VISION by Binaebi Miederi Oyeghe

We spot them with lethal daggers
Lurking in the shadows, in an ambush
Through fragrance petals of aching seasons
We droop down the dark distance
with the resolute fatigue of forbearance
And wail in babel of tongues
“Naija! Naija! lama sabachthani!”
And our beatitudes chorus from the Delta to the Savannah
Crushing the Achebean Anthills
Where every yam eater
Raping the booties of power
Now wield the crescentcross
Of the long awaited messiah
Dancing to the discordant drums of discord
And it shall come to pass like a nightmare
When khaki and jackboot
Shall resurrect the scrolls of gun salute
And we the people with our stillborn hopes
Will yell “bravo compatriots!”
BY Binaebi Miederi Oyeghe


Bazitei-gbene (named after grandma) nests beside a haze of stooping mangroves at the confluence of three rivers; the first and last fishing port on your way in and out of Foropa if your route to that kingdom is the old Ikianbubo creek. Just two or three desolate thatched huts stand in senile watch over the tranquil creek with thick smokes most times pushing through their thatched roofs from the fire smoking crayfish and a battalion of fishes on a large grate. Birds sang melodiously on the branches of the engulfing mangroves trees and the haunting cries of baboons echo through the forest. I rowed with grandma into the network of creeks with an array of fishing gears; long lines of plaited hooks arranged in a basket and various sizes of crayfish traps and susu.
“Your papa will soon return from Rucia and take you to live with oyinbo people!” grandma would say in Izon.
“Opu Neni, not Rucia but Russia. Say it Opu Neni, Russia” I will laugh and correct grandma.
“You will speak beke like beke people when you go to beke-ama and read all the white man’s books. But I tell you I know a lot more things about world than the white people,” grandma said.
As our paddles made volleys on the water the canoe raced down the dark creeks. Grandma will sing canoe songs of ancient folklore. Her sonorous voice still had that cadence of a sea nymph in Greek mythology and that angelic grace of Foropa maidens in the age grade ogbos who sang and danced in the town square. The birds and baboons will stop momentary to listen to grandma. One of her favourite folksong is the popular “egberi koko”. I was always filled with awe at grandma’s solo rendition.
Egberi koko mi ye la mee!
Egberi koko mi ye la mee!
Osain ghen bibi tuwa kpo ofoni ke komu bibi pele
Oru ghen bibi tuwa kpo obiri ke komu bibi pele
Fi kpo fi ghe tobu ma ki sai mu bou e zu pele
Egberi koko mi ye la meeeee!
Her voice will race through the creek and float about the dense canopy of the mangrove that spread in greenish hue against the blue skyline. Sometimes tears will stand in my eyes and I will cast furtive glances at the forest hoping to find the girl abandoned in the forest as sacrifice to the Ijaw gods. I peered beyond grandma’s face into the mysteries of the song, into the world beyond in search of things I do not know, can’t see but I feel are within me or rather close and seem define the very essence of my existence. And when we rowed back to the fishing port, if it is through Eferu Sei Koro Kusi (the creek that whirls with mysterious wind); where my brothers Egbonkumo Fawei and Ebitimi Munemune often came to cast net and gbolu otutu with their own grandmas; I will urge the whirlwind to mount a siege against the gods or better still transform me into a warrior prince so I could stage a mission to rescue the Egberi koko girl. That girl was one of the mysterious crushes of my childhood fantasies. We paddled to the fishing port in the gathering dusk with loads of fishes and crayfish. Our paddles glisten with the phosphorescence of the salt water.