“Slowly slowly the streams gather
Little by little a sea formed
Then the shoreline recedes further
And soon your home becomes a pond

“Yet if faith bid you leave that glen
For the hilltop, to seek a home
Perhaps you shall find among men
Another glen, to call your own.”

–The Journey of the Soul

There are times when the prospects of change confront a man. The raging waves rise their ugly heads and the tempest rocks the little boat of faith, of hope, of life, and at that moment a man must decide whether to continue with the status quo – on the clearly defined route, upon that well charted course, or whether to depart from the familiar into the deep unexplored blue of the sea.

My time at Lyriversity had been one of learning and teaching, trials and errors, mistakes and corrections, but all in all I acquired the very fundamental effect of knowledge which is that of power, the power to choose wisely, to be better, to influence, to stand out against the tempest and the raging sea with a clear head, head free from illusion and say in an unshakeable voice: “QUIET”, and then to proceed so to speak like in the time of Christ as if the noise, the confusion and controversy are no more.

I started out on this platform with many a comrades, and we have managed to do amazing things together, to carve out a microscopic niche (but a niche all the same) for ourselves. But often times I had found myself on the crossroad, like I did these last few weeks and like Kwesi Brew wrote in his poem (The Mesh):

“I must either leave or come with [Lyriversity].
I [have] lingered over the choice
But in darkness of my doubts
[Knowledge which I’ve acquired here] lifted the lamp of [Clarity]
And I saw in [her] face
The road that I must take.”

And unfortunately the road leads no longer to Lyriversity (for now). This has not been an easy decision for me. I have tarried upon this choice, dragged my feet along the outlines of its frame, prayed and fasted, before I decided upon it. Lyriversity will always have a special place in my heart, she is my first love, the one upon whose guidance I learnt to crawl, to stand and to run.

The reason/s for leaving Lyriversity are a bit personal, and some who are quite in sync with the development of this group know much about it. I shall not spill it upon this page, it is far from my intention really. I feel that it is better to row straight on to the deep beyond than to row head on to a sure and approaching hurricane…yes a hurricane that has been brewing and will surely blow its fury upon us all in the future.

I have now opened with the help of some literary friends a new group which we call: INK FIFTEEN (INK15). We now have a blog: Ink15 and we intend to improve upon ourselves and the lofty objectives of Lyriversity.

Ink15 Logo

Ink15 Logo

I do not write out of bitterness, I do not write to slander and to savage, no no I write to inform and to appeal to our ardent followers that the dream we all share still lives on but alas not on Lyriversity. It is now very much alive on INK15 – Imagine the Impossible. Perhaps like Rudyard Kipling wrote in his poem (IF):

“If. . .
You can watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings. . .
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man…”

We shall be all men…INK15

Okoye Chukwudi Ezeamalukwuo

Liberty of Creativity

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TO HANNAH’S SON

Posted: January 31, 2015 in Poetry
Tags: ,

by Soonest Nathaniel Iheanyi

Brother
I now wear rags,
But these rags once passed for regals of royalty.
I pay now in empty bags,
The prize of making a case for infidelity;
Perhaps I should plead for prayers and psalms,
Other than ask annoyingly for arms,
Though I doubt
I’m still too young to kneel.

A Nebuchadnezzar
I, thought myself a god,
But here gods die
So here I am
dying at your feet.
Flowers feed on flesh;
They now grow teeth,
But I on the leaves of grass now feast.
Lost sabers,
Lost claws,
Lost canines;
I chew the cud
And tread on cloven feet.

Please treat me as unclean,
Follow your Leviticus order;
To touch my carcass is sin,
I doubt my prize was paid at Golgotha.
I long though be redeemed,
On Rudolph’s philosophy weaned,
But ungodliness roams the holy night.
Lead me friend,
Lead me to the waters.
A bathe in Jordan,
A taste of Bethseda;
Its ironic,
But John’s baptize in gutters.

Unworthy,
I say to you,
prophet please don’t touch
The strap of my sandals,
But you say church
Is a courthouse for radicals.
I see them all,
I see them now,
Court whores and camp jesters;
We are all sinners,
Righteousness is a crime.

I’ve done my time
Life a nasty mix
Of lemon and lime;
Find me a quick fix,
These junkie moments are sublime.
Perhaps tomorrow I’ll rise
A Naaman made unwhole,
And beyond poetry
A crow descend upon head;
And a loud voice say,
These is my rejected son
In whom I am displeased.
O! Let Gehazi bear no more
the curse of my leprosy.

Liberty of Creativity

Liberty of Creativity

by Okoye Chukwudi Ezeamalukwuo

I love to take a walk in the evening
On the old asphalt road
With an abandoned well at its end
There I would pause to rest my feet
Bend me down to pick wild flowers
And look deep down to the black beneath
Scream to the dead and say;
Tell if you know, what is on the other side?

I am a being plagued by an alien doctrine
Politics, metaphysics and religion are my terms
My tongue is laden with conspiracies,
I do question my being
My shirt is of silk and not of raffia,
My necklace is gold, not coweries
I keep rediscovering myself.

Indeed I have charted the courses of many rivers,
The Pison and the Gihon, the Eurphrates and the Tigris
Yet I still don’t know where I came from
Or where I am inevitably going.
At night I dream that I hover among the stars,
And in the day, I put my hands in my pocket
And drift like the clouds.
I am one with the wind, either here or there,
Stretch out your hand, you can never tell me from the crowd.
I am whatever you call me;
I am a soul, a human, a god.

Liberty of Creativity

by Tim Nwaobilo

I woke up, for the 2nd time that day, one cold Saturday afternoon feeling lazy. It’s those kind of Saturdays that you don’t feel like doing anything. Well, maybe not like doing anything exactly, but you don’t feel like doing anything that will stress you or make you leave your bed. Actually, I had hardly left my bed all morning. The cold was a bit numbing here. The cold always started from 7:00 pm on an average day and lasted till around 12:00pm the next day. That’s the Nigerian harmattan season. My uncle who I chatted with by 9:00 am that morning while still lying on my bed informed me that it was just 23^C there in “The State of Osun”, that was the way the APC governor of “State of Osun” instructed everyone to called it; State of Osun, and not “Osun state”. Just like he preferred his name being prefixed with “Ogbeni” instead of just “Gomino Rauf Aregbesola”. Ogbeni means “Mr” in yoruba language. One could be jailed for failing to properly address His Excellency.

Why this was the first thought to cross my mind immediately after waking up, I still wonder. Ok…honestly it must have been the 2nd or 3rd thing that crossed my mind post-sleep, after the Football Manager 14 game I was playing on my smart phone before I dozed off; and definitely after the fact that I had possessed intentions to go and pray to my God somewhere quiet earlier in the day. Maybe it was because everywhere I looked all I saw was Jonathan and Buhari posters and billboards, telling me why I should vote for Jonathan or why I should vote for Buhari, Or that everywhere I listened, all that people were discussing was how evil Buhari used to be, or how Jonathan could have been a “nicer” president, or how Buhari was the better of the two evils or how Jonathan …and so on and so forth (you see what I mean already?) I woke up thinking WHERE IS THE GEJA I USED TO HEAR ABOUT?

You must be wondering what GEJA means and what it has to do with anything. In 2011, during the Presidential campaigns in Nigeria, some people came up with the acronym GEJA—Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Azikiwe. Adding Azikiwe to Goodluck Jonathan’s name was to sort of idolise him, and to portray him with this saviour-like personae that was normally attributed to the Great Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria’s first president. I do not know if they realized that reconstructing GEJA could also give JEGA. Professor Attahiru Jega was the chairman of the INEC, the electoral body. If GEJA=JEGA, I think the deeper interpretation is best left to your imagination.

So, where is the GEJA I used to hear about? After years of military rule, 8 years of a controversially democratic Obasanjo aka OBJ rule, and 4 years of an OBJ proxy-rule, Nigerians sought for some deliverance, someone who would wipe away their tears. They wanted change. They craved for a leader who would feel their shoe-pinch and live on their heart-beat. It’s no wonder then that the “shoeless” Jonathan fitted this mental picture and Nigerians were all too willing to fit him into the physical frame. The people I used to hear then promoting this, kept preaching at every available opportunity how poor he had been in his early life and how much of a commoner like us he was. If he didn’t have shoes in his childhood days, we surely could give him a chance to rule us, right? I don’t think many people asked how many pairs of shoes he now had.

Jonathan was from a much maligned tribe, so he might have been the voice to raise up a people that had potentials for greatness, but had remained buried. It’s apparent that in the past 4 years (make that 5), Jonathan has been the president of not-the-Ijaws but of Nigeria. After all, wasn’t that what he was elected to be? Southern Nigerians who were feeding on the fantasies of a president who would turn the South-South into a heaven must be chewing their fingers (or whatever is left of it) in regret and disappointment.

Where is the GEJA I used to hear about? Yes, the GEJA I used to “hear” about. I repeat for emphasis: HEAR about. What sweet tales did we not hear! Nigeria would become America if you waited for a meagre 4 years, we can wait right? After all, we have Patience as our first name…scratch that…first lady. We were told that Power supply would be so stable that it would be visible and tangible. GEJA, where are you? They said corruption was devilish and since we were electing an angel, corruption would naturally (I reckon supernaturally is more appropriate) die off. If you are a Nigerian or based in Nigeria, I suppose you know where we are on that. It is now obvious we were fed fat French-baked pies in the skies…hmmm, yummy! The name Boko Haram is now synonymous with Jonathan’s incompetency and lack of quality leadership. That is one of the most shameful blemishes of the Jonathan presidency.

I am not disappointed. No, I am not. I am not disappointed in GEJA. This is because I didn’t expect anything better from him, other than what OBJ or the OBJ-proxy had previously offered. I, for one, was of the notion that Jonathan was simply an appendage of the OBJ dynasty, and therefore of the conclusion that he wouldn’t offer more than OBJ had stuffed down our polluted throats for some years, except he was offering more in the negative order, which he actually seems to have contrived to achieve, arguably. If puppets were held on strings, Jonathan was probably held on bridge draw-strings, the kind used on the River Thames. It’s interesting to note however that he seems to have outgrown his master’s ropes and has imbibed a similar trait from him—stubbornness. I ensured I didn’t raise my expectations of his government so that in the case he couldn’t fully rise to the challenge, I wouldn’t be chewing my nails, like most of my compatriots are doing now.

I was on the election queue that day in April, 2011 when some people awaiting their turn to vote produced a newspaper. The paper was a complete derision of Jonathan’s main opponent. It had many people confused that day. I could see and hear from conversations that many people who hadn’t given Jonathan a thought previously were now doing so. If his main opponent was such a devil as seen in that particular paper, then Jonathan might as well be the lesser of two devils. In fact, some well enlightened members of my family who were with me that day advised me not to waste my vote by not voting for Jonathan. I was not moved, as I am up till now. Jonathan ended up winning that election and Nigerians have been reaping the dividends, haven’t we? However good or badly his government has performed is a matter for critical discourse and dissection, but the fact that Nigerians are now seeking for another change, the kind of change which they thought the Jonathan era was to introduce in 2011, says a whole lot about the present administration. If indeed Nigerians have found their saviour, would there be all the on-going tremor and anxiety? Wouldn’t the majority of Nigerians be clamouring for a continuity? Would they be willing to consider another “change” so soon? I doubt that.

GEJA no longer inspires the downtrodden like he used to do. GEJA no longer means god. GEJA is after all a human, not an angel. The GEJA camp no longer adds the ‘A’ to his acronym lest they be lynched in the burnt and deserted streets of Chibok! Where is the GEJA I used to hear about?

I calmly closed my laptop which I had been working with while lying on the bed, got up and prepared to step out to watch an English Premier League match with my guys. I think Chelsea was playing. I would rather give my support to and raise my expectations of Chelsea (like winning the UEFA Champions League this season) than expect anything good to come out of Nazareth-Otuoke. At least Chelsea is on top of the League.

Tim Nwaobilo is a Mechanical Engineer, writer, poet and programmer. He writes from Port Harcourt.

Liberty of Creativity

nigerian-map.jpg

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

By Chris TILEWA

We go great lengths for satisfaction and realisation, and after the basic needs of food, emotion and, perhaps, sex is met we seek luxury, beauty. But when real life is not making this happen, it becomes our aspiration and life goal. We create new realities, in our hearts, in our arts. Between our reality and our dreams are a yawning space and a great, optimistic ocular faculty that curiously observes the reconciliation of our artful dreams and our exacting realities. In spite of our outrageous realities we are all patrons of beauty.

Aesthetics is a universal objective; though what we see as beautiful and artistic is determined by culture and perception, and hence we say beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, still, art cuts through the barriers of culture and times. Whatever our culture and civilisation we want to hear a song; write, listen or read a piece of poetry out loud to a friend; see beautiful paintings; watch breathtaking movies and take photographs of happy little moments. We are at awe of nature’s order and the things around us- the hills, valleys, plantations and space, – that may seem chaotic still have about them the awesomeness of impressive creation.

There is a piece of art in everything, in everyone. And the ultimate end of art is not merely in the beauty it expresses; the scenic portrayal of striking reality and phenomenal concepts, but also in the feelings it arouses. For that is what we remember of it all, of people in our lives, of moments, of memories that shape our lives: did they make us weep, frightened, irritated, angry, and secured, or did they enchant us. Every experience, like the ornate and subtle features and element of art, does their part in us to ensure those enduring gestures.

And that is how we approach everything else in life. We naturally give the first hearing to our feelings. It is most real to us. What we feel, we feel and there is no talking us out of it. Except of, course, if there is an alternate feeling purveyed. We seek things that make us comfortable, happy and loved. Our desires and dreams are made real to us by the prospect of what they make us feel about the world and ourselves, and in the pursuit of these things we are advised to ‘follow our heart’. Because no matter how we try to evaluate things by reasoning, by data and facts, (which nevertheless are of immense importance in maintaining a balance perspective) our sincerest judgements lie in the ultimate question of art; what we felt about it rather than how nice it appeared.

We are all in a way artists; always in the business of making ourselves look good and come out better, there is a picture of our perfect self upheld in our hearts- we are our own most venerated masterpiece imaginable. Like in clean canvass we wish we can make ourselves whatever we desire, make amends for our imperfections by the flick of a brush, erasing and dabbing again till we reach what exactly pleases us. We have the idea how we want our stories told; whether for the record, expressive, didactic or aesthetic end. But our canvasses are not so clean after all, and things, some things, had gone out of our control. The world had messed with it for quite a while before we took charge- this canvass, our minds- and had set the backgrounds it will advance in. And when we should take charge of it, we have in our hands tasks, either to correct and re-pattern, or make final touches and finishing strokes. But every inclination towards change in our lives, towards creation, begins with a ‘wash of black’, an inertia void, because all things in nature, according to Leonardo da Vinci, are dark except where they are revealed by light.

Chris Tilewa

Chris Tilewa

Chris TILEWA is a young Nigerian who writes. He has written a number of short stories, essays and poems. While he writes prose; fictions and non fictions, he also nurses a mild love for poetry. He holds an anaemic faith that he will soon contract the demon required to write a book.

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

by David Coxson

1st Jan, 2015.

He remembers Kate. He gets his old diary, looks at the dates, and smiles. It had been rough, he thought to himself; quite rough. The new year will be different, he assures himself with the same sad smile upon his face.

2014.
April 15th.

He met Kate. It wasn’t the most romantic of ways. . .or perhaps it was. Kunfe had gone to Sweet Sensations to dig himself into some quick lunch, and Kate had been the girl at the counter. He’d thrown a jibes about phones hung around the breast region not ever having a good network reception afterwards. She had laughed coyly and somehow, he had got her number. It wasn’t a hard thing.

5th, May.

After a couple of dates and some breath-taking moments together with Kate, he had confided in Jane. Jane has been a very wonderful friend. She had told him to take it slow, and not to get hurt.
In her words; ”Guy meets girl. They overwhelm each other. Chat about everything and late into the night too. Gradually, chats become boring. Everything talk-able has been poured into the first few weeks. Then comes the late replies. Sometimes, there would be no replies. And the love starts, or appears to start dying. And someone gets hurt. So, Kunfe, don’t get hurt.”
He had promised he would not, and that Kate was different.

9th, July.

The first sign. Un-replied whatsapp messages. Last seen proved she kept coming online for two days. There should be no excuse for not replying him.

11th, July.

She replied. She had been very busy, and whenever she logged in; it was to check incoming messages. There was no time or chance to reply them. He had told her he understood.

20th, July.

Another un-replied message. She kept coming online but would not reply. Was he over-reacting or too sensitive? He had to calm down, he told himself. Message was replied 9hours later. A ”busy now” would have sufficed, he thought.

1st, August.

He intentionally didn’t send a happy new month message. By text, call or whatsapp. Why does she expect him to be the first to always do that? Disappointedly, she was too busy to do that too.

2nd, August.

”Happy new month, dear. Sorry it came late.” He had to do it.
She replied ‘Kk.’
It was unlike her. Until now, she had never abbreviated. He loathed it. The ‘ks’ and ‘kks.’ He sighed. It was coming.

4th, September.

For two months now, he had been the one calling her. She’d earlier beeped or sent a ”call me back”, and now, those have stopped. He was beginning to go crazy. He loved her. God knows he did.

22nd, September.

He had promised to never call or text her until she does. And he would stick to it. Good radiance to bad rubbish. Why is Kate never like Jane. Sweet Mary-jane; always understanding. Even the taunts and teases were soft on her. She could handle any joke in the world. But Kate? The slightest innocent word would be twisted to make him look like the devil. To allay his welled up anger and frustration, he whatsapped Mary-jane. As usual, they ended the chat with a laughing Kunfe.

October. . . November. . .

She’d simply whatsapped him for the important holidays, and family or friends’ events. He’d answered casually. End of chat. The love was gone. He was sure.

25th, December.

He waited till evening to wish her merry christmas. He knew she’d be waiting for him to do it first. That was always the problem. She always wanted him to do everything first. He hated it. He realised they haven’t seen or gone on a date with each other for two months now. She had been too busy.
She replied: ”Very early for you to do that. Merry Christmas anyway.”
They had a little chat. She had to do something.

1st January, 2015

Enough is enough. Never unearth what wishes to remain buried. He looks at his watch. It is 3:15pm and she still has not called or texted to wish him a happy new year. She will always claim she loves him. It is evident she doesn’t.
He tears out a sheet of paper. And begins to write:

1. Find a new love.

2. Take it slow with her.
Will not overwhelm her too soon.
Be mysterious as it fuels the love longer.

3. Would not open…

Phone rings. Hidden caller Id.
”Happy new year, Sweetheart. You mean the world to me and I’d never lose you for anything. I want you to know I really love you. I’ll be coming to see you tomorrow…”

He tears the paper before he realises it. He bit his lips tightly as he volleys the paper into the bin. He could never stop loving her, come what may.

Coxson David is an aspiring writer and a student of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta. A member of Talesmen literature, and Da’Sacred Poetry.

Lyriversity — 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

Guinness Made of Black; photo courtesy of guiness google

Guinness Made of Black; photo courtesy of google

by Okoye Chukwudi Ezeamalukwuo

It was a fine harmattan evening with bright stars upon a clear sky. On my table, a bottle of Guinness beer –the bottle chilled and dripping of sweat, or ice or whatever the evening has in store for me; which was not looking so good. I sat in this fancy beer parlour, trying so hard to enjoy my overpriced beer. My team was losing, and my mind was going gaga. Externaly; I was an image of solitude, internally; I was breaking into multiple jagged pieces of broken bottle. I was trying hard to ignore the painful taunting of an opponent fan. He was loud, and he was also painfully gifted in the art of taunting, I just had to give it to him. Just then, the Guinness advertisement of ‘Made of Black’ appeared on the tele. I don’t know if it was for want of escape or the need for enlightenment, but something in me was stirred. I was forced to start a conversation with my jeering neighbour, who as it appeared was skilled in other areas besides taunting. We had a very interesting conversation about what Guinness meant by “Made of Black” and what being black was really all about, but I must conclude that besides the commercial gains to be made by Guinness from the advertisement, we both ended up being more confused about the notion: “Made of Black”.

Made of Black. What does it really mean to be black, to think black, rep black, act black in this 21st century of bleaching creams and Brazilian hairs…in this age of bimbos and bambinos. I saw in the advertisement that black is an attitude, and I must ask which kind of attitude? Is it positive or negative?

In my NYSC days while I was serving in one beautiful village in South South Nigeria, I met all sorts of artistic local hairstyles and cosmetics. And I fell in love with them, and with the women who wore them. But I now know that I was all alone in my love affair. One particular incident confirmed my solitary-ness. A young village girl in my compound had just plaited one of those beautiful and artistic hairstyle, and when I saw her, I loved it, and I told her in no little way. She thanked me, and left. Less than an hour later, a guy in that compound saw her, and told her that her african-styled-hair made her to look like a maid. I overheard that, and I came out of my room and rebuked the guy and told the girl that her hair was beautiful and unique. By evening time, I saw the girl wearing a new, different and weavon-fixed hair.

Some would say that this is just an isolated event, but I have rolled with women to understand that this is a norm among them. My ex girlfriend nearly fought me one day because I wanted to see her natural hair. She was beautiful and fair, the kind that turns heads everywhere she goes. Yet in all her beauty lies this unquenchable desire to makeup for the blackness in her blood. That day, she had just removed the wig on her hair and was in the process of putting it on back when I entered the room. I being my inquisitive self wanted to see the beautiful damsel in her natural state, but the damsel was indeed distressed with her own self.

I have always ask african ladies especially those who are so ashamed of their hair, why they feel so uncomfortable with their short kinky hair but so completely at home with loads and loads of wigs and weavons. The answers have always ranged from excuses to downright foolishness.
This has left me with the belief that many black people are not comfortable with their morphology. Is it the case of whitening soaps, creams and bleaching toiletries, those ones are another case on their own.

Another incident that informed the inferiority complex of many dark faired folks especially women took place sometime last year. I was in a park to board a bus one very hot afternoon, the weather was dangerously hot, and my queue was longer than the anaconda. I was contemplating cancelling my journey before my fairly black skin becomes baked cake, when this much more dangerously hot ebony chic came and sat on a bench near my queue. My conflict with the weather disappeared that instance. I was no longer worried about the queue, in fact I became worried that the line was moving too fast. I didn’t speak to the girl, I only wrote a quick poem there in my head, and secretly blessed her for the solace she gave me. I told this story later to a female friend of mine without mentioning the colour of the girl. It was she who brought the colour up, when she said that she believed that the girl was light skinned. I had never quite appreciated the fixation and flirtation with light skin before, but that day it dawned on me.

Women being women crave attention and fair or bright skin calls out attention better than dark and dull skin. And I now know that this pressure for women to be fairer than snow white is mostly applied by men, men who deride darker girls. Black men are less affected by the need to lighten their skin colour than women are, but the attitude of many black men to blackness and black girls help in no small way to fuel the problem.

I feel that the problems of blackness is not just artificially made, but also self-sustained. The media we watch or listen to, images and stories we see and read have shaped our thinking over the years to despise black skin, kinky hair, blackness and many things associated with it.
You switch on the TV and all you see are women with hairs as long as River Nile and skin as bright as the sun’s reflection on a mirror. You open a beauty magazine and you are brainwashed by all that you see and all that you read. You go into a mosque and God becomes a foreigner, who has to be served better in a foreign tongue. You go into a church and what you see is heaven made of white and fair beings, and hell full of dark and depressed souls. These images can be tricky. Children playing Jesus and Satan, Student depicting Good and Evil, find themselves equating perfection with light skin and imperfection/ugliness with darker skin.

Some would argue that these are not really that important, but a look at Africa and African countries and communities, would show the big-brother adoration black africans give to people of fairer skin, be they Europeans or Chinese, Indians or Lebanese. It is the same; “I know you are much better than I can ever be.” How pathetic. In Nigeria today, made in Holland peak milk sells much more faster than its Nigerian counterpart even though it is more expensive. European and Arabic names have since surpassed the Native names in number and importance. Foreign accent is now seen as a measure of enlightenment and sophistication. The list goes on and on.

How can a people who are down and downtrodden, rise to develop and better themselves when they have lost all sense of pride and purpose, all sense of dignity and duty, innovation and inspiration. Everything Black is gradually fading away, from religion, to language, from names to traditions, hair style down to skin colour etc.

So I ask again, what is made of black? What does Black being an attitude mean? What does it mean to be black, think black, act black, rep black in today’s world of bleach and Brazilian hair?

Okoye Chukwudi writes from Lagos, Nigeria. You may reach him on twitter @Mr_Charlze

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and does not necessary represent those of Lyriversity.

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity