Afam Ben Akeh
Three Poems

Martin Jack
Four Poems

Nkechi Nwosu-Igbo
Four Poems

Chimalum Nwankwo (Guest)
Profile of the poet and Five Poems

Afam Ben Akeh
Idzia: Fellow Traveller

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Dear friends,

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
















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