REVIEW: THE EMMANUELS’ ‘ADULTING IN NIGERIA’ HOLDS YOU BY THE HANDS AND LEADS YOU THROUGH THE NIGERIAN MAZE

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TITLE: ADULTING IN NIGERIA
AUTHOR: MICHAEL EMMANUEL & EMMANUEL FAITH
GENRE:  POETRY
NO. OF PAGES: 48
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2021
ISBN: NIL
PUBLISHER: AUTHORPEDIA 
REVIEWER: KOLAWOLE SAMUEL ADEBAYO

Language is one of our most powerful tools for change as humans. We have always explored and experimented with language in our philosophies, idiosyncratic leanings, and societal postures. However, beyond being a tool, language is itself an experience. In Adulting in Nigeria, Emmanuel and Michael do not just use language as a transformational tool, they also give us that desirable experience of language in all its majesty— its joys, its sorrows, its wilderness, its rainforest, its obscurities, its glories, its bends, and its blends.

In this collection, two brothers stand masterfully on the podium in the colosseum of language to teach, galvanize, and jolt us to the individual and collective Nigerian reality. Emmanuel and Michael have done a truly remarkable thing. Captains of language, the cadence of the voices in this collection is both authoritative and accessible.

In Opening Cadence, that majestic cadence is reinforced in the line:

“We open our story with bottles of caffeine”

Here, Emmanuel x-rays a common habit among the generation-Z community in Nigeria. It is the way his lines reverberate with incisive intentionality that marks Emmanuel’s brilliance.  In his poetry, we experience our known realities in unknown ways. In the title poem, Adulting in Nigeria, he writes:

Tomorrow is the sum of today

Emmanuel, a language mathematician, gives a fresh meaning to time. In the above line, we discover the mathematics of time— tomorrow being the answer to today’s equations. The collection cascades further in its journey through Nigeria’s complex maze of adulthood with Michael’s rhythmic free verse. In Poem for Adulting, a poem after Michael Akuchie, his dexterous use of enjambment matches his mastery of language. This poet is not detached from the existential positions of the Nigerian enclave and the dualities thereof. He writes:

Poem for crucifying your / childish dreams as your body hunts money. / Poem for the birthday that / faded in a traffic at Ikeja, somewhere / between disdain and apathy.

In 20-10-20, he probes further:

Isn’t it weird how the stray bullet/ Sways but never miss their target?

This poet is both conscious in his awareness of his environment and alive in his feelings— a perfect confluence of ethos and pathos. The above poem memorializes the victims of the maniacal Lekki Toll Gate shooting on October 20, 2020. The Nigerian spirit is a resilient, vivacious, and never-say-never kind. In Nigeria, parties are rife. But so are rifles. And sometimes, guns go gaga in the hands of berserk uniformed men. Of course, it is not to say that men of the revered uniform are terrible. No, far from it. The uniform is desirable; the work too, but some bad eggs remain persistently.

It is this cocktail of idyllic and hellish moments that characterize the Nigerian entity. They are our mementos, our totems, our distinguishable emblems. Particularly, the Nigerian street lingua that permeates this collection is a distinctive feature. What is a book about adulting in Nigeria without the gbas gbos, owanbes, o wrong nau, yahoo ni babalawo— and more so, a generation-Z-esque poetry collection?

And yet, it is not all gloom and doom. The two poets meander into music in After Avicii and distend into odes in their eulogic pieces Feyisoge, Niola, and Inioluwa. A testament to the vastness of the two poets’ ideological witfulness.

Adulting in Nigeria holds you by the hands and leads you through the Nigerian maze, puzzling as ever. And while we are all still in search of the missing pieces of our jigsaw, this collection is surely an essential compass to guide us in our necessary journey. Two brothers, thirty poems, and spellbinding language. Didactic. Poignant. Riveting!

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