Poet: Prof Segun Adekoya
Publisher: ANOL Publications
Year of Publishing:2012
Reviewer: Olutayo Irantiola
This is a voluminous anthology of about
sixty poems in total that is subdivided into Here, There, here and There. Here
has a total seventeen poems, There has twenty five poems, while Here and There
has a total of sixteen poems. The whole collection discusses the various facets
of life between the Nigeria and the Europe. The anthology opens with a poem
titled Big Building Blocks wherein the author uses different elements of nature
such as water, star, straw, tree, toadstool, leg(s), valley, slope, moon,
serpent, wings and lightning(pgs 1-2) to describe the depth of the creator. All
of these allude to the Bible in Genesis 1:31 that says, “And God saw thing that
he had made, and, behold, it was very good”. All the elements of creation
attest to the mightiness of the creator, himself.
The first poem in the subdivision Here
is Hope in Growth; Grow in Hope. This is about Africa and it’s stunted growth
cum stuttering. The sound effect in this poem is also seen in the stanza.
s-s-soo-ner or la-la-la-la-ter
The growth of Africa has been stunted
and her learned ones have eloped based on the slumbering of the continent. May
of the educated ones have gone in search of greener pastures. The utterance of
“Baba” which means the “Father” has come up to his responsibility. The educated
ones have savoured the person that can make them flourish, as such, they move
towards the Atlantic which inversely breaks the chain of limitation as they
move out of the continent. The pains of many years are left behind as the
person gets healed of all injury, injustice and incapacitation of many years.
The poet discusses our nation in a poem
titled Another Waste Land which is a contemporary writing in response to the
experience by T.S. Eliot who wrote the poem titled The Waste Land in 1922. The
Waste Land is a modernist poem that has 434 lines. It has been called “one of
the most important poems of the 20th century”. Despite the poem’s
obscurity-its shift between satire and prophecy, its abrupt and unannounced
changes of speaker, location and time, its elegiac but intimidating summoning
up of a vast and dissonant range of cultures and literatures-the poem has
become a familiar touchstone of modern literature. Another Waste Land is a poem
of 210 lines. The poem is an analysis of the Nigerian situation which is
Nigeria walks on
This stanza on its own is a reflection
of the abnormalities in Nigeria. Things have gone seriously lopsided, injustice
and wickedness has become the order of the day. The poem continues to describe
the various forms of abnormalities which in bloodshed, embezzlement which he
called “loot lovers” line 6, page 6, the wanton disposition of the soldiers,
the new air of superior assumed by the President. On page 8, line 10, “dogs
that bark are seized for treason”. These dogs are the journalists, the social
commentators and critics, the writers who “bark” examples of people who have
been “seized” for treason are the Wole Soyinka, Nelson Mandela amongst others.
Eventually, many papers are “self or government” censored partly or fully.
The poem continues with description of
what the military had done with decrees. Ethnicity is also mentioned, this is
the bane of development in our country as a whole. Coup d’état which was the
hallmark of the successive military administrations in the country, the
scrambling for oil wells, eight years (line 20, page 9) spent in office by
President Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida. The ways in which the soldiers keep
destroy the nation with various coinages. Industrial strikes too were showed in
the piece which is the language of force understood by the military. Then the
former military leaders still come remerge as democrats leading us through the
same pattern of woes.
Nepa Night is another thought evoking
poem about the state of electricity in Nigeria. This is a situation when
electricity keeps going on and off, the first two lines states
out its light (page 28)
Then, an alternative is sort which is “a
pale, poor, yellow glow upon the white page:” (lines 7-8). This state of
darkness allows man to sleep with mosquitoes all around him.
St. John’s Odosimadegun is a eulogy to
the primary school of the poet. He has a nostalgic feeling of his formative
years in the school. The school has lost its place because of the economic
pursuit of the teachers who want to make some money and the rural-urban
migration that has made the school deserted. This has been the main source of
underdevelopment in many villages and towns while some states and state capital
has become overpopulated.
The next subdivision of the anthology
“There” is about his experiences abroad. Exile, page 74, is about his newly
discovered culture. He is not around his locale; as such he has to come to
terms with the new reality. He considers himself as a “lone bird” in line 3,
page 74. The best way of escaping what he does not understand is an inscape,
that is, refusing to join them since he is yet to understand them sufficiently.
He sees his exile as a reality and that he is surrounded by winter. This poem
is a reflection of an Africa who has found the difference in culture,
difference in weather, difference in other spheres of life as he is “exiled”
from his natural habitat.
“City Angels” is a poem about the
reality of sex and the prostitutes in the society. The City Angels are on Fifth
Avenue and Broadway, however Broadway reminds one of the Matthew 7:13, “broad is the way that leadeth to destruction”.
In order to avoid the dreaded HIV/AIDS, a global phenomenon, men now use condom.
The poem on “AIDS” discusses the restrain it has brought on man to exercise his
sexual desires, the supplication to “Olodumare”
line 1, page 93, not to allow one
suffer sicknesses that defeats all drugs. The moment of sexual activity is
‘gorgeous and gay’. The poet finally advocates that victims of AIDS should not
be discriminated against.
Homage to Dr. Hofrat is a poem dedicated
to a skillful surgeon who has conducted surgeries of success. He concludes by
saying that Dr. Hofrat is also mortal. “A Night at JFK” is a poem that centered
on the discussion by some Africans at JFK Airport. The topics flirt into the
woes of Africa, American dollars, Europe and her transformations. The man from
Holland got the contact of others, the American who fed them, the “eagle-eyed”
security woman. All of these made it obvious that JFK was a tourist meeting
point for all of them. They were able to discuss various topics, they made
friends and the memory of that occurrence is still fresh in the poet.
In the subdivision of the text, Here and
There, “Peace” is the title of a poem (page 138) dedicated to Bob Marley. Bob
Marley is described as a full moon in the sky of my soul (lines 2 and 3). The
assassination of Bob Marley by a fellow black and consequently he bled to
death. It is worthy to note that the poet describes himself as a sky, the
singer is also described as “natty rugged reggae star” (line 12)
Another short poem in this collection is
“A Sports Meet” (page 141). Sports events are usually colourful with each team
in their own jersey. Each team also with their supporters’ club. The bodily
performance of the participants, their movement to and fro the spectators
singing and being cheered in return for their display.
Colours call on
colours! Drums and rumps roll!
in their corporeal performance
March past fast
into the grinning green bowl,
ghosts glimpsed from a distance,
Staring, I hear in my rear crumbs
Of laughter of
kids exploding yoghurt bombs
The poem titled Here and There is the
longest in the collection, it has 456 lines in total. The poem opens with what
Its rays make
gay the day;
mellows the night.
tenders the night (page 149)
the comparison of different places and similarities: Times Square and Tinubu
Square that both have fountains but one outshines the other. The inevitability
of natural disasters but the difference in the management of such occurrences
like: Tsunami, (Hurricane) Katrina that destroyed New Orleans, Tornado that
destroyed Texas. The thought about man’s immortality is expressed in the
We fall as we rise
Other phenomenon like abiku was likened to the governance in
Africa. The endless promise of wage payment or increase which can all be summed
up as “better life” for her citizenry. The podium, which is called bridge in
the poem, is a metaphor of the position of those leading and those being led.
bridge is the seal of division (line 117, page 154)
Nigeria is referred to as a prostitute
although it is not the sole dispenser of AIDS. The poem returns to discuss what
is universal in governance. Information management by those in governance in
which the governed keep moaning in solitude while institutions of the state is
used against the masses
moan in solitude,
pad it the right attitude (lines 330-331, page 162)
Another universal thing identified in
the poem is man’s strong attachment to faith, the activities of a priest, the
invocation and the hypocrisy of the faithful worshippers.
elsewhere, faith is brazen,
Cheap and fake-a
penny a prayer,
pummel the poor
As their pockets
propel their pleas-
Aided by priests
who prey on the pulpit
On the upward
swing to the King
Who laughs last
at hypocrites’ piety.(lines 430- 437, page 166)
The last universal phenomenon
highlighted here is the laughter. The poem ends on the name that laughter
should lead our prayer, this is a call on everyone to be free-minded to others
before ascending the throne of grace through prayer.
elsewhere, laughter is a slayer,
Let laughter arm
and lead your prayer! (lines 455-456, page 167)
The poet ends the collection with a
postscript which equally can be considered an important part of Here. The poem
is about Ken Saro-Wiwa and other Ogoni heroes who were hanged in their quest
for environmental degradation from the adverse effect of oil spillage. The poem
is a reminder of this gory history in our nation. What Ken Saro-Wiwa was
fighting for is still being fought for today by the committee on Environment
and Ecology in the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria headed by Senator
Bukola Saraki while there are other people like Nnimmo Bassey, an Eco-critic
who is leading this cause globally from Nigeria.
on while we war, sleep on; adieu!
Ken and company are gone but their memories
remain fresh both by the writings of Ken Saro-Wiwa and other writings that has
been done in their honour as this poem.
This anthology is a mirror of man’s life
just as it is expected of any works of arts. The poet has writing from what he
has experienced in his travels within and outside Nigeria. It is equally
important to say that travel writing and other mode of transporting the mind to
various places has gone a long way in opening the mind of contemporary writers.
Labels: Academics, African Poetry, African Writing, ANOL Publications, Book Review, Creative, Ile-Ife, Olutayo Irantiola, Peo Davies, Poetry, Reviewers Crib, Segun Adekoya