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Dilemma of a Soldier: Poetry by Tope Akeredolu


When from the green shades of my homeland
I behold the tattered flag that now stands colourless
And lost faces that stretched cholera-infested hands
to embrace shadows that aren’t there anymore,
an incendiary I longed to become.
Perhaps in a moment of sanity,
the bestiality that seeks to mark our existence
will be exorcised by the pontifications of our humanity
Perhaps, the charred plains of Sambisa might sprout green again
Watered by the sweat of our toiling
Perhaps the seeds of hope that droops at mid-growth
might sprout and bask in the intruding gaze of the golden sun.
Soon we came to learn that with us
the war is a pitiless mother who leaves her babies
On the path of a marauding beast
For we do not know who our enemies are
Whether the potentates locked inside corrosive walls of gears and cheers
Urging tired boots into their death amidst heavy politicking

These faceless merchants of death that comes at night
bearing afterlife as gifts from Hades
These soulless souls that mock the futility of our struggles
From whom we are often too tired to run

I do not know for whom I died
I do not know for whom I live
I have returned from the war
Drenched in doubts
before you I stand
clad in nakedness
Like a prodigal
hungry for home



In my moments of doubt
enveloped in dilemma
I seek you high mother
I have not returned from my war
It rages still in the underbelly of my longings
Like a prodigal
I stand at your bank
My heart light from years of ceaseless toiling
Search your heart son, I was told.
          I have searched
I have found empty rooms and labyrinthine routes
All leading to more roads
and like a bird that nested on a leafless baobab
that must learn to shelter herself when gods cry from the sky
I must learn to paddle amidst these torrents
          High mother,
the waves and tide might bear me away from you
But I will return to your bosom
longing for your motherly embrace



This tree will shed
the remnants
the leaves of despair
It will sprout
and herald a new age of hope

This tree will shed
the remnants
The leaves of doubts
It will spring forth
Like a river snaking through cracks and creeks

This tree will shed
the remnants
the leaves of pain
It will whisper to the lonely child
Like a cuckoo on deserted tree
and in silent voices
It will forerun a new dawn.

Poems © Tope Akeredolu
Image: remixed

Tope Akeredolu
Tope Akeredolu
Akeredolu Tope Akinola is a Nigerian poet, language instructor and contributor at People’s Voice magazine - a community based quarterly magazine. His works have appeared on African writer, Indian periodical, for Harriet, ink sweat and tears, dwartz online, Antarctic journal and several literary outlets. He is back at his alma mater in pursuance of a degree in law. He lives and writes from Ikare Akoko- the land of the twin mountains.


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