Monday, August 8, 2022

USA Africa Dialogue Series - Osundare, Lumumbas Gold Tooth


                  And in the casket came a tooth,

                 Burden of four pallbearers


There is a heavy weight to this tooth

     Extracted in cruel colonial jest from the jaw

Of an assassinated patriot, like priceless coltan

     From Katanga's bleeding bowels


Belgium's burden

     Congo's catastrophe

Sixty years, memento of the King's colonial guard

     Now glittering trophy in the age of calculated diplomacy


Once member of the parliament

     Of a mouth that dared to speak

When silence was safe (and profitable)

     And the King owned the natives


And all they owned, this tell-tale tooth

     Invokes the ghosts of

Murdered millions, stubborn scars

     And other blessings of the Civilizing Mission


There is a heavy weight to this tooth

     Its lavishly upholstered casket

Its fit-and-proper pallbearers

      Their mock-heroic enactments


Erie requiem in a city

     Once named for Leopold

When the Cold War was hot

     The Warriors blind with murderous impunity


Drumrolls, triumphal trumpets

     Thunderous anthems

A flotilla of flags

     From the visiting King, a proclamation of "profound regret". . .


*                *                  *


Will Mrs Lumumba now open this casket

     And kiss her loving husband?



              Niyi Osundare



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