Ode to Sengbe Pieh (A poem By TARIKU ABAS ETENESH)


Just the other day,
I was walking by the shore lines of *Mende,
Where I looked foot prints on the sand,
Not disturbed by the ebbs and tides,
Nor washed by the winds;

Wondering how it remained,
By sea or land breeze undisturbed;
I looked around in search of any wise mind,
With the knowledge of the ‘why’ and ‘how’
Of the feet that pressed the marks so deep and hard,

“Whose foot prints are these?” I asked,
For which, I got a reply from a ‘teacher of history’ of the land, 
“Never knew or cared to; must be some one’s,
But why worry yourself with the past, anyway?”
Then the ‘teacher’ walked away.

Stunned by the futility of the reply,
For the answer, along the trace did I stay;

Only at night when the moon joined the ebbs,
In what looked an eternal whisper of serenity,
Composed in the rhymes of the tides and the sands,
The moon looked down with a smile,
And said “I can tell you the story of this foot that stands 
Witness for millions of its kinds,

I said: “tell me please,”
For which: “It is your brother’s,” she replied.
“A brother unknown to me, and not heard of from family?” I wondered;
“Yes,” said the moon and went on:

I was one, who witnessed it all,
Nine score- winters have passed,
Since humanity's lucid bell,
Had started to weep and yell,
On the outrages that ruled here in Mende,
And the shorelines of Africa and her soul:
Where savagery of the ‘civilized world’
Unleashed its cruelties and heinous fad, 
Blinded in shrouds of religion and race-pride;
To justify injustice and sanctify decadence,

Nine scores moon-cycles have passed,
Since ‘the civilized world’,
In culpable serenity and graciousness sold:
Enlightenments of shackles,
Religion of servitude, and
Brotherhood of color-dipped spilled blood,  

He was a proud-free-soul turned prey;
By the ‘civilized world’s’ enlightened savagery;

Sengbe was his name, you brother,
Free man with free spirits with no will to comply,
To the ‘savagery of the civilized’
When his flesh was shackled,
And had every reason to cry,
And his barefoot traces to install,
Then was when he wrote in the sands
This story and eternity to tell;

When men of knowledge and riches,
Corrupted history to the seams,
And took the pen of humanity in their hands,
And justified cruelty “on others”

It was back then,
Before many *winters,
Between you and him were created,
Many *markets wide waters,
To a land of 
No tales, 
No laughers, 
Neither beads nor flutes;
No herding goats or going for hunt,
To a land of shackles and toil in the wilderness,
It was then – you and Him
Made to live afar, 
Each others’ self and history.

But your brother, Sengbe,
 Had no will to comply
His free soul and body   
To the ‘savagery of the civilized’
When his flesh was shackled,
And had every reason to cry,
         Honored his dignity, paying the price high;  

Oh my brother then I wept,
Quested the moon to be my courier,
To end the long night,
And call my brother
Hence could dawn up on us,
The sun of togetherness,
My letter reads:
Of the Crescent
The darkest half, behold,
Not forever gets unobserved
For your outcries and “*Lomboko’s” memory it still holds,
With her dark spots and mysteries,
The full moon will one day reveal,
To bring to light the darkness;
Imposed on history and its actors,
Of the myriads of ‘justified injustices’
 As it ruled here in Mende,
And all the shore lines of Africa and her soul;

The moon then smiled and said:
Healing the pain of the past,
Starts by knowing it first,
And deciphering the millions of footprints,
On African shore line sands;
And I looked, this time curious,for I had seen only one trace;
The moon was right
The sands were filled with footprints;
of Sengbe and  millions of my brothers and sisters.   
--------------


Mende: a place Sierra Leone, West Africa, which during the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade was a deportation point of many slaves from which a brave African called Sengbe Pieh was captured to be sent off to the “New World” through a ship called Tekoroup to Cuba and then transferred to a ship La Amsted .He in the course had managed to free his fellow friends by killing the enslavers
Lomboko: A slave fortress from where millions of Africans were deported for slavery of which Sengbe was one.

Winters: Many African tribes count time (in a year) taking winter as reference.

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