FeaturesLiterary Review

World Poetry Day celebrates women

By Damiete Braide

Eight female poets from different parts of the world were among those that were celebrated on Tuesday, March 21, 2023, during the World Poetry Day which was held In Lagos.

This year’s edition with the theme, “Restating Humanity With The Woman”  was organised by The ProvidusBank Poetry Cafe (Providus Bank), in collaboration with The Wole Soyinka Foundation, and curated by Jahman Anikulapo.

The poets were Nathaniel Handal, (French-American), Vuyokazi Ngemntu, (South Africa), Jumoke Verissimo (Nigeria), Emma Ofosua (Ghana), Achalugo Chioma Ilozumba (Nigeria), Amrah Aliyu (Nigeria), Wana Udobang (Nigeria) and Kemi Baker (Nigeria).

Some of the poets who were unable to travel to Nigeria attended the programme via Zoom. They all had the opportunity to talk about their works and read some of their poems, with their performances dedicated to Leah Sharibu who was kidnapped by bandits in Chibok, six years ago. Also, 40 up-and-coming poets who participated earlier in a workshop organised by The ProvidusBank Poetry Cafe had their collection of poems, entitled Journeys…(40 Poems for Four Poetry Hubs in Lagos), published in a book.The up-and-coming poets performed their poems to the admiration of the audience.

In his address of welcome, Walter Akpani, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, ProvidusBank said: “I am very thrilled to see these young poets and the future of Nigeria that we have, seated in among others. It will be inappropriate for us not to recognise them, because the future of Nigeria belongs to the generation and generation after us. For them to be here, gives me so much hope especially when you look at what they have contributed in their own literary way. I pray they will continue to impact positively and how we ensure that the future of Nigeria is there especially with the young ones among us.

“It is not an easy thing but in our own little way, we will continue to contribute to the growth of poetry and I know that there will be more and we will learn from them as young as they are. We will definitely learn and take away quite a bit from them. Even some of the things that you and I will be shocked that you and I would probably not have an inkling about the fact that they have this much talent.

He added that it went beyond just them, and “it goes even as far as others that are not seated here. We all have a collective responsibility to make sure that the future of Nigeria is insured with the type of individuals and children that we can impact positively on.”

Walter used the occasion to commend Professor Wole Soyinka for making out time to be at the programme, saying: “We started this journey not too long ago but it is a commitment that we at Providus Bank have undertaken to continue this journey whatever it takes. We will continue to thank you for giving us all that we need to continue to contribute our own quota in playwright, and all that these entails.”

Veteran actress, Ajayi Lycet admonished the young ladies that, when they got married, they should  raise their children and change the society.  She noted:” Please take your eyes off all the shiny objects that people are throwing at you but go for substance and contribute your quota to the development of the society.”

Prof Wole Soyinka, while commending all the poets for coming out to honour the world of poetry, said: “It is an opportunity for me to see this platform; there is nothing more degrading of any community than to be crowned as a consumer of falsehood of lies. One thing poetry does, no matter the subject is, it’s  about truth, and we are living in a society which has degenerated into a level where falsehood has become a staple commodity especially on that antithesis of imagination and creativity called internet and social media.

“Ever since the election began, I have not made one statement not on behalf of any candidate, not on anything related to the election, byet the amount of garbage which has been attributed to me with my photograph is criminal, and it is identity theft. They have continued unchecked for so long.

“It is incredible that people sit somewhere fabricating absolutely out of nothing, put your name to a statement and add your photograph to it and claim it to be your product. It is a test for all of you. Anytime you see something attributed to me on the internet, ask yourself if it is my language. If they are looking for Wole Soyinka, it is not from me, because I am not on social media.”

Professor Okey Ndibe anchored a segment of the programme, which saw Professor Role Soyinka read one of the poems, “Migrant” from his latest book, Selected Poems 1965-2022 a Retrospective).

Yinka Davies, a Nigerian vocalist, dancer and lyricist with 5 and 6 Band thrilled the audience with various songs to the admiration of the audience.

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