Indépendance Cha Cha

On our 50th independence day the army dressed in its finest

And marched around the square

Ample-bottomed women stuffed into awkward fatigued trousers

Men saluted a different flag from when they were boys

Prancing around the same square…larger back then none of these house-cum-shop wooden kiosks encroaching on the sacred national place

Lyrics had been tweaked, faces that looked like their own smiled benevolently down from the platform

But the brass band played the same tunes and the steps were the same

One…two…solemn…march

Eyes…right…fingers…to temple

Round and round the national square

On our 50th independence day we were very proud to be free

Declared the new father of the nation

Who was only new because his old father had finally been poisoned and died quietly in his sleep

He thanked the founding fathers who made the land what it is today

(Mothers are a new creation you see, no place for them in speeches yet)

And promised his children at least another 50 years of independence under his guidance

Agooooo….ameeeeeeee

Aooooo…eeeeeeiiiii

People cheered from one side of their mouths and wept from the other

Although the elders have said this cannot be done

We drank bile-flavoured hope and ate gari mixed with sand

While our president-king retired to his palace to eat chicken thighs with his friends

(There was much speculation about what they drank)

The army gave a final salute to independence

To be stowed away until next year

Trumpets sounded and fireworks went off

But after 50 years of civil war the people’s nerves could not handle

The blasts and crackles and flashes of light

We fled from the square independent but panicked

Heavy feet found an old woman who had fallen in familiar dust from 50 year-old riots

But now she was too old to save herself to move or even to shout

A beauty in her youth, crowned Miss Independence in that historic year

She lay in dirt and bore the weight of our beautiful free country

Running for its life–what remains of it–knowing that its children

Cannot eat this their independence