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I have witnessed
…the death
Of many hills
Who died the death
Of gradual tractor graze.

I have witnessed

…the fall
Of many mountains
Who crumbled before
The feet of bastard bulldozers.

I have witnessed

…how forests became factories
How beaches became bridges
Day became a night and
Plays became a fight.

I have witnessed

…how jollies became enemies
Wrong became right and
Teeth vacate the gums.

I have witnessed

…how kobo(s) became millions
How shawls became hearse
And lost became found.

I have witnessed

…the betrayal of Hippocrates
The abduction of tomorrow
And the runaway of statues.

I have witnessed

…how grasses disguised like trees
How liars were called to lead
And madness –a word for sanity.

I have witnessed

How sorrows replaced happiness
How birth deposed barrenness
And silence was gutted by noise.

I have witnessed

…how love
Was paid with hates
How trust was a broken plate
And wisdom was traded for foolishness.

Tell Ayoka…

I have witnessed
…the starving of the wealthy
…the drowning of a fish
…the rise of a fallen lad.

BACKGROUND: While I was growing up, mother use to share life experiences with me. The challenges, rigors, and the very hard and harsh trials she faces from her trade.

Most times, I cannot but pity and pray for her. I would wish I could help –like relieving the stress she passes through. I would wish I could always be by her side so as to help sooth her pains away.

Whenever I get to see her, the feeling is usually not to let her go as we didn’t live together. All that we could is spend a few hours together in a long month.

Father on the other hand is as far as far-away. In two-three months I may not hear from him and maybe because I wasn’t the ”call-call” type, the distance is usually always there.

Whenever I visit father, I hear stories and tales of the paradox of life. I learn about prestige, integrity, politics and a little from his life experience. On the overall, it usually ended under a period of some hours for a separation of over three-four months apart.

For me, writing this piece is my concern in an effort to collect the stories and tales I have heard from the duo –a way of confirming their words in relation to my little experience so far.

Like you would notice, the poem’s title is an excerpt from the poem itself -telling father to tell mother about the many pictures that life has by itself portrayed.

It only takes courage and hope to carry on in my world as enough frustration is my Education’s story.

SUBJECT MATTER: The poem ”…Tell Ayoka”   is a poem on Life Experience. It shares some of the all around happenings that ever occurred to the poet. It reflects his personal jottings about life.

*IMAGERY: By virtue of the diction and overall make up of words, ”…Tell Ayoka” is a Word-string of lucid imageries. Reading through the piece presents us with true and real pictures of life –pictures that readers can easily imagine and relate with. A line for instance reads:

/…Day became a night and
Plays became fight. /

Another line for example projected the picture of how aging could claim the teeth of man –leaving the gums to time-planted daistema (vacancies).

/I have witnessed
…how jollies became enemies
Wrong became right and
Teeth vacate the gums. /

In lines 12-13, the poet throws up a pictorial representation of the transformation that a forest or beach may undergo within a period of time;

/I have witnessed
…how forests became factories
How beaches became bridges…/

*RHYTHM: the poem was also aided in passing its message by its flow. Many of its lines and verses are of regular and close cadence. The use of Alliterations, repetitions and consonance helped in the overall beautification of the piece. We shall discuss those figures of sound under appropriate headings.

USEFUL INTERPRETATIONS OF SOME LINES: Even though the most of lines and verses are presented simple, direct and very easy for comprehension, there are however one or two lines whose deeper meaning may not be directly absorbed.

Let’s take some of these lines into consideration:

/I have witnessed
…the death
Of many hills
Who died the death
Of gradual tractor graze. / –the opening verse

Here is the picture of a natural reality –the truth of change and simplicity of transformation.

This is an analogy however –a representation of wonders. Many a place has once been as high as plateaus only to be surmounted into plain or low lands. You would agree that many lands have suffered from the many erosion-al activities of man.

The poet in this verse presents this fact as simple as possible.

But, come to think of it:
What if ”hills” symbolize values, traditions, beliefs, scientific postulates, cultures or even personal principles or common philosophies while ”gradual tractor graze’‘ symbolizes Time, advancement in knowledge or our so called civilization.

It would be agreed that some cultures that once existed one time in the past have been corroded with the come and go of time –perhaps, from disproof, or corruption, or mere negligence on the part of the culturist.

Standing in position of a scientist, let me inform you that many ”once supposed or once assumed to be correct” theories, laws or famous approximations have been washed off from the plates of recent and advanced science. A good example is the Spontaneous generation theory which was later erased with concrete evidence from a wonderful French scientist by name Louis Pasteur.

I recommend you to google ”Spontaneous generation -Louis Pasture” so as to enjoy the scientific ”BOHAHA” of that time. This space may not be very appropriate to engage you with some science intriguing stories. It was a clash of ideas; debunk of ignorance.

It’s about a fight to drop or support the theory that says life breeds from lifeless materials.

In a nut shell, researches have shown that not just religions but Science too has its gory periods.

Just in line to this interpretation, we can interpret the mountain-bulldozer verse in this relation

/I have witnessed
…the betrayal of Hippocrates
The abduction of tomorrow
And the runaway of statues. /

This verse may seem ironical. It may look exaggerated. It may be regarded fallacious but as a matter of fact, it’s as real as reality with the poet. Let’s consider the lines separately.

Firstly, we have the poet claim his witness to the betrayal of Hippocrates. Even though such old and wonderful physician as our ancient and famous Hippocrates should be far removed from negative qualifiers; the poet has deliberately chosen to perhaps, as irony to Hippocrates, the man of classical Kos or just as aptly as possible to paint what the realities our present puts up.

How serious is this in the real sense? If in science, it is to some extent widely accepted that Hippocrates is the father of medicine and immortalized in honour with the ”Hippocratic oath,” (which must be taken before physicians begin their practice) it should therefore be expected of Hippocrates himself (the one whose oath is an object to the pass of a medical practitioner) the virtues of honesty, faithfulness and absolute sincerity.

In this case, the poet has witnessed to the contrary –for the poet, he has witnessed where the one to be trusted betrays and the one to be respected falls and rubbishes his dignity. A good number of this could be found in relationships, in politics and even in areas of academics –what about the story of a lecturer who is usually strict to punish student for malpractices only to be caught later cheating in exams when he went for his doctorates?

/The abduction of tomorrow/

In a country like this (NIGERIA), where the masses are preys on the hands of predators (Terrorists) and government show little or no sympathy. Like in our land, where over 200 girls could be ferried to unknown whereabouts like light-weighted polythene-s are play things for the wind.

Now, if the little ones as we use to claim are our future, if they are the stories of our tomorrow(s) and our essence of a coming time; would it be wrong if I claim with respect to the recent abduction of our girls by the Sambisa Crooks, those ‘B’astard ‘H’umans (BH) that –our tomorrow have been abducted?”

Now, over to the last line:

/the runaway of statues/

By the foregoing interpretations, we can as well perceive this line as a line that comes to heighten the message of the previous ones. The poet seems to have experienced the very worse of unbelievable happenings –where stiff statues cannot only move but run.


APOSTROPHE: All through the poem, the voice of the poet seem to address someone –the one who was later disclosed towards the ending where the poet cried ”Father! Tell Ayoka…”

We may therefore conclude that the poet directed his words to Father hoping to get it communicated to AYOKA, his mother even though Father is absent just as mother is.

PERSONA: This device played it part in making the piece what it is. In this piece, the persona used is the ”I” word pronoun.

ENJAMBMENT: Considering these lines:

/I have witnessed
…the fall
Of many mountains
Who crumbled before
The feet of bastard bulldozers/

…you would notice that a single thought was distributed into five lines. And if one reads a line without linking it to the coming or going line, one may miss out the idea.

ALLITERATION: A good number of places featured the Alliteration device. Lines like:

/…Who ‘d’ied the ‘d’eath
Of ‘g’radual tractor ‘g’raze./
/…Of ‘m’any ‘m’ountains
Who crumbled before
The feet of ‘b’astard ‘b’ulldozers./
/…how ‘f’orests became ‘f’actories
How ‘b’eaches ‘b’ecame ‘b’ridges…/

REPETITION: For every stanza, /I have witnessed/ is continuously repeated. It introduced every stanza


/…how joll’ies’ became enem’ies’/
/…how grass’es’ disguised like tre’es’/
/How liars were calle’d’ to lea’d’ /
…are a number of examples on consonance

PARALLELISM: Many lines are in parallels to another. Examples include:

/…how forests became factories
How beaches became bridges/
/How sorrows replaced happiness
How birth deposed barrenness/
/…the starving of the wealthy
…the drowning of a fish/

Hills to symbolize: Values, Traditions, Beliefs, Scientific Postulates, Culture, Personal Principles and Common Philosophies.
”Gradual tractor graze” to symbolize: Time, Advancement in Knowledge or Civilization.
Tomorrow to symbolize: Our Abducted Girls.

You must have been exhausted though as it was a long read –I know. And sincerely, I have to appreciate your patience and time –your wiliness to keep reading.

Not to worry, today’s assignment would be very simple. You can attempt the exercises whenever you’re free or simple skip it.

  1. Discuss the mood and tone surrounding the poem.
  2. Comment on the tail rhyme of some of the verses in the case of any.
  3. Point out some element of exaggeration in the piece.
  4. Add one or two lines to the piece in this order.

by Adelaja Ridwan Olayiwola

Author: admin

I am a member of the WRR editorial team.

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