Sange

We thought collecting black gold would make us truly free

You do not blame a woman whose belly has been empty for fifty years

If she scoops the sand onto which the gari has spilled

Hoping to sift through later

So as soon as we saw the tanker tipping over

Agonizing

Slow

Like a tortoise that had fallen on its already cracked back

Tyres spinning desperately in the air

We ran to grab our buckets rusted to a brown that was indistinguishable from the earth that barely sustained and the huts that no longer sheltered

Scoop scoop black gold that nourishes

Thick oil gurgled like blood in the throat of a man dying bad death

Spreading out a slow persistent stain that no funeral rites would wash away from our land

But to our half-starved minds delirious with third-world hunger–the kind that makes foreigners pledge ninety cents a week to send a naked child to school–the gurgling was A song

Into whose discordant melody we fused words of hope:

School fees for my children

White man is dead1for my wife

Medicine for old and food for babies

Black gold black gold

Happy day this is true independence
Scald scald black gold ignites

Split-second the song is drowned a horrible death world cup screens melted shapeless plastic flash and boom boom flash it is civil war all over again murder by first degree burns no more rust buckets no hope for white man is dead no one to cry foul oil rushes like enraged bulls flaming river engulfs sweeps into an eternal sea sang qui coule sanguine though none will hunger or thirst yet shall there be weeping no gnashing for no teeth remain

No

No

No

Black gold kills black death

The persistent stain soils my land like a baby neglected in a pit latrine thick liquid stain in which floats the solid black excrement of bodies

Charred beyond recognition

No our independence is burnt out

Charred beyond recognition

Like the profit they said black gold would bring…