Otuekong Orok Otu Duke
By Orok Otu Duke
This Nigeria Navy ship was utilized
In the liberation of Calabar in 1967
And had returned to say thank you.
In excitement and celebration,
NNS Nigeria was anchored at NPA quay,
To enable the public to visit and appreciate.
NPA quays lie within Anansa’s lair –
Anansa, Ikang Obutong.
Then halfway through the celebrations,
One of the jetties caved in
And took scores down:
Students and civil servants, traders and women’s groups –
Were amongst those that drowned.
There was confusion in the town,
Copses were all trapped beneath the warship
And only floated after the ship had departed
To its Lagos base.
Relatives and others from the village,
Lined the muddy banks,
They had not seen others yet,
But had recovered sixty bodies
From Henshaw town beach
And conveyed same to Hawkins’ road cemetery’s mortuary,
For identification and autopsy examinations.
These were corpses of the missing ones –
Some of which the river had seized.
There was now
A pervading feeling of sobriety
And ostensible substance.
All the unheeded warnings
Had brought reality to
The chickens had come home to roost.
The village head’s first son,
The heir apparent,
Was also among the missing ones.
Pestilence was just staring at them in the face,
Waiting for a confirmation,
That the abomination
That was foretold
But was long circumvented,
Was upon them at last.
Fate was about to decide their course:
In apprehension and darkness,
Their spirits sought hope and promises
As they waited patiently for the signs.
Five hundred copses were recovered at last,
Ekpo Okon was among those that the river took.
Duke, writes from Duke Town, Calabar