The Heart Of Africa

The Heart Of Africa


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



Nnamdi Azikiwe is also amongst the greats, and so is Ahmadu Bello and Tafawa Balewa,

the triumvirate’s exploits contributed to the independence we enjoy today.



The Heart Of Africa


 By Uche Nworah


This country has birthed us though hope it may not have given us all. As we look around and count each passing day, we sometimes feel that things should indeed be better, that it should be well with us. We can’t but ask why we have to be the way we are, and live the way we do in the midst of abundance, why 45 years after we stopped paying obeisance to the Queen and her people, we are not yet any where near our promised land.

As we search for answers from the depths of our souls, we are confronted rather with more complex questions, but then, it is in such complexity that we thrive as a people, surviving many crises and a war. We are indeed a persistent people. We are also a proud people, though we are cowed at the moment, though our heads are bowed to the side at the moment but we shall not surrender, we will not give up. We march on until we arrive at the elevated platform and count ourselves amongst the world’s great nations, the place that our God want us to be. Only then shall we as a people shout out aloud, in unison to proclaim the greatness in all of us.

As I wait for that one day, I decided to take a tour of our country, along the line I met some of our great men and women but who have since passed on adorning our walls. I was greeted on the way by the smiles of Queen Amina of Zaria hanging on a frame, that warrior who has inspired the modern day Nigeria woman, Funmilayo Ransome – Kuti, and Alhaja Abibatu Mogaji also belong to that elite specie of women.

Nnamdi Azikiwe is also amongst the greats, and so is Ahmadu Bello and Tafawa Balewa, the triumvirate’s exploits contributed to the independence we enjoy today.

Though our history is now chequered and tainted by our past, a period of great turmoil and military dictatorship, but then even in the midst of dryness, hope sprang up in Murtala Mohamed and Tunde Idiagbon, short lived were their times and tenure as is all good tidings and things that have come our way, but the memories of their dream and agenda for our nation we still cherish.

And still we trudge on in expectation, mixed with anxiety of what tomorrow may bring, here and now we are but our hope lies there where we ought to be.

Along my journey Rashidi Yekini also smiled at me, and so did Jay-Jay Okocha, I saw Mary Onyali – Omagbemi spring past, fast on her heels were Innocent Egbunike, Chidi Imo, Fatima Yusuf and Chioma Ajunwa, they said they were heading to the arena of immortality, the place of champions and that I was invited, I asked them to greet Peter Akakasiaka, Nduka ‘Duke’ Odizor, Atanda Musa and the rest which I couldn’t quite see, I was sure that I already knew their names and so do we all, their huge footsteps in the sands of time are visible never to be obliterated by the roaring oceans. I wished I could be like them, Nigeria is lucky to have them, may God bless the fruits of their works. I wondered what it is I could do for my country; John Fitzgerald Kennedy once challenged Americans to rise up and think only for country and not for self. The glory then may lie in the common good, in sacrifice and in self-belief. Oh my generation!

I witnessed the Eyo masquerade festival in Lagos, Aha! Lagos, the town of the strong and brave hearted, I saw multitudes of people waiting at the bus stops for molue and danfo buses which were all over the place, and I marvelled at the skills which Lagosians have perfected as they alight and board the busses; this life, this Lagos, this Nigeria. Fela was right, inside the molue buses, 44 sat and 99 stood, and yet they all had smiles on their faces, hope?

As the sun beat down on me, I considered going to Eko, Ereko, Alpha or Bar beach to cool off, I smiled aloud, mother nature had indeed blessed this land.

I woke up and found myself in Abuja, in my dreams I had passed through Jos and its many hills, but Zuma Rock stood like the rock of Gibraltar and beckoned, welcome to Abuja it seem to be saying, Nigeria’s unity town. Though I wished I could stay longer, but Abuja I had to leave, I wanted to be with my people, I remembered Frank Olize and his common men, with them I wanted to be.

I have heard so much about Argungu in Kebbi and there I decided to visit, I saw many fishermen and their catches, they rejoiced in their fishing festival just like other Nigerians do during their various festivals, the joy and pride of our people.

As I toured Nigeria’s towns and villages, the beautiful vista, green vegetation and vast farmlands consumed me, the sheer generosity of mother nature engulfed me, fortune lies in wait I thought. Kids greeted me along the way; I saw in their faces the future, a new Nigeria just like Obianuju Arinze, Agbani Darego and Oluchi Onweagba have demonstrated.

At Awka, I saw children playing in the village square; they seemed to be acting a play, with perfect improvisation. Their dreams seemed tall, I knew that Nollywood will live forever, when the sun sets on Ejike Asiegbu, Eucharia Anunobi, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Kunle Bamtefa and on Genevieve Nnaji, there would be no cause for alarm, the future is already here, on our streets. Only that I wished that they would receive the type of support that Sophie Okonedo, Sade Adu and Nas received, the world stage would then be theirs. 

The next morning, I woke up and read Wole Soyinka’s Trials of Brother Jero once again, searching for clues and answers to our troubled past and present, I made a note to read Jero’s Metamorphosis too. I was trying to establish a connection between a troubled past and a glorious future. I also remembered our heroes past and present, I prayed that their labours may not be in vain: Dele Giwa, Chinua Achebe, Philip Emeagwali, Akeem Olajuwon, Pa Michael Imodu, M.K.O Abiola, Tai Solarin and all the rest of them.

Again sunset, peace and quite surround me, the moon shine brightly and the crickets sing in the dark. I lie down and close my eyes and my dreams carried me away.

And so I woke up and wondered; Nigeria, what is it to me? the country of my birth? the land of limitless opportunities flowing with oil and natural minerals? a land of 419ers, fraudsters and corrupt politicians? a land of sports men and women? a land of the great lakes and rivers? a land of the mighty warriors, kings and queens with age-long traditions? the land of a people with the great smiles and spirits? a land with the great divisions – east, west, north and south? or the land with an economy waiting to be pillaged and plundered? I should find my own answers, you too.

Nigeria my country, buried deep in my soul, dwelling in the heart of Africa, a beautiful land, a hard working people, a virgin country, great and mighty yet she will be.

Uche Nworah is a freelance writer and lives in London.

posted 16 October 2005

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Negro Digest / Black World

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1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

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update 15 December 2011




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