Posts Tagged 'greed'

On bathos and pathos, a reflection on the on-going boju-boju in Nigeria

By
Noel Ihebuzor
When an ever enlarging comedy has the effect of overwhelming you with sadness,
it is no longer a comedy, no matter how innately talented the actors are in the art of the comic.
When tragedy slips out of control and verges towards the ludicrous,
it loses its capacity to inspire pity.
Soon bathos and pathos will converge.
And before long, the audience finds itself unable to feel either pity or compassion.
Rather, it finds itself increasingly burdened by the weight of ineptitude on display,
and irked by the profound shallowness and triviality with which serious matters are being treated by clumsy clods.
Clumsy clods are at their most farcical when they take themselves seriously,…..
and when sick souls in pursuit of selfish agendas sequester a sick man,
putting him out of reach of his constituency and out of touch with reality,
preferring to put utterances in his mouth,
when a group of elected officials go off at public expense for empty photo shoots with the hale and hearty
and return home with excess baggage of shopping
full of hackneyed expressions,
unconscionable and empty
they also reveal the depth of their own sicknesses and their burgeoning moral bankruptcy,
their very hollownesses.
Cry, the beloved country. Cry for that country where the rich and privileged go abroad to visit the sick.
Cry, the beloved country, cry for that country because the trips of the privileged sick abroad
to seek medical care speak of the deep sickness of our health delivery system.
Cry since the sick medical system, victim of neglect by the privileged now takes its revenge
on those who supervised and benefitted from her neglect!
Pathos and bathos now reunite.

Hazy vision and hazy selection

by

Noel Ihebuzor

 

What you saw

 

You say you saw

patterns heave and dance

you say you saw them

Weave and leave

No one else says they saw

what you say you saw

just you, with your diamond

periwinkle eyes

at the three quarter corner of night

when straggler angels

flee the light of the returning day

Yours was a vision

Filled with emptiness

Where bleached blankness

Empties all other visions

 

New Jungles

 

The jungle always,

half dormant

wakes up and a new day

dawns, slowly

Sounds soon crowd out silence

prophets see dimly

but their rising voices

Soon outdo agberos

 

In this space,

a life is worth

three and one third sparrows

 

In this place,

men combine religion and region

creed with breed in the service

of a contest fuelled need

their sordid deeds

sustained by their greed

 

Locked in their frenzied contest

the wrestlers have locked out sense

decency lies in locks

 

the present overwhelms the past

drowns the future

and yesterday’s smiles stare

stir and startle  in today’s tired sheets

 

Uncertain saints

Self beatify, uncertain of outcomes

as uncertified foul odor

floods the present

 

The stench overwhelms the air

that was pregnant with a hope

nourished by dope

 

stunted elves dance and sway

waving a medley of signs and symbols

crescent, cross and stars

and I sensed I heard the moon howl

 

Predators now prance like Simba

the lion king

the story teller casts

his charmed beads around legs, heads

hips, feet and heels held by hope

but fettered by dope

Peace and Pieces on a Chessboard

By

Noel A. Ihebuzor

ChessSet

On an uneven chessboard, across

boundaries of squares, fading

lines almost erased by coarse rough moves

pawns lurch around in drunken

lounging leaps

 

 

To the beckon and rhythm of the imperious,

rooks regal in a flurry of frenzied

moves, cavort in wobbly diagonal swoops

the dance of hubris revs and raves,

in the dawning madness

sense swims poorly and eventually drowns

 

 

We sit and watch the king’s ungainly ambles

the queen’s sauntering about

all over and everywhere

in kinky dizzying circles and cycles

in spins like a dancer

possessed and guided by the moon

 

 

Voice hoarse with passion, she

chants the moon is mine

that star is yours

but the sun is mine, mine to have and hold

as I please

 

 

And in this maddening clamour

of screams and scrambles like from fevered dreams

all that emerges,

ugly like a noisy fart at prayers

is a fight for portions of a cake

we did not bake

but “reason” now belongs to treason

to the loud and the lewd

 

 

Pawns and persons move,

associations form and un-form,

permanence is fluid

fluidity, permanent

 

 

During this dance of pawns and rooks,

of crooks, new saints,

canonized in their halls of infamy

play new strains of strange chimes of fiefdom

suggestive of floating notes

from tunes of thiefdom

 

 

In these moves and countermoves

the loudest is always right

the cloak of might and night

threatens the light of truth

 

 

Soon the haze of a dawning evening

catches pawns, bishops, king, queen and knights

unawares, night soon blankets them,

while the stars above blink and wink

at the now dispersing crowd,

seduced and befuddled onlookers

still clutching the half full bowls of porridge

for which they sold their soles and souls

and pawned their very voices

 

 

Flowers you test by

By Noel Ihebuzor

Flowers you test by

sight, smell and feel; concerts by

sounds, sights and ambiance;

Perfume spelt by

by her  smell, pull and

her voice, suggestive.

The test for a group

where creed sags,  hazy, buried

blurred by greed is tough

Passions, power grab

freeze reason, open the path

to nought and rot

the vast plains remain

gridlocked by greed, choked in the

fumes of raucous groups

all greed, grab and no creed

The morning tells the day

the weak wobbly legs of the malu

speak louder than the soothsayer’s beads

telling an amused world whether this malu

will make the trek from Ogwumabiri to Ariara.

**Malu means cow.

***Ogwumabiri and Ariara are market in Owerri and Aba respectively

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

Cycles and circles

By Noel Ihebuzor

 

The tragedy of a journey on a hunch back road,

slippery, muddy filled

with slime and grime

tired limbs trudging round

in unending cycles and circles,

on this sterile,  empty, barren highway

smeared generous with a coating

slippery,  of thick  okro sauce,

now souring

 

Truth does not walk this road any more

lies lie in wait for the unwary,

from all four winds and corners

fetid fumes and foams

frothing from ogbono coated tongues

hollow throats, mirroring hollowed consciences,

deformed by elephantiasis of the soul

 

the festering cancer enlarges

feeding off a bottomless greed

that has gripped the strong breed

ripped their souls grim

with the grim reaper’s blade

moral paralysis now spawns

new barren creeds of

chop comot make we chop

on a betrayed people,

trapped in endless cycles and circles

 

 

IDPS RDC-est

 

Mbandaka 2009

 

 

 

ChildMother and Wife

By Noel A. Ihebuzor

the child as mother

smothers childhood

the murdered mind weeps

when torture is garbed as culture,

a deadening deaf culture

deaf to pleas and protests

pleas of despair

the despair of the innocent,

thrashing like fish  

trapped in a net,

whimpering and weeping

the lonely lament of a lamb,

her neck gripped in the jaws

of a predator, depraved,

blood spurting from ruptured aperture,

victim’s pain and slow death

contrasting with victor’s rapture

the shivering of the struggling lamb

before the slaughterer’s blade,

as dreaded night falls,

in vain searching the dark world

closing in on her for some light

to brighten her bleak plight and

and lift her soul,

finding none

 

heiress of pain,

fragile limbs grabbed, groped and gripped

by coarse grasping hands,

the repeated shattering pain  as tender

flesh is gashed by hard hot flesh,

the happy husband

invades soft developing chambers

savours with selfish relish tender flesh,

matters little

this maturing and developing frame

now numb

matters little childhood

now broken

Matters least innocence stolen

forever lost

as forced intrusions, crude invasions,

desecrate unfolding sacred spaces

the empty victor’s gain,

the victim’s pain, our collective shame

 

Now she carries a new life in her, her child,

herself a child, drenched in confusion,

12, 13 seasons ago,

she was like this life just beginning to form,

now daughter of pain,

tied down by the glue cobwebs of tradition, vice-like

 

 

Is this meet the sacrifice of the innocent?

Is it meet that marriage mars childhood

mangling a girl child’s today and her tomorrow

destroying her innocence

in the season of her youth

making a mother of one

in need of mothering

smothering her hopes, happiness and health,

freezing rich potentials

limiting possibilities from unfolding

all because fevered callous hands,  

propped by culture selfishly reach out in greed

to harvest and appropriate fruits,

tender fruits plucked in their bud

to feed coarse souls

in collusion with parents

in search of quick gain

on such emptying and wasting plain

deaf to the cries of pain

of childhood smothered,

of dreams denied

** raw…will refine later – the subject is a delicate and very painful one**


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