I am OtumalaJeo Great I am from Beue State, Nigeria When i served as a missionary in Northern Nigeria The Northerners asked of my state of origin When I told them I am from Benue They replied, ‘Binue’ (in their ascent) Binue Inyamiri ne(meaning Benues are Ibo(NyemMmiri) When I returned from the north, I went to Enugu State, (Southern Nigeria) to pick a wife for myself, They asked me, “where are you from?” Benue, I responded They turned to my lady and asked her; “So you mean you didn’t see any man from Ibo land other than Onyeahusa?”
Then i thought to myself, My father does not understand ‘Inaikwuana’ Neither does he know Otutuoma My greeting is ‘Noleyi’-Then, i remembered the great J. S. Tarka And it quickly dawned on me that, I am not from the North Neither am I from the south I am MIDDLE BELT I remember the story my father told me About the Bat who has teeth like the dog, Ears and eyes like the rat and wings like the bird, On the day of his death, They searched for his kinsmen to bury him The Dog came and observed him and he said; Of a truth his teeth and mouth looks like mine, But his ears and wings we don’t have in my family, So he is not mine They called on the rat and he said;
His eyes are my family looks and so are his ears But we don’t have wings in my family neither do we fly So he is not of my kinsfolk The bird came and observed him and said; Surely, he has wings like my family members, But as u can see, we do not have teeth and ears in my family, Thus, i can’t accept him as mine There was no man to bury the bat I am the bat, i am neither of the north nor of the south But I have an identity, yes, I know I have!
I AM MIDDLE BELT Why should I be killed as a Southerner Or die as a northerner when I can live as a Middle Belter? I don’t need a stray-bullet death, I have my life to live, I am from MIDDLE BELT I live to give my children their identity And die to preserve their prestige They should proudly say; I AM MIDDLE BELT I believe in the Nigerian ideology But not in the Nigerian political geography I don’t know of anything like North-Central in my geography When you can’t have South-Central There is only North, South and the Middle Belt The presidency had been zoned to the North over the years If i am from the North as purported Why am I not considered?
Why am I only good as a spokesman for the North and not a game player I am neither enjoying the benefits of the south Neither am I enjoying the privileges of the North
I AM MIDDLE BELT I rise to take my place I have lived in the illusion called NORTH for too long A useful idiot I have been Useful as a political pawn and a game changer But unuseful in sharing the bounties of political victory I must wake up to who I realy am I will not sell my conscience for money Neither will I sell my purpose for vain alliance
I AM MIDDLE BELT There is a place called MIDDLE BELT in Nigeria Where the braves are, there am I And that’s who I am I AM MIDDLE BELT
By Joe Great Otumala,
Dedicated to the blessed memory of J. S. Tarka and the fourteen Middle Belt States A speech by Otumala Joe Great On the Occasion of the Southern Leaders and Middle Belt Coalition Forum held in Chateau De Victoria Hotels Makurdi, Benue state on 25th Feb. 2018
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