He who heard the boom of the gunshot wasn’t hit, for a man who a bullet went through him never heard the boom. Africa is naturally a war zone, being black means you’re a soldier by birth, everyday we fight wars in an act we call living, but if you truly know what living means you’d know we all are soldiers surviving the heat of the momentary wars we fight to live to fight another one.
Everyday is a new story, this is the story of a young lad finding his feet in a desolated island left in ruins by wars even before he was born. This is the story of a true African boy who was born in the ghetto, growing up was hell with enough stories to tell.
By the boys, he was;
beaten to bits,
feasted on with fists,
blue-black with blows.
By the girls, he was;
fondled with food,
seduced with strings,
lost with love.
By the mothers, he was;
endangered with enchantments,
captivated with cobwebs,
incarcerated with incantations.
By the fathers, he was;
corrupted with concubines,
smoked with smokes,
polluted with palmwine.
– Alive, Elijah Olasunkanmi Odetokun
His survival has birthed this collection of poems. When the snail travels, it goes with its home, so is he travelling with his poetry, the first poem of the book talks about what poetry is and what it’s not to him. Poetry itself is solace. He took the mantle of Apostle Paul and wrote a letter to the church in a humourous and punned pidgin poem, he went straight for the knife and slit the throat of the church of how the church doesn’t do what they say.
Yaba Market and Lagos are poems about where he resides and things that form part of his growing up, the struggles of living small in a big city just for the name of it. Poets, black man and that thing called love are like friends playing hide and seek, one knows not where the other is but is always desperate to find him. For him, love found him in the arms of a black woman.
Confusion and ignorance themed and were predominantly expressed in the poems Our History, Sometimes and We Thought it was Oil…, if you’ve never been wrong, you’ll never appreciate being right but what happens to a man who has always been wrong? Would he wish to be right once when he doesn’t even know what to be right is?
The African child is a victim in all of our wars called living, for if they survive the night, they’d become stars at noon but they have been offered to mother earth who knows not how to reject the taste of puerile blood.
After all is said and done, the architect of this blunt book deserves a feather on his cap for not becoming lost in the waywardness of his generation that has neglected and ridiculed morality and humanity. I will always respect him for that.
Elijah Olasunkanmi Odetokun
Poet, Writer, Farmer.
Author, After Dark, Ticker Trip, This Is It, Red and Green Ribbons & This Is Me.
Co-author, I Hate Love Stories & The Parting Roses