Does the earth turn?
In cycles, in circles of turns…
The earth turns, yet it does not
The sterile never does the womb dance
Nor the eunuch celebrate songs of birth
The vulture never refuses the ritual’s entrails
As the hyena never struts with the clan of dogs
The dung beetle does not travel empty-handed
The ember-carrier catches haste homeward
The dog’s dream, lives in the dog
The wisdom of pigs rots with the pig
The bushrat may strut, it will not become the hunter
The bastard may imitate, it will remain father’s counterfeit
When my lion roars, the earth swallows the fox on prowl.
Does the world turn?
The earth turns, yet it does not…
– Remi Raji
translated from Yoruba by the author
Òbìrìkótó, Ayé ńyí bìrí bí?
Òbìrìkótó, ayíbírí, ayìbìrí…
Ayé ńyi ́bìrí, bẹ́ẹ̀ni kò re’bì kankan
Lákíríboto, wọn kìi ́gb’ọ́mọ jó
Ẹgbẹ́ òkóbó, wọn kìí ṣ’ayẹyẹ ìbí.
Ìran igún kan kìí d’ẹbọ nù
Ikọ̀ ìkookò kan kìí k’ẹ́gbẹ́ ajá
Yínmínyínmin kìí sán’wọ́ r’àjò
Bẹ́ẹ̀ni kò s’áfọwọ́fọnná tíí dúró ṣ’awẹ́wa
Àlá ajá, a gbé’nú ajá pẹ́ pẹ́ pẹ́…
Ọgbọ́n ẹlẹ́dẹ̀, a gbé’nú ẹlẹ́dẹ̀ rà bí ìtì ọ̀gẹ̀dẹ̀
B’ókété fẹ’sẹ̀ méjì rìn, kò lè p’adán ọdẹ
Ọmọ àlè lè f’ara jọ ni, kò lè ṣe bíi baba mi
Bí kìnìun mi búú, kọ̀lọ̀kọ̀lọ̀ a bìlà.
Òbìrìkótó, ayé ńyí bí?
Ayé ńyí bìrí, bẹ́ẹ̀ni, kò re’bì kankan…
– Remi Raji
Remi Raji is the pen name of the award winning, Nigerian poet and scholar, Aderemi Raji-Oyelade. He is the author of six collections of poetry, including A Harvest of Laughters (Kraftbooks, 1997), which was the joint winner of the Association of Nigerian Authors/ Cadbury Poetry Prize and the winner of the Association of West African Young Writers’ VOCA Award for Best First Published Book. His most recent collection, Sea of My Mind (Kraftbooks, 2013), was shortlisted for the NLNG Prize for Poetry. He is a Salzburg Fellow and has been a visiting professor and writer at several institutions, including Cambridge University. He has received national and international recognition. Aderemi Raji-Oyelade is the recipient of the 2017 Humboldt Alumni Award for Innovative Networking Initiatives and the 2017 Humboldt Kolleg International Conference Grant which will be hosted by University of Ibadan in 2018.