Painting the gloomy memories of COVID-19 through poetry
A Nigerian spoken word and performing poetry artist, Agu Prince Osinayah, held the spotlight at the Musings of a Mad Man poetry show which featured in Abuja recently.
Creatively exploring themes bothering on the survival of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Happy Prince, as he is fondly called by fans, had his audience all swelled up with his electrifying performance and well-crafted poetic punchlines.
With many exceptional performances to his credit such as Let Nigeria Win performed in 2017, Happy Prince is notable for poems that have activism and advocacy aesthetics. He is also the founder of the Aba Poetry Club.
The event was held at the Community Hall, Cyprian Ekwensi Centre for Arts and Culture was a collaboration between Musings of a Mad Man Art Theatre and the Department of Arts and Culture, as part of its contribution to Arts development in Abuja.
The theatre hall was filled with poetry lovers of all ages who trooped in to be bedazzled. The seamless blend of dance, music, light, and costume amplified the thematic concerns expressed by the poet.
The show was a collaborative art masterpiece with entrancing performances by other Abuja-based poets and musical artists that iced the cake. The artists at the event include, Sixfootplus, Abdulkas, Bemsar, G. B. Chris, Star Zahra, Yaxman, Yemi, Fct Cultural Troupe and other exceptional talents.
President, Society of Nigerian Artists, Muhammad Suleiman, commending the show said: “I will say on a very heavy level that it is like being reintroduced to yourself, like day after day, night after night, the many things you go through and somebody packages that and says to the world, ‘look, you as a Nigerian striving every other day and looking inwards, outwards every time and people telling you to think outside the box and you now know that you have been out of the box ever since. You now take advantage of the things outside of the box, which say to everyone that came to this event today that they need to rethink what makes Nigeria deep. This evening was spellbinding.”
Speaking to The Guardian on what inspired the show, Happy Prince said: “The COVID-19 pandemic was a very terrible period for me. I realized that after COVID, people just moved on, everyone acted like nothing happened. I thought that as a society, we should remember the good, we should remember the bad. What matters is how we remembered them. Are there lessons from COVID? I keep asking myself that question. Has the funding for healthcare improved and are people now more aware of their health status? I thought I should tell it in poetry. I invited my friends to come join me in music and more poetry.”
He further commended the Department of Arts and Culture, Federal Capital Territory Administration and expressed his gratitude to some individuals who supported the show and called on the government to do more in supporting Poets in Nigeria.
He said: “I thank the Department of Arts and Culture who supported us. I also use this medium to urge them to do more. We need to return the arts to Abuja. We need to have the artistic places functional. We don’t have a well-structured art village; we use to have but it is gone. The infrastructure in government-owned theatres like the one we used was inadequate. We couldn’t use part of the stage because it is broken. The government should increase funding, build the capacity of artists generally and do strategic positioning like having poets perform in national events.”
Alfred Atungu alias Six Foot Plus, performed excitedly lauded the poet and the idea behind the poetry show. In his words: “It is a great idea and creative one, from the man Happy Prince. He has come a long way in the literary scene. Since he came to Abuja, he has been growing in leaps and bounds. He weaved the performance so intricately that all the poems flowed beautifully with the songs played. I part of this as an encouragement to him. We’re looking forward to hitting the global stage real soon.”