Excerpt: “Oh Sick Man of Africa” from Kehinde A. Ayoola’s The Running Woman


Oh sick man of Africa.
What is your problem?
You’ve got the sea at your feet,
Great rivers surround you.
Even greater is your climate.
No soil is more fertile than yours,
No nation can boast of stronger youths.
Yet you wallow in underdevelopment.

Oh sick man of Africa.
Tell me your problem.
Tell me why your children scramble
And struggle desperately to leave you?
Why are your sons and daughters,
Stampeding and being stampeded
At the gates of foreign embassies
In desperate bid to leave your shores?

The children of your youth
Are now parading themselves abroad
Unashamedly as second class citizens
Unappreciated in unfamiliar territories.
The abducting country picks
And sorts them like pears and apples
Finding various uses for them
While their children sleep blissfully.
The ones with training in liberal arts
He sentences to the array of menial jobs,
Chores that real citizens won’t touch
Not with a bargepole.


Your doctors, nurses and pharmacists,
Young children trained with your sweat,
Now care for other people and children
Who had no knowledge of their education.
They are rewarded daily with complaints
And phenomenal racial humiliations.
But your pensioners, women and
Children groan and expire daily like fowls
From attack by curable diseases.
Your engineers, scientists, teachers
Have become expert street sweepers
Professional plate washers and
First class office cleaners overseas.
They are the strength of Manchester
The prostitutes of Rome, the brains of
Brooklyn and the scavengers of Brussels.
Your businessmen now help to
Secure business premises overseas.
They are the touting cabbies
In the West End of London.
Collectors of discarded TV sets,
Refrigerators and cookers
From Frankfurt to Oslo.
Shameless importers of second hand
Suits and underwear, worn out tyres,
Condemned car parts are gleefully
Shipped home to help in the
Decimation of your popular.

Nutrition, Health and Education.
The tripod on which the soup of
A notion never goes to waste
Scares you like hungry lions.
It has become a forest of demons
That you dare not venture into.
Oh sick man of Africa,
What is your problem?

Kehinde A. Ayoola
(an excerpt from The Running Woman)

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