May 4th, 2016
HART Prize for Human Rights: the Junior Creative category’s winning entries of 2016!
1st Prize Winner – ‘i write of things i do not know’ by Opefoluwa Sarah Adegbite
“My poem is about the continual political, social and economic difficulties in Nigeria at the moment. I am a Nigerian, but born in the UK, and having only been there once, my poem is correct in saying ‘I write of things I do not know.’ Poverty amidst wealth is seen in the second part of the poem, where people of different wealth and culture are interwoven in ordinary ways. I am passionate about creating poetry that affects people deeply, and writing about this has made me realize the deeper problems of countries that I cannot begin to understand. Not knowing the true Nigeria shows my perception of it from all the way across Africa and Europe. This poem is, in a way, the view of a conflicted Nigeria from a Nigerian girl, who has only visited Nigeria once.” – Opefoluwa Sarah Adegbite
i write of things i do not know
i wrote a poem about children starving in africa, babies and their hearts dying
of cholera and typhoid. i wrote a poem ranting against discrimination, from the
wretched comfort of my own home. AND IT WAS ALL IN CAPITAL LETTERS,
TO SHOW I WAS SHOUTING; TO SHOW I CARED.
yet my mouth was silent, sealed tight, stitches of fear ran wonkily
through those pale lips, closed lips, fearful lips. Miss read the poem;
it travelled through muddy brown hands and a postage stamp stabbed through its
back to get to her. my smudged ink, folded pages, sat in the back
of a cargo plane; itching to be read, to be understood, to be consumed
with buzzing eyes. and Miss replied:
how are you to know we are starving, my child?
have you been to nigeria lately, sweet girl?
how are you to know we are dying?
and she is right. for i write of things i do not know, and i sing melodies my ears would
bleed if i heard sung more sweetly by someone more honest than me; and i stand on
stages to read these poems and i stay away from the conflict i have poured onto
the dead sheets of trees.
the little girl who lives on less than two dollars a day
bumps into the tall man who spouts oil from his bank account. and he drops
a tight wad of cash on the paved streets of his home; a sheet cloth beggar
picks it up, lifts his eyes to the clouds and tosses into a pocket. he sits above a
hole carved into Abuja’s streets, a shrunken blanket is his home; eyes sunken into
thoughtful skulls have now become his only possession.
the young boy with wrists the colour of Saturn slips down the hole;
blurred images of political promises unkept scar his brain,
slowly inching his thin-boned body into the darkness. it is only the darkness, he feels,
that can heal the sunburn he has received. the boy’s sister lies
in the hands of boko haram, and every day the boy’s mother
leans over their home and lifts her hands to the blood red sky,
and she sings songs to God; tunes so sweet they make his ears
bleed, and he offers his heart on a platter to heaven. — he drags one hand
along the pimpled, bulging wall. there is a cruel carving shoved into this concrete hole and
each word is made of wisps, each sentence
stringed together with yoruba tones.
mama, please. i beg you – shovel jollof rice
and stew down my mouth. pummel plantain into
the canals of my ears, peppery peppery – it is only God who can save us now.
mama, stuff moi moi; chin chin; do do, as far as
they will go.
mama, they will mock if i call Nigeria my home;
for i write of things i do not know.
2nd Prize Winner – ‘The Silence in Sudan and South Sudan’ by Martha Harrison
“This short film endeavors to highlight how even in this golden age of social media and 21st century communication, there are still people suffering silently in this world. This video addresses the hardship the Sudanese population is facing in the areas of Sudan’s Blue Nile and South Kordofan, and how the Sudanese government is preventing them from the humanitarian aid they desperately need.” – Martha Harrison
3rd Prize Winner – ‘Cast out Caste’ Sadie Carder
“My art piece focusses on the caste system in India, and shows how the ‘untouchables’ are segregated and discriminated against simply because of the family they are born into.” – Sadie Carder
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