July 6, 2018

Listen to the Tarmac

In If Only The Road Could Talk, Nigeria’s top candidate for the Nobel shows he has listened to the tarmac on his trips everywhere, from Alexandria to Prague.

The title of Niyi Osundare’s latest collection of poems references the many literary takes on the idea of The Journey, from Soyinka’s play The Road through Okri’s novel The Famished Road.

The challenge for most African poets has been blending the oral with the scribal. In Osundare there is a natural symmetry that is completely shorn of affectation. His social vision shines forth through every line, stanza or canto Osundare set forth at dawn from his native Ikere-Ekiti to “Eko”, the indigenous Yoruba name for Lagos, where “The sea dances around your feet,/nestles in the plural nationality/between your fractious sands/your text a boatload of blue tropes…” Osundare memorializes Kwame Nkrumah in the poem “Accra” and moves on to “Johannesburg” where “Gold dances beneath your feet…” In “Cairo” of Osundare’s rendition “The city swirls/like the skirt/of a dancing dervish…”

-By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu

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