Four Small Boys.
though I milk them dry... let the mugus follow me...







(a call & response to the flail of tambourines)

Bless my day, O my God,
& let not my rivals overtake me!
when I retire, let them hire me again!
when I die, let my daughter take my place!
let my enemies raise their hands and pray
yessa massa, may you live long sa!

Blind my people Lord, make their brains corned beef!
In Jesus’ mighty name, make them fools!
when they catch me stealing and I shout church!
or tribalism! let them scatter!
let them fight themselves! let my victims sing
yessa massa, may you live long sa!

Make them deaf, O God, make my people deaf!
though the judges call me ‘thief’ day and night,
let my people hail me ‘chief’ day and night!
let the hungry, jobless, fools dance for me!
even as I sell their land, let them sing
yessa massa, may you live long sa!

...even as I sell their land, let them sing...

For my white collar sins, forgive me Lord!
In the blood of Jesus, rinse my billion-
dollar, double-invoice, petrochemical sins!
Holy Ghost fire! protect my pot of soup!
– keep my houseboys honest, make them sing
yessa massa, may you live long sa!

Fill my constituency with drunks, O Lord,
give me idiots whose price is beer and
pepper soup! give me easy journalists,
and Ph.ds whose bark is silenced by my bone!
give these fools their daily booze, let them sing
yessa massa, may you live long sa!

Must you must try my faith O Lord? then send me
talkers, not doers – you know my strength is small.
send me Facebook fiends & Twitter twits whose
rage ejaculates safely on their page!
street parties! not marches! let them dance & sing
yessa massa, may you live long sa!

...make them long-suffering,... O Lord...







Make them long-suffering, like zebu cows, O Lord!
though I milk them dry, though I drive them hard,
though I lead them to the second civil war,
let the mugus follow, let them vote like cows!
& let them sing in churches, mosques and shrines,
yessa massa, may you live long sa!

And as for all my foes – the judge erect,
the man unreached, and all those hungry paupers
scheming hard for my seat, may they meet
kudirat’s bullet! may they brake and quench!
sack and disgrace them, until they sing
yessa massa, may you live long sa!

In the name of Jesus, send me prophets!
send me imams & shamans too! & I
shall send them tithes, to turn the hungry prayers
of their flock to You, to turn their curses
on the poor Devil, and to me, to sing
yessa massa, may you live long sa!

Blood of Jesus! block the curse of the blood
of the innocent dead! – blood from roads I
did not fix, hospitals I did not stock!
& when I come, weeping, to the victims’ wake,
let them not stone me! Instead, let them sing
yessa massa, may you live long sa!


22 Replies to “An Oga at the Top says his Morning Prayers”

  1. Sibbyl says:

    Wow! This is so good, but then was I expecting less. I can imagine this Oga at the top, kneeling down and saying this with all piety.
    Really really nice. Well done. $ß.

  2. okwy says:

    when the shepherd is angry with his flock, he gives them a blind bellwether. Go figure

  3. Christopher says:

    This is so impressive that I have read it several times and have shared on twitter. What is wrong with our people!? The sad thing is that only those who already understand the situation will get to read this and find it funny. The rest will not but if they do, they will find it blasphemous. Just sad to see people dancing for politicians for giving them free kerosene and then throwing their last kobo at their pastors who live mansions. Well as pledge says “so help me (us) God!

  4. Uche Aniago says:

    If they get angry, it is because they are guilty!
    When are you going to do something on Achebe’s last book on the civil
    war? I am dying to read your take on the whole shebang…

  5. Liz Muggeridge says:

    Hi Chuma

    Long time, since our discussions in my shop in Oxford! hope you are well, am in Botswana and also working in Nigeria!

    if you’re still in Oxford, be good to catch up next time I am there

  6. Iquo Eke says:

    A sad but true representation of the existential reality that Nigeria is saddled with… But for how long?

  7. Diana Sang says:

    Hi Chuma!

    I was privileged to listen to you recite this poem at Story Moja – Nairobi the other day and must say I really enjoyed it! The poem resonates with us in Kenya too and the picture (albeit a sad state of affairs) couldn’t have been painted any better. I look forward to reading more of your works.

  8. Ochechi Francis says:

    Hi Chuma
    i must rather say that listening to you on that cool sunny evening in Makurdi, Benue state with Geoff Ryman read your poems filled with the penchant desire to read more of your works. Reading this “awesome” prayer by our Oga at the top has further endeared me to your rich literary oeuvre. Anyway, nice piece.
    I would love to submit an article on your African writing web page but have been unable to. could you help me in any way. Thanks!

  9. Eye Kay Nwaogu says:

    This is lovely. Deep, and resonating with sense! I wonder why things of this nature do not get publicized, at least to the point when these fellows will see them, and realize that we know. We’re on the edge of a revolution. Well done Sir.

  10. Chuma Nwokolo says:

    Well, you can send it to your friends’ list and ask them to send it to theirs – eventually it will get to those who need to read it! We will do what we have to.

  11. Tricia Nwokolo Okwuasaba says:

    Chuma, Absolutely brilliant & on point! I can’t wait to read more…Bless

    1. Chuma Nwokolo says:

      You are welcome, Tricia. Do subscribe your email address on this page and you will receive our regular blogposts…


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