Book Review – Voices From Oja ‘ba Market: The Heartbeat Of Nigeria.



Reviewer: Subterranean Blue Poetry

Title of Book: Voices from Oja ‘Ba Market: A Collection of Poems by upcoming Poets in Celebration of Oja ‘Ba Market

Editor: Wole Adedoyin

Publisher: Society of Young Nigerian Writers

Date of Publication: 2013

Page Count: 40

“Praise the Risen Lord”
– Popular Christian Saying

This is an important work of poetry from the Society of Young Nigerian Writers, in the turmoil of politics and violence in their homeland they are practicing the craft of poetry, getting the word out and finding their truth in constructing thought waves for peace. As I go to write, I hear the song “Don’t stop, don’t stop the dance” by Bryan Ferry in the blue light of winter afternoon.

This book is constructed around the theme of the Oja ‘Ba Market (The Kings Market) the main market of Ibadan Land. Markets exist traditionally in all major centres of countries, they are places of trade, a place of food, a place of meeting, exchanging talk and information and a place of celebration of the arts, the soul of the Community. Oja ‘ba Market accommodates “traditional drummers, flutists, poets, performers, masquerades, dancers.” This book of poetry also features colourful photos of the Market and its produce and people.

Voices of Oja ‘Ba Market is published by Society of Young Nigerian Writers, an organization that “hopes to impact the community and the lives of people through Christian philosophy, arts and computer education.” Their Vision statement: “Improving all aspects of the quality of education and creating a conducive environment for the mental, artistic, social, scientific and psychological development of the masses.”

The book of poetry begins with The Raucous and Serenades of the Market by Tenibegi Karounwi. As if a traditional song, the poetry flows “This morning is a gathering from all corners of the four winds/ On battered Lorries, wrecked vans trailed by wheeled iron coffins.” The poetry illuminates the current violence and life of the people. For style the poetry appears to have the influence of the traditional culture as well as the tenets of English Literature, particularly the Beat Poets and the Moderns. The lines are constructed with capitalization at the beginning. Occasionally the poems will have obvious rhymes, an evolution from the Postmoderns, perhaps influenced by modern rap/Hip Hop. This poem continues with a description of a dance celebration:

“In the presence of all and the bustling forest for witness

Aduke and Abeke entered into a dance contest

To know whose feet will command the best cheer

Delightfully, Aduke croons with spiteful hiss

As she daintily twirl her wrapper with a mocking tease

And Abeke rolls voluptuous waist with seductive ease

Swinging with grace and the pride of a calm breeze . . . “

Market Girl. By Obrnide Joseph Ikotun, is a poem of the thoughts of a woman who runs a market stall as she anticipates meeting her lover, “Eyes fierce and dim/ As if translating over a seam.” The excellent use of the English language (when it may be a second language) presenting mystery and intrigue in word juxtapositions in the celebration. Often in this New Age poetry, there is a stream of consciousness and new word synergies that are exciting.

There is a poem titled Boko Haram by Ubah Chetachukwu, an open letter for peace to the terrorist group, “Masses, massacred Masses, shattered Tragedy so sad to see When all that was asked to be Was to live peacefully . . . ”

Of Gangster Gods and Goddesses by Salawu Olajiobe begins “My country gods are goons/ They take the sacrifice and frighten the bearers . . .” And Political Brouhaha by Babalola Adeniyi Abraham speaks of the corrupt politics of Nigeria. The poems that reveal the violence and political condition of Nigeria are the beauty of truth, as if planting the seeds for peace in the written word.

The One in White (Eyo) by Onwuasoanya Chika Tobi is a description of a play at the market.

“Have you seen the play of Adamu?

Mortals of earth, have you seen the play,

Of Amadu Orisha?

The one in the white mask waits,

His rod stiffly in hand,

He waits in the wings of life,

Ready to take center stage,

The tall white one,

O great Eyo gogoro!

The one whose feet are ever impatient,

Whose dancing feet stirs up,

The black dust of morning in men’s heart, . . . “

Women’s themes are also present with The Praying Voice Beside the Osun River by Babatunde Idowu Ebenezer? (check spelling): “Again came the tiny voice from beside the peaceful river,/’Bless me mother and make me a mother.’” And Twenty Children by Aduwale Bakre:

“A tale of a score of kiddies

That they claim cannot be

Together for two decades,

“True indeed is the postulation

Of our great sagacious Mother Africa

With her third leg that shivers

And shakes as if it would break

The third leg she uses

In guiding us to the path of rectitude . . . “

As if a poem with prophesy.

The Closing Stage by Adebesin Ibraheem Adekunle is in the exultation of “Apocalypse Poetry” with the repeated line, “I’m afraid the end-time is near” and

“See the abundant infections now afflicting us

As though newly spawned by some angered gods

See the apocalyptic disasters now daily rocking our earth . . . “

The Beauty and Power of Yoruba Culture by Adeleye Kunle is a consciousness raising about the importance of culture.

“Most people forget that a state

Without a recognized culture is

A country with no identity.”

The final poem is titled Oja Oba Market by Dalinton Joshua, is a prayer for peace and protection with the celebration of dance in poetry.

In these times of change with the miracle of the Internet, the West as well as the Second and Third World countries are experiencing a Transition Economy and violence. The discovery of peace begins with happy covenant marriages, the cornerstone for peace in Community through the discovery of Signs from God and the Holy Spirit way. Signs from God discern a happy covenant marriage, tell the truth of all serious matter, protect the innocent and create safety, peace and democracy.

This dance of poetry, like the dance of life despite adversity and violence. A prayer for peace for these poets and the peoples of Nigeria in the midst of violent times. One day we will be free!

Available on Obooko

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