My people are being sidelined
My people are overlooked
We are like that distant relative –
That obscure, forgotten cousin
Seated somewhere, far in the back
Gatecrashing your birthday party
Hoping for some crumbs
Of the national cake –
My people are being finished.

My people are being forgotten
My people are ignored
Our voices do not carry
Down the corridors of power;
Our leaders do not hold
Ministerial posts and parastatal billets
My people are feeling stateless;
We do not ‘have a flag’;
My people are being finished.

My people are wasting away
Our youth have no jobs
Running water
Is but a pipe dream –
Or the nearest stream –
Which, incidentally, is also the only place
Current flows around here…
It’s lights out when night’s in;
My people are being finished.

My people wallow in ignorance
Girls only go to school
Till they start flowing
And mounds start growing
At the earliest sign of womanhood
Their parents cash in…
Chang’aa dens are where the dropouts drop in
Nearest hospital has half a doctor and no nurse
My people are being finished.

My people have had enough
Their people have held the power,
The riches, for too long…
Now we want one of our own
On the throne –
We vote, we fight, we rape, we kill
We take what is ours
Via the ballot or the bayonet –
My people have had enough.

Now we are victorious
And one of our own is in State House
We get out our napkins
Sharpen our knives
To dig into the national cake –
But as soon as the campaign money dries up
We rarely see our ‘flag’ any more
’Cause the roads are atrocious
And the choppers cost too much to be worth it…

It wasn’t meant to be like this
In spite of all the promises
Nothing has changed –
Except, of course, for the three-storey mansion
Our ‘leader’ built for his mother
And the smooth tarmac road
That leads up to her house
And the new electricity wires, and water pipes
That terminate in her compound
And the profuse, profound promises
That they will extend into ours, soon…

Our youth who went to war
To usher in this change?
Forgotten, jobless.
Our clansmen are Ministers
Our tribesmen Directors
But we won’t see them
For another five years
The stream still trickles on
The school is still bare
The hospital cabinets, still empty.

My people are being finished.

Finished by whom?