters for it
My breath stinks for it
My skin cracks for it.
I indeed slave for it

But when I finds it
I would sing alleluia
I would dance for it
I would make it set me free

I would make it
even my cracked skin,
freshen my stinking breath,
replace my tattered clothes,
smoothen my callused hand,
it would indeed set me free.

Then it would be gone
in a tinkle of an eye
and I would again start
with shackles on my ankles
walking like a zombie
slaving for it.

For the alternative is deadly
Filled with vipers and lions
The alternative is to be helpless
To be alone and naked
And told not naked enough
To be left out in the cold
And thrown to the. Vultures.



Kai! Our head-hunter has gone coo-coo.

He who killed Adiche-the tailless lion

with his bare hands has gone coo-coo.

Kai! The great head-hunter of Ogoja o


He was swift and fearless.

Was it not he, who drove the pack of laughing jackal

back into the migbodo forest,

while the other hunters ran and hid under their wives’ skirts.

Indeed, it was he, who saved the village

from the notorious crocodile of the Mimi river.

The crocodile whose skin still adorns the Village Head’s feet.


His troubles they say started when he killed two pregnant elephants with one shot.

They say they were pregnant of gods, for the little ones’ eyes shone like the stars.

The head-hunter broke down and cried like a child at the sight of the babies.

He ran into the forest months after, no one except a few ever saw him again.

Of course, only a few who went into the forest after him ever return.


But we hear stories of him from the few who dared to hunt in the forest.

The few who lived to tell the stories.

Stories of how he attacked them like a ferocious animal.

He has become one with the jungle, he has gone coo-coo, they say

He is now the king of our forest.

He who was once our head-hunter now hunts our hunters.