August 6, 2012 – Prayer By Unborn Nigerian
I am not yet born, but can see clearly the land that will one day be mine, the streams from which I will one day sip, and the citizenship that will shortly become my millstone. I can hear directly, the dissonance of dialects I will one day speak and the divisions that will be mine to inherit.
Even now, I can sense my future fellow citizens shuffling and hustling to mosques and churches with a fervour that burns hot and runs deep, their faces etched intensely by godless fervour, but hearts swathed by the shallow shrouds of deceit.
I am still in my womb, but can smell the putrefaction that pervades public life and perfidy that prevails in private practise. I see a ruler totally disconnected from the pervasive reality of poverty: unable to grasp the enormity of his obligations and incapable of nurturing hope in the millions of hearts whose burden I will soon share.
And so while others are born into beauty and bounty, I know, before I am born, that my yoke will be one of lies, fears and tears; one of colossal debts, bone crushing poverty and heart-wrenching despair.
I am still to stare at the sunlight that shines on our savannah, but its shadows have shown my soul the similitude of the shack where I will be born, the untrained hands that will be the first to seize me and the bush lamps that will shine my steps.
Without being told, I know what the growling sounds in the distance are: they the intestinal rumblings of the diesel generators that will shatter my solemn silence for all eternity and strum the arpeggio of my eardrums every minute, every hour, every day. I know that my solitary serenity will only return when I come back to be interred in the wombs of Mother Earth.
My eyes are still closed, my breathing shallow, but I sense the seething hatreds that shear the soil on which I will soon stand. I see a land where Muslims regard Christians with suspicion and where the latter regard the former with scorn. I see a land where the south feels it has been treated shabbily by rulers from the north and therefore see nothing wrong with being treated even worse by an idiot from the south, regardless of how profligate, pernicious, pedantic.
What I can see, but my living compatriots refuse to recognize is that Muslim or Christian, north or south, the elite eat together in private and carve up our heritage while the common man is fed doses of hatred, bigotry and false hope. And so they wallow in poverty and regard the theft of their birthrights as the culmination of divine destiny, a prophetic mission.
I am not yet born, but already repulsed by the schools that I will one day attend. I can feel the cold bare floors, the shattered window panes, the peeling paints and crumbling masonry. I shudder at the cold stares my teachers will soon direct at me to and the volcanic anger that seems to spring from some deep seated hatred of a trade they despise, but cannot depart.
And because our leaders steal monies meant for public schools to educate their children abroad in select schools, I discern that I will go to school an unlettered ignorant and come out a certified ignoramus; no school will admit me for further studies, no employer will give me a job and no one simply has my time.
I am not yet born, but detect that I cannot change the scam they call freedom. I cannot exercise the liberty of choice because my democracy is a sham; I cannot evoke real change for the baton-wielders will rush out to kill and maim; I cannot flee to other lands because my passport is my shame; I cannot confide in my imams nor confess to my priests for they are part of the shame. And I cannot share these fears with friends as we are not from the same zone, nor voice the truth since I speak a different tone. I cannot be myself because I have no right to be.
I am not yet born, but can make out the shock of bomb blasts, the staccato of gun fire and spurting torrents of blameless blood – spilled by mindless, heedless zealots in the name of beliefs they neither symbolise nor comprehend – blinded only by the bonfire of the self-righteous.
Dear God, I am not yet born, but pray thee: when I draw my first draughts of breath and see my first sights, birth me not in the Nigeria of today; berth me not in a land sheared by lies, tears and fears. Confer me not with countrymen corralled by corruption and complacency, nor rulers dense, drab and drunk, unhearing, unseeing, unthinking.(By Salisu Suleiman)