Chief Abraham Ademola Makinde popularly called Elewiere is a renowned poet in the Oke-Ogun region of Oyo State. The Okeho-born poet attended the Baptist Day School Isia, Okeho; thereafter he proceeded to Okeho/Iganna Grammar School, Mese-Ole, Okeho. Other schools that he attended include St. Andrews College of Education, Oyo and the University of Ilorin where he bagged a Bachelor’s degree in English. He spoke to us about his poetic journey, his own style of poetry amongst others. Herein below is an excerpt-
PDC: How did you come about poetry rendition and what particular poetry is your own specialty?
AAM: I started out with poetry reciting as a Primary school pupil; I can vividly recollect that while I was in primary 4, our teacher would give us memory verses to memorize. At another time, the primary 6 teacher told his pupils to memorize Ise loogun Ise and the primary 5 teacher told his pupils to memorize another poem and we were told to memorize another poem. I thought it was going to be all the classes, so I personally wrote another poem, I didn’t work with the one my class teacher told us to memorize.
The following week, I thought the same thing would happen, I wrote another one, but unfortunately, nothing happened, then I told my class teacher I had a poem to recite and was magnanimous to allow me to do so. The teachers of that generation were diligent enough to discover specific gift in any pupil, they will do their best to encourage such pupil. That was how I started writing, at various times when headmaster had their meeting, our headmaster, the late Chief I.A Adelodun would take me along, when they start eating, I will be entertaining them with my poem and I would be given some funds.
While I was in primary school, we used to have Children’s Day celebration, there used to be a competition then. I represented my school at Ibadan. There was also competition at Oyo where I represented Oke-Ogun here and I came first. At another time, I went to Ibadan during FESTAC and I came second. Unfortunately, the Governor then, the late Chief Bola Ige awarded a scholarship to the boy that came first, the boy is from Otu and he was given scholarship to University level. I had the privilege of representing both Okeho and Oke-Ogun at different fora and that was how this poetry promoted me.
I would not forget to add that various groups in the community started appreciating the gift of God in me and whenever they have any social gathering and church programmes, they will invite me to recite poems.
PDC: From your response Sir, does that mean nobody taught you how to write poems?
AAM: Yes, nobody taught me how to write poetry, because I was encouraged early in life. However, I have drawn a lot of experiences from Evang. Adedayo Idowu. I remember a situation when I wrote a poem that a lot people loved, I was specifically invited to a funeral ceremony at Saki, another major town of Oke-Ogun to for the rendition of the poem. Poetry got me a lot of relevance. Interestingly, I was awarded a scholarship by a man from Abeokuta because he was there at the programme and he listened to the poetry and people were really moved. So he gave me money my first year in high school till I graduated from the College of Education.
PDC: Lanrewaju Adepoju, Tunmosun Oladapo are renowned poets, is there any of these poets that influenced your career?
AAM: Hmm… I don’t want to say anybody, but God, because nobody taught me poetry, although I listen to Lanrewaju Adepoju but I do not use his style of poetry rendition.
PDC: As someone who is equally learned, what do you think separates Ajobiewe from every other poet in Yoruba Land?
AAM: The truth is that I don’t really listen to traditional poets, as you know, they are a lot of them, and I would not like to compare, because God has given gifts to individual separately and also include different voice, style and theme.
PDC: What are the challenges you have faced and still facing since you started poetry?
AAM: When I started this poetry, people were making jest of me and I was given different names, these names were there to discourage me. I attended different occasions where I was treated nicely. However, I could remember while I was in my third year in High school, I went to Ibadan by Mr Ojetunde, a lecturer at Emmanuel Alayande College of Education, Oyo to recite a poem when a king died. It was a tug of war for the musician to allow me to perform my peom. Unfortunately, when I was given the chance to recite my poem, I could not say anything. That was how I left the stage.
PDC: People no more pay attention to the panegyric (Oriki Orile), what do you think can be done to revive this culture?
AAM: Some aspects of Oriki Orile, are good while some are bad, by the time those that know the oriki very well started reciting it, if you are the true son of that lineage, you will be moved and possibly do things you never planned to do. There are some that if you hear it, instead of progressing, it will be the other way round. So, if you listen to your own Oriki orile, make sure you study it very well.
PDC: As a poet, what are the things you are doing to project Okeho in your poetry?
AAM: There was a time I wrote a song, like that of “Omo Ogun e se giri” I was the one that wrote the first one, some people used it while some used it to form another one. There was another one written by Prof Segun Gbadegesin and Evang. Adedayo Idowu gave tune to, but I was the first person to write it. In 2014, I composed another song for Isemi-Ile, a neighouring town, during the first anniversary of the reign of His Royal Highness, Oba Kazeem Oyebolanle Mustapha Ajibowo. The king was impressed and I was given the chieftaincy title of Gbobaniyi of Isemi-Ile land.
PDC: Do you have any album to your credit yet?
AAM: Yes, I have one titled “Iya O Gbodo Jemi”. Though the album is made up of songs, but I have written countless poems, playlets.
PDC: Do you write poetry only in Yoruba?
AAM: I write majorly in English, because in College of Education, I studied English/Yoruba, but in the University, I studied English.
PDC: What have you done to make your work available on the internet?
AAM: I will be glad to be assisted. When I launched my album, people called me from overseas and they encouraged me to continue, although I don’t know how they got it then. Maybe if I have produced another album, it would have been on the internet.
PDC: Is there any poetry or a song you are currently working on?
AAM: I am not currently working on any anthology of poetry, but I am working on some songs, because people invite me here and there, even to various programmes. I write drama, songs, and poems for people for a fee.
PDC: Is there any way you think Yoruba poetry can be revived in our society?
AAM: Hmm, the previous Oyo State House of Assembly signed it into law that schools should not force their students to speak English, maybe with that, people will start developing interest in Yoruba poetry.
PDC: Is any of your children taking after you?
AAM: I hope that will take to it at will. I am currently studying one of them, she loves to sing and compose songs but I have allowed her to focus on her academic pursuit. She had been invited for poetry recitation in Lagos.
PDC: What is your word of encouragement to upcoming Yoruba poets?
AAM: Although, Yoruba poetry is not really popular again maybe due to globalization, but anyone that is interested should be determined and such individual will surely enjoy it and gain much from it.