Nigerian writer Ben Okri recently penned a powerful poem paying tribute to the victims the Grenfell Tower in London. Okri’s eulogy while expressing grief, also expresses anger in the circumstances surrounding the tragedy, which was avoidable.
Okri is organising an event to raise funds for those who survived the Kensington inferno in which police estimate 79 people were killed.
His poem captures the relations between the poor and the rich in which the poor vote for the rich hoping they can be saved. It captures how profit margins had decided their deaths long before they died, it also captures the sad reality of greed and how it has the power to take away lives of the poor whose dreams are always entrenched in hard work, hoping for a better future for the future generations.
“If you want to see how the poor die, come see Grenfell Tower.
See the tower, and let a world-changing dream flower.
Residents of the area call it the crematorium.
It has revealed the undercurrents of our age.
The poor who thought voting for the rich would save them.
The poor who believed all that the papers said.
The poor who listened with their fears.
The poor who live in their rooms and dream for their kids.
The poor are you and I, you in your garden of flowers,
In your house of books, who gaze from afar
At a destiny that draws near with another name.
Sometimes it takes an image to wake up a nation
From its secret shame. And here it is every name
Of someone burnt to death, on the stairs or in their room,
Who had no idea what they died for, or how they were betrayed.
They did not die when they died; their deaths happened long
Before. It happened in the minds of people who never saw
Them. It happened in the profit margins. It happened
In the laws. They died because money could be saved and made.”