By Salisu Suleiman
The brutal swipe of the scimitar slashes through flesh and bones, cutting through the cord of life in one cruel instant. The sand is soaked with my blood, gushing from deep within, as my head topples sideways. They do not bother to look my direction to see blood oozing out, nor care to notice the life ebbing out of my helpless body. They have gone on to the next victim, each methodical slash ending a life once so full of promise. My last thought, as my spirit separates from mortal abode, to roam the land in search of reprieve is, Gooduck was here.
As I float, free of the of the burden of a leader who would rather dance azonto when the blood of our compatriots was yet to be washed off the pavements and their body parts scrapped from metal husks, I make out the stench of abandoned bodies. So many, so decomposed that even the vultures and hyenas pick which to feed on. In the coming days and weeks, the bleached skeletons will project a sharp contrast to the charred homes and burnt-out remnants of lives and livelihoods. From the scene of utter destruction and despondence, I tease out the memento, Goodluck was here.
In the ghostly towns that once sustained vibrant life, rodents— followed in due course by reptiles—have found new dwelling. No vestige of human presence, except the unburied remains of previous owners is visible. There is nothing of the long-horned cattle, mountain climbing goats, pesky chicken and resolute humans to indicate that these crumbling walls, drying wells and empty alleys were once a part of a proud, thousand year old empire. In the dimness of the vacant streets, I hear a sound, echoing over and over, Goodluck was here.
Moving on, I scan the vacant farmlands, but see nothing save fallow lands overgrown with shrubs that have overtaken the beautiful plains that once produced grains, cereal and greens that fed multitudes. Rising higher, I find no cause for cheer. Mile after mile, all I make out are decaying homes, neglected farms and the ghosts of long-dead inhabitants, still to come to terms with the violent, senseless end of their lives. I smirk, for I know, Goodluck was here.
As I drift in a different bearing, I make out the outlines of youth gathered in groups and feel a kindred pull, an urgent need to be one with them. As I settle in their midst, unseen and unheard, but reading from the innermost recesses of their minds, I am stunned by the triviality of their thought, their negated spirits and the void in their veins. They spill blood for pittance, unable, unwilling, and incapable of perceiving the jeopardy that seethes over our ravaged land. Theirs is a senseless scramble for a share of the soiled spoils. In the midst of the hollow bellows blows in the inimitable verity, Goodluck was here.
Skimming to yet other parts, I reach the centre of this weary land. There, in the cacophony that has become our lot, I make out the outlines of the vultures who feed corruption, fear, divisiveness and hatred. Their quest to lord over the land propels the compulsion to vitiate the vaults of state even as hunger and poverty breeds wild. I enter the biggest depository in the land and scan its prime crypt, only to be saluted by the ricochet of bareness, looted as it were, to bare metal. Without prompting, it yaps its yarn, Goodluck was here.
In search of a place to connect with the Supreme, I blow towards the cathedrals in the vicinity and the minarets in the distance. Even from my detachment, I can hear the fiery contest of men in frocks and in turbans. The drivel is about who gets to feed on the 7 billion pieces of putrid maggots and 12 billion pieces of fetid worms in the feces of the vultures. In the frenzy, the word is not about heavenly bliss, but earthly greed. In the solemn silence, I make out the new commandment, Goodluck was here.
You ask who I am, and I shall tell you. I am the spirit of Buni Yadi. I am the fortitude of Chibok. I am the specter of thousands killed and millions displaced. I am the ghost of soldiers betrayed and citizens deceived. You wonder why I am unable to find rest, and I shall tell you: My spirit needs freedom. It needs liberty. It needs justice. It needs closure. It wants to forget that Goodluck was here.
So when you set out in March, search your soul and ask yourself, “How do I put an end to this state of unspeakable cruelty, misery, death, destruction and despondency?” The answer is simple: Lay me rest on the 28th and set me free. On my gravestone, use the ink on your thumb to stamp a blunt epitaph: Goodluck was here.