Review: The Country I Love by Iyeyinka Omigbodun
Book: The Country I love
Publisher: Evans Publishers
Author: Iyeyinka AnuOluwahan Omigbodun
Reviewer: Rasaq Malik Gbolahan
Pages: 42 pages
First published: 2011
Reading through this neatly compiled collection of poetry, there are poems and prose-like scribbles that serve as path to understanding what Omigbodun is trying to pass across to her readers. Starting from the first stanza which discusses Nigeria under this title “Nigeria, the Beautiful” which can be said to trail after poets like David Diop who wrote “Africa” in appreciation of this great nation, this poem reveals the passionate and commitment towards this nation with divergent tribes which Omigbodun admonishes to come together to make a great nation.
“From the treasure base in the south/to the ground pyramids in the north/swinging through the thick mangrove trees/running across the wild plains’
Seeing the flow of these powerful lines that connect the various tribes and states to come together and speak with a lone voice- sign of unity.
Whether Muslim or Christian/Hausa, Igbo or Yoruba/Please let’s stick together/and make this country great/
However, after the scribbling of those powerful lines emerge some prose-like write-ups in the collection. Omigbodun makes it easier and somehow pathetic as she paints the cruelty, inequality, agonies, pains and shambles that characterize our so-called nation, the fears that occupy our minds as we walk on the street.
Omigbodun closely observes the deteriorating status of our nation and thereby brings it out with the use of characters like Teacher, Mama Feyisara, Oluwadami, and Seun.
Looking through these pages e.g. page 2, Omigbodun uses Teacher to discuss about a student (Chineye) whose parental neglect caused her dormancy in the classroom. Omigbodun critically shows these pains and problems that keep battling with us in the so-called nation. Another example is that of Mrs. Feyisara’s attempt to move away from attending three vigils at church in order to face her children squarely especially Feyi. At the end, Feyi attempts to “belong” which shows the “change” in class of females to join “Big girls” at school but during this time, she had an accident that nearly claimed her life (Pg 26-28)
Omigbodun continues exemplifying the problems that lie underneath and that makes it difficult for us to move forward as a nation. Another example is that of “Seun and his wife” whose major focus is to go abroad since the country is no more pleasant and enjoyable to stay again. One can however agree to stay if he/she wants to remain “dormant: without progressing in life. The picture of how government workers work with their unfriendly voices that echo out in their throats as they attend to visitors. One can see this in the character of Teacher who goes to the Foster Home to see the “vagrants/motherless children”. However, the voice of Mr. Adefola chases her back as he asks what she wants. In the first place, he is not around but later appeared but with an unfriendly voice. Mr Adefola is more or less like a government worker whose behavior serves as threat to anybody who consults him/trying to offer down something- that of the homeless children, an irresponsible fellow.
Omigbodun lucidly appears as a seer that sees everything which can also be said as the truth and thereby brings it out for us to see. The problems of dilapidated structure of public schools and how students suffer with the issue of strike as a result of negligence/corrupt life of our government in paying the salary of the teachers. It is very devastating!
The ruthless life of poor masses and opulent state of wealthy citizens is painted in (pg. 11-13)
“Passing by the good/ I encountered the jeep/we had to give way/for size and siren gave hint/
The gate was opened by Baba/while Oga was driven speedily…”
Passing by the bad/I felt sorry for the man doing “foot run’
But that is the philosophy of life/not all fingers is equal”
He pushed his door open/
And the children ran to him/
Luckily I had the chance to see/
Kwashiorkor, naked but outward contentment/
In these lines, the narrow gap between the poor and the wealthy ones is clearly shown by the lucid images employed by Omigbodun. The unfriendly streets that harbor men of the underworld as they chase us around, asking us for the little pennies received after so many years of working under irresponsible leaders. The Issue of National cake that holds them in Abuja and the incognito promises from our leaders. Still, tears of loss and bloodshed manure our land as these men perpetrate their evil deeds. Also, we have the issue of the black men with howling sirens without any functional dreams of curbing these social vices. Yet, we are in the nation encapsulated with trepidation of tomorrow as there are no dreams to hold.
In the case of Seun and his wife, they heard the sirens of the policemen after being robbed of their gold chain and jewelry. Also, the change in church of Mama Feyisara and Feyi tell us that the religious problem is also among the problems affecting us. I do not believe that the problems affecting this nation can be cured by religion either Christianity/Islam because our problem lies in our hands and by this, we should check this angle.
If we do things right, if corruption stops tomorrow, if treachery stops tomorrow, if there is equality tomorrow, then this Country is going to have better future ahead.
Omigbodun shows us that there is still hope. Believe me, Omigbodun has really tried her best in bringing out cogent issues that are affecting Nigeria as a nation.
Inside the oven of knowledge and understanding drifts down these lines from a young girl of 14years old and this shows that the country is going to be better.