Category Archives: Poetry

The Joy of Living

By Rafiq Raji

Elegushi Beach, Lagos-Nigeria(RR 2013)

What do old people think about?

You see them staring at vistas, taking gentle steps as they contemplate their pasts.

Many are sad regretting risks not taken, wondering about what could have been.

And yet the young make the same mistakes, refusing to take risks.

Worried about what could be lost instead of what could be gained.

How many that have died do we remember?

Certainly not those who refuse to question the orthodoxy.

There was an age when the World was thought flat and flight seemed a fantasy.

And yet here we are.

Would you rather you were just passing by?

And in old age strut on promenades wishing you were more daring.

Perhaps you could have been wealthy, led nations or changed some little part of the World.

But then how would you know? You never tried.

Be bold. Be daring.

Take the injuries that come as accolades.

They are testaments to your refusal to be like everyone else.

For if we were all the same , life would not be interesting.

Insist on your place. Push boundaries.

And if you do grow old, your reflections would be of surprise that you could survive so.

Be still.

By Rafiq Raji

She is fidgeting again.

Why can’t she just be still?

And what does she do when she dashes out like that?

She is back. How are you little one?

Were you sick?

A scratch there. She loosens her hair. Again.

Styles it into a single knot this time. No? Not enough.

A look at the dress. There is a tiny wrinkle there.

Where? There. Here? No, there.

Here? No, further up. Here? No, up!

This is my head! Yes, the wrinkle is there.

Another dash out.

Another hair play.

Another scratch.

Another sitting position.

Up again!

Be still, Sweetheart. Be still.

Thoughts of my captive daughter (A poem to oppressed women)(Author: Rafiq Raji) #BringBackOurGirls #TimeToAct #Nigeria #AfricaWrites #Poetry #Africa

Would rather I die than be violated another day.
What caution? Am I to fear death when living is worse?
What life? My body pillaged, my innocence corrupted at will.
Where are my fathers? Am I to be rescued when I’m spent?
What use living then? Tell me, O fathers!
Where are my knights in shining armour?
Would rather I die than my body be pillaged another day.
Don’t my fathers worry about me?
What is taking them so long?
Would rather God’s heaven than this hell.

The Hat and the turbans (A Tribute) #Nigeria

Innocents lost to the battle of the Hat and the turbans

Where is the outrage?

Silence their store until own is lost

Morning’s hope extinguished on the altar of power


The turbans turn a blind eye

Where is the Hat’s agitation?

Rock’s comfort fears return to the Creek



Were they ghosts?

Did they travel the land unnoticed?

The two ears silent to the terror of their feet

Heartless, ruthless, and shameless!

Await the day your old walls fall on the anger of your subjects


Fearing turban’s wrath, the Hat wields not his sword

Dear Innocents, please haunt the souls of the silent

Plague their dreams with horrors coming

Until they fulfill oaths sworn



Separation (A poem by Rafiq Raji) #ALAconf2014

Humans desiring distinction
By race, class, education, lineage
Created free, he binds himself to the notion of betterness
Dare not impale my paleness

Dishonouring origins for want of paleness
Is one free without roots’ pride?
Who then are your ancestors?
Debasing your ancestors on the plantations of life
Finding disciples in oppression of tribe, religion and ancestry

Occupiers of lands without right
Awake in mind to the reality of your curse
Never to know peace while usurpers of noble dreams
Thought to kill the spirit of your hosts
Asking why He should endow them so

Moving from land to land oppressed in spirit
Wanderings of a homeless spirit
Conscience long departed for fear of contagion

What then when there are no more lands to conquer?
What then when there are no more peoples to separate?
Redemption fears invitation
Should forgiveness meet someone so?

Journey’s Mist (A poem by Rafiq Raji) #African Literature Association Conference, #Wits

Adieus with fear and hope
The lovers’ anguish
A mother’s worry
Hope of the fruit of thy loins
Memories of vanishing strides

Await to the sound of return
Do open o door
Open to the stories of a journey spent
Not to the anguish of whispering news

Was thy journey prosperous
Did you tire of sights and sounds
Did you let go to the mystery of discovery

Hope for the fruits of thy steps
Soothing balm of beloved memories
Fatigue not tired limbs
The horizon is near

O sweaty brow of hope
O laughter of triumph
O warm embrace of return
O journey’s mist

My Big House (A Poem by Rafiq Raji) #Nigeria

My house is now big

But my children are still hungry

Warring over trifles, what now

What do you mean what now

I say my house is now big


Guests to the land would know who I am

My children starve all you want

I say my house is now big


Though my neighbor has a stronger horse

I shall celebrate my feat

I say my house is now big


Shall I continue to wear my dear garments

Or should I shed them that my house might have peace

So what if the furniture gives way

So what if my children starve

So what if my children war over trifles

I say my house is now big


Perhaps I should feed my children

Lest the guests wonder about their hobbling gait

Perhaps I should educate them

Lest the guests wonder about their husky voice

I say my house is now big


Perhaps I should increase my labour

Lest the guests wonder about the horse next door

Perhaps I should save more

Lest I am forced to sell my house

Perhaps I should invest more

Lest my children tear down my house

I say my house is now big


Perhaps I should celebrate less

Lest the guests wonder why my children are sullen

Perhaps I should worry about my hangover this time

Lest my door ajar on the morrow reveals my misery

I say my house is now big


Why do the guests visit on my neighbour’s horse

Is my house not big enough

Is my horse not strong enough

What should I do

Should I celebrate or reflect

I say my house is now big