Words are special elements of human expressions. They could take the form of songs, speeches, dramas, poems to be set free from the mind’s trap. So today is set aside to appreciate the art of poetry all over the world and Nigeria is not left out on this (yet, because we have lost our national electricity grid, barrels of oil and economy. Who knows what else we will lose?).
In view of World Poetry Day, 2022, here are ten poets you probably never knew are of Nigerian origin.
From the foreign aura his name emits, his works are often attributed to a black American author. However, John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo was a Nigerian poet and playwright with origin and birth traced to Delta state. His most popular work is easily The Casualties, which is used in almost every English textbook in Nigeria secondary schools today.
Nana Uwar daje Nana Asma’u bint Shehu Usman dan Fodiyo, popularly known as Nana Asma’u was a poet, a teacher and a humanitarian and the daughter of the popular Usman dan Fodio. Nana spent the most of her days advocating for the rights and independence of women under Islam. She is the author of One Woman’s Jihad, The Caliph’s Sister, and a few other poems.
Helon Habila Ngalabak is another one with a foreign tone to his name. He started writing as a teenager as his own way of rebelling against military dictatorship in the 1980’s. He is the author of the life changing novel, Waiting for an Angel which won the 2003 Commonwealth Literature Prize for the best first novel by an African writer, Measuring Time, and a couple of Love Poems.
Odoh Diego Okenyodo
With his broad knowledge of chemistry and how reactions work, it’s no surprise that Okenyodo also has a way of creating reactions to mere words through his works. From Benue state, the Nigerian writer, pharmacist, activist poet, and journalist has authored a couple of works. The most notable of them is A Poem to its Creator.
The Jamaican-born poet, novelist, essayist and journalist, Carlton Lindsay Barrett moved to his home country, Nigeria of which country he officially became a citizen in the mid 1980s. Lindsay spent his early years as a freelance broadcaster, journalist and photographer, travelling to Britain and other parts of Europe. While he wrote poems, he has other noticeable works like Song for Mumu published in London, 1967.
Bakare Badamisi can be considered as one of the fathers of Nigerian literature. He is a Yoruba poet and an author of many short stories. He has published most of his works in several editions, both in Yoruba and English language. Bakare is best known for his Yoruba folktales and traditional poetry collections, one of which is The Moon Cannot Fight: Yoruba children’s poems.
Although he missed being born in the 21st century by one year, Logan definitely has the mind of one born in this century. However, being a Gen Z, it is expected he goes with the topics and themes of these times. Logan is a poet, a singer, songwriter and an LGBTQ activist from Anambra state, Nigeria. He is the author of In the Nude, published in 2019 alongside a couple of other works. There is still a lot to be seen from this new age author and poet.
Past chairman of the Association of Nigerian Author, Benue State Chapter; Su’eddie Vershima Agema (born Suurshater Edward Vershima Agema) is a Nigerian poet, author and literary administrator. He grew up in Nigeria in Lagos, Sokoto and eventually Benue, his home state. He is the author of two poetry collections, Bring our Casket Home: Tales one Shouldn’t Tell, and Home Equals Holes.
It is not exactly noted which state Nnimmo Bassey hails from, but from his surname, one could easily guess that he is from the Afang and Ekpang-nkukwo making part of Nigeria. He is an architect, environmental activist, author and poet with degrees and certifications from all over the world. His most popular work is a collection of poems titled Patriots & Cockroaches (1992).
Born in Cross River State, Nigeria, Enwezor was the child who sealed his mother’s womb. Despite his being born in Calabar, his identity as a son of Azukwu cannot be ignored. He was a writer, curator, educator, poet and art critic. Although there is no record of a poetry publication like the other genres, his works appeared in several magazines around the globe.
So you know Soyinka, Achebe and Ben Okri, but which of the above did you already know before this article? Don’t mention. We are Digimillennials and your information is the reason we exist!
Itty can be caught studying African pop culture, writing about it or hosting a relationship podcast. When he's not doing any of these, then he's definitely at a bar, getting mocktail.