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This Lovesong for my wasteland

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This Lovesong for my wasteland

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oetry is the oldest genres and advance form of composition. This offering, “Lovesong for my waste land, “is where poetry intersect drama. The poet uses action with purgation of emotion in the prologue. The thematic preoccupation of the poet literary motif hinges on the concept of land and its symbolic and metaphoric importance to the people. There is a story in our history.  The Poet has been to the market place of thought.  It is pertinent we borrow a leaf from his poetic messages. “The land is for us to Plough; not to Plunder”, a poem by Niyi Osundare and “This Earth My Brother” a novel by Kofi Awoonor are in corollary with Lovesong for my Waste Land. The Poet poetic lines ride the wings of the clouds and beat the drum of peace.  Truth will always challenges the tongue of lies. It is not normal when abnormality becomes the order of the day. Wanton waste of our natural resource is the paradox for the love song. The country consumes what it does not produce and produces what it does not consume. There is more than meets the eyes with these poetic lines. The Poet urges the people to fight for their collective request. Changes can only come when the people know that they are part of the system. We have to dialogue to put an end to the labyrinth of violence.  We have to dialogue to correct some mistakes of the past.

 

 

The land has witness The Years of the Elephant – when music was made out of the skulls of men. When two elephants fight the grass suffer it. Those who say the truth become the palace soup.  The Year of the Wolf-all that was saved became food for phantoms and bandits. The Year of the Dog- Everybody barked after the band and now party of bandits. The Year of the Hyena – The Hyena claimed all our limbs except for those who spoke with their legs.  The way in and out of the forest is identical.   The Poet writes in “In The Beginning of Season”: what does the farmer think/ when to sleep, how to harvest or what to plant? / There is a land where thirst runs through the river/ p 15.

 

 

This river belongs to us. It is our collective inheritance. But this river of oil is our bane of disintegration.  The laughter and smile that meet peoples face is fake. The land is famished. The Poet buttresses in “We have Ore but invent Nothing”:  We have rain but hate to plant/ We have the heat and the glory of the rainbow/ But we kill our own suns with hurtful glee/ The earth swoons in the farmers hands/ But all we do is rape the land/All we know is maim the mind/All we plant are epitaphs for the dead/p19

 

 

It is those who work that the earth support. The rain brings food to the earth. In the Year of the Elephant- People work like elephant and eat like ant. The upland sun nourishes the plants yet the farmer gaze at the sun from the window of his heart.  Our can we sing the songs of victory when our voice is stolen?  How can we protest when bags of rice tame our hungry mouth?  What can we make out of it when we sing the national anthem in fear? The Poet put across in “Why would I Think of Love in Times of War”: why would I talk of tenderness when the argument in the rafters can start a fire? / Why would I peddle laughter in a paroxysm of pain?  P22.  We are living in a country where everybody is a talking solution.  Nobody wants to take action.  Action they say speaks louder than words. Enough of false rhetoric!  Let leaders lead. We have paragon of failed promises.  If you were the solution would you tell us the answer without excluding the question mark?  We are tired of lies. In “Ten Monarchs, Ten Seasons” the Poet writes: Believe the lies and query the truth/ or strangle the truth and embrace the lie/ Your life shall be long/ We have not reached the threshold/ But the crossroads are multiplying daily/ Ten Monarchs, Ten Seasons/ p27. Change can only come to the land when we collectively take away power from those misusing it during the election.

 

 

The state of the country is that of Victorian sensibility: a country not strong enough to divide and too weak to be united.  We are not motivated to learn from the past. This is not the land our fore father’s envision.   This is not the dream of the land.  Tears from the eyes of the young and old; terror terrorizing the peace and unity of the land.  When will this land become a bride again?

 

 

In “There Can be no argument on where I Stand” the Poet asks these salient thought provoking questions—Who stole the secrets of oil from the rack of Forcados? / Who at night decimated the harvest of Kano’s pyramids/ And started the ululation and the curse in the morning? / Who burnt the trees of wealth: rubber, cocoa, kola and palm/ Which sprawled the land and crossed many rivers? / Who bled the bellies of caves and aborted earth? /p28. This collection of poems is an overflow of powerful recollection of the past.  The land is kind enough to tell her stories of rape and wanton waste of her resources – Lovesong For My Waste Land.

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Literature

Why Spoken Word performance should be kept alive, by Onuoha

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Why Spoken Word performance should be kept alive, by Onuoha

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heatre enthusiasts, artistes, critics and others that attended the Lagos Fringe Festival 2019, and had the opportunity to watch the stage presentation of Nwa Chukwu, a spoken word performance by Ndukwe Onuoha, featuring Maka and Tonie The Emperor, cannot but note with nostalgia, the sheer brilliance and rich theatrical resonance.   

 

The Lagos Fringe Festival is an open access multidisciplinary arts festival for producers, culture advocates, exhibitors and performers to showcase their work, either existing or new work to a diverse audience consisting of local and international audiences, venue owners, curators and arts buyers.

 

The six-day Lagos Fringe Festival 2019, organised in partnership with Multichoice Nigeria, British Council Nigeria, Freedom Park and the Alliance Francaise, took place on 19th to 24th November, 2019, at various venues across the city of Lagos.

 

It thus afforded teeming theatre enthusiasts opportunity to rich and engaging spoken word performances as well as dozens of other theatrical presentations. Indeed, spoken word performance has continued to assert its relevance and place in live theatre, just as it continues to thrill, provoke discourse and inspires audiences across the country.

 

The piece, Nwa Chukwu, is a stage adaptation of Onuoha’s Spoken Word album, titled Nwa Chukwu. Onuoha fuses a unique conversational delivery with traditional instrumentation to convey “poetry that is accessible, relatable and at once punchy”.

 

Born and raised in Aba, Abia State, Nigeria, Onuaha studied History and International Relations at Abia State University, but has worked in advertising ever since.  For him, poetry, a form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre—to evoke meanings, is an important tool for keeping social issues on the front burner of society.

 

“Spoken word performance is a very important tool for keeping social issues on the front burner of society, and should be kept alive by all means.

“I fuse a unique conversational delivery with traditional instrumentation to deliver poetry that is accessible, relatable and at once punchy. I’m an incurable ad man, and an award-winning copywriter and Creative Director of 7even Interactive, a fast-rising advertising agency in Lagos, Nigeria.

 

Nwa Chukwu: Spoken word performance, he says, was inspired by the need to start a conversation about identity. “More and more, we see many young Nigerians shirk their identity in favour of Western ideals.  So I wanted to start a conversation about identity and what it means to be Nigerian.”

 

According to him, the presentation at the Lagos Fringe Festival was the first of many performances. “This is my first theatre production, so I had to learn as we went along.

 

Poems for Nwa Chukwu were written and performed by Ndukwe Onuoha, featuring Maka and Tonie The Emperor.

 

 

The performance was directed by Ndukwe Onuoha and Tonie The Emperor, and produced by Tonie The Emperor. 

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Literature

Birth of a terrible beauty

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Birth of a terrible beauty

Title: dispossessed

Author: James Eze

Published: Fasihi (Daraja Press)

Number of pages: 121

Year of publication: 2019

Reviewer: Uzor Maxim Uzoatu

 

 

 

E

ver since I got a signed copy of James Eze’s debut collection of poetry, ‘dispossessed’, I’ve been possessed! Poetry can be overwhelming at the best of times such that it becomes a benumbing challenge getting the aesthetic distance to engage in a proper intercourse with the text, as per a review.

 

Among the cognoscenti, James Eze had already won pips of high recognition within the comity of poets even without having a title in bound covers to his name. Eze is cast in the mode of the deposition of W. B. Yeats that the best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity.

 

 

In appreciating Eze’s poetry, I will hold to Yeats’ depiction of the Irish revolutionaries of Easter 1916: “A terrible beauty is born.”

 

 

Eze’s dispossessed bears the subtitle “poetry of innocence, transgression and atonement”, and incidentally, the entire collection is divided into three parts, namely, “innocence” (21 poems), “transgression” (31 poems) and “atonement” (24 poems). The poet’s delineation of the three stages, not unlike Sigmund Freud’s Id, Ego and Super-Ego, runs thus: “In innocence, we encounter the poet in the early stages of his artistic development… transgression presents the poet at a very delicate stage in his emotional and creative development… In atonement, we meet the poet at the end of his journey … a frantic attempt to engage the world, not on anyone’s terms but his own.”

 

 

Eze sums up his odyssey this way: “dispossessed is therefore a journey that begins with laughter and blissful innocence but ends with heartache and a blinking back of tears.”

 

 

For me, there is a seamless blend of the three sections because the poet at no time encounters the atrophy of vision that undermines the work of stereotypical poets. The passionate flow of Eze’s métier seeps into the pores ceaselessly without any breaks whatsoever.

 

 

Like the great American avant-garde poet ee cummings, James Eze renders his poetry in lower case. The only other Nigerian poet of my knowledge who has this style is amu nnadi.

 

 

It’s remarkable that on the cover of dispossessed the author’s name is given just as James Eze while inside the book we are given the larger bona-fide of James Ngwu Eze. The poet does the formal introduction of himself in the second poem in the collection “i am”:

 

 

i am ngwu

 

 

nwa nkpozi eze

 

striving for self-definition

 

The poet’s forte in defining himself actually manifested earlier in the very first poem of the collection “petals & buds”:

 

for i am the missing lobe of poetry’s kolanut the fearless chest that absorbs the anger of razor blades i surrender my anvil at the crossroads and unscrew the cork of my silence

 

Eze then situates himself as somewhat appearing late within the ambit of world poetry, but the company he keeps is quite intimidating as can be seen from the poem “here i come”:

here i come

to the great feast of words

the late bloomer;

i come when the table is set

dinner is redolent with

the fragrance of great chefs:

okigbo, neruda, eliot, pound, yeats…

A poet bearing the bounties of Christopher Okigbo, Pablo Neruda, TS Eliot, Ezra Pound and W.B. Yeats perforce demands uncommon attention from the very beginning. Eze is in no doubts whatsoever as per the demands of his poetic calling espoused in “here i am”:

here I am

prophet, priest and pilgrim

Amid his plough of the dead poets’ society, Eze is very unafraid to challenge the masters, for instance, frontally disagreeing in his poem “april” with Eliot:

april is not ‘the cruelest month’

i beg to differ, sir

Eliot had depicted April as “the cruelest month” in his masterpiece The Waste Land. April ought to stand out as the beginning of summer and therefore a month of joy but for the “wastelanders” of Eliot’s iconic poem that eternally wallow in torpor the appearance of light only means the cruelty of work.

Eze is different, stressing that “i bless God that I am a child of april”, and concludes floridly thus:

i came, swaddled in april haze

i’m the reason why the sun kissed the rain under the mistletoe

the silent flame under the bushel

waiting for a gust of wind to blaze

A major influence that Eze is beholden to is of course Okigbo, like many other modern day Nigerian poets. Little wonder there is the poem entitled “idoto” in the collection while poems such as “a fistful of kolanuts” and “elegy of the weaverbird” are dedicated to the Ojoto-born poet killed in the Biafra war.

In the same manner that I see Bob Marley at equal range as a political singer and a belter of soulful love songs, I cannot see any separation whatsoever from Eze the love poet and Eze the poet of politics.

Eze is proud of his Igbo heritage, and the Biafra war is a subject very dear to his heart. He would not bend the knee to the modern scheme of, for instance, seeing the late Ogoni activist Ken Saro-Wiwa as a saint, for he writes in “re: epitaph for Biafra”:

you let the plume of  smoke dull your sense of justice

you shut the door on right and chose wrong

and that is why you are not my hero

True heroism for Eze can be found in the courageous 1803 revolt by 75 Igbo slaves in Dunbar Creek, Georgia which he celebrates in “the igbo landing”:

In what moulds were you forged, brave ancestors

You who threw a finger in the eye of cruelty

And spat in the face of slavery?

The title poem “dispossessed” is crucially the longest in the collection and somehow encapsulates the poet’s love-hate relationship with the existing order:

when injustice is buried in a shallow grave

we await the resurrection of dry bones

The headstrong critic in me, however, queries why in his “introduction” to dispossessed the poet writes that the third section, “atonement”, has as its “opening poem, ‘the poets’ republic’” only for the poem to somehow appear as the second poem in the section, after “a fistful of kolanuts” dedicated to Christopher Okigbo! And why does one poem in the collection, “i ask of You” (pg52), have a capital “Y”?

Well, as I wrote from the very beginning, James Eze’s dispossessed left me possessed, that is, it dispossessed of my faculties. Eze’s collection had an unhinging effect on me in very profound ways, thus rendering me quite possessed by a benevolent spirit that I initially thought was an evil one! I was mad with poetical-mental beneficence forged on the anvil of Eze’s word-smithy.

In my book, dispossessed by James Eze ranks amongst the best collections of poetry anywhere across the globe.

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Arts & Entertainments

Engaging Dafinone’s Ode to the Inamorata and other Poems

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Engaging Dafinone’s Ode to the Inamorata and other Poems

I

t was a bumper literary feast recently in Lagos at launching/public presentation of three poetry collections by Wisdom O. Dafinone, namely: ‘Ode to the Inamorata and other Poems’; ‘Nature, Travelogue And Other Poems’; and ‘Contemplations: Faith, Hope, Dirges and other Poems’.

 

 

With these collections, the author has, no doubt, not only enriched Nigerian literature but also underscore how, in the words of Dr. Solomon Omatsola Azumurana of the Department of English

 

 

University of Lagos, “creative writers explore and exploit different literary resources in their attempt to examine the society…”

 

 

The poems in the three collections focus on crucial life issues, such as love, relationships, faith and hope. As the author takes the reader through a journey of discovery, he also shows that the beauty of our world is illuminated by love. “God is love! A divinely-derived concept that we are created in God’s image. This irrefutable ‘Sacred Heart’ of divine love provides inspiration for redemptive love, human interactions and relationships. Our world is continually captivated and enthralled by extraordinary love stories. Kingdoms and empires are won and lost on account of love. A world without love would be void, empty and lonely. In its core lies the nucleus of an unbreakable bond of mankind: man, woman, boy and girl.

 

Therefore, since God is love, let us all be guided by love.”

 

 

‘Ode To Inamorata And Other Poems’, which is the first collection, portrays pristine beauty in a love-crumbled and divorce-prone world, and the hope of triumphant victory. Triumphant love, the poet notes, encompasses sacrifice, passion, piety and pain.

 

 

 

As Azumurana, in his Foreword, states inter alia: ‘In Ode to Inamorata and Other Poems’, Dafinone, like a professional artist, dexterously employs words to recreate his contemporary world using universal imageries and symbolisms. The Poet’s passionate commitment to love and family is evident in his poems. The poems exhibit versatility of ideas, in-depth knowledge of subjects and a good mastery of language and literary resources.”

 

 

Creative writers, Azumurana further noes,  “Poetry, more than any other literary genre, encapsulates the most intense emotions and passions of human existence across different periods and regions, and appears to be the most suitable landscape for projecting any given society/issue. Contemporary poets, therefore, confront the realities, sensibilities, and experiences of their highly complex world using poetry. As a major typology of poetry, the Ode perhaps enables poets to aptly express their intense emotions and thoughts in relation to their chosen subjects, objects, and ideas like no other poetic genre. In fact, the plus that the Ode has as a genre is that while it is deployed fundamentally to glorify and eulogise an individual, event, subject, object, or idea; it has the capacity at the same time to draw attention of readers to the anti-thesis/negative polemic of whatever is being glorified or eulogised. Using 38 poems organised into 4 sections, Ode to the Inamorata and Other Poems by Wisdom Oteri Dafinone strongly advocates love to a wounded world polarised by hatred and intolerance by drawing the attention of readers to the negative polemics of the abstract ideas and concepts it glorifies and eulogises.”

 

 

In Ode to the Inamorata and Other Poems, Dafinone, like a professional artist, dexterously employs words to recreate his contemporary world using universal imageries and symbolisms. The poet’s passionate commitment to love and family is evident in his poems. The poems exhibit versatility of ideas, in-depth knowledge of subjects and a good mastery of language and literary resources. The accompanying pictures corroborate the poet’s positions and animate his representations. They also intensify the aesthetic value of the text and enhance comprehension of ideas and positions presented in the texts.

 

 

Book 2 is titled ‘Nature, Travelogue And Other Poems’. This Collection reflects the immense pleasures of travelling, adventures and discoveries. It is a profound appreciation of the cultural diversity of our globalised world. The expression “sights and sounds” assumes a more definitive interpretation and meaning – the naked reality or characteristics of each locality: beauty, attractions, distractions, et cetera.

 

 

As celebrated performance poet and writer, Iquo Diana Abasi, the author of ‘Symphony of Becoming’, notes in her Foreword: “Dafinone uses his words to illustrate the beauty, culture and landscapes, from India to American cities of Virginia and Miami, and to his sojourn in Rome. Dafinone is a writer filled with love- of nature, of nation and life in general. And his poems are love letters to his nation, to places he has known, to his past, and even the future.”

 

 

The poems in Book 3, aptly titled Contemplations: Faith, Hope, Dirges and other Poems, portray a philosophical approach to life’s daily struggles and challenges: love, death, religion, eternity. The Poet’s vision is to impact the society as a part of a collective voice for positive change. Regrettably, in most cases, it represents the single voice in the wilderness or penitential pews pleading and praying for collective redemption. Poetry condenses and crystallizes the capacity and power for the public good.

 

 

In this Collection, Prof. Otymeyin Agbajoh-Laoye (Associate Professor of Intercultural Literature in English & Africana Studies, Department of World Languages and Cultures, Monmouth University, New Jersey, USA) notes in her Foreword: …“Wisdom Dafinone touches on many aspects of the essence of religiosity and spirituality in his engagement with human existence and relationships. Much of the poetry invites the reflection of the transience of life and recommends service to God and humanity as lasting legacies. The incorporation of visual and textual elements humanises the subject of the Poet’s contemplations.”

 

 

No doubt, these three Collections of poems are the realisation of dreams nurtured in youth, abandoned in adulthood, and finally finding bright light in the sunset of ageing maturity. They reflect the definitive advantages of maturity, introspection and studious scrutiny.

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Literature

Asa Festival: Stimulating interest Yoruba Culture

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he Ferry Terminal, Ebute, area of Ikorodu, Lagos, was agog with arts and cultural activities at this year’s Asa Festival which resonated across Ikorodu town and its environs.

 

As early as 8am, enthusiasts the venue came alive with several cultural activities, including horse rides, stilt dancers, Imowo-Nla Parade, Okeletu Parade, Agura Parade, Aga Parade and special parade by Council of Elekus.

For several hours, the venue was agog with pomp and creativity, as it brought together sons and daughters of Ikorodu, including royal fathers and lawmakers representing the region at federal and state levels. 

 

The lawmaker representing Ikorodu in Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr. Sanai Agunbiade, who is the founder, the non-governmental organisation (NGO), Ikorodu Rebirth Project (IREP), the organisers of the festival, said the festival was organised to re-awaken interest the people’s cultural heritage as well as transform Ikorodu into a tourism hub in Lagos State.

 

 

He added that the festival needs more government support, having been approved by the Lagos State government as one of the events in its cultural calendar.

 

Agunbiade, whose commitment to protecting this heritage took him and his IREP team members to Ife, where they paid a courtesy visit to the Ooni of Ife in order to carry out more research on the festival and Yoruba heritage, further stated: “Asa Festival is to preserve the cultural heritage of our land in Ikorodu, so we want Ministry of Art and Culture to give us more support.”

 

He therefore advised youths to see Asa as part of their heritage that must not be allowed to die.

 

Also speaking at the festival, the Speaker of Lagos Assembly, Mr. Mudashiru Obasa, emphasised the need to promote Yoruba language and culture. He also called for extensive use of Yoruba language among the people in order to continue to propagate Yoruba culture.

 

Asa Festival is a yearly cultural carnival where various communities in Sagamu, Ogun State, and Ikorodu, in Lagos, display their cultural heritage.

 

Eminent monarchs that graced the occasion were the Ayangburen of Ikorodu, Oba Kabiru Shotobi; Ranodu of Imota, Oba Bakare Agoro; Adegoruwa of Igbogbo, Abdulsemiu Kasali; Otunba Ganiu Abiru; Olubeshe of Ibeshe, Oba Richard Abayomi and Obateru of Egbin, Akeem Oyebo.

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Literature

12 Days of Christmas: Group rallies artistes to support less-privileged children

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t is a few weeks to Christmas, a period to share, give and show love to people in the society.

 

 

In this regard, The Rewrite Nigeria Development Initiative (TRNDI), a non- governmental organisation (NGO), in collaboration with some companies, is set to, in its own unique way, put smile on the faces of the less-privileged children in Whitesands community, Ikorodu, Lagos State, as it holds the maiden edition of its project titled ‘12 Days of Christmas’, which began on Sunday.

 

Founder/President, TRNDI, Mrs Rose Egbeleye, said the project, tagged “12 days of Christmas”, is about the people living at Whitesand Community in Ikorodu.

 

“People visit other less-privileged homes, and the norm is that such people are given gifts and nothing ever changes. But we want to do something different and that is why we initiated ‘12 Days of Christmas’.

“The idea is to spend the first 12 days of December every year with the less privileged in the society. We will spend 11 days with them and on the 12th day, there will be a charity concert. We are leveraging on Christmas because it is a time of giving,” she said.

 

According to Egbeleye, the objective of the NGO is to take care of children and their parents.

 

“One cannot touch the children lives without having a ripple effect on their parents. That’s why we have to empower these parents so that they can learn and have a better knowledge of how life should be. 

“Therefore, we appeal to Nigerians, corporate bodies and the entertainers to support us in this project. When entertainers and artistes go to these places, people listen to their songs because arts and entertainment are powerful tools to give hope to the hopeless. The people believe in these artistes and look up to them as mentors. We must come together as a people every year to give back to the society. This is the platform to really impact on these communities,” she said.

 

She explained that the NGO shares a lot of things in common with the companies that are partnering with her, adding that no one really cares about the poor. She also revealed that when she shared her passion with these people, they didn’t decline but gave their support to the project, which is targeted at ameliorating the plight of the downtrodden.

 

In his remark, Captain Brown of Karmond Group added that his company was poised to change the lives of people living in slums in Nigeria by providing and building decent houses for them in the same community. He disclosed that the company was in Nigeria and in other parts the world due to its passion to support such projects.

 

His words: “Karmond at the moment can provide good accommodation for people at a very affordable cost. We can build houses in 48 hours we will continue to support this initiative because it is a laudable one.”

 

Also speaking at the press conference to announce the event, the CEO, Global Concepts Limited, Wale Babajide, said that his team came up with the idea of bringing a total transformation through a collaboration with other people targeted at taking people out from the slum, which would be executed one community at a time.

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Literature

When silence would be treason

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When silence would be treason

Title: Silence Would Be Treason: Last Writings of Ken Saro-Wiwa (Second edition)

Edited by Ide Corley et al

Published: Daraja Press

Year or Publication: 2018

Reviewer: Olutayo Irantiola

 

 

A

t 52, I think I’ve served my time and, come to face it, I’ve lived a charmed life. A few more books, maybe, & the opportunity to assist others would be welcome. But, it’s okay” Ken Saro- Wiwa. 

The life of Ken Saro-Wiwa keeps resonating in the annals of the history of Nigeria. He had become a renowned name in the environmental and ecological literature across the globe. In my study of Saro-Wiwa, I have come to appreciate a selfless man who gave up a life of comfort to stand for a cause that he believed in and he alongside other eight person paid the ultimate price. Unfortunately, we are currently in a generation where many people do not stand for anything. The cause he stood for brought him international acclaim in the process of his eventual death.

 

 

The text can be divided into three parts namely- essays on Ken Saro-Wiwa; The letters to Sister Majella McCarron and his poems. The prolific nature of Saro-Wiwa is no more in doubt because of the number of publications that he wrote while he lived. His writings cut across non-fiction, fiction, children’s literature, television and stage plays and poetry. His love for writings made him establish a publishing firm, Saros International Publishers, so that the world can have access to his creative insight.

The State and her apparatus were used to fight Saro-Wiwa. The state was being instigated by an oil and gas company, Shell Exploration that has polluted the Ogoni Communities. Interestingly, the third party to the whole crisis, Shell Exploration Company Limited, eventually agreed that they have polluted the Niger-Delta. The State used his kinsmen against him; a documentary was used to tell a false tale about them, the state incarcerated them as they were considered too powerful, the state even went as far as frustrating the lawyers of the Ogoni 9 and counsels were provided for them. According to Saro-Wiwa: “Our lawyers have now withdrawn and the Legal Aid Council of Rivers State has provided a lawyer for each of us. They now need to obtain all the proceedings and study them before the trial can recommence. We expect that they will give the proceedings from the Tribunal but we are not giving them any of our own papers. In short, we will not be co-operating with any of the defence counsel. We would like it known that the State are judge, prosecuting and defence counsel all rolled into one so that the true intent of the State is no longer masked.” Pg 133.

 

 

In it all, Saro-Wiwa was conscious of the fact that the state wants him dead. In Page 74, he said, “The Military Administrator, Lt Col. Dauda Musa Komo, has ignored the recommendation which makes me believe that he wants me dead.” Eventually, it all played out till his eventual death.

 

 

The state of mind was Ken Saro-Wiwa was that of someone who knew what he was up to and he also used all that was within his reach to fight the State. He used his financial withal, he used his network within people, such as Sister Majella and the media, he used his international exposure and he used his writing ability and this gave birth to the piece of work that is being studied. He wrote about himself and how he got to this point: “My preparation for this struggle was a long one and it was made simple by the fact that I do not know that the Divine Hand was preparing me all the time. It is only now that when I look back and begin to put the pieces together that I can see the progression from Administrator for Bonny; Commissioner in Rivers State, businessman (of some success), television producer, publisher, writer to activist as preparation for a task that would have been daunting if I had, for one moment, stopped to think or analyse its implications…”

 

 

The state of worry about his family, his newly born son, his marriage to his estranged wife, Maria; his new wife, Kwame; his older children and their A-level results amongst others. Despite all that was happening, his brother, Owen, took the message to the world and his Sister, a lawyer stood by him. His parents, 90-year-old father and 73-year-old mother also stood by him. The mother became a rallying point for womanism across the fourteen surrounding villages, pg. 116, as many men had gone underground.

 

 

Prizes became a memorable part of his incarceration as he attained global acclaim. He got prizes and monetary reward from many international organisation. He was sending other Ogoni compatriots and his son to collect the awards on his behalf. They used the opportunity to share the story and various documents of their communities to the world. The prizes he won included Right Livelihood Award, pg 97; 1995 Goldman Prize awarded by the Goldman Environmental Foundation of California, pg 120.

 

 

It is also worthy of note that Saro-Wiwa was not left to rot in incarceration; he got support that made him boisterous. He got support from the Bible, his faith soared; the Catholic Church through Sister Majella, International Communities and an organization, BodyShop. Some of the local and international media that made his voice resonate included Suunray; The Guardian, Voice of America, BBC World Service; Independent of London; The Observer and Irish Times. He felt a sense of accomplishment, “The Voice of America also carried it fully. I heard myself described as ‘renowned writer and environmentalist’. Very supportive, I think, and I hope it goes on that way.” Pg 120.

 

Of a fact, we are reading the works of Ken Saro-Wiwa but the diaries of Sister Majella to him would have opened up the discourse further, it would have shown us some of the inner workings that inspired Ken’s responses. It would have been an opportunity to see through the whole spectrum of communication.

 

 

Unfortunately, Ken Junior too has joined the ancestors, but his siblings can get some of the great preserved materials by Maynooth University and turn one of their father’s properties into a museum. Just like it has been done for Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.

Equally, Saro International Publishers should be revived by fellas and associates of the late Ken Saro-Wiwa. We need a completed works of Ken Saro-Wiwa in Volumes, it might not be more than 5-10 volumes but it should be republished just like the family of the late Yoruba writer, TAA Ladele did by re-publishing his works years after his demise.

 

 

I am proud to say, I have met Ken Saro- Wiwa on the pages of books and I am excited to have studied him. Many thanks to Sir Nnimmo Bassey who gifted me with this text. Let’s stand for something and stop falling for everything. Either we stand or we don’t we will all die someday somehow. May the Ken in us never die!

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Literature

Ibadan Affordable Art Show returns in December

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Ibadan Affordable Art Show returns in December

A

ll is set for another delightful and revealing art show as the second edition of the Ibadan Affordable Art Fair holds from the 6th – 8th December 2019.

The initiator of the project, Oyinda Adelumola, in a statement announcing the show, said: “Affordable Art is an idea that came about because Ibadan was once the centre of art and culture.

 

 

“We want to put the city back on the map for art, making it a focus and locus in addition to Lagos which is densely concentrated. We seek to expand the market for art away from Lagos and bring more people to the art collecting fold.” 

She added that the opening day of the three-day event will be strictly for invited guests only, whilst the subsequent days will be open to the general public and all art lovers.

 

 

The second Ibadan Affordable Art Fair will feature works by various artists of whom 70% are Ibadan based, exhibiting ceramics, embroidery, photography, sculpture and paintings.               

Highlights of the Fair will include but not limited to: music, children’s art class, poetry et al.

 

 

The maiden edition of the show will featured works by various established and young artists, including Victor Ehikhamenor, Adewale Alimi, Ogaga Tuodeinye, Isaac Emokpae, Lateef Olajumoke, Bruce Prins, Joel Arueya, Lawrence Leo, Temidayo Beduru, Obi Chigozie, Anthonia Chinasa, Ato Arinze, Nathalie Djakou Kassi, Tega Akpokona and Peter Kiladejo.

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Literature

Potpourri of personal, societal life experiences

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Potpourri of personal, societal life experiences

Book:     It Happened That Night & Other Stories

 

 

Author:     Lekan Malik

 

 

Publisher:   Technoprint Publications, Lagos

 

 

Pages:      102

 

 

Reviewer: Adjekpagbon Blessed Mudiaga

 

 

 

“I

t Happened That Night & Other Stories” is Lekan Malik’s debut prose work into the highly competitive field of literary creativity and global book market.

 

 

The twelve tales in the book include: “It Happened That Night”, “It Was The Knife That Did It”, “Face To Face With Death”, “A Stranger’s Head”, “The Robbing Masquerade”, “Hand Of Frustration”, “When It Wasn’t Easy…”, “I Wish I Could Help Him”, “Grave Of Voices”, “The Awaiting Priest”, etc.

 

 

Multidimensional human experiences ranging from personal health challenges, murder, religious and abstract imagination about death, robbery, poverty, ethnic discrimination, mystical voices, etc. are the rice and stew of the stories.

 

Through the introduction page, the author informs that the cover story; ‘It Happened That Night,’ “is a personal and unforgettable experience of the writer with some creativity…” This implies that the first story in the book is a ‘unitruefiction’ (a combination of fiction and nonfiction).

 

It borders on the psychological hallucinations the author went through while sick at a particular time. He describes certain experiences he had like many folks do when they are seriously ill- some hear imaginary voices or ringing tones.

 

 

A contemporary and quite disturbing issue that has become commonplace in Nigeria these days is the killing of wives by their husbands and vice versa, coupled with ethnic discrimination in marital relationships that has destroyed many marriages over the years. These are the musings of “It Was The Knife That Did It,” where an alcoholic husband known as Obinna kills his wife, Sade, as a result of inter-tribal discrimination by both his family members of Igbo origin and his wife’s Yoruba family members who collectively contributes to the rancor that snowballs into hate between the couple, and the wife eventual death.

 

 

“Face To Face With Death,” happens to be the most hilarious and entertaining story in the entire collection based on the reviewer’s assessment. Apart from being an interesting satirical reminder of certain common religious activities noticeable among Christians and Islamic so-called representatives of God on earth, it shows how some people try to run away from death after boasting that they are ready to die. Despite claiming to be searching for death, which makes him to visit a pastor and an Islamic cleric to ask them where he could see death face to face, Alabi, a young man later sees death in human forms that came to rob him of his possessions, but he refuses to die.

 

Another noteworthy story is “When It Wasn’t Easy…” It highlights how some relatives deceive their nieces from the village in the guise to further their education in the city, only to introduce them into prostitution for personal benefits.

 

 

Experiences bordering on life after death and some traditional values, beliefs and practices among the Igbo and other Africans are the meat and potatoes of “Grave of Voices.” Here, the author awakens the reader’s memory to similar gothic occurrences such as the types in Perpetual Obidiegwu’s novel titled “Priceless Jewel,” and William Shakespeare’s drama titled “Hamlet.”

 

Disobedience of some traditional/cultural practices by some Africans who claim to be Jewish than the Jews, and Arabic than the Arabs, seems to be the author’s satirical concentration in “Grave of Voices,” where Kolade, a Yoruba man- the central character of the story, refuses to obey the traditional culture of his Igbo in-laws who wants him to release the dead body of his wife, Amarachi to them for burial in their home town.

 

 

He buries his late wife in his compound. This leads to her nocturnal protests to the hearing of Yakubu the gateman. He informs Kolade about the strange voices he hears from late Mrs. Kolade Amarachi’s grave at night. But the stubborn widower says Yakubu maybe either drunk or dreaming. Kolade later hears the voice at night saying “Take me home” as Yakubu had earlier told him he has been hearing at night.

 

 

The story reminds the reviewer about a similar life experience related by a friend who lives in Ikorodu area of Lagos, where one night he saw the spirit of a young lady rising from the sitting-room of an apartment he rented some year ago. The spirit went to the locked entrance door, hissed, opened it and went out at exactly midnight. This made the reviewer’s friend to approach the landlord of the house to inquire whether someone was buried in the sitting-room of the apartment. The landlord confirmed that he buried his matured late daughter there two years before the occupant parked in. Hence, the claim that when people are buried it is the end of their life is a figment of ignorance. Spirits rise from graves to live at night between 12 – 4am before Aurora’s footsteps.

 

 

The only story in the anthology that has a sprinkle of descriptive stream is “A Stranger’s Head”. Unexpected springing of surprises and twists in the plots of the entire stories are the author’s commendable hallmark of narrative style.

 

However, deficiencies noticed in the book include typos, syntactic errors, and mechanical noise in some pages. Some Yoruba words used in some of the stories ought to have also been translated in English for non-Yoruba readers.

 

 

Lekan Malik studied English and Literature at Lagos State University. He is also a budding poet whose works have been published in some anthologies.

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Literature

A call to action against anti-female culture

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A call to action against anti-female culture

 

 

Title: Killing Them Softly

 

Author: Martins Agbonlahor

 

Publisher: i2i Publishing, Manchester, United Kingdom

 

Year of Publication: 2019

 

Pages: 318

 

Reviewer: Andrew Iro Okungbowa

 

 

 

K

illing Them Softly, written by Martins Agbonlahor, a Nigerian-born, United Kingdom-based lawyer and professional journalist, is not just seminal book on the struggle for women’s rights in Nigeria but also of the exhibition of the oppression and injustice visited on the women based on cultural beliefs and practices.

 

 

It is obviously an x-ray, in a very moving manner, of happenings in Nigeria, his country of birth, where bad governance has given root to endemic problems of injustice, abuse of human rights, bribery and corruption, religious bigotry and all sorts of social vices. It is also a reflection on other Africa countries where such practices are elevated to an act.

 

 

Interestingly, the writer has shown through his proper situation of the story that he may have left his country of birth, but he is fully abreast of developments in the country, as he draws essentially from his background and experience to lay bare the endemic problems plaguing his fatherland.

 

 

He will surely earn the recommendation of anyone reading the 318 pages novel for telling his story from the stand point of a feminist. Agbonlahor succeeded in sustaining interest in his socio-fictional cum factual novel by choosing to adopt the story telling technique rather than use mere polemics and socio-jingoism employed by many of the feminists or promoters of feminism.

 

 

Agbonlahor from the prologue left no one in doubt of what he sets out to achieve with his work. Detonate African’s oppressive culture as laid bare in a patriarchy setting and beliefs that at every point undermines the rights of the women, putting a hold on them as second class, if not third class citizens, who are only fit to fan the embers of man’s ego, doing his biddings and satisfy his erotic and bestial desires most times.

 

Although not a feminist himself, but for obvious reasons and using his poetic license as a writer, he has decided to bring to the fore the disadvantaged position society has put the women. And so, at every point in the novel, while unfolding happenings across the socio-cultural, economic, religious and political planes, to bad governance, he does so highlighting how all of these are skewed against the women.

 

 

The entire 28 chapters are devoted to how Martha Clifford challenged the status quo, trying to break the glass ceil and act not only as a conscience of the society but a voice for the oppressed women and others in the society.

 

 

Agbonlahor takes his readers into the inner recess of the cultural practices and beliefs of his Benin background, giving us a benefit of his experience and apt understanding of the cultural practices of his forebears while growing up in the city of Benin.

 

 

Martha Clifford is raised in a polygamous home where the father calls the shot and turns his wives and children to mere furniture or appendages to his person as none of them had any say in the running of the home or dare go against the autocratic decree of his father, who is seen as ‘The Lord of the Manor.’

 

 

Growing up, she agonises over these accepted ways of life and whenever she raises questions, she is silenced by her father and mother as well as others around her, who have acquiesced with the oppressive and degrading cultural practices, to simply do as she is told and not go against the societal code as the consequences are grievous.

 

 

Her fate was defined from the first day of her life. And this, she knew too well as she lived in perpetual fear of being denied education and given out early in marriage. Perhaps her first practical experience of the brutality of the skewed cultural practice was the mutilation of her genital at a very tender age by her parents. This single experience was like a wake – up call to the reality of her situation as a girl-child growing up in a patriarchy environment and under stultifying cultural beliefs.

 

 

But somehow, fate smiled on her as at the point of being given out in marriage, her prospective husband, who happens to be a creditor to the father, and the manager of the pool betting outfit in her community, brought the good news of her father becoming an instant millionaire following his winning.

 

 

However, before handling the cheque to her father, he succeeded in eliciting a promise from the father to educate Martha Clifford from secondary school level to university level.

 

 

It was this singular happening that changed her life as she gradually became more exposed to the realities of the injustices around her.

 

 

Reflecting on the road destiny has taken her through, she says of the transformation of her life from a local village girl to an internationally recognised feminist and human rights crusader thus: “I had set out to be a Microbiologist, sweating it out in the labs and fondling with all familiar and unknown test tubes and syringes, but events and call of conscience were to steer me in another direction. And here I am.”

 

With five of her university friends, she formed a group known as ‘Women Incorporated,’ which was later corrupted by the government and the society to, ‘Woeman6.’ Imprisoned for over two years alongside her five other feminists, she fought every injustice against the women and children.

 

 

Despite her fight, she was not able to reach the ‘mountaintop of her desire’ due to the deep-seated nature of the cultural beliefs and endemic corrupt practices in her country, as she voiced out her frustration on pages 314/315 thus: “Our country, Nigeria, has deep-seated, stone-age anti-feminine culture coupled with her two main religions, Christianity and Islam, as well as the unofficial ‘traditional religion.’ All of these place the woman in an inferior position, their adherents quoting verses and spitting venom in support of the debasement, our slavish existence.

 

 

“Therefore, so long as there are still these stark inequalities, there will always be toes to be stepped on, and we shall courageously continue to step, and in fact, thump on them, until these toes develop gangrene or feminine rights are respected in Nigeria.”

 

 

Martha Clifford may not have reached the mountaintop of her desire, however, she succeeded in breaking many grounds and drawing attention of the international community and her people to the oppression of the women and the less privileged in the society and other issues that she set out to addressed.

 

 

This, she clearly reflected on in the epilogue, page 318, where she also expressed optimism following the recent developments in the political landscape of her country, with some women now being elected and appointed into political offices, and one of her members, Ifueko, made a minister of women affairs, predicting that in less than two decades a woman president may just emerged in her country. 

 

 

The author has carefully penciled the novel in a lucid and simple language, with symmetric flow and diction while he has also spiced it with anecdotes and drawing examples from other parts of the world to drive home his story.

 

 

This is a book every Nigerian, especially the women and human rights activists should read.

 

 

In a recent interview on his work, Agbonlahor tries to let the reader into his world view and the thought process, which gave birth to the story: “Martha represents every African woman who has been a victim of fierce oppression, as well as every other woman in the world.

 

 

“She personifies their collective strength, courage, tenacity and that stop-at-nothing spirit for true equality and recognition. Yes, it’s a fictional novel, but the narrative could have been plucked from any woman’s life.”

 

 

 

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Literature

ENOF hosts ‘Family Day’ concert to promote asthma awareness

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“F

amily Day In the Park” concert, organised by Elias Nelson Oyedokun Foundation (ENOF) in conjunction with the entertainment industry to create awareness is set to take place on Sunday 17th November, at the Muri Okunola Park, Victoria Island.

 

 

Asthma is an ailment suffered by many. It is a chronic disease characterized by breathlessness and wheezing. Fortunately Asthma has a low fatality rate compared to other chronic diseases. However 300 million people are affected by Asthma globally and more than 1000 die per day.

 

 

World Asthma Day is an annual event held on the first Tuesday of May, organised by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) to improve Asthma awareness and care around the world

 

 

According to the founder of ENOF, Mrs Lola Ilaka, Asthma is one of the health issues in Nigeria that needs to be managed. “There are a lot of triggers that cause an Asthma attack including pollution. It is vital to know the triggers. Mrs Ilaka lost her son to Asthma, hence her desire to ensure no other family has to endure what her family went through. “Award winning ENOF, works with medical experts to educate those with the ailment to manage and control their Asthma and how to spot the symptoms.  It also serves as a source of information.

 

 

It is with great pleasure to team up with the entertainment industry as they have not been spared the loss of their own through Asthma including the late Ogbonna Amadi and Tosyn Bucknor and others.  We would like to bring the discussion on Asthma to the forefront; it has no bias as to gender, class or tribe.  “Our long term plan is to set up an Asthma medical centre that would cater for patients,” says Mrs Ilaka.

 

 

“I thank the entertainment sector for their support, as well as the media for supporting our noble course. We also thank our sponsors who have been instrumental in making the event a reality.”

 

 

According to the project consultant, Mr. Michael Odiong, though a serious matter it is going to be a fun day. The event will feature games, competitions, food, drinks, music and stalls where families can do some early Christmas shopping and taste some of the delights available .  “It will be a family day where families can bond and artistes will entertain the crowd. There will be talks on Asthma prevention and management,” Odiong said.

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