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Ghana Calls

Dedicated to Kwame Nkrumah

I was a little boy, at home with strangers.

I liked my playmates, and knew well,

Whence all their parents came;

From England, Scotland, royal France

From Germany and oft by chance

The humble Emerald Isle.

But my brown skin and close-curled hair

Was alien, and how it grew, none knew;

Few tried to say, some dropped a wonderful word or stray;

Some laughed and stared.

And then it came: I dreamed.

I placed together all I knew

All hints and slurs together drew.

I dreamed.

I made one picture of what nothing seemed

I shuddered in dumb terror

In silence screamed,

For now it seemed this I had dreamed;

How up from Hell, a land had leaped

A wretched land, all scorched and seamed

Covered with ashes, chained with pain

Streaming with blood, in horror lain

Its very air a shriek of death

And agony of hurt.

Anon I woke, but in one corner of my soul

I stayed asleep.

Forget I could not,

But never would I remember

That hell-hoist ghost

Of slavery and woe.

I lived and grew, I worked and hoped

I planned and wandered, gripped and coped

With every doubt but one that slept

Yet clamoured to awaken.

I became old; old, worn and gray;

Along my hard and weary way

Rolled war and pestilence, war again;

I looked on Poverty and foul Disease

I walked with Death and yet I knew

There stirred a doubt: Were all dreams true?

And what in truth was Africa?

One cloud-swept day a Seer appeared,

All closed and veiled as me he hailed

And bid me make three journeys to the world

Seeking all through their lengthened links

The endless Riddle of the Sphinx.

I went to Moscow; Ignorance grown wise taught me Wisdom;

I went to Peking: Poverty grown rich

Showed me the wealth of Work

I came to Accra.

Here at last, I looked back on my Dream;

I heard the Voice that loosed

The Long-looked dungeons of my soul

I sensed that Africa had come

Not up from Hell, but from the sum of Heaven’s glory.

I lifted up mine eyes to Ghana

And swept the hills with high Hosanna;

Above the sun my sight took flight

Till from that pinnacle of light

I saw dropped down this earth of crimson, green and gold

Roaring with color, drums and song.

Happy with dreams and deeds worth more than doing

Around me velvet faces loomed

Burnt by the kiss of everlasting suns

Under great stars of midnight glory

Trees danced, and foliage sang;

The lilies hallelujah rang

Where robed with rule on Golden Stool

The gold-crowned Priests with duty done

Pour high libations to the sun

And danced to gods.

Red blood flowed rare ’neath close-clung hair

While subtle perfume filled the air

And whirls and whirls of tiny curls

Crowned heads.

Yet Ghana shows its might and power

Not in its color nor its flower

But in its wondrous breadth of soul

Its Joy of Life

Its selfless role

Of giving.

School and clinic, home and hall

Road and garden bloom and call

Socialism blossoms bold

On Communism centuries old.

I lifted my last voice and cried

I cried to heaven as I died:

O turn me to the Golden Horde

Summon all western nations

Toward the Rising Sun.

From reeking West whose day is done,

Who stink and stagger in their dung

Toward Africa, China, India’s strand

Where Kenya and Himalaya stand

And Nile and Yang-tze roll:

Turn every yearning face of man.

Come with us, dark America:

The scum of Europe battened here

And drowned a dream

Made fetid swamp a refuge seem:

Enslaved the Black and killed the Red

And armed the Rich to loot the Dead;

Worshipped the whores of Hollywood

Where once the Virgin Mary stood

And lynched the Christ.

Awake, awake, O sleeping world

Honor the sun;

Worship the stars, those vaster suns

Who rule the night

Where black is bright

And all unselfish work is right

And Greed is Sin.

And Africa leads on:

Pan Africa!