NAIJA POETRY 19: I Am Leah Sharibu (abridged)

Dedicated to Leah Sharibu the Christian girl still in Boko Haram Captivity, and to all other captives who have not been rescued

I am Leah Sharibu
I am Nigeria
I am a captive
Taken from my home
Away from love and care
Now I live in fear
In the midst of the unknown
I am Leah Sharibu
I am Nigeria

I am Leah Sharibu
Oh! You have forgotten me, probably
I wouldn’t blame you
I am just a girl, you thought
But I am Nigeria
And I could be just your girl
Yet you go to bed with both eyes closed
Because I am just a girl.
How do you sleep?
How do you find peace?
How do you laugh with satisfaction
And Find rest?
Knowing I am Leah Sharibu
And I am Nigeria

I am Leah Sharibu
Who is she? I can hear you ask.
Oh! You’ve forgotten?
I am that “Dapchi girl”
Kidnapped with her school mates
But they are free and I am not
They gained their lives back
Because they are what I am not
That’s what some people thought
But I am not just “that Dapchi girl”
I am Leah Sharibu
I am Nigeria

I am Leah Sharibu
I am Nigeria
And I am a captive
I am in chains
I am in bonds
I am in pains
And I am not free
I am still missing
I am Leah Sharibu
I am Nigeria

I am Leah Sharibu
I am a Christian
That’s what you said
But I am more than a Christian
I am a girl child
I am a woman
I am a daughter
I am a mother
And I am a wife
But I am more than all these
Yes! I am
I am Nigeria

I am Leah Sharibu
I am Nigeria
Though you called me a Christian
Undoubtedly I am
Was that not why you left me behind?
Was that not why you’ve left me till now?
How callous? How unpatriotic?
You swore an oath to protect me
But you lied
You think calling me a Christian
Will clear your conscience
But you lie!
I am Nigeria
That’s my identity
I am Leah Sharibu

I am Leah Sharibu
I am Nigeria
I have been betrayed
By Deceivers parading themselves as leaders
By cowards parading themselves as heroes
By liars who embrace you with a dagger
I have been betrayed
By enemies camouflaged as friends
I thought they cared about me
But all they want is a piece of me.
So they don’t care if I bleed
I am Leah Sharibu
I am Nigeria

I am Leah Sharibu
I am Nigeria
I can see, you don’t care, who I am
You think I will just pass away
Like a shadow in the night
Another figure among the many lost
So you hope
But you lie
I am your fear
I am your shame
I am your story
Ugly but true
I am your cross
You must bear
I am your pain
And I won’t go away
I am Leah Sharibu
I am Nigeria

I am Leah Sharibu
I am Nigeria
Another night has come
And I pray for sleep
Not knowing if I will see the dawning of a new day
You expect me to be weak
To break down and fall
You expect me to be feeble and frail
But I won’t
Everyday I see the sun
I will grow strong
Everyday I take a breath
I shall be agile and able
Don’t expect me to give up
For I shall win at last
I am Leah Sharibu
I am Nigeria.

AUTHOR: Egba Ogaba Christian, born in Nigeria

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