Writings of the general word's body

Monday, August 21, 2006

A Tale of Two Summits

G-8, St Petersburg

Here the well-fed
Wonder (between thunderous belches)
What to do with their wanton surplus
Giant knives in their hands

They descend on the global cake
Their wine is red
Their meat chocolate-brown
And tenderly done

Here the well-armed
Wrangle over how fast/soon
To end the world
Gunboats on every sea

Killer-jets in every sky
Private eye in every land
They decide who to let die
They decide who to let live

(The nuclear option/imperative
Is still dancing in the nude)

Here the powerful
Haggle hard over conclaves and colonies:
The birds in every air
The fishes in every ocean

The minerals beneath the earth
Are theirs to have and to hold
Their thirst drains the lakes
Their fury un-fins the fishes

The world’s Clever Creditors
Dangle debit chains
And IOU’s like terrorful writs

Mouthing mantras
About peace and progress
(Justice never makes it to the Grand Communiqué)
And promises made but never kept

Here in St. Petersburg
In their own image the Powerful Eight
Plot to shape the world
And History looks on, a Silent Witness…

Poor People’s summit; Gao

Batterings and bones
Sweat and tears
Here, a gathering
Of the Poor People’s Council

The Pundits brand them poor
But the streets insist they are "poored"
They who sow so much
And reap so little

The gold under their earth
The oil beneath their swamps
The trees in their forests
The peoples in their streets

All "raw material" for plants in other lands

Here, nights end on empty stomachs
Dawns arrive with a caravan of Want
The millet has lost its way to the mill
Rice fields cannot rise above the drought

Relentlessly fleeced for
The finery of colder climes
They survive from "aid" to AIDS
Their begging bowls ringing louder

Every passing seasons

Here in Gao
Irrigated by the lordly Niger
Empires once flourished
Timbuktu’s gold was plaything in royal households

Learning traded virtues with Commerce
The sun rose, robust, in the Mali sky…
Then came the Desert
Then came the Sea

Tragic chapters in History’s laughter

Here in Gao
Their skins so South
Their sighs so uncertain
The Paupered unleash a tune

That is loud
And harshly true
And all around are desert sands
And baobabs which defy the storm.

  • Mid-July 2006, two summits took place in different parts of the world: in St. Petersburg, Russia, the G-8 Summit of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful countries; in Gao, Mali, the Poor People’s Summit.

© Niyi Osundare, July 18, 2006

  • First published in The Guardian, Lagos, Nigeria on July 30, 2006.
  • Reproduced with permission.