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Monday, April 05, 2021


by Joseph Hope

The United States Country Report on Human Rights Practice in Nigeria, published on March 31, 2021, tepidly states that “On October 20, members of the security forces enforced curfew by firing shots into the air to disperse protesters, who had gathered at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos to protest abusive practices by the Nigerian Police Force’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). Accurate information on fatalities resulting from the shooting was not available at year’s end. Amnesty International reported 10 persons died during the event, but the government disputed Amnesty’s report, and no other organization was able to verify the claim.” The US government report is seriously at odds with the CNN report reproduced above. 

A subsequent CNN report documents how the Nigerian government edited a key piece of video evidence. "The Lagos State government's security camera footage of the Lekki toll gate shooting did not capture everything."

We don't have evidence
but we have our truth.
We don't have evidence,
because it was ripped away from us 
with guns aimed at our heads.
People were shot and taken away to unmarked graves.
We have their faces crested on our hearts,
the nameless uncounted for.
Protesters waving their flags were shot in their heads
in their guts
in their backs
in all the places that could kill a man.
The numbers of the dead increases by enough.
A bullet goes through a youth's  
throat like hypens 
silencing the anthem in his mouth.
Mustapha is down. John too.
How many brothers do I have to bury 
to know how hard it is to dig a grave?
Peace and bullets ain't mixable, 
Don't you agree? 
Our blood is also red like the blood of Abel.
The dead are restless.
The dead  were shamed:
Their bodies were washed off the cameras, 
washed off the internet, 
washed down the filthy drains like shit
by the unremorseful ruling monsters?
But the dead have many tongues: so listen 
to me, you proprietor of death—
This is our Homeland!
It's our right to sing, 
think, and talk.
We will not yield
even if you level us like fields, 
and cut us away from our names and identity.
Turn us to organic manures 
and we will still grow trees 
whose adventurous roots will infiltrate your resorts (Aso Rock)
to strangle you 
and your ignoble generals.
We are too stubborn
to be wiped off clean.
We'll continue to speak underneath the earth 
until someone up there hears us.

Joseph Hope is writing from Nigeria, a student of Usman Danfodio University. His works are either forthcoming or already published in Reckoning Press, Evening Street Press, Praxis Magazine, Gemini Spice Magazine, Spillwords, SprinNG, Writers Space Africa, Nthanda Magazine, 5th Chinua Achebe Anthology, Ariel Chart, Best "New" African Poets 2019 Anthology, and many more. He's a young man running away from his name. How absurd!