Listen!, a poem by Amrah Aliyu


Let me tell you what it means to be a Northerner.

The first commandment is to be conservative, We hold our religion, tradition, culture, and beliefs dear, we cannot accept innovations, modifications, addition or deletion.

Second commandment is know how to give birth to so many unproductive children.

Enjoy the pleasure that comes with sex and wait for someone else to pay us for the unlimited sex we’ve had; by feeding, clothing and giving shelter to our kids.

The North is in the breaking news, 

it is in the kids we let go on the streets, those kids that rome our streets with no shoes and tattered clothes , those ones we call almajiri…

Yea the same ones that go from house to house singing for food only to sleep on an empty stomach (it is not our carelessness and incompetence no! but that of the government who did not know we were laying eggs like chicks) it is in the fault of the government who advocated for a limit on birth by linking it to poverty oh no we rose our voices to say No! We are religious people … Our religion says to multiply and multiply

It is on the floors of the uncompleted schools where gravels chop up our butts and the scorching sun heats up our skulls.

Where 7 year old Salma and Aisha talk about their last day in school and how they look forward to being married to an old man, the henna, the dresses , the music. (It is not our fault she can’t go to school anymore, its not our fault we can’t cater for her needs anymore, i mean she’s our asset, she should quickly marry and help pay the bills… Is it her fault then?) someone has to take the blame isn’t it? Yes it has to be the government for making education free.

Where our boys lazy around the house without going to school.. We didn’t spend a dime for the fees did we? 

After all we have no interest to seek for knowledge… We say things like ai karatun neman duniya CE ba ta lahira ba.

And even when they go to school we do not care to know the new things they’ve learnt.

It is in that same building where they all had our first puff of cigarettes, the first bottle of codeine, where they sit joblessly, walk and rain abuses on each other.

The first step to thuggery, (ohh no we cannot start up anything on our own we are better off in this building… Oh no we are not to be blamed , oh no our children are not to be blamed it is in the fault of the government who have refused to employ us)  in that same building sits Nigeria’s upcoming biggest security threat.

Another commandment is to shush it even in the face of danger

The love for name,  supersedes the love for well being.

Ohh no we have to appear clean!

That is why little Fati was raped and it had to be kept a secret….

Why uncle Abdul raped his nephew and it had to be kept a secret because the family name is at stake.

Why it had to be kept a secret because it was her fault she followed that path or her fault after all why did she wear that dress?

Where Rabi decides to take the lead and she’s been ridiculed and called ashewo , a mere woman… (Move away let men do it).

That is why we justify killings and link it to religion or justify thuggery and link it to unemployment.

Where we twist and quote verses to stay in check

To suit our ways

To shush others up the more

We use religion to blame fati for being raped

We use religion to stop our kids from dreaming

We use religion to send our kids off for almajiranci

We use religion to behave violently to people and cause havoc

Aren’t there Muslims in the west, east and south?

 A Northerner can never be at fault right?

Oh we are so clean that we point accusing fingers at others.

The government this, the government that…

It is the government that is responsible for the unproductive and unambitious children that we produce, yes.

The government is responsible for our poor parenting

For all the school drop outs

For all the kids we did not allow to dream

For all the almajiri

All the violent herdsmen

All the boko harams

All the kidnappers

For enjoying been mediocre

All the Muslim fanatics,

We know that suffering is an Art,

We also know that we are the artists of our own suffering.

We know our problems.

But yet we Northerners pretend to be innocent!

We are in denial.

Ain’t we all hypocritic?

The time to accept our flaws and face it is now, we cannot make a difference if we are in denial.

The time is now.


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