Written by Denise O Austin
Illustrated by Shazmeen Khalid
*Below this poem are resources on how to help end SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a unit of the Nigerian police)*
10.20.20 I lay in bed with feelings of distraught and hopelessness
The rain pours against my window heightening the distress
The heavens must be weeping with joy
Today they welcome home their angels
Those that strived to make Nigeria a better place
A country that has proven itself several times to be nothing more than a disgrace
A disgrace to its people and those of you looking in
A country that won’t compromise financial gain for the lives of its citizens
Our hearts are mourning our brothers and sisters
Our hearts are broken for our motherland
Because the blood of our heroes’ pasts drips off our President’s hands
But it shall never be in vain – united we stand
We stand in solidarity worldwide with our allies by our sides
My country is in danger so please hear my cry!
My people are being killed and the government has turned a blind eye;
My government has turned a blind eye to poverty
My government has turned a blind eye to terrorism
My government has turned a blind eye to police brutality
My government has turned a blind eye to corruption
My people have been killed for the most abstruse and incomprehensible reasons by the very people who are meant to serve and protect
They have been killed by cultists with guns in the guise of a Nigerien Police Force.
On the 10th of October 2020, the Nigerian youth peacefully protested against police brutality and as a result our leaders turned off CCTV and ordered for these civilians to be shot dead by the military
We don’t deserve to be beaten because we can’t afford to pay a bribe
We don’t deserve to be kidnapped because we travel at night
We don’t deserve to be raped because our clothes are revealing
We don’t deserve to die because of tattoos and piercings
They didn’t deserve to die from the bullets that pierced their skins
Nigerians have shown bravery and the power to be relentless
Even during civil unrest with guns pointed at our heads
Imagine what it feels like trying to fight the good fight
In a country that doesn’t provide basic resources like water and light
In a country that doesn’t provide shelter or welfare
They shot at young people who can’t even afford healthcare
To say Nigerians are Traumatised would be an understatement
We protest for all lives and watch others stay quiet and complacent
When we’re being killed and left on the streets for dead
It makes me question, does anyone even care?
It feels like no one cares at times
If the shoe was on the other foot voices would be amplified
Is it because we’re African that it’s normalised?
For Black people to drop dead like flies.
Ask yourself and help us strategize, lend your voice, protest, say a prayer, inform others, petition, donate, whatever you do, don’t turn a blind eye.
Denise O Austin is a British writer, model and designer from London. Austin has attained a degree in Criminology and expresses her passion for institutionalized racism within the Criminal Justice System through her literature and activism.