When Economics Meets Poetry…

From assessing entries to the Economics Network Student Challenge 2011, we have found out that economists are very talented people. They create music, write poems and draw cartoons. More importantly, they can use the power of words to address the most worrying problems in the world, such as hunger and poverty. This is what our runner-up Anu Omotunde-Young (Lancaster University) did this year. Below is her poem about her home country Nigeria with explanation of why studying Economics can help solve all problems there.


Her wrinkled, tired face turned to me:

No Roads; No Light

Where is the light at the end of the road?

No Income; No Food

Who am I to want food when my family starves from having no income?

No Hospitals; No Safety

When will it be safe enough to survive in our hospitals?

No Water; No Strength

Do I not need strength to lug water home from the town well?

No Education; No Future

What will the future of my offspring be when I leave them with no basic education?

No Leadership; No Inspiration

How can my children be inspired with no one to genuinely lead?

No Home; No Consideration

Why should I consider the consequences of my actions when I was left with no home?


How can you care? What can you do?

You are only one out of a 150 million others.

I can start by caring enough to want change,

I can start by admitting we have a major problem,

I can start by learning the accumulation and maintenance of wealth.


For you, I learn about sustainable development.

For you, I learn the difference between money and wealth.

For you, I learn how I can generate income and growth using our very own resources.

For you, I learn the components needed for a free market,

For you, I learn about Public Goods and can tell you that you deserve access to healthcare, education, water and shelter.

For you, I stay up all night reading and applying the mechanisms that help boost Investment and Savings.

With this, I propose economic growth that will take you a step further towards that essential job you want.

For us, I do a degree that gives me the skill and passion to make our motherland prosperous.

For us, I work towards being the change we need

In a country filled with abundant natural, human, physical and mental resources such as Nigeria, extreme poverty still outweighs the abundance of wealth. Poverty as mentioned does not occur mainly from the lack of resources but from the unequal share of wealth amongst citizens of a proud nation like Nigeria. The wrinkled, tired woman mentioned in the poem represents the average mother in Nigeria who has no choice but to be strong and extremely hardworking to put food on the table and keep a roof over her family’s heads. Nigeria is the 5th largest oil-producing country in the world and yet over 50% of its inhabitants lack basic water supply, affordable and efficient health services, roads, education and many other basic goods. Nigeria’s economic failure to develop is primarily attributed to its domestic market imperfections, economic inefficiencies, and social rigidities. Political corruption, a parasite social and bureaucratic structure, and the failure to make appropriate Investment in education, agriculture and other prerequisites for economic development restrain the nation.

As a Nigerian student lucky to be born in an averagely comfortable home, I was only made aware of the seriousness of Nigeria’s economic imperfections when as a teen my Father took me to a less developed area in the business capital city of Lagos [areas normally termed the Ghetto] called Ajegunle, and was shocked at the living conditions imposed on the less privileged. This made me aware that life was not all rosy and thus from that moment on, I made a pledge to myself and my fellow countrymen- to do my bit as a citizen of the country to help fully develop the country to a favourable standard. At this time, I was just about to enrol into the upper Secondary School level where I had made plans to take subjects that were intended for a career in creative writing or journalism, however after that experience, I started to read on politics and economics and thus found I had a higher interest in these topics; this made me take these subjects at school and ever since it has been my focus of study till now, and will definitely be for the next few years. The first half of the poem in literary terms depicts the thoughts and fears experienced by the average Nigerian parent on the future of their offspring; the second part is a form of revelation that shows that change can come from the littlest of things, meaning change happens not by thoughts alone but by actions; the third part of the poem substantiates this and shows how in my own way, I am working towards making that change.

19 Responses to “When Economics Meets Poetry…”

  1. Shina Kelani Says:

    As your name suggest(Anu), God has been so merciful to Nigeria in terms of resources(human and material). As the 7th most populated country in the world, producer of the largest quantity of oil in Africa, to mention a few,corruption has been the greatest challenge facing the country. The immediate past speaker of the House of representative, was last night arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for mis appropriating a 10 million Naira loan obtained from a commercial bank in the country. Too bad.

  2. Shaun Says:

    Some lovely verse, particularly in how it describes both sides of a child’s journey through education and on to a better life.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Ajibola Alfred Says:

    Hi Anu,
    that was a profound and creative writing, from the poetry to your article. I am highly impressed and proud to come across this poetry from my countryman. I believe that with deep commitment, creativity and focus from people like you a turn around is inevitable in Nigeria. Our issues boil down to our attitudes. There is a critical need for reorientation of values in Nigeria. I am an economist (research analyst) and have just joined a group of people in my church called “building the empires of the mind” with the aim of revolutonising the Nigerian thinking. I hope to meet you up there someday as you are surely destined for greatness. Economics, as i always say, is the study of wisdom, so you are on the right path. cheers

  4. Lord Emmanuel Says:

    *Sighs* Don’t get me started on Nigeria. It breaks my heart every time I look back there. I’ve been in diaspora for almost a decade and each time I want to go home, something keeps pulling me back.

    Your work is outstanding. I’m glad I stumbled upon it and good to see we still have hope in people like you. If only we can use such hope for the betterment of our Country.


  5. Joyce Says:

    i can identify with the Nigrain yong man,working towards a great change in the Ghanaian economy. the Nigerian Economy have similar features with the Ghanaian Economy. Ghana is known to be one of the world leading cocoa and gold producers and resently have discovered oil, yet Political corruption and other economic imperfections has resulted in poverty in the rurals arears. most schools in the rural areas are held under trees with poor drinking water. we are on the right parth of education to change our economy tomorrow

  6. Zaid Says:

    Anu, good job. The Nigerian economy is battling with high level of corruption. The corruption is so endemic that it has destroyed every sector of Nigeria’s economy. A few cabals rule over the Nigerian polity. These evil cabals dictate the nation’s economy. Nigeria is blessed with brilliant brains but are overwhelmed by poverty unleashed upon them by these few cabals. The cabals have amassed so much wealth and fame which they use to influence the people and to fight the Nigerian State. We’ve got to rise up and fight relentlessly, with self and intellect, the corrupt people and corrupt system. And until this is done, I’m afraid, Nigeria will keep drowning in the drain. (Zaid from Lagos).

  7. Kudzai Ntlailane Says:

    This article really proved to be thought provoking. I am from South Africa and I currently study Bcom Accounting Sciences. I have economics as a module and have really enjoyed it thus far. Your article got me thinking about how I can incorporate my accounting degree to help to eradicate poverty. My country is faced with a similar problem, rich in resources but political corruption and poor education has widened that income gap even more. Those fears that you mentioned in your poem I feel is a norm for women everywhere who find themselves in such poor economic conditions and its baffling how the numbers keep increasing and never seem to go down. I plan to make my degree worthwhile when I do qualify to be a CA. I feel education is key and that is where I will start.

    Thank you for sharing Anu.

  8. Litye Mdatya Says:

    How profound when a person puts himself in the shoes of people who are lower than him and has a desire to make a few be like him.In the Nigerian situation, how profound it would be even in the rest of the world, that one person has a desire to put just one in the same level. How profound that the advantaged puts the disadvantaged in an advantaged position they never had.

  9. Tshego Says:

    This blog was absolutely eye opening. It is the realities that many families faces not just in Nigeria but many other countries in Africa. Economics is a dynamic and diverse science and art at the same time and once one fully understands it, they learn and see the bigger picture of life. How it is, how it should be and what it can become.

  10. tinyiko masinge Says:

    This breaks my heart to hear that there are countries who still experience such situations. But this matter can be solved if people of Nigeria work together to fight corruption and bureaucracy.Resulting in better economic growth and equal redistribution of wealth.hope your post will help you to get help.

  11. Athi Cele Says:

    Wow this was so beautiful, it made me to change the way I see blogs as just boring piece of work. No matter what field you are working on, creativity must always be there so that you can do a great job

  12. khani Says:

    poverty is a serious issue which should be focused on alot because it deprives children from getting basic education, which leads to a poverty trap

  13. Athi Cele Says:

    nice blog, I didn’t know that economists can actually be creative in terms of the poetry. Keep up the good work and I actually hope that other people will put their economics degree into good practice in terms creating a poverty free world

  14. Mokgehle (Mmakolobe)M.P Says:

    Economics can meet poverty when the country can have equal sharing of public goods or natural resources.Countries like Nigeria economically they are unstable and are facing a great level of corruption of which it leads to poverty in some of its areas.the use of resources in Nigeria is inefficiently used and that leads to scarcity.if Nigeria would use their resources productively and with a good care they would not be facing poverty in some of their areas.

  15. Amanda Mabuza Says:

    This article interests me so much. Well its very common for people who don’t live in poverty stricken situations to not be fully aware of the impact poverty has not only on the poor but the economy as well. And I’m glad you were exposed to that before making the crucial decision of your career. Being from South Africa where poverty poses not only as a threat to the wellbeing of the people, but a major economic problem, I relate. Poverty is affecting a lot of countries in Africa and yes corruption is a major contributor to that. Also inequality contributes to poverty. Redistribution of consumption is also crucial as to balancing an economy. But that’s going to take a lot of time to reach achievement. Great topic and an interesting approach to this sensitive issue.

  16. keenan naidoo Says:

    this poem is really touching and very honest , Nigerias economy has struggled over the years unfortunately the poverty is heart breaking but a change can be made and is being made everyday no matter how small.with better education everything can be change. all the best

  17. Keabetswe Motlhoki Says:

    Economics does give one skills to tackle the lives challenges anywhere. Further more it does contribute to reducing poverty.

  18. Keabetswe Says:

    Studying economics is not only about getting a well paying job. It is mostly knowing how the world functions, and what you are saying is true one has to understand the economic systems in order to bring about change. Economics is about people, giving people the goods and services they deserve and mostly providing the necessities that one needs to survive.

  19. Agness Says:

    This is a great blog that highlights the socio-economic inequalities that are happening in Nigeria. These is a problem that faces many African countries, not just Nigeria. Africa has been blessed abundantly with resources but its countries or rather its people do not enjoy the benefits. The basic need that everyone is entitled to do not get to the people living in rural areas, such as water,sanitation, health care. As the blog says there is a big difference between the rich and the poor. The majority of the people are the poor. Also corruption, lack of infrastructure, bad leadership, and lack of quality education are causes that contribute to today’s problems in Nigeria.

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