An Immigrants’s Prayer by Juliet ‘Kego Ume-Onyido

Across Niger-Benue rivers and nameless oceans
Through harmattan clouds and Saharan skies
We journey from the old world to the new,
The mystery before us, seduced us like a sorceress
And yet not knowing what was ahead,
We dared to embrace our journey

We fled a land of hunger, – seeking Kellogs over Nasco
We escaped an unruly fiefdom; a dictator’s lair
We fled a land of pain; we fled a land of despair,
-weary of watching our children idle and unschooled
Because their teachers strike for lack of pay,
while greedy rulers and politicians play poli-tricks
and feast off their future, like fumbling fools, night and day

We untangled the cobwebs of culture that held us down in bondage
And wept with hope at the songs of freedom of the West
And so we came, freeborn all
We begin as neither masters nor slaves.
Rather, we start life all over again
Caught up in an endless rat race
We live day to day on grace
Showered from our beloved Naija,
That distant land of our birth

We refuse to give up or give in
We shall make a home here yet
A home for the little ones, yet unborn
We shall work the farm fields
And stand in line like living robots
Factory workers, security guards
On guard, for the future of our children
Called only by numbers, faceless and soulless.

We shall do these things and more
So that one day, our children: Iyke and Zara
Shall proudly remember and bear our names;
– Ikechukwu, ChukwuZaramekpele
We shall teach them well, our children,
How we found strength in the Creator,
How our pleas and prayers were answered
We shall teach them well, our children,
Of the old ways and places from where we fled
For we see now, the masked beauty
In the grotesque shadows of the old world

We fled diseases, -malaria and strange fevers and now,
We’re plagued with diseased bodies and depressed minds
We fled poverty, looked down on the rich, organic harvest
Gifted to us directly from the bosom of mother’s red Earth
And now in the new world, we see the many sins in plenty,
-Processed hens, mad, possessed cows
-Fast foods, fast lives, fast deaths!
Nothing here is sacred, even old age is defiled
We see the lights everywhere
And the darkness that lurks,
– a breath and a shadow behind
We shall teach them well, our children
So that none shall ever be lost,
Indeed none shall ever be called efulefu
We shall teach them well, our children
To marry the old worlds of soul with the new worlds of steel


I. Efulefu: An Igbo language word meaning ‘The lost souls’;
II. IkeChukwu: The Creator’s strength or the Lord’s strength (Igbo);
III. ChukwuZaramekpele: The Lord has answered my prayers and supplications (Igbo);
IV. Naija: A fond nickname for Nigeria by Nigerians;
V. Nasco: An indigenous Nigerian brand of cereal using organic grown corn



Juliet Kego

Juliet ‘Kego Ume-Onyido is an international Speaker, Poet-Storyteller, Master-Certified Leadership Coach, Trainer and Consultant. She is the author of upcoming books “UN-Locking Your HeART of Leadership”, “Conversations with an African Grandmother” and a collection of poetry: ‘Today, I will not bow”. Her portfolio of poems has been featured across different media platforms and performed live in Canada, USA and in several Africa countries.

Juliet was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria; she immigrated to Canada over a decade ago. And currently splits her time between both her birth and adopted homelands. Her educational and professional backgrounds span multi-disciplinary fields of Electrical Engineering, International Business, Investment and Financial Services, Project Management, Professional Coaching and Training.

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  1. This poetry touched on the essence of human survival in a complex world. Teahing us that no matter wherever we go in this world home is home. BEAUTIFUL POETRY.

  2. This is really lovely am inspired not to give up or give in, as we can survive as long as we try

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