By Anote Ajeluorou
From all indications, Nigeria seems bound for a downward spiral. It was what motivated President Goodluck Jonathan to initiate the Transformation Agenda to bring the country back from the brink. Transformation to a new dawn also echoed last week in Lagos at the launch of a book, Rose and Thorns
Specifically, young Nigerians have been urged to take intellectual matters seriously in order to enrich their minds so they could be the vanguard of transformation that Nigerian society desperately needs to haul it from the abyss of under-development.
Chairman of the event, public elations expert and literary enthusiast, Chuddy Oduenyi, told the gathering of men, women and school children at Terra Kulture, Lagos, venue of the launch last Saturday, that poetry like Obiorah Momife’s Roses and Thorns, is an elevated art that enriches, ennobles and transforms the mind for the onerous task of building a better society. He praised Momife for taking the trouble to write poetry, saying, “poetry is the elevated form of literary engagement; that is why the quality of people here is remarkable, people who appreciate poetry.
“This is why we should encourage the young ones to take to intellectual things. What enriches the mind like poetry is what people should encourage and appreciate. What Obiorah has done is remarkable. Your mind has to be developed to write, to think very deeply; it’s for people with uncommon talent. He has joined the league of immortals like Okigbo, who happens to be the poet’s patron saint. Okigbo remains the most remarkable poet to come out of Africa. Very few things endure in this world like the written expression.
“What we need is a transformation to a new dawn, the resuscitation of values, and bringing out the things inside of us to contribute to the pool of ideas”.
Although Oduenyi frowned at the low turn out, he, however, commended the few people who attended the book launch, saying it showed their commitment to the development of the literary art. He also said it would encourage young ones, especially the students in attendance, to appreciate poetry, and added that it was only cultured, deep and elevated minds that appreciated poetry. Oduenyi also charged the audience to support poetry for its future to be bright in Nigeria.
To enliven the occasion, poems from the collection, Roses and Thorns, were read and performed to entertain the audience. Ese read ‘Bed of Roses’, Adesuwa read ‘Alabaster oil’, Funmi, with drum accompaniment, performed ‘Time’ to a roaring applause, while Gift also performed ‘Peacock dance’. There was also a cultural presentation, mostly drum performance, from the standing troupe of Lagos State Council for Arts and Culture to add spice to the afternoon proceedings.
Intercontinental Distilleries, makers of Teezers and Finlays Tonic wine, supported the launch with their products.
To review the collection was Alkazeem Abdulkadir, who flew in from Abuja, with the title, ‘Obiorah Momife: A Symbolic Interpretation of the Paradox of Life’. Rose and Thorns is a collection, which captures some memorable and excruciating moments in Momife’s life. An artist and writer, Momife’s Rose and Thorns boldly confronts some of the paradoxes that characterise life and how best to deal with them.
According to Momife, Roses and Thorns was “borne out of several pains encountered in my life, the loss of a Job with Nigeria Airways, the frustrations that came afterwards both physically, spiritually, financially and otherwise. Then miraculously, a certain rose sprouted out of what was a desiccated, dead rose flower that had only "thorns" at the time.
“The message, simply, is that in the beginning you might have love, then comes in pain and sorrow, but with patience and determination and, of course, faith in God, the sun will shine again and will usher in tomorrow with fresh hope for living...”
Momife said exhilaration was what he simply felt, and then gratitude to Isioma and his children - Somtochukwu, Chimesomma, Ofiligonachukwu, Kamsisochukwu - and his bosom friends, and also to God Almighty, who made the roses to sprout again in his life.