Kofi Awoonor

At home the sea is in the Town

Running in and out of the cooking places,

Collecting the firewood from the hearths

And sending it back at night.

The sea eats the land at home:

It has eaten many houses:

It came on day at the dead of night,

Destroying the cement walls,

And carried away the fowls,

The cooking pots and the ladles.

The sea eats the land at home,

It is a sad thing to hear the walls,

And the mourning shouts of the women,

Calling on all the gods the worship,

To protect them from the angry sea.

Aku stood outside where her cooking pot stood

With her two children shivering from the cold,

Her hands on her breast,

Weeping mournfully.

Her ancestors have neglected her,

It was a cold Sunday morning,

The storm was raging,

Goats and fowls were struggling in the water,

The angry water of the cruel sea:

The lap-lapping of the dark water at the shore,

And above the sobs and the deep and low moans

It has taken away their belongings

Abena has lost the tinkets which.

Were  her dowry  and her joy,

In the sea that eats the land at home,

Eats the whole land at home  



Kofi Awoonor

The weaver bird built in our  house

And laid its eggs on our only tree

We did not want to send it away

We watched the building of the nest

And supervised the egg-laying.

And the weaver  returned in the guise of the owner

Preaching salvation to us that owned the house

They say it came from the west

Where the storms at sea had felled the gulls

And the fishers dried their nets by lantern light

Its sermon is the divination of ourselves

And our new horizons limit as its nest.

But we cannot join the prayers and answers of the communicants

We look for new homes every day,

For new altars we strive to re-build

The old shrines defiled from the weaver’s excrement. 



Kofi Awoonor

Something has happened to me

The things so great that I cannot weep;

I have no sons to fire the gun when I die

And no  sons to fire the gun when I close my mouth

I have wandered on the wilderness

The great wilderness men call life

The rain has beaten me,

And the sharp stumps cut as keen as knives

I shall go beyond the rest.

I have no kin and no brother,

Death has made war upon our house;


And Kpeti’s great household is no more,

Only the broken fence stands;

And those who dared not look in his face

Have come out as men.

How well their pride is with them.


Let those gone before take note

They have treated their offspring badly.

What is the wailing for?

Somebody  is dead. Agosu  himself

Alas! a snake has bittern me

My right arm is broken,

And the tree on which I lean is fallen.


Agosu if you go tell them,

Tell Nyidevu, Kpeti, and Kove

That  they have done us evil;

Tell them their house  is falling

And the trees in the fence

Have been eaten by termites;


That the martels curse them.

Ask them why they idle there

While we suffer, and eat sand,

And the crow and the vulture

Hover always above our broken fences

And strangers walk over our portion.

US - Africa Literary Foundation

Chimdi Maduagwu, PhD
Executive Director
US-Africa Writers Foundation
Dr. Bode Osanyin
Chairman, Department of Creative Arts
University of Lagos
Department of Creative Arts
Akoka, Yaba
Lagos, Nigeria

Website Copyright © 2002-5 US-Africa Writers Foundation.  Selected writings copyright by their authors