“My name is Nigeria, I need Re-building, not Re-branding!” by Onyema Uche

Flag and map of Nigeria
Flag and map of Nigeria

I came across this article on Nigeria, which can be applied to many countries in Africa.  This is more of a wake up call, rather than just a critic.  This expresses a need for re-building the minds, the brains, and the experiences of Africans.  This is very close to the poem ‘No More‘ by Kelvin Karani.  You can read the entire article on African Spotlight.  So, after reading this article, I would like to you to answer these questions: Do African countries need re-branding or re-building?  How do we stop importing and start producing ourselves?  Since we have all that is needed to feed ourselves, how do we get to the level where every child is well-fed? How do we improve our infrastructures, etc…?  Thomas Sankara managed, in less than 4 years as president, to bring his country to the level of food self-sufficiency. How do we get rid of our debts? How do we create jobs for our youths? What is needed to come out of this inferno cycle? While you are at it, please watch Thomas Sankara’s speech on eliminating the debt.


Few days ago, I spent 10 billion Naira to celebrate my 52nd birthday! I am Nigeria!!!.

I am divided into 36 unequal states, plus my capital territory, christened ABUJA . I have millions of acres of arable land and billions of cubic litres of water, but I cannot feed myself. So I spend $1 billion to import rice and another $2 billion to import milk. I produce rice, but don’t eat it. I have 60 million cattle but no milk. I have the capacity to feed the whole of Africa but I import most food instead. I am hungry, please help and re-build me. […]
I wanted change so I stood all day long to cast my vote. But even before I could vote, the results had been announced. When I dared to speak out, silence was enthroned by bullets. My rulers are my oppressors, and my policemen are my terrors. I am ruled by men in mufti, but I am not a democracy. I have no verve, no vote, no voice, please re-build me.
I have over 50 million youths with no jobs, no present and no future. So my sons in the North have become street urchins and their brothers in the South have become militants. My nephews die of thirst in the Sahara and their cousins drown in the waters of the Mediterranean.  My daughters walk the streets of Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt , while their sisters parade the streets of Rome and Amsterdam. I am inconsolable, please re-build me.
Bend Skin
Bend Skin in Cameroon (known as Okada in Nigeria)
My people cannot sleep at night and cannot relax by day.  They cannot use ATM machines, nor use cheques. My children sleep through the staccato of AK 47′s, see through the mist of tear gas, while we all inhale Carbon Monoxide, poisonous CO-2 from popular ‘I better pass my neighbour’ (portable generators) and ‘Okada’ (motorbike taxis) The leaders have looted everything on ground and below. They walk the land with haughty strides and fly the skies with private jets (28 of which were bought in the last 12 months). They have stolen the future of generations yet unborn and have money they cannot spend in several lifetimes, but their brothers die of hunger. I want justice, please re-build me.
I can produce anything, but import everything. So my toothpick is made in China; my toothpaste is made in South Africa; my salt is made in Ghana; my butter is made in Ireland; my milk is made in Holland; my shoe is made in Italy; my vegetable oil is made in Malaysia; my biscuit is made in Indonesia; my chocolate is made in Turkey and my table water made in France. My taste is far-flung and foreign. I no longer cook at home but take pride in eating at take-away outlets fashioned after the Western style of living. Anything made in my land is inferior; I prefer those made in England, America or Europe . To crown it all, items made in my land but specifically sent abroad with made in England labels are brought back from ‘Oyinbo’ land at 5 times the original price it would have gone for had it been sold as home made, please re-brand me. […]
 … I have four (4) refineries, but prefer to import fuel, so I waste more billions to import petrol and diesel. I have no security in my country, but would rather send troops to keep the peace in another man’s land. I have 160 dams, but cannot get water to drink, so I buy ‘pure’ water that broils my inwards. I have a million children waiting to enter universities, but my ivory dungeons can only take a tenth (10 %).  I have no power (electricity), but choose to flare gas, and vote billion of dollars every year to generate electricity but not a single watt has come from it. So, my people have learnt to see in the dark and stare at the glare of naked flares. I have no direction, please re-build me.
Children begging
Children begging
My people pray to God every morning and every night, but commit every crime known to man because re-branded identities will never alter the tunes of inbred rhythms. Just as the drums of heritage heralds the frenzied jingles, remember – the Nigerian soul can only be Nigerianfighting free from the cold embrace of a government that has no spring, no sense, no shame. So we watch the possessed, frenzied dance, drenched in silent tears as freedom is locked up in democracy’s empty cellars. I need guidance, please re-build me.
But then, why can I not simply be me, without being re-branded? Or does my complexion cloud the colour of my character? Does my location limit the lengths of my liberty? Does the spirit of my conviction shackle my soul? Does my mien maim the mine of my mind? And is this life worth re-branding? Is it re-branding that I need or complete re-building?…
To re-build a wobbling structure, there is need for dismantling of existing one (remember, if the foundation can be destroyed, what can the righteous do?).. Shall I then consider the idea muted by some of my own who have fled abroad? Some call for ‘Separation for Co-operation’ , others call for true Federalism – while others are yet asking for the return to Parliamentary system. Which way do I go? on October 1, 2009, I celebrated my 50th birthday and my 52nd was just celebrated. I do not want to carry on in my golden age without direction, … so, please, help me God. Re-mould and Re-Build me.
By Onyema Uche