This is not a land of terror

Next week – on the 1st October to be exact – sees the 50th anniversary of Nigeria's independence from the United Kingdom. Here is a timely poem on that topic by Nnorom Azuonye…

This Land is not a Land of Terror
to Ayogu Eze

My first clothes were sewn by defiant tailors

in fabric of blood, night, and unripe horizontals,
emblazoned with a badge of the purest fiery gold;

the eleven-tongued fireball rolling on a plank.

At three, naked to my boyhood sack, I nosed smoke

from that bonfire of the vanquished in my hometown;

there, my clothes were cremated with a hundred others,

together with our bottle, our pride, our story.

Now you ask was there anything worth dying for?

A different today would have been a special gift,

meaning I could justly protest: our land is not a land 

of terror, despite the Umar Abdulmuttalab factor.

You remind me of my phone call to Aba yesterday,

a call reporting fire fights just like the old Biafra days;

a bank robbery at Osisioma, seven policemen shot dead

in mid-afternoon, as frightened men pack and leave town.

Yet, this land is not a land of terror. At least, not

in the traditional sense of terrorism; we don’t desire

immortality bad enough to stain our hands with blood.

We never honour a murderer’s family above others.

There’s only the little inconvenience of hiring soldiers

to protect us when we return to our villages for palm wine,

to renew ourselves, marry, build, or bury our parents,

lest we become borrowed by the vicious, until ransomed.

This land is not a land of terror. It’s just jobless kids

horsing around with assault rifles and large car boots

for carting away their human cargo – dead or alive.

Ah! We strenuously refuse to be branded a terrorist land.

* Nnorom Azuonye is the publisher of the online magazines Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Sentinel Nigeria and Nollywood Focus. With publications in several international journals including Ink Sweat and Tears, Orbis, DrumVoices Revue, Maple Tree Literary Supplement, Eclectica and Agenda, his books include Blue Hyacinths (2010: ed. with Geoff Stevens), The Bridge Selection: Poems for the Road (2005), and Letter to God & Other Poems (2003). He lives in London with his wife Thelma, son Arinze and daughter Nwachi.


  1. Mr Azuonye your bitterness is justified because as a Biafran you have been forced to be a citizen of Nigeria and the country going to hell with menace of kidnapping and religious uprising violence. That country is a land of terror my brother.
    Ikechi Ndubueze

  2. Nice! It is hard to like a bitter truth but this poem depicts our adamant refusal to realize just how bad things are, especially when its a foreign country that tells us. Aba has become a no go area, even worse than the niger delta now yet it must not be said that we are a nation of terror, who are we deceiving?. Thanks for your beautiful poem. Words never die!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *