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Can’t You See? Poems by Segun Akinlolu (Beautiful Nubia)

Can’t You See?

I am so happy,

So happy I haven’t eaten

In three weeks and a night.

In your eyes I see confusion,

Oh well, my happiness I can explain-

I have seven sons,

They live in our marbled mansion

Under the bridge at Falomo;

I’ve got a wonderful woman,

She wears her suffering well

You can see her if you look carefully

At Agege, with our last son

Under a multi-coloured umbrella

Safe from the sun and the rain

Naked to the world.


I feel so secure

I’ve got friends in high places

Some of them are in heaven, others in hell

They died just as they lived,

Despised and lonely

But really, what more can a man ask for

Than a chance to have his rotten body claimed

By the Task Force on Pollution

And be given a state burial,

What more?


We don’t whisper here-

We cry, we shout, we groan

We sigh, we gasp, we moan-

No, we don’t whisper here.

We don’t  linger here-

We run, we jump, we drill

We kick, we grapple, we kill-

No, we don’t linger here.

We don’t gather here-

We crouch, we huddle, we bend

You are hot, you are cold, then… you are dead!

No, we don’t gather here.

Who needs people anyway?

Alone, I came into this world

Alone, I will leave!


I am so rich,

So rich I feel like them

Our men in high places

Maggot-meal in flowing agbada

But, why should I not be happy?

I’ve got seven sons under a bridge at Falomo,

I’ve got a wonderful woman

At Agege under an umbrella,

And I’ve just found me a new one

She’s only eighteen but she’s seen the world…

So, why should I not be happy,

What more can a man ask for-

Some coins, some rags, a bridge,

A chance to have your rotten body

Claimed by the Task Force on Pollution

And be given a state burial-

What more can a man ask for?

You tell me, what more?


The Real Story Of Our Lives

Perhaps it will soon dawn on us,
As we age in crumbling dreams,
That one is but the extension of the other
And life is a gift to share
With a smile, a hug, a pat…,
An encouraging wink
And collective laughter…
These little gifts go a long way
And we will only know peace
When we learn to give,
Of ourselves and each day,
Little doses of love
And honest warmth.

We are the beginning
Of our own tears
And the end
Of all our joys.


Like A Firefly…

Did you see the effulgent moon
When it fell the other night?
I was there in its bright showers
Glowing, I sang my ecstatic abandon
And caught your eyes in a crowd.
We were there, both of us, in your eyes.
We plucked the rainbow and rode its arc,
Sliding down each bar of colour
We heard solemn laughter woven in blinding hues.
We were free then in an instant
All our pains dissolving
We sat and smelled the moist earth
I gathered the sand, gathered you
We danced and laughed…
I am still right here where you left me
Deep in your liquid eyes
Your eyes call
Your lips, in their smack, a dare
I am caught and I need to know now,
What resides in your wink?
What, this dare in your stare?
Wet is the ache you left me
I seek you (and I am foolish to)
I seek to roam the deep tunnels of you
I seek the hills and the valleys
The pliant and the sodden
I seek your rivers
I will swim, and drink and drown
I seek your efflorescent core
To burn in my desperate need
Tender ball of fire, lick me!


If Nigeria Must Be Great

If Nigeria must be changed
From this home of pain and hurt
Fruitless struggles of weak limbs
Where the sunrise critic, voluble and visible
Repots in the mire of a mite prompt
Each of us must read the past
Scrutinise today
And rewrite tomorrow.

If Nigeria must be fed
Not left-overs and garbage dessert
But fresh fruits of deserved sweat
If scrawny big-bellied, monster kids
Must wear the sweet, endearing smile
Of the newspaper toddler
And our old ones bent and gray
Must smile wrinkles into the earth
Each one of us must till the land
Fill its womb
And pray for rain.

If Nigeria must be well
And our healing havens healed
If we must rid the streets
Of incoherent words of the fleeing head
Rotten wounds like flooded graves
If our wombs must yield
Of grunts and sighs
Live babies with pink toes
Bellowing the pleasing noise of the newborn
If the likes of Nwamaka of Iziala
Must cease to lick your boots
For a fortune to treat little maladies
Each of us must grow a heart
Pump out its blood
Rejuvenate these lives.

If Nigeria must be great
It has to wear a new face
Home pleasing to the weary heart
A rebirth must commence
In you and in me
For we are the system
Rotten today, valueless
We are the future
The ones who must die
On this cross.


(c) Segun Akinlolu

Segun Akinlolu
Segun Akinloluhttp://www.beautifulnubia.com
Segun Akinlolu is a performance-poet, a singer who strums along to a guitar as he chants his poetry to audiences across continents. A graduate of veterinary medicine from the University of Ibadan, Akinlolu is the author of Waiting For The Bones (1997) and Thinking Big (2000). The latter is a recommended text for high schools in Lagos, Nigeria. Also known as Beautiful Nubia, a name under which he has recorded three music albums (Seven Lifes, Voice From Heaven and Jamgbalajugbu), he has been twice nominated for the South African Kora All-Africa Music Awards. A member of The League of Canadian Poets, The Songwriters Association of Canada and the Association of Nigerian Authors, he has been featured in several anthologies, including 25 New Nigerian Poets. He is also the author of a poetry CD titled On A Cold Evening.


  1. I always love his music and his poets in fact I will b happy if everyone can fight for human right like he does. If he can pls come for live performance in my school UNILORIN I will b glad.

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