Odia Ofeimun. I am writing these little words today on him to honour him on his 70th birthday which comes up next Monday, 16th March in Lagos. Some members of our country’s literati are celebrating him in Unilag’s Julius Berger Hall. Two grand days – 16 and 17 of March – have been pencilled down as his days of literary colour for writers and scholars to do pertinent seminars on him – I mean our Odia Ofeimun and his works. I am expected at all the events that would end with a birthday dinner in the warm evening of Tuesday, March 17. But will I be there? Maybe I am jumping the gun. Maybe I am beating the gun.
Who is Odia Ofeimun? It may be necessary to answer this question for those persons who may be reading about him for the first time now in this column. My answer is going to be a brief one, a very brief one. Thereafter I will offer one or two opinions about our great personage. But before then, let me state this straight way: I am not particularly happy doing what I am doing now not because Odia is not my man or not because I am not this generous writer’s man. I am simply feeling bored this day – in fact, since I heard of the death of Harry Garuba, one of our fertile-minded writers and scholars (whose elder brother, Olu Garuba, ex-secretary to government of Edo State, from 1993 to 1997, under three different military governors, is also dead and presently in the morgue in Benin City), and since the dethronement and banishment of Emir Sanusi II of Kano our airwaves. Why don’t we love people of truth in this country, your country? Odia Ofeimun is like now Mallam Sanusi, a gadfly that is a real gadfly denouncing our actual situation without caring to run the risk of ruin.
Odia Ofeimun is a writer, a poet, a public intellectual, a columnist who we cannot ever deny his clear-sightedness, that has fetched and won him several admirers and that will continue to win him further admirers. Never ever will Odia Ofeimun be found in the midst or company of cripples who always engage in conspiracies of cripples. He is a remarkable poet, a worthy author who is more than a worthy author who puts in his works the projections and obsessions of our bunglers and misrulers and their unpardonable crimes, that we must punish – like the God of the Christians, I aver – with damnation.
The little, the very little remarks that I have just uttered above give an acceptable hint and biography about our humanist and committed and activist- poet Odia Ofeimun who for at least more than three decades has been writing for us committed literature that is more than committed literature, which we must believe at the appointed time will help consign the rulers of our country to oblivion. Our sweetly beautiful activist-poet is, from which ever angle we look at him – as a dance dramatist or essayist or journalist and columnist – is a committed intellectual, a committed public intellectual who does not suffer from any ounce of superiority complex. He is, as many people who know him well, who know him so well can or will attest to, a really nice man to human beings as well as to literature which he treats so sweetly to the extent that he really has little or no time for the opposite sex who may demand from him in a manner that may annoy him the very nice time creative literature may want to wrench from him at his cherished moment.
At seventy years of age, Odia Ofiemun, as far as we know, has no bouncing boy or girl we can call his child. He, as far as we know, has no fair lady or damsel we can call his wife or girl or nymph. But we are wrong. His bouncing boys and girls and fair lady and damsel and wife and nymph are his poetry and writings in general.
They will not exit him from history when his physical end visits him; his name will not crumble into dust; his very birth will not be excised from the memory of creation. His poetry at least has guaranteed for him his grain of foreverness. It, long ago, has enabled us to refer to him as one of the permanent heroes and role models of our age and generation. But before his next birthday Odia, our Odia, should and must father a flesh of memories, his own very flesh of memories. This is my sincere wish for him.
Whether he is a dandy, or not a dandy, our friend and celebrant must let one woman defile him beautifully before his next birthday and present to us one bouncing flesh, a sign of the beautiful defilement and comprehensible liaison that will elicit from him poetry that we will forever adore as poetry of sweet love. And we all from our The Guardian office at Isolo to Akoka of University of Lagos will run about the city of Lagos with garlands for Odia Ofiemun, the poetry that his flesh and the flesh that is his new poetry and the nymph of no less than twenty-one or so that he sweetly defiles or that sweetly defiles him to give us the glossy gem of his implacable love-heart.
Move us to sweet tears brother-poet – before your next birthday. Expel from your brilliant Muse its needless jealousy that wrenches from your purple heart of love the kind of love and nymph that address and respond well to our desires for you. On this score the odds must be with us and in our favour.
Meanwhile, happy seventieth birthday Odia! May Julius Berger Hall of the University of Lagos be packed full with appropriate guests from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. next Monday and Tuesday 16 and 17 of March in accordance with the very fair spirit of March. Happy seventieth birthday, our brother who is our brother and who must remain our good and happy brother forever and forever in every original sense of friendship!
His bouncing boys and girls and fair lady and damsel and wife and nymph are his poetry and writings in general. They will not exit him from history when his physical end visits him… But before his next birthday Odia, our Odia, should and must father a flesh of memories, his own very flesh of memories. This is my sincere wish for him. Whether he is a dandy, or not a dandy, our friend and celebrant must let one woman defile him beautifully before his next birthday and present to us one bouncing flesh, a sign of the beautiful defilement and comprehensible liaison that will elicit from him poetry that we will forever adore as poetry of sweet love.