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PIN interrogates ‘The Poet Of Idoto’ at LABAF


Prof. JP Clark (left); PIN president, Mr. Eriata Oribhabor’ PIN members and festival coordinator, Mr. Samuel Osaze (drinking palm wine from calabash) at ‘The Poet of Idoto’ session at Lagos Book and Arts Festival (LABAF) 2017 that ends today at Freedom Park… in Lagos

Lagos has been the centre of a cultural picnic, as it hosted a successful weeklong book and art activities at the 19th Lagos Book and Arts Festival (LABAF) 2017, which comes to an end today, Sunday, November 12, with exciting programming for book and art lovers. For those who have missed out on the festival so far, there is still a chance to catch up with some great artistic moments, starting from 11am today with a documentary film show on celebrated Yoruba writer of Forest of a Thousand Daemon. The documentary is titled D.O. Fagunwa: Language and Literati.

At 2pm, University of Lagos will curate a conversation on ‘The Lagos Story,’ with coordination from the department’s head, Prof. Hope Eghagha and anchored by Dr. Kareen Aribisala. A symposium on ‘Key to the Knowledge Economy,’ with focus on the historical works of former Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice of Lagos State, Mr. Supo Shasore (author of Possessed and Platter of Gold), will hold from 3pm. CORA’s regular Art Stampede, held in collaboration with Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), on ‘Literary Criticism’ starts at 4pm, while ‘Grand Poetry Slam,’ produced by the duo of Efe Paul Azino and Samuel Osaze, thrills from 8pm. The festival will come to a grand close with the performance of Elechi Amadi’s play, Pepper Soup.


Meanwhile, during the week’s proceedings at the festival, Poets in Nigeria (PIN) collaborated with CORA to pay tribute to one of Africa’s most modernist poets, Christopher Okigbo, who died in 1967, fighting against injustice during the Nigerian Civil War. The session’s theme was ‘Interrogating the Poet of Idoto,’ and had as special guest, Okigbo’s friend and fellow modern African poet, Prof. JP Clark.

While remembering his friend, Clark, who is still in dilemma as to what prompted a creative mind like Okigbo to abandon his pen for the warfront, said, “This year marks the 50th anniversary of the violent death of the eminent poet, Christopher, while in service on the side of secessionist Biafra in the Nigerian-Biafra war.” He recalled that a commemorative event was recently held in the memory of Okigbo at Ibadan by the Christopher Okigbo Foundation, adding: “This session proposes to continue remembering the great work of Okigbo by reintroducing him to young poets, his creative siblings, members of Poets in Nigeria.”

PIN members, whose vision is to be Nigeria’s foremost literary hub driven by poetry, did not disappoint the audience, as they all responded adequately to some of the themes treated by Okigbo in his seminal collections, with their own poetic offerings.

Clark, who was one of the foremost soldiers of African poetry, who took the bullets for a body like PIN to emerge and be appreciated today, said: “If you said you were a poet in those days, people asked you what that was; but today it is different. Okigbo cared about form. I don’t know who is reading what, but he used to say, ‘I don’t read my poems to non-poets.’”


A member of PIN said they found reading Okigbo’s poems in school difficult to understand, but consoled themselves by saying, “This is deep.” A 400-level student of Mass Communication of University of Benin City, Prince Charles, opened the floor with ‘Elegy for slit-drum’ (Condolences).
Oguntoyinbo Shola Phebian read ‘Clamour for Thunder’ and ‘Tribute to the Testament’ and ‘Dark Waters of the Beginning’ by ArchAngel.

Other performances were; ‘Come Water’ by Larayetan Tope Abigail, ‘Luceit’ by Chidiebubu, ‘Messiah’ by Elemide Benjamin Odunayo, ‘Transition’ by Yusuf Alabai Balogun, ‘Lets Make Love,’ ‘Dirge of the Old Wagtail’ by Lawal Kafayat Gold, as well as ‘Love Apart’ by Kolade Olarewaju Freedom, ‘Sons of Idoto’ by Olaitan Maryam and ‘A Tale for Tails’ by Makinde Damilola Peter.

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