Posts Tagged 'culture'

House with many rooms

By

Noel Ihebuzor

 

In Baba’s house are many rooms

Kitchen, bedrooms, sitting room and

no room for doubt since Baba said so

 

each room with clear functions

with defined assignees…..

all who enter know the rules and their roles

though some daintily feign ignorance

 

room access is defined by gender

walls though thin are not permeable,

partitions incapable of shatter

 

room for roaming arguments

for roaming hands rejoicing

at successful negotiation and fresh possession

 

room for seasoning, for sliced rumps,

for tenderizing thighs and breasts

room for romps

 

No room for reasoning, these

function rooms with known functions

mixing or ignoring functions amounts to treason

 

In Baba’s house,

there are rooms for men only,

women only rooms

and unisex rooms for celebrating new acquisitions

strategic additions

 

we and all must respect….

 

rooms for duty bearers and service providers,

rooms for husbands, rights holders,

where lambs yield passage,

sob and go, broken,

rapture almost for one,

rupture for the other

 

All appears well

for and between two bodies,

strangers in one room,

on one bed

 

Almost, except that after exchange 1

hungers now elongate in one,

fatigue grows in the other,

meal share now a fatigue

 

for the first meals in this room

(shearing for one,

cheering for the other)

are not cooked

in the kitchen but

in this same room, the other room

the leveler room

A song for the Girl Child

By

Noel A. Ihebuzor

 

Ekwe, ogenes and udus

from a dawning new day

play a sombre serenade,

whispering and suggesting

new worlds, new possibilities

 

and on the waking skies, words inscribed

on a rainbow-ed horizon hum

your amazing qualities of universal verity

 

Sister, daughter, seed carrier,

Future assurer, energiser, builder,

Calmer, softener, sweetener, peace maker

 

The tunes stir and wake you

 

you rise, a flower about to blossom

and gaze in sober silence at the signs scripted

in golden sprinkles on the aprons of  a dawning day,

your smile of innocence splays the sky

salutes the dawn and sprays the new day

with fragrances of hope and possibilities

 

And the rainbow-ed horizon hum on their truths

 

Sower, harvester, protector, shock absorber, sufferer

Nurturer, Nurse, first responder, stabiliser,  

Keeper, organiser, model, inspirer, teacher,

 

And I thought I saw a new smile kiss your face,

saw in that smile the dancing hopes

of glow filled futures for all

if culture and gender

do not suffocate the seeds you carry within for all

 

and in this dawning morning,

where hope sang to my anxious ears

and possibilities danced and beckoned

I prayed in silence for the world

to nurture and cultivate

the generous seeds of transferable greatness

that nature has richly embedded in your bosom

and your fertile and supple mind

so that we all could harvest from it

a future of gladness and greatness

 

**Adding my raucous voice to those celebrating this year’s (2013) day of the girl child.  Not the best of songs, but the intention should redeem all its imperfections

Noel

Review of Biko Agozino’s “Today na Today”

By Noel A. Ihebuzor

Title – Today na Today

Author – Biko AGOZINO

Biko Agozino 2

Publishers – Omala Media Ltd, Awgu, Enugu

Year of Publication – 2013

I have just been privileged to read a collection of poems  most of them in pidgin English by Biko Agozino. Onwubiko Agozino (Biko), is a Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA

The collection, titled “Today na Today” is made of 36 poems, 31 of which are in pidgin English and the last 5 in standard English. The poems treat a broad range of contemporary social issues in Nigeria from life in our typical urban ghettos characterised by “face me- I face you” type of accommodation to protests over the conditions of host communities in the oil rich Niger delta of Nigeria. The issues covered are indeed broad but a common thread of social relevance unites them all. Take the poem “Fire the devil”. Here Biko slams with very biting wit the rise in a theology that seeks explanations for social failings in the unceasing interference of the devil. Or consider “Black sperm” where the poet describes and takes issues with the social consequences of new developments and possibilities in fertility management and reproductive choices, especially the whole issue of sperm banks and artificial insemination.. “Time na Money” starts off innocently on the title of a song by Okri but ends up with a deep and shattering broadside on an enlarging cult of materialism. Poor people pay more is particularly disturbing and contains lines that etch their words in the minds of the reader

“Them fit prospect for oil self right inside we wife and daughters’ thighs

We only beg make them rub small oil for we cassava leaves make them shine”

These are strong words. These are powerful condemnations of the activities of the oil companies in the Niger Delta  (ND) whose failures and negligence along with other failures explain the abject poverty of the ND.

One cannot in a short review of this nature cover all the poems in the collection but a few deserve special mention – Dialectical dialogue, Yabbis, Capital punishment, Slum dwellers, Odyssey, Below sea level, Too Much Generals, Knowledge be privilege, Again born again, You be witch and Brain drain all stand out. Each in its special way takes up an aspect of our social life and our experience of it, be it as voluntary emigres in God’s Own country or as forced prisoners/participants in the gaols of our country where social services are almost comatose, social inequities and cleavages are on the increase, misery and despair so palpable and a tendency to play blame games on the ascendancy and dissects this with a blend of humour, sarcasm, irony, wit and some compassion. But for my concern not to enflame current sensitivities concerning the Igbos and the Nigerian state in the 1967-70 period and even beyond, I would also have mentioned “Forgive” as one of the poems that stand out given its plea to the Igbos to forgive the wrongs done them during the civil war. I will keep clear of that. The topic is too delicate, but the theme of Victory song, a poem which celebrates the victories of the ANC and Mandela among others, is not. Read it and rejoice with the successes of the liberation struggles. Read it but please do not say “Cry, the beloved country” for some of the failed dreams, unfulfilled expectations and matters arising in the present from those brave liberation struggles of the past.

The last five poems in standard English (is there such a thing, by the way) – Abu jah, Say Sorry, Massa day done, Con and Blue – are a delight to read. Abu Jah is troubling as it reveals all the shenanigans and shoddy dealings in our new capital city, a city, where for example, one family gets allocated 8 plots of choice land out of 16,000 plots in a country of 160,000, 000 people and the person who was principally involved in making the allocation is either unable or incompetent to recognise his guilt and to say “Sorry”! “Say Sorry” is a listing of our failings in society, failing we should be sorry for and to turn away from. I could go on but it is best I stop here to allow the reader discover and enjoy this collection of poems where art is used to project social conditions, contradictions and challenges for herself or himself as I have done.

Biko has certainly enriched the literary world with this collection of poems. Some of the poems betray his Igbo origins in their choice of words, cadence and rhythm! “My water pot it done broke” in its form, structure, especially repetitiveness of lines, has all the elements of the akuku ufere –  akuku ifo  (poem tale usually with a refrain) we used to chant as children during moonlight plays –  “Ebele mu akuwala”.

I just have one problem with Biko’s efforts to write in pidgin – Biko him pidgin no trong at all at all – him pidgin na oyibo pidgin. Him pidgin na “ajebo” pidgin.  He mixes correct English forms with pidgin forms (he uses “them” instead of dem, for example). This is a weakness and a “corruption” of our “ogbonge” pidgin. But we can pardon this “corruption”once we realise that this professor of sociology and Africana plus poet at Virginia Tech, VA, grew up inside Naija but has lived outside the country for more than 20 years in places like the UK, the Caribbean and the US. (Incidentally, his  pidgin orthography is similar in many ways to the style of Chinua Achebe who used ‘them’ instead of dem in many of his novels).

The collection is published by a small publishing house, Omala Medsia, based in his home town, Awgu in Enugu State, Nigeria, and it can be ordered from www.lulu.com but I look forward to when this collection can be re-published by a more renowned publishing house but this is beyond the control of Biko or any of us. Decision for that lies with the publishing houses whose choices on what to publish are driven less by literary worth of a manuscript but by consideration of economics and market realities. But here, I stray and dabble into the difficult waters of the sociology of publishing. Happy reading.

An additional treat is that Biko Agozino recorded nine of the poems, mostly at Harry Mosco Studios, Lagos Nigeria with just one recorded at Paramount Studios in Nashville, TN. To listen to the recorded poems, follow the link here.  Enjoy.

Noel A. Ihebuzor

@naitwt on Twitter

The gravity of grafitti – wild hate singing on wide walls

By Noel Ihebuzor

 

Naming is dangerous, cheap

prejudice and hate,

foul the skies

with clammy paws and febrile strokes

spraying lurid ugliness

on the frames of non-consenting city walls,

obscene images and messages,

spewing and strewing hate and hurt

internal rot, riots and rages uncaged, intrusions,

extrusions ugly as rape, ragged, raging

Seeds of discord sow, soon sprout

creeping, spreading, spawning like

poisonous parasitic fungi on tired urban walls

revealing the jungle and darknesses within.

Their message?

Hate, discord and despair,

sad triplets, their grips cloud vision,

clog hearing and choke reason

as they slowly suck their victims

to ever resounding and noisy hollowness!

 

***Prompted by SLD’s Cultural Grafitti

http://susandanielspoetry.com/2013/02/21/cultural-graffiti-2/comment-page-1/#comment-21719

“tion” words – emotion in action

By Noel Ihebuzor

 

Seduction,

words, glances, gestures

and signs all singing innocence,

guile innocently garbed in see-through lace, wonyosi,

seeds laced and laden with suggestion

of slow gentle adduction

consensual abduction,

mutual attraction, prehensile and  tensile,

O youth, shine your eyes,

read the small print

approach with caution, resist acceleration

to end points and end games

steeped in action, multiplication, addition,

and deception and substraction.

Stirred Muse – in response to SLD’s “Muse Ridden”

By Noel Ihebuzor

 

The touch key stirs, stretches, awakens and moves

humming, stroking and caressing

 

Soon, it blends notes and nuances,

stirs, nudges, and then steers other senses to move and dance

all awakening now, gliding, sliding, slithering

like anxious limbs aroused by the teasing inebriating tones of Alija

like nubile hips swaying involuntarily,

stirred by ekwe, ngelenge and udu laced by ele mminri

suddenly the soft shadows of a new song emerge

fleeting, inchoate

 

Some further loving touch and brush by the potter,

and the new song explodes

reason, rhyme and rhythm join hands

skipping along, speaking words

spraying flowers, some red, some rose,

some raw and raging,

some purple and crimson, some weeping,  others laughing

but all carrying deep messages

that touch our aroused eyes and ears

and seep to the soles of our searching souls –

the beauty of Susan’s poetry

 

*** Susan Daniels, a superb poet and my duet partner, wrote a great poem “Muse ridden” http://susandanielspoetry.com/2013/02/14/muse-ridden-2/

which prompted my spontaneous comment on her blog. Stirred Muse is my attempt to polish that spontaneous response – so here!  I am still left with the feeling that the spontanoeous response reads much better!***

Hush the voice

nothing can
ever hush a voice,
not force
nor noise

nothing can
neither philistine jaws
nor grubby grouchy claws
not even green clammy creepy envy
nor raucous hollering of the loud mouthed

can choke
the delicate dimpled
dance steps of a voice
strumming, sometimes
fluttering, then prancing, now leaping
soft, delicate, yet piercing

rich in energy
strolling with poise
overflowing with force
brimming with sense

like joyful water jets
from a dam
fresh, full, gushing,
flowing, freeing and renewing,

inventing and reinventing
For Obinna and Susan, two talented voices!


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