Posts Tagged ‘african poetry reviews’


      ( In Solidarity With My Nigerian Brothers And Sisters)

    Orphaned tears rain today
The sun does not dry the spots on leopards

        And does the storm make idiots out of our men?
Death is not to be smeared on the innocent

        The fathers kill their seeds
Stars are plucked in the day

         It is not night yet

        How can the elderly call stump in the river, ” a crocodile” ?
How can the river eat the sea?

           Ogun must be drunk from blood stained bottle gourd
Erzulie, wake your husband up

            The souls that wail traffic in our being
bring the daughters home

           bring back our daughters
bring them back
back home


History does not only rest on the tongues of the elderly or sit somewhere on the dusty shelves in a community library but also takes a seat in literary arts. It then becomes a memory and landmark on social map. An essential capture of humanity in literary arts is a testimony to the evolution of both ills and beauty in our shared space as social beings. Poetry is no exception to these universal truths. The astonishing beauty of poetry is when few say much – when just one word, phrase or clause is the foundation on which a recorded event in history stands. It is measurably fascinating to discover the seminal thoughts of poets as they jot events as a future pointer. Most often, it is connecting these dots to real life events that suggest the poem’s preferred meaning or purpose.
How a group survives to tell its story should by always be a prominent feature in advancing such narrative as a viable option. No one captures this better than Kwesi Brew’s Ghana’s Philosophy of Survival. The opening line is striking, a powerful and dense metaphor. Brew goes straight to the point without trading words.
‘’ We are the punch bag of fate’’
This poem is not one that entertains complaints. The plurality of the voice of the persona might deceitfully suggest so. It says it as it. It makes no direct reference to political events but the subtlety of it can not be ignored.
‘’ their viciousness on our patience
until they become caresses of admiration’’
Whoever is the object of address is cunning.
‘’ and time that heals all wounds
comes with a balm and without tears,
soothes the bruises on our spirits’’
As a typical Ghanaian, she knows time, silence and fama Nyame (‘’give to the God’’) heal. The persona goes on to suggest that as a mean of survival- ‘’ mettle of invisibility / This is how we outlast and outlive / the powerful and unwise.’’
In all these, she has hope.
‘’ love of family kith and kin and brother-keeping
has cast us in the mould :
that while we take the blow
and seem unhurt,
speechless, we also watch and wait’
Notice the pun – ‘’kith’’ and ‘’kin.’’ The persona is counting on comradeship to sail them through the sea of times.



Note :

Please, read the poem, Ghana’s Philosophy of Survival by Kwesi Brew  here



   It was a usual, casual  meeting when she was called to sing.  Her demeanour was that of an absolute shocker. Half-way into the song, she paused and said ” I am sorry”.  I did  not know the song but she made me know she messed up. The story would have been different if she had continued. Well, she kind of reminded me of myself.

           Many years ago, writing was an art to me. I made use of a natural feel, intuition to express the inner man’s craving. It was a world that I hid myself in. I did not have to look over my shoulders to see who was watching. I made use of what just came straight from the heart. I did not have to think about what any editor, publisher or critic would say.  I was that boy who did run around elated because somehow, he felt he brought meaning to alphabets.  I built a structure that was my thing and my way.  It was purely kiddy  stuff but those are the ones I am  proud of.

      I still feel that is the real me.

     Time has changed. Everything I do now is a direct contradiction of what used to be. I now study  literary theories. I scout for themes to write on just to fit in. I lost my art . . . my heart.  Life now is about the head.  But it is just the case of demand and supply, the lifeline of economics which publishing rightly is. There have times that I have walked away.

   I look at myself and I see a scientist struggling to make something out of words.  I know I live for big moments but those kill me many times before they happen. Growth is logical exit to  learning but in the face of artistry, it is the loss of self that matters to me. I do not know if I am proud of what I do. What I know for sure is that I am glad I do this.

  5.  Aisha Nelson :  She is one of my favorites in this generation. Her pieces are intellectually stimulating. She does not spoon-feed her readers. In a unique way , she draws readers along a path that sets in finding  self, theme et al. As a writer, she does not profess to know answers- she knows words to situations.  Her words gel like a master hand  on a  piano and I love to hum to that song.

                                                                            …at the scent of water



                                                                                                           not water

not dew


at the scent of water




let the frayed stump spew green


let the foul egg vomit a being




let that which was birthed to die


find life


let that which died before birth


know life




at the scent of water


not dew


not water

(credit: The Kalahari Review)


            Aisha will need to get out there and show the world her ingenuity.


6. Dela Kobla Nyamuame( :  Efo is a voice of conscience. He has an impeccable diction that buys for him a seat at the feet of heavens. The first time  I read his piece, I knew ” I had seen the future”. I reproduce his first poem I ever read and yes, I still remember how it felt.


                                                                               Our Brother Was an Idiot



We left our brother in the open to decay
As white ants ate their way through his house
It’s not like he stood there and he didn’t try

But his exterminators were a divided house

They painted his life in a tragic comedy
And they cast a fool at him, the Pantomime Villain
And though he was our brother we called him enemy
And clapped as some alien played the Greek Hero

Our loud mouth brother was our own brother
Our pig headed brother was still our brother
Our misguided brother tried the only way he knew how
Our brother trusted us and we stood by and let him fall

Our brother did not learn from the mistakes of others
Our brother thought his brothers were unlike Joseph’s brothers
Our brother was an idiot to think blood was thicker than water
Maybe our brother is a mirror reflecting our soulless land

Our brother might have been an idiot to dare them
To build a house of wood next to white ant nests
But our brother was an even bigger idiot
To think his other brothers would help fight the pests

( Credit Poetry Foundation Ghana)

7.  Novisi Dzitrie :   There are times that people do not need more than one chance to show what they have inside. If my heart is big enough, then I will wish he never stops writing. 


                               O! Jebu! Stared At The Beginning As Ananse Tickled Himself In The End


O! Jebu! climbed the mountain and stood atop, akimbo!
As if as if…
looked deep down the valley into the hole;
raising his head next to look up at the empty sky.

This system is sick…
O! Jebu! must face the tasks:
put things apart; make sense of the whole;
bring the pieces back together!
But where…
where do we place the noesis?

O! Jebu! stretched his right hand upwards…
The sky was nowhere within his reach!

So let us tell tales…
for the lack of knowledge
between the hole deep down the valley and the empty sky high above.
Let us say… they say…

They say Mawu used to live on the next floor upstairs!
And as it used to be… they say…
O! Jebu! could stand on his two feet and touch the sky
or when he felt like it, he could look out of his window
and give Mawu a wink or a wave of high five!

But it came to pass… the ancestors disobeyed Mawu!
Day after day
they lifted their heavy pestles skywards
and pounded the peace of Mawu
as they crushed yam, coco-yam, plantain and cassava into fufu.
So Mawu stormed out in anger
and removed the sky from within the reach of man!

And so O! Jebu! must now rent the services of an intercessor,
born of a virgin or of pure oracles,
if he ever wishes to speak to Mawu the omnipresent!
And yet little did Mawu the all-knowing know
O! Jebu! would soon fly aircrafts into his sky.
Mother of palmwine! Mawu Sodza!

The same God who remains the same, they say,
and yet changes regardless without prior notice.
Mother of palmwine! Mawu Sodza!

So let us tell another tale.

They say, again, so let us say:
Let us say Kweku Ananse the spider took the place of O Jebu
and presented himself before Death
in a puzzle of many a great complication.

So Death said to Ananse:
“Because you have eaten my food,
you must die…you will die! You and your family!”

But Ananse did not want to die. No!
Instead, Ananse pedaled his many legs
in one heart-throbbing attempt to flee…
So they say… and so let us say…
Let us say it is the reason why Ananse is seen caught in his own web
in corners or on ceilings of buildings in his attempt to flee…
Flee…flee from Death!

So we tell tales…
Tales to fill up the space, to make up for the lack of knowledge
between the hole deep down the valley and the empty sky high above;
strange-tales… fairy-tales…

Tales that make us cry maa maa! Or make us laugh kwa kwa kwa!

Tales of why the crab is headless,
Tales of why the moon dies,
… of why soldier-ants move in a file,
… of why indeed the monkey has a tail!

( One Ghana,One Voice)


             Postscript :  Chances are that I will make 10 different lists when  you give me 10 opportunities to write under the same title. What excites me is to see many youth take advantage of technology to showcase their arts. Somehow someday, you will be discovered and you will make a worthy read. Until then, I wish you luck in your walk. God bless you. * hugs*