Our Mother tells us of her children
in ages past, who listened to her voice
and spoke the very words she taught them.
They wove their garments to harmonize
with her body and planted a gourd tree in her honour.
She poured out her spirit unto this tree
as they watered it with care.
From its fruit, they made a calabash
and drank therein the riches of life.
Then as the Great Fire of the sky
retired beyond the Endless River one day, she saw
a mighty canoe emerge from its dying embers
for her sandy shores.
Her children ran to greet a stranger
whose voice ensnared their minds.
He charmed them with strange magic
so quickly, they exchanged their cloths for his clothes,
tied funny ropes around their necks and covered their feet
with hide so their toes did not show.
They forgot the words Mother taught them
and learned to speak a strange tongue.
They neglected her gourd tree, leaving it to shrivel
for they now bowed to another; his own.
Then they bestowed on him their riches for his thunder sticks
and betrayed their kin for his drunken water.
Drunken it made them so they turned on one another
with these thunder sticks that pillaged and killed.
The gourd of oneness has fallen
far from its tree, shattered and scattered
along the rocky paths of perpetual change.
Mother looked on and realized
that as the rains came and went,
charcoal and chalk became alike.
Now, we, Mother’s grandchildren,
continue in the footsteps
of ancestors and strangers,
not knowing which is which.
I now look at my reflection
in kindred faces
and I see that I too
am just another
shade of grey.
Shades of Grey - Kwadwo Kwarteng
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