Nigeria @ 51: Elegy To A Confounding Country

I normally don't join in celebrating Nigeria's Independence Day anywhere I am in the world; at least not since the late 70s. I also do not write the usual piece analyzing our problems and preferring solutions. Other better, able and more flamboyant writers always find time to do that, but to what end? Nobody seems to ever listen to us, year in, year our. We do it all over again.

Our leaders stand on rostrums in parade grounds and exhort us and repeat promises they said in their election campaigns; read-off dubious achievements; spend a lot of our money partying and giving largesse to their lackeys and sycophants, and forget the purpose for which they are called Leaders.

I wrote this piece in the early 80s, and sent it off to Daily Times of Nigeria to publish. I don't know if they ever published it, but here I am 30 years later, with the same bad poetry, but still relevant to our sad situation today.

What is the point I say? Thirty years is almost a lifetime to change things, to develop, to progress. But for Nigerians, it is even getting worse. Is it only me who feel that? No, it cannot be only me.

So here is my bad poetry. I am never a Geoffrey Chaucer, John Keats, William Shakespeare or John Pepper Clarke, Niyi Osundare, Wole Soyinka, Ken Saro-Wiwa or the upcoming Odimegwu Onwumere. So forgive me. I have only made a few adjustments to reflect today.

Nigeria, Oh, my dear country

Our own dear native land,

I cry and suffer for thee

In these your hard and cruel times,

Will you ever survive?

Nigeria, Oh dear Motherland

You did not do this to yourself

Rather, they did this to you

Curse be to these perpetrators and traitors

And they shall not go unpunished

Nigeria, Oh Blessed Nigeria

You have been debased

You have been raped, maimed, looted and quartered

By people of low esteem, selfishness and greed

And of no conscience who never considered

Nigeria, Oh my country

Soldiers have maimed you; politicians have raped you

Civil servants have looted you; business leaders have duped you

And now it is a free for all

And everybody is taking part in the looting

Nigeria, Oh Nigeria of glorious and hopeful yesteryears

Your people cry out to thee

Your people worship Allah and Jesus Christ

They pray for you everyday to God

Yet the same hypocritical people plunder you everyday

Nigeria, the slumbering Giant of Africa

Your image is soiled internationally

That your children are under siege home and away

Insecurity, kidnappings, religious riots

Tribal bigotry and official corruption are your bane

Nigeria, the country of 150 million people

We all cry for you, indeed we all cry for you

Your governments do not respect you

The governed do not respect you

So who will respect you?

Nigeria, dear Naijaland of great potentials

Giant of Africa, when are you going to wake up

Wake up from your moribund slumber

You cannot continue like this

Don't let them trample all over you

Nigeria, Oh Nigeria

Your children are dying like flies

Due to the insensitivity of inept and evil leaders

And you are sinking deeper into the quagmire of graft

Corruption becomes of you, so produce a leader for us

Nigeria, oh Nigeria, can we really say Happy Birthday?

Instead of celebrating your Independence Anniversary

With parties, food, wine and diverted wealth

I am sitting quietly in my parlour

And crying, while the fools laugh.



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