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First They Came To Kill The Biroms.

By Remi Oyeyemi

First they came to kill the Biroms,
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Birom.
Then they came to kill the Tivs
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Tiv.
Then they came to kill the Igalas
and I did not speak out
because I was not an Igala.
Then they came to kill the Katafs
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Kataf.
Then they came to kill the Mumuyes
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Mumuye.
Then they came to kill the Jukuns
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jukun
Then they came to kill the Gwaris
and I didn't speak out
because I was not a Gwari.
Then they came to kill the Nupe
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Nupe
Then they came to kill the Kanuris
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Kanuri.
Then they came to kill the Margis
and I refuse to speak out
because I was not a Margi
Then they came to kill the Igbiras
and I refuse to speak out
because I was not an Igbira.
Then they came to kill the Igbó
and I refuse to speak out
because I was not an Igbo.
Then they came to kill the Ogonis
and I refuse to speak out
because I was not an Ogoni.
Then they came to kill the Ijaws
and I refuse to speak out
because I was not an Ijaw.
Then they came to kill the Edos
and I refuse to speak out
because I was not an Edo.
Then, when they came to kill us as Yorùbá

there was no one left to speak out for us.
“In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility – I welcome it.”

- John F. Kennedy, in his Inaugural Address January 20, 1961

NOTE:
The above poem was inspired by journalist Martins Oloja of the Guardian (Nigeria) who had adapted Pastor Martin Niemoller's poem, "First They Came For The Jews," to deride and denounce the tyranny of President Mohammadu Buhari's persecution of opposition members in Nigeria.

Pastor Niemoller himself had been inspired to write his famous poem by Ernest Hemingway's 1940 book on the Spanish Civil War written to decry Fascism, while Hemingway had derived his own inspiration from the English Poet, John Donne 's "Meditations."

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