Posts Tagged ‘Ezeamalukwuo’

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by Okoye Chukwudi Ezeamalukwuo

I woke up this morning thinking of Nkem –that beautiful ebony girl with sleepy eyes and seductive smile. I woke up this morning thinking of her –the way she laughed, the softness of her voice when she said OK, and the awkward manner in which we ended our conversation last night. It is not just the silence that hovers annoyingly in our chat these days that worries me. It is not just the occasional “How are you” repeated over again to make up for the lack of something concrete to say. No, not that. It is this nagging feeling that our relationship has entered into that phase where conversations become clichéd –filled with the same hollow vowels and consonants and very little passion that are insufficient to justify two hundred, a hundred, fifty or ten naira credit spent in making the telephone conversation possible.

I woke up this morning arguing with myself whether I should call her or not. Perhaps, this is what idleness does to people, having been in this state for over a year, I must confess that I am a slow learner, because I’m still figuring it out.

The time was 9: 23 am and I was just waking up, though still rolling and turning on my bed wrapped in my bedspread. The sun rays were pouring into the room like columns of hungry ant in search of food. My shirt was soaked through with sweat –there have been no electricity for two days now. I staggered to my feet and reached for my blackberry. It was off. I had switched it off last night to conserve the battery. What can a poor man in Nigeria do? I forgot about Nkem, and my thought went to my Mom. I saw her in my mind sitting under the rain with an open umbrella in her hand, selling okpa on the street. “What would she have said about situations like this?” I thought to myself. “When the desirable becomes unavailable, the available becomes the desirable.” Yes, that was what Mother usually said whenever she found herself in an unpleasant situation that she could not change –like when my father took a second wife and stopped taking care of his kids, or when she fed me and my siblings only pap for breakfast, lunch and dinner due to lack of money to make a decent meal, or when she withdrew us from private school and put us in public school. Mother was a typical Nigerian –resigned to her fate, irredeemably optimistic, always religiously hopeful that I wouldn’t be surprised if she found a way to crack a joke if faced by a firing squad. I smiled dryly at this thought, and switched on my phone. I had 35 new emails, most of them facebook notifications. I skimmed through them, and finally went to the ones with job adverts.

An hour later, and with 3 job applications sent, I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth. My thought went back to Nkem, and every emotion, every fear and feeling gradually returned accompanied by the argument –should I just call her or should I not. It was now becoming a tug-of-war –a fight between my ego and that little gentle voice. I took some water and rinsed my mouth with it. Then I spitted out the water, and I looked long at the broken mirror on the bathroom wall. “When did it come to this –debating and looking for a reason to call her?” I asked the reflection on the mirror. “This is Nkem.” I thought to myself. I could still remember the time when we had something interesting to say, when our love burnt bright, and our chats were long and intimate, full of longing and love for each other. “What happened to us?” I thought out loudly to myself as I stood there at the mirror, looking at my reflection. My eyes were still pale from sleep, and two stretch marks ran through my face. My beard was bushy and needed shaving. I ran my hand on my hair and sighed. “I need to call her. I have to call her.” I said wearily to myself.

A knock on the door just then interrupted my thought. I came out of the bathroom, and opened the door. It was my landlord’s youngest son –a boy of nine. He was standing there at my door half asleep, completely unaware of the battle going on in my mind. He must have just woken up then. His hair was untidy and so was his clothe. He was also barefooted. He always has this disarming smile, and a hopelessly naïve outlook on life even for a 9 year old. I smiled when I opened the door.
“Arinze, how are you? How may I help you?” I said to him.
“Good morning Uncle Val.” He muttered with a forced smile hanging conspicuously on his face. “My daddy wants to know if we can borrow sugar from you.”

I scratched my head. My six day old St Louis sugar was almost finished from overuse. I bought it initially for my personal consumption, but it had since become a public property, serving me and a family of six. I just couldn’t refuse to share something as cheap as a packet of sugar, or salt, or my only belt, or the occasional two hundred to one thousand naira I borrow to them which are never paid back. I left the door, went into the kitchen and brought out the packet of sugar and handed it over to him. He smiled, thanked me and ran off to their side of the house.

I went back into the kitchen, washed the dishes from yesterday, warmed the leftover foods, and put the kettle with water in it on the stove. Tea and bread –that would be my breakfast. The water boiled and I poured some into a cup with Lipton in it. I searched for the sugar and remembered after few minutes of ransacking my cupboard that I had just given it out. So I ran over to my landlord’s place to retrieve whatever was left of it.

11: 07 am. I was sitting on my bed slowly sipping my tea, and going through my phone at the same time. I noticed a status on facebook that read: “How can something so sweet, suddenly becomes stale.” It was from Nkem. The time stamp said that it was posted about 11 hours ago, which was less than an hour after our last phone conversation. Guilt and anger both swept through me.
“I should have called immediately I woke up. I should call her.” I said loudly to myself. Still I made no effort to dial her number. Instead I sat there sipping my tea. “If the relationship was becoming stale, it was also her fault.” I thought, almost smiling to myself then like I just discovered a cure for Aids, “yes she should have called me this morning too instead of posting trash on facebook.”

I finished breakfast and tidied the room. Then I made use of the toilet, showered and dressed up. I checked the time after I put on my clothes, it was 12:52 pm. NEPA as Nigerians prefer to call electricity was still unavailable. I picked up a book to read but it was hot inside the room. I opened a window, the sun rays that flooded the room were so irritating to my skin that I quickly closed it and drew the curtain. The room — stuffy — sat in uncomfortable dullness. I decided to sit outside. I picked up my phone; the battery was already almost down. “I should at least text her and see how she was doing.” I thought to myself as I paced the room, searching for the right words, and the right way to put them in order not to sound too needy and less in charge. After about ten minutes of soul searching, or to put it more aptly vocabulary searching, I typed: “Hey babe, how is your day going? Hope all is well? Do have a nice day. Love you.”
I erased the last two words, then typed them back, then erased them again. I typed “missed you” in their place. I scratched my head and thought about it. “Love you. Miss you. Love you. Miss you.” I repeated the words to myself as if saying them over and over would deliver me from the sick feeling in my mind. I looked up at the ceiling. Besides the dilapidated and worn out plywood which leaked water during the rainy season, there was nothing there for me. “Just call her.” The little voice in my mind whispered gently to me, “Just call her.” I shook my head, switched off the phone without sending the message, and stepped out for a walk.

More than three hours later, I still haven’t called or sent the text. My phone had been switched off since then, so I didn’t know if anyone tried reaching me through it or not. I had initially intended to walk around my street and back, but on stepping out, I’d bumped into an old friend. We both had a lot of catching up to do, a little more strolling, and two bottles of beer to help water the garden of our friendship. I came home at around 4:22 pm. NEPA was still unavailable. I took a shower, changed my clothes and lay down on the bed. I switched on the phone, nine emails and one text message. The text message was from Nkem, and it read, “Hey Val, how are you? Hope all is well. We seriously need to talk about everything. Hear from you soon.”

Something jacked off in my brain. The stubbornness — those walls that I built — which had prevented me from calling her all day gave way and in its place; fear. “What exactly does she mean in the text message?” I thought to myself. I stood up and started pacing the room. My mind was racing and I was also biting my tongue. I dialled her number immediately. She didn’t pick up the first time. On the second try, she answered.
“Hey My love, how are you baby.” I said as gently and as lovingly as I could.
That was when my phone battery died.

THE END

Okoye Chukwudi Ezeamalukwuo, photo by Emmanuel Ezeh

Okoye Chukwudi Ezeamalukwuo, photo by Emmanuel Ezeh

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charlie hedbo

by Okoye Chukwudi Ezeamalukwuo

“The Death of an innocent man is the death of humanity.” — Cf. Qur’an 5:32

On 7th of January 2015, two masked gunmen armed with assault rifles and other weapons forced their way into the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris. They shouted “Allahu Akbar” (Arabic for “God is [the] greatest”), fired many shots, and killed twelve people including a French National Police Officer and injured eleven others. The gunmen identified themselves as belonging to Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen. Five more persons were to be killed later and another eleven were wounded in related shootings that followed in the Île-de-France region.
The same day information started trickling of a much bigger massacre in Baga, Nigeria, by the Islamic sect known as Boko Haram. The official number of the dead and missing is still yet controversial, with local sources and international media reporting that it was in the region of two thousand, while the Nigerian Military gave a more meagre (though still very high) number of around one hundred and fifty people.

Map of Nigeria

Map of Nigeria  

While outrage for the much bigger death toll in Baga was very minimal and in some quaters non-existent even in Nigeria where the incident took place, that for Charlie Hedbo was far more extensive and widely expressed.

Victims of Charlie Hebdo Shooting, photo courtesy of Wikkipedia

Victims of Charlie Hebdo Shooting, photo courtesy of Wikkipedia

Procession and protest was held in Paris for the victims of Charlie Hedbo and for free speech, while in Nigeria, the victims of Baga were send gently into the good night without so much as a whimpher.
The publishers of Charlie Hedbo has since cashed-on on this publicity. The magazine now has about seven millions subscription for its latest issue, which has on its front page cover the cartoon image of a weeping Prophet Muhameed holding a banner which reads; I am Charlie.

Vigil for the Victims of Charlie Hedbo

Vigil for the Victims of Charlie Hedbo, photo courtesy of Wikkipedia

This has generated serious outrage and condemnation from the muslim world which the massacre in Baga did not generate, which the massacre of innocent people in Nigeria and Cameroon by Boko Haram did not generate. Now this is both an abnormal and contrasting reactions to two incidents.

Boko Haram have been kidnapping and killing innocent Nigerians, many of whom are muslims. ISIS have been kidnapping and killing innocent people in Iraq and Syria, mostly muslims. Al-Qaeda has been kidnapping and killing people in Yemen, majority of who are muslims.
All these they do in the name of Islam.

There have been some condemnation against these actions from some prominent muslims leaders, scholars and imams. That is the truth, but what was not seen is a protest in Niger Republic condemning the actions of Bokoharam, or a solidarity vigil in Turkey in memory of the victims, or a procession in Pakistan demanding the elimination of Boko Haram or ISIS, or a huge banner in front of a mosque in Nigeria denouncing the sect and their violence.
In Nigeria these are what you mostly hear:
-A fight against Boko Haram is a fight against Northern Nigeria.
-Boko Haram should be given amnesty like the Niger-Delta militants.
-Boko Haram members are not from Northern Nigeria, in fact they are not even muslims.
-Boko Haram is the military wing of CAN, Christian Association of Nigeria.
-Boko Haram is working for President Goodluck Jonathan, they are Igbos trying to destroy Northern Nigeria.
-Boko Haram is a conspirasy by France, by Usa, by the west and their media to discredit Islam and divide Nigeria.

In all of these, Islam is never part of the Equation. Muslims are never the aggressor, it is someone else, it has to be someone else. Yet when a mediocre magazine in France published a cartoon of Muhameed, there was widespread condemnation from the Muslims. There was violent protest in Niger Republic, there was a vigil for the terrorists in Turkey, there was a procession in Pakistan, there are banners now in some Nigerian Mosques condemning France and the cartoon.

Violent Protest in Niger Republic against Charlie Hebdo, photo courtesy of ABC News

Violent Protest in Niger Republic against Charlie Hebdo, photo courtesy of ABC News

Protest against Charlie Hebdo, photo courtesy of CNN

Protest against Charlie Hebdo, photo courtesy of CNN

As an independent observer, I am compeled to ask if the sanctity of human life, the sacredness and preciousness of this one and only life that we all have got, if it is worth less to some people than how others percieve their religion?
The Death of an innocent man is the death of humanity, does this no longer apply?
How can someone claim to love a God, whom he/she has not seen, who might not even exist, when he/she does not love (by love I mean appreciate the sanctity, the sacredness of) the life of his fellow human being that he can see?
How does one justify publicly and privately the murder of 11 cartoonist, the burning of churches, the pains of an opponent, the death and destruction of an enemy and yet bows his/her head in prayer to a God who is all merciful?
What happened to love for an enemies and prayers for those who persecuete us. What happened to turning the other cheek, to forgiveness, to tolerance, to patience, to moderation?
Is it that the actions of those two men at Charlie Hedbo is not murder –a mortal sin? Is it that the actions of Boko Haram, ISIS, Al-Qaeda and other islam sects who go around killing innocent people all in the name of a God who is all Merciful and his holy Prophet, cannot be classified as blasphemy, as a terrible insult and as a major threat to Islam?

The world is becoming a more dangerous place. Good men are behaving more cowardly and evil men are becoming bolder and bolder, but in the words of Edmund Burke: all that evil needs to triumph is for people of good conscience to remain silent. So I ask; Is it so difficult for some of us to put aside our biases, our religious inclinations and to look solely on our humanity and choose that which is right between our creed and conscience?

Okoye Ezeamalukwuo writes from Lagos, Nigeria. You may reach him @mr_charlze

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this write up is solely those of the writer, and does not necessarily represent those of Lyriversity.

Liberty of Creativity

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by Okoye Chukwudi Ezeamalukwuo

This useless man everywhere, this useless man again –that must had been her thought as she ripped another poster off the wall, -that or something more sinister, something more derogatory. Who could read the thoughts in her mind, or exorcise the demon that assailed her that morning. I found her action to be somewhat intriguing, somewhat amusing though I did not know what her story was, or the reason why she was standing by the side of the main road, ripping off only the campaign posters of Mr President from the wall.

Perhaps it was the heat. The temperature that morning was over thirty-five degrees centigrade, and was enough to drive anyone off the edge. Perhaps it wasn’t something physical or something that could be easily quantified. It should take more than an increase in temperature for a person to engage in such act of public spectacle -I thought to myself as I sat on a wooden chair of a decrepit bus at Ikeja bus-stop, staring at her. She neither stopped to acknowledge the increasing crowd of onlookers that had gathered around her, watching her work, nor did she pause to wipe off the rivers of sweat that ran across her face and met at her jaw. The posters was all she cared about and she was determined to rip them all off.

Indeed it must be something serious, something much deeper, something indelible like a crack on a mirror or the breaking of a camel’s back that had endured fifty-four rigorous years of marsh and misrule.

Perhaps she was a mother of one of the Chibok girls. Perhaps she had lost someone dear to her in Baga, or in Mubi, or in Gwoza, or to the rising wave of insecurity that had engulfed the nation in recent times. She looked exasperated like someone tormented by an unseen demon. They say: a hungry man is an angry man –perhaps it was just plain hunger, or poverty or the burden of two months unpaid salaries which had been attributed to fall in global oil prices.

The face of Mr President on those posters was wearing a smile that was somehow queer, somehow mischievous, like he was smiling only at her, taunting her, daring her to rage, daring her to rip him off, to vote him out if she can. It must have been so frustrating for her.

A part of me felt sorry for her as she stood there all alone in the sun like a lone soldier staring straight at the nozzles of a thousand enemy rifles. I felt like calling out to her from where I was sitting in the bus. I felt like walking up to her, to ask if all was well, to tell her that it was going to get better, but I didn’t, I couldn’t. The look in her eyes was enough to stop anyone from coming close to her. It was filled with pain and bitterness. It was clear to me that she was ready to fight anyone who tried to stop her. In fact she would have killed Mr President if he was there in person, but since he wasn’t there, she was contented to destroy all his posters, as if doing so would hurt him physically in some unexplainable way.

Nigeria is really a crazy place and it does get to people sometimes, and make them do crazy things. I have seen a well dressed man in suit and tie; fight a bus conductor over ten naira change. I have seen federal legislators jump gate on national television amidst fanfare and solidarity songs. I have seen policemen change their uniforms into civilian clothes in the face of armed robbery attack. Ours is a crazy country, and the people living in it are crazier. It can only take a full-fledged Nigerian to appreciate the force acting on that woman -a wife, a mother, at that very moment.

Sometimes I wish that solutions to Nigerian problems can be as easy as ripping a poster off the wall, so that I can go about tearing down the posters of corruption, tribalism, nepotism and religious intolerance from our land. Alas! This is far from the case. In fact, in our society, the act of ripping campaign posters from walls can constitute both liberal and criminal offences.

I do not condone her action. I think it was crude and barbaric, and to be carried out in such a public manner without fear or shame, set a negative precinct that might have disastrous consequences for us all. Ours is a young democracy, which has witnessed many rapids and cataracts in its 16 years of existence. We do not need this kind of occurrence especially at this time when the nation is tinkering on a knife edge. It is worrying to read on paper about the shooting of APC supporters during a rally in Port-Harcourt, or the burning of PDP campaign buses in Jos. What is more worrying is the huge number of educated Nigerians on both sides of the divide, who cheer at this kind of news, urging the perpetrators to carry on.
Indeed I do not support her action at all, even though I can relate with whatever it was that she was passing through.

Still she continued her work, ripping the posters with one hand and squeezing it with the other hand. The crowds continued to swell. There were nods of approval from some sections, and in other sections there were angry murmurs of discontent. Someone raised a voice to applaud her, another shouted angrily at her to stop. There was a suggestion that she should be forcefully stopped, someone even said that she deserved a beating. The atmosphere was already charged with accusations and counter-accusations, suspense and suspicion. Just then the driver of the bus I was in, started the engine and drove the bus away taking me with him.

Several days have passed since that day but I can’t get the incident off my mind. Right now as I sit at my writing desk, staring at the map of Nigeria on the wall, I still hear clearly the shouting of that day. I still feel the heat, see clearly the woman rip the posters off the wall, and somewhere in my mind, hope for this country is gradually being ripped off as well.

Ezeamalukwuo writes from Lagos, Nigeria. You can reach him on Twitter via @Mr_Charlze

Liberty of Creativity

President Goodluck Jonathan (left), Gen. Muhammadu Buhari rtd (right)

President Goodluck Jonathan (left), Gen. Muhammadu Buhari rtd (right)

by Okoye Chukwudi Ezeamalukwuo

Now that the issue of who the major contenders for the 2015 Presidential election has finally been resolved, the i-s are gradually being dotted and the t-s being crossed, the debate rages of who is better and who is worse, and the mostly unhealthy rivalry goes on, the momentum keeps building up, and insults continue to be hurl on both candidates by opposite fans, the stage is finally set for what might actually be the last nail on the coffin of an ever-disintegrating Nation.

Nothing has sharply polarised this Nation since the dark days of the counter-coup of 1966 as a Buhari-Jonathan rivalry. A fight between the core muslim North, together with a large section of South-Western Nigeria on one side, and the Christian South-East and their South-South partner on the other side. Judging from online media news; the rhetorics and militant speeches spoken by supporters of both men, one is left with this unnerving premonition of an impending bloodbath, no matter who emerges winner come February. It is quite an unpleasant sight to watch the continuous unravelling of the already worn-out stitches that hold this nation together, the steady tearing of one thread after another, all for the sake of two men whose known portfolios show clearly that both are neither qualified to run nor fit to lead a nation as complex as ours.

On 31st of December, 1983, Buhari and his fellow coupists overthrew a democratically elected government. With a bold and militant speech, filled with contempt for democratic and civilian rule, he ended the second republic and ushered Nigeria once more into the dark days of military rule which was to last for 15 years. This act was initially met with joy and celebration among the citizenry. Little did he know back then that the same citizens would rejoice 20 months later on his overthrew, or that 31 years on he would be contesting as a civilian in a democratic setting for a record four times in a row.

Image of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari as Head of State, & Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria

Image of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari as Head of State, & Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria

Time is a funny thing, and Nigerians with their chronic amnesia are even more funny. Our infinite capacity to forgive and forget is incredulous, and borders on cheer insanity. A man who advocated brutality and torture as a means of getting things done. Who scorn on the rule of law, who had people incarcerated without trials, and kept them in prison even after their acquittal under the most inhumane of condition is today the messiah we need. A man who had no problem serving under Abacha; that corrupt mantra, who was reported as saying that Abacha had no case to answer in terms of corruption, and who currently is working with Tinubu, Amaechi and other ex-PDP thieves and co, men who had and are looting their state and constituency dry, that same man is now an anti-corruption general. What hurts me the most is when I see youths of today; many of whom are 21 years and below saying that Buhari; a 72 year old man, who was governor at the age of 30, minister at 30-something, Head of State at 41 is the future for Nigeria. The irony of this statement is neither palatable for me, nor is it beginning to make sense beyond it being a figure of speech.

Looking that Goodluck Jonathan; our president for the past 5 years (going to six), who appealed to us back in 2011 with his speech of fresh air and change. A lot of us believed him even though we had our suspicion of PDP. The Truth is that we were already tired of the old guard who have been there since Flora Shaw seduced Lord Lugard into naming this entity; Nigeria. Thus we threw our lots with him believing that at least, President Goodluck would break the old hegemony and give us something different. 5 years and counting, with fuel selling at a higher price ever, a growing and embolden cabal, zero conviction of corrupt public officials, pardon for convicted public officials, high insecurity in the land, rise in terrorism, disarray of the army, decrease of Nigerian status in international circles, civil disobedience, unpatriotic and treasonous statements from political proponents and opponents, growing inflation and unemployment, high level of youth restiveness etc, a lot of us are beginning to repent from our previous decision.

President Goodluck Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan in his 5 years as Head of State, and Commander in Chief of the armed forces have failed majority of Nigerians, especially the lower class and the lower-middle class. He has not shown leadership quality, and a-times had appeared unwilling to seize the initiative or to make the hard decisions needed to secure Nigerians and Nigerian interests. His decision to remove petroleum subsidy instead of persecuting the beneficiaries of subsidy scam exposed his lack of willpower to make the hard choice, rather he chose the path of least resistance, which is to dump the burden on we; the ordinary people of Nigeria. His lack of imagination and innovation, strong-will and strictness in handling the Boko-Haram mayhem betrayed his lack of judgment and understanding of what the role of government is; which is first and foremost the security of lives and properties of Nigerians. This actions and more have led to the loss of faith in his administration, by many previous supporters, save a few who are currently benefiting from his rule, and others who are driven by tribal and religious sentiments.

Hence with election 41 days away, and with the presidency (if there will still be a Nigeria after the election) going to one of the two, the future for Nigeria is dire. The foot soldiers of the two are getting their arsenal ready to cause mayhem in the eventuality that their candidate loses. I don’t want to be a prophet of doom (God know there are so many of them already) but if care is not taken, and with the way things are developing we might be having two or more nations, or a civil war by the end of the year.

To be fair the both candidate; I must concede that there are some factors that mitigated against the two of them. Buhari ruled for only 20 months, in which time he oversaw the persecution of large number of people for corrupt practises albeit mostly southerners and members of the opposition party. He tried to instill a rule of discipline among Nigerians who before then (and after then) had carried on their unruly and rowdy behaviour of jumping queue, dumping of refuse indiscriminately, urinating in public places etc. He also tried to put a rigid and disciplined hold in the handling of the economy, which was a failure though, but who knows what might have been if he was allowed back then to continue to say; 48 months.

President Goodluck Jonathan, on the other hand have ruled beyond the 48 months period, and I am not blind to some of the developmental strides he has tried to introduce in a decayed system such as ours. Such as the revival of our rail system, the rehabilitation of our roads, the containment of Ebola, the building of schools especially in the core-northern areas, the increase of minimum wage, the privatisation of power, conducting of credible elections among other things. Being from a minority tribe and having little political weight in Nigeria, plus having an very powerful and ever-power-hungry cabal of Northern origin who are not only opposed to his presidency, but have continued to agitate what they see as the lose of their turn to rule. I must confess that the challenges before him is enormous and calls for some pragmatic steps, and one might be tempted to sympathise with him.

But the truth is that after 54 years of taking scraps and shit from our ruling class, Nigerians can no longer afford to vote based on “What If” or “Sympathy” or tribal and religious affiliation. We saw hell during those 20 months of Buhari’s draconic regime, and Nigerians are seeing hell during this over-gentle and over-indulging regime of Jonathan. Who would have taught that two very opposite regime; Buhari and Jonathan, military and civilian, draconic and civil, brutal and gentle would have such similar effect on a Nation. A lot of us will not like to admit it, but Buhari and Jonathan are birds of a feather, and no matter the weather, will always flock together, and if past experiences are anything to go by, both will take us nowhere greener. I do not envy Nigerian voters at all. Having being asked to choose between the duo; Buhari and Jonathan, Nigerian voters are now left with no choice except the Devil and the deep blue sea.

The statements, views and opinions stated in this write up is solely those of the author, and does not necessarily represent those of Lyriversity.

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

A Jasmine Flower; Picture Courtesy of Google

A Jasmine Flower; Picture Courtesy of Google

by Okoye Chukwudi Ezeamalukwuo

(Inspired by “Mandela; a Biography” by Martin Meredith)

Pick a Jasmine, my love
Pick a fresh, white Jasmine.
The flowers are more lovely this year
The bird’s songs are sweeter than before
And the sky is the bluest I’ve ever seen.
But the fallen dreams of Africa,
Lie un-blossomed still in the desert soils of our hearts.
The sower will sow once more before the year is done.
The heavens will smile, and rain will surely fall by dawn.
The farmer’s boy will till the Earth
With a village song on his tongue.
But the lost hopes of my people;
Those black seeds left un-nurtured in the ground
May never know the blooming light of day,
Though I pick this white Jasmine
Though I plant kisses on your lips.

Listen! My love, Listen!!
Listen to the sound of the wind on your hair,
The chirping of the crickets in the wood,
The clapping of the wings of butterfly,
The buzzing of bees on flower petals;
Listen! My love. You will hear it surely;
The cries of infant, the wails of women,
The clash of spears, the drawing of bows and thrust of arrows,
The noise of battle and marching of tribal warriors,
The voice of pride and the words of prejudice,
The groaning of a people down and downtrodden,
It is the voice of Africa calling. . .
And I must pick myself up and go.
From the North to the South, To the East and West,
She calls; ‘My people; what have you done to yourselves,
This is no manner to live; a stranger among friends,
Knives sharpened; ready to battle,
To draw blood from kindred veins.’
Listen! My love. Listen! She calls,
Give ears and hearken.

Somewhere in time; I believe
They will be singing the Nkosi Sikekela*
And the ancient rhythms of our land,
And there I shall return;
With love for you, and time for me.
But today; the voice of my people calls;
And there is no joy yet for us to reap
Though I pick this white Jasmine,
Though I plant kisses on your lips.

NB: Nkosi Sikekela is a Zulu song usually regarded ad a national anthem by Africans south of thr Zambezi. Nkosi means the King or the Lord; and the phrase means “God guide the destiny of our land!” (Culled from “A Selection of Africa Poetry” by K.E. Senanu & T. Vincent ed. 1988)

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

by Okoye Chukwudi Charles Ezeamalukwuo

Some of us want to be loved. Some of us want to be respected. Some of us want to be feared. But few of us have the natural attributes in their right proportions to acquire one or more of these. Most of us don’t even know what we want, where we belong, where we are going. Most of us just have weight and occupy space, drifting through life unconscious of the value of time, of the power at our disposal, merely existing without living.

Love, Respect, Fear. Three attributes that run the world. We all desire one or more of these three. Some desire to be the name on everyone lips, uttered with passion and affection. Some desire to be the ones that get the salute at every turn. To have the world look upon them with awe and admiration. Some desire to be the ones that get the mountains to move. On whose name every kneel bows and every tongue confesses.

Love, Respect, Fear. I have always wondered which of these three is the greatest of all? Which of these three is most vital for a human being to live his life comfortably and effortlessly on earth, without having on his death bed to look back with regret and pain at things done and undone.

LOVE
Love as was preached by Christ; is the greatest of all there is. Yet it didn’t stop him from being betrayed, abandoned, scourged, spitted upon, kicked, denied, dragged on the streets, crucified and killed. Most times people say, Love is all that matters, yet when you look at those same people, you see them living very miserable lives. I have come to understand that when people say they love you, they usually believe that they are automatically entitled to certain favours from you. I believe that Love is a useless weight if it’s without Respect and Fear. Respect; in the sense that there is something about one that you admire or are bound to. Fear, that you are afraid of losing the person, or his/her friendship or association.

RESPECT
Respect; some say is a compromise between love and fear. But this definition already makes Respect a Love-Fear thing. Is it ever possible for people to really respect you, without actually loving you? In my school days we respected the offices of the Principal and teachers. We still respect the offices of the President, Governor, Senators etc. These offices don’t demand that their occupants be loved or feared, they just come with the territory. But for the occupant to really make impact, he has to lean more on the Love or Fear side of the spectrum. Else the respect becomes nothing but a symbolic gesture.

FEAR
It is much better to be feared than to be loved wrote Niccolo Machiavelli. Most people understand well the concept of pain. They are more incline to obey with a gun on their heads, than with smiles and sweets. Human beings are mostly wired that way. But no one is ever really comfortable with something that scares them. They may follow you today, but they will surely despise you tomorrow. Nobody praises a tyrant when he is power, they may remember him ten years after he has been removed with nostalgia, but today they are opened to working against you.
Fear like Love is a powerful tool, that consumes both the giver and the receiver.

Having looked at these three, I feel that Respect is the best of all. Respect you can control. You need not worry if people love you enough, because you know that they fear and admire you. You need not worry if people fear you enough, as long as they love and feel you. Respect is a compromise between the two extremes that is Love and Fear. Respect is in the middle. All you need to do is to adjust the knife edge of your metre rule in the right direction at the right time, and you are good to go.

So how does one get Respect. Real Respect (not official respect) is earned not given. You need to go into your inner chamber and evaluate yourself; your strengths and weaknesses, your gains and losses over the years. Be honest to yourself in order to reinvent yourself. You need love, but you don’t need the world’s love, it is ever changing, ever swinging. You need a first and foremost to love yourself, then cultivate a little love here and there, from your teachers, your bosses, your chairmen. You need to be feared, but you don’t need the world’s fear, what you need is to stamp your authority, mark your turf, and do not compromise unless it’s a matter of life and death, or for the right price. Step on some small toes that refuse to step aside, and people will start taking you seriously.
Remember it is not really love that you want, it is not really fear, many people don’t need to love you, many people don’t need to fear you, just earn their Respect. Love and Fear, a mixture of both, applied in the right doses will gain you admiration, affection and awe.

Remember it is not going to be easy, it will definitely be hard, but with practise, performance and perfection, you will make impart on your society, school, church, association etc. Life is a one time thing. You need to enjoy it on your own terms. Learn today to live it, and not just to exist for other’s rules and regulations.

The statements, views and opinions in this article, are solely those of the author, and does not necessarily represent those of Lyriversity.

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

Map of Nigeria

Map of Nigeria

by Okoye Chukwudi Charles Ezeamalukwuo

Reading; makes a Man. Discussion; a better Man, and Writing; a complete Man.
— Francis Bacon

Most Nigerians don’t read; this is a statement that has been proven beyond reasonable doubts. But why are most Nigerians allergic to books? Now this is an observation which has so many divergent theories trying to explain it.

I was discussing with a “Friend” about this blog, and also about the culture of reading and writing in Nigeria. He told me that he has been seeing my post for awhile now, but he hasn’t opened it, and he is not planning on doing so. He went further to tell me that Nigerians don’t read. And this according to him is because Nigerians (and in extension Africans) are hungry, and that as long as Hunger persists in Nigeria, Literature (Reading and Writing) will remain an art for those who dream and are not willing yet to wake up to the reality of our situation.

He also prophesied to me that in 10 years time, that frustration would have stopped me from writing, and he even dared me to bet with him.

It is funny to me now how less we value our own, and how much we let our words run riots and spill lava upon the dreams and aspirations of our neighbours.

Nigeria has frustrated us all, and still does frustrate us today, but some of us remain optimistic about the hope of redemption for this Nation. We don’t cling on to this hope because we are dreamers, or idealists. No, we do cling on to this, because that is what good men do.

According to my friend, Nigeria will never get better, not in the next 200 years at least. He calls himself a realist, I call him a negatively skewed case. Being a realist does not mean that you can’t dream and seek for a betterment of a screwed situation. It does not mean that all you see is the unrepentance of the present situation. No, it does not intel seeking to uplift yourself alone to the detriment of the community, or folding your hands and condemning the Nation without as much as lifting a finger to help, or uttering a word of advice, encouragement or praise. No, Being a Realist is acknowledging that the Nation is fucked, but those who wish to make changes have to go about it in a certain manner, in a manner filled with thorns and thickets, the narrow road, where feet may fail…yet willing to make the move.

I believe that Nigeria will never get better until Nigerians start changing first and foremost their attitude, their Mental Attitude towards the Nation.

I don’t believe that Nigerians don’t read because of Hunger, I believe that Nigerians don’t read because of the Decay in our Educational System…where graduates like my friend, are proud to say that Books make them sleepy, that they only read to pass, or to get money, and nothing else. I write this because I know that folks who went to school in the 60s, 70s and early 80s, they read and they read a lot. But Children of Today don’t even know how much they have been robbed.

There is a need for Organisation…Nothing can be achieved without Organisation. Good men should come together today to form a group and try to reason a way out of this mess.

Nigeria does not need a million people to change it. Boko Haram I believe are less than 2,000 men. With a 100 men and women of similair aim, with Organised Structure, focus and determination…Nigerians will feel something new.

Can Nigeria change…YES,
Will Nigeria change…Only You and Me can answer that.

Okoye Chukwudi Ezeamalukwuo writes from Lagos. You can reach him on twitter: @mr_charlze

FOR BIAFRA (Poetry)

Posted: August 12, 2014 in Poetry
Tags: , , ,
A starving Biafran Child

A starving Biafran Child

by Okoye Chukwudi Charles Ezeamalukwuo

(Inspired by “HALF OF A YELLOW SUN” the movie)

The labours of our heroes past,
The blood of our heroes past
Spilled upon this rolling stone,
Poured from this earthen urn
Runs still from these broken skulls
To the earth in vain…

And yesterday’s rain still beats us today,
The passersby still mock us on the way…

They ask:
Why does the shadow linger still after dawn?
They ask:
How long before these haunting dead are dead?
They say:
A lifetime of wailing will never stir the dead.
Half a century of mourning should be enough
For the bereft to weep & forget.
They say:
Look! The gateman has closed the cemetery doors
And the late mourners have all dispersed.

But the river still charts its course
To the embrace of the sea
The cage secures but the heart craves still
For the danger of the tree

Blood, bombs and betrayals
The lingering tales of hollowed eyes
Of dreams stifled in infant sleep
The celebrated cases of kwashiorkor
Of Air-raids, Genocides & Refugees
Of Brothers against brothers
The blackness of our race.

We remember these, we remember…

Our voices cry out from the Earth,
Not out of vengeance or malices.

Our blood cries out, not like Abel’s,
Not for reparation or retribution…

We speak in memory of our dead
We remember them, because we are human,
Because they were human.
We remember because they were our fathers and our mothers,
Our friends, our neighbours, our brothers and our sisters.
We remember because they were our heroes, our comrades, our soldiers,
Our scholars, our leaders, our poets and our teachers.
We remember because they were Biafrans,
Because they were Nigerians.

We remember because they were our own;
Those who now rest beneath our feet,
Who dwell in the trodden ground, eternally silenced
To prolong the still fading whimper
Of a self-conflicted Nation.

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

Leader of Boko-Haram; Abubakar Shekau (centre) with members of the terrorist group

Leader of Boko-Haram; Abubakar Shekau (centre) with members of the terrorist group

by Okoye Chukwudi Charles Ezeamalukwuo

There are very few things that move me these day, very few news, happenings and developments in this political entity called Nigeria that would get me to blink talk less of moving my hands to react. The Nigeria Society has had so many bad news of late…The rise of boko-haram, the Chibok kidnapping, the bombings and conspiracies, the CBN governorship saga, the PDP-APC tug of war, Oil thefts, Stampede of unemployed youths, the death of Dora Akunyili in far away India etc…all these are happenings that I as a Nigerian have gotten used to…I have so acclimatised myself to them that I no longer flinch when the breaking news of horror are being announced on the media…Yes I am sitting in house ignoring the cries of the she-goat delivering her kid in tethers.

Last night I read an opinion piece by one Daniel Greenfield on the facebook wall of a one-time Minister of Aviation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode.

To read the article by Daniel Greenfield click Obama’s Alliance with Boko-Haram

In that article, the writer blamed President Obama and the USA administration’s pussyfooting in labelling Boko-haram as a terrorist orgainisation for the increase in terrorism in Nigeria. He also went further in absolving Nigerian Government (Past but especially Present) from any blame as regards the rise of insurgency in our country, while criticising the western nations/media (whom he called leftist ideologists) for scolding Nigerian security operatives for their glaring brutality and high-handedness in handling the Boko-haram issue (and anyother issue for that matter). The writer concluded that the Obama’s administration is trying to bring down the Nigerian Government which is headed by a Christian Southerner, and stated also that the same Obama’s administration is in bed with the Muslim world including the Muslim Brotherhood, PLO and Talibans of Afghanistan.

Mr Femi Fani-Kayode

Mr Femi Fani-Kayode

Normally I would have read this, sighed and moved on…but the personality of Femi Kayode on whose wall this post is (still) on, and the growing number of young Nigerians who are reading and commenting favourably to it made indifference a very wrong step for me to take this time.

First of all I must say that I am no fan of the western governments (USA and co) and their media who to me are one of the major obstacles to world peace. And I am inclined also to agree with some of the points raised in the writeup like Boko-Haram waging a religious war against Christians in Nigeria…But besides these, I totally disagree with and condemn the writeup.

Many times have I heard and seen people criticising USA for not quickly calling Boko-haram for what they are; A Terrorist Organisation, but this has always left me amazed when I hear it coming from Nigerians, prominent Nigerians at that. Is Nigeria not a soveriegn Nation? Since when did we become the 51st state of America? How does Obama’s stance on Boko-Haram affect the security of lives and properties in Nigeria? Are we no longer the giant of Africa? Have we become so helpless that we now need others to help us patrol our borders, to secure our citizens, to defeat an internal and small sized enemy? All these questions come to my mind when I hear folks saying things like the USA should have acted sooner…it beats my imagination to see how far below we have gone.

Moreover, the major culprit of this Crisis is no-other than the Federal Government of Nigeria, and absolving it of that blame turns logic on its head. A lot would argue that the problem did not start with this regime, infact many would say that the problem fattened with the Opposition, and this I do agree to a point…but still the FGN is the last bus-stop, the alpha and the omega. And if the past and especially the present government have been as proactive as it is suppose to be, if the present administration has been sincere in its fight against corruption, in tackling the root causes of this crisis which are poverty and illiteracy, perhaps it might have fared better than this. But No, the present government (together with the opposition) has carried on in the same callous, carefree and corrupt ways that have been synonymous with governance in Nigeria.
Unfortuntely for the FGN, it appears to be both the prey and the predator in this case. Its unwillingness to go after the suspected sponors of Boko-haram whom Mr President told us are in high places (part of his government as he once said) have left the government in a very vulnerable position and its efforts against Boko-haram have become more like dogs that only bark but rarely bite.
Also unfortunately for us, ordinary citizens of Nigeria, we are the ones who pay with our lives and livelihood, our blood, our sweats, our properties for the ineptitude of this present administration. It is our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, friends, neighbours etc that are slaughtered whenever Boko-Haram strikes. It is neither Daniel Greenfield nor Femi Fani-Kayode, nor any member of their immediate friends and family, nor anyone of those men in power or in the corridor of power that will bear the blunt for the blunders of this government.

A Victim of Boko-Haram's bombing in Nyanya Abuja

A Victim of Boko-Haram’s bombing in Nyanya Abuja

President Goodluck in Kano rally, less than 24 hours after Nyanya bomb blast

President Goodluck in Kano rally, less than 24 hours after Nyanya bomb blast

women crying for relatives lost in Boko-haram Bombing

women crying for relatives lost in Boko-haram Bombing

Furthermore, something seriously has to be done as regards the orientation of the Nigerian Security Forces. It is an open secret that the Nigerian Police and Army (and any other gun wielding organisation in the country) have got an A first and foremost in Indimidation, violations of human rights, accidental discharge of live ammunitions and callousness in the securing of lives and properties. Reading Femi Kayode state something contrary to this does not surprise me. In fact nothing our elites do these days surprises me…they are all far from the realities on ground. It is not a lie that the brutality and savagery that the Nigerian security forces exhibited against suspected members of Boko-Haram (Real and imagined) have won great sympathy for the Boko-Haram cause among certain sections of the populace, and have also made very easy the recruitment into Boko-Haram. Those who state otherwise show a complete ignorance of the Nigerian security operations…the cases of Asaba Massacre of 1967, Odi Massacre of 1999, Operation sweep in OBJ first tenure, and the initial crushing of Boko-Haram members in 2009, all go to show the modus operandi of the Nigerian Security Forces…which is Brutality; shoot first, ask questions later, this and nothing more…but unfortunately for them (and also for us), they have encountered a more brutal and resilient opponent in Boko-Haram. Who like themselves are equal in zeal, and ready for the slaughter.

A suspect pledding while being stripped naked by a Policeman

A suspect pledding while being stripped naked by a Policeman

A Citizen Forced to Frog Jump by a Policeman

A Citizen Forced to Frog Jump by a Policeman

Victim of Police Brutality

Victim of Police Brutality

The solution for us right now is far from the ones raised by Daniel Greenfield or the ones championed by Oduduwa’s town-crier Femi Kayode. No, the solution for us is to find a way to hold our government, this government together with the opposition accountable to us.
Honestly, I don’t see as things are today the government of PDP, APC, APGA et al giving us the dividends of Democracy. What we really need is a change in the crop of leaders both in government and opposition. But while we work towards this development, we will still continue to hope that the government of Goodluck Jonathan finds a way to be sincere in its fight against corruption, in its fight against terror, in providing good governance.
The security forces need new and better ideology. In their efforts on insecurity, they need to partner with and not prejudice the local community. They should understand that being a civilian does not make one sub-human, that a suspect is innocent until proven guilty. They should find better ways to infiltrate the terrorist cells; brains and not just bullets, bloods and battles.
The Nigerian economic and education situations should be revisited. Crime is on the increase, and slowly it will get more sofisticated if left unchecked. The real root of crime, of insecurity, of Boko-Haram has always been poverty; poverty of mind and body. And if this government does not find a way to address this growing poverty it will soon have more than just Boko-Haram to contend with…call me a leftist or a prophet of doom.

The statements, views and opinions stated in this column is solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily represent those of Lyriversity

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

by Okoye Chukwudi Charles Ezeamalukwuo

The children of the light sit in the moonlight telling tales
While the children of the night seek to redraw the outline of the moon.

—Music of the Flute

I have always heard the saying: “It is easier said than done.” Yet I didn’t appreciate the meaning of it until after the events of today. My day began with an early morning nap which drags on till 8 am (sorry, that’s joblessness at work), followed by brushing of teeth and bathing, dressing up and going out. I went down to get me some breakfast (Okpa and pap), but because I had a case in the police station by 10 am I had to leave it with the seller, promising her that I would return to collect them, which I never got the chance to do. On getting to the police station, the matter which involved me by oversight and which to all is no serious case, led me into making a statement and afterwards got thrown in the cell till 8 pm when I was bailed for N5,000, while my colleagues were also bailed for N5000 each. But the sad thing about it, is that the police are yet to investigate any of the issue raised. In fact it became very obvious to us that all the police wanted from the get go was our money. We struggled against giving them the money, but after some hours of staying in that god-forsaken cell, our will were defeated and we bulged in.

I am writing this, not because I want the world to know that I have been inside a cell, No! But I want to use this avenue to call the attention of a conscienceless world to the plight of many innocent Nigerian citizen whose crime alone is not having an oga at the top to plead their case. When I was in the cell, I saw about 30 young Nigerians mostly (if not all) less than 30 years of age clamped in a small space, without mat or mattress, without food or water or light, every thing is for hire. Some boys have been their for over a week, some; months even, without cause. From the gate one is expected to start the bribing marathon, from the receptionist for direction, to the DPO for supplication. Every air, every sigh, every movement is in sync with corruption and intimidation.

And yes I’d learnt a practical lesson about life, about the Nigerian security and Judiciary system. One; Nigeria has no law…no protection for its citizen, no plans for the youth. Two; Police is no friend of the common man. Three; the rot in our system is endemic, of the biblical proportion. And the poor are the sole victim of this carnivorous entity called Nigeria.

Furthermore, my confidence was shaken today…my will to work towards changing Nigeria and doing the right thing was shattered still. If I couldn’t bear a night in this heavenly cell (as I was told by a fellow innate) how then can I endure the far worst tribulations that will arise in my quest to change Nigeria. I was humbled by this experience that I discovered my long lost faith in the dungeon of despair. I prayed and silently cried out to God; Father why have you forsaken me…you may laugh at this but it was not a laughing matter. I now know what some of those Amen youths are feeling, sometimes you have no more consolation than God or the Idea of God.

I also did learn how to act and ways to react towards this deranged system we have now. The struggle ahead is rough but we the people, the good ones who the situation of Nigeria is hurting, we need not lose hope. I haven’t. I only wish to reiterate my early statement…we need to be better organised, if we are to get a scratch on this monster tormenting us all. People are suffering unjustly this very minute, people are dying for no just cause, yet we who cry and scream, who call for phantoms to bring back our girls, who castigate left and right are busy doing nothing…busy flexing, sleeping, hustling, drinking, partying, arguing, facebooking, dreaming etc yet the words we daily utter, the doing is still left undone…and the innocents, those who cannot help themselves are getting dead and gone.

The statement, views and opinions in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Lyriversity.

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity