Title: How Morning Remembers the Night
AUTHOR: Ifésináchi Nwadike
Publisher: Winepress, GriotsLounge
REVIEWER: Henry Akubuiro
Bards rise. Bards disappear. New bards bloom. The Nigerian literary firmament is saturated with bards serenading us with paeans, lyrics, vignettes, sonnets and those bewailing the tempora mutantur. But the new poets who will dominate the new scene are those who have taken a sip from the gourd of their forebears, taking the froth away for ornamentation.
Ifésináchi Nwadike’s How Morning Remembers the Night announces a new voice in Nigerian literary firmament, nay, a spectacular voice consecrated to the gods of poetry. His carries the idiomatic density of Okigbo yet peculiar with its sublime nuances and harnessed montage. Despite its slim volume, Nwadike’s How Morning Remembers the Night is a scribal, tectonic contraption branching into alleys of significations beyond the superficial.
To fully appreciate this August visitor in the Nigerian creative enterprise, one needs to explore the deluge of grief and anguish that propelled his well wrought verses, the jejune politics that awoke a miner in the cave of silence, and the the indicators of hope that made a songbird sing of reverence, though he domiciles in a habitat teeming with perils.
Listen to his Introit: “Grief came knocking on my heart’s door/ With sorrow stained knuckles/ Barging in, / They embraced the bosom of my soul…” (p. 11). What necessitated this grief? It has to do with happenings in his country: of his fellow countrymen dying in highway and roadside accidents, of murdered activists, of jungle justice, of the missing Chibok girls, of warring citizens, and the like. Thus, we have a memory that has become a deluge of anguish.
All the poems in the first part of the collection —”A Deluge of Grief and Anguish” — are dedicated to personages and ordinary people whose personal or collective woes have offered the world an undying vista to ruminate and the poet an opportunity to poeticise. Amid the poet’s keening are solemn truths that can heal a bruised nation and set it on the part of redemption.
In “Where Coffins Fly”, the poet recoils at the remembrance of the 2005 aviation tragedies involving Bellview and Sosoliso airlines and the Dana Air tragedy of 2012 in Nigeria that claimed many lives. He weeps: “The sky is of flying coffins/Of grief, requiem, black roses” (p.13). And for the fallen poets, like Dambudzo Marechera, Ezenwa-Ohaeto and Esiaba Irobi, the poet carols of profound intellects and the brevity of life. Political figures, like Patrice Lumumba; an Ebola martyr, like Dr. Ameyo Stella Adadevoh, are also remembered by the bard. In the Borno poems — “Purple is the Colour of Mourning” and “Like a Ghost Town” — the poet takes a gander at homegrown terrorism and its fareaching consequences on the state and beyond.
Nwadike hasn’t forgotten the ravages of the 1967-70 Nigerian Civil War, despite attempts to yank it off from history by conspiracy. In the poem, “Memory is a Crust of Blood”, dedicated to Biafra, the poet’s images are tinged with magenta: “dawn of onslaught”, “wounded justice”, “hell of thermonuclear destruction”, “crust of blood”, “pierced chest”, “ripped bellies”, “streams of blood”, concertos of pain”, etc. Worse still: “There is not enough oil in the entire world/ To make soaps needed to cleanse/ The blood-stained hands of hyenas” (p. 34).
In the second part of the collection entitled “Miner in the Cave of Silence”, the poet’s wailing voice continues. Honourable politicians are addressed as honourable “polithievians” who empty public vaults, and democracy becomes ‘de-money-crazy”. The poet’s hatred for the class are couched in metaphors of derision: “government of the Legislators”, “Executhieves”, “Polititrickal bugs/ Milking the treasured beast of the Nayshun”, “Obdurate Mechanics/In the workshop of Power”, etc.
Apparently, Nwadike is an angry Nigerian Youth —a generation whose future appears to be stolen by shameless politicians. But, instead of throwing stones, Nwadike uses his pen to decry socio-political woes, hoping that things would change for the better. Thus, he cries out: Is “Patriotism a Crime?” on page 54.
In the concluding section of the collection, “Songbird”, the angst of the previous sections is mellowed. The dedicated poems here, to Professor Niyi Osundare and Ngozi Chimamanda, speak of reverence. The poet describes Chimamanda as a rattling voice that reaches out to chasms of chauvinism trampling out the pathways where the bars of inequality were set. Returning briefly to politics, the poet laments the failure of Goodluck Jonathan to win a second term as Nigeria’s president. The poet believes he is a good politician, so his loss was a loss to all who stood for peace. His battle, too, was not a lonely cause. So he tells him: “Rejoice now,/Your loss is a/Victory for the weak…”