The Happiest People on Earth

on July 15, 2022
Download as PDF
We are H-A-P-P-Y
We are H-A-P-P-Y
We know we are
We are sure we are
We are H-A-P-P-Y     


I come from the country
     Of the Happiest People on earth,
Where death sells at ten for one kobo
     And the Living envy the peace

Of the hastily dispatched. 
     Living every day on the edge of the knife
Suffering all night at the mercy of the bullet
     Taunted and tossed from wall to wall

Foodless, drinkless, and faint from fright
     Lean like a line from the book of pain  
Hunger has a seat in my little hovel
     My growling stomach is the devil’s drum

I count the stars from my lowly bed
     The lightest shower is riot to my roof
When geckoes snore in my bedroom wall
     The cockroaches tremble in their shining coats

I do not know when last a smile  
     Stumbled between my lips 
A shark can shuffle through the ocean of my tears. 
     Sadness lives in the furrows on my forehead

Yes, I come from the country
     Of the happiest people on earth
The thunder of our laughter 
     Rips through the ears of the world


I come from the country
     Of the happiest people on earth
Where rulers dance on the grave
     Of their people’s joy

Visionless, clueless, and gleefully rapacious  
      They gobble up the seed yam,
Their prodigal belches mocking the impotent
      Silence in a house of fleshless ribs

Our cars come from Asia
     Our phones from Finland
Our toothpicks from Hungary
      Our proud Constitution from the lordly West

Our laboratories have no labour
     Our libraries no books
Our classrooms have neither class nor room
     Mimic mammals that we are so proud to be

Too happy for original thinking
     We beg and buy others to think for us
Our universities happily shut down for months
     Our brains are on permanent sabbatical

Too happy to know
     The sobering weight of sadness
We are the giggling giants 
     Of the earth’s happiest country      

Our enviable chaos
     Our fantastically corrupt propensity
Our globally certified incompetence
     Our preference for fast and easy wealth

Our act-first-think-later ‘philosophy’
     Our leave-it-to-God religiosity
Our world-famous disdain for Science
     Our unbreakable bond with the God of Unknowing

Our rabid aversion to Reason
     Our impatience with the through and thorough
Our seed-eater’s improvidence
      Our headless covenant with the here-and-now

Fifteen million Nigerian children out of school
     The straight and sure way 
From babyhood to bandithood
     And the trail of tears in our happy land 

Failing factories, booming churches
     The jobless join the hopeless
Miracle crowds on tenuous hopes
     Predatory pastors and their phantom faiths

Happy through them all
     Our eyes glow in the dark
Dancing and shouting in garish garments
     We the owambe* crowd of a happy nation

     Laughing all the way from Chibok
Happy, happy massacres in 
     In crowded churches and teeming markets

Happy for robbers who strike at night
     And bandits who defile our noon
Happy at our army’s patriotic absence
     And the police who abandon their posts

Happy about the nation’s falling house
     Its quicksand foundation
Its shifty floor and cracking walls
     Its termite-ridden roof and dreadful aspects

Happy about the lies
     Which become our truth
Happy about the myth
     That supplants our mirror

Happy about rulers
     Incapable of thinking
Happy about the ruled
     Who prefer them so

     Our sobriquet from jealous nations
But who does not know
     We are the happiest people on Planet Earth?

*A lavish, sybaritic kind of party

Niyi Osundare is a leading African poet, dramatist, critic, essayist, and media columnist. He has authored 18 books of poetry, two books of selected poems with several literary laurels to his credits.