In kindonkind, Eni explores nature of life’s duality
Emmanuel Eni is a Nigerian painter, sculptor, multimedia and performance artist, poet and philosopher. In this interview with GREGORY AUSTIN NWAKUNOR, he talks about his latest work, Kindokind.
Duality of life is the focus of Kindonkind, an anthology of poetry written by Emmanuel Eni, aka Blackman in European Kitchen. It is his fourth book. Other works by Eni include, Masqueradeundressing (2006), Death of the curator (2009) and Fallandstand, both published in Germany in 2011.
Kindonkind is the most voluminous collection, which encompasses about 30 years of poetry writing. Containing 600 poems, amongst which are seven epic narratives with 350 short lines each and four extra-long fantastic narrative tales. Some of the poems are drawn from the author’s life experiences in the last 30 years.
“Most of the poems you read are inspired by an indescribable sojourn and the spiritual enlightenment and visitations with which my African spirit has used in surpassing all the experiences like struggle through acceptance, poverty, deceit, persecution, discrimination and my survival of dangers of death and miming. I experienced evil spiritual battles, affectionate as well as non-compromising love of women,” he says.
According to him, his early life in Nigeria was one of culture, love and storytelling. “After bagging degrees in Fine art as a sculptor and painter and in literature, I have travelled round the world performing poetry alone and with my entourage of musicians and my troubadours. Having for some time my own radio programme, being a poet and with my written poetry,” notes Eni, who has also been tagged ‘Senior Artvocate of Nigeria’.
The nature of duality, his says, is drawn in relation to a kind on another kind, which explains the choice of the title, Kindonkind.
“Often one does not know the other, even after physical appraisal. Time always is with every kind as one and as in pairs, also as with the third or more. Resolution is won in the end though the resolve of the past may lack. Uprightness and humor brings it through the past and leaves it there to pick it up later as new friendship and as new love.
“When the eye begins to see the past, experiences fall on new light, spelling situations anew. The old nature starts to change with time, showing it is self-renewed like giving in return, a long conversation as answer to an often-repeated question. This engaging interaction in duality of life is the essence of this compilation KindonKind. The nature of one and his or her consciousness through the experience of relationships in life. The compilation of poems under ‘I’ reveals the purest and true relation to oneself. ‘You’ as a kind of nature is closest to one, where ones reflection falls. It is also where one’s love and fault falls as one finds under this context. Kindonkind deals with one and his or her own nature and with ‘the other’ the third person, dimension or more. Likeness is near to distrust, when evaluating the social and cultural behavior of ‘the other’ in there, his, hers or its society. Poems between attraction and a peculiar curiousness will be encountered in poems relating to ‘the other’ or the next or the opposite. Poems in various dispositions will be met because of the societies’ varied ways.”
Kindonkind, he also notes, is to accompany you in ultimate joy as well as when you are sad. “When you are in victory of conquest and when you are going through spiritual and love wars. The collection is to accompany you in your journeys, and when you find yourself and dare to aspire and to dream. It is most especially to fortify you in a foreign land or place or in your own land. To solidify and back you up in your travels, where great odds could be against you, where your life could be relegated to a lower class of being as against what you originally are. This collection is to revive and inflame your hidden and open fire that will help you in defeating all negativity outside, around and also inside of you. Welcome to a world of success, life enjoyment, hours and days of bliss, conquests and victories.”
Poems under ‘The word reveal’ can be experienced and viewed as the philosophy of unanswered questions. There some develop from resolved or crystalized speculations, based on general innocence to the fact, truth or anxiety in anticipation to the future. Often poems under this heading ‘The word reveal’ have remarkable audacity and they come across through their famed origins. Some come through with clear authority that draws its strength from human inspiration, also from collective human resonance.
“Secularly, things are in pairs as they are in their environment. This double nature – that of action and relation are physically experienced. The unique part of life inside is part of life outside in its entity. The journey through form and resolve goes back to nothingness, where growth thrives in sustaining the origin through connection to the other side. The interplay is witnessed in phenomenal opposites like day and night, cool and hot, white and black, as well as life and death. They retain continuous existence. This compilation is about deeper values in life and in duality. It is about the introverted and extroverted nature of one’s self, one to the next, one to the other as well as one to the infinite.”
How one relates to love, questions, doubt, truth and anxiety is written out through innate understanding, without speculation or assumption only through experiences of life. “One must draw from his or her own frame of reference which remains the whole instance, the nucleus.
“ In Kindonkind anthology, I have written and compiled 600 poems, which also include seven long pageants narratives of historical incidences of great African Kings and legends like Chaka – king of Zulu, Sundiata and Sumanguru, Ovoranwen No Bgai Isi, Hang – Kinjeketille, and some extra-long fantastic mythical and allegorical poem narratives like Origin of the bell, The girl and the water spirit, Do you love machine, Short story of Electric light, The man who caught death and many more.
On the idea behind Sundiata and Sumanguru, he says: “I wrote this to celebrate the two prominent Emperors of ancient Mali which consists of Mali, Guineas, Senegal, Mauritania, Gambia, Ivory coast and other west African countries. It is a story of rivalry, war, and conquest, of Light and darkness and of magic and sorcery – Sundiata the shining Star and Sumaororo (Sumanguru) the sorcerer King.
Chaka – King of the Zulu (Lord of Atetewa), Eni also explains, is one of the profound narratives he wrote about the rape and destruction of Africa by Europeans in their drunken greed and wickedness to steal and colonize Africa.
“In this case the story of Chaka the revered and greatly feared and admired king of the Zulu, in the South of Africa. This is a story of war, magic, bravery and victory in the legend of Emperor Chaka’s might. It is a story of invention and that of discovery as Emperor Chaka discovered and modified the weapons and campaign of modern warfare. This story is a revelation that the upright keeps the furthest position as theme and subject in history as opposed to the aggressor or unlawful occupier of free sovereign lands and kingdoms).”
No doubt, as one reads, all poems appeal to the consciousness and the sense of learning and reconciliation, leaving one’s mind free and open to access the future.
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