They lied when they told us a man must first die
Before seeing either heaven or hell.
Because they are palpably alive with us here.
Hell is neither beneath us nor heaven above.
They meet on our street side every other time.
On your left is heaven.
On your right is hell.
Depending on whether you are right or left handed.
The illusory hate you assume for the Hausa-Fulani
And vice-versa is hell.
The taste of their evening suya in your mouth
And the clinking of your oily coins in their pockets is heaven.
Hell is when NEPA (or whatever they call them now)
Comes with their monthly billing
For electricity that was never there.
Heaven is when your neighbour’s generator set
Goes off at night for lack of gasoline.
Oh! The peace and quiet that follows.
Hell is when you drive past
The filthy beggars on the street side
And into those whitewashed cathedrals
With your tithes in search of heaven.
Hell is when you cannot afford to trust
Those closest to you;
When you don’t care again whether:
It is true or false
It is wrong or right
As long as it is to your benefit.
When you join to suppress truth;
When you promote falsehood
Because your “person” is involved,
That is hell.
Hell is all over
When the things that matter most
Don’t matter any longer.
Like detailed answers to the questions.
When these don’t matter again,
Then we are in hell.
Hell is when you have a spouse
But you are eternally lonely.
Heaven is like the little children.
When life is without complications.
In heaven, if you dare to do the crime,
Then you must do the time.
It does not matter who the judge is.
Heaven is like giving alms to an armless beggar.
Heaven is charity-in-practice.
Heaven is when you are Mother Theresa-
Service to humanity.
Heaven is the laughter of children echoing away
Heaven is the simple little things
We refuse appreciate.
When we reject greed and avarice,
When we stand for the truth
No matter whose ox is goaded;
When we give a helping hand to a stranger,
Then we are in heaven.
When you are truly rich within;
That, is heaven.