IMO - An Igbo poem praising the great river in Igboland


Your name is Imo
If you ignore the pot, it extinguishes the fire
Dry meat fills the mouth.

A traveler has no enemies!
Does one know those who will become chiefs?


Great river that begins in my father's land
And stays small until it reaches a town and becomes an ocean
The whole world reaps benefits from you.


Old woman
You came out when the land was not strong
Before my ancestors bore Isu
Before Isu bore Ezinaihite
Before our great land became a great land
Strong men's land, beautiful River, River of life
Well-known River. Towns up ahead of you
Towns of men, towns of the strong
Your highways are strong ropes that hold us
Your waters are food that nourishes
Giving us wealth and power


River overcomes the basket and slings the leopard skin 

around its neck

I want no other river
I want no other country
Do not give me other food
I will not live in another country

It is the Imo and I
In death and in life.

                      Ihechukwu Madụbụike
                      (February 16, 1977)

Things from various traditional stories are in this poem. The mouth of
the Imo is in Isuochi, near Okigwe. Isu was the son of Ochi and also
the father of Ezi na ihite.

Ọ ta sịkọrọrọ. Where the mouth of the Imo is in Isuochi is a place called
Ụmụakụ. It is a small stream running gently, or sịkọrọrọ. Ọta sịkọrọrọ is an
onomatopoeic word showing how this water drips in the pot. 

1 comment:

  1. Great Job!! Love this write up, may be because i am from Isuochi! But this is wonderful!