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Edited by Ronnie Kasrils with Muff Andersson and Oscar Marleyn.
First published by Jacana Media (Pty) Ltd in 2021, ISBN: 978-1-4314-3202-8, this Daraja Press edition is available in North America and East Africa
I thought I had a pretty good understanding of the global anti-apartheid movement until I read this extraordinary collection of essays. This book blew my mind!
—Robin D.G. Kelly
We hear for the first time from the international activists who worked secretly for the ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe(MK), in the struggle to liberate South Africa from apartheid rule. They acted as couriers, provided safe houses in neighbouring states and within South Africa, helped infiltrate combatants across borders, and smuggled tonnes of weapons into the country in the most creative ways. Driven by a spirit of international solidarity, they were prepared to take huge risks and face great danger.
The book identifies three key moments in Nigeria’s experience with federalism and makes the argument that a complex and socially-diverse country like Nigeria can only be successfully governed by a truly federal arrangement, and not the present unitary contraption that has only delivered poverty, social unrest and the powerful centrifugal forces that are now threatening the very existence of the country itself. The time has come, write Ike Okonta, to convene a conference with sovereign powers to design a federal constitution for the country. The current process of amending the 1999 Constitution by the National Assembly will not suffice. The document is so hopelessly flawed that only its discarding and a fresh effort at constitution-making will suffice.
Ike Okonta was, until recently, a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Department of Politics at the University of Oxford. Currently, he is Coordinating Fellow of the New Centre for Social Research, Abuja, Nigeria. He is author of Where Vultures Feast: Shell, Human Rights and Oil (2003) Paperback; When Citizens Revolt: Nigerian Elites, Big Oil and the Ogoni Struggle for Self-Determination (2008); Biafran Ghosts: The Massob Ethnic Militia and Nigeria’s Democratisation Process (2012); The Failure of Leadership in Africa’s Development (2020)
Table of Contents
1. Nigeria’s Flawed Federalism: The Colonial Roots, 2. Killing Federalism: The Soldiers Step In, 3. Consolidating Centralism: The Second Republic and After, Challenging Centralism or the Spirit of Ken Saro-Wiwa, 5. Conclusion: Bringing Back Federalism. 6. Acknowledgements.
BISAC and KeywordsPOLITICAL SCIENCE / Colonialism & Post-ColonialismPOLITICAL SCIENCE / ConstitutionsPOLITICAL SCIENCE / World / AfricanKeywords: Nigeria, Federalism, Sovereignty, National Assembly, biafra, Ogoni, Ken Saro-WiwaAudienceGeneral/Trade – Adult fiction and nonfiction
The current absence of any emancipatory vision for Africa lies at the heart of our political problems of racial capitalist and colonial oppression. Any attempt to rethink political emancipation on the African continent must be able to locate a universal conception of freedom within singular cultural experiences where people live. Irrespective of the specific manner in which such struggles for freedom were thought within different historical contexts, emancipatory politics always exhibited such a dialectic when it was based within popular traditions. Yet only some militant intellectual leaders understood the importance of this dialectic in thought.
The present volume outlines and discusses two particularly important views concerning the role and importance of popular culture in emancipatory politics in Africa. Each is the product of distinct forms of colonial capitalist exploitation: the former saw the light of day within a colonial context while the latter is directly confronted by the neocolonial state. All emancipatory politics are developed in confrontation with state power, and all begin with a process of discussion and debate whereby a collective subject begins to be formed. The formation of such a collective political subject has been fundamentally informed by popular cultures on the African continent.
The two authors whose essays are included here understood this and posit popular culture at the centre of their politics. The first, Amílcar Cabral, addresses the central role of popular culture in the independence struggle of Guinea Bissau in the 1970s; the second, Ernest Wamba-dia-Wamba, addresses the centrality of African popular culture in an emancipatory politics for the current Democratic Republic of Congo. Despite the distance in time that separates them, both Cabral and Wamba-dia-Wamba develop a dialectics at the core of their politics which activates the universals of culture in the present. It is this that makes their views of central importance to emancipatory thought today.
People Resisting Xenophobic Violence: Understanding popular political responses to the South African identitarian crisis
The book is concerned with popular responses to the crisis of xenophobic violence in South Africa. It argues, that xenophobia itself is not primarily a reaction to poverty, inequality, or any other set of social conditions. Rather, xenophobia must be considered to be a collective political discourse which has arisen in post-apartheid South Africa from an exclusionary conception of state nationalism. Where this work may be distinguished from the majority of research on xenophobia in South Africa is in the fact that its particular focus is on instances where ‘ordinary’ South Africans have challenged and resisted xenophobic violence in their communities through collective political mobilisation. I suggest that these sites of resistance deserve careful consideration in their own right. I argue that they may demonstrate a subjective break with the oppressive politics of state nationalism through the affirmation of alternative political conceptions. Drawing on the political theory of Sylvain Lazarus, and his principal thesis that people are capable of thinking politics in ways which can subjectively think beyond the social and the extant (underscored by his political and methodological axiom, people think), the book will argue that these sites of resistance show that people – and especially those who are considered to be marginalised from the domain of legitimate politics – can and do think politically, and it is in the thought of people that new and potentially emancipatory visions of politics may emerge.
The first chapter of the book sets out empirically the rise of xenophobia in post-apartheid South Africa, with a focus on the ways in which state politics and practices have produced a hegemonic xenophobic discourse in the country. Chapter Two situates this discussion within a review of the academic literature, arguing that sociological explanations are by themselves unable to account for the phenomenon.
Chapter Three discusses three sites in which xenophobia has been effectively contested through collective political mobilisation: by Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) in Kwa-Zulu Natal, the Merafong Demarcation Forum (MDF) in Guateng in 2008, and in the Unemployed people’s Movement (UPM) in Grahamstown (now Makhanda) in 2015 (where I conducted fieldwork over a year). It is argued that the presence of collective political organisation before the outbreak of xenophobic violence provided the conditions for an effective challenge to xenophobic politics to occur.
Chapter Four is largely theoretical, drawing primarily on the work of Sylvain Lazarus, as well as Alain Badiou and Jacques Rancière. The chapter argues that it is essential to insist on politics as subjective, as it is only in the thought of people that emancipatory modes of politics which exceed socially located interests may emerge and be constituted through collective mobilisation into political praxis.
Chapter Five sets out the methodological approach to my own research with members of the Unemployed People’s Movement in Grahamstown. The aim of the approach is to aid in the investigation of what Sylvain Lazarus has called ‘subjective singularities’, or specific forms of thinking which characterize a political sequence. Put simply, the approach endeavours to try to understand people’s thinking on its own terms, through the categories and idioms which are specific to that subjective singularity, and which cannot be sociologically reduced to external explanatory referents such as class, race, power, or identity. The aim is to be able to identify and elucidate the specific prescriptive thought which may emerge as people think and articulate their own struggles.
Chapter Six sets out my discussions with 18 UPM activists. Based on the methodological approach indicated above, the purpose of this empirical chapter was not to provide any form of ethnography or sociology of the movement, but to try and elucidate, through the activists’ own categories, the subjective singularity which underpinned the movement’s anti-xenophobic politics during a particular sequence. The aim is not to extrapolate from the activists’ statements concepts, cases or types which might have broader application for the study of xenophobia generally, but only to try to understand and elucidate the forms of thinking which characterised this particular sequence in its subjective singularity. These forms of thinking, I argue, are notable and important in their own right.
[Note: Additional material from the interviews with the UPM members, which I was not able to include in the MA thesis, will be incorporated into the book manuscript to extend and develop the investigation into the political thinking of UPM members and to delineate the character of the political sequence].
The corona crisis reveals what is wrong and toxic — in ourselves, in relation with others, and in relation with the rest of non-human nature. But we can also look for what is good and life-affirming. The authors argue that the future must be founded on ‘kindness, social solidarity and an appropriate scale of time’, a future that cherishes life and the connections that transcend borders. This pamphlet is a vital contribution to much needed reflections and discussion.
This is a fabulous book. Usually a blurb or endorsement like this is supposed to enhance the book, but in this case the flow is in the other direction. For me it is a huge honour to be associated with it. Like many others, I have been trying for months to get my head around what is happening, trying to formulate my ideas, and then here it is, in these pages, so clear, so understanding, so challenging. How we now go on to shape the interconnectedness between people and between people and other forms of life will determine the future of humanity. The best, most sensitive, most realistic, strongest thing that I’ve read on the Corona Crisis. — John Holloway, Professor, Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, Autonomous University of Puebla, Mexico, and author of In, Against, and Beyond Capitalism:
The San Francisco Lectures
This pamphlet, part of Daraja Press’s Thinking Freedom Series, is written by Mark Butler with his colleagues at the Church Land Programme, a small independent non-profit organisation based in KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa, that seek to distill learnings that emerge from the work of militants on the ground.
The inside story of the struggles of the Kenya Land and Freedom Army, referred to by British colonialism as the ‘Mau Mau rebellion’, is little known today. The autobiographical material written by Karari Njama (a senior leader in the Mau Mau hierarchy) and compiled by Donald L. Barnett was first published by Monthly Review Press in 1966, as Mau Mau From Within: An analysis of Kenya’s Peasant Revolt. It was reprinted in 1970; it has remained out of print for many years. As the late Basil Davidson put it in his review of the first edition: “Njama writes of the forest leaders’ efforts to overcome dissension, to evolve effective tactics, to keep discipline, mete out justice … and to teach men how to survive in those merciless forests. His narrative is crowded with excitement. Those who know much of Africa and those who know little will alike find it compulsive reading. Some 10,000 Africans died fighting in those years . Here, in the harsh detail of everyday experience, are the reasons why.”
The book is an extraordinary story of courage, passion, heroism, combined with recounting of colonial terror, brutality and betrayal. It is a story of how the very idea of being ‘Kenyan’ was intimately linked to the idea of freedom, a connection that was destroyed not only by the firepower of the British, but also by those who collaborated and established themselves as the beneficiaries of neocolonial rule. Disconnecting notions of freedom from identity left only a caricature that rapidly descended into tribalism and ethnicity.
This momentous story of the struggle for freedom described here is relevant not only for a new generation of Kenyans but also for all those engaged in emancipatory struggles internationally. For so long as the experiences arising from the struggles described in this book are perceived as merely ‘African’ or ‘Kenyan’, it is not possible to fully grasp the contributions they have made to the struggle for a universalist humanity.
What is recounted in this publication is more than an ‘analysis of a peasant revolt’. It is above all a history of the Kenya Land and Freedom Army. As Ngūgī wa Thiong’o points out in his Preface to this new edition, ‘we don’t have to use the vocabulary of the colonial to describe our struggles.’ We were tempted to rename the book ‘Kenya Land and Freedom Army from Within.’ But because the original title has wide recognition, and and as one of the characteristics of movements of the oppressed is to appropriate derogatory terms used by their oppressors and repurpose them as an expression of pride in their own experiences, this book retains the original title, but with a change in the subtitle as ‘The Story of the Kenya Land and Freedom Army.’
We were delighted that Karari Njama was able to provide us with a Prologue to the new edition (Kamoji Wachiira, a former political prisoner, connected us with Karari and translated the text of the Prologue). Shujaa Hon Dr Gitu wa Kahengeri, Secretary-General of the Mau Mau War Veterans Association reminds us how the veterans of the liberation movement, like Karari Njama, continue to live in extreme poverty today despite the enormous contribution that they made to the struggle for freedom.
Kenya’s leading writer and academic, Ngūgī wa Thiong’o, points out in the Preface, how so much of the narratives about the Kenya Land and Freedom Army has been written from ‘without’, emphasizing the importance of a book that speaks to the personal testimony from within the movement. We are honoured to have Mīcere Gīthae Mugo, Emerita Professor of Literature at Syracuse University, provide reflections on the importance of the republication of this historical text. There are many who, as children, lived through the terrifying events of the Emergency during which so many were tortured and killed by the British (and their local collaborators) and whose psyche remains deeply affected by what they witnessed. Kamoji Wachiira describes some of these experiences vividly in his Introduction to the new edition. He highlights the extent of betrayal by successive post-independence governments, and the development of the post-independence revival of resistance which he was a central part of. He also emphasizes the importance for a new generation of Kenyans “to gain not only a deep understanding of Kenya’s revolutionary history but also to reflect on what lessons may be drawn for the struggle to achieve real freedom.”
The original publication had no biographical information about Don Barnett. Few are aware of the extent of Don’s political engagement with the cause of liberation, of which Mau Mau From Within was only one aspect. He was a founder of the Liberation Support Movement in Canada, and had close contact with the MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola). Don sadly joined the ancestors in 1975. We are fortunate, however, that Don and Daphne’s son and daughter, Michael Barnett and Dawn Barnett, were able to provide, together with Ole Gjerstad, a revealing biography.
We have endeavoured to retain the content of the original book (but for a few minor corrections) including the original Selected Bibliography. An updated Further Reading list is provided.
There has been a rise in the use of strategic litigation related to seeking equality for lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) persons. Such developments are taking place against the backdrop of active homophobia in Africa. The law and the general public should, argues the author, treat LGB persons in the same way that heterosexuals are treated. In the past two decades,30 strategic cases have been ﬁ led by LGB activists in the Common Law African countries, namely in Botswana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda. While the majority of the cases have been successful, they have not resulted in signiﬁcant social change in any of the countries. On the contrary, there have been active backlashes, counter-mobilisations, and violence against LGB persons, as well as the further criminalisation of same-sex relations and constitutional prohibitions on same-sex marriages in some of the jurisdictions. The author argues that activists in Common Law Africa have to design LGB strategic litigation in such a way as to ﬁ t within the actual social and political conditions in their countries if strategic litigation is to spur social change.
Adrian Jjuuko is an exceptional scholar. A rare combination of intellectual brilliance, commitment and hard work. The book is born of this. It reflects his incisive analytical skills, anchored in solid knowledge of the law and jurisprudential developments in the field. His ventures into political theory, philosophy, and the social sciences give the analysis additional clarity and empirical grounding.
—Siri Gloppen, Norwegian political scientist, professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Bergen and Director of the CMI-UiB Center on Law and Social Transformation.
Adrian Jjuuko’s meticulously researched examination of the use of strategic litigation not only celebrates the many victories which have been realized in a range of African courts of law, it also reviews and critiques the losses. He demonstrates that the law can be both an effective tool for liberation, just as it can consolidate minority oppression, gender injustice and sexual tyranny. This book is a deeply engaging and highly recommended text for those interested in shaping the evolving rights and struggles of sexual minorities on the continent for decades to come.
— J. Oloka-Onyango, Professor of Law Makerere University School of Law
Pius Adesanmi died in the doomed Ethiopian Airline flight 302 on March 10, 2019. Wreaths for a Wayfarer: An Anthology in Honour of Pius Adesanmi is an assemblage of 267 original poems written by 127 established and emerging African writers. While some of the poets celebrate Adesanmi, others reflect philosophically on existence, mortality, immortality and/or offer hope for the living. In this memorably textured collection, the poets – some who knew, and some who did not know Adesanmi – exorcise the pains of loss through provocative poems that pour out their beating hearts with passion.
Chris Dunton, editor of Wasafiri, writes:
“… Adesanmi’s passing has been commemorated in a superb anthology of commissioned poems, Wreaths for a Wayfarer. This beautifully produced volume contains the work of 126 contributors, mainly from Nigeria, but also from other countries, ranging from Mexico, through the UK, to Sri Lanka; as Odia Ofeimun puts it in his foreword: ‘Pius Adesanmi was ‘my personal person’, as he was to so many people around the globe’ (xxv). It also includes a selection of poems from Adesanmi’s own collection The Wayfarer.
“Nduka Otiono’s Introduction to the anthology is a model of its kind, eloquent, heartfelt and informative, with a great deal of valuable background material in footnotes. An especially pleasing touch, so much in the spirit of Adesanmi the dedicated mentor, is the editors’ decision to take on ‘budding poets . . . [a decision which] necessitated editing and working with such authors to help develop writings that might otherwise have been rejected’ (7). A little later, Nduka comments: ‘we conceptualized an anthology that will be enduring in its thematic range and stylistic variety. And we got one’ (8). …”
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements |Foreword—Odia Ofeimun | Introduction: Death and an African Digital Towncrier—Nduka Otiono | Introit: Coffin in the sky—Niyi Osundare
Part I. WAYFARER
Scabha or The Sliding Door Operator—Sihle Ntuli | When an Iroko Falls—Iquo Diana Abasi | How to Survive War in Nigeria—Iquo Diana Abasi | I Wet the Earth, I Sing You Wreaths… —Fareed Agyakwah | Harvest IV—Funmi Aluko | Wayfarer—Funmi Aluko | The Wayfarer—Saudat Salawudeen | End of Forever—Saudat Salawudeen | Muse of Homecoming—Justus K. S. Makokha | Encore— Agatha Agema | Now that I know young birds die in flight—Segun Michael Olabode | The Water-Pot is Broke—Susan Bukky Badeji | from absence, memory and farther—Obemata | Umbilicals—Tijah Bolton-Akpan | The Pilgrim Unbound—Clara Ijeoma Osuji | Eclipsed at Noon—Abdulaziz Abdulaziz | To the Daughters— Abdulaziz Abdulaziz | The Traveler—Abiodun Bello | For the Wayfarer—Chifwanti Zulu | The Acts of Brother—’Bunmi Ogungbe | Backing His Daughter: For Pius, on Facebook—Jane Bryce | Avoiding Sunlight—Unoma Azuah | Akáṣọléri ́ (Mourners) —Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún | Last Tweets—Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún | Farewell, Wayfarer—Oyinkansade Fabikun | Solitaire—Kafilat Oloyede | How to Keep the Wake for a Shooting Star—Chuma Nwokolo | Eagle—Uzo Odonwodo | In Memoriam—Uzo Odonwodo | Can You Do This Thing?—Sarah Katz-Lavigne | Lights—John Chizoba Vincent | The Meteorite—Omowumi Olabode Steven Ekundayo | Black Box—Ian Keteku | Paramour of the Pen—Abraham Tor | Flying Coffin—James Onyebụchi Nnaji | Looking for the Dead—James Onyebụchi Nnaji | The Eagle Perched—Moses Ogunleye | A Pius Flight—Kennedy Emetulu | Kwanza for Pius—Ifesinachi Nwadike | Dream-mare—Nidhal Chami | A Walk in the Graveyard—Chimeziri C. Ogbedeto | Payo—Biko Agozino | Iku—Peter Olamakinde Olapegba | He left—Amatoritsero Ede | Spousal Loss—Peter Olamakinde Olapegba | The Face of My Savior is the Ordinary Moment—Gloria Nwizu | Denouement—Gloria Nwizu | A Conversation between Two Young Cousins—Ethel Ngozi Okeke | Sunday Flight—Emman Usman Shehu | Departure—Ivor Agyeman-Duah | The Count—Uthpala Dishani Senaratne | Rude Shock—Olajide Salawu | Saturday 12:56—Ludwidzi M. K. Mainza | Daughter—Ludwidzi M. K. Mainza | Tough Love—Nnorom Azuonye | In the Midst of it All, I am…—Anushya Ramakrishna | Haiku – Ai-Ku (Immortality) —Adesanya Adewale Adeshina | He Rose—Adesanya Adewale Adeshina | A Singing Bird—Adesanya Adewale Adeshina | Arrivant—Akua Lezli Hope | EarthWork Sestina—Akua Lezli Hope | Animalia, Chordata, Mammalia, Proboscidea—Akua Lezli Hope | Poem of Relief: When Your Sadness is Alive—Kennedy Hussein Aliu | If I Seek—Kennedy Hussein Aliu | When You Ask me About my Teacher—Kennedy Hussein Aliu and Leyda Jocelyn Estrada Arellano | The Eagle is not the Quills and Talons—Olumide Olaniyan | without a farewell—Nduka Otiono | After the Funeral—Nduka Otiono | Fugitives from the Violence of Truth—Efe Paul-Azino | Just but a Journey—Sam Dennis Otieno
Part II. REQUIEMS
Elegy for Pius—Helon Habila | This Exodus Has Birthed a Song—Echezonachukwu Nduka | where to find you: a requiem—Echezonachukwu Nduka | Blown—Richard Inya | words melt in his mouth—Peter Midgley | Requiem for the Fallen / Mogaka o ole—Lebogang Disele | To Our Hero: Rest in Peace—Lebogang Disele | What Shall We Do to Death?—Winlade Israel | A Star Just Fell—Winlade Israel | Requiem—Peter Akinlabi | Requiem for Pius—Rasaq Malik Gbolahan | Wayfarer—Rasaq Malik Gbolahan | Twirling the Beads of Grief… —Tade Aina | Say me Rebellion—Kingsley L. Madueke | When this Calabash Breaks—Kingsley L. Madueke | Requiem for the Wayfarer—Adesina Ajala | Song of Sorrow—Soji Cole | Planting Season—Anote Ajeluorou | For Our Departed Bard—Maria Ajima | Memory of Tear—Joshua Agbo | Why? —Margaret Wairimu Waweru | Letter to Dad—Margaret Wairimu Waweru | Missing Voices—Ugochukwu P. Nwafor | Tears on Canvas—Wesley Macheso | Nausea—Wesley Macheso | This Easter—Wesley Macheso | When I Am Gone—Maryam Ali Ali | Nothing Has Changed—Maryam Ali Ali | Protest—Ejiofor Ugwu | Our Voice is Gone—Janet James Ibukun | Agadaga Iroko / Giant Iroko—Sunny Iyke U. Okeigwe | This Poetry—James Tar Tsaaior | The Passing of Pius—Uzor Maxim Uzoatu | Light Dims to Shine Forever—Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo | You Bled Africa! —Mitterand Okorie | To the Muse of Isanlu: A Salute—’BioDun J. Ogundayo | you remain with us—Nkateko Masinga | A Bit of Narcissism—Okwudili Nebeolisa | Bereavement—Okwudili Nebeolisa | Dirge for the Departed—Koye-Ladele Mofehintoluwa | If Only—Femi Abidogun | Falling Birds—Yusuff Abdulbasit | Immortality—Yusuff Abdulbasit | Harvest of Deaths—Yemi Atanda | The Horse and the Tortoise—Yemi Atanda | The Chorus Is Death—Ubaka Ogbogu | Breaking Bread—Obiwu | Still They Hunt for Emmett Till—Obiwu | on wisdom’s wings—Jumoke Verissimo
Part III. HOMECOMING
The Indent (For Pius) —Uche Nduka | when the sun sets—Adejumo Uthman Ajibola | Aridunun Akowe—Dahunsi Ayobami | Pius: Myth, Mystic, Mystery—Tenibegi Karounwi | Returning the Light as Wreath—Ndubuisi Martins (Aniemeka) | Naija is a Badly-Behaved Poem—Ndubuisi Martins (Aniemeka) | Confessions of a Gypsy—Richard Kayode O. James | When the Pious Die—Uchenna-Franklin Ekweremadu | Song of the Pilgrim—Obinna Chukwudi Ibezim | Pius, the Seed—Celina O. Aju-Ameh | Cloud Coffin—Tola Ijalusi | Letter to My Father—Ololade Akinlabi Ige | I Journey Quietly Home—Martin Ijir | Hopeful People—Ndaba Siban | Explaining My Depression to You—Yusuf Taslemat Taiwo | The Broken Quill—Nathanael Tanko Noah | we do not know how to carry this pain—Edaki Timothy. O | Stars, Out—S. Su’eddie Vershima Agema | Converging Skies and Shadows—S. Su’eddie Vershima Agema | Will You? —Biodun Bamgboye | Farewell—Maryam Gatawa | Transit to Kenya—Anthony Enyone Ohiemi | Abiku Agba—Usman Oladipo Akanbi | Evening Bird—Bayowa Ayomide Micheal | Withered Green—Augustine Ogechukwu Nwulia | Home Call…047—Onuchi Mark Onoruoiza | Outshining the Stars—Onuchi Mark Onoruoiza | The Eagle Has Fallen—Manasseh Gowk | Farewell—Manasseh Gowk | Death—Khalid Imam | The Flood—Khalid Imam | Blue Skies—Yejide Kilanko | This Very Goodbye—Nseabasi S. J. King | The Deserted Road or Elegy for Pius Adesanmi—Daniel Olaoluwa Whyte | What My Father Said on His Death Bed—Gbenga Adesina | Wayfarer—James Yeku | One Meets Two—James Yeku | First Goodbye—D.M. Aderibigbe | Monster—Afam Akeh | where you are now—Raphael d’Abdon | When the Curtains Fall—Uchechukwu Umezurike
PART IV. A SELECTION FROM PIUS ADESANMI’S THE WAYFARER AND OTHER POEMS
The Wayfarer—Pius Adesanmi | Ah, Prometheus! —Pius Adesanmi | Odia Ofeimun: The Brooms Take Flight—Pius Adesanmi | To the Unfathomable One—Pius Adesanmi | Message from Aso Rock to a Poet in Exile—Pius Adesanmi | Entries—Pius Adesanmi
Part V. POSTLUDE
A Prose-Poem, a Tribute, and a Wreath for Pius—Adesanmi Anu’a-Gheyle Solomon Azoh-Mbi | When and If…—Pamela J. Olúbùnmi Smith
About the editors
Soundtrack to a Wayfarer s Transition by Eyitayo Aloh https://doi-org.proxy.library.carleton.ca/10.1080/00083968.2020.1829830
“Wreaths for a Wayfarer is an eclectic collection of 161 poems by 126 poets and writers, woven like a tapestry of words into a wreath for one of their own. The mix of writers cuts across generations, social strata and stylistic practices of the genre. Rather than being a drawback, this is actually a strength of the anthology, that one man can bring together such an array of writers in one tome. It is an attestation to the influence of Adesanmi, the wayfarer, on his earthly journey – a man who served as a bridge that connected people from different backgrounds and brought them together for a common cause, be that the academic field of African studies and his desire to see it gain greater traction in academia, or global literature at large and his love of deconstructing the western canonisation of literature. Above all these, however, Adesanmi quintessentially remained a human with love for fellow humans. lt is a testament to Adesanmi’s influence and reach across generations that renowned African poets such as Niyi Osundare, Helon Habila, Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, Maxim Uzor Uzoatu, Emman Usman Shehu, Jumoke Verissimo and Funmi Aluko, all representing various ethnic and generational divides, share the pages of the collection with up and coming poets in a poetic salute to a wayfarer who also happens to belong to their artistic tribe.
As a collection, Wreath for a Wayfarer fills a gap in the coming to terms with the tragic passage of Pius Adesanmi by his artistic peers. In a culture that has become so material, that the concept of a wreath carries with it the presence of a cadaver and a tomb – neither of which was present at the time Pius died, due to the nature of his death – to have a “wreath” of words helps give Adesanmi’s contemporaries closure and deal with the trauma that accompanied his passing. One of the co-editors, Nduka Otiono, alludes to this in his introduction, pointing out that the poems represent “the collective wreaths laid by a dispersed community of writers unsettled by the untimely loss of Adesanmi.”