31 DAYS OF POETRY- DAY 14- THE ROAD TO JUBILEE- by Dike Chukwumerije

There, I see the tall flag post
Grainy pictures from yesterday
Balewa shaking Alexandra of Kent
Awo, the Sardauna and Azikiwe
Let’s forget our differences
No, let’s understand them
While they were making sense of it
Disaster overtook them
A man whose name was Kaduna
But failed to take the North
But Northern men fell in great number
So vengeance came down South
But Ironside’s blood was not enough
The trains brought back the dead
So, Aburi Accord was not enough
Not for all that Eastern blood
A War was fought. Brutality.
May we never forget
That the peace that came eventually
Did not bring settlement
For the nation broken into 12
19, then 21
Was still at war within itself
Secession’s ghost lived on
But gold, the black of fossil fuel
It fuelled the illusion
That men could shake across the wall
And bond in corruption
A new elite that had no tribe
No tongue, no religion
That lied and lived; lived by the bribe
And scavenged a nation
But the contradictions in a land
Of rich and downright poor
Could not stay silent for too long
Brought monsters to the door
So, the Army shot down striking students
Waged war on Maitatsine
But the broken economy replaced the robbers
That Bar Beach took away
So, the Army shot down striking workers
And murdered Saro Wiwa
But rising youths and falling jobs
Gave MEND the Niger Delta
And still it spread the ancient rift
30, then 36
Each man seeks peace in his own State
A ghost that will not rest
The fear of power used foremost
For kith and kin and friend
So tribe and tongue must have its State
To bend to its own end
But while the people otherwise bound
In common bonds of oppression
Remain estranged, no stand is made
Or, can be, for a just nation
And if we thought democracy
Would bring with it relief
What good is freedom if the free
Can think only of self?
The vision of what we’ld become
A country, black and proud
Moved men with few things in common
To dare to stay united
But now we with shared history
Though clothed with what they lacked
But lack their sense of destiny
Now, what will be our fate?
To have the blocks, but not the builders?
The supreme paradox:
To need today the type of leaders
We killed in ‘66
No nation climbs down from the skies
With doors and dome intact
But from the muck each one must rise
A child of steely grit
And in each age must come the Time
For each one to decide
To go on with more of the same
Or choose a different path
The blood of those already dead
This precious past we share
All died in vain unless ahead
We choose again to dare
To look up at the green-white-green
Aflutter in the wind
And let it stir that hope again
Which moved Balewa’s mind
That evening on a trip abroad
A fact-finding mission
He saw no nation existed
Except by man’s volition
And so he wrote a friend of his
The words of a new dawn:
Henceforth, I shall be nothing else
But this- a Nigerian
And though he died so long ago
Those words remain a seed
May they find roots and sprout and grow
In this our time of need
For, what we were, in truth we were
And what we are, we are
But what we choose to be from here
Is all we’re liable for
To those unborn, those yet to come
Our present days, their history
To gift to them this great freedom-
One united country.

Dike Chukwumerije is a Masters Degree holder in Law and a writer who has been writing since he was 12 years old. Though he is also a novelist, Poetry is his first love; not just in writing but in performance poetry and spoken word. He is a multiple-slam champion, winning Abuja Literary Society (ALS) Poetry Slam competition twice in 2011, and the maiden edition of The African Poet Nigeria Poetry Slam competition in 2012. Little wonder, his first published work is a poem called ‘Ode to Bravery’, which was published in 2004 in a U.S Poetry Anthology. He has also been published in few literary magazines since then, including Dream Catcher (UK) and Saraba (Nigeria). His first poetry collection - The Revolution Has No Tribe: A Collection of Poems on African History, Culture and Society – was published in 2008. This particular collection has taken him around a bit, as he has done readings from it in Nigeria, UK and Switzerland. His other poetry collections include– Ahamefula: The Cultural Significance of Names amongst the Ibos (2008), Malaika: A Collection of Poems for Children and those who Love them (2012), and On My Way To Azure Shores (2012). His first full-length fiction was published in 2011 and it is titled, The African American. It was long listed for the 2012 Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature. His other books include Urichindere (2012), One Nigeria: The Birth and Evolution of an Idea (2011) and Strategic Love: Simple Rules that make Love Work (2008). He is also a blogger on – Dike Chukwumerije's Blog and Touch Me In The Heart.  


  1. Where is the venue for the 31 days of poetry?

    1. It's online, just mail olumide.bisiriyu@gmail.com

  2. You need to hear my Oga Dike performing...then you'll know what words can do

    1. I saw him perform when I came for a book presentation in Abuja some time ago. Undoubtedly, he is one of the Best in Nigeria.


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