The Happiest People on Earth
on July 15, 2022
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 Happppppy! I 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 II 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 III 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 IV Dapchi-happy 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 “Big-for-Nothing-Country”: 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.