FREEDOM DOES NOT STAY HERE

FREEDOM DOES NOT STAY HERE

The generator dying yesterday at our corper’s lodge revealed how loud it had been. Silence gathered me into its embrace, and I could touch its arm. I was one with this silence—it knew my language, my secrets, my fears, my resentments, my bereavement, my scars. It knew everything. And I can swear it had its voice, too; that we almost got to talking. But the rhythms of a night worship from somewhere across the gentle, huddled roofs seared our conversation and left it wriggling between our lips.

Like a soul trapped in a closet.

And we couldn’t reach more between us. We knew the words, thought them, passed them from mind to mind, but we were denied the air to feed them growth.

Silence and I failed yesterday night.

Like we failed to reignite a memory of our love of family in the minds of our family.

Today is the day the country I live in becomes 59.

I have lived therein almost half of those years. I have heard and read and learnt of Rivers Niger and Benue, of the Southern and Northern Protectorates, of Lord Lugard and the lurid imagination of Flora Shaw, of Aburi and its saga of betrayal, of coups and failed coups and countercoups. Of the massacres in Kano and reprisal attacks. Of Biafra. Of three years of dearth and death and debt to humanity.

Damn. I was here when Boko Haram came on. Mosques up in flames. Churches burning. Motor parks blown up. Chibok girls – kidnap wasn’t in the curriculum, but it came for them, came to fetch them in the dead of a Nigerian night. Leah Sharibu. Others named “etcetera”. Over a hundred futures stolen into blurry, lascivious captivity.

For they will never be the same again.

I was here when the new currency defied all worldly approved exchange rates. One cow = a whole goddamn village. A farmer entered his farm one morning and found amongst his struggling crops men with their cattle, cattle grazing and flicking blithe tails. The farmer shouted in sheer toiling agony and, with the wooded end of his hoe, hit one of the “priceless” cows—and owners of the tail-flicking gods took his head and, with a clean swipe of their deadly blade, instantly rewarded the sacrilege. They didn’t stop there. They raged into his homestead nearby, and ensured that no soul remained to mourn the tale.

For a cow had been hit. For this, I was here.

I was not dead when young voters took in bullets immediately the ballot boxes took in their votes. I was not dead when they pressed their gun into my ribs in Imo State and asked me to be a nocturnal mathematician. I was not dead, reader, when I peed into my khaki.

I was here, phone in hand, watching colleagues in Lagos and Port Harcourt crammed into coffins – a mass burial that sealed a part of my heart and dried my eyes very fast.

I did not die when my hope died. When my love died. When my faith died.

If you see the money that breathes in soakaways and ancient caskets, will you back away?

Will you use the gross understatement – “Politics is a dirty game”?

The blood of children, of youths, of teachers, of incorruptible officials—if you check underneath their well-manicured nails, you might just find it still encrusted there.

Some things are just dirtier than shit, and they stick longer to the conscience—the one not muffled by astronomical wardrobe doughnuts, by casual flights abroad, by ginormous godfathered party funds.

Asa was like, “There is fire on the mountain / And nobody seems to be on the run.” Asa baby, but we are running. We are now running. We are running to South Africa, where we get killed again, from where our ghosts come back home to judgment: “What did you leave your fatherland for? Does one leave a burning house? Why leave, you waterless people?”

The fire, alas, has crept into the crannies.

King Sunny Ade sang, “Nigeria yi ti gbogbo wa ni (Nigeria is ours) / Ko ma gbodo baje (Things must not go awry) / Tori ko s’ibomiiran ti a le lo (We have nowhere else to go) / Ajo o le dabi ile (There is no sanctuary like home) / E je k’a so’wo po, k’a f’imo s’okan (Let’s unite in one mind and one voice) / Gbe e, k’emi gbe (Be responsible, I will be, too).”

Look at me who wants to check out like Obinze, like Ifemelu of Americanah fame – you think I don’t want to stay in my home? I do. I want to. But home is a mother that has disowned her child—and is determined that things stay that way.

I am not welcome here.

As long as the law finds my very existence as a love-being harmful and therefore criminalizes my truth and peace… As long as 11-years old girls can be plucked into marriage to their grandfathers’ buddies in my country, but no two consenting adults or two consenting children can breathe across the carefully pruned pages of the Bible and the Qur’an… As long as being who I am will kill me fast out there in the open streets, by the hands of people whose relationships I have helped build, whose gods I have worshipped, and whose hearts I have warmed… As long as I still live in half-darks and whispers and euphemisms, and still have to battle fellow ignorance and phobia and hysteria and hypocrisy… As long as I am a man living here under the weight of years of national injustice, social bigotry and religious brutishness…

As long as these are so, I will never feel at home.

I will never be a welcome citizen.

I will always know your loathing for the crime of loving.

I will never find home in this nation of 59 years in freedom.

The night yesterday came with its own ghosts, ghosts that have found freedom at least.

The true independence.

If you were a boy who was summarily killed by SARS because you “resembled” a yahoo boy, Happy Independence to you.

If you were a girl that night at Chibok who died before the real horrors began, Happy Independence to you.

If you were a gay man, or a lesbian, or a bisexual, dragged out of the privacy of your house and stripped naked like a common thief, stripped of all dignity and humanity, and you died in the process, Happy Independence to you.

If you are queer and you die a small death every time you have to listen to and endure the dehumanization of your identity, Happy Independence to you.

If you have read this, and still do not feel pricked to even remotely see a need to shed your ignorance, your blindness of heart, your darkness of memory, and your clinging to an ideology that never paid your humanity in unsullied coins…If you read this and you still fasten your gaze to your hateful mirage of culture, tradition and religion – Happy Independence Day to you.

For it is you—you real Nigerians, the welcome buds of the shoot, the gayless fornicators and liars and adulterers and molesters—that are truly free.

To be. To do. To live.

Happy Independence Day from me and all my disowned siblings.

May the land pay for what it did, is doing, and has done.

💔

Written by Blue Moon

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8 Comments

  1. Fred
    October 04, 09:18 Reply

    Well-done, Blue moon

  2. Eddie
    October 04, 09:45 Reply

    Captivating!!!! 👏👏👏👏
    Word!!

  3. Peace
    October 05, 17:29 Reply

    Sigh…… This is the most beautiful thing I have seen today

  4. Mandy
    October 06, 07:37 Reply

    This write-up is so pure. Beautiful. And sad at the same time. Nigeria’s independence is one big joke being played on Nigerians.

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