The Happiest People On Earth By Niyi Osundare

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


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