Poetry

Nigeria Ronu!: Poems by Isidore Emeka Uzoatu

NIGERIA RONU!

Aba:
It takes less the time in light years
From my evolving words to you
To find an Hausa bukateria in Ama Awusa
Serving tuwo shinkafi twice as good as any
Far away in Kano, Sokoto and Maiduguri
In worth, quality, semblance and content.
Yet come a swimsuit pageant in London
The proprietors and patrons are abandoned
At the mercy of their hosts’ inflexible ability
To turn their other cheeks to provocations
Concocted in the hotbed of blind faith
According to the dictates of a foreign belief
Even for the sake of the random slaughter
Of their brothers by relatives of a different type …

Lagos:
Just enough Yoruba
To find your way to the park
And you are at the doorsteps
Of the best akpu and bitter-leaf soup
In the good old protectorate
Where now only the sons of the soil
Are immune from property tax
Arrived at with unmitigated hatred
For the many stubborn immigrants
Who dared cross the Niger again
After the cannons fired their last
Because what they left as they fled
Were not also declared abandoned
Like somewhere else closer to them…

Kano:
You’d a thought you were lost
From the train station wading in
Up until the gates into Sabon Geri
From where latent brotherhood
Rekindled by stretched distances
Enacted in lukewarm embraces
End with the inevitable sit out.
Never mind that alcohol is anathema
In the other parts of this walless city
Where god’s policemen are on prowl
Arresting believer and unbeliever alike
Here where laws are applicable to all
Irrespective of stand: left, right or centre
In the eternal Supreme-Being debate

Onitsha:
First time around in this mercantile mess
You’d barely have crossed the bridge all
Or Azikiwe’s abandoned mausoleum
Than the tang of fellow strangers
In their country of birth
Brought you back to reality…
You are not alone, after all
In this land of wanderers
Who’d cast the first stone
At a competitor for their position
In this land as divided and standing
As none has ever managed
Since the annotated fall
Of the Holy Roman Empire…

==========================

JUNE 12 – A Genealogy

Other than October First
Left in bittersweet memory
Of our British forefathers
(How we loved ’em, in deed)
We hungered a date
In mock remembrance
Of our past and present freedoms

Forfeited to pointing muzzles of guns
At the cock and ready
By brothers turned traitors
In starched khaki uniforms
Their shooting skills honed
On the vaulting proceeds
Of our hard-earned taxes

Left for their peculation
In utter surrender
By a benumbed populace
Lost and unfound
In the incessant jungle
Of military intervention
Into Third World politics

Till the dribbling genius
(From Ogbomoso, I hear
Or elsewhere other than he claims)
On one more chinking run
Through the exposed vestiges
Of our botched lives
Gifted us one by default

When he refused you a stand
At the swift eight-year tail
Of a quicksand transition agenda
Tailored to return him unopposed
The Field Marshal of democracy.
Then his benighted foreman
(Struck deaf and dumb

For fifteen years, I guess)
A university don, a guru
With a name to protect, on top
Elected you head cornerstone
To the chagrin of his employer
And the gap-toothed one
At his tether’s end, in deed

Annulled you whole and entire
Setting up in your stead
An interim nonsense, a shack
Hanging on indeterminable balances
Buoyed by a fading captain
Of multinational industry
Weaned on the ready existence

Of steady pot-boiling sinecures
An apt retirement benefit
For helping his masters
Make the killing of their lives
Long before the natives
Were accorded the privilege
Of import licences…

And came and went the gale
Of his bespectacled highness
(This one claimed
To come from Kano)
And a treated cup of tea
Administered for the sake of doubt
In front of the high and mighty

Sent the mandated one
To a predictable death
Died to set up an equation
That remained unbalanced
Till the chicken farmer
From the heart of the South West
(Though fathered, they say

By a South-Eastern monarch)
Was spirited out of prison
Into which he was bundled
For kissing and not telling
According to his decree
In his first adventitious coming
Against his personal wish and desire

To fill his people’s slot
In a leadership roulette
Won at the end
Of the civil war
By the victor tribes
Of the federal republic
Founded on a tripod of tongues

Till one got vanquished
And lost its manhood
With whatever else
It staked in the union…
And he affixed the final nail
On your mutilated coffin
Spattered with the blood

Of indefatigable martyrs
Forcing on us a different date
Ominous as it is ignominious
And you remain ever missing
On the gaping toothless rota
Of national obligation days
Fixed according to the dictates

Of our postcolonial past
And neo-colonial present
Bequeathing in its wake
Wordy improvised requiems
Mostly by the unworthy
Who’d rush in headlong
Where patriots fear to trepidate

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(c) Isidore Emeka Uzoatu

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1 Comment

  • I did enjoy the descriptive narrative poem, Nigeria Ronu, with underlying symbolic representations. Your poem on June 12, a familiar picture of what Abiola symbolises, is a penetrating versification of the subject-matter.