Who placed a crown upon your head
and adorned you with royal robes?
Is your blood thicker than the red in our veins?
Or is it different, is it of a purple shade?
Who put a gavel in your right hand,
the staff of justice in your left?
Are the laws of the land entrenched deeper in your psyche than in ours?
Is there a halo we cannot see, hovering around your holy head?
Hello there, Voice of the people.
Do you purloin words from our mouths and cram them into yours?
Or do you spew words from your mouth and label it ours?
Do you speak because you have a higher pitch?
Do you sing because you own a birdlike song?
Who bestowed upon you this authority?
God, you say?
Show us the certificate He wrote,
to defend your claim.
An angel delivered it to your doorstep, no?
Pray, tell us his name.
Our knees will kiss the floor in reverence,
as we spread our garments for your will to ride into our hearts,
only when you answer the question we ponder,
who made you ruler and judge over us?
Questions are, in my opinion, the most effective way to challenge people- their actions, thoughts and beliefs. This poem was written in the course of my meditation on a question Emmanuel Iduma posed to a group of people who were participating in a writing workshop, including me. We were discussing the politics of our writing and most of us stated that writers are the spokespersons, the voice of the people. He then said, “But who gave us the authority?”
I tried to form a conclusive answer, and I am still trying.
When we write on matters arising, offering our opinions, judgements and prescriptions (which is a good act in itself) we believe we are speaking on behalf of the general public, or an affected group of people, but where does the right to do that stem from? Is it just a part of our fundamental human rights? Does it emanate from a sense of God-given responsibility, self-imposed duty, or social obligation to the world we belong to? Or does it, like a friend of mine said, emanate from a sense of requital in appreciation to the heroes ahead of us who have helped us advocate for a cause?
Is the need to advocate for people simply innate?
I think these questions are necessary because it helps us understand ourselves and our world. It serves as a measure of the nobleness of our intentions in our use of words and actions.
When we can honestly identify the source of our authority, it will show forth in our words and work, empowering us to command the listening ears and approving hearts of people.
It enables your audience know why it is your voice that should be heeded amidst the other voices contending for attention.
Since I’ve already thrown a barrage of questions at you, I might as well end with one. What do you think about this ‘authority’ I (and Iduma) speak of?