The COAS, Lt. Gen. TY Buratai is a bundle of talents. A famed soldier, he is also a consummate and prolific poet. General Buratai selects his poetic themes carefully and dwells on very touchy contemporary issues. He infuses into his poetry very powerful emotions while crafting his thoughts.
In a poetic piece titled; “Are You A Terrorist?,” General Buratai examined the wretched and rustic life of a terrorist. He identifies actions or concealed inactions of seeming onlookers which bear trademarks of terrorism.
In the opening stanza, the poet begins with series of rhetorical questions. He presents and compares two general lifestyles at the disposal of the terrorist.
One portrays the beauty of an alluring life, in a normal world a terrorist denies himself. He contrasts it with the ignoble beast- like and lonely life he imposes on himself by living with chirruping birds and dangerous reptiles in forests, caves and mountains, perpetually dreading his shadows.
He writes; “Living in the jungle or in the city?/ The city in everyday life embodies all the niceties and comfort life can offer. In this realm of normality, there are limitless opportunities of comfort and a prosperous life for the individual.
And the next line again asks the terrorists whether he prefers a squalid life, “In the market place or in the park?/Roaming the city streets or the bush paths?”
While the poet portrays two worlds, the stanza intimates that the terrorist foist on himself, life of squalor and misery, even when he kisses the city gates. He is a tout for chosing the life of blood and destructions and so, denies himself of the goodies of existence.
The poet proceeds to mock the terrorist’s imposition of deprivations on himself. He writes; “Breaking terror news from a reporter;” because a terrorist is the harbinger of bad news; he pleasures in propagating gory pictures of victims of his sadism.
The poet sermonizes that a terrorist is very scared to break his own news freely like other normal human beings. This in itself alludes to his mental derangement.
It is explicable because he is cursed by a cruel fate. That terrorists also deprive themselves of the pleasures life offers by satanic wickedness is alluded in this verse; “Or breaking hearts in the worship places?” Even in sacred places, they exhibit their satanism.
And in the third stanza, the poet parodies the convictions of the terrorist, as he says; “Are you a terrorist?”
He continues by challenging the guts and might of a terrorist who swims in false illusion about the defeat of humanity by atrocious acts. He says a terrorist is an imbecile and feeble-minded, “Who believes all others not of him are lost? /Or he who believes those who fight.”
And the poet submits reassuringly that a terrorist erroneously believes troops who battle them in trenches,
“In defence of citizens have no faith?/ A cause and a patriotic faith they have.” Now, the poet goes into outright deriding of terrorists, who in the mindset of the poet are paperweight in the battles they start.
In the next stanza, the poet comes out more forcefully against terrorists misconceptions and ideological bent. Permanently relying on the style of repetition, he again asks; “Are you a terrorist?,” The poet thinks, terrorists are effiminate warriors who are barren of valour to face real gallant men like Nigerian troops on the battlefield.
Rather, they sneak in the dead of the night to unleash violence on helpless women, children and their aged parents, only to lay false claims to bravity. But they are nothing other than cowards who scamper at the sight of battle with troops too many times.
The poet explains further that the terrorist is a cursed fighter, “Who sees only one course to his ascendancy/Or who provides many reasons to blame/Those patriots that daily sacrifice for the nation?”
Having drenched the soul of the terrorists in ascerbic tirades and invectives, he migrates to innuendic allusion to sympathizers and agents of terrorists. Searching their ungodly souls, the poet descends heavily on the dead consciences of these set of another children of Adam and Eve obviously under a curse.
He asks, “Are you a terrorist?/
Who remains mute when the enemy strikes/ The innocent but blames the patriotic/Forces without offering any civic hand?”
Terrorists agents and sympathisers who display pretentious empathy for the nation under the spell of terrorism exposes themselves wittingly. According to the poet, their antics are not only known, but the message is conveyed very poignantly by their silence in the face of action to appease the wailing blood of the innocent crying for justice.
The poet campaigner is saying it is absolutely nonsensical to blame troops when Boko Haram accomplices either cleverly encourage terrorism by reneging to enlist in the fight or project a perforated sense of patriotism.
There is a lengthy scolding of disparate categories of veiled shadowy existence of terrorists in many subsisting sub-sets who pose as saints. While the poet tries as much as possible not to offend their sensibilities, he repeats same question; “Are you a terrorist?”
And he provides answers,an indication from the answers that terrorists sympathisers function in a wild range, which include those “Who supports the enemy’s propaganda/ Or who attacks the patriots’ genuine psychological operations/Or who condemns policies toward solutions?”
Perusing the poets mind, it connotes that a terrorist includes that politician who kicks against Government policies designed to end terrorism or the cronies he recruits for this purpose. They include the formal and informal pen pushers who regales in hyping or celebrating terrorists publicity stunts. They are all guilty of cyberspace terrorism, the poet mutters mildly.
And the next stanza explains it more pungently and heartingly. In the last phase of the repetition,”Are You A Terrorist?,” the poet punctures this issue which obsesses his mind all day and every minute, as he crafts the poem.
He thunders condescendingly and condemnably on allies of terrorists. The poem asks unreservedly and asserts that by your actions, you have affinity with terrorists if you are the personality, “Who is quick to spread the fake news?”
Or the type who is eager to “Spread any adverse news on the patriots?/
Or who always finds faults of the patriots/ In the fields or in their abodes.”
The overriding preoccupation of the poet is to examine the operative nuaunces of terrorists and terrorism. Through a unique poetic style of repetition, an impressive use of the stream of consciousness and mastery of diction, he finely conveys a contemporary message on terrorism which touches every heart penetratively.
The poet fruitfully counsels all not only to resent terrorists and abhor terrorism, but always be a patriot and never a terrorist.
Best Agbese, a patriot and PhD student at University of Dundee, wrote from Scotland.