To Liberty

Margaret Busby

For your birthday

I wanted to dance and sing


                                        intoLerance snarled, “Keep still!”

                                              Injustice demanded, “Stop the music!”

                                             Bigotry taunted, “Be afraid!”

                                  prejudicE yelled, “You don’t belong!”

                                        oppRession roared, “That’s forbidden!”

                               discriminaTion hissed, “Silence!”

                                     tyrannY decreed, “No touching allowed!”                

Then it was cold,

airless and solitary,

dark walls crowding round and low,

until constant friends took my hand, our song soared up towards the sun,

unbound steps spinning us to sanctuary

at least to dream




Margaret Busby, OBE, born in Ghana and educated in Britain, is a writer, editor, critic, broadcaster and consultant. Co-founder and former editorial director of the London-based publishing house Allison & Busby Ltd, she also compiled the pioneering anthology Daughters of Africa (1992), has contributed to many publications (notably The Guardian and The Independent), and has written award-winning drama for BBC radio and for the stage. She has served as a judge for several literary prizes (including the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, the Caine Prize for African Writing, the Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, the Orange Prize, the SI Leeds Literary Award and the Commonwealth Book Prize) and has been associated with various international cultural initiatives in the fields of literature, art, music and theatre. She is currently chair of the board of Wasafiri magazine. 

While government watches you, who watches the government?