December 28, 2020

Chilekezi’s Calligrammes exploring beauty of nature through Banjul

Chilekezi’s Calligrammes exploring beauty of nature through Banjul

Sequel to a recently published anthology by a Nigerian poet, Obinna Chilekezi, titled “Songs of a Stranger at the smiling coast”, another collection of poems, “Calligrammes,” from the same author has made an entrant with its contents revealing more compelling experience but with a different approach to a seeming love for the small city, ‘Banjul, Gambia on the west coast of Africa.

Chilekezi, a chartered Insurance practitioner, administrator, author and poet has published books on insurance and poems that have appeared in many Nigerian journals. In this collection, the poet takes us on a journey across different spheres of life and its complexities; nature, politics, love, economy and religion.

Published in Nigeria by Omojojolo books, 2020 and printed by Emotion Press, the 93-page book containing 80 short poems is well-crafted to reflect unassuming peace, romance and awesome ecosystem inherent in that region, in spite of the harsh truth about the people, weather and other shortcomings. “Here I am in Banjul again, coming and going. I am enjoying the whole scenario hence I want to put down some of the experiences in the form of poetry, as a testimony of my third coming of this land,” says Chilekezi.

“I am falling in love with this small country and its great people. Banjul is cold this season both physically and socially…” “My friends, the birds, are out there twitting. One of them is twitting ‘Kuku ble kuku…on and on it goes…,” prefaced Chilekezi in the book.

He has consistently imprinted his love for nature through authoring skills as “Calligrammes,” being his fifth collection of poems, continued to depict these. Despite his regular career as an Insurance practitioner, he has also explored his knack for creative work through poetry that started from childhood. For Chilekezi, “Poetry to me is an easy way of expressing an inner me, which I believe stands to impact the reader,” he remarked.

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Like the preceding publication, “Songs of a stranger…”, Calligrammes became an unprecedented succor in midst of despair. To him, uncertainty is unknown until tomorrow comes.  The author explored imagery to personify situations. On the page 21, the poem titled, ‘Today’s beauty’, quotes; “Enjoy today’s presence/Forget yesterday’s regret/Venture not into future fear/Behold the beautiful day.” Here, the author tries to rekindle man’s unending scare for living.

“Nature in itself could be harsh or friendly, depends on how one embraces it.  Besides anguish, despair and uncertainty that jar man on the face at every wake, the author poised an optimistic perspective as an antidote to an assumed threat to life. His personal subtle approach to life certainly reflects on his poems.

Moving on to page 24 titled, “An escape from,” here, the author speaks the mind of many. Often times, sitting in a comfort zone becomes an inexplicable trap. Certainly, it would be everyone’s wish to be independent but not all could apply the will power. Quotes: “at times we have to/leave the pay-seat of boredom/escape from ourselves for a while…”  “Sitting on the pay-seat/I stopped listening to music/and only to the corrosive voice of my…” “Oh how it feels to be on your own/free, in sweet presence of nature/just away from the pay-seat…”

In this poem, Chilekezi talked about over indulgence in paid job. But when one boldly steps out or unceremoniously vies into risky exit, little would he find out that ‘it feels better to be on your own.’ Many, in this case, has cause to revel positively, while many, as well, entangled in a labyrinth strive to twist out.

Several other poems speak different messages that hinged on nature, romance, life issues and politics. On page 35, “Umunama” the author took us down the memory lane, his childhood abode: “Not that I would love not to live in you/because of the darkness, the red sandy rough roads/sights of old women laboring/…groans of hunger, and tattered children/ …yet I love you Umunama/…to you, I’d come after this prodigal flight/ for spiritual refurbishment.”  A flight from one’s cultural entity to a pasture seeking uncertainty is always inevitable but the harsh reality of reconnecting to root will certainly beckons at a point. Here, Chikelezi unabashedly bemoans his heritage, reflecting and yearning for a warm embrace by her, Umunama.

He did not also leave out the agony of an unending economic meltdown and political quagmire that has turned the entire globe into a den of survival of the fittest. In the poem, “Meltdown” on page 30, it subtly reveals the mismanagement of peoples’ wealth by their rulers, but warns that it is not time to play blame game, rather, a time to wake up to reality and tackle the situation.

On politics, “The second coming of change” comes to bear. Obviously, politicians will never run out of manifestos. Change is a driving force in winning elections but if there is really a change, it is a tale for tell. Here the author captures the mood of naïve and unsuspecting electorates to the antics of the hawks termed politicians.

Quotes; “Down delays it’s arrival/the promise of a sun, to brighten our days/runs into a ditch.” “After night comes night/as we wait/hopeful/patient…for change that was promised…but after night comes night.” Change here becomes elusive as many have died waiting for the change. If only change can be removed from political campaign slogan, perhaps, we should expect selfless service with people-oriented policies.

Vanguard News Nigeria