Adamu AJunam, an Engineer with Julius Berger Nigeria Limited is also an artistic writer of strong commitment. Having in the past profiled the nation’s rich tourism cum cultural history in two well received published tourists guide books, he recently came out with a collection of poetry that chronicles his abiding faith in the enterprise called Nigeria.
Who is Adamu Ajunam and why did you write Red Earth?
This collection is a project I have had for more ten years, which has now consolidated into a book form – a collection of poems, to be precise. Red Earth and Other Poems is my first attempt into poetry. I have before this written a couple of books which are basically tourists’ guides.
My interest and all that I do dwell in Nigeria. Even though that I am an Engineer, I have great passion for arts and writing. Where I work as an Engineer also, I always try to see that I protect and promote the Nigerian interest.
Basically how I work is that I have my camera always with me and if I see something that holds my attention for a little while, I go after it and if it is a thought, when I get to the office, I write it down and if there is need to expand on it, I follow it up with due research and try to build it up until it becomes something that is tangible.
So, I hope that when people read Red Earth, they would feel the same way I feel or they shall find a language to express the feelings that may be they have that they do not know how to crystallize them in words. So I am sending the collection out as a message that people can learn from.
Our greatest obstacle in this country is the inability to balance justice and fairness. It is not an easy thing to balance, because even in your homes, balancing the family is not easy. So balancing the North and South, a small unit as small as a local government is not easy to talk much less of a nation. These are some of the issues that affect us and so in this collection, I try to write poems about what it means to balance “Justice.”
The title of the collection, you said has something to do with the spiritual and you also said that the nature of earth that surrounds Nigeria is red, is your deduction based on research or from mere assumption?
Red Earth is found everywhere you go in Nigeria and the Bible says that we are made from the earth. So, with that at the background of our thinking, you know it cannot be any other thing other than the red earth.
There are various ways we can relate to the title of this book, you have explored two angles already, which are the cultural-political spheres and also the spiritual formation of man, now how can we relate this title to the issue of environment which it pre-supposes?
Poetry is an art form and art is appreciation and you don’t always see art from the perspective of the artist. You react and expand the content and interpretation of art based on your own understanding. I don’t want to think about the degradation that our environment suffers, but I am rather more concerned with the enhancement of nature.
You have done some works in the past, on the subject of tourism. Would you say that your poetry is a continuity of that project, another guide into the nation’s soul?
Like I said, everything about my thought dwells around Nigeria. So, I try to expand what I had already known and also what I come across every where I go. I try to see if I can use my findings to expand or connect to what I know. My first book is on Lagos, where I have lived for a considerable time. So poetry, I think, is a continuation of my photography, photo speaks and language of poetry is also very colorful.
The visuals are more explanatory to the lay reader. But poetry on the other hand, is some what coded. Are you not disturbed that your message may not be communicated to the target reader as a result of your medium of communication?
I don’t think so because I have chosen to write in free verse so as not to be too rigid and I also speak in a common language and that was very important to me that I am able to speak the language that even the secondary school student will understand.
What informs the cover picture and the choice of your publisher?
I am an engineer. I work with Julius Berger and I am a publisher as well. Over the years, I have tried to expand my works and AMVPS gave me the opportunity to be on Amazon and they are also helping me to expand my market, while it is published by my company, Ant Hill Publishers. And for the cover picture, I like to use what could be identified with Nigeria.