Posted in Poetry

Point and Kill


Noel Ihebuzor


Point and kill

did not start here

but it is now everywhere here

in various forms

shapes and tastes



Ibari Ogwa tastes so different

from Abagana,

Abagana from Upper Iweka,

Upper Iweka from Ariara,

Ariara from Ibari Ogwa



Catfish hate catfish lovers

and other persons with sensitive palates

no need for them to worry

or be wary of

the new point and kill


the new point and kill experts

descend on bush meat

and grass cutters

after duty is done

when the cutting down

and slaughter for the day are done.


Young men with loud voices, drunk

on half defined dreams & ideas,

armed with belief and hope in excess

bubbling and foaming

like fresh palm wine

come to out to demonstrate,


They come out

to boldly ask why,

and how and when

fuelled by patchy tales,

about a past of suffering but of honor

of killings and rejection

and self affirmation,




Gladly the young men and women come,

spirits high, head high

The point and kill team deploy

pronounce the assembly illegal

order dispersal or “odawise”



The youths object, odighi eshi, and soon,

the point and kill commences

AK47s chatter and shatter

nzogbu-nzogbu chant dies



screams fill the air

live dreamers become dead heroes

on this painful lonely road

as confusion swells, an unending rain

of bullets

shatters body, bones and brain


Red flows freely

on the unequal field

on the pot hole filled streets

their stuffed gutters with no escape

the cream of a people,

scream and wither


Oyenusi and Anini

well robed, bound and roped

knew what was coming

still their frames shook and danced

exuded blood when the point

and kill team went to work



On this cruel road,

a steady stream of red

flows where bullets

flew and slew

soaking the land



For a few who walked this road,

their sun will never rise

in front or behind them again,

neither the half nor the full sun

neither will they see the mothers and aunties

as these wail


so many miles away,

in one lost rug suffocating room

some lost man

sticks some medal

on the chest of some other lost soul, for

pointing at and killing young men

but not their hazy dreams

which stream defiantly across

the midday mourning sky in quarters



Meanwhile in so many joints,

so many and same skies away

important minds dispute on which

point and kill tastes better –

Ibari Ogwa, Ariara, Upper Iweka

or Abagana?

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 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

Arms and Voices for Peace

By Susan L. Daniels and Noel A. Ihebuzor

there are arms we lay down
& others we hold open

there are tongues we must still
and others we loose;
the barbed tongue that howls like a howitzer
we have to leash and rein in
some arms raise to embrace.
others crest fists in tsunami rage, or balance hands
that shape silos tilted skyward, curved metal calculated 
and conducted to maximum strikesthe tongue that coos

softer than the dove,
sweeter as beautiful rays splashed
on the wide bosom of a waking beach
i would plot the curve of a cheek, rested
on my shoulder, lay down
what holds us at arm’s length
and instead open–
a gesture with a bell’s resonance
that tongue whose voice melodiously flutters
under a blue sky,
let her reign,
let her caress and conquer
the hardness of our guns and melt our swords 

these arms, these hands
could  pull needles from softened metal
that was swords
and use these tongues to tell it– 

let us close the gaping wounds
on the face of the earth
caused by the savage rage
of raw us clawing at things we never can ever own

let it begin, this stitching together
of something torn


***Susan(italicized) and I (regular type face) decided, on Susan’s prompting,  to blend our efforts for the Dverse prompt today, which involves truce or armistice.  As always, this was so much fun to craft with Susan–a wonderful, inspiring co-creator, poet and friend!

Noel @naitwt on Twitter

Posted in Poetry

“party activists”

By Noel A. Ihebuzor


Simmering rancour lumbers, raging

opposition mutates to 0-positions,

zero sum games, zeroing and leading

to blame game, verbal joust sodden with vitriol

ugly and promising to  balloon to violence


spiralling envy enlarges greenish, swelling,

smelling fevered phlegm

stirs red hate, hot pepper in café latte,

the yellowish-red eye, blood shot,

poisoned, clouding sight,

vision blurred and blinkered

linked to clogged blocked ears

occluding the voice of moderation


ambition binds minds,

asphyxiating the voice of reason that wails

strapping and shackling it

in dark airless dungeons,

the empire of  fulminant rage,

where barbed tongues uncoil

splattering venom,

drumming discord deceitful


as envy limbers, driving transient pursuits

smear paints, tar taints, stirs, tears and sears

the other, in forms grotesque,

deforming and defaming

galloping ambitious feet fixed

on a chosen route to attain gain and fame,

ultimate twin goals


and the people, poor souls sandwiched

matter between hammer and anvil

hapless, malleable

caught in hurting, heating up and hitting dispute

and cut to pieces as peace shatters

in the hard, hurtful hands of haters and hatters


**** written after following very ugly exchanges on Twitter on the 14/15 July during and after a guber election.  How badly the strident voices of a belligerent few pollute the political space.

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