The Sod’s Prayer
By Chudi A. Okoye
Our dearly beloved Father
Thou which art in Aso Rock
Hallowed be thy name!
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done in Igbo land –
The land you crush with iron hand –
As it is desired by Fulani bands.
Master, you can squelch our self will
Thy flock can invade the land we till
And you may deny us our say
But we beseech thee with dread:
Daddy, please give us this day
Our daily bread;
By this supplication we seek
Not, by any means, the common weal
Of our people, in pains, hoping to heal
But merely our individual gains.
We seek thy private favors, oh Master
Even though upon our land rains
Thy wanton ire and thy vindictiveness.
We shall proclaim thy distinctiveness
Even as you seem to seek the final solution
Against a people that you once fought
And crushed bodily but not their thought.
Please forgive our irreverent brethren –
Those upright folks with manly pride –
Father forgive them their trespasses
For they know not what they do!
We ourselves with beseeching hands
Have long forgotten thy old trespasses
Perpetrated against our traumatized people
And now willingly we also do forgive
Thy vile and enduring trespasses
Thy wanton and unremitting brutalities
Furtively enacted but largely unspoken
Against the forlorn peoples of the East
Who appear beaten but remain unbroken.
We forgive, quite willingly Sir, all thy excess
Just so we can retain our treasured access
To the labyrinths of power in Aso Rock.
This we promise thee today, our Master:
Those kith and kin with thin skin
Whose roar rattles the forests of injustice
Will not lead us into the temptation
Of ever confronting – ever! – this oppression.
Daddy, please deliver us from their drivel
Their constant complaints about the evil
Visited upon their lives by commands
Issuing from the hallowed entrails of Aso Rock.
Those isolated vanguards of Igbo patriotism
Raising ructions and righteous revolt
Fail to contemplate the current catechism
Fail to see that after seeking power for so long
Preternaturally striving to ascend the rung
You now hold the country in fearsome remand
And Nigeria is truly – for now – thy kingdom
The domain of thy power and thy glory.
But away with them, Abba Father!
We won’t be deterred from thy beneficence!
We won’t be prized from our prominence!
We will revel in thy present eminence,
And joyfully so, our benevolent Master, we will,
Assured that however strident the critics’ peal
Our forgetful columns will come to be dazzled
By the shiny spoils of our slavish toils.
We will ride the paternoster of a new story
And our stars will glimmer with reflected glory
For ever and ever
(First draft: Seattle, March 4, 2021)