Posted in Poetry



Noel A. Ihebuzor

We are the broken ones

ones about to be broken

about to break again

soft wood stuck

between hammer and anvil

Debris like cloud dust

from fleeing time now

float in our semi-circular

canals, our tympanic membranes

tampered, in shreds and tatters

Swirling dusts of rage,

coloured by clan and clime

by breed and creed

cloud our vision

we see hazy in the enveloping mist

where truth lies supine

and lies triumph

Wise counsel struggles for hearing

but is ignored, the midwife of truth

has been sacked, a vicious grip

holds the throat of the sooth saying parrot

and trampled truth struggles still to rise

Let Him and Her that hath even one ear

listen and hear

let even the blind

see and read these prophecies

scripted hazily on these patchy papyrus

with ink drawn from the veins of the dying

Let Her, let Him

even the clumsy with a broken tongue,

a struggling stammer

sign sing these messages

to a deaf world

For in hearing,

and heeding

in reading, decoding and recoding

in listening and speaking

lies escape, recovery and renewal

and new beginnings

May the bond

of the heart bound in hatred

be broken, shattered

scattered in the dust

let scattered hopes regroup

to oppose doom and destitution

and broken hearts begin to mend,

rebuild, re-bond and rebound,

binding all bile and bitterness

casting them to funeral pyres

of unending infernos

***Feeeling blue on a Friday and worrying about my country!

Posted in Prose

The precursors of Boko Haram

The article here by Professor Wole Soyinka

Prof Wole Soyinka


see link was written in 2009 but the contents are still very relevant to the challenges we face today. The article is long but it is worth reading in its entirety.

Here is a very revealing excerpt from the paper –

Boko Haram is not really about a detestation of Western or other forms of education, but the expression of a malignant outcrop of fanaticism, intolerance. It is, above all, the will to dominate, to control, to enforce conformity – in this instance, conformity of the most sterile, uncreative kind.

Enjoy the rest of the article.


Posted in Poetry


By Noel Ihebuzor


The small aircraft drifted down the scantily clad almost naked desert skies

The noise of engines banging at our aching eyes

It bumped as the hot desert winds punched and pushed its under belly

And then a thud and furious rush as we hit the stone and dust infested dirt strip of a run way

Stones and rocks and pebbles and dust rose and flew

 as if in protest behind us as we taxied

 and then the aircraft came to rest on this harsh, hard and sullen sterile desert

located in the middle of nowhere


Six four wheel drives stood at odds with the desert terrain….

and soon we commenced the drive to nearest town from Conoco, Garowe


Driving into town in an assorted and mixed convoy of aid workers, armed guards and security personnel

We passed malnourished shrubs

valiantly brandishing their thorny bristles

 and sharp ends and keeping away sheep, goats and camel predators

in this intriguing fight for life in this arid,

thirsty, empty and sterile place where much life has flown


We passed a young shepherd boy angrily checking and herding his stubborn flock

brandishing a stick and controlling sheep, camels and restless goats.


We drove along a dirt road carved on the dry desert land

A road framed in a sterile, yawning and gaping desperate desert

We drove on a flat terrain cooked and roasted slowly by a heartless  sun

Past waterless heaps of sand and stones, and dunes

In this place that screamed want and waste.


Soon we came across a fallen camel in its final sleep

its huge carcass still as it lay where it had fallen in its last and lost struggle

for life in this place of death

Its still and silent form still sang its last heroic but futile fight for life

As its parched throat, empty stomach and weakened body eventually emptied her body

 and it yielded up its soul to the empty desert sky.


Even from the distance of time and space, I felt I sensed her last tear of pain and shame

as the harsh dry desert slowly and inexorably desiccated her body, spirit and soul.


The sun with the passage of time had roasted her flesh,

the harsh storms, the night winds, the eternally shifting sharp sands, stones,

the smaller inhabitants of this stony place,

all of these had stripped her flesh almost bare

baring her huge bones and her huge rib cage

leaving her white bones standing there,

exposed, whitened and bleached by the sun, by the stars


Two hundred metres further down the road as we hurried to Garowe,

we passed yet another whitened and whitening carcass,

still in death, arresting and strident by its presence and size….

and yet another, a kilometer further


Who will shed a tear for these fallen camels, who but their bereaved owners?

who will weep for the fallen ships of the desert,

drowned in heaps of hot and harsh desert sands?

Will any one remember them as they sleep in this empty space,

as they lie still and stilled in this place of want and waste?

Who will wail for these lost souls

when the ears of men and women have become deaf and numb

by the din of greed, stunted by the seduction of ambition

their consciences stiffened by the creed of greed, grab and material incontinence?


Who will bury these white bones whose presence troubles me so?

who will remove them from the eyes of my heart?

who will bury these huge white bones and many other white bones of waste and want that lie scattered in empty spaces and places?


The carcasses of waste and destruction sleep cheap in this place as in many others

where the creed is greed, greed the creed and thus fecund in death, stones and sterility.


The silenced souls and the fixed white bones speak loudly to me

bring moisture to my tired eyes

their awkward and precocious eternal sleeps gnaw

 raw and savagely at the edges of my fragile conscience

and thaw tears frozen in the back of my skull.


They remind me of the dimming and dimmed voices of the weak

The hardly heard and often drowned voices of the frail and feeble

And the eternally ignored gestures of children and women struggling for life and air and some place in the light of life.


In their grotesque sleep of life and death, I see also the early sleep of children,

the pains and tears of harmless children who are harmed by the harshness of the strong

the agonies and empty deaths of all children who fall to the whims of the wicked

And the wicked who stand on the graves of the fallen


The sleeping camels conjure in my mind

future spectacles of soon to be enacted sleeps of the innocent

who will lie still in this place and other places of sand and stone,

Their souls parched, their spirits broken, their weak limbs crushed,

their paltry belongings looted as they scamper and scatter

and stoop and cower in polythene and card board hovels on the first stage of their journey to eternal

but early sleep 

as silenced, they return to their silent creator

their frail frames framed in shallow and unmarked graves


****Written in Garowe in 2005 when I did humanitarain work in Puntland, Somalia

Posted in Poetry

A song for IDPs

A song for IDPs

by Noel Ihebuzor

(For BOSSASO and other  IDPs)


Hope lies here poorly shriveled and shriveling,

withered and withering

once high hopes now desiccated dry

the hot tropical sun sits on the dying camp

oppressive and roasting, quickening rot,

a constant rain of dry dust flows

roams freely in this place of captivity

slowly drying and dimming the voices of the trapped dying living


Do you hear their voices, can you touch their pain, feel their shame

do you care to listen, do we dare to hear, care to share

do we need a third eye to see, a second tongue to speak up



No water runs here as life slowly runs out

no food grows here, despair bounds and grows,

this place of rock and stones arid

by a sea that rolls, simmers and boils


This place bursting at its seam with suffering in the sweltering

scorching suffocating heat

betrays the jungle in the hearts of men and women

for there is no logic to this place, no sense it


Good sense departed so many moons ago

care and compassion suffocated and hope now orphaned

The animal in us runs raw, ragged, ranting and dimming all sanity,

rages, savages, pillages in a sad presage of the triumph of the beast


Do you hear their voices, can you touch their pain, feel their shame

do you care to listen, do we dare to hear, care to share

do we need a third eye to see, a second tongue to speak up



Mothers and females, forlorn drag around their feeble frames

full of fear in this fiery place, haunted by fear

humiliated by hunger, haunted by anxiety

sagging flesh sits ugly awkward on tired bones

violated mothers their pride sold to nourish those they once suckled

suffer the chuckle and derision of their temporarily satiated invaders,

armed predators chuckle as victims hide their shame

and their pain in sphinx-like empty stares

hoping against hope that they caught nothing else

in the unequal exchange



Do you hear their voices, can you touch their pain, feel their shame

do you care to listen, do we dare to hear, care to share

do we need a third eye to see, a second tongue to speak up




Fathers and sons sit around sullen

avoiding each others’ gaze

hiding their fear and shame and hate

wedded to woes and wants

souls trapped, feeling man-less and impotent,

empty yet full and over running with rage

in this cauldron, hatred and anger cook, slowly, simmering

raw rage grows and fills every crevice

in bitter emptied dried out souls


Outside and beyond, the voices of good intentions, of

actors and reactors, benefactors and beneficiaries mesh

while the victims die in large numbers

their groans and hisses drone on

and are drowned by distance


Do you hear their voices, can you touch their pain, feel their shame

do you care to listen, do we dare to hear, care to share

do we need a third eye to see, a second tongue to speak up



The shrivelling thinning hair on the enlarged heads of children,

Fontanels fallen in

sad sullen eyes, empty sucked into large sinking sockets,

wrinkling, flaking aging skins, bursting balloon bellies

enlarged heads sit ugly on tiny martian-like necks

frames as if of new born lambs adorn once chubby children, all

announcing ungainly early return trips and escape from this place

where fear is fertile


Flies buzz around, settling on the yellowish phlegm that ooze from nostrils

drawn by the foul stench and litter of littered humanity

of wasting and decaying humanity


Do you hear their voices, can you touch their pain, feel their shame

do you care to listen, do we dare to hear, care to share

do we need a third eye to see, a second tongue to speak up



Hope runs dry in these running noses,

in running temperatures and running stomachs

and soon the earth will take into its already distended bowels

these ungainly sacrifices and the earth is desecrated.


Do you hear their voices, can you touch their pain, feel their shame

do you care to listen, do we dare to hear, care to share

do we need a third eye to see, a second tongue to speak up

Or do we simply continue to stare



***** I wrote this poem when I worked in Somalia somne seven years ago and after visiting IDP camps in Bosasso in Puntland, NE somalia and in Hargeisa. This particular sad song was triggered by the human misery I saw in those camps as we struggled to bring help and hope to victims of human folly! I saw the same misery in eastern DRC when I worked there!  Noel


Posted in Poetry

A song on Peace talks

by Noel Ihebuzor
Pieced together peace talks ends. As we wave good byes, I see the short sleeved ex-combatant wave a long good bye to his long sleeved former foe, both now united by a bond of misery!

We sit across tables we once shunned
and speak smooth words with our twisting tongues
the same tongues that once shattered the face of the moon
as it slept softly on the still waters of the lake
We sit across tables in foreign lands,
the tables in our lands are broken, trust too we broke,
we stripped, shredded and mangled trust and truth,
barren stillness and silence now suffocate our land
the hollowing silence contrasts to all the rage and roar of battle,
broken then by the screams of fear of the wounded and the dying
by the sounds of guns and rifles and mortars that are now silent
We are empty victors, we sit and sign
and we soon forget the victims and their unmarked graves
and their un-song departures
for us victors, the dead are gone, no longer matter, invisible, just numbers,
cannon fodder in our selfish quest for space and place,
pawns in our power plays,
the poor dead, drawn from the pool of the poor,
seduced by fake promises of power and prosperity,
now reduced to putrid manure, and the survivors,

the living dead, twisted wrecks, shattered nerves and traumatized psyches,
red eyed, empty, battered shell shocked souls with broken soles, we
refuse to see, we deny
we are empty victors, we are the selfish victors
we speak peace in the sanitized comfort of hotel rooms in a foreign land
we shuffle across to shake hands with those we once shook fists at
smiling with awkward ease at the flash of cameras,
flashing as the flash of guns in the stillness of night on now barren battle fields
and waving as if in goodbye to our follies, to our failures, our frivolities
and saying sweet empty words with our slippery tongues,
measuring our gains, counting the inches and meters,
counting the post and positions and settlements
and posturing for juicier posts, aligning new alliances
invincible, and ever ready to barb and dismember afresh the dead who refuse to die
and obliterate and bury any stubborn living who refuse to die to truth and to cede to our ambitions

Posted in Poetry

A song for the mighty

 by Noel Ihebuzor  

What has made snails take on wings
and to trade their shells for sails?
Why this rush and stampede by millipedes?

Is it the rumble of thunder or the dark heavy clouds
that announce the gathering storms?
Is it the flurried fury of the beautiful ones in their impotent protests,
Is it the rage of the innocent
or the growing wrath of the wretched?

A parade of childless mothers hurries by
and soon the march past of motherless children
carrying totems of their once impotent fathers to their lively graveyards

The silent whimper of the weak grows large
their numbers also grow with each passing moon
but all this drowned in the strong assured voice of the righteous,
the correct voice of the mighty and the right

The raw raging roar of the mighty
rises high, hoarse and rough,
fills every space, crowds the waves
announcing swathes of freedom, liberation, redemption,
victory and defeat

The voice that defines night and day
also defines right and wrong,
as it clearly and cleanly
sorts out the right from the wrong,
the good from the evil
all this with power, passion, and failing conviction

The voice of the right erases doubts, suppresses doubts
generously traces and defines lines and boundaries of dissent
and discourages all rational efforts
who but the weak can distinguish expediency from morality in these climes and times
expediency, morality and necessity sleep well and deep

strong assured voices waft to assert and to correct
and where the voices are not heeded,
strong arms move to assert and correct
Scattering droplets of peace and planting the seeds of war,
Implanting signposts of order and the foundations of hatred and hopelessness

The lines are drawn bold and clear
Soon the standard bearers of the evil ones
will lie scattered in the dust of shame and defeat
And the standard bearers of the mighty and right
will strut around in celebrations of the triumph of good
soon the sparks from the voice and strong arms of might
will blight every sparkle from the eyes of weaklings,
will brighten the night with balls of flame and heat
and the flames burn, scorch and cleanse
and the deaf, and the blind, the lame and the weak
will swell in their numbers as the drumbeat and rumble and thunder of might arrive

The hymen of the neutral will be shabbily ruptured,
their emblems shredded soon to fly at quarter mast
as their voices and consciences wane weak
and their cowering voices speak with the same clarity of flames
from the wick of a weak palm oil lamp

The rising roar of the right and mighty wafts and floats,
grows and roars and soars
frowns at and drowns other voices
eagle eyes scan abroad for new signs of evil
The drumbeats and chest beatings become strident
Portending thunder from the earth and sky,
Announcing new storms, new downpours,

The approaching storms, the dark clouds announce the future,
they announce a harvest from which the snails now fly,
the lizards, the rats, the millipedes, the antelopes, the elephants are in preparing to fly
all abroad and in search of strong wings and kind winds

And I too should now learn to fly or fry