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When the Rogue Elephant Falls

Tanure Ojaide

When the rogue elephant falls,

let those who didn’t open their mouths

against the tyranny of rampaging power

but calculated the price of words they uttered

not come out to declare themselves liberators.

No, they would not be in the celebratory parade

who had relished the privileges of the party

and not only shared the loot of the commonwealth

but also eaten at the banquet hall of state robbers.

They enabled the elephant ravage the land.

When the villa and other houses collapse

from their victims’ storm of tears and blood,

let those who hedged their bets with the rogue

not declare themselves an arm of the revolution.

Let those who brought reinforcements to vandals

by filling social media, papers, and cable television

with interviews in which they took no stand for change

sheltering in war with those inside a rock of bodyguards

when others were homeless and swamped in denials

not claim any role in the fall of the elephant.

Let the tricksters not forget what they did

and wear the joyous garment of those tortured

after the fall of the elephant and the House.

Don’t commiserate with the family now homeless

from the country you scorched to amass wealth.

When folks steeped in suffering wake from nightmare,

let those who contributed to their heartbreaks

not come out and stab the air with their infected hands;

let them know the tearful public saw them hand-in-hand

and so despise them as much as the rogue elephant.


Educated at Ibadan and Syracuse Universities,Tanure Ojaide has published collections of poetry, novels, short story collections, memoirs, and self-authored and co-authored scholarly books. His awards include the Commonwealth Poetry Prize for the Africa Region, the All-Africa Okigbo Prize for Poetry, and the BBC Arts and Africa Poetry Award. He was the Winner of the UNC Charlotte’s First Citizens Bank Scholar Medal Award for 2005. In 2016 he won both the African Literature Association's Folon-Nichols Award for Excellence in Writing and the Nigerian National Order of Merit Award for the Humanities. In 2018 he co-won the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa. He has won the National Endowment for the Humanities grant, twice the Fulbright Senior Scholar fellowship, and twice the Carnegie African Diaspora Program fellowship. He is a Fellow of both the Nigerian Academy of Letters and the Association of Nigerian Authors. Ojaide is currently the Frank Porter Graham Professor of Africana Studies at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.



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