From time immemorial, Man has always found ways to tell the story of life as it happened using rock paintings, folklore, genealogy, dance, staged plays and writing. Art imitates life and poets, writers, painters, griots, actors etc. have always found creative ways of expressing the dynamics of the world around them. They hold a mirror to the interactions and preserve for future generations, a unique insight into what life is like during their time.
As long as life carries on unabated the ‘Storyteller’ will reflect society in its raw form; the good, the bad and the ugly.
Any prescriptive boundaries to cage creativity does some harm to the integrity of the ‘picture’ of our world. Is there family, love, pain, joy, heartbreak, redemption, religion, philosophies? Are there wars, deceit, trials, triumphs etc.? Until we can edit life and make it pristine clean, Art will imitate life especially for the sake of those who will ponder about our world in the future as we do today, paintings on rocks by ancient man.
A spiral stack of copies of the 1994 Anchor Books edition of Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
An Iroko has Fallen
By Veronica Nkwocha (a tribute to Chinua Achebe)
An Iroko has fallen
Who can disguise the din
An Iroko lays prone and all of the forest
Rise in silent tribute
He whose head and honour rose high in the sky
Not in trembling and fear
But as one who has performed great feats on the theatre of the world stage
Bowing as he takes his exit to heed the timeless call.
He leaves the forest and the testament of his earlier presence
Rings true and loud and unbroken
Only the silent can hear
May they heed the din from the Iroko
Rise to the stars
Stand tall and strong
Unbowed by life
And unbroken by the elements
An Iroko has fallen but the Iroko lives;
Long may it live.
“Grandpa, Grandpa, tell us a story! Tell us a story please?” the chirpy group of children yelled out all at once.
Grandpa Ediga was tired but it was a cool evening and the gentle breeze grazed against his moustache tickling him into a genial mood. He was curved against his Ukonobo, the curved elongated chair made out of polished dark wood old men relaxed in. He toyed with the chewing stick almost permanently attached to his mouth; he only removed it when he was talking or eating. He smiled beckoning the happy group and a few of them called out to the others who were not around. Then they sat in a neat half circle at his feet on mats spread out, the older ones cradled the toddlers who were being lulled to sleep after the evening meal. The full moon sat high up the sky lending some light to the otherwise dark village, candles and lanterns dotting the area, their pale tongues flickering here and there. The evening meal was over and the compound was nice and tidy in readiness for another day. Older women lay sated on mats here and there tired from carrying out the day’s chores and content at having some time to themselves.
Grandpa began the story as he always had and they all listened intently.
“Once Upon a Time, a very long time ago, Iyeji, the hare and Ikinabo, the tortoise were on one of their many fabled long journeys once again. Ikinabo had been promised a feast like never before in the village of his in-laws; mountainous white and fluffy pounded yam, Ohupi garnished with delicious spicy abahi and chunks of the goat meat fattened on the choicest and freshest grass. The never ending flow of fresh palm wine was a given and Iyeji massaged (more…)
Where conscience clings fast like whispers of faith in a tumultuous storm,
Where tears run, and rivers of fear reside.
Where dreams are dashed and storms of faith persist like anger from a midday sun
Leaving welts of pain and nudging a macabre, unending dance.
The simmer of hope and the sheaves of truth lay stacked atop Her festering wound.
Tarry a while Avarice calls
Nay, stay fast and sup our feast
We dance in the shadows of the bleating sheep and ride the mares whichever way we please
Tarry and dance atop their foals and ride with us as we travel on, urged on by our raging loins
Oh tarry not at their doleful gaze
Peer not at their whimpering tremor
For even though they know it not they are our ship of hidden treasure
Only do not caress Her hand and heal not Her festering wound
Where the first fails and the second and the third and the fourth
Where estates lay bare and empty and turn their gaze from Her glance
Where the fifth strums and the howling wind calls, a song adrift through the ages
And flowers crushed by the rampaging are tended, are washed and embraced
For tomorrow holds the simmering of hope and the sheaves of truth blossom into a harvest