Liberty: a Poem for Nigeria

Today, October 1st, 2016, is Nigeria’s 56th independence celebration. In the spirit of celebration, and in the hope of a better tomorrow, I have penned the following words, because I believe. I believe that Nigeria will not be a failed dream or a failed state – it will come through for us, and we all will make it happen together. I look forward to that day, when all Nigerians will have a reason to believe in the nation, and will gladly sacrifice their lives for the dream called Nigeria, as some have done, and a few are still doing.

Happy Independence Day, fellow Nigerians! I hope you enjoy this piece. Cheers!

 

Liberty

 

I heard Liberty rise like a song

From the quiet street corners in Ibadan.

 

It was echoed as the song of Liberation

On the busy highways of Port-Harcourt.

This song resounded across our nation.

 

It was heard by the streams of Kainji Lake,

Travelled like a bushfire across the Middle Belt,

Engulfing the modern, tasteful mansions of Abuja,

Which like the burning bush, were unconsumed.

 

Its heat was felt in the villages around Yola,

As it blew like a wind across the arid north.

 

From Lagos to Calabar,

Liberty was a song and an anthem

Promising a better tomorrow for the pain of yesterday.

 

From Maiduguri to Birnin Kebbi,

Liberty was a fire and a whirlwind

Whistling in the ears of the poor and oppressed.

 

It was a call for emancipation, a demand for freedom

“Let my people go” became more than mere words

As everyday people unshackled one another.

 

Every man freed his neighbour with the truth

From the bondage of ignorance and illiteracy,

From debilitating lies and disabling deceptions.

 

Love became the new “babariga”

As unity became a national ideal,

And the continent shook in trembling response

As a sleeping giant finally rose to walk.

Toyin Taiwo © 2016

Origins

Hello there!

If you don’t know much else about me, you should know I am a Christian, an engineering graduate, and I love to write poetry.

So I have been thinking of ways to tell some stories, and I decided to tell a bit of story in verse. This one is titled “Origins”, a piece I have recently worked on – an attempt to explore a few of the places that have influenced my life the most, and in what way.

It is essentially, an experiment in poetry and story-telling. I hope you enjoy it. Please feel free to share your thoughts afterwards. Cheers!

 

My life is a story of places;

The places I come from, the places I’ve been to,

And the places I am headed to.

 

You see, I come from many places

From the tiny crag in the rock

Where strong men are made in the silence

From the lazy town by the way

Where the curious are formed every day

From the busy streets of the city

Where dreams are built up and broken down

And tears are mixed with sweat

As rain beats down on toilers and hustlers.

 

I come from Sagamu,

Old trading post linking Lagos to the hinterland

Where limestone deposits abound underground

And bags of cement complement baskets of kolanut

On their way out of the old and ancient town.

 

I come from Eleja, before the swamp beyond Ajegunle

Where little boys rolled tyres in walled compounds,

Fought sharp-mouthed little girls for bragging rights

And played ball with young men for a place at the table

Of men. We read big and little books alike,

Recited poems and memorized multiplication tables

In hope of finding our place in this world.

 

I come from Ayegbami,

Where there was space enough for the brave

And those who had foresight built houses

Among the trees, as population ever expanded and

The boundaries of our civilization was daily stretched.

 

I come from Ikenne,

Where eager boys and girls found their way to school

In the hope of learning a thing or two

And perhaps a chance to become someone great in life.

Pushed by friends and family, inspired by several stories

We trudged daily to assemble at the school set on a hill

Till one day we all fanned out to pursue our dreams.

 

I come from Sokoto, where friendly rivalry was nurtured

From Abuja, where teenagers morphed into young men

From Lagos, where destiny began to unfold before my eyes

And friends became family as foundations were laid

For a new set of families just about to emerge

From Abakaliki, where dust and dryness birthed greatness

And men were formed by Divine hands from miry clay.

 

I come from Port-Harcourt and a thousand more places,

From every place where my life gained definition

And memorials were laid as a reminder for the future.

Memories swathed in unfading music

Line the path everywhere I come from.

Even now, I hear the sounds of every city, every place,

Every road, every room or street corner

Humming and buzzing as my life echoes emphatically

The sound of every place from where I come.

Toyin Taiwo © 2016