When I find myself among a laughing tribe,
I know they hide something from me;
I conjure up a laughter box whose button I press
to outlaugh them all. As long as they hear their music,
they leave me free; I don’t want to surrender all I have.
I am a moving stump in the forest of men
and if I stray into a towering company, those
more than a kilometre from the undergrowth,
I release stilts from my soles; I don’t want to be
looked down upon by the very top ones.
I collapse the long legs when I step into where
giants are the required offerings of the gods of the race.
I have a lifesaver installed in my body
just in case I am knocked into some deep river;
unless I come out alive, I will be declared evil—
who ever wants his adversary to have the last word on him?
So when a hunter stalks me to fill his bag,
I call on my snake from nowhere to bite him.
Folks, let’s drink ourselves to death in the party
as long as we wear sponges in the tongue;
let’s stay awake in our unending dream so that nobody
will take us for gone and cheat us out of our lives.
- Tanure Ojaide