Ambassadors of Poverty: A Precise Poem

If you studied literature in a Nigerian secondary school, then you might be familiar with this poem. Ambassadors of Poverty was one of the poems I studied during my WAEC examinations in 2013. Being a teenager back then with little knowledge of the realities of my country, I did not fully grasp the aptness of the poem, but now I dare say that this poem is still very precise. It’s not a short poem but it’s worth reading and I respect the author for it. It’s also very self explanatory, so I am not writing to give you a summary, I just feel that it’s a poem that everyone should read, especially my fellow Nigerians. By the way, my country turned 59 a week ago, 1st of October, in the spirit of independence; I bring to you, Ambassadors of Poverty! 

 

AMBASSADORS OF POVERTY- A POEM BY P.O.C UMEH

Ambassadors of poverty are

The corrupt masters of the economy

With their head abroad

And anus at home

Patriots in reverse order

Determined merchants of loot

Who boost the economy of their colonial order

To impoverish brothers and sisters at home

 

Ambassadors of poverty are

The saviors of the people

Office loafers in the guise of workers

Barons of incompetence

With kleptomaniac fingers

And suckling filaments

Position occupants and enemies of service

Locked in the corrosive war of corruption

With their people’s treasury

And killing their future

 

Ambassadors of poverty are

The dubious sit tight patriots

Frustrating the corporate will of their followers

The beleaguered, hungry and famished owners of the land

People priced out of their conscience and power

Incapacitated by destitution

Unable to withstand the temptation

Of crispy mints and food aroma

 

Ambassadors of poverty are

The political elites

In air conditioned chambers

And exotic cars

With tearful stories of rip offs

Tucked away from

Their impoverish constituencies

Lying prostrate

With death traps for roads

Mud for water

Candle for light

Underneath trees as schools

Rat for protein

Fasting as food

And alibi as governance

 

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Ambassadors of poverty are

The rancorous elites

In battle of supremacy

For the control of power

And their people’s wealth

Mowing down their own

With white man’s machine

Oiled by the prosperity of black patronage

Counterpoised by deprivations

As the corpses of their able-bodied men

Women and children lie unmourned

In shallow graves

In their fallow farmlands

Long abandoned

 

Ambassadors of poverty are

The round trippers

The elusive importers

Of unseen goods and services

Sand inclusive

Who trip the economy down

By tricking form M

For harvest of dollars as import

When their people see neither money nor food

 

Ambassadors of poverty are

The able-bodied men on the street

Without motives, without vision, without mission

Men fit for the farms

But glued to the city

Hungry and desperate

Constituting willing tools in the hands

Of political overlords

For mission of vendetta

Against political foes

In their fight for power

 

Ambassadors of poverty are

Those whose actions and inaction

Reduce their people’s expectation to nothingness

Those whose antecedents

Have lost the spark to inspire

While their people lie in surrender

Having been defeated by poverty

 

Ambassadors of poverty are

All of us whose inaction

Steal our collective joy

Because of what we should do

Which we never do

As we bargain away

Our conscience in the market place

Under the weight of poverty

To assuage our hunger

And our master’s will.

 

 

I particularly love the poet’s choice of words, I’m thinking about sharing more poems subsequently; do enjoy the rest of your day.

4 Comments

  1. I remember reading this poem in secondary school. It was my next best after Sola Owonibi’s Homeless not Hopeless and Oswald Mtshali’s Boy on a Swing…

    These poems are sad, soul searching and so beautiful. I remember reading Ambassadors of Poverty back then and saying to myself ‘I will not be one of them’. I don’t know what secondary school children read these days but I hope it’s half as good as this classic

    Great job!

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