Oliver O. Mbamara - performing the poem, "Lamentations of An African child

Why I Suspended Social Media Activities and Halted Performances (Lamentations of An African child)

Why I Suspended Social Media Activities and Halted Performances (Lamentations of An African child – The Gift of the Present):

In the past weeks that witnessed the recent Nigeria elections, I suspended my weekly poetry performances on social media, and many wondered why. Though the nature of my day-job does not lend me to engage in partisan politics, it does not prevent me from expressing my non-partisan artistic ideas. So, why did I suspend social media activities through these past weeks?

For some, the elections were a “do or die” affair. For many unemployed masses, unpaid workers, retirees, struggling entrepreneurs, and the youths, there seemed a flicker of hope and the chance to elect new or incumbent leaders who would make life easier for them going forward. Yet for many, it was simply politics as usual. A time to outsmart and outmaneuver political opponents. A time to do everything to retain or win a political seat. A time to engage unemployed youths as thugs to unleash mayhem on opponents. A time for some to further position themselves to pilfer from the peoples’ coffers and redirect government funds to their private purses.

Now that the elections are about over with some results being challenged in court, many will move on with their lives and the status quo will persist in some quarters. Yet we must not forget that many lost their lives or got maimed trying to exercise their civic duties or while trying to uphold the voting rights of all especially the less privileged. Did such Patriots die or suffer in vain?

Oliver O. Mbamara - performing the poem, "Lamentations of An African child

It is up to us who still have the chance of life in the present to reflect and ask ourselves – what roles have we played and what roles do we want to play going forward? We can pretend to others, but we cannot lie to ourselves nor suppress our conscience forever.  Did we kill, cheat, rob, hurt, or defame others just to support our political aspirations, material desires, or religious, and tribal sentiments? Each of us know the true answer within and will answer to it at some point.

While acknowledging that many in Diaspora manage to engage at home by “proxy” or “distant association,” it must be pointed out that such participation does not equal the experience of those physically on ground putting their lives in harm’s way in support or in opposition of one party/candidate or the other. The role of the Nigerian in Diaspora is essential, but the challenge hardly compares to that of the unemployed, the security vulnerable, the underprivileged, the unpaid worker/retiree, and so on physically on ground dealing with the situation first hand. It is out of concern and respect for these Nigerians and for the seriousness of the Nigerian situation that I had to tone down my social media activities and put my performances on hold.  Salute to you all.

From the time of our fore-fathers, many have fought to protect the rights and freedom of all to a better life. Many today genuinely care for the good of the whole even though it ultimately boils down to how we choose to live our lives individually. How did we touch others, and how much good or evil can be ascribed to each of us? What lessons have we learned? How have we improved or hope to improve through life? The journey and the struggle continue, but we have the chance today in the present to make a difference and to create a better future for ourselves and the coming generations. To these efforts, I dedicate the poem – Lamentations of An African child (The Gift of the Present).

©March 2019 – ABOUT THE EDITOR: Oliver O. Mbamara is an award-winning filmmaker, poet, actor, attorney, and a published writer. For more on Oliver, visit www.OliverMbamara.com



Lamentations of an African Child

And though born this day to live again,
I have been born many times before
To live and learn the lessons of life
At times a man, at times a woman
At times the master, at times the slave
Of various races and skin colors
Yet many past woes repeat today
That puzzle even an African child.
Take a ride with me into the past,
To see why the present is a gift

And I was born then to live again,
And there I was with Shaka Zulu,
We fought them off, but not for long,
Our arrows could fly, but not too far,
Our machetes could cut, but not too deep,
Our shields were weak to explosive shells,
As they pulled the triggers of their guns,
Deadly shots rang and stopped our men,
We fought them hard but fell in the end
Never to rise, except in spirit.

And I was born then to live again
Some others were born to motherland
Some destined to fight for fatherland
Thomas Sankara, Nelson Mandela,
Julius Nyerere, Patrice Lumumba,
…………………, and many others
They stood for freedom for the people
Some gave their lives so others might live
So next generation might be great.

And I am born now to live again,
But here I am in this time and age,
Witness to evils worse than the past
Fighting, Killing, and oppression reign
For sake of religion, politics, (nepotism and avarice)
Countrymen are devoid of conscience
Selling their votes to highest bidders
Who in turn become sit tight leaders,
Who turn state coffers into their purse
And masses are left to beg for crumbs.

And now that ‘am born to live again
I see we are still plagued with the past,
But could our heroes have died in vain?
For now in our land, we are our foes,
And seem not to have learned from the past
So a child like me may want to ask,
Why was I born in this time and age?
But God could not have made a mistake.
(No one is in life is just a victim)
We must learn our lessons here as soul,
And build today what morrow will be

Today is the sum of journeys past
Today is the gift for tomorrow
For in it we have the chance to build
What may become of our days ahead.
What we do with it is up to us
As we make our bed so shall we
Lie or lay, like or hate, live or die
We cannot escape the dawn that comes
The nature of our dawn is our making
The dawn we meet is the dawn we’ve earned

(Poems of Freedom) © Oliver O. Mbamara – (2002/2019)



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