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Where Is My Visa? | Adewale Ajayi

Where Is My Visa? | Adewale Ajayi

By which visa did my fathers,
millions of human cargo,
mangled in cargo holds
In the belly of time machines
sail into these lands

By which visa did my fathers
deploy to your sugarcane farms
Padlocked to the teeth
In dreadful seasons of cold labour
To till your land
To tend your machines

By which visa did Abacha’s billions
find safe haven in New Jersey¹
And African money became legal tender
in a land strange and unfamiliar
building castles in dollars
never to be seen by billions
who own the money

By which visa did African gods
nestled in wooden sculptures
gain entry permit to museums
in Boston, Paris and London
And African gods became silent
In the hall ways of culture
Starring through strange glass casings
At a people craving imported deities

By what visa did African art
Described in strange language
Translocate from ancestral meaning
Uproot from tribal moorings
To a people dead unto meaning 

By which visa did your fathers
Visit my fathers buying land for mirrors
Buying treasures for coins
Selling deceit for trust
To erect bloody boundaries of commerce
Powering today’s beauty

By what visa did Stanley visit Mutesa²
Demanding bloody treaty of my king
By what visa did the queen order the invasion of Benin
To demean the crown of Ovonramwen³
Raid, pillage and rape my land
Bring destruction to my ways and monuments
Stealing treasures and the soul of a nation 

By what visa did your bayonet territories
Become appendages to your queen,
Your king and country
Serving mercantile orders 

By what visa did Mungo Park visit the Niger
To discover a place long existing
And find a people never lost
A land brimming with life and promise

The lands where my father entered with toil without visa
The lands where my father toiled without reaping
The lands where my art speaks strange languages
The lands where my monies fly to on the wings of greed
Are territories where my attempts to enter end
With a simple question I cannot answer:
Where is your visa? 

 

NOTES

  1. Former Nigerian military dictator, General Sanni Abacha stashed billions of naira believed to have been taken from Nigeria in a number of countries including a bank based in New Jersey. The money has been a subject of media attention, judicial process and diplomatic negotiations and engagement for years. 
  2. Famous British-American explorer, Henry Stanley, met the king Mutesa I of the Buganda of present day Uganda in his explorations into east Africa. David Rubadiri wrote a poem, Stanley Meets Mutesa on that encounter as a mode of colonial incursion into an African society. 
  3. King Ovonramwen was a charismatic and brave Benin king who resisted the colonial incursion into Benin kingdom but whose forces later succumbed to the imperial forces.

 


Adewale Ajayi Agbowo Art African Literary ArtDr Adewale Ajayi has a PhD in Performance Studies from the Institute of African Studies, the University of Ibadan. He is a Chief Lecturer (Performance Communication) at the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, Ogun State, Nigeria. In the institution, he has occupied administrative positions, including being the Deputy Rector (2014 – 2018). Journals in which his scholarly works have been published include, African Notes, Ibadan Journal of Humanistic Studies and Context. His poems have been published in Daily Times, www.timbooktu.com and Ogun State Association of Nigerian Authors’ anthology.

Email: deawale@yahoo.com

twitter: @DeawaleAjayi

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wale.ajayi.79

Researchgate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Adewale_Ajayi


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