By Godwin Okondo
AS the countdown to the unveiling of Mr. Samuel Osaze’s old and new collection of poems The Strange Moon of Yenagoa translated into German to the public draws near, an array of cultural dignitaries have indicated interest to support him by attending. The event is scheduled for tomorrow, Saturday, June 25, 2022 at Goethe-Institut Nigeria at 7b, Anifowoshe Street, Off Adeola Odeku Street, Victoria Island, Lagos. Time is 12.00 noon prompt. Osaze’s book unveiling is the inaugural edition of Goethe Readers’ Corner, a new project that marks Germany’s foremost cultural institute’s 60 years of promoting German language in Nigeria and Nigerian culture and her culture producers.
Those who have indicated interest to attend include screen matriarch Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, British-Nigerian Hollywood actor, Chris Obi who featured in Star Trek Discovery, Doctor Who, American Gods, among others; British-Nigerian writer, actor and film director Biyi Bandele. He’s the author of Burma Boy, and also directed film adaptation of Chimamanda Adichie’s novel, Half of a Yellow Sun. Celebrated journalist and culture curator Mr. Jahman Anikulapo will also attend as well as Narrative Landscape Press co-founder Anwuli Ojogwu who will play a part.
Other personalities who will grace the unveiling are the Head of Department of English and Comparative Literature, University of Fort Hare, East London, Eastern Cape, South Africa, Professor Chijioke M. Uwah, President of Association of Ohordua Sons and Daughters (AOSAD), Barr. Patrick Ose Ibomhen, Visiting Lecturer of Drama at Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln, U.K., Dr. Isi Agboaye, winner of The Nigeria Prize for Literature 2019, Mr. Jude Idada, avant-garde fashion designer and founder of Luzol, who will style up Osaze for the event, Mr. Austin Aimankhu. Reginald C. Ofodile will review The Strange Moon of Yenagoa.
As part of the unveiling, there will be an engaging conversation between the poet and the journalist and writer, Mr. Anote Ajeluorou (author of Igho Goes to Farm and Libations for Africa). The discourse will focus on issues about the Niger Delta region, with unrelenting oil exploitation activities that continue to despoil the ecosystem and impact negatively on the people, since the discovery of oil in the 1950s.
Written by the media consultant and activist, Mr. Osaze, Der Falsche Mond von Yenagoa/The Strange Moon of Yenagoa, is a collection of old and new poems published in German and English by Akono Verlag, Leipzig, Germany.
Osaze and Ajeluorou will also delve into other thematic concerns in the collection like police brutality and the performative nature of African oral literature and how the past could be used to shape the present with emphasis on the point where the past and present coalesce to forge a truly independent and self-reliant Africa.
“Samuel Osaze’s book of poetry The Strange Moon of Yenagoa is the poetry debut of Akono Verlag” said founder/CEO of Akono Verlag, Jona krutzfeld. Continuing, she said, “The book has caused much admiration and emotion among us at the publishing house and the German readership. We are all the more pleased that, through the support of the Goethe-Institut Nigeria, the book can now be presented to its original readership via reading and performance. We wish Samuel Osaze continued success for his important poetry which comments on contemporary Nigeria in an evocative way.”
In a statement ahead of the unveiling last week, Osaze said that many of the poems in the collection equally cast light on the new trajectory in his creative sojourn as a poet and culture advocate.
“Besides writing poetry of protestation, the need to use poetry as a bastion for documenting culture has also arisen,” he said.
Citing UNESCO’s forecast of endangered minority languages, the poet said some languages are threatened by extinction, adding, “In particular are the minority languages like the Esan ethnic stock, of Edo State, Nigeria where I hail from. Since language is the vehicle through which culture is transmitted, you will find out that some of the poems here are literally reservoirs of some cultural practices that are near extinction, and again there is a deliberate infusion of the flora and fauna, folktales, songs and the rich oral tradition of the Esan people in my poetry, This is a conscious effort aimed at contributing my quota to the quest to rescue a dying culture.”
Osaze further said The Strange Moon of Yenagoa also dwells on the 2020 protest by Nigerian youths against police brutality (#EndSARS) and the way the peaceful protesters were violently dispersed by the Nigerian Army. He said the killing of protesting youths sent a widespread feeling of shock across the globe and reaffirmed government’s unkind treatment of her young ones.
According to him, “What is now known as the Lekki massacre of October 20, 2020 will continue to reverberate and gain sustained currency in the Nigeria literary ecosystem. There are also other topics in the collection which make the book a sort of broad-leafed. There is also a certain degree of interconnectivity which I believe the reader will find interesting enough to engage with.”
In its inaugural edition, Goethe Readers’ Corner is conceived to serve as a point of convergence for writers, journalists and creatives in general. It’s an interactive platform where meaningful dialogue and other intellectual engagements capable of having positive influence on the society are held on a quarterly basis.
Osaze’s The Strange Moon of Yenagoa, translated from English into Germany by a seasoned German international journalist— Andrea Jeska, is available for sale in Europe, Nigeria and in online platforms.