Unknown Soldiers


By Pèlúmi Sàlàḱ

On the 18th of August, 1977, over 1000 soldiers gathered at Kalakuta, Fela’s abode. They burnt his house & musical instruments, assaulted his family, and threw his mother to her death.

The music cannot be handcuffed
so they try to snuff its conduit.

We were all here in the open, watching,
when men in green fatigues tried

to end a long chapter of resistance
with bullets prancing

for Kalakuta’s prophet,
weighing force against truth,

jackboots dispensing
the ballet of hate.

Women whose waist only knew
Afrobeat whine to acrid music —

Wail & tears rise to join this
pandemic of blood, and at the apex,

someone threw the amazon, Funmilayo,
headfirst to a storeyed death. There,

the slate of history fractured like Kuti’s
scarred hip. The prophet picked

his mic but only coffins proceed.
This is what a country gives you for loving.



Pèlúmi Sàlàkọ́ writes from North Central, Nigeria where he presently studies for a Bachelor of Arts in History and International Studies. His writings have appeared or are forthcoming in Jacarpress, Ngiga Review, The Rising Phoenix Review, Pallette Poetry, Agbowo, Down River Road, The Drinking Gourd, We Are Antifa: Expressions against fascism, racism and police violence in the United States and beyond, Memento: An anthology of contemporary Nigerian Poetry, elsewhere. He tweets @Salakobabaa