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for the hungry a grain of wheat for those who would fight, fight just to eat forced away from the self-sufficient land lines of support cut down taken away from home, subject to an other now you carry a pass, you carry them on your back one man owns all of this, not a grain of wheat to call your own lives displaced, another state born this way Waiyaki wa Hinga was buried, betrayed and buried alive fought back when Lugard broke the treaty buried upside down in the earth colonialism has people with their heads upside down and all of these memories buried in the ground
out into the blue, never to return, out into the blue a man out at sea is an insect, an insect on a splinter that’s where I met my end, on the foreigner’s ship with rats on the lines... out into the blue, never to return, out into the blue he will not cooperate with those in control and goes to file his complaint across the sea the ship's captain takes a king's bribe Hasan slipped his cable before he returned a sailor sewed him up in the canvas and out of the fog death appeared, out at sea these crimes at sea will go down like a sunken treasure secrets that no one will tell a murdered ghost will warn the son one day they'll conspire against you as well go out into the blue...
at seven years old the son was sent away to be educated and taught to obey baptized with a foreign name an orphan with power alone just the same the young sultan prays, prays to some god out at sea like the mariners of all ages and the merchants before him in the shadow of the sun, they tried to mold this son as one of their own, trained to sit upon a throne to ensure cooperation inside a palace of gold alienated from the people and haunted by his father's ghost in the shadow of the sun, Yusuf the son of Hasan then the trade winds collide and there is a strange calm and a voice said father, father was murdered and I was raised with lies...
it’s a train whistle in the morning that changes your plans the Sikhs built the tracks that reach Kisumu from the coast when the single line’s derailed there will be hours of delay to get to Mombasa you’ll have to find another way the railway runs from the shipping ports to the mines that’s how the system was set, that’s how they built the lines that’s how they built the lines from the ports to the mines from the coast into the land out the window there’s a single lamp light faces appear from the dark of the night they are leaving their farms and going to the town at the dead of night into the arms of fate now the emptying villages watch as the trains pass by there’s a fire in that railroad town there's an accident that burned the whole place down it's a train whistle in the morning wake in a strange place, wake up and there’s a school in this railway town do these children know what history brought down?
long before they named the town after Mackinnon he consorted with Leopold the mad devil king long before the machetes were gleaming on the Standard’s front page men were driven mad by the sun pacing their colonial cage the brute Stanley worked for Leopold he took money from Mackinnon he who works for the English another captain who will grab as much as he can shipping subsidies and railway guarantees the country fails and company profits what was it called before this? does anyone here know? there’s a school in this railway town do these children know what history brought down? it's controlled by men who never lived here they have never lived here in Mackinnon Road...
port of Mombasa where the colonials come the port of Mombasa where the colonial scum washes over the town port of Mombasa where there is always a war the port of Mombasa where the fire rages and burns the churches down war brings wealth to the merchants slavers and cannibals inhabit this island these men who have water yet bathe in blood the empire flat aback, wants to bring others to their knees former servants keep their posts, move up to houses with gates where the signs say mbwa kali and all the lines are drawn the gunshots ring out from the robbery away in the capital city I saw the beggars at the station, former freedom fighters dressed in rags rewards go to the traitors, rewards to the traitors they said
storms rising, swift winds... was this the place where the warships landed? where that pirate sultan got himself stranded? roving has been my ruin and we’re all bound to go the ocean is exacting and often cruel-acting there is no mercy, there is only the sea... down the street at the fort of Jesus I learned the story of the man he was outraged by life and by the system in place and he prayed to his father in a garden he planned to avenge him and to destroy them reject their baptism and lies sink it all out in the deep... the deep harbor there is no drought here but there is hunger there is hunger and there is wheat at inflated market price hoarded in granaries they say one man owns all of this and there's a horde of starving men uprooted a revolution derailed, just the same sold out there was a man had a dream that his brothers would betray him the story's in all the books, all those holy books and no prayer beads but an albatross wrapped around our neck on the land just dead acacia trees like skeletons and the marabou storks clacking their beaks even then the rains fell like clockwork but now there is flood and there is drought there is only flood, there is only drought deconstruction of an empire this is the final stage pirates run everywhere piracy is as old as sea-faring and imperialism’s hit the fan
washed ashore again, sharpen the dagger out to sea again with a pirate’s swagger in the harbor town of Mombasa, a man they called Jeronymo the boy was called Yusuf the son of Hasan killed the captain, killed everyone in the town the lies of the empire he said, I will burn them down all the lies of the empire stacked up like freight all stacked up like freight at the port of Mombasa Portuguese forts line the coasts from China to the Cape of Good Hope without a passport no ship sails, no legal ships sail now they are coming for me beware the merchants, the tides the rewards go to the traitors and I go to the sea there is no fair wind home just this pirate’s life for me am I a failure not to rebuild? not to shore up the ruins but raze the town? it is better to die than surrender not to live in this manner but to fight he cried at his father’s grave he prayed in the garden and that's where they found him he heard the sea, it was calling up in the old hotel, hear the porters outside it’s safer at sea they said
in this duel in which we have fallen, this is our defeat now there is nothing but this splendid fallback plan when your single line is derailed there will be hours of delay you’ll have to find a way out of Mombasa you’ll have to find some other way take yourself down to the fortress tell them you won’t play their game you'll be waking up the nightwatchman he lives on fear, guilt and shame take yourself down the garden where you prayed to your father’s ghost that maybe one day a change will come here to land on this accursed coast it’s not like wild fire, it spreads more like disease all along the trade routes this imperial greed this disease it is spreading, everything set for conflict ready to explode and splendid like fireworks take yourself down to the harbor burn everything they’ve built you'll be waking up the nightwatchman he lives on fear, shame and guilt there’s blood again in the harbor, set a new course as the crow flies, set a new course...
the monsoons go one way then they return I am an orphan, I am adrift if I stayed on the land, I’d be buried in the ground whatever is on earth invokes god and I have gone to the sea I killed every last one of them killed the captain and every other traitor we will fight when moved to do so I won't apologize unless you pardon me there is no mercy... there is only the sea and this leviathan lost and alone, no fair wind home to live out his days as a sort of buccaneer join the merchants, the sailors, the thieves give up on this life and any justice leave nothing but a wake...


"The Folk Opera Concerning the Island of Mombasa and the Life of the Pirate Yusuf bin Hasan"

lyrics by Tim Rakel
music by The May Day Orchestra


released December 1, 2017

The May Day Orchestra:
Jake DeLeonardis - bass
Mary DeLeonardis - drums and percussion
Tim Rakel - vocals, acoustic guitar, piano, zither, shruti box
Charlie Tabing - electric guitars, accordion, backing vocals
JJ Hamon - electronics
Matt Pace - trumpet

recorded and mixed by Kevin Buckley
mastered by Carl Saff

cover art by Dana Smith

Rankoutsider Records


all rights reserved



The May Day Orchestra St. Louis, Missouri

The May Day Orchestra was founded in 2008 by songwriter Tim Rakel. The current line-up features drummer Mary DeLeonardis, bassist Jake DeLeonardis and guitarist Charlie Tabing. The band's third full-length album was released on December 1, 2017.

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