Oracle of Identity, Recreant love, African Foliage

The poet is the ‘oracle’ inspired by the gods. This collection is the temple of prophesy. The poetic fountains are from the house of muse. This collection of poems by Dayo Ibitayo Arogbokun has seven movements namely: African Foliage, Religion apology, Welcome to Nigeria, Cosmopolitan, Sublime, Emotional Fraternity/regrets and Normal life.
The poet’s diction is metaphorically concrete and ripe with the fruits of imageries. The poet begins with slavery and the future of Africa. The thematic preoccupations of slavery in Africa are for Gold, Gospel and Glory. The poet writes in “Pray for Me”: “I am Africa / Bought by the purity of slavery”. This brings to the fore the poetry of David Diop “Africa My Africa”, my Africa, your Africa and our Africa.
The poet depicts in “I can tell”: I can tell from the perforations on your lips / That muffle your song of freedom / I can tell from the slave signature on your back / That it was very heinous.” The Oracle speaks through the poet that Africa should beware of second incursion vis-à-vis Nigeria business is now expatriates business. The country should not dwell on the memory of Civil War of 1967.
It is a black memory says the oracle. It is a war we could have averted if we reason with words. What have we gained or harvested from the recent Democracy? The poet depicts that ICPC and EFCC are political distraction to hunt opposition. The law of the land is for the common man. The law should be above everybody.
Justice is blind only to the poor man. The malady of corruption has eaten deep into the fabric of the nation. The nation has to put differences aside. United we stand: divided we fall, which is the cold hard truth. The hullabaloo and brouhaha that besiege the country needs to be addressed for peace to reign supreme. There should be room for dialogue and resolution not revolution.
We have to come as one and reason with words. The poet opines that religion, tribalism and corruption need to be tackled for the nation to progress. If words of reason are expensive one will opt for violence. The poet laments in “Ignore 11”:“Poets render verses of our disasters/ Parsons sermonize our oppressions / Teachers teach our frustrations / Journalists write our deprivations / Nigerians bear the sufferings / The woes our government decreed.”
We have to learn from the past to manage today’s gift as tomorrow remain a mystery. The poet writes in “Wasteland” that alludes to T.S Elliot’s “Waste Land” and Remi Raji’s “Love Song for my Wasteland”: “The flatter that all is well / Though many truths have spoken / Greed fell them on deaf ears / If ears would listen / Tears will cease to flow.
Nigerians are watching and hoping for a better tomorrow to catch a glimpse of the rainbow.” In “System of Government” the poet also laments: “And at election time / With false generosity / Give atom of their loot / To their electorates for re-election / Only then are they remembered as fellow Nigerians. The Creator is not interested in religion but personal with Him.
There will be anarchy when we abhor spiritual laws. A man must look inward in search of himself, outward to embrace his brothers and sisters and upward to praise his Maker. Blood is sacred. Children are asking pertinent questions about the state of the nation. It is a situational irony when the vanguard and crusader of peace are the perpetrators of war. In “Identity” the poet writes: “I collect my thoughts/ From the minds that know/ The shadows of the past/ From the mouths that speak/ No religion should look down upon another religion.”
Nobody should rule others with rigor. It is absurd to kill one another in the name of religion. The peace of God on men makes the world a better place. In “Beauty of the Flesh” the poet writes: “Within the myopia of the den/ Near so far, yet we sin/ Of the beauty of the flesh/ The truth of the apocalypse eclipsed.” Some of the poems have metaphysical imagery that echoes the essence of mortality and immortality.
Life is a journey. The poet preaches the Gospel according to poetry with the eyes of faith. The poet writes in “Sinless”: “He without sins/ Must first cast the stone/ Naked as the truth is/ We have all sinned/ And gone short of the grace.” The seed of love in the poet’s heart embraces the sunlight of hope. Love is the cord of our existence. In the eyes of love, we sing one song. The poet writes in “Recreant love”: “Don’t crush that rose/ It is my heart/ Love is the energy of life. It stirs the wheel of emotion into motion.”
(c)Olutayo IRAN-TIOLA, Lagos, Nigeria
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