Wednesday, 21 January 2015

You remember that anthology I was published in, here is the review.



Book: Black Communion, Poems of the New Age African Poets

Reviewer: Shachia Oryila; CEO & Editor-in-Chief at Writers & Editors Kitchen


A look at the title of the book alone tells you that it offers a tasty and satisfying menu to a literarily hungry and thirsty soul. The long list of contributors, ninety-three of them put together―some with names betraying complex syllabic configurations, others with coined names like pop stars and, yet, others with names most suited, without sounding like a propeller-head, for some latest Microsoft blue-chip software and hardware ―reminds you that Africa is, indeed, endowed with poets. The varied subjects and themes testify to the richness of the African mind, thought and spirit. 
Black Communion: Poems of the New African Poets edited and published by Wale Owoade last week is far more than just a mere collection of the thoughts and minds of young boys and young girls torn between hope and despair, love and hate, peace and war, plenty and lack, blessing and curse, good and evil in a continent once thought to be peopled by the direct cousins and nephews of apes. It is an authentic representation of independent and individual voices united by African values and traditions whose writings have no echoes of inferiority complex, are rich in theosophy or philosophy, romanticize an eternal love for Africa, lash out at the crop of failed leaders and followers, diagnose the key to the prosperity of the black race and praise those who did Africa or the world proud. 


With contributors from eight African countries, the anthology prides itself with fine poetry which consigns to the rubbish bin once and for all the thesis that views the generation of all new African poets as naive and lacking craft ―a kind of virgin’s joke one hears quite too often these days. It is a group of poets who experiment with a vast pool of poetic styles and forms never seen before, though, a small number care less about what they wrote or how they put it. This is understood by the editor’s promise at the outset not to do something too much with the manuscripts that might affect natural intelligence! 
The compendium is sub-divided into the following sections, namely, of traditions and songs of Africa; of philosophers, observers and black thinkers; of critics and praise-singers; of screams, lamentation and despair; of peace, hopes and dreams; of poetry and the poet; of childhood, mothers and liberty; of God, man and nature; of love, life and beauty; of mortality, death and the after death; and, of collaborations: the duos and the trios. There are roughly twenty-eight poems in the first section. The thread that runs through most of them is the lamentation of cultural displacement, the ills of civilization and globalisation, the negative effects of colonialism, the celebration of black and Africa―a tilt towards the ethics of negritude far beyond the contours travelled even by Senghor and C├ęsaire or Hughes and McKay―the last two being the source of inspiration for the artistic movement. And who says negritude is not tigritude?
The anthology has proved that negritude is tigritude. Negritude is the celebration of black, black pride, black beauty, Africa and African cultural heritage. Much of the anthology seems to have this in mind. But, whereas the concept of negritude was applied in the former French-speaking African countries with an inferiority complex as an attempt to invent a past for a colonized people who never had history and traditions unlike English-speaking Africa who never lost their identities and often extended their tribes as media of cultural expression, the underlying intention in this anthology of poetry appears to be the celebration of African values and traditions which have proved for ages to be useful and enduring even in the current world order.
One understands why Soyinka became the number one critic of negritude. He argues along with others that African writers must not write to extol the virtues of Africa before it would be known that it is a tiger. A tiger, according to him, must not profess its tigritude. The tigritude of the tiger is seen in what it does with the duiker. Much of his writings, however, centres on the superiority of the Yoruba race. Should will, then, say he is guilty of what he condemns in others? Clearly, some have argued and, rightly too, that Soyinka was wrong on this. One way a tiger proclaims its tigritude is when it roars.
Then, one comes to the section where Benue’s Ada Agada fits perfectly: of philosophers, observers and black thinkers. Some fifty-one poems are stacked here. One poet has Sewe Leah in mind; another, Pever X and Debbie Iorliam for their notoriety for bedroom dialogues and monologues in their works. In his ‘A Woman’s Heart’, a poem Sewe may love to read, he speaks of the heart of a woman as an egg which must be held tenderly for it to nourish or else lose its bloom. 

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