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Elusive love, good leadership, oneness

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Elusive love, good leadership, oneness

Book: Voice of Africa

Author: Paul Ugah

Publisher: Chapuga Publishers, Makurdi

Pages: 93

Reviewer: Adjekpagbon Blessed Mudiaga

 

‘Voice of Africa’ is Paul Ugah’s debut poetry book after his first published prose work (short story) titled ‘What Goes Round’.

 

Through the 39 poems in the volume, the budding poet expresses his feelings about love and politics, coupled with lamentations concerning issues happening in Nigeria and the world at large.

 

The volume is divided into three parts. Part One contains nine poems such as ‘Love’, ‘Wind of Christmas’, ‘Mambilla Plateau’, ‘Fire’, ‘Aishetu’, ‘In Praise of a Damsel’, ‘Angel Winifred’, ‘Bountiful Lady’, and ‘Apa’. It talks about love between human beings, and wonders why it is elusive despite its confession and celebration especially during festive seasons like Christmas. The poet persona is of the opinion that love should transcend festive seasons of sharing gifts. It should be exhibited every day.

 

In the poem, ‘Aishetu’, a lady is being praised for her decent dressing, while others who dress skimpily are chastised. Hear the poet in the following lines: “You walk in beauty / Like African queen / In her Queendom / At home you’re Aishetu / Unlike others you refused to /Adopt campus names such as / Paula, Sandra, Juliet, Frances / unlike others you refuse to expose erogenous zones / You shunned skimpy skirts / Because there is no mileage in it / You’re original…”

 

Part Two contains 15 poems bordering on the poet’s reflections about contemporary national and international issues. Poems in this section are titled ‘Reflection’, ‘A Walk on Christmas Eve’, ‘Reminiscence of 9/11’, ‘The Millennium Story’, ‘Echoes of June 12’, ‘Paragon of Virtue’, ‘Sunrise, Books’, ‘Poverty’, ‘A Call for Peace’, ‘A Plea to Politicians’, ‘Success Boost’, ‘Fourth Estate of the Realm’, ‘Prophetic Utterance’, and ‘Voice of Africa’.

 

In Paragon of Virtue, the poet highlights the need to be different from the crowd in a positive way, in a country where evil and corrupt people seem to be the only center of attraction, worship, and emulation by many folks.

 

I like the simplicity of the verses as they tend to convey meaningful messages, even though the entire lines of the volume are devoid of the basic characteristics of conventional poetry, such as rhymes and rhythms. The poem I cherish in the collection is the piece entitled ‘Books’, which underscores the importance of knowledge to human development.

 

It reminded me about my poem titled ‘Book’ in my award winning nursery rhymes poetry volume titled “Rhymes from the Nile.” This shows how poets think alike. It also brings to mind the rejuvenation of ‘Reading Culture’ among Nigerians, by former President (Dr) Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in 2011.
In Part Two, ‘A Plea to Politicians’ makes one ponders about how many politicians will listen to such plea.

 

The most controversial poem in the collection is the one used for the book cover title, ‘Voice of Africa’ which eulogizes Mr. Barack Obama the former President of the United States of America. It personifies Africa as the speaker in the poem. Though Obama actually brought African blood presence into the White House as the first African that became the President of the USA, there is a particular unAfrican decision he made or was forced to make during his tenure. Such unAfrican decision is homosexuality which negates the culture and values of Africans. It reminded me about a poem I also wrote concerning the issue titled ‘Obama’s Bone to Bone’ in my poetry collection entitled ‘Nightmares In Paradise’, published in 2013, chastising Obama for that singular ungodly and unAfrican act.

 

The poetic features in Ugah’s collection are stanzas, palilogy, and some figures of speech such as simile, hyperbole and personification. Other concepts common in the volume are biblical and classical allusions. All the poems are devoid of rhymes which makes the work a blank verse.

 

Part Three is replete with lamentations about the state of things in Nigeria, Africa, and the global community. Poems in this section are ‘Lamentation of a Centenarian’, ‘Messiahs’, ‘Fetters of Life’, ‘Prisoners of Birth’, ‘Mother’, ‘Mirage’, ‘Elegy for Twin Sisters’, ‘A Lamentation for Ukandi’, ‘Mandiba’s Shoes’, ‘Selfishness’, ‘The Prayer’, ‘Paradox of a Nation’, ‘Ode to AIDS’, ‘The Roaring Nemesis’, and ‘Tide of Time’.

 

The poem, ‘Selfishness’, summarizes the unpalatable events happening in Nigeria today. The issues raised in the poem have become the national policies and practices of many Nigerian politicians inciting their supporters against their opponents, with embers of ethnic discrimination and religious bigotry. The Fulani herdsmen rampant killing nationwide without any of the culprits being arrested and prosecuted in a court of law, is a pointer to ethnic cleansing in the Middle Belt, which Gen. TY Danjuma (retd), accused the present administration of.

 

Ugah laments about not only Nigeria, but Africa as folks keep waking from recession to depression endlessly.

 

Shortcomings that need to be corrected before reprint are the omission of question marks in some rhetorical questions replete in the verses.

 

Paul Ugah is a member of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Benue chapter. He studied Mass Communication at Benue State University.

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