The Day We Lost Our Manhood (For Leah Sharibu)


Leah Sharibu

By Nehru Odeh

Dark clouds, imminent signs
And our crooked paths are gathered home

Dark clouds, pitch darkness everywhere
And our crooked paths are gathered home

But where is home
Where everywhere is homeless

Where is refuge
Where nowhere is safe

Where is refuge
Where everywhere is a refugee

Where are our returning airs, our homes
When you have not returned

May not return

Yes you may not return

And you were captured and led by the tether
You were parked and spirited to the land of the spirits

You were derobed and changed into a spirit
You were married and acclimatized to a world without climate

To a world without home, without hope, without life, without love

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To a war without end

But the day you lost your virginity was the day we lost our manhood

Do you ever dream of home, Leah
Do you dream of home that turns out not to be home
Do you dream of daddy’s and mummy’s love in a loveless world
Do you dream of the sun-baked sands of Chibok on which you built castles
Do you dream of school where you were made captive
Do you dream of the aborted dreams you had
Do you dream of faith that now lies famished and forlorn? 

Do not say your faith is your fate, Leah
Do not say your fate cancels your faith, Leah
Do not say your faith is married to your fate, Leah
Do not say that is the end, in a world without faith, Leah

You did not fail your parents
Your homeland failed you

You did not fail your faith
Your homeland failed you.

You are not alone in your aloneness
We are all alone in our aloneness

You are not homeless in your homelessness
We are all homeless in our homelessness

For where is home where everywhere is homeless

As our crooked paths are gathered home
And we are all faithful to our ill-fated fate.

*Leah Sharibu was one of the over 100 girls abducted from Government Girls Science and Technical School in Dapchi, Yobe State, Nigeria in February 2018. Five of the girls were reported killed during the abduction. However, ISWAP released all the other girls few weeks later, except for Leah Sharibu, the only Christian among the abductees. ISWAP, according to reports by the released girls decided to keep Sharibu because she refused to comply with their demand to drop her faith and embrace Islam. She has remained in ISWAP captivity since then.

Nehru Odeh, journalist, writer and poet was an active member of the Poetry Club, University of Ibadan. He is the author of The Patience of an Embattled Storyteller and writes for TheNEWS/PMNEWS.

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