For Alms Sake - Edith Faalong

We went to beg for alms,
so they called a roundtable of vultures
and passed round a basket.
Each dropped in it a metalic coin with glee.

I peeped in the basket:
It was the same old basket
lined with the grey of age,
the straw at its sides ripping slowly apart.

When it got to the end of the table,
it was barely full.
So they called their butler.

He stood before us all and,
pouring pressure and complexities,
he filled the basket.

We wanted to leave then.
But the sound of metal life against itself
in the basket weighed down our pants.
And so with our heads bowed,
we reached deep in our pockets, pulled
out our few gold coins,
wrapped them delicately
in white handkerchiefs
and handed them over.

Then the tallest among us cheered.
We all prostrated and gave our thanks.

The most leprotic of them lifted his glass
and everyone accepted his toast.
The deed had been done,
the deal closed.
Sitting back up and looking from face to face,
I saw men become swine.

From the centre of the table,
there was a loud noise then
I saw spider webs push out,
rush in all directions,
and bind each beggar
'til we were forced to drop the basket.

But we could not have our Gold
nor our white handkerchiefs back.

So in the end, in the end,
we went home with only
what the butler brought
clinging to us.


Anonymous said...

Well Done Edith, Keep is coming. Reading your poem was such a pleasure. Made me think seriously about the pros and cons of foreign aid.

Anonymous said...

Wow--soyoung but already so mellow with the inner eye--each word weighed --chosen,caressed,--- crafted--with the deep pride of being African --sweet.By--bees knees

Anonymous said...

"For Alms Sake" is exactly the theme in Ecclesiates 10:5 - 7
"There is an evil I have seen under the sun, the sort of error that arises from a ruler: Fools are put in many high positions, while the wise occupy the low ones. I have seen slaves on horseback, while princes go on foot like slaves."
Africa is a paradox. So rich in wisdom, minerals and people, yet so poor. What causes such a disconnect between potential and production? It is attitude and that is what Edith exposes.
We STILL do not know who we are as a people. We choose the way of Esau, selling our birthrights for a meal, a bribe or a car. Our leaders have failed miserably in this regard and we as a people have failed to unite against such mediocrity. Africa is still searching for its own Eureka moment. It is only when we learn how to sacrifice that solutions will come. We keep on begging and begging for alms, pawning away our future. Do we ever stop to think how such an attitude mortagages away the future of our children?
Thank you, Edith Faalong, for your mosaic of words to create a picture of our state of affairs.