by Tunji Offeyi

The refugee is blown away by the storm of life,

like a candle struggling against the strong wind,

like a roof blown off by the tornado.

The refugee finds himself in a desert without water:

when he looks for an oasis,

all he hears is the hiss of the desert cobra.

Running like Bolt,

he soon lands before the sea ruled by money-thirsty men,

who look away while the refugee sinks on the crowded dinghy,

in search of a refuge he can call home.

If fortune smiles on him,

he gets to the destination with cold weather,

far from his warmer climes.

Now he is faced with the uncertainty of explanations,

which, like the weather, are unpredictable.

Some will smile at him, while many will frown.

Clearly the struggle continues for the refugee,

who is like a snail without its shell.

When the refugee shows his working fingers –

full of strength to till the ground for food, in dignity –

authority says: Hold on!

We shall feed you peanuts, 

till the season comes for your fingers to serve.

Paralysed and emotionally brutalised,

like a dog bitten by rain running for shelter,

he can’t return home, 

can’t stay in peace in a strange land

where he is jeered at and accused of bringing infirmity.

Could it be that the refugee is not human?

Could it be that he has wronged the gods?

No, no! The refugee has been trapped

between the devil and the deep blue sea

by human design, not by the gods.

The refugees’ rivers of blood

are man-made, not an act of God.

Therefore, a little milk of compassion

is what will revive their tortured bodies –

to become somebody once again, in a strange land.

Let us spread love to them, not blame.

They are not game to be hunted on all sides:

they are just another human being like you, like me.

Love – like we need – is all they dream of, too.

This poem was kindly contributed by MOAS supporter Tunji Offeyi. If you feel inspired to create a poem, story or piece of art that we might be able to share, particularly on the experience of migration, please email [email protected]

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