Adeboro Odunlami: Use your legs [NEW VOICES]

Dear Nigeria,

All the decades you have lived, there’s only one thing to say to you: you deserve better.

On the operating table of colonialism and ease of administration, you were sewn together. Putting together pieces and parts that do not necessarily belong together, they made you who you are. When the surgeon introduced you to us, you were nothing like we had ever seen- so unique and special.

And while you yet healed, you were christened. Like Moses in his little basket, the English version of Pharaoh’s daughter cuddled you and said, ‘She looks like a Nigeria. Why don’t we name her Nigeria?’ And so you came to be – an entity with an identity, only within seconds.

But you had never lived, so you never knew what you wanted from life. You relaxed comfortably in the arms of your caretaker and trusted them to take care of you. But your caretakers were as confused as you were; only being independent states yesterday, now assumed the position of co-governance of a whole federation, they panicked.

Those people lacking melanin; those who first paid you attention, hung around a while, but not for too long. Home called and they answered. And so they left intestate; not telling the caretakers what their will was for the entity they had birthed.

But some good men rose to love you. Perhaps, that was the only time you experienced true love – the love that comes from sacrifice and not quid pro quo. They fought for you and loved you. They never robbed you of your belongings but strove to add to you daily.

But that was short-lived. Soon each part began clamoring to be the head of your body. With weird manifestos and empty promises, they climbed up the ladder of your frame and made it to the head. But, despite the number of parts that have climbed up to assume the position of your head, your head has never really been correct again. It is either thinking poorly; thinking wickedly; thinking selfishly; dozing off; getting slapped around; thinking for its own self, or not even thinking at all.

And Nigeria, you know what happens when the head of a person is not correct: the whole body follows suit. Now, all your parts are in pain, ignored, mismanaged, misunderstood, broken beyond basic repair and what not. Your legs cannot run too far and so other countries mock you as they zoom past you. Your vision is blurred and other countries cannot understand you when you speak. Your heart is so hard that other countries realign themselves away from you. Your voice is so weak that other countries cannot hear you. Heck, you don’t even know what your own voice sounds like anymore.

Foreign and indigenous physicians have diagnosed the problem. They have acknowledged all the chronic problems wrong with every part of your body and have advised you, in their press conferences, articles and directives, to take your head to the hospital, for then and only then would your whole body start to heal.

But can the hand carry the head to a place he would not go?

You watch feebly as head after head of your body, insist that nothing is wrong with him. And you will die if you keep watching. All the thread and bonds used on the Operating Table those years ago are coming loose. You are rickety and you might not go too far until you use your legs to drag your head to the hospital.

And who are your legs? They are the young people; those who still have the strength to run. Let them be your legs. Recognize them and give them attention. Train and teach them the laws of progress. Provide what they would need to adequately get you treated. Do not ignore them just because they are way below; down there in age and size. They are your only saving grace; for only they can take the head even to places he does not want to go.


Adeboro is a graduate of Law, a photographer and a collector of experiences. You probably, most likely, already know her.

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cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail