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

Nigeria and the Ethnic Bias

I love Nigeria. Her diversity, composition, cultures and spirit. Yes, her spirit. There is a Nigerian spirit – an attitude of tenaciously holding on and pushing forward in the toughest of times and persevering through the most difficult situations. We have learnt how to make ourselves happy whatever the situation and laugh in the face of trouble. I see this all the time, and I am thrilled by it. I am proud to be a Nigerian
But there are some people who do not love Nigeria, and who by default are my enemies. They are my personal enemies who threaten the peace, stability and prosperity of this nation I call my own. Many of them, for selfish gain and personal ambition, destroy and oppress my people – my brothers and sisters. They would rather divide and rule, than unite and prosper. They figure it is easier to divide and scatter, than resolve the issues that have beset us since our birth and beyond our independence as a nation.
Unfortunately, even the oppressed buy the lie that a divided nation would be in their favour. We believe them who tell us that our brothers and sisters on the other side of the Niger or the Benue are the reasons we have not advanced as a nation. They seduce us with lies, bribes, propaganda and false stories about our neighbours, creating enmity even between neighbouring villages and ensuring that we do not see what the real problems are.
As much as it is true that every ethnic group has unique features, which have both up and down sides, it is also true that there are good and bad people in every tribe. Everywhere, there are honest and dishonest people, righteous and wicked people, blatant liars and sincere truth-tellers. It is our responsibility to seek to understand the uniqueness of each person, and treat them according to their character, not according to their tribe. He is a fool who speaks against racism and engenders tribalism. The one is no different from the other.
I am convinced that the first step to true progress and prosperity in Nigeria is unity of the diverse tribes and ethnic groups. This will give birth to an unalloyed sense of patriotism and commitment to the Nigerian cause, which in turn leads to willingness to work with any Nigerian, regardless of their origin, to build this great nation. The earlier we see ourselves primarily as Nigerians, rather than representatives of our tribes, the better for the prosperity of this nation. In unity of diversity, our true individuality finds it truest and most beautiful expression.
My name is Toyin Taiwo, and I am a Nigerian.