An African’s Lament


By Foluke Ifejola Adebisi (PhD), who teaches law at the Law School, University of Bristol. Foluke is an academic, a public speaker, a creative writer, a musician, a spoken word poet and a blogger. Her blog Foluke’s African Skies is dedicated to Africa and her diasporas, it is an examination of Africa through critical discourse, humour, poetry, and personal reflection.


Is there nothing left?

What became of the mighty kingdoms of Jukun and Kanem-Bornu?

The Empires of Benin, Mali, Mossi, Oyo, Kitara, Wolof, Songhai?


What became of the people whose stories brought travellers from far off lands to these shores?

Travellers who gazed in wonder at the magnificent splendour of the majesty and the masquerade?

Who remembers the exploits of kings and queens whose legends imbued them with indisputable divinity?


Who could withstand Idris Alooma?

Who would not admire Queen Amina of Kano?

Who would not make obeisance before Ovonramwen Nogbaisi?

Would you not shake before Shaka Zulu?

Or kneel before Queen Nzinga?

Would you not be dazzled by Sunni Ali?

Or celebrate Sundiata?

Would you not have kissed the feet of Kabaka Mwanga?

Or feared annihilation by the N’Nonmiton?

What became of the riches of Benin?

The wealth of Mansa Musa?

The splendour of the Asante?

The gold of Buganda?

The gold of Yeke?

The gold of Lunda?


Is there nothing left?

Have we sold our souls for a pittance?

Our land for a penny?

Our future for rubble?

Our freedom for blood, devastation, and war?


What will we leave to our children but tales of dust and despair?

What is left of the darkness of the night?


But we are what is left.

Empires may rise and empires may fall,

But the African spirit is strong, the African heart remains.

We may have eaten a dinner of death and disgust, bitterness and gall.

But we shall rise once more, we shall rebuild again.

Because we are what is left of the night.

And the dark night will flee before us.

The fire burning in our bellies is a resolute spirit, unwavering, unbending, constant, eternal.

Because we are Africa.

We are the lightning and the rain,

The flood and the forests,

We are the midnight whisper and the noonday wail.

We are darkness and magic, we are silence and thunder.

We are the storm.

We are Africa.

We are Africa!