for my biafran jewel

FOR MY BIAFRAN JEWEL*

Truly I am no different from the other.

But you shaped me like a porter;

You raised my eyes to yours in the night of mood;

Though the day was crude;

For only a saint might have conquered that hour,

The hour of a woman’s power…

That it might come to past,

So we glued our tongues to last.

But what profit has it brought?

We have actually been lost.

But lost is it? Lost in lust?

Infatuation governs my thought?

Alas woman, you graced my existence with your elegance

And thou only brighten the night of my heart with your remembrance.

That which is not of passing away but of craving and perspiration;

Height of yours I know is an elevation,

Which you have above all; beauty like more of goddess,

I know you own like powers like a priestess,

Offering prayers in the holy closet;

You offer my body in congenial prayers; according to our precept.

You are the moon that is closed in my heart;

Shining over the shadows of earth***

Love is the answer; that made me a better man;

And this I learnt at your heart step; its fate’s plan.

This you prepared in the darkest hour of your heart;

That, which I talk, is the kind expression talk of your heart.

For in the past have I asked;

That will she be there? So love had me masked***

That I thought, positivity will be the result;

But negative print stood on my injury like a salt.

Like an orphan, you raised the dust of fear from my body.

You became a soul in my body to make a whole somebody.

Like a sweet lullaby, so are the rhythms of our memories;

Our sole hours of silence have got many purposes.

Those reasons I cannot depict;

But I have no words of deceit.

Sooth me oh lady like once forever;

Be a love soothsayer; that I may continue to be clever.

You , the bravest of all lights

Surviving heart plights;

Never afraid of the night, I learnt you are.

Every second and promise is for what you are and not who you are.

When the storm arose against me; you faced it like it were for us,

You championed me through like a warrior’s horse.

When the tears rise up; I will hold on all night for you.

And the promises I made; sticks with you.

You make up the factions of my dream;

And so I know you as a soul cream.

Go on!

Once more, you had my cloth of sorrow and fear, torn.

  (Published in Cries From The Ocean on 25th July 2015 by @Akewi Arts House)

It is a fraternal bond

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Even though cries from the ocean is still young, and Commoner’s Speech is still climbing the ladder of international acceptance, both of them have one thing in common; and it’s the fact that, they are both collections of poems. Commoner’s Speech was written during my days at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, when I had a practical first-hand experience of students’ movement from a Pan-African socialist perspective. I remember my first political tutor, under whom I acquired my unflinching Pan-African ideas from, Onyinye Gandhi. I saw him at a political rally, where he gave a short but ever clinching words about why students should never sell the students’ movement out to the State. After his speech, he came down from the podium, handed me a short note which read, “Hello comrade, please meet me tomorrow night at FAJ Block 5 Room 305 at 08:00 pm sharp, Gandhi”. I laughed hard at myself, “me, Oracle, comrade ke?” I felt too highly revered to have been addressed as a comrade; and the reason for this was not farfetched. In those days, to be addressed as a comrade meant that, one was intellectually sound, physically down for intellectual debate any day, anytime; and that one was not treacherous to his own beliefs and ideas, especially to the Awovarsity Union. But honestly speaking, that I doubt still exists. From FAJ Block 5 Room 305, I became a new human, with an added machinery to choose my path of life. Perhaps like another close comrade recently remarked on my page, I am known to thread the soft path of life. How will I not thread the soft path of life, when I am from the lineage of those who know life from its core? Few months after, the proscription on the Awovarsity Union was lifted by the school management, and the little perspective I had nurtured for few months had germinated into confidence, as such I contested for the Secretary General of the Students’ Union at Angola Hall. But I lost with a vote. Bisi BEST, that was the name of the winner, a student of Pharmacy, who also had his ideological inclination from the “Stalinist” group — PACE. I still remember that cloud of thick bitterness over the face of Comrade Gandhi. He was shocked that PROGRESSIVE STUDENTS AGENDA (PSA) had lost to PACE. He was surprised that his thoroughly trained intellectual prodigy had lost to another. He felt we lost due to manipulation of certain circumstances. But I retraced my steps, and instantly got it right. Ha! Ha! Ha! I forgot to heed to one “Pan-African” warning from an aged mystery man. Even though till date, I believed Bisi BEST won, because one who later became an inseparable part of my revolutionary journey, had shared some ideas on how to manage his campaign.

I first thought of Commoner’s Speech few days after my matriculation on March 18th 2008 (yet I was admitted in 2007…one of the academic struggles of Great Ife). But there was no elixir that would propel my thoughts yet on how to write each topics I had carefully set aside for Commoner’s Speech. But there was one person, whose physical appearance always ignited a hidden smile in my mind, and that was Adediran Adeyemi Adetola. We met first on February 23rd 2008 within Angola Hall. I saw him with a friend I can no longer recollect his name at the moment. They each held a novel, perhaps not a political one. He was wearing one stripped multi-coloured polo, with one black jean and a rugged “All-Star” sneakers. He greeted me warmly. His friend barely answered me, I think it was because I was wearing one “Adire” material with an inherited gospel wrecked brown sandals. Yet he tapped my shoulder and we discussed briefly. He told me his room number and I told him mine was Block D1, Bed 4, Angola Hall. I think he stayed in K11 or something like that. I checked him more than 4 times but I always met his absence. I was eager to share my political ambition with him, but another comrade, not my mate in age and field work; Comrade Weber quickly warned me he felt Adediran Adeyemi belonged to the Stalinist PACE. So, I withdrew a bit from pursuing his trust. Yet, I couldn’t get his confidence off my mind. So that was how I ended up writing “Reasons for Pen”, the first poem in Commoner’s Speech. I met him again sometime around March 23rd, few days after the matriculation. It was for a different purpose which led to a little misunderstanding and which we later settled when the great mind, Onyinye Gandhi brought us together after the emergence of Comrade Deviano as the Awovarsity Union president. I practically lived my remaining days of first year in Comrade Gandhi’s room, FAJ Block 5 Room 305. He was feeding me with the little food he could lay his hands on, and  he never stopped feeding my mind with materials and intellectual discussions. Oh! Less I forget, my perspectives on “Aluta-E” (love) had a lot to do with his as well.

By this time, Adediran Adeyemi Adetola would come to the room, whop my ass on the PlayStation with his Chelsea formation, even though I tried many times, he ended up scoring me “just one or two goals”. I looked at his lifestyle, Adediran, I looked at his high hopes, and found a common ground with mine. Our eagles soared higher before we even moved to the second year. We became popular, while some referred to us as political twins, most reactionaries simply labelled us “mistakes of Law”. After the first year result came out, the wrong appellations simply disappeared. We proved them wrong academically. This was how I wrote the third poem, “The Orchard”.

Truth is, each and every poem in Commoner’s Speech was one or two events which I witnessed alongside my Comrade, Adediran Adeyemi Adetola (Africano). It was never easy. He loved the theatre as well, but unfortunately, his political love life emotionally abused his love to watch plays at the Pit-theatre. Towards the end of our fourth academic year, as a child of spiritual roots, my consultation prevented me from participating in the last political activity year of my stay on campus. I began to see life not just from the political point of view, but also from a spiritual cum cultural perspective. Oh! Unfortunately, Comrade Onyinye Gandhi and Comrade Destiny had graduated. So, my spiritual and cultural perspective, which I had now mastered and successfully found footing for in my Pan-African ideology, was developed by myself without any western influence. But surprisingly, I made a call to Gandhi thereafter, and few days after our discussion, he mailed me some materials from likes of Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Amilcar Cabral and others. This was how materials For Cries from the ocean too was gathered. For your information, I never missed any convocation plays. I was perhaps even more recognised in the department of theatre arts than Faculty of Law. If not for my last academic year where I attended classes regularly, and for my distinctive looking Afro, some of my lecturers would never have known me. In my last days at Ife, I had several long discussions with Adediran Adeyemi. I found out that his Welfarist-African perspectives too had metamorphosed from just a political movement to a culturally inclusive pattern as well. Gradually, in my heart, I knew my second anthology was already set for writing. I completed some of it while in Nigerian Law School, Enugu. Most of my mates were busy running around reading either Corporate Law or something similar to our looming fate of call to bar. I never slept inside the room I was allocated, except for days it rained heavily. I always slept outside in my shorts, with my old Nokia N98 phone that had nothing else but FELA KUTI’s songs. I knew I would not fail the exam. You said why? I had made necessary inquiries, and was only told to do what was necessary of me (always try to prove yourself right).

The last poem in Cries from the ocean, “The Jailer’s Lamentation” was inspired by the event that happened in 2011, when Adediran Adeyemi Adetola was wrongfully suspended by the School management for a course he stood rightly for. I remembered I was the one who picked up the suspension letter from the Faculty secretary, in Law. I remembered that sad day both of us were walking down the stairways of the Faculty of Law, when a lecturer suddenly appeared, he was known for always saying he held everyone’s destiny in his hands and that he could choose to release it or destroy it. He spoke, just like a reactionary that he has always been. Adediran Adeyemi held my left hand with his right hand afterwards and quietly said, “I will scale through”; for the first time he called me by real name in four and a half years, he said, “Enoch, they think we will not be successful, they think they can break me by this suspension; they do not realise that we are physically and spiritually supported by God…” then he said, “I think what he said is just a Jailer’s Lamentation”. I thank God for a good memory, but I thank GOD more for how well I have lived and how far he has taken my comrade, Adediran Adeyemi. I wish to thank you for reading this work. (http://www.irepublicng.com/)