UGO AMADI, BUSINESS EDITOR
Worried about the current state of the nation and the need for better national transformation, a consummate poet, banker and lawyer, Ken Amaechi Jnr has urged Nigerians for attitudinal change.
He made this call while speaking with newsmen at the official launching of his two books ;Echoes of Conscience and The Quest at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS), Faculty of Law, University of Lagos
According to him the citizens must position themselves and support the policy direction of government, stop hate speeches and ensure they hold government accountable in order to ensure it delivers the dividends of democracy.
The author narrated a near – incredible transformational story of how he started out as a science student saying :’’ I just discovered that I was more at home with the arts…In those days I could go without food when I was engrossed in an interesting book ;at times I could stay indoors and read into the next day just to finish a book ‘’.On what motivated him to write he said: “My motivations come from the needs to correct situations, customs, and activities that are at odds with norms and inappropriate , hence many see my collections especially Echoes of Conscience as a social lamentation.’’
However, the atmosphere was full of excitement as Guests from the academia, banking industry, media and marketing came from far and near to witness the presentation of two poetry books.Earlier in his presentation , the chairman of the occasion Prof Oludayo Amokaye said that the purpose of the gathering was ‘’to commemorate and celebrate the art that promotes the liberation of the human spirit, inspire profound agitations and question on why our political and social space is riddled with perfidy, corruption and leadership insensitivity.
This, according to him, cuts across politics religion and commerce as illustrated in Echoes of Conscience
Prof Amokaye, however, said it was not just about our failings as a nation, “our numerous agitations as a people or the dark side of economic and social cum political life”, but that it is gladdening to hear that poetry could be recreated and reinvented to project advocacy for good governance and good character , an exclusive preserve for lawyers and politicians. He praised the author’s drive and spirit in this regard.He reminded the guests that poetry, short stories and novels provide a voice , deeper understanding, context and allow us to live the experience through fictional characters and the author’s imagination and projections, adding that ‘’great civilisation is grounded on great literature. The culture of recreating events through recollection of past events, to teach lessons to younger generations and build a national memory’’.
Amokaye suggested that as a people, we should find and build our voice because many of the imbalances or inequalities in our society are because ‘’we are a people who are yet to define its purpose and acceptable norms in concrete and truthful terms’’. Again, he saw the launch as how literary arts can bridge the gaps between generations with a view to fostering respect and continuity between the older writers and new ones.He called for the support for writers as writing is not a lucrative business, just as he advised writers to come together as a pressure group and make demands on the government.
The book presentation also witnessed a musical interlude and rendition of poems such as ‘’Home for All’’ by Paul Njoku and’’ Tell them ‘’ by Aderounmu Bolutife. Book reviewer, Agboola Goodnews, represented by Mr Isaac Abraham described politics as the determinant of success or failure of any society and its people. By the same token, the quality of leadership in any society determines to what extent the people would enjoy the fruits of democracy. But regreta bly, however, Africa has not been too lucky to have good leaders, that is those who have the full grasp of what leadership is. He said: ’’In most countries, especially African countries, the concept of leadership has been bastardised consistently and completely abused by men of no conscience.
The so-called leaders take the advantage of power to fulfill their corrupt interest and thereby make life difficult for the governed… ‘’Consequently ,there is a general lack in the society –lack of security, lack of social amenities and educational facilities ,lack of health facilities and concluded by asking ‘’What else does one expect in a system where looters are leaders ?He said Nigeria is a perfect example of these scenarios.
According to the reviewer, as poetry provides therapy through the power of words and allowing the masses to tell their story of pains and suffering, Ken Amaechi Jnr ‘s Echoes of Conscience has come to establish that poetry is an unrelenting voice to silence the howling situations of discomforts from political forces in Nigeria
The reviewer picked some portions of the books and opened them up for better understanding of the public. He began with ‘’Reign of Vampires’’ (Pg12).’’They are virulent vampires. Facade of decent being. To devour and destroy’’ Here, the poet addresses the political oppression of those in power as in the days of late Gen Sanni Abacha.
Again, the poem,’’ Our Leaders (Pg30) portrays the constant abuse power by ‘’Masquerades (Pg 14) and Assembly of thieves (Pg 35); hypocrites in the irony of a ‘’Messiah ‘’(Pg18).The consequences can be felt by ‘’Burning Nation ‘’(Pg21) exposing the self centeredness of the leaders giving rise to societal conflicts. Here the era of hunger and poverty is highlighted as a stimulus for militancy and ethno religious rivalry. In poems such as ‘’Born Trowey” ‘’(Pg71)’’, If they know’’, the poet looks at poverty as being dominant in African politics. The Almajiris system in the northern Nigeria is a metaphor for a failed society where the masses wallow in abject poverty and because of this; they become portent for societal conflicts and crimes.Concluding he said ‘’Kenn Amaechi Jnr’s ‘’Echoes of Conscience ‘’ is a voice of revival to humanity echoing a redefinition for political stability and social transformation ‘’
n the other hand, ’The Quest’ is a collection poems picked from the points of spirituality, life social realities and trappings into the human consciousnss. The poems are largely drawn from the poet’s experiences seeking answer to life issues. The poems ‘ Life 1-11 (Pg16) and ‘The Quest’(Pg17) where the title of the collection is drawn from put it to the readers that life in itself is an end – death .The emphasis on death here is a subtle caution for man to stir in the right direction in his quest for answers.In short, The Quest is a journey to experiences and lessons –his feelings, despairs and hopes.After the review, poetry guru Olumide Holowe discussed how value can be added to poetry, the media training and technology involved. He spoke about how poetry can educate, entertain, empower, employ and express the mind of people.
He said poetry has a unique ability to advocate for a better condition in the society. ’’In this case , one can pursue one’s passion and develop poetry into a profitable venture’’ he said .The president o f Poets in Nigeria, Mr Erietta , praised Mr Amaechi Jnr for using poetry for advocacy. He admonished him: ’’Your oil of poetry shall never cease’ Fellow bankers poured encomiums on the author with some expressing wonder at how he could get time amidst busy banking schedule to write poems .
Expressing his bewilderment and joy ,.Mr Jude Monye , a Regional Head of Fidelity Bank said: ’’I am thrilled by what I see today’’. Other branch managers such as Jide Fashola and Abiola Tanimola expressed their delight and later donated handsomely to the project. Amaechi Jnr was grateful for their magnanimity and honoured them with a poem for Fidelity Bank. They were later offered gifts.Members of the University of Lagos literary clubs such as The Parliament of Poets, The Weavers Club and The House of Letters were not left out. They performed at different stages rendering soul-lifting poems to make it an event to remember.
For a better society