December 22, 2017 Nigeria , Opinion

AFP photo



Ernest Ogunyemi


Sitting in our cramped one-room apartment that looked more like a store than an apartment for five, listening to Baami and Maami talk about Nigeria being ‘a cursed nation’ and America being ‘the blessed one,’ I didn’t understand. I hitched to know why they call Nigeria politicians thieves and the real robbers; to know why they believe Nigeria will never get better; why they believe things will never change. Maybe because it is cursed. No. If yes, there must be a reason, a woman is not named Kumolu for nothing.

After we take the everyday, every night, garri and ewedu mixed with soup and a meat the size of a third part of my finger – recession – I would lie like a rain-beaten rat in the corner of our matchbox on mat that already needed a younger one and imagine a beautiful Nigeria, not the same one where people sleep on a stomach that pricks like it contains hot tiny needles and makes them fall in a garri pool in their dreams.

But it isn’t. I was always reminded of that fact whenever I wake up very early in the morning to prepare for school, about six people waiting to use a single bathroom, and whenever I started my long walk to jail on a road with brown-reddish-coloured water in holes that scattered over the road like seven broken china, that makes bikes slither along like snakes and cars jeer to move out of them.

And whenever I pasted my ear to the wind and I heard boys and girls like me talking in leaking voices about what they stole from the whisper of their parents: that President Muhammadu Buhari who was taken to London for treatment was never going to return – another Yar’ Adua. I hitched to know why the President had to go to London for treatment, are there no hospitals in Nigeria?

I did not know. Not until he returned and people started rejoicing – not for a safe return, but that he would take it up from his Vice, that the powers-that-be were claiming incapable, in clear sounding modern proverbial sayings. I watched it on our small-box, SHARP TV – and the health people decided to go on strike.

‘Why they go on strike? Isn’t that stupid?’ I would ask, a question I did not understand. Not yet.


In the absence of Mr. President a lot had happened, I did not know; at least not until I saw the headline: ‘The unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable’– President Muhammadu Buhari. I wanted what he meant by the statement until I started hearing of IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu the leader. I did not know what IPOB meant, although I know the I meant Independence, in Nigeria almost every I means that – even though there is scarcely anything close to it, Independence in Naija is as scarce as Naira.

It was when Mrs Oguriado, our Government teacher, mentioned IPOB when teaching on the Civil War – Biafra vs Nigeria. She told us it means the Independent People of Biafra and that those trying to resurrect the dead bone of Biafra are fools who cannot read history.

While all these were going on my brother was busy looking for America and he found it. He found it in the American visa lottery. And soon he was gone, he was gone to the blessed land of America! Baami and Maami were the happiest people I have ever seen that day, and our foes became our best friend, as each crept into our crappy house to say farewell and fairme.

After five long years of leaving Nigeria, the cursed land, my brother returned with two earrings in his ears, a face like that of a lady – he now like Maami more – and I trait I never knew was locked somewhere in him. He was now a ‘gay’.

At the sight of him Maami began to rain curses on America, saying it had destroyed her son, that God should also destroy it.

Then I understood, I understood that Nigeria is not cursed; for we had no earthquakes like the ones that hit America, or the hurricane and other disasters that made American preachers predict it as the Sodom of this day. I understood that Nigeria is not the problem, that the problem is not here but here in our hearts, our being, for all of creation is fallen.





Ernest Ogunyemi

Ernest Ogunyemi is an African writer with a very strong voice. He is a grade 11 student at Baptist Boys’ High School, Nigeria. He has published an e-book, a one act play on the war for peace: Revolution. He founded The Voices of Our Generation, a blog for young writers to publish their poem, articles and stories to change the narratives about Africans. Voice of Our Generation is concerned with developing the total African child and youth by informing, entertaining and also providing a platform for the African child and youth to showcase its creativity.

Editor review


  1. adetunji4 December 26, at 15:30

    Beautifully crafted imagery depicting a country in uncertainty.the writers intelligence is astonishing


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