Onisowurun Sampson has won the BRIGITTE POIRSON POETRY CONTEST (BPPC) 2015, June edition with the theme: “TRADITIONS AND CULTURE”.
Sampson is a young Nigerian Lawyer and author of ‘Eyes of Passion’, is presently serving his fatherland under the National Youth Service Corps programme in Oyo State.
His invocative entry ‘YOU DO NOT TAKE UBUNTU FROM MEN’ scored 87 points to edge second placed ‘CONQUEROR OF THE UNIVERSE’ by Abd-hamid Abd-afeez Adedamola. In joint second-runner up position is Essang Etim Emmanuel‘s ‘LOST CULTURES: BIRTHED TO RESTORE’ and ‘TWO-FIFTY SHADES OF GREEN’ by Njoku Chidubem Joseph.
Sampson’s writing interest covers poetry, drama, prose, poetics/literary criticism and essays and some of his poems have been published on platforms like The UK Poetry Library, African Eyeball and several others.
He takes over as champion from May edition winner, Showunmi Olawale Micheal, who is also a serving corps members, and becomes the 5th winner in the history of the competition which began in February 2015.
Judges scored the entries based on Structure (harmony of words, presentation, etc.) Creativity/Originality and Relevance to the chosen Theme. All entries that made the shortlist are automatically entered for the ALBER JUNGERS POETRY PRIZE to be awarded in January 2015.
Below are the top 10 entries with marks obtained:
- YOU DO NOT TAKE UBUNTU FROM MEN by Onisowurun Sampson (87%)
- CONQUEROR OF THE UNIVERSE by Abd-hamid Abd-afeez Adedamola (86%)
- LOST CULTURES: BIRTHED TO RESTORE Essang Etim (85%)
- TWO-FIFTY SHADES OF GREEN by Njoku Chidubem Joseph (85%)
- A CULTURE’S REVIVAL (PALINDROME) by Iwundu (84%)
- A PRODIGAL RETURNS by Justice Jite-Eda Email: (84%)
- THE AFRICAN HERITAGE by Ayoola Goodness Olanrewaju (83%)
- LET US DANCE, AFRICA! By Mesioye Johnson,”Affable” (83%)
- KITAN by ADEDAYO ADEYEMI AGARAU (83%)
- BIAFRA STILL EXISTS by Obi Johnson Woko (83%)
YOU DO NOT TAKE UBUNTU FROM MEN by Onisowurun Sampson (87%)
(The cottonwood tree does not grow in only one nation – Igbo proverb.)
Ubuntu is cord woven across dialects of plateaus and hill,
The thread spurned to unite the fold with iron hold,
A living earthenware that draws fingers for communal meal.
Ubuntu makes the self-styled sparrow wing homeward bearing garlands for kindred. It runs deep as rivulets of blood lodged in human vein. Elongate’s like Whitman’s line, wavy like lengths of lines from Senghor’s foundry. So does this creation of thought, branching out like sides of a tree to latitudes.
Beyond kindred, it wings like grey-headed albatross, above perimeters of Nguni Bantu into Sub-Saharan territories, Horn of Africa, rest of Africa and uttermost regions of the globe.
You do not take Ubuntu from men. Ubuntu says we are one.
It feeds the humanity in men; relics of tradition and culture like blood in vein.
Ubuntu survives the death of Caliphates and yet Caliphates live because Ubuntu courses through their veins. It rotates on time’s fragile cycle, patient like Tuareg camel, swift like horses in the Sahel.
Ubuntu wings beyond modern dogma. It is an iron bird of all time
That cannot be bound. Athletic and stout is that bird. With poetic justice:
A metonymy for tradition and culture. Ubuntu is the voice of tradition. Tradition is the thread woven seamlessly across seasons to bygone eras. Hung on it are dundun and bata, iron agogo bell, sekere of the festive season beautified with beads and cowrie shell.
Lovely Igbo maidens gleam in cacao treat, wear wrapper and bead
As they answer melodies from windy native opi, ichaka and igba.
Ubuntu is the womb where Nok Terracota, and royal Bini mask of ivory receive nutrients, are nurtured and grow to light. A kernel of truth calcified in time.
CONQUEROR OF THE UNIVERSE by Abd-hamid Abd-afeez Adedamola (86%)
I am lost, stuck in a strange world;
A froth, from a rich nutrient broth.
Choices tempts me as arrays of wonderful musks.
My dilemma heightens in this atmosphere of confusion.
I ask questions, I need answers in wisdom’s form.
A noble voice quench my thirst up,
It tells of me, witnessing the beauty of human culture.
I see values in dazzling colours,
Believes in crimson glow,
Creativity in bubbly floats, within hearts of note.
I saw moral in soaring heights.
And orderliness in social strata.
The spirit of accord whirl around tradition,
As it time-travels across generations.
Tradition is nothing but an ancestral architect,
In the hearts of men he built a strong basement.
on which the factory of culture erects.
With such foundation and factory presence,
What products shall we see?
Arrays of rich creativities based on believes,
An eventuality that leaves each community completely unique.
Their social strata, reflecting the hand work of cultural ethics.
Though human might be marred,
With lingering disunity and disputes rising.
Yet human race have survived for years,
Because always have a tradition of survival;
And a culture of creative civilization,
Made us a conquerer of the universe.
LOST CULTURES: BIRTHED TO RESTORE Essang Etim Emmanuel (85%)
Come, Little One. Come, let me show you the times. Aye, history unfurls ‘neath us!
Adore, the pillars of our existence, reverence the earth
upon which we have trod, hear the rhythm of the festive drumbeats,
watch our nimble feet shuffle through mild moonlit sand- our lips
wordlessly hum in one accord; admire the fabrics that our dignity preserve.
Pray, desire thee not these things?
Observe, the big black bold beautiful beads of sweat that at the harvest gleam.
Look! Machetes swing high and lo, to and fro, laced with dutiful venom,
strain thine ears, Little One, catch the faint pristine melody of the womenfolk,
watch it meekly ascend to the clouds, ‘twined with the smoke of the evening meal.
Despise not, the wisdom of the wise old sages, memorized
by beardless bards, preserved by moonlight, playmates recite
neither with slate nor with tablets. Pray, deny not what you see,
for even the Strange Ones drool with delight for
fleshly mounds that adorn our chests, helpless
they stare, they stare, they stare…
Now the ‘scape is grim with crimes firmly forged in our foundations,
look away, Little One! Turn thither thine ears and this hubristic carnage ignore!
For infant skeletons mark the Evil Forest, poor pure souls left to rot,
communal clashes on bloody battlfields, upon our own swords we fall,
when in blindfolded wisdom we mutilate, with crude cruel blades;
even the Strange Ones exit, hearts heavy with shame…
Look now, Little One! Look now, for the Strange Ones are back,
compassion and pity flood their sockets, thoughts of annihilation lurking in their skulls.
To save us from us have they journeyed hither, yet with stealthy steel is their gentle gospel coated.
Stop them, Little One, stop them! For in their wake do our pillars crumble,
our dignity is shredded, our nudity shown in the lunar glare of the marketplace.
Go now, Little One, go! For our cultures you must reclaim, our glory you must restore!
Be brave, for you must, Little One, our salvation in your hands now lay…
TWO-FIFTY SHADES OF GREEN By Njoku Chidubem Joseph (85%)
Two-fifty shades of green:
A plethora of Imams, Chief Priests and Bishops
Fused into a solitary vision— one green State.
Two-fifty unique shades
Housed by thirty-six sheds
Should have been a survival of the fittest
But turns into a delightful blend of variety’s sweetest.
Two-fifty shades, still.
Paintings from green; beauty fills
Radiated in five-twenty-one dulcet rays
Different voices, yet the message ‘green’ remains.
Two-fifty shades is all I see
When eagles go green and the whistle blows peee!
When fufu embraces amala and tuo gives a loud grin
Two fifty shades of love: made of black and coated in green.
A CULTURE’S REVIVAL (PALINDROME) by Iwundu Wisdom (8%)
A hope found nowhere
Negligence and greed surmount
To prevail age-old traditions
Day after day
Westernization enshroud traditions and cultures
Abroad and home
Thoughts lustful, misplaced priority
Customs dead, revived reality
Discontent, our doom
Doom, our discontent
Reality revived dead customs
Priority misplaced lustful thoughts
Home and abroad
Cultures and traditions enshroud Westernization
Day after day
Traditions, age-old, prevail
To surmount greed
And negligence, nowhere found; hope
A culture redeemed.
A PRODIGAL RETURNS by Justice Jite-Eda (84%)
How did I wander off the hills of your hips?
I stopped listening to the parables from your flute
And followed after foreign fancy fruit.
Please let me take the path on your livid skin straight to your lips.
Papa, I have come home from a house that was never home,
From the fabric where I was the stain,
With my calabash to fetch and drink wisdom from your rain.
I have not grown above you, my root is spread in your loam.
I want to learn (again) to revere the totems of old age –
Respect brews gray hair and a red cap to fit.
Arrogance is a subtle choker of tomorrow.
Beat the drum of labour with your scarred palms.
I will dance out sweat to irrigate my farm;
My feet, sewing a wrapper of dust to cover my shame.
Mama, I’m back home,
To learn how you kept the path between your thighs narrow and fallow,
Cherishing chastity until kolanuts were broken and libations made.
The tongue never moves down the throat when the teeth cuts.
The conflict between the mortar and pestle smoothens the yam.
Teach me to tear and smile
When smoke from my neighbour’s fireplace choose to rest in my hut.
I learnt a few good things in my escapade, papa,
But more lie in the armpit of our pretty tradition.
The moon is not a far cry from the son.
She should not be covered with a basket because she is not the sun.
Mama, please make a fire to prepare dinner
With these dry sticks of superstition.
I’m back to the river from where I drank life.
THE AFRICAN HERITAGE by Ayoola Goodness Olanrewaju (83%)
Bereaved lines bleed in poetical notes
Of our heritage in Humpty Dumpty quotes…
And so they found us decency in clothes
To cover the glory of our nakedness
A renovation of our primitive cultural clothing creed
Like a gust of a wild wielding windy ride…
There blew a strange welcomed western breed
Spiced in the fashions of a collective craziness
And a decayed decency assumed our clothed oaths…
Our old held heritage eroded
Our nakedness never ended…!
Where are the raw beats of dexterity and forte?
Where is the beautiful voice of Aduke?
Where are the songs in didactic strums?
Where is the music in crude skin and hide?
The daughter of the man and the talking drums
Flaunts her body to the noisy nonsense concocted music
In abandon to the psychedelic ‘hip hop yippee hey’.
Our treasured heritage is plagued, blind orthodoxies
In the embrace of naked noises in stereo boxes.
Beautiful beauties untouched,
The fine face of a maiden purity
And the victorious virgin virtue dance vision…
The African woman prestige and pride…
This ravaging rape called passion
Has ruined our daughters of pure piety
On a loosed lust in dangles, manly pouched.
And we celebrate shameful bridal bash
Of beautiful broken calabash…
What glory then, lies in burnt heritage coats?
LET US DANCE, AFRICA! By Mesioye Johnson,”Affable” (83%)
Under this sighing moon did we gather beliefs
Into the howling calabash of whirling Western Culture,
Which left splashes of abnormalities on our faces,
After piles of tainted tales struck the surface of nature.
Mama’s wrappers traded honour in the market of tradition
Where moderation is the price tagged on fashion.
Ajala,papa’s ‘kembe’ never wandered below his waist,
So, why is yours throwing papa’s lessons into hollows of regret?
Abike, the pride that stained the White Cloth with virginity,
I revere your being like the dignity appeasing holiness.
But Ada, why have you allowed luxury dig you so deeply
That fortune keeps leaking on the futility surfaced by blunt desires?
Asake, why sprinkle thorny worries around our robust clan?
Why Africa, Africa why?
Why arise to the pleasant call of nature with rags as response
To its gong which drags our existence closer to the river of shame?
Why allow civilization spray derision into the air
After norms turned tatters before memories came so near,
Where values already found solace on the dying palm tree
Which disgorges nudity like dew on femininity to brag about with glee?
Now, gather the drummers at the palace of thoughts,
Where beats of chastity is what consumes our hungry hearts
With the crunches of resounding caution ‘s appetite,
Placing meal of virtues on these starving scrotums.
Pierce us with chants of revival at life’s gasping shore,
For our breath to sail on the rhythms of normalcy.
Then, prosperity would beckon with her echoing viability,
Even in the veins of the unborn with serenity as their cells.
Kembe – a type of big-sized trouser worn by fathers in the olden days
Abike, Ajala, Ada,, Asake- traditional names of people
KITAN by ADEDAYO ADEYEMI AGARAU (83%)
Prophesies foretold at the dawn of shame
Beside the river beyond the shore of tempting fear
Drags our heart down the dusty aisle of hope-
Remember the tales they told before moonlight;
Those they shared during crooked dusk
Stupors our heart with a wine of reasoning
Sending gaiety down our tortured spines
Memories of a haunted hut humming hopeful hymns
Sets our city ablaze with the fire of superfluous sorry
We hold dear these memories at the funeral of “Kulture”
Our mother who lost her life to the looting of our homeland
So we display foreign goods on the dusty paths to the market place;
Singing borrowed song graced with stolen dances at the coronation of our king
So we are free from the claws of custom who tied us with cuffs of restriction
We shall swim to the tide of forbidden rivers
Eating incest as a dessert to quench bored tongues
Aduke can follow Awelewa to dark corridors
Catching the glimpse of passion xylemed down taboo’s spine
Ajani and Ayanfe too can join to make foursome
In a game only bi-clustered hearts should play
Beauty became burning bait for the gods to catch cheating men
With thunderbolts throbbing acrobatic moves
Cowries became the alluring hook that calls the heart of naked flesh
Off the path to the village square to the rites of forsaken riches
Kitan, tales of beauty were once told in our land
Wrinkles of civilization stole breeze off our nights
Leaving us with heat to dance to on this soil of shame
Kitan, Pray for homeland
For there seem to be no route off this path of endless doom
BIAFRA STILL EXISTS by Obi Johnson Woko (83%)
When the hands touch the sixth day of every seventh juncture,
imagine the tortoise’s face ruptured in his shell and the puncturing
of breasts and lungs from the serpent’s tongue.
Remember how the elephant’s tusk was used to split the palm
in half and how the leaders saw cubs burned inside their dens
Remember the torrential outpour of common ancestral blood
and how the sky blackened the noon.
Remember the barrage of lead plummeting through
“Mother’s” skin and how thousands fled, fled!
while imperialistic rodents sucked oil out of her womb.
Remember how the coast was red crossed at the peak of crisis
and how the lizard’s tail was used to pick the residue of mice flesh
between decayed teeth. Remember and weep.
Weep not just for millions sacrificed for thirst of power, whose
crimsoned floods were the bathing site for cannibals in suits—
but for the troops that was blinded to hands behind the smoke.
Weep for those that survived and lived to utter the horrors
and were no longer at ease or peace.
Remember, retrace, relive in thought— But do not dance.
Drum not on the djembe or the omele, but rather on the
adolescent bellies of the villages—- inflamed, hollow, and
Drum softly on their bellies by the rivers and hear the agony
echo through the forest.
Only then will it be understood why we raise no flags nor
celebrate the roasting of swine.
I am a member of the WRR editorial team.