post Magicians of Indigofera

March 1st, 2011

Filed under: Literature Corner — Natty Mark Samuels @ 11:46

Magicians of Indigofera
to the Master Dyers of Kano

We’ve become Magicians Of Indigofera.
Those of us who have worked long,
At the pits of Kofa Mata.

I was seventy-five two days ago.
And since the age of six,
I have worked the dye pits of Kano.

Everyday I have dipped and soaked.
To embellish the turban,
The robe and the cloak.

Here comes the Tuareg man.
Here comes the men of the Emir.
Here comes the humble Mallam.

These pits five centuries old.
Indigo, water, potassium and ash;
The craft of working blue gold.

Recognised trademark of the Hausa
To the blue- robed black- turbanned men,
Away across the Sahara.

These pits six metres deep,
Have bestowed upon me dignity,
Blessed my children with peaceful sleep.


Many elders have seen their last sun.
Ancient skills gone elsewhere.
Where are their sons and grandsons?

The Battles of the Foreign Fabrics
Have taken them away from here,
To try other trades and tactics.

Though the foreign cloth is cheaper,
Magnet for the poor man;
Our hand-woven cloth is stronger.

So many pits lying fallow,
Full of rubbish and of stones;
I cry for you great Kano.

I work beside the crumbling walls.
Alongside the disused pits,
Diminished piles of indigo balls.

Ancient Brew of Indigo Blue.
From the dye pits of Kofa Mata,
From the weaver to me to you.

©Natty Mark Samuels, 2011.

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