Poem of the Day: Burying the Hatchet

Theme: Justice & the Politics of Forgiveness

The biggest problem for God and the statesman is how to deal with sin. How to bring back the sinner into the commonwealth, both for the good of the society and the sinner himself. Religions deal with the cycle of sin and forgiveness. The instrument of penitence, of penance, the perpetual cycling of the prayer wheel. Governments deal with the Machinery of ‘Justice’, and the Amnesties that sometimes abbreviate it. 

The Madiba introduced the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, since exported, with South Africa’s other famous brand, Bishop Tutu, to a UK grappling with the fallout of the Irish Republican Army’s terrorist campaign. Rwanda in the aftermath of a gruesome bloodletting had to find a formula to allow their beasts of war to continue to live, and trade and school and wed their mentally, and physically damaged victims.

It is the way of the world. Yet, Amnesty is a soup that is odious, without the salt of Justice.

Currently, Nigeria sits in the centre of a crisis provoked by the Boko Haram insurgency. The girls kidnapped from a Chibok School are still unaccounted for, but media reports today reiterate a long-mooted offer of amnesty from the Federal Government.

Here, in an attempt at poetic maths, is an extract from another poem in my new collection (Sums from the Dead Mathematicians’ Society) which deals more specifically with the issue of Amnesty:

amnesia ÷ 1966 dead = 2014 dead
amnesty + justice = peace
amnesty – remorse = travesty
travesty x the old dead = the future dead

but for today, I will chose a smaller poem which highlights the fate of victims in a slap-dash republic structured for the succour of carpetbagger rulers and the occasional highway bandits that hold them to ransom. It underlines the new recipe for success, whether in the godforsaken southern delta or the godforsaken northern deserts of Nigeria: keep quiet and you are forgotten. Blow up as many victims as you can, and you will be wined and dined and ‘settled’ with million dollar projects. It is not that the victims, the silent, the honest, the meek, the law-abiding citizens have no part in bringing about peace in our commonwealth.

Far from it. They do have a critical role. As the poem of the day (no. 48 in the book) says in

Burying the Hatchet

there was war all that year
and peace after the wake

(of the saint in whose head
the peace hatchet was buried)

See you tomorrow evening @ Terra Kulture

Reading @ Terra Kulture
Reading @ Terra Kulture

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