Nigeria at 51: An Elegy to A Confounding Country

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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.

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One thought on “Nigeria at 51: An Elegy to A Confounding Country

  1. […] Posted on March 23, 2009January 19, 2018 Author Egbufoama Chike Comment(0) Where will I start to account for the deplorable state of the African vernacular languages that are dying the death of a thousand distinctions. Days before now important books were written in many African vernacular languages and dialects but it is very disheartening today to see that our libraries have been emptied of vernacular books, in many homes vernaculars forbidden what will I say of people like named late Doctor Nnamdi Azikiwe, Emeka Ojukwu,   and their likes who not minding their basking in the ego of a golden fleece from Europe and America, Can still remained eloquent in their vernacular languages. Studies have shown that some of the good literature works which had been were translated into our local languages were translated by foreigners. Most African shy away from speaking their languages to avoid being identified with Africa. “The nature language preserves the identity to a people.   It is also an eloquent expression of the existence value of a people. I n an age played by evading cultural values and vanishing identity, the nature language remains the only thing which the new generation African hangs on in re-discovering their root” (This day newspaper: p18 wed 20/08/08)Africa’s thought-pattern can be seen as a rephrasing of the words of the philosopher Rene Descartes when he said cogito ergo sum i.e. I think therefore I am.  The Africans hold cognatus sum ergo sum i.e. I am related therefore I am.  The communal spirit of the Africans is fading away as the darkness of the night fades away at the down of a new day. This is a heritage that is synonymous to the name African, it forms the back ground from which Africans stand to improve and reconstruct their society. It gives African her sense of belonging. Doctor Azikiwe made it clearer when he described Africa as embodiment of hospitality, mutual symbiosis and brotherhood, or sisterhood for him “ the traditional community was a society founded   on reciprocal assistance, organized in such a way that the fundamental needs of all  the members were satisfied and so any form of individualism was discouraged … the spirit of social cohesion was so developed that the community constituted the centre of attention and not the eye of the individual with amenable results … in tribal societies the individual’s worth was not measured by what he has perennially been  able to do but by very fact that he is a  member of the tribe,  his contribution to the material well-  being of the village no matter how small the things, his presence and not his achievement were respected’’ The Igbo system describes it as Igwebuike- strength in the many and communities bear names like Ukwu Aziza ekwe mgbaji i.e. a bunch of broom cannot be broken. In trying to reassert the words of Aristotle that he who does not need association must be either a god or a beast.   It is an indubitable fact that the human person is essentially an integrated whole or say indelible and indissoluble entity such that he/ she is an entirety and this poised before him the use of words like co-operation, fellowship, solidarity, unity, communion and such approach as this has in tuned the African towards longing for community such thought pushed philosophers like Heidegger whom I believe had some African affiliation to propounded that man is a being with others.   Let me stop at this very issue because I shed tears as I write all these especially when the African child has lost the sense of the dignity of the human person. The high rate of killings in African, unending homicides and genocides in African countries like Dafur, Congo, Kenya, Somali, Liberia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria etc.What a heartrending situation in this present generation who are the original recipients and custodians “of a collection of name, proverb s, songs, folk tales, visual arts and customs whose philosophical motifs and wisdom asserting the sacredness and dignity of the human person and his /he overwhelming superiority over material goods.Who could believe that one day an African will advocate for some sex marriage, divorce, abortion and these poise a threat to the existence of the dignity of the human person and marriage. African child what wrongs have your ancestors done?At what point did our forefathers go wrong to hand us over these treasures?At what point did they offend us that their hard labors of creating an identity that is African?      Part one of the article        […]

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