CRITICAL REVIEW: Ahamuefuna

Posted: January 17, 2014 in Critical Review
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Poet: Okoye Chukwudi Charles Ezeamalukwuo
Reviewer: Tim Nwaobilo

Poem Writing is intuitive as well as it is intellectual. This may seem like an unnatural contrast, but isn’t that the hallmark of great poems? Poems bring a topic into focus and slowly but steadfastly pull the reader into falling in love with the entire plot/scheme. With the title of this poem AHAMUEFUNA being a traditional name, and its probable English translation following, this poem seems set to be largely restricted. Though only a good poet would be able to fetch out paths to varying interpretations, while still keeping the conclusion constant, both to the reader and himself- the poet.

As every good poem should do, the first two lines of this poem capture me in intrigue. They already begin to give the impression of a great story ahead: fasten your seat belts.

I have written to the old, a tale yet untold;
Of a young slave sold, for a few pieces of gold.

There is a metaphor hidden in line 1 and is subject to multiple interpretations. Throughout AHAMUEFUNA, a constant theme resonates: a sense of duty. The character possesses this enormous sense of duty like some never-ageing custodian, erected at the portals of knowledge and conscience, to safe-guard and ultimately restore the deep hidden truths to which he has sworn his life for. The use of first-person action words like “I have sung”, “I wrought”, and so on by the poet places the main character in the limelight consistently and rightly so.
The poem surprisingly downshifts into an emotional state, bemoaning the loss of faithful friends while still hanging on tenderly to hope.

Though comrades forsake, faith strapped to the heart won’t break
Though the night awaits, day at dawn will surely break.

This shift is unusual because it is the only part of the poem where such emotional recourse is attempted. As if quickly jolted back to reality, AHAMUEFUNA resumes his duty-bound task of service.
Mention of Imhotep in line 7 is reminiscent of a line in Barry Kemp’s Ancient Egypt:
I have heard the words of Imhotep…with whose discourses men speak so much.
Reference to Imhotep leaves the reader uncertain as to the chronological identity of AHAMUEFUNA. Further reference to Egypt and Alexandria and West Africa and never-found Atlantis encapsulates a certain surreal presence to this piece. I perceive an unnerving sympathy for the spiritual, medieval, and indeed ancient; as is seen in most lines of this poem. This sympathy is akin to the trademark of 16th to early 19th century philosophers who delved into alchemy, spiritualism, astrology, poetry, and sometimes clerical domains. Take for example, Edgar Allan Poe.

Contrast in this piece is ‘so loud and so close’. This is visible in:
Though the night awaits, day at dawn will surely break -line 6
I was marked by fire, the brand of another
Conceived in summer, the warm kiss of a lover
-lines 17 & 18
I have tasted the forbidden fruit of Eden
Drank from the spring of life…
-lines 25 & 26, etc.

Two opposing scenarios are juxtaposed, thus portraying a certain depth and width not previously envisioned. We now have to take another look at the particular contrasting lines to be sure a metaphorical code is not passed unnoticed. AHAMUEFUNA not only thinks he is a custodian of some sort, but also a saviour, destined to destroy all evil and instill good. He is a saviour of the intangible, nature, and a heritage he had been prised from.
There is a consistency of suffering and hope reminding me of the plight…of a young slave, sold for a few pieces of gold. AHAMUEFUNA seems to bear a spiritual personality, but is burdened with the responsibility of his existence. He keeps hope with faith till he begins to question even his own identity. Finally, he is mortal, not spirit, not a primordial saviour.

Do I not breathe same air my anus foul, with grace?
Or should I yet dig six feet down to save my face?

Hope quickly fades to despair as AHAMUEFUNA asks more questions than he provides answers. Questions of the future. Questions of uncertainty, although uncertainty is unprecedented in the course of the plot.

Shall broken bones arise again to reclaim the vale?
Shall the sun rise again on faces; poor and pale?

The poem ends on a low-key as the main character is resigned to the fact that he can’t save his situation or indeed that of any other. He must be content with accepting his present condition and circumstance, and hope for a saviour soon.

Technically speaking, the poet employs 2 basic rhyme schemes: a-a-b-b and a-b-a-b, and is consistent with this pattern, although the sequence of the scheme alters randomly after stanza 6. Worthy of important note is the meter pattern. The poem is set in verses 4 lines long and 12 syllables per line. Sticking to such meter style for 17 stanzas is a very arduous endeavour, however orthodox, but one that stretches the imagination, vocabulary, and ingenuity of the poet. W. Shakespeare was the master of this art. For indeed, it is an art, a difficult one at that.

The diction family is mostly ancient and traditional as is observed in words/phrases like mummies of conscience, Alexandrian rectors, Igbukwu, fruit of Eden, Tongues of Cleopatra, Bantu, etc. The poet exhibits a vast array of words in his lexicon and does marvelously by permitting his lexis cadence, synergy and symbiosis in the cascade of the poem.
AHAMUEFUNA is hardly apologetic in style and largely defiant. This poem is undoubtedly original no matter the little traces of Ashanti-style dogma inherent. It is lacking in deep emotions and is apparently straight-forward.
AHAMUEFUNA provides needful inspiration and necessary insight into the woes, hopes, and tales of the colonial African. Precisely an Africanised poem, albeit subtlety is ensured, AHAMUEFUNA adds value to the reader, African or otherwise. Value being emotional, historical or even hilarious, per view.

For the full poem click here AHAMUEFUNA

All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise without the written permission of the publishers.

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

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Comments
  1. Chimezie Chika says:

    Nice review

  2. Chimezie Chika says:

    Nice review and enlightening review. Lesser mortals like me can learn many things here.

  3. timnwaobilo says:

    Mortals we all are.
    Higher only to animals.
    -Tim Nwaobilo

  4. Anene Francis says:

    Wonderful! What a review. A delicious dessert following the main course meal, the poem… This is similar to a situation where young maths students say that square root of 4 is 2 while the teacher say its +/-2… Novice in literature like me is seeing a beautiful poem from the surface, you mr Tim, opened the chest and displayed its rich contents in its full splendour for us to better appriciate the poem… Well done sir.

  5. Quite an incisive review. I’m moved to adopt most of your numerous suggestions on how an Ahamefula poem should have portrayed depth, emotions,character, and direct, even though, I didn’t read the said poem (I have not been a good poem fan anyway).
    Lastly, I urge you to also do reviews (or maybe re-editting) on the first two paragraphs, as therein exist intercalations of grammatical infringements. Though, I may be fast to opine that such minimal errors often evade the writer’s eyes.

  6. Anyanya says:

    Splendid review!

  7. timnwaobilo says:

    Mr Francis
    I appreciate sir. Writing is a skill. So is READING. Thanks for reading.
    Without you and others to read, this review might just be another personal diary.

  8. timnwaobilo says:

    Mr Ugochukwu
    I appreciate your comments. But please endeavour to read the main poem. You should love it.
    Also, if you can point out the grammatical errors in Para1&2 you mentioned, that would be good, too.

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