And The Sun Rises And Shines – Nigerian Independence Day
The poem was commissioned by Near FM ‘Poem of the Week’ series to commemorate Nigerian Independence Day 2017. The poem lays all bare to be examined, hiding neither beauty nor blemish because we should never hide our history. A nation that is de-historized is impoverished.
A castle in ruins is still a castle
Is still an unfit residence for a queen
Is still a site of history unraveling in a whirlpool of madness
Is still a site of unshakeable majesty
I collaborated with videographer Cian Brennan to create the video. We filmed the video at Sandymount Beach because the location features the backdrop of the twin towering Poolbeg chimneys. The chimneys are now regarded as an iconic and significant symbol of Dublin and reminders of its industrial past, while other frequent visitors to the gorgeous beach may argue that the chimneys are an eye-sore.
It is important to accept that parts of our history and culture can occupy conflicting dichotomous spaces in our minds and hearts. This feeling is referred to as bittersweet. That is the sense with which I relate to the history and memories of my birthplace Nigeria. A place that is no longer home, but has memories of home attached to it after 10 years of being away from it, while living in Ireland. My bittersweet memories of growing up in Nigeria are mixed in with my knowledge of the conflicted history of its kingdoms, colonization, independence, civil war, democracy, and corruption.
In the poem, I tried to capture all aspects of Nigeria’s rise, collapse, and current state. I wanted the piece to capture Nigeria as a country that is regal but also in ruins. Nigeria gained its independence from Britain in 1960. Soon after the country fell into a genocidal civil war in 1967 – just 7 years later. Nigeria is a country that is riddled with tribal and ethnic tensions but equally flooded with national pride (especially during football season!) It is just as often us against the world as it is us against ourselves. We are kings and queens of ancient kingdoms but we also have savagery and servitude flowing through our history.