Nigeria is one of those countries where everything is taken for granted. Nothing matters especially when it concerns the masses. So when the President, Umaru Yaradua, fell ill, for over three months, a country of over 100 million people was left in a quandary – to debate if indeed their president was alive in a Saudi Arabian hospital, as claimed by the ‘puppet’ officials in government. After much heated debate and some suggested – impeachment? He returned to Nigeria (according to state officials), in the middle of the night, in an ambulance, and with all lights switched off at the international airport.
The president of Nigeria returned, but since his return, no one except the ‘chosen’ and handpicked clerics have seen him. Obviously, his people believe it is not the problem of the masses, who voted him to power to know his present condition. This poem was inspired by my brother, who wouldn’t write a poem if his life depended on it, who at the height of the controversy, started out writing one – he never finished though.
Every day, He Buys newspaper
Reads the news News is the same
This day, He Buys newspaper
News is a remain Of change News in brief: President sick Then missing And Found— Dead? President returns— Alive? In an ambulance The citizen:
He gapes Develops headache Something is wrong
He goes to bed Too early
He sits up On the bed Props his chin With his hands
News in brief:
President invisible Visible to clerics With third eye?
He smiles Then Laughs. He Cries into the day
He picks up a pen And a paper He writes a poem: President Layabout
“Jumoke Verissimo’s poetic voice is imbued with a consciousness of African history and an awareness of the socio-economic realities of modern Nigeria with its legacy of colonial plunder, its pathetic attempts at self-governance and the brutality of its military dictatorships. she balances the despair she sees all around her with a degree of stubborn hope and an enchanting lyricism which echoes the style of oral African poetry.” - Funso Aiyejina (Critic, Poet and Professor of Comparative Literature)