“There’s a Land Beyond These Waters”: An essay by Emmanuel Ikem Bertrand

By: Emmanuel Ikem Bertrand
from Amurri, Enugu, Nigeria

There’s a land beyond this water. You may not have paddled your way to it or stretched your
eyes enough to glimpse its travails, but there’s a land miles away from where your enticing
riches are blooming.

There are worlds confined within the walls of poverty – a name that ruthlessly obscure their
true colors from the eyes of the peering world. Poverty is more popular than the most
popular celebrity in Hollywood. So many persons fail to stop and consider that there could
be a heart-consuming pain flaming beneath the skin of that fame.

You may not have gone beyond the confinement of your riches to discover that there’s a
land in Africa, after every water that separated you from the rest of the world,
where infant mortality is no news to weep over, since it’s as familiar as the whistling of the
wind, and in most cases as certain as the coming of darkness.

You could be an African breed, knowing all her beauty and splendor. But I bet you’ve never
imagined a vast world outside your little enclosure, harboring the countless downtrodden of
this generation, who live through days without the certainty of winning a grain of rice from the
lottery of their drudges and who only have swamp or polluted waters that appease their thirst.

And of course you may never get to know the hell they pass through to get to the heaven of a
poorly equipped healthcare centre, since they dwell miles away from your don’t-approach-me
castle – where at a dial of a telephone, dozens of physicians queue to defend your life from an
accusing death.

Yet, if truly all men trace the same source, then beyond these waters dwells your poor family
whom the harsh wind of life has tossed into the dungeon of hopelessness. There, also, is your
poor village whose children perish in the hand of such conquerable diseases as Measles,
Polio, Malaria, River-blindness, and a basket full of the rest.

I know you’ve never considered it. But I thank God you’re still alive. You can yet build bridges
over these waters and link the infant souls and dreams ravished by penury to your future of
great abundance. So that the generation to come will not only celebrate your talent, wealth
and fame, but your kind heart which raised dead dreams, revived dying souls and alleviated

Believe me, there’s a land beyond any water you see, where flowering stars are falling before
their twilight. Yes, infant stars who are yet to taste the light of the sun are falling at Amurri
in Nigeria, at Soweto in South Africa, at ………….in Kenya, at ………………….. in Niger,
at ……………….in India, at …………………..in………. And the list is nearly as endless as
eternity. I call them “The Mirrors of the World”. Look into their eyes; whatever you behold of
yourself is exactly how you are.

You may not be able to change their life, but you can add a meaning to it. Don’t help
everyone; that will be obviously asking for the impossible. Just help someone and let’s see
where the star shall lead us.

Even when out of your Elephant Purse you lift an invaluable Ant of a gift you turn your back
and disregard the insatiable greed in men’s tongue. Whether they utilize it for your intended
course or not, you’ve played your part. Yes you have, but please, don’t turn your back till you
see a child smiling.

Sorry you tasted a piece of my heart from a bitter voice. Yet, this is not the pot of it – you
know how incapable the hands could be in interpreting the words of the heart. But beneath
the consciousness of my incapability, I believe the truth is prevalent in this tiny piece: “there’s
a land beyond this water”, which yearns to welcome your Boat.

Emmanuel Ikem Bertrand is a poet, screenwriter, motivational speaker, and Gospel enthusiast from Nigeria. He can be reached at ikembertrand@msn.com.

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