Lasana M. Sekou is the pen name of H.H. Lake. Sekou was born on Aruba, but grew up on the partly French, partly Dutch island of Saint Maarten. He wrote not only poems, but also monologues, short stories and essays. Besides, he edited a book on the history and culture of Saint Maarten and a compilation of political essays: The Independence Papers – Readings on a New Political Status for St. Maarten/St. Martin.
Lasana M. Sekou is a truly engaged author. He feels passionately moved by the history of slavery and oppression which Saint Maarten knew en which has not yet loosened its grip on the island. For still, the inhabitants are suffering from poverty and dependence as a result of neocolonial patronization. And Sekou is sure they can only free themselves from this situation if they realize political independence for the whole island first. In the essay ‘Colony, Territory or Partner?’ he writes: ‘Political independence remains the time-tested, unavoidable and necessary first step to the true and widest possible social and material development for the individual and democracy and prosperity for the nation.’
Engagement is a keyword in Sekou’s poetry as well. In his poems he continually protests against exploitation, patronization and racial prejudice and he continually incites to resistance. ‘Do you hear our children?’ he asks in the poem ‘March on the frontier’: they tell everybody ‘that we marching on the frontier / that we marching on freedom future now / that we the rightful heirs / that we claiming s’maatin land / from guillotine blade and greed / and we can’t stop here.’
Caribbean poets like Sekou help building the identity of their native islands. They appeal to their people’s dignity and pride. This is beautifully illustrated by the poem ‘We self’, where Sekou makes use of the simple but powerful image of the rooster, which ‘can crow in he oan yard’.
[Lasana M. Sekou took part in the Poetry International Festival Rotterdam 2000. This text was written on that occasion.]
Love Songs Make You Cry; Moods for Isis, Picturepoems of Love and Struggle; Mother Nation. Poems from 1984 to 1987 (1991); Quimbe. Poetics of Sound (1991).