100th Anniversary Poem: Child of Saturday - Rob Taylor


Kwame

Son of Nkroful,
son of the slave forts
and football in the fields before them.
Son of the schoolhouse,
of dusty Axim streets,
of cannons pointing all directions,
towards the sea
towards the village.

Kwame
the things that are done


A native son crosses the Atlantic
to a land deemed more palatable
for conquest, for the knowledge
you pull from University stacks
and place aside the histories of a people
whose land has already vanished,
who whisper from beneath the pavement
to go.

Kwame
the things that are done
in your name –


Slathered across the newspaper headlines,
this child of Saturday, son of Nkroful
a criminal, captive -
the walls of Ussher fort
a slave galley, a smallpox blanket
wrapped around your throat.
You wait, as you have been taught,
as you have practiced,
while children play in Axim’s fields
and cannons rust slowly on their mounts.

Kwame
the things that are done
in your name –
I mean, the things that are undone


Your people lift you up, out,
proclaim the land theirs,
its direction yours –
this child of Saturday,
this son of the schoolhouse,
you do not turn to address your people
but instead instruct the iron men on
how to bend without bursting.
You teach them how to walk again, to run –
you show them where to go.

Kwame
the things that are done
in your name –
I mean, the things that are undone
behind the flimsy façade of your name


You tore into the earth, it’s true,
and it trembled, betrayed,
yet understanding ‘what must be done.’
Helicopters chattered, gunships
patrolled the shores.
Child of Saturday, when you left
that last time, did you know?

Kwame
the things that are done
in your name –


They buried your body in Guinea,
the son of the slave forts.

I mean, the things that are undone

They returned your body to Nkroful,
the son of the schoolhouse.

behind the flimsy façade of your name

They trucked your body to the Capital
and placed it beneath a monument of stone.

Son of the slave forts,
son of the schoolhouse,
child of Saturday,
they’ve buried your body in a fortress
and stand behind its minarets,
cannons pointing all directions –
children below, bouncing victory and defeat
in black and white off their feet and foreheads
back and forth across the sprawling pitch.




Italicized lines are modified from the poem "Borrowed Airs" by Kobena Eyi Acquah. Read more poems on Nkrumah, from our "Nkrumah Series" of July 2008, here.
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