IDZIA AHMAD (1960-2003)
I knew Idzia Ahmad well. We all called him Carlos or Izzia and he seemed to have grown to accept that fondly corruption of his name. He was one of my own generation, with Uche Nduka, Ebenezer Alao, Greg Odo, Ike Achebe... and a fine poet. A meticulous man who never quit fine-tuning his verse, after his collection, A Shout Across the Wall, came out in 1988, Carlos had errata printed and hand-pasted over whole lines and couplets in the book, except they weren't exactly errata; they were revisions of original lines.
Idzia was one of a few kindred souls who made my cross-country trips to Lagos in the late 1980s always memorable. Riding the crowded and dusty Molues, we would step out on the town with bile in our belly and poetry in our brain. Brother to brother, we would look across from the hilltop, and in the faint distance trace the contours of the Promised Land. We were in our early and mid-twenties, stars of the new curfew, but like candles in the rain, our flames flickered ever so briefly before the cruel hands of an accursed nation enveloped them in darkness. In a different time, a different country, we could have stood tall, stood our ground, received the laurels that were ours. We could have made our country proud. Instead, we stood on time like on a rickety bridge while underneath life surged by enraged, muddied and bruised, frothing blood. Soon fate like a raft would toss us on its crests, some set adrift on its turbulent course to geographies unknown, others cast overboard, mangled and trussed, lost forever in its silent depths.
Idzia's passing only reminds us of our mortality, and the fact that every day we wake up fit is only a gift and the next is not to be taken for granted. A few days ago I received an unexpected mail from one of our own, lost like the rest in the evil labyrinths of exile, and together we reminisced about our generation, a generation short-changed. Who is where, we wondered? Whatever happened to who? Some died, I reminded him. Others went mad. The rest ran away. Well, here goes another. Whose turn might be next?
Leave a will, a book, an offspring if you can. Gather your manuscripts where others may see them, and note clearly how you intended them. Give your best while you may, and fear no man. As for the one that we now mourn;
The impatient kick of the foetus
Was the first curve on the chart of your peregrinations.
Then Youth's sprightly step; and Time distilled a lethargic
Precipitate: the quibbling shamble - a senescent hiatus.
And the aging mind's detritus
On the inclement teeth of the weather.
My hand on your elbow steers you home;
Eases the crushing weight of the incubus.
( - Idzia Ahmad, "The Impatient Kick of the Foetus")
Idzia Ahmad was born on June 22, 1960 at Gudi, a railway town in Plateau State. He was 42.