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The War You Could Not Win

(In memory of Mallam Shekairu Agbabiaka)

By Henry Chukwuemeka Onyema*


When a pitcher breaks

we do not despair;

there are countless pitchers in the market.

There is always water in the stream

but when the stream dries up

what shall we do?

If a cloud covers the sky

it matters little;

the tears of heaven will be rinsed by the sun's loving hands.

But when the sun mourns

who will comfort her?


Like Hailey's Comet

you blazed the sky of our lives

rarefying us with your thousand points of light.

They might not have known you in the courts of the mighty

but you built permanent palaces in our hearts.

You might not have sat with kings

but you reign forever in the souls of the children you moulded.

You might not have counted dollars

but your virtues spoke their weight in hundred-karat gold.


Praying that God damns that day of dark tidings does me no good.

It is marked by the pin of fate.

The day you sccumbed like a warrior.

The zest was in your eyes;

the taste for God's great gift.

But who can question the spinners of destiny's web?

This was a war you could not win.


Tigers roar and tear

but in the end they fall to the hunter's gun.

This tiger, the tiger of death

has fallen to the gun of the Resurrection.


(Mallam Agbabiaaka, a young and dynamic Islamic Religious Studies teacher, was the poet's friend)


*Henry Chukwuemeka Onyema is a writer and teacher based in Lagos, Nigeria. His email address is  




The Woman

By Henry Chukwuemeka Onyema*


Women are plentiful
but The WOMAN is as scarce as an American visa for Africans
in the post-Mutauallab world.
They say sex makes the world go round
but love is the world's wheel.
The love that fills my heart like pounded yam and ofe achaara
comes from YOU.
the oasis that cooled my burning throat;
the rainbow in my sky;
the dream that sweetens my sleep.
In your eyes I found the map to my destination.
In your arms I found the repose for my bones.
From your lips I drank the wine
that made me heady with love.
Darlings come and go
has come to stay.

*Henry Chukwuemeka Onyema is a writer and teacher.




The Way Destiny Goes

By Shammah Sraima Hart*


The way destiny goes,

sometimes is  difficult to understand.

There is love in life,all the ups and downs

seek a way through to  cover up to be able to bear.

To hold together what they had formed,all those years.


In various lives it becomes a habit to stay with the person

Only to start a new life ,I have reached this far

and so many years have passed by.

What more is there  to explore.


But on one day my eyes become dark.

As shadow passing in front of me,that I did

not look back.

I got a power that I can’t detect where it came from.


Suddenly I wanted to run, fly, lie down and roll over.

I did not want to see the night fall not to miss

your shadow which has given me the reason

and  that the sun keeps shining  for me to see it.

Because of this shadow I could not look back,

my ups and downs… I never did want to mention  them.

I don’t want to know about nothing that gives me headache.

A new adventure I wanted in my life, but all the hope I had left me.


I blindly follow that ghost to grasp it and make it mine,

see if  I can move in the direction that it moves.

I thought with all my strength for him to stand and stop.


But all that I did,  he did not want to become one with me.

He splited (?)and left me with all my new visions.

He left my presence,he left and did not want to know nothing

about me.


With all my pain  I lifted up my head and looked in front of me

knowing that the shadow is not longer with me.


Again I  see my ups and downs come up

Now  I don’t understand

Suddenly I did  not know what it is I wanted


What is the reason?

Is this because I am tired of all the ups and downs?

Is it fbecause of the shadow that passed in front of me?

Or is it that I surely got tied?

Destiny,destiny who knows how my destiny will be.


*Shammah can be reached via or tel. 06 24 797 411/06 43 646 788




He Found Me!

By Shammah Soraima*


I was lost and nowhere to be found

I was in the pit so deep that I couldn’t be reached

I was so filthy, dirty and in a mess

But He found me


I was lost in the wilderness wanting to find my way home

I was wondering to and for didn’t know where to turn

I was in a state where hope was nothing for me

I was at the point of no return and felt

No one could reach me

 But He found me


I was crippled by life am dots situation

I was so far from where I belong

My folks tried to find and bring me home

But I was so dead and buried in the thumb of blindness

Like Lazarus, but yet I was living

Life became so lost and frustrating for me

 But He found me


In my desperation of finding my way home

I stumbled into a word held me captive

I found a group whom I trusted

I thought they can help me

But I found my self bound in drugs

I became lost just as those I thought could help me

Life was meaningless

I felt I should end my life


But at the point of ending my life, cause all hope was gone

There He found me

At the points where no hands can reach

There He found me

For He said, His hands are not to short

That He can’t reach me


It is just somebody that came on my way and told me

That Jesus loves me

He found me brought me home

to places flowing with milk and honey                      

To places of abundance and of life                      

Now I’m found and found indeed

Because Jesus found me






Ela Enkontra Mi


Mi tabata perdí i sin por a wòrdu hañá

Mi tabata den pos asina skondí

Ku mi no por a wòrdu mirá

Mi tabata asina fis i shushi

Pero E a haña mi


Mi tabata den desierto buskando kaminda pa kas

Mi no tabata sa unda pa bai

Mi tabata den un situashon

Kaminda speransa no tabata nada pami

Mi tabata na punto pa kaba ku mi mes

Mirando ku niun hende no por a yudami

Pero E a haña mi


Mi tabata asina leu for di kaminda ku mi méster tabata

Bida a bira nada pami

Mi a haña mi den un situashon

ku nunka mi por a pensa di haña mi aden

Esnan ku a bisa mi ku nan por yuda mi,

A guiami na droga, frustrashon i detenshon

Sin sa kiko mas pa hasi

Pero E a haña mi


Mi ker a mata mi kurpa pa asina mi tin sosiegu

Pero na e momentu ku mi a pensa ku ta basta

Señor Hesus a papia i bisa mi

Ku Su mannan no ta kòrtiku pa toka mi

Hesus a trese mi bèk kas

Ta un hende a yega, djis bisa mi, Hesus stima mi

Ku mi a bira i sigui e kaminda di lechi i miel

Speransa mi a haña den dj’E

Un bida nobo ma enkontrá

Hesus a haña mi.


Si bo ke papia bel mi, shammah  Tel: 0643646788 / Skype: shammah37




Change your negative thoughts

By Shammah Soraima*


Did you know that sadness can make you sick, sadness in your heart, in your being, pain in your chest?


You are hurt, because your partner failed you and you became sour in your heart, now is the time to let go.

Let us be quiet for a moment. God created us and gave us authority to dominate.


What is it you believe in?

If you stop thinking negative and start thinking positive you will see the energy growing within you.

Negative thoughts create sourness, sadness and pain.


They block the flow of energy.

That is why you feel depressed and have heavy headaches.

Your shoulders burn, your muscles are tight.


Because oxygen cannot flow freely into your veins!


But feel the difference when you create new and healthy energy.

Think positive; do not play with your health as you only have one life and the second life is in Glory with the Spirit.


But now that you are in the flesh, wake up and enjoy life.

What can be more glorious than a healthy life and the hope to achieve everything you set your mind on?


If you need to talk, please feel free to call me.




 - Papiamento -


Bosa ku tristesa por hasibu malu

Tristesa d

en bo alma,den bo ser

Dolo riba bo pechu

Sibo tin dolor pasombra bo patner a faya kubo,

 Bo a mara amargura nabo kurason

Aawor ta tempu pabo laga los laga bai

Ban para ketu Dios a krea nos i a duna nos

Autoridat pa domina

Kiko ta loke abo ta kere

Sibo stop di pensa negativo i kuminsa pensa positivo

Bota mira e energia kubo ta krea

Negativismo ta krea amargura tristesa dolo

Blokada ku ta stroba energia di pasa

Pesey bota sinti opreshon druk riba bo kabes

Bo skoudernan ta pika, bo spiernan tur ta forma konopi

Pasombra no tin zuurstof ta pasa liber den bo ardunan

Pero wak ora ku bo krea energia nobo i sano

Pensa positivo no hasi wega kubo salu un bes


so bo ta biba

E di dos bida ta den Gloria I ta den spiritu


Pero awor kubo ta den karni lanta gosa dibo bida

Kiko ta gosa ?un bida salu

Ku speransa pa logra tur loke ku bo kurason por desea

Dios bendishona bo i te despues


Si bo ke papia kontakt mi,laga nos hasi orashon huntu


Tel: +31 6 43 646 788

Skype: shammah37





BY Henry Chukwuemeka Onyema*


The Osu song*


I am an Osu

therefore I am the earth's rejected;

therefore I am the scorned undergrowth of the forest;

therefore I am the teeth set on edge by sour grapes

I know nothing of, let alone eat.

I am an Osu

therefore I am isolated in the midst of a crowd.

I am an Osu

therefore I can warm a bed but never sleep permanently

in the bedowner' s arms;

therefore I can live in a society but be societyless;

therefore I can love but not be loved;

therefore the holy writs,legislations and exhortations

will not wash off the accursed stain of my pedigree

running a-deep in my veins,

the veins of one set apart from his fellows.

I am an Osu

therefore the new religion and laws are my fortress,

the fortress that withstands the daily siege of the hoary antediluvian past

the battering-rams of tradition;

the cannons of culture;

the muskets of custom;

the war-machines of convention.

Alas, where do I seek protection?

I stand in the midst of my fellows

seeking to be one with a people

who alienate me by the stroke of the gods,

gods they disdain by day and revere by night.

Where do I stand?

Yet in the innermost chambers I rejoice

for every dark night must bow to the azure of the morning,

the morning of the Osu' s liberation.


*Osu (Igbo): a prevalent caste system among the Igbo of Eastern Nigeria.




He wrote a letter


Out of the trenches, out of the foxholes

as the planes delivered their goods of death

as the azure morn turned hellfire-red

as the stoutest hearts became carrion for vultures

and heaven and earth wept in death

he wrote a letter.


Out of the cockpit, out of the seatbelt

as the flying coffin ate up the sky

as the co-pilot pressed the 'Detonate' button

and the deluge of death drowned the damned

he wrote a letter.


Under the flash of the truck's headlights

as the sprightly lieutenant donned fatigues

as the sergeant passed out M-16s

as the troopers patterned their death marches

he wrote a letter.


A letter to Suzzie:

'My love, if I do not come back,

kiss another lip, another's bed warm,

hug another heart, another's dreams fill;

out here we die, not for our hearts, but for those

who beat drums they do not dance to.'


*Henry C. Onyema (also spelt Onyeama) is a teacher and writer in Lagos, Nigeria.





By Uche Peter Umez*


In Congo, 2003


Vultures circle overhead

Eager to pierce the bloated bellies

Tanks rumble like elephants

Eager to crush men and huts

Soldiers prowl back and forth

Eager to butcher another civilian

Little boy wears a face like mask

Eager to snatch the dead man’s rifle






I saw you - bloodied arms flung over head

Face battered and bruised

Your voice humming a toothless strain

Below the whish and crackle of their whips

Cutting welts of agony deep into your heart

As the fire flick-flashed its tongue over your body

Curled up on the ground

The sun blazed on

The wind warmed my face

Then I turned away




Considering a Janjaweed


Convulsive melodies from the tangled shrubs

Weeping through muddled waters

Whisk blood in my head

In the mirrors of fast amoebic eyes

I try to mend the shards of memory

Of innocence - 

The boy who trapped fish for pleasure

Frisk eggs in fish’s bellies

His laugh breaking in the great white sun

Fruitless it is to detach him from the man of the desert

Nurtured by fanatic milk

Riding the dark with jolly Janjaweed

Quenching lamps of peace in dwellings of teeming civilians

I stalk slow firewood -

Fetching girls as rabbits plunge quick fingers into their pubic lips below

Slit stubborn mothers’ wombs as though some magic egg will spill forth

In defiance to the wildfire of ideology

Or distil me perhaps into phoenix glory


*Uche Peter Umez, International Writing Programme, The University of Iowa, USA




Do They Know?

By Henry Chukwuemeka Onyeama*


Do they know it was there

Yes, that very spot

that He was born?

Do they know that the grenade desecrates the manger

where the baby's head rests on a pile of winter grass?

The rocket, dropping from a stratosphere of hatred,

drowns the hosannas of the celestial choir on that cold Christmas morning?

The flamethrowers, the bombs and the bomblets,

pierce the pacific soil with the pulsations of war.

On the day the heavenly sentinels announced:

'Glory be to God in the highest

And on earth peace and goodwill to all men'

a shiny sword was unsheathed from a scarlet scabbard.

Why do they pollute the manger with something worse than sheep's droppings?

It matters not if they call Him Isa, Jesus or Joshua.

Their tongues blaspheme the name

for their hearts and hands are sticky with discord.


*Henry C. Onyeama ((also spelt Onyema) is a writer and teacher in Lagos, Nigeria.




Come Home

By Henry Chukwuemeka Onyeama*


You who wander in the alien's land

You who close your ears to the homeland's sirens

come home.


You who dance to the rock' n roll of destiny

You who cherish another's homestead

and close your eyes to the dense jungle in your ancestral shrine

come home.


Yes, come home

though the roads are blessed with potholes

though the taps overflow with mud

though the Power Holding Company holds power with the anarchic fury

of a sick stabilizer

though piss-eyed cops snuff out the dreams of fresh saplings

though your libraries are as dusty and empty as Vandals-ravaged relics

come home.

Come home to your heart's soil.


No, no, no.

Patriotism' s song is not survival' s package.

We live to love.

Our homestead' s fire has been put out

extinguished by those who would build mansions

over our ancestral shrines for themselves alone

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