Writings of the general word's body

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Facing Kilimanjaro

Tade Ipadeola (right, photographed by this blogger at Terra Kulture, Lagos, on 7th September 2005) placed 2nd in the Muson Poetry Prize 1999 - with his poem, Facing Kilimanjaro...

Facing Kilimanjaro

‘I have something to say I want to say
But it surpasses saying.’
- Kofi Awoonor

Hold my hands
Upon this mount of visions,
Hallow this hour hedged
Past haruspications.

The black and blue Nile knit
Purple robes,
To cover this nakedness
So strikingly stark -

Billows blow breathlessly on
The sapped continent…
But we shall rise.
We shall be strong again
We shall not be naked


From these heights I see
Restored to lands;
And people of the land
Strength from Kibo
I’m flushed with light
And from this height
I speak
Peace to troubled turfs
Where I see
The hair on hoary heads.
I see the depths:
Stones of a richer mine
Untouched and unsoiled,
Beckoning, beckoning to me
Richer stones unlaundered
From Kimberly’s belly
All mine
In the savannah sprawls…
I am rich again -


But vultures also wait
Circling for the death scent
For the air to reek
With arbitage

And who are these brethren
Thrusting turgid stones
At one
What blindness, what darkness!
What blind unseeing!
They close in on us
On blood scent
Because the night has fallen
Yet again…

Low as a lie
The vultures circle,
Scarlet unfurls her bloody mast
She glows at the stench
And swoops
To scoop the entrails
Of gods.


Women bleed milk
For each travelling man
That they may remember the way back
If ever…

In the fields
Maddened men
Slash and slit their brothers

I heard a gurgle
In a trunc-
ated throat
No song.
I see the compound eyes
Of flies and spies
And I hear the women wail.
They wail over wombs
That will not heal
Among women

And I saw them:
Vultures and scarves
Skiing down Alpine slopes,
A host of hopes
In their wine wakes


Weep for the waifs,
Cry for the child soldiers

Ghouls caress their infant heads
No homely little cradle beds
Their nascent bloom so soon is shed
Child soldiers…

Weep as they sleep
Wasted infant gunners

Somewhere in the heights
A tear trickles
A head
A head

Mourn the mass of innocence unsung
Time is
Time is not


I mourn the mounds
Of infant flesh
Soaked in damned dreams

I see a sea
Of brine
A sea of wine
So you see
My eyes.

I wait for day
For dreams to sail on streams of light
For children to be innocent again

My longing:
To see birds nest on the trees
The hunters hunting herds in peace
To face the mountain with a cup
To drink the waters at the top…
To climb in peace


Then up to Kibo
To know life
Wrought whole and well
Like the ancients
Of the ancient tribes -

To go up with Mandela
The Kabaka
And all of God’s children
Marcus, Martin, Malcolm;
And all of God’s shopped children
Up to Kibo
From distant lands
Turning, returning
To the Fatherland
To Kibo
Facing Kilimanjaro.

Tade Ipadeola

  • Facing Kilimanjaro is taken from The Rain Fardel, Tade Ipadeola's 2nd volume of poetry (Khalam Editions, Ibadan, 2005).
  • Reproduced with permission.