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When words travel across borders

By Elizabeth Uwandu

The first Lagos International Poetry Festival may have come and gone, but its memory will linger for quite a while. And one of such memories was the concert tagged,”Borderless Words,” a spoken words poetry performance, held  at the Muson Centre. It was entertaining and educative as the audience were held spell bound by the scintillating performances of poets like the Lawyer cum poet, Chuma Nwokolo, Chijioke Amu Nnadi , Efe Paul, Jumoke Verisimmo, Titilope Sonuga, Dike Chukwumerijie, a protege of Chunua Achebe, Inua Ellams from London, Dami Ajayi, Lebo Mashile, Natalia Molebatsi, Wana Udobang of Inspiration FM, Obii Ifedika and TJ Dema from Bostwana among others.

Young poets such as Chika Jones’, “Nigeria my beautiful country, and  Ehis Momudu’s “Who am I? Poems on the resolute spirit of patriotism and  identity of Nigerians, set the ball rolling for a night of travel  via words that provoke, retrospection, re-assessment, and re-evaluation on the part of the audience on issues such as leadership, love, kidnap, gender and self appreciation.

The concert had the presence of Odia Ofeimun, Igoni Barrett, AJ Dagga Tolar, Uche Umez, Jahman Anikulapo and Toni Kan. Then came major performances , one of which saw the audience  transported to the seat of power, “ Aso Rock” as Nwokolo performed his poem ‘ An Oga at the top says his morning prayers”, a satire that depicts the intention of our leaders during and after their rule and the foolishness of the ruled as they unconsciously assent to Oga’s prayer.

Chukwumerijie’s poems spikes up the tempo of Nwokolo’s performance with “ I am a Nigeria” a poem that ridicule our moral sense of identity when asked, ‘Where are you from? And a piece that resonates the legacies of Prof Achebe’. For Dema and Lebo, their presentation extolled the  virtue of  true African Leadership.

After these rapturous displays, lovers of poems went into sober mood as Sonuga, read poems on motherhood, rape and terrorism. This was followed by Ifejika piece which made audience cry as she performs a piece calling on one of the Chibok girls, to asked of her mother, father, siblings who awaits her return, if she ever comes back. For Unabang popularly called Uwana, women are called to stand up against forced marriage when she renders “ Catfish” a scenario where woman is point or pick for marriage without consent resulting in loveless marriage, divorce and broken homes.

The concert also evokes the feeling of love, and beauty of nature by performances of Verissimo.’s Ajani, Hassan Sage appreciation of beauty in creativity without conformity and Amu Nnadi’s classic which featured Molebatsi acrobatic display of love; a performance that saw audience wanting a cuddling from their love ones.

The concert also provoked question of life after death through readings by Nick Makoha from Uganda that posits that man should have two faces; one he lives with and the one one he dies with: Ellams, “ Kingdom of gravity.”

The voyage of audience through words reached its climax with a breathtaking rendition by the director of the event, Efe Paul that gave a theme of the whole idea of poetry to human existence. Here the speculations breathed down at the clock  ticked into midnight for a concert that ought to end at 11pm. Words truly is a vehicle of travels as seen in “ Borderless Words”.



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