Being Nigerian

When they say I am a Nigerian,

It is not the borders that constrict me they mean:

The mangrove swamp, rich as God;

The hippo gliding through slow-running water;

The sun-lit forest, life wriggling in its every Atom;

A grassy plain, descended from wooded mountains,

Antelopes loitering in its pastures, gazing at the fulsome hills

That sits ponder-some in the near distance,

The prying fingers of the desert, throttling ancient lakes,

Tipping over red-mud walls – aiming southwards

To quench its thirst in the waters by the bent palms on sloping beach alcoves.

Those enchantments, of nature’s glorious palette

Is what they mean.

2.

When they say I am a Nigerian

It is not the issuer of my passport they mean:

But it is the mother circling her little ones

With her hands – muttering prayers, as smoke

Covers them, and the fires of persecution

Leaps – they speak of.

That child, executed before he was born

Sentence carried out by water – of impurity

By air – of viruses

By land – of mosquitoes

By Man – of thievery

This urge, that makes a 5km road

To be paved at the cost of 500km

That is what They mean

3.

Nigeria is sickness,

Nigeria is healing

Nigeria is worries and Celebration

Nigeria is Shock and Numbness.

Nigeria is the devil finding grace

Nigeria is befuddled saintliness

She makes wine from drums of vinegar

She is bright green fronds with rotted fruits

She is death and unexpected resurrection

4

I have written her name on my heart

Scrawled it on with the sharp stencil of promise

But promise is an outlawed device, like love

Outlawed by you and me, with our souls dug out

Replaced with a blinding righteousness,

Like the one Cain clutched as he slaughtered Abel

And they too were brothers

As we say we are.

5.

Of the thousand dialects spoken in this land, which do you speak?

Is it the lilting tongue of tolerance

Or the gaspings that translates into bigotry?

Is your tribe justice

Or is it that colored with the tone of Cruelty

Its custom – the multiplication of sorrows

Its culture – stealing innocence?

6.

I am Nigeria –

I am the calloused arms of a father

Cradling his child with one

Turning in his labour with the other;

I am the washed out hooker,

Just coming in from the cold of European adventures,

Pushed over the cliff of ostracization

And holding on to a scrag of hope with the slim thread

Of a godly faith and a will to find my way home;

I am the agitated youth

Whispered of in the same tense as ‘failure’

My eyes filled with stardust

Butting through the screen of disadvantage

Bursting into a green field of opportunities;

I am the earnest worker,

Sworn to serve my nation

Seeing the gasping acts of colleagues

but tending a flame of truth in me

I am the aged woman

Cycling the houses of my children

To care for their children

I am the Herder of a thousand cattles,

Finding home in new places daily

I am the long-boat fisherman

Of the delta, wadding through the oil-polluted lakes

Looking for scarce fishes in the day and bursting oil pipelines at night

I am the individual,

Who scoffs at society’s brokennes

And uses the very tools used to hold us down

To build an enterprise of our common goodwill

I am the Policemen

Stopping a car for a bribe

And finding death and human decay in the booth

Pressed by my superiors not to pursue the matter

The nozzle of hunger held to my youngest child’s spine

As they tell me,

“Quiet, Quiet…you too are just hustling, you are like us, right?”

I am Nigeria.


2 thoughts on “Being Nigerian” by O-Money (@Omoniyi-Adeshola)

  1. sambright (@sambrightomo)

    I am a proud Nigerian and we are the best breed on planet earth. I am Nigerian…beautiful piece…keep glowing.

  2. unapologetically Nigerian
    I see truth in the poet’s lines
    creating a ripple effect
    filling me with affects………………..NICE

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