Iyere Ehimen Maryanna: “Mortars and Pestles”

Mortars and Pestles

I saw them, old men from the east and west,
They sat under an aged tree for a rest.
From dawn till the big sun sank low,
They told us tales of years years ago.
The harmattan breeze, the elders seated,
Awaiting the moon the gods created
As the evening sun goes home, defeated.

I saw them come from East and West, from North and South
I saw our grandmothers dance round about.
I saw youths in the streets, holding hands,
While the children played upon the sands
I saw women in hijabs and men in shokoto,
Calling out to the women with red beads
I saw them dancing toward Sokoto.

Love was their anklets, people of good deeds
Mothers chanting the songs of our ancestors,
Shiny iros  and bubas, no shame or  remorse.
Past years of sorrows gone, now laughter
A new dawn, no case of kidnapping or murder
At the stream in the west, I saw the daughters,
Sons from the East are coming from their farms.
Mothers from the South are pounding the yams.
Kpom! kpom! kpom! pestles told the mortars,
In harmony, they smoothened the yams and we ate,
Mortars and Pestles taught us not to hate,
To sit together and dip our hands into one plate.

The rivers and surroundings ever calm,
The songs of their women, soothing balm.
The change that was brought and then sold
She is back again on a platter of gold.

I saw Justice holding a sword in our land.
She held a scale in the other hand.
She reconciled with us and is here to stay,
To lead us all in the right way.
Truth was her lovely husband
Truth was the language she could understand.

I saw Unity among the women that were dancing.
She stood among our mothers who were chanting.
I heard no language but the language of Love,
No trouble in the land that she wouldn’t solve.

I saw them and saw no more,
I heard the music of mortals and pestles and heard no more.
The singers and dancers, I searched and found none
This can’t be a dream, where have they all gone?


(Nigerian Voices Today is curated by Babatunde Babafemi.)

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