Posted in Prose

Change and credible criticism

by

Noel Ihebuzor

  1. The possibility of alternation is one of the biggest benefits of democracy, but meaningful alternation is reason and cost benefit analysis driven.
  2. Change is often mistaken for a “replace with anything” sell & mindset. That is not change. Change is value adding & positive.
  3. If it is not value adding, then it is not and cannot be change.
  4. Some folks believe that the surest way to market themselves as change agents is to engage in endless criticisms of those in power.
  5. They criticize, trivialize and oppose whatever it is that the person in power does.
  6. Such an attitude and mindset soon give rise to a malignancy which I call serial opposition disorder, SOD.
  7. SOD as a malignancy leads to the spawning of mindless and non-credible criticisms.
  8. To be credible criticisms must be context sensitive and more importantly provide valid and feasible alternative lines of action.
  9. Non-credible and invalid criticisms are usually driven by spite, ignorance, ambition, bias, arrogance and selfishness.
Posted in Prose

Discouraging Deserters and Defectors

By Noel A. Ihebuzor

 

Twitter abounds in twitfights – fights between foes as well fights between former friends who have now parted ways for one reason or the other. When fights are between former friends who now find themselves on different sides of the political divide, the clashes tend to be very mean and vicious. The acrimony betrays the persisting bitterness and hurt that one party or both feel over the parting of ways. It is as if the fighters ignore one basic fact of life which is that some good friends must part someday, and that associations do not all always last forever. In life, friends do often fall out and part ways. This basic truth appears to be lost on quite a number of persons. Such persons hold on to a position which I call the permanence of associations and immutability of views position. Parting of ways or rethinking of positions by the other party are often very strongly resisted to the point where the person who decamps or changes his/her view is often treated as a deserter, a defector and a sell-out.

Positions of the type described above abound in the thriving twitter political party activist community. (I use this term to describe a community of persons who use Twitter mostly to actively promote the cause of a particular party. Members of this group, the political party activist group, must be distinguished from political activists. The former tweet and blog more like political party agents. The latter maintain more objective positions and tweet on governance, political, and accountability issues without favouring any political party. This distinction is important as a lot of unnecessary misunderstanding is caused by a conflation of the two terms).

In this political party activist community, change of positions and perceptions is viewed as a clear indicator of defection and desertion, offenses that are seriously viewed. Such changes are viewed as some form of social “apostasy”. And apostasy is perceived as a grievous sin, a perception that is most accentuated in communities with tendencies to self-ascribed moral righteousness. “Apostates” must be condemned to “social” disgrace and demise. Apostates must be treated as social lepers. They are to be ridiculed and subjected to all forms of social pressures. And all of this because apostates are a danger to the group they left. They possess a Snowden-type risk potential and precisely because of this, their credibility must be seriously eroded and progressively destroyed.

Matters are also not helped by the attitudes of the deserters/defectors, these modern day social apostates, themselves. Like most fresh converts to new faiths and belief systems, these social apostates consistently betray excessive zeal typical of neophytes as they try to settle in to their new camp. Most exhibit a tendency to dwell on and detail the evils of the groups they have left, a tendency that irks that group and one which then further exacerbates the already seething acrimony between the deserter and his/her former associates. Soon, the leaders, gate keepers, enforcers, whips and foot soldiers of that group are up in arms, defending the honour of their group and attacking the deserter. They have recourse to a variety of strategies in doing this.

These strategies include naming, recalling of previous tweets which the attacking group believes are diametrically opposed to the deserter’s current position and shaming the deserter. The deserter’s reasons for leaving are trivialised, ridiculed and made to look pecuniary and materialistic. The tweets and comments of the “apostate” are unearthed and hurled in his/her face just to show how inconsistent and unreliable he/she is. The strategic goal here is to call attention to glaring inconsistencies between present position and previous tweets – the end game is to undermine the credibility of the defector. Taunts abound. Wicked jibes and hurting jabs fly around. A campaign of name calling is unleashed on the deserter, a campaign where no punches are pulled and which may even go as far as in one case to saying that a deserter was so poor that he “used to drink garri” in his undergraduate days. People watch from the sides, either amused or too frightened to wade in as the gladiators engage in bloody, vicious but mutually demeaning bouts and jousts.

The attack on the defector is an eye opener and dampener to those within the circle who may have been contemplating either changing camps or moving to more neutral positions. The message to such persons is clear. This is what you are likely going to get should you ever desert us. The attacks are thus not fortuitous but have a functional intent – to discourage and deter other potential deserters. Successful defection deterring strategies keep members in – once you are in, you cannot leave – a bit akin to what I call the Hotel California syndrome – you can check out anytime you want but you cannot leave!

Most deserters/defectors act as if they cannot understand the flurry and fury of the attacks on them. A little reflection should make any deserter/defector understand why those attacks are necessary and likely to come.

  • First, a defector must realise that his/her defection is a threat to his/her former associates. You know too much. Your former associates are not sure how much you will give away. They will want to put you away socially for good before you can do their group any harm. Basic survival principle, not ideology or any higher order principle, I believe, is what drives the chief whips of your former group as they come after you.
  • Secondly, a defector must also realise that he/she is also a threat to the his/her former associates in the sense that he/she is a reminder to those inside that they too could defect one day.  Now, that must be an uncomfortable feeling because it introduces some gnawing doubts in the minds of persons who cannot afford to have their present beliefs or rightness of their present positions tested/questioned. Remember what George Santanaya said about some group of persons re-doubling their efforts in situations of doubt – well a defection creates one of such a situation.
  • Thirdly, a defector should realise that his/her defection hurts the pride of his/her former associates. And when people are hurt, they hit out, and hitting out on impulse does not subject itself to the controls and norms of rational conduct.

The foregoing should enable the deserter to understand the onslaughts against his person. Desertion is not cost-free. You should expect them to come after you. But you must not fight them each time they come after you. Choose your battles! Don’t go galloping into every battle! One key aspect of successful military strategy is knowing which battles to fight and which ones to walk away from. Walk away, avoid the fight – even if they call you “Coward of the County”. Walk away, “walk on by”. If you do not respond, they are likely to get tired and find other things to spend their energies on.

This write-up would not be complete without a brief mention of what happens in the camp that receives the “decampee”. It is simple. The strategy of attack and damage is reversed:

The new “decampee” is presented as someone who has seen the truth, who has suddenly become aware of the folly and evil in his/her previous ways, one who has seen the sinfulness and greed of former associates and as one who now regrets ever associating with such evil people in such an evil party. The devil, who is a convenient scapegoat, takes a good bashing in this new dance of the converted and the redeemed.

  • The decampee’s conversion narrative is cleverly spun and elevated to achieve about the same dramatic intensity as Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. A blind eye is suddenly developed to everything that the new convert and prized acquisition ever said whilst a member of the opposite side.
  • New spins are put on any comments such a convert may have made on persons, character flaws, fat bank accounts, crimes and indiscretions of members of the group he/she is now joining. Damaging comments on how non-electable some members of the receiving group are get blacked out! An unwritten rule which places an embargo among the “faithful” on ever remembering or writing on these telling social comments, except to excuse them as either slippages or works of the devil immediately comes into effect.
  • A package of rewards and incentives, including mentions and praise, is made available to the new convert to encourage continued membership…and all is rosy and honky-dory until there is a falling out. And then the dogs of war are unleashed and we are back full cycle.

There are some lessons in all of this. And I will summarise these as bullet points

  • Be careful who you associate with on Twitter.
  • Be careful who you dine with
  • If you must dine with the devil, go with a long spoon.
  • You do not have to belong to the “in-crowd” to be relevant.
  • Do not let others be the ones to determine your relevance
  • All that glitters is not gold.
  • Shine your eyes
  • Free your mind
  • Use your mind.

It is good to belong on social media but please do not sell yourself or your soul to belong. You can use social media to grow, to learn, to engage and to share but that same social media can kill your mind and stunt your thinking if you allow yourself to be sucked into unhealthy associations. Engage wisely!

Posted in Prose

Signs of confused activism

By

Noel A. Ihebuzor

Activism is now one of the fastest growing buzz and fancy words. It has style and appeal. It has class. Quite a number of persons on social media would immediately lay claims to be engaging in this highly rated practice either as a hobby or as a full time professional pursuit. But like all buzz words, the word activism “contains” a lot of fuzz. The fuzz arises because “activism” is gradually becoming a label that has been hijacked and is now being used to describe the activities of a variety of persons from genuine crusaders for social justice through to paid political party agents to social media demagogues. Confusion clearly abounds and an important step in wading through this confusion is to try to come up with a simple scheme that would enable a citizen to distinguish between genuine activism and fake activism. I call fake activism confused activism just to recognise that not all manifestations of it are intentional since some clearly result from situations where unbridled zeal and exuberance have outrun sense, self-restraint, competence and capacity.    Here are some signs of confused activism I have gleaned from social media.

  1. The display of selective moral outrage
  2. The abandonment of reason
  3. The embrace of illogicality and the descent to inconsistency
  4. The rejoicing over any government misfortune
  5. Refusing to see the very obvious
  6. Denying or rejecting clear evidences of government successes
  7. Trivialising landmark events and changes brought about by government policies
  8. Magnifying government mistakes out of proportion
  9. Maintaining total silence on opposition gaffes
  10. Defending glaring flaws in persons in the opposition
  11. Enforcing total silence on the crimes of members of the opposition
  12. Demonizing the government but beatifying anyone opposed to it.
  13. Blanking out the unsavoury pasts of newly turned “progressives”
  14. Revising and photo-shopping the past to fit the present
  15. Purveying inaccuracies and merchandising distortions
  16. Becoming salespersons and champions of exaggerations
  17. Looking before leaping; tweeting before thinking
  18. Commenting on things without any full understanding of them
  19. Consistently condemning government and commending the opposition
  20. Charging into battle like a Don Quixote & engaging in non-evidence/non-fact based utterances

The incidence of confused activism can be reduced if we all begin today to turn our backs to behaviours such as I have listed above and start to embrace a culture of more balanced, evidence based and socially constructive engagements which are the hallmarks of genuine activism.

Noel

Posted in Poetry

Review of Biko Agozino’s “Today na Today”

By Noel A. Ihebuzor

Title – Today na Today

Author – Biko AGOZINO

Biko Agozino 2

Publishers – Omala Media Ltd, Awgu, Enugu

Year of Publication – 2013

I have just been privileged to read a collection of poems  most of them in pidgin English by Biko Agozino. Onwubiko Agozino (Biko), is a Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA

The collection, titled “Today na Today” is made of 36 poems, 31 of which are in pidgin English and the last 5 in standard English. The poems treat a broad range of contemporary social issues in Nigeria from life in our typical urban ghettos characterised by “face me- I face you” type of accommodation to protests over the conditions of host communities in the oil rich Niger delta of Nigeria. The issues covered are indeed broad but a common thread of social relevance unites them all. Take the poem “Fire the devil”. Here Biko slams with very biting wit the rise in a theology that seeks explanations for social failings in the unceasing interference of the devil. Or consider “Black sperm” where the poet describes and takes issues with the social consequences of new developments and possibilities in fertility management and reproductive choices, especially the whole issue of sperm banks and artificial insemination.. “Time na Money” starts off innocently on the title of a song by Okri but ends up with a deep and shattering broadside on an enlarging cult of materialism. Poor people pay more is particularly disturbing and contains lines that etch their words in the minds of the reader

“Them fit prospect for oil self right inside we wife and daughters’ thighs

We only beg make them rub small oil for we cassava leaves make them shine”

These are strong words. These are powerful condemnations of the activities of the oil companies in the Niger Delta  (ND) whose failures and negligence along with other failures explain the abject poverty of the ND.

One cannot in a short review of this nature cover all the poems in the collection but a few deserve special mention – Dialectical dialogue, Yabbis, Capital punishment, Slum dwellers, Odyssey, Below sea level, Too Much Generals, Knowledge be privilege, Again born again, You be witch and Brain drain all stand out. Each in its special way takes up an aspect of our social life and our experience of it, be it as voluntary emigres in God’s Own country or as forced prisoners/participants in the gaols of our country where social services are almost comatose, social inequities and cleavages are on the increase, misery and despair so palpable and a tendency to play blame games on the ascendancy and dissects this with a blend of humour, sarcasm, irony, wit and some compassion. But for my concern not to enflame current sensitivities concerning the Igbos and the Nigerian state in the 1967-70 period and even beyond, I would also have mentioned “Forgive” as one of the poems that stand out given its plea to the Igbos to forgive the wrongs done them during the civil war. I will keep clear of that. The topic is too delicate, but the theme of Victory song, a poem which celebrates the victories of the ANC and Mandela among others, is not. Read it and rejoice with the successes of the liberation struggles. Read it but please do not say “Cry, the beloved country” for some of the failed dreams, unfulfilled expectations and matters arising in the present from those brave liberation struggles of the past.

The last five poems in standard English (is there such a thing, by the way) – Abu jah, Say Sorry, Massa day done, Con and Blue – are a delight to read. Abu Jah is troubling as it reveals all the shenanigans and shoddy dealings in our new capital city, a city, where for example, one family gets allocated 8 plots of choice land out of 16,000 plots in a country of 160,000, 000 people and the person who was principally involved in making the allocation is either unable or incompetent to recognise his guilt and to say “Sorry”! “Say Sorry” is a listing of our failings in society, failing we should be sorry for and to turn away from. I could go on but it is best I stop here to allow the reader discover and enjoy this collection of poems where art is used to project social conditions, contradictions and challenges for herself or himself as I have done.

Biko has certainly enriched the literary world with this collection of poems. Some of the poems betray his Igbo origins in their choice of words, cadence and rhythm! “My water pot it done broke” in its form, structure, especially repetitiveness of lines, has all the elements of the akuku ufere –  akuku ifo  (poem tale usually with a refrain) we used to chant as children during moonlight plays –  “Ebele mu akuwala”.

I just have one problem with Biko’s efforts to write in pidgin – Biko him pidgin no trong at all at all – him pidgin na oyibo pidgin. Him pidgin na “ajebo” pidgin.  He mixes correct English forms with pidgin forms (he uses “them” instead of dem, for example). This is a weakness and a “corruption” of our “ogbonge” pidgin. But we can pardon this “corruption”once we realise that this professor of sociology and Africana plus poet at Virginia Tech, VA, grew up inside Naija but has lived outside the country for more than 20 years in places like the UK, the Caribbean and the US. (Incidentally, his  pidgin orthography is similar in many ways to the style of Chinua Achebe who used ‘them’ instead of dem in many of his novels).

The collection is published by a small publishing house, Omala Medsia, based in his home town, Awgu in Enugu State, Nigeria, and it can be ordered from www.lulu.com but I look forward to when this collection can be re-published by a more renowned publishing house but this is beyond the control of Biko or any of us. Decision for that lies with the publishing houses whose choices on what to publish are driven less by literary worth of a manuscript but by consideration of economics and market realities. But here, I stray and dabble into the difficult waters of the sociology of publishing. Happy reading.

An additional treat is that Biko Agozino recorded nine of the poems, mostly at Harry Mosco Studios, Lagos Nigeria with just one recorded at Paramount Studios in Nashville, TN. To listen to the recorded poems, follow the link here.  Enjoy.

Noel A. Ihebuzor

@naitwt on Twitter

Posted in Poetry

The tweet fighter

By Noel A. Ihebuzor

Hollow head
shallow mind drowned in
emptiness,

seething rage,
hurling hate soaked rants,
gloom and doom

searching for meaning,
for self in others, drifting,
fallow, easy prey

for agile, clever
manipulators looking
for cheap tools to use.

Posted in Poetry

The gravity of grafitti – wild hate singing on wide walls

By Noel Ihebuzor

 

Naming is dangerous, cheap

prejudice and hate,

foul the skies

with clammy paws and febrile strokes

spraying lurid ugliness

on the frames of non-consenting city walls,

obscene images and messages,

spewing and strewing hate and hurt

internal rot, riots and rages uncaged, intrusions,

extrusions ugly as rape, ragged, raging

Seeds of discord sow, soon sprout

creeping, spreading, spawning like

poisonous parasitic fungi on tired urban walls

revealing the jungle and darknesses within.

Their message?

Hate, discord and despair,

sad triplets, their grips cloud vision,

clog hearing and choke reason

as they slowly suck their victims

to ever resounding and noisy hollowness!

 

***Prompted by SLD’s Cultural Grafitti

Cultural Graffiti

Posted in Poetry

Stirred Muse – in response to SLD’s “Muse Ridden”

By Noel Ihebuzor

 

The touch key stirs, stretches, awakens and moves

humming, stroking and caressing

 

Soon, it blends notes and nuances,

stirs, nudges, and then steers other senses to move and dance

all awakening now, gliding, sliding, slithering

like anxious limbs aroused by the teasing inebriating tones of Alija

like nubile hips swaying involuntarily,

stirred by ekwe, ngelenge and udu laced by ele mminri

suddenly the soft shadows of a new song emerge

fleeting, inchoate

 

Some further loving touch and brush by the potter,

and the new song explodes

reason, rhyme and rhythm join hands

skipping along, speaking words

spraying flowers, some red, some rose,

some raw and raging,

some purple and crimson, some weeping,  others laughing

but all carrying deep messages

that touch our aroused eyes and ears

and seep to the soles of our searching souls –

the beauty of Susan’s poetry

 

*** Susan Daniels, a superb poet and my duet partner, wrote a great poem “Muse ridden” http://susandanielspoetry.com/2013/02/14/muse-ridden-2/

which prompted my spontaneous comment on her blog. Stirred Muse is my attempt to polish that spontaneous response – so here!  I am still left with the feeling that the spontanoeous response reads much better!***

Posted in Prose

Leading and managing change in the public service – some personal reflections

By

Noel A. Ihebuzor

Two types of change – planned and unplanned – are discernable in life. In the public service, planned change is delivered and comes about through successful reforms. Pursuant of such planned change, governments regularlylaunch reform initiatives at varying scales of complexity.  However, we know that not all such reform initiatives succeed.  Indeed the public sphere is littered with the bones of quite a number of failed reform initiatives. The reasons for these failures are diverse.  They include policy inadequacies, poor planning, size, complexity, poor management, socio-cultural incompatibility, limited beneficiary buy-in, stakeholder resistance and tissue rejection, among others. Failed reform efforts represent a huge waste of public time and assets. They erode goodwill and confidence. They can also create bad blood and suspicion between governments and the governed.  As such, every effort should be made to keep them  to a minimum.   In the lines below, I share my reflections on the issue and on how change and reform can be best managed in the public service for the benefit of all.

  1. Good public management hinges on the existence of certain “virtues”. Some of these are Capacity, Efficiency, Effectiveness, Communication, Commitment, Confidence, Integrity, Internal Controls, Transparency and Accountability.
  2. The first four “virtues” are technical, the next three are psycho-affective, and the last three are moral-institutional/environmental.
  3. An effective chief executive is one who knows how to mix these “virtues” to achieve desired outcomes, knowing that every situation would demand a different  mix of these virtues.
  4. Good public management is about a leadership style that brings out the best in followership.
  5. Good public management is about exercising influence. Influence is best when done in a subtle non-authoritarian manner!
  6. Leadership without followership is ineffective. Reform success is leaders + followers.
  7. A good chief executive recognises hierarchies of leadership within followership and empowers these levels of leadership.
  8. An effective chief executive in the public service is a good communicator. Communication and talking down to people are two different things.
  9. Communication is  NOT the same thing as one directional information passing and order barking by a chief executive enamoured of his/her own voice or sense of infallibility.
  10. Chief executives must learn to keep their egos at home when they want to lead change. They should be open to learning and modest/mature enough to accept errors.
  11. The style of a chief executive could alienate a number of persons whose support is critical for the success of the reform package.
  12. Good public management is about doing the right things and doing them right.
  13. Good public management is about value for money. Value here could be people benefit focused or resources to results focused.
  14. Reform interventions and policy changes should be informed by a carefully executed causality analysis and problem tree.
  15. Use a causality analysis and a problem tree to try to understand the situation you want to change before starting to change it. Fast tracking on this important step could spell disaster in the future.
  16. If your causality analysis is poorly or hastily done, the identified interventions are usually wrong and activities based on such result in avoidable wastes.
  17. If a chief executive expends 200 units of resources and effort but gets 20 units of results, then there has been a case of waste of public assets and resources.
  18. To waste public assets and resources is a failure. Actions and reforms that end in failure demonstrate either culpable negligence, poor planning, implementation inadequacies, gross indiscretion in resource management or major personality flaws on the part of the chief executive and his team.
  19. A chief executive can be honest and transparent but still be wasteful.
  20. To be wasteful with public resources is bad. The Igbos say “akpata awunye na ohia anaghi ebute ogaranya” (The person who earns but throws what is earned into the bush will never be wealthy)
  21. If a chief executive plans change and is unable to deliver it, then there are grounds to question that chief executive’s capacity to plan, to lead and manage change.
  22. Change in public management is a blend of continuity and discontinuity. A chief executive who ignores this betrays naivety, and naivety can be a fatal flaw in public management, especially if it is combined with arrogance.
  23. Successful change is the one that builds on the positives of the present as a launch pad for the envisioned future. To ignore present positives, to rubbish them or to be dismissive of them is to invite resistance. It is also to seek to reinvent the wheel.
  24. Change is more successful when the promised benefits of the reform package are so easy to demonstrate.
  25. For every change, even for the best intentioned of changes and reforms, there will be change resistors.
  26. People resist change for several reasons – fear, uncertainty, inertia, reluctance to move away from a comfort zone, self-interest etc.
  27. Change planners must recognise and carry on board the reality of change resistors and come up with proactive and adaptive strategies to manage these.
  28. You need a convergence of interests to move change. Change happens when the ranks of resistors deplete through persuasion and buy-in and when the ranks of adopters and supporters slowly swell. Such a movement requires patience and investment in consensus building.
  29. Failure to recognise the reality and roles of change resistors is to prepare the grounds for failure of any innovation in government.
  30. A good chief executive would undertake a detailed institutional capacity assessment recognise institutional gaps and map out actions to address these before embarking on any change or reform programme.
  31. Chief executive’s will, power and enthusiasm are vital for change but are not enough nor sufficient to see any innovation in government through. .Other important ingredients include building strong constituency support and stakeholder buy-in.
  32. Constituency support and stakeholder buy-in cannot be obtained by a strategy of bullying, verbal abuse, arrogance and or detachment by the chief executive. Constituency support and stakeholder buy-in have to be negotiated.
  33. “I stoop to conquer” should be the mantra of any newly appointed chief executive in government.
  34. A chief executive may need a change management team to push through the change/reform package.
  35. If the change management team is imported, internal stakeholders will feel threatened and use informal power structures and networks to kill/slow down the reform
  36. An effective chief executive uses a change team drawn largely from the inside with a few external persons as change champions.
  37. A chief executive who fails to realise the fact above is naïve.
  38. Change is slow. Government business is slower. To think you can change it in six months or in one year is naïve.
  39. Size is the killer for all change managers. Trying to change everything in one fell swoop is courting failure! The world was created in six days, not one!
  40. Trying to move changes on multiple fronts at the same time can be very exhausting. It conduces at best to partial successes on each front but to failure at the larger impact level because of dispersed and non-focused energies.
  41. The larger the size of the change, the greater will be the tension and confusion in the system. The larger the tension and confusion, the faster your ship of change will hit the rock of failure.
  42. Keep the envisioned change short, simple, manageable and measurable. Succeed with it and then use that success as the stepping stone for the next change.
  43. Successful change is incremental. Chief executives ignore this fact at their own peril.
  44. In governance as in life, incremental small fixes and changes are better and more effective than big bang changes.
  45. Managing a reform/change package in real life involves a series of continuous adjustments, compromises and trade-offs. Rigidity may be fanciful but it can be fatal
  46. When you plan change, think also of the sustainability of the change after you have left office.
  47. Reform initiatives fail for a number of reasons. Unrealistic targets are one of them.
  48. Two other reasons why reforms fail are inadequate environmental scanning and badly done SWOT analysis.
  49. One of the conditions for reform failure is when reforms are politics-based and driven rather than evidence-based and driven.
  50. Blaming institutional resistance and others for the failure of a reform programme and exculpating themselves from any blame whatsoever is a hobby of most ex-chief executives.

Noel Ihebuzor

@naitwt

*** These reflections assume that all necessary resources (especially financial) are available, adequate and timely***

Posted in Poetry

The voice of punctuations, the song of shapes

By Noel Ihebuzor

Punctuations speak and sing.
They hum breaks, pauses and stops.

Shapes float and dance and whisper meanings,
in their shy whispers and gentle murmurs, yet audibly

spoons are no longer just for the table,
even if they still collocate with meals and eating
in these new fresh environments
all descriptive and so so suggestive

*** prompted by a lovely little poem written by SLD

pauses

Posted in Poetry

Hush the voice

nothing can
ever hush a voice,
not force
nor noise

nothing can
neither philistine jaws
nor grubby grouchy claws
not even green clammy creepy envy
nor raucous hollering of the loud mouthed

can choke
the delicate dimpled
dance steps of a voice
strumming, sometimes
fluttering, then prancing, now leaping
soft, delicate, yet piercing

rich in energy
strolling with poise
overflowing with force
brimming with sense

like joyful water jets
from a dam
fresh, full, gushing,
flowing, freeing and renewing,

inventing and reinventing
For Obinna and Susan, two talented voices!