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 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.