Tuesday, April 24, 2012

'Ras Nasibu of Ogaden' & 'Ras Desta': Marcus Garvey's two poems in honor of Ethiopian heroes

The founder of Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) & charismatic Black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey is known for his fiery speeches as staunch proponent of Black pride and oneness of Black race. Through his speeches and writings Garvey has instilled in Blacks of the New World the sense of black self-love and black self-consciousness. He taught that the New World Africans are part of the widely dispersed Ethiopian nation, which had a rich heritage and would one day would be emanicipated to reclaim their past glory as foretold in Biblical passage: "Princes shall come out of Egypt. Ethiopia shall soon stretch forth her hand unto God." Here is a link to one of his speeches entitled "Ethiopia shall stretch forth her hands unto God"

What is not known by many is that Garvey also wrote poems more than two dozens of them. These poems were published in the form of a book or appeared in Black Man magazine he published. Among the poems he wrote are the following written in honor of two Ethiopian leaders of the resistance war against Italian invasion. 75 years ago this month the poem written in honor of Ras Desta Damtew appeared in March/April 1937 Issue of Black Man magazine. The poem written in honor of Ras Nasibu ZeAmanuel was written earlier and was published in the January/February issue of the same magazine.

 Ras Nasibu Of Ogaden

A king has fallen on the field-
The field of war, but not by shot,
Nor even through a broken shield:
He died in exile-awful lot!
Ras Nasibu of Ogaden
Is he-the greatest of his tribe-
The man who led his valiant men
With Wehib Pasha at his side.

fie died in Switzerland-afar,
Of broken heart in his exile:
He saw the end of that sad war
In which he fought without a smile.
The Brute of Italy had sent
His liquid flames of steady death
And tanks that ploughed and also rent
The land and stole the hero's breath.

This Mussolini, vile of heart,
Who plagues the world with devil tricks,
Has caused a king to lose his part
In building glory with his bricks.
The dream of Abyssinia, great,
Was dear to Nasibu's own heart;
But he has met an awful fate,
And failed in this to do his part.

The Negroes of the world shall wait
To take their stand against the foe,,
And when they fight to win their State
They'll make Italians drink their woe.
A Fascist king shall never rule
The Blacks of all the lands we know:
The Negro shall be no foot-stool,
But give to all the seeds they sow.

Let's honour Nasibu's fair name,
And damn the Mussolini tribe:
This Abyssinian's splendid fame
Shall live through pen of Negro scribe.
Look out for time, that's comin' soon,
To strike Italian Fascists down:
To us 'twill be a glorious boon
To have them sprawling on the ground.


Ras Desta
The flow'r of a nation's strength
Had thrown their valour and their might
Against the charging hordes of death
In history's most unequal fight!
One man remained-the last of them-
To stand for Ethiopia:
All else surrendered, died or fled
But, he, the lion-hearted-Ras Desta.

Graziani, Italian butcher
Had valiant Desta quickly shot,
To seal his lips and tie his hands
In fear of what he called a plot.
With death of such a noble man,
A reign has passed to history;
But time will bring to us again
More men to fight for victory.



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