The most important thing a man without shelter needs isn’t moral support. It cannot put a roof above the head of a bedraggled vagabond. He needs shelter and comfort more than anything else.
The business mogul, Arthur Eze, has taken it upon himself to be the comforter to the needy, giving hope to the hopeless, and never making a show of it.
But the bounden duty of Tony Adibe, the Southeast Bureau Chief of Daily Trust Newspaper, tells him otherwise: he has to blow another man’s trumpet. The echoes of a typical vuvuzela never last long, but those of panegyrics reverberate here and there, even outliving a Methuselah. Adibe’s Rich Man Who Cries for the Poor is a poetic thanksgiving to a man whose generosity has become proverbial
over the years.
The foreword, written by Senator Victor Umeh, representing Anambra Central Senatorial Zone, offers a whiff of what Eze N’Ukpo and Ozoigbondu means to humanity: “…In spite of the height he has attained, Prince Eze has remained attached to the common people. He has used his huge resources to provide succour to people with various needs.”
When the rich cries, who do go to? Incredibly, Arthur Eze has proven to be a benefactor to the rich, too. Senator Umeh writes: “A unique personality, Prince Eze’s generosity is not limited to indigent people and the masses alone. He has lifted and bailed out the high and mighty as well, in their various challenging situations.”
In his introductory remarks, the poet says the inspiration for this poetry volume came in 2015, but it wasn’t until 2017 that it materialised in black and white, “in praise of the subject matter for his noble deeds, invaluable works of charity to mankind, especially to the hoi polloi, the ash-’mouthed paupers.”
To situate properly the philanthropy of Arthur Eze, the author begins with an unusual prologue on the opening pages by chronicling few instances of how he has impacted lives, including those who never expected it.
For instance, during a visit to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Teaching Hospital, Enugu, he lavished millions of naira to some patients in dire conditions and underwrote some bills. To cap it up, he doled the sum of 50 million naira to the entire staff of the UNTH to share among themselves.
All the ten poems in this slim volume are in blank verse. The mood of the poet is that of endearment, and, in his desire to show reverence, he allows his words to rush like a flurry. In the first poem “The Great Giver”, the speaker attests to “the endless kindness” of Arthur Eze to ex-Biafran soldiers, widows, orphans and the less fortunate in our midst. Furthermore: “By God’s grace,/ And the meekness of your heart./…You turn a poor man/To a rich man/Overnight” (p.32).
Onomatopoeic cadences and reputations (The Prince of…) are deployed by the poet in “Water without Enemy” as the voice in the poem is carried away by the lyre. Once again, Arthur Eze is extolled for “illuminating a poor man’s dark paths”.
In the same breath, the poet uses personification to lionise the philantropist: “You’re the sun/ Shinning on the poverty-wet bare head of the downtrodden…./You’re the fresh water; /Rain that falls for all….” (p.33).
READ ALSO: Stringent voices and mega narratives
The poems, “Pillar of Charity” and “Hope of the Hopeless”, are a laudatory gong to the cheerful giver, just as “Arthur One Trillion”. In the latter, he poses a rhetorical question to Arthur Eze: “Can you count the beneficiaries of your kindness?” Well, if he can count starts in the sky or sand of the beach, he can. Simply impossible!
The titular theme of the work is deeply explored on page 45 where the lachrymal part of Arthur is ornamented. He is like “A soft soothing cloth to tears of the afflicted.” The poet carols in his poetic swansong, “I wonder if humanity can find a replacement for you”.
Though Adibe’s Rich Man who Cries for the Poor does not enjoy the best of subliminal tropes, he makes us realise one thing: virtues have their rewards not only in heaven but in the firmament of a bard.
(Author: Tony Adibe, Publisher: Jomap Press, Enugu, Pages: 68)