The first commandment is to know grief;

it is on every headline,

it is in your candle lit government hospital that ushers you into pain,
it is on mama’s wrapper written as ‘adieu papa’,
it is in the crackling engines of the danfo that coughs death as we grab a seat on the one-way trip home,
it is on the lips of Michael and Francis, who do not know why their friends will never come to school again, nor what a building collapse meant.
 
The first lesson is grief.

To be Nigerian, you’ve to learn to let God lead; he is the alpha and omega,

the love of God supercedes the love of state.

he is why your business fails; to protect you from more harm. (it is not government’s policies)

he is why your child dies; to save you from raising a murderer. (it is not non-functioning hospitals)

he is why your car breaks down on the highway; to save you from robbers…

but

you and Mr. Jackson, who drove into a battalion of waiting thieves (it is God who saves you remember)…

belong to the same church.

God… is merciful.

In Nigeria, you’re an artist of race.

first you paint yourself as a Yorùbá,

then as a Yorùbá Christian.

and Fuhad paints himself different, a Yoruba Muslim,

and Chukwu thinks you all are jokers, because Catholicism is the light,

and Abdul cuts off Fuhad, for not knowing Allah enough.

in Nigeria, you paint yourself different, and then you suck the nectar out of yourselves.


A Nigerian, is never at fault.

it is the President who is responsible for the dumpsite in the middle of the road,

and the House built on a waterway,

and the building which collapses,

and the tanker which explodes;

you’re not to blame, for lifting a bucket and digging into oil, as it runs through the road from an accidental abortion of a fuel delivery…

the sky is thick with smoke,

of the sins of your leaders,

of the errors of their ways,

of the policies they didn’t make,

of the road they didn’t fix,

but because you’re a Nigerian, you are guilt free.


This is what it means to be Nigerian;

to know grief,

to know God,

to know art,

to know no fault.

Because being Nigerian, means you’re a horde of rats, waiting to bell the cat.

But nobody bells it,

you instead become fruitful and multiply.

And the cat gets fat on your fear.

This is what it means to be Nigerian;

to know grief.
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