We Are Ready by Titilope Sonuga

Categories: Poetry


Photo Credit: Aisha Augie-Kuta

Photo Credit: Aisha Augie-Kuta

They said they heard a war
growling in our bellies
said we had a taste for blood
they imagined us clawing apart
our country
hungry and greedy

They said the Giant of Africa
had nursed her growing pains too long
bones creaking and stretching to hold still
the tremble of fault lines
across land mass
across tribe
across religion
across language

They said our voices were too small to be heard
over the noise of bombs
over the noise of pundits and prophets
with predictions about chaos and carnage
oil gushing from our open wounds

They said we were not ready

But maybe
it was something in the wind
maybe we caught the scent of an old promise
and remembered something
something familiar as freedom
an unrelenting, irrational hope
demanding answers for generations waiting
bodies hunched like question marks
beneath an angry sun

On that day
we dared even lightening to touch us
dared the rain to wash away our resolve
as we bloomed defiant
across the country
purple thumbs sprung up
to affirm something greater than our differences
something too urgent to wait

From the cobwebs of every forgotten place
we came
said we are here
count us
remember our names

Bruised and broken
though we may be
but we know how to heal
then heal again
how to reinvent in times of nothing
how to dance beneath
the weight of what threatens to break our backs
how to pull laughter from our throats
when wailing was expected

Children of Niger River current running
of salt water swamp and swelling plateau
of rock might and iron will

We have not forgotten who we are
what was birthed between the push
of waterfall and savannah
what dreams were spoken
with 500 tongues
from hilltops and ocean belly
what tireless hands built this place
from soil and sweat

Baba, now that you are there
perched on the promise of tomorrow
propelled forward
by the hope of generations

Remember the forgotten
the left behind
the left in the dark
the ones who carry the hope of this country
like a prayer

each individual pulse
of the heartbeat of this land
yearning for someone to believe in
Remember every square kilometer
pulsing with the bloodlines of millions
and millions more before us
bracing up the earth beneath our feet
so that we can walk in this moment

This moment
when the whole world will remember
how the multitudes became one
to say:

this country belongs to us,
complex and flawed
pushed to the brink then back again
but we are not ashamed
we are not afraid of the difficult journey
change is here and

We are ready

Titilope Sonuga, May 29, 2015

We Are Ready; the inspirational inauguration poem delivered by Titilope Sonuga at Nigeria’s Presidential Inauguration Ceremony on May 29, 2015. Titilope, a Civil Engineer and multiple award-winning poet and author, resides in Canada. Used with permission.

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