GONG (the conversation continues): Three response poems by Oluwafemi Babasola

Image by Cindy Lever from Pixabay

Editorial Note:

Response poetry / poetry in conversation holds a special place at Praxis. In August, we published a response by Adedayo Ademokoya to a poem from Oluwafemi Babasola that appeared at Braveartsafrica. Today, we are pleased to offer you the next part of the conversation, in which Oluwafemi Babasola explores the questions of peace and warmongering from different points of view in three response poems. To follow the entire conversation, you can read the earlier parts of it at the links below:

GONGS by Oluwafemi Babasola (at Braveartsafrica)

GONG by Adedayo Ademokoya (August 2019, Praxis Magazine Online)

Poet’s Note:

This experience is amazing. I have tried to see this from different points of view and put those viewpoints into poems. I have come with three responses to Adedadayo Ademokoya’s poem. But at the end of this task is no end at all. This is what I mean. If my persona turns to peace, forsakes his ammunition and all. What will happen if his enemy refuses to make peace? What will happen if his enemy comes back for his pound of flesh? What will happen if peace becomes his undoing? Will he not return the the ways of wrath? Will this not bring worse fate?

So many questions at this juncture…

And yet…peace. Peace is everything to me.


The mention of your name
puts our enemy in disarray,
the smoke that goes ahead of your fire
turns daggers and swords into lead
in the hands of our enemy.

Think of how you have shone
in the shoes of your fathers.
Think of how your fearlessness has
put your name in our hearts and on your
enemy’s lips and how you are becoming
the standard with which generations to come
will measure their heroes.

Think of how your name is the gate
that protects us from invaders.
Think of how you are the mother hen
that protects its chicks from
these havoc thirsty men.

Think of how your torch illuminates our fears.
Great one, you are the light burning
vehemently for your people,
do not let this inner fear turn this
light into dying embers.

We all have fears,
perhaps, this inner fear is what separates men
from gods.

Think on these things.
Summon your fears.


Ever since we were boys
who danced the streets
in the innocence of our nakedness,

our fathers have fed us
with the cries of war, the chants of battle.
They told us the stories of the twisting of fates
like the flipping of a coin.

It is the man who is ruthless
who carries the love in his heart
as fire in his hands, as swords in hands
that has found the meaning of love.

It is he who keeps his kin safe
by the violence in his hands, it
is he who gives peace to his own.

He who has found the arsenal to keep
the things and people dear to his life
will journey through this place in

Your cowardice will lead you to
becoming a dry wood dancing in
the midst of embers waiting for sparks.
Do not listen to the words of their lips.
They are lies. They have never known peace.
They will never bring peace. Their words are a ploy
to keep you dettered, unprepared
like a desert for their floods.

Let not the pain you see them carry
weaken you,
remember, you suffered a worse fate.
Have you forgotten the humiliation
our wives saw, the children whisked away,

how our fathers were crushed while
our mothers were violated
how we as children watched the reaping of
the heads of our fathers?

My friend, think not in those lines,
we have been birthed into battle by wars
we did not start, wars ready to bring us to
dust if we do not have men like you to lead.

Do not think of unsending the floods
of war,

men like you should not die
the death of a yearning.
It is its abegnation that makes us men of valour,
men like you should not die
the death of a yearning,
but the death of wars.

It is such departures that befits
great men like you.

the path to the bird you shooed away

my friend, in your dilemma
over whether to seek peace
stop to consider:

when you war, your hands
shoo away the very bird
whose lullaby your heart
so longs to hear

when you war, your dreams
are filled with skulls and limbs
that send your eyes packing
from sleep

when you war, your streets
are filled with orphans carrying
their fathers’ femurs

my friend stop to consider:
war makes of us all victims,
the conqueror and the conquered

or can one’s victory in battle
be compared to its after taste
of a conquest wrapped with fear?

can one’s temporary victory
in battle be compared to the
inner yearning for peace
that replaces it?

my friend, while you consider
your reputation if you seek peace,
stop to consider:

your people have always followed you
ever since war made you their hero,
from the day your bravery started
standing in the way of those who
come against your people

my friend, stop to think
true bravery lies in doing the right,
not in being a slave to people’s opinion

war has presented to you a new path
only the true hero sees

it has given you a new fight
a new course to champion

my friend, this is the path to
the bird whose lullaby your heart
so longs to hear

on this path, take no guns
no swords or combat skills,

on this path, you let the bird
you once shooed away make
her nests in your heart and
in the hearts of your people,

on this path, your weapons
are a heart, a listening ear
and a pacifying tongue

my friend, this is the path
that brings the sunshine of
hope to unsend your floods

Oluwafemi Babasola believes man must cling to hope, even if it is all he has.When he is not writing, he enjoys conversations that challenge the mind to think.His poems have appeared on Bravearts Africa, Praxis Magazine Online, Kreative Diadem, The Rising Phoenix Review, TuckMagazine, Kalahari Review, African Writer, Parousia and Nantygreens. He lives in Osogbo, Nigeria. You can follow him on twitter.com/babasola10on10

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