This Land is Mine

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(and you can take this how you will, but) these
double-breasted hills, bronze fields of
windblown corn, this scarpland
north of Udi Hills, these are
my mother’s
arms

& the mango groves abutting Aliade
may scrape the skies today, but
must remember too, our
sapling days when I
climbed them
one and
all

I eat my fill of her grove and go,
but next year’s mango
calls me back by
name

I hear your call, Shere. my dawn choir are
hoopoes, their three-note calls chorus
my name. susurrus rivers sing
their troth, with Kebbi’s
teenage hawkers
crying, buy
from
me

This land is mine. her gentle gravity
reins me home with every
step I take
away

Deploy title deeds and fences. bulldoze hills and ranges
into borrowpits, dam Sotuba, dam Markala, and
dam the Niger dead beyond the Jebba…
she still will flow to burst her
southern banks at
the River
Nun

See. how poetic rivers dodge the boulders on their way
to sea. so well they know the lie of land, like me.
they do this in their sleep: meander just as
fluently in the dead of night. – so iterate
in vain your politics of hate, but I will
criss-cross ‘borders’, clad by ‘foes’
that call me brother, fed by
the ministry of my
million sisters.
you will
see

Return your holy politics to her pew in
hell, for I church and mosque alike.
they may bow to gods on
every hill and stream.
they are my
brothers
still.

See me sail the Sokoto into Limpopo, cross
the Kaduna into Zambezi. drive the
Cape to Cairo highway, Juban
breakfast, lunch in Lome
and back in Addis to
watch Asaba’s
evening
stars

yet,
this land that crowns me son coops her eaglets with
hen chicks, pens her cubs with dogs, to raise a
pride of lions that shame their nature,
an aerie of eagles that won’t soar.
that scratch the dust to eat.
she scorns the startling
truth, she buys the
lies, she dies.
see…

so adumbrate this vision once again, of the
resurrection of my land, lazarused by
the fires of our future memory,
renewed by the wisdom
of your ancient
teaching

for my tongue is slaved to your peculiar kitchen:
knobs of ginger diced, sauteed in peanut
oil, still won’t sting enough
to feed pepper’s
nostalgia

Why is oha sweetest in Owerri’s pot? say.
why does Ijebu-Remo’s ikokore sing?
why is pounded yam best
eaten with egusi
fingers

Say why the aroma of smoked mudfish
cannot bewitch, till scooped from
Bussa’s rapids – & smoked
above her slow
woodfires.
say

Can you cook acha in Jos without the gingery gauta?
& still sing a song for pottaged grain? tell. or mine
her pot’s mysterious depths without a trembling
spoon? or see lodes of smoked fish, carrot,
periwinkle even – and stay indifferent?
tell! salivary glands convulse as
strips of ram, of lamb, drip
their sizzling fat on coal
aromatic with the
memory of last
night’s
suya

…until the affliction that eats memory’s roast
yam with bile for oil… Amnesiana Naija.
from the frigid floes in the
sky of a Pankshin
dawn I
fly

From the fragrant mounds of mangala,
in a market gravid with
tongues. Amnesia
Nigeriana!

Good mourning Nigeria

Reeling from the clap of percussive palms
echoing from independence, through
cenotaph; from the morgue of
Maitatsine to the
bombs of Boko
Haram

In the beginning you were sketched by trader’s
chalk on a map without a mother, by
moralists so sickened by the
sin of retail slavery that
they enslaved
nations of
men

Born investment, bastard child suckled by distant
queen, tired crone milked and cast aside…
until her paps are engorged anew by
oil…your kingdom comes: tin
gods that daily rape your
three dozen halves
of yellow
suns.
see

a seam of fortune in a sunken lodestone.
a picket fence hammered from
fractious sticks of dynamite.
a languid river and her
streams. – and a haul
of bled ethnicities
bursting at their
dreams

Kola lobes scatter into your gourd, miland,
portend a future of shackles –
that Young Nigeria
will break
asunder

Womb whose virgin seed engined the world
whose blood, admixt, loamed
the granary of
Earth

…Kola lobes scatter… but I read your
augury in the taut gaze of
souls pregnant with
dreams of the
amazing

A hundred years in sun and rain have steeped
your spirit into this: Naija. offspring

whose loyal lips have known no other breast
but yours – they now arise. they call your name.

Ojota flows, irresistible as
an ocean wave. Eko o ni baje

patriots from Jos, Jalingo close behind.
Kano’s pillars piles a driver into

the masquerade’s straw jaw. Ikot Ekpene,
team Lokoja, leading regattas of

zealous ones, secret Igbo towns strung out
on a brown chaplet of laterite roads

The Young Shall Grow decants them all. say. they
pool, they sow historic pain in truth, they

break the tribal lies of cunning foxes
sucking the marrow of their futures. they

grow a new Naija. from Mambilan heights
they flow, flood the Benue, drain the Donga,

Hadeija, all her timeless rivers pour
their blood into your cause, Naija. say!

they call your name, retrieving echoes from
ancestors, from progeny. from Ubiaja,

from Kpam, Ilorin, Abuja, they flood
the Tchad, float their rafts upon Anambra’s

brown currents, Oshun’s tumid skin. they tap
the earthy secrets of the Nok, Daura’s

implacable ardour, Oyo’s grace and
splendour, Kanem’s power. Bornu’s glory.

the squalid circumstances of their birth
is a detail quashed by the pomp and the

circumstance of their ancestry. Benin.
Bida. talakawa kingdoms where a

dozen chiefs lead hamlets of twelve homes. they
come. Potiskum, still nursing the scars from

the blood they bled via Badagry’s ancient wound.
their slave scabs itch. they’ll be slaves no more!

certificate of occupancy: signed,
sealed, delivered, this land is theirs to nurture.

she’s no asset on a corporate balance sheet,
no spoil of a rentier class. no raped lass.

and they are free, not serf. empowered, not
slave. listen: they strain at the leash of a

broken leadership. from Nok’s secret streams
they hear a voice deeper, a wisdom truer

than
their teachers’
alien dogma. yes. (and
you can say this if you will -)
this land is ours to have and to hold
onto this hour of her rebirth. she calls our name.

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