|1974 The Crescent Moon – Uche Okeke
As part of my ongoing “School Days Over” poetry project; I have been racking my brain trying to remember the names of the poems and poets that we studied for my O Levels (in Zimbabwe).
I spent so long wishing and wanting and waiting for those exams to be over; even managing to successfully forget everything I had learned as soon as they were over.
Then…years later… I end up scouring the internet trying to find them all again.
Life’s a funny old thing isn’t it?
(As I try to always be totally honest with you; I feel obligated to tell you that while I do remember the poem, I can’t remember a thing about the poet. So the following has been taken from an internet search. I have actually bought the text book we used so will be able to confirm in a few days!)
Uche Okeke is a Nigeria poet, artist and sculptor and one of the founders of the Nsukka group. Considered the father of the modern Nigerian art tradition; he was instrumental in over turning the British Artistic tradition within the educational system and was a pivotal momentum in determining (with others) the art program at the University of Nigeria.
Throughout his career, Okeke has been influenced by the stories told by his mother and sister and the region he originated from. He was also greatly inspired to find that his mother was an Uli artist.
They Walked and Talked
They talked and walked,
Walked and talked and talked –
Talkative homing dames;
Mothers, grandmother, all homing,
Returning from a distant mart
Baskets on heads, words on lips-
Gossip or tall tales of folk at home.
They clapped their hands;
They screamed from time to time;
They moved their hands in most expressive ways –
Their hands spoke even louder than their tongues –
As they swept like a great Saharan wind
Along the winding beaten tracks
Before them, silent, deserted.
Not even the discordant croaking of the toad,
Not even the noise of insects here and there,
Not even the songs of birds everywhere,
Were heard above the noise of these homing folk
Who (forgetful of the ancient saying
That even blades of grass are living ears)
Could not restrain their long and wagging tongues.
School Days Over