Monday, July 7, 2008

Nigeria: A Poem

After listening to NPR's Weekend Edition, "Documenting the Paradox of Oil, Poverty in Nigeria," one young woman felt inspired to write a poem, and email it to Ed Kashi.

Jennifer Takacs is a senior English major at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania where she is involved in such activities as Students for Social Justice, Human Rights Organization, and Habitat for Humanity. She also writes for the underground, independent, student run paper known as "Thought-Crime." Much of her work explores the social and political issues of today, and can be found at this website.

To see the poem,

“Hurry little children run this way, I have got a beast at bay!”

Run from the hills
With skirts billowing and blowing
In a cotton frenzy

Gather all the baskets
Of multi-coloured monies

Pour the suds

Scour the faces of Hamilton, Grant, Franklin
Watch as they disintegrate into a broken and beaten George
Too bad there are no cherry trees here

So watch as the children
Wash their money in oil

Because they have never known water

Slick and black
And full of velvety shine

Mixed and mashed in baby’s formula
The adobe hut is in need of repair

“So you made $600 billion of oil wealth in the past half-century
But for the people in the region, oil has brought dire poverty and a lack of development and fostered government corruption.”

Foster homes full of gypsies
With harpy wings
Sucking gin from the tits of a volcano


Baking tapioca in the flames
Waiting desperately for acid rain
Or an acrid reign

And whichever wish is granted first

Won’t matter

“The average person lives on less than a dollar a day, even though Nigeria takes in $2.2 million a day in oil revenue. And the poor have seen little or no benefit from the spiraling price of crude.”

"If we spend more money here in America or Europe on oil, it has no impact on the people in the Niger Delta, no positive impact," Kashi says. "What it does is just further enriches the power structure, from the government people to the chieftain and tribal leaders who all benefit from the rise of the oil prices."
“Because the United States imports a sizable amount of oil from Nigeria,” he says, “all Americans are consumers of Nigerian energy.”
So fill up your H-Twos, your Subarus, and your SUVs,
Everyone is stuck with the I.V.
Of the gas pump to the gas tank
From the hand that feeds
To the oil that bleeds
Into every American home
The state won’t leave it alone
And every dollar spent
Is another broken neck
And every emitted fume
Destroys another afternoon
But if I built a rocket
Would I go flying away?
From the bright and bold U. S. of A?
Fly up!
"It's important that we understand that connection," Kashi says.
Drink up!
"I feel the days are gone in this world when we can just blithely ignore these kinds of connections because what I see from traveling around the world … is that it's unsustainable.”
Bleed up!
“What's happening in the world today is unsustainable."
We own the sky.

*note: quotes taken from "Documenting The Paradox Of Oil, Poverty In Nigeria"-*

Thanks to
Jennifer for sharing her response with us.

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