Esther F. Edoho is a Nigerian poet. In her latest poem ‘They Used To Be Boys’ she tries to pass a message across; when it comes down to it, there is no tribe or religion. We are all God’s children and this war is hurting us all. The poem was inspired by the sole desire for peace in Nigeria.
Speaking on the poem she says, “I think we’ve gotten to a point where we count the victim in numbers and we’ve become so normalized to the frequency of boko haram attacks. I wanted to bring a humanistic view to the entire thing. I want us think of both the perpetrators and victims as sons and daughters and children. I wanted us to regain our sensitivity about this issue.”
Read/Listen (to) the FAB poem below:
I wonder about the boys
who wake early to rip the air out of lungs,
Boys, because they are still their mother’s sons,
Boys, because they once sat at their father’s feet.
I wonder what they were like when they were younger,
Did they play football barefeet while the sun kissed their backs?
Did they dance in the rain or play in its puddles?
or run around in singlets and shorts belting out laughs?
Did they bruise their knees climbing guava trees?
Did the northern wind wrap them in its calm?
I wonder if they ever wished on stars
or played police and thief under the moonlight ?
I wonder if they ever thought about the future,
Did they know that they would
One day shake the foundations of an entire nation?
Did they know that they would be the reason why
sons never see their fathers again?
and mothers never hear their daughters laugh?
Did they know that they would,like forgotten treasure,
bury fear in the hearts of the young and old alike?
Did they know that they would stop thousands of hearts from beating?
I wonder if they pray to God at night,
Do they ask for forgiveness for taking away his children’s tomorrow?
Do they know there are people whose knees are sore from praying
that life cuts open their hearts to put the same amount of pain they have put out?
Do they know we are still waiting for our girls?
The ones they took in broad daylight from their school
and that their mothers are left with sobs knotted in their throats and sand in their hands?
I want to know because we have wailed and prayed and marched,
and all we have left are hissing lungs and faint breath,
We are tired and shaken,
afraid to leave our houses,
afraid to go to bus stations or malls,
afraid to even visit the house of God.
they used to be boys; our boys,
until they waged war on us,
They used to be ours
until they stained our streets with blood,
Now I wonder if they know a bomb lays where their hearts once stood,
I wonder if they know that beneath the mess they have made,
lay our brothers and our sisters,
limbs ripped off, flesh hanging loose,
beneath the rubble there are no tribes or religion,
no northerners or southerners, only children.
You can read more of her work on www.piecesofaugust.com