Ogre named COVID-19

2

An African-Orature-inspired allegorical dramatic poem that draws upon
the ethics and aesthetics of the following art forms – mainly and primarily – not exclusively:
allegorical art; epic; narrative poetry; prosaic poetry (my coinage);
dramatic poetry; performance poetry; praise poetry
dialogical art; spoken word; song and dance.

Point of entry:
Hodi! Hodi! (Knock! Knock!)

African Orature orate ones “orate” that since days immemorial
human beings have always been threatened by evil
forces that negate life: tragic experiences that bedevil
resistance, bent on erasing life and eager to seize territorial
control over the spaces that define our humanity:
Mother Earth; Mother Nature; Home; Community
and most sacred of all,
The Soul.
Fictionally and allegorically, of all known anti-human forces,
none has the lethal power of the demonic, eight-headed monster
known as the ogre;
his mission to devour and eliminate human life and their world
humanity’s mission
to resist and live
to envision visions of utu
by mobilizing people to collectively
fight back and live.

Call-and-response:
Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

First Cycle

Communal Alert:
Uuuu! Uuuu! Uuuu! Uuuu! Uuuuuuuu!
The sound of mbu tears sharply through
the impenetrable darkness of a scowling night
signaling that a perilous moment is in sight,
a moment conspiring to erase the his/herstory
of an already battered and tattered humanity:
a perilous moment, tainted by the inhumanity
of the implacable, deathly ogre named COVID-19

Call-and-response:
Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

Uuuu! Uuuu! Uuuu! Uuuu! UUUUUUUUUUUUU!
Mbu pitches higher and higher, ripping silence to shreds
Mbu travels on high winds from every corner of the earth
from the ice-covered North Pole
to the mountain-capped South Pole
from lands in the rising of the sun
to lands in the setting of the sun
Mbu traverses the expansive globe, riding on wings of urgency

Call-and-response:
Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

Mbu runs, mbu sprints, mbu races, mbu flies with winged unicorn force
shaking up snoring towns and cities
awakening smugly sleeping rural life
startling unsuspecting napping nature;
exploding silence, then setting it aflame
to warn the slumbering world that humanity is under siege
to alert the world that, alike, Mother Nature is under siege
from the fatal rabidity of the rampaging ogre, alias COVID-19

Call-and-response:
Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

Second Cycle
The despicable monster named Ogre

Orate orature-artist that I am, where shall I find
the words, or voice, to describe or conjure up
the haunting ugliness of this devouring monster?
Which of my griotic ancestors will possess me
anointing me with eloquence and entrancing oracy
born of the verbal magic of captivating utterance?
Orate orature-artist that I am, how shall I conjure up the image
of this ominous creature so that humanity will take up arms?

Call-and-response:
Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

Like the nyuvwira,1 the monster has eight heads that menacingly spurt fire
He has countless sunken eyes that ooze with smelly yellow-brown puss
His monstrous legs make the earth tremble with their thunderous stampede
as he wildly paces with the rage of a wounded buffalo waiting to charge,
while his octopus-like hands wave frantically, madly impatient for the barge.
Look how his hideous mouth salivates as he anticipates the taste of human flesh
and the relish of warm, deep-red human blood trickling down his insatiable throat!
Look, oh look, how gleefully he chops off people’s heads and bathes in their blood!

Call-and-response:
Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

Third Cycle
The rude awakening

Ambushed in their sleep; assailed while snoring; attacked amidst napping,
Humanity and Nature wake up too late to subdue the marauding fiend.
Demonic, hellish, satanic, ireful, vengeful, bloodthirsty; gall-spleened…
the destroyer ravages people’s homes, wantonly killing the most susceptible
as they lie on their death-beds shackled by infirmity: recovery impossible;
yet praying to be miraculously touched by a stray ray from the healing sun of life.
Python-like, the sneaky beast pounces on them and strangulates their hope for life.
The monster attacks with tempestuous demonic fury, hell-bound to atomize all life!

Call-and-response:
Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

The beast roams, his flaming heads flashing fire, devouring all on his way;
his oozing eyes making rivulets of stinking brown-yellow puss along his way.
Bullying creature by habit, the beast roams, searching for the biggest cracks
in a house with walls badly battered by storms and riddled with perilous cracks.
He invades overcrowded homes, attacking everyone living on the margins of life;
then roams the streets hunting for the homeless; slaughtering the forgotten in life.
Omnivorous, he storms prisons, strangling inmates with the chains of Covid-19,
The monster attacks with rampant demonic fury, hell-bound to atomize all life!

Call-and-response:
Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

UUUUUUUUUU! UUUUUUUUUU! UUUUUUUUUU! UUUUUUUUUUUU!
Deafening mbu turns into a heart-rending, desperate, feverish, hysterical shrill.
Hospitals, private homes, retirement homes, nursing homes and hospices go still
paralyzed by death’s silencing blow: bodies lie in cold stiffness, stuffed in bags like garbage.
Corpses lie everywhere; mortuaries so full that they spew them out into reluctant containers
converted into make-shift mortuaries to hold the dead; their stench ignoring all complainers.
Human corpses everywhere; waiting to be dumped somewhere like unwanted bags of garbage
or if lucky, to be rescued from COVID-19 mass-graves by mourning families, for silent burial.

Call-and-response:
Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

Fourth Cycle
The world is in mourning

Wading through the drowning muddy floods of sorrow while choking with throttling grief, humanity struggles to re-assemble its pieces of broken hearts, scattered like desert sand.
Humanity sheds rivers and lakes of tears that would turn the mighty Zambezi into a stream
The volume of their tears surpasses that of the Blue Nile and White Nile at their confluence
Their Indian Ocean of tears floods the earth as they weep with abandon, overcome by grief.
Humanity has witnessed seasons of flooding rains, sweeping storms and scorching droughts;
Humanity has seen hurricanes; ridden over tornados; withstood the raging fury of earthquakes;
But the ogre named COVID-19 has unleashed ineffable disasters that by far surpass them all.

Call-and-response:
Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

Cowed by the deafening booming of the ogre’s thunder; blinded by his flaming multi-head,
half the world dives into a pool of drowning despair; but spirited by resistance others tread
water, then float, till they find firm ground that survived the earthquake and its after-shocks.
Fatigued and broken, they invoke the Ancestors, the Spirit World, and the Creator of Cosmos
urging them to intervene and strike the devouring ogre dead with the mighty power of Ramos:
begging them to rescue humanity and nature from the ugly monster bent on obliterating life.
Humanity has seen hurricanes; ridden over tornados; fought with furious, fuming earthquakes;
But the ogre named COVID-19 has unleashed a hailstorm of disasters that far surpass them all.

Call-and-response:
Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

But who will open humanity’s unseeing eyes, guiding them to look through the mirror of reality
that would reflect myriads of celestial beings who populate the here and now in human form
daily striking the beast blow by blow; their thunderbolts nothing more than human hearts?
Who will restore human sight, teaching people to see wingless angels in differing human form:
the sleep-starved ambulance-driver who never lets-go the steering wheel
the exhausted doctor, armored in untainted ethics of professional steel
the oak-strong nurse in whose “utu-tight” hands many have quietly died
the grieving worker who wheels them out for burial, weeping on the ride.

Call-and-response:
Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

Fifth Cycle
Immortalizing Life: Asserting UTU

Lifted to higher ground, the orature artist in me grows powerful wings
I fly higher and higher till my hands touch the uppermost limits of the sky.
Looking down at the earth, I see a world lit with candles of glimmering hope
I see numberless human angels without celestial wings: hands, their wings
I witness human hearts transforming life: “utu-power,” their guiding trope
I see people walking along a thorn-ridden path; courage, their badge of honor
I marvel at the sight of a human world singing songs of love, decrying dishonor.
I witness minds rising to new heights; imagination lifting them higher and higher

Call-and-response:
Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

Eyes begin to see, as candles of utu-filled human acts begin to light the dark world
As celestial earthly beings begin to paint a bright rainbow in the sky of the imagination
marking the end of our flooding rain of tears, signaling the start of human resistance
urging pounded humanity to rise up in self-defense and to shift the gaze from the sky.
Teaching humanity that nothing is mightier than a united people that no money can buy;
Teaching all that the ogre is only powerful when it sees trembling in the wind of surrender.
Take up arms, then, for the monster roams with demonic fury, hell-bound to atomize life!
Rise up all in righteous fury, for the tyrant-killer is ogre-bound to annihilate the whole of life!

Call-and-response:
Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

Heeding the urgent call of mbu, humanity discards victimology and takes up arms to fight.
Warriors attack the rowdy beast from all directions, wearing the armor of collective might
from the ice-covered North Pole
to the mountain-capped South Pole
from lands in the rising of the sun
to lands in the setting of the sun
cosmic armies now surround the beast, chanting in chorus: Fight the ogre! Join the fight!
Fighting back, people advance, marching side by side: Fight the ogre! Fight for the right!

Call-and-response:
Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

The war with the ogre stretches from the East to the West of our human existence and spills
from the North to the South of our smashed hopes and dreams killed with cruelty that chills.
Battling the ogre will take humanity up steep mountains of suffering, then throw them down
valleys of sinking despair; it will hurl their thread-bare hopes into the sea, hoping they drown.
The war with the ogre will drag fragile humanity across the dry deserts of scorching isolation
The battle with the ogre will leave behind human wastelands: relics of harrowing desolation.
More tempestuous than the Amazon Forest’s raging fires, the war with the ogre will destroy
like an angry tsunami that sweeps all on its way: unrelenting, till there is nothing left to destroy.

Call-and-response:
Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

Orature artist that I am, what wisdom shall I utter to invigorate all valiant fighters
in this prolonged war with the monster of death, more hideous than the blobfish?
I will travel back Sankofa-wise and sit by the fireside of ancient knowledge-lighters
who counseled, gũtirῖ ũtukũ ũtakῖaga:2 there is no night that does not turn into daylight!
Ancients who taught that when dawn conquers darkness, it releases the power of light
that lights up an earth in the process of re-birthing; and this second birth that she births
delivers consciousness that births new visions; and these visions birth new human beings
and the new births birth a new world flowering with love: shining with brilliant utu-light.

Call-and-response:
Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

Fight for the right!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

Reborn, humanity now has new eyes; long-sighted, keener and sharper than an eagle’s
envisioned with insight that illuminates the mind; insight that unveils the darkest corners
of systems of injustice fenced and fortified by a wall of lies: virus that kills like COVID-19
Reborn, humanity now claims a voice that calls out with lucid articulation all systemic ogres
for, vanquishing the ogre named COVID-19 means little without the elimination of all the ogres
hiding in the cracks of systems of injustice; COVID-19ing, daily, the “Wretched of the Earth’’3
Triumph over the ogre named COVID-19 will remain a permanent mirage on the road of life
until every abetting ogre, called-out asSystemic Ogre-COVID-19,” is also banished for life.

Call-and-response:
Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

Closing Cycle
Communal Baraza/Rally through Call-and-Response

Note: At the end, audience/participants may insert “calls” specific to their communities
Call: Economic injustice is?
Response: Systemic Ogre-COVID-19!
Call: White Supremacy is?
Response: Systemic Ogre-COVID-19!
Call: Classism is?
Response: Systemic Ogre-COVID-19!
Call: Systemic racism is?
Response: Systemic Ogre-COVID-19!
Call: Impoverishment is?
Response: Systemic Ogre-COVID-19!
Call: Denial of health-care is?
Response: Systemic Ogre-COVID-19!
Call: Industrial environmental pollution is?
Response: Systemic Ogre-COVID-19!
Call: Police murder of Black people is?
Response: Systemic Ogre-COVID-19!
Call: State police-militarization is?
Response: Systemic Ogre-COVID-19!
Call: The Prison Industrial Complex is?
Response: Systemic Ogre-COVID-19!
Call: Rape of women is?
Response: Systemic Ogre-COVID-19!
Call: Domestic abuse is?
Response: Systemic Ogre-COVID-19!
Call: Discrimination of people living with disability is?
Response: Systemic Ogre-COVID-19!
Call: Homophobia is?
Response: Systemic Ogre-COVID-19!
Call: Xenophobia is?
Response: Systemic Ogre-COVID-19!
Call: Islamophobia is?
Response: Systemic Ogre-COVID-19!
Call: Any form of oppression is?
Response: Systemic Ogre-COVID-19!

Closing Call-and-response:
Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right!

Fight the ogre!
Fight for life!

Join the fight!
Fight for the right

Syracuse, New York
May-June 2020.

………………………………………………………………………………………………….

obstinately refusing to wither away in the desert of infirmity: it is life or strife!
praying that the sun of wellness will shine upon them

1 Nyuvwira, A Book of Creatures, https://abookofcreatures.com/2017/07/14/nyuvwira, Jul 14, 2017. The Nyuvwira is an enormous snake restricted to the Chitipa District of Malawi. It is found in association with minerals, especially precious minerals of monetary value. It can also be found in the mines of South Africa. It is known as Inifwira in Sukwa. A nyuvwira has eight heads and is the largest snake in the world.
2 A proverb from among the Gῖkũyũ people of Kenya often cited to encourage people to be optimistic during a “dark” moment and to hold onto the hope because “this too will pass.” A variant of the same is: gũtirῖ ũtukũ ũtakῖa.
3 Ref. to Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth, 1961; New York: Grove Press, 1963.

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