May I begin by congratulating you on your exciting poetry site. Recently, I
chose to break with the introspective vow of silence to which I had been
bound this past decade of my absence from Nigeria and reconnect with those
around whom life in that fatal country had been at least tolerable: Uche
Nduka, Harry Garuba, Olu Oguibe, Ike Okonta, Odia Ofeimun, Ogaga Ifowodo,
to mention just the few.
In my e-mail to Uche Nduka I had requested information on Idzia Ahmad. In
the funny Nigerian ways that alliances for survival are formed among
friends and associates, three of us had ended up with each other. We fed
off each other - Uche, Idzia and I - because we often had very little else
to feed on. We did not have much wine, women or gold between us but we had
a lot of soul. We had poetry. We had faith in the future. Another day,
perhaps, it may be possible to revisit those earlier dreams that gave feet
to our literary adventures.
But this letter is about a death. In my e-mail to Uche Nduka I had even
joked that he (Idzia) was probably ensconced in some plush government
office somewhere in Jos. As it turned out I was not too far from the truth.
But I didn't know then that even then as I wrote his eclipse had come. I
remember Idzia's rough farmer's palms. I regret that I will not now have
the chance to tease him about them one more time. I regret he has had to
die before he and the rest of my generation of Nigerian writers have had
the chance to fully recover from the devastating experiences that have
resulted in our stunted growth. I regret that Idzia's fine sense of the
poetic will no longer play a role in our literary future. Nigeria does
terrible things like that. It divides people. It puts a wedge between
relationships - oceans, tribes, religions, distances. It can end a
relationship with sudden death.
Afam Ben Akeh