Okay, so if you weren’t in Minna last week Saturday, the question is where were you? It was the night of the unveiling of amu nnadi’s a field of echoes, a 363 paged poetry collection at the AMAB poetrologue. 363 for one collection, wahoo! You can read a lovely report of the event here as put by Ogbu Godwin Ikechukwu… But here is my version Well, me I was there o! LIVE! But who is he?
amu nnadi is all that when it comes to African poetry having won this and that award; Association of Nigerian Authors’ award twice, shortlisted for the prestigious NLNG more than once; won the Glenna Luschei in 2014. He also has a warm personality to match adopting several younger poets as children. The only issue we might have with him is that he is passionate, overtly
passionate about whatever he sets his heart to. However, I know, poetry has no issue with this. a field of echoes is testimony. Anyways, we set out from Makurdi to Minna; my friend, Sibbyl Whyte and I, to witness its unveiling and a performance to match. We beat the birds to the park and before long, found the road.
I wouldn’t bore you with the talk of how Saddiq Dzukogi, my brother and shortlist for the ANA Poetry Prize 2014 among others, had me and Sibbyl waiting for an hour. He brought Halima Aliyu who tried to say sorry… We found our hotel, made contacts and I also found my belle. Time was set much later and we got to the Wushishi Estate, venue of the event. The time was 8:00pm or so, but the event was underway. I spotted friends, colleagues and fellow writers. I rushed to say hi to E. E. Sule, B. M Dzukogi, Chiedu Ezeana, Amu Nnadi, B. M Nagidi and a few friends. Chai! See the number of stars. I knew I was in good company. I got to my table again and settled down to enjoy the show.
The problem with a lot of these events is that the prologue is usually long, too long. There was a performance by Musa Yunusa, emerging spoken word poet and he tried to catch the shadow of a kiss (I kept waiting for the police to come catch him, isn’t he underage! Hee hee hee! Well, no one came so I turned to the kunu and masa on my table, while gisting with
Sodiq Alabi, Sibbyl Whyte, Laolu Ganiy and Belle). Next, there was a performance by the Actors Guild. I recognized the poet, Terfa Danjuma Nenger in Tiv stripes as the actors gave a lovely performance that had the audience clapping. The MC, Paul Liam called up the host for the next session and amu nnadi for a book chat. Before then, amu nnadi’s citation was to be read by a lovely lady. She seemed flushed as she read the words without too much life. Despite whatever misgivings, I gave her some kudos for the boldness and fine voice. That done, the host tried his best to convey questions that had some of us wondering if he had prepared for the evening. Amu Nnadi kept giving one-one answer. The audience was getting impatient waiting for the reading and performance to start. Ah! The questions continued sha o… Finally, I had to accompany Belle out to go home.
I got back to see a transformation. The lights went out as the atmosphere transformed with local Igbo instruments harmonizing
to create an air of the traditional. Before we knew what was happening, the lights came and a little girl (Grace) emerged on stage with a calabash, like a priest-assistant/attendant maiden at a shrine dancing continuously while shaking her calabash. Amu Nnadi danced in tune to the instruments, stamping one feet after the other, shifting his giant frame from one another as he bent here, rose there and shifted. He had a black tee-shirt over a trousers, his trademark Papa’s cap was on his head while around his waist was a white cloth that reached all the way to his calves. He was the picture of a priest. After some time of the dance and assimilation into the traditional mode that the audience to fuse with, Amu Nnadi’s rich voice poured out from the speakers as he spoke into the microphone. He brought his brother out to accompany him. We listened as Amu Nnadi performed ‘Ablution’ and ‘Shrine’ from the collection to the accompaniment of the music. The verse flowed in English and Igbo, interwoven with proverbs and tradition. The poet went on to perform ‘Revelation in Declaration’, ‘Poetry’ and ‘Silence’. With each performance of one poem flowing into another, we all looked on, lost in the wonder of what was going on. A few people found inspiration to scribble notes that the spirit of the times brought. Indeed, as he performed, Amu Nnadi declared that poetry was inspired by a deity and not the belittling muse as Saddiq Dzukogi had suggested in one of their conversations. Indeed, he reminded everyone of his initiation many years ago into a village cult when he was little. He felt the spirit come again upon him as he poured his heart out in verse that night. By the time, the poet was through from the stage, everyone stood up to give him a rousing hand of applause.
I couldn’t help but wonder how he keeps evolving in poetry and performance; this amu nnadi of a man. I turned and saw the admiration shining in the eyes of all around me. He came and hugged us individually, a different man from the spirit that had dance-performed on the stage. He was here again, our smiling friend and pops. He smiled with that broad grin before taking
his seat. Dignitaries stood up to offer their gratitude including Dr. Ngozi Chuma-Udeh and Dr. E. E. Sule.
Long before most of us would have wanted to call it quits, the end of the event was announced to groans. Pictures were the next objective and I found Hauwa Shifi (whose poetry I am very proud of) and Shade who came in from Port Harcourt. It was fun and we spoke a lot as I connected with Nurideen Busari, AMAB proprietor who was serious throughout directing to ensure all went well…
Slowly, we all stepped out and spoke in pairs and groups. There was a lot of talk and I got to see Odoh Diego Okenyodo who bought my book, Home Equals Holes. Finally, Sibbyl Whyte and I had to leave with Saddiq to our hotel room. As we drove, I thought of many things; a few flaws like the MC trying to make all things right, the curator who struggled with the questions, the long wait for amu nnadi to start his performance… but then again, the memory of the performance came and pushed all the other thoughts away…
The night was far from over but what else do I say? Watch out for Part 2? Keep a date… and drop comments. Maybe we will consider. Bonjour!
PICTURE TIME!! Well, most of them except where stated are my copyright so put my name wherever you use! Yaaay!