Ghanaian poet Alhassan Rabiu has emerged winner of the May edition of the BRIGITTE POIRSON POETRY CONTEST (BPPC) 2018 which was themed: ‘THE COUNTRY OF MY DREAM’. It is the first time a non-Nigerian will win the poetry contest.
His entry, a beautifully rhymed poem entitled CONVERSATIONS WITH MY PILLOWS, was the clear winner. Wayne Adewale Samuel’s I AM AT THE END OF WORDS and Gideon Sampson Cecil’s COUNTRY OF MY DREAM finished in the 1st-runner-up and 2nd-runner-up positions respectively.
Alhassan, who hails from Northern Ghana, is a professional teacher with a Diploma in Basic Education from Bagabaga College of Education, Ghana; a Bachelor’s degree (Hons.) in Integrated Development Studies from the University for Development Studies, Ghana; and, an MPhil degree in Social Work from University of Ghana. He is presently a Development Practitioner with enormous interest in academic writing, and, in areas such as poetry as well as African traditional literature.
Wayne, the only Nigerian in the top three, is a graduate of Mass Communication from the University of Benin. He is the winner of Season 6 of Nigeria’s Foremost Poetry Slam Competition, War of Words. His whose works cut across poetry, script writing, fiction, spoken word poetry, stage writing, and copy-writing.
Third-placed Gideon Sampson Cecil is a poet, fiction writer and freelance journalist from Guyana, a country on South America’s North Atlantic coast.
Below are the top 10 poems:
- CONVERSATIONS WITH MY PILLOWS by Alhassan Rabiu
- I AM AT THE END OF WORDS by Wayne Adewale Samuel
- COUNTRY OF MY DREAM by Gideon Sampson Cecil
- NIGERIA OF MY DREAMS by Oche Celestine Onjewu
- I KNOW WHY THE BAT IS BLIND by Samuel Kuye
- TIME FOR RECKONING NIGERIA by Godwin Nket-Awaji Alpheaus
- THE NIGERIA OF MY DREAMS by Ogedengbe Tolulope Impact
- THIS DREAM by Ernest O. Ogunyemi
- TIME by Chidi Jennifer Orjinta
- NIGERIA WILL YOU MARRY ME? by Veralyn Chinenye
CONVERSATIONS WITH MY PILLOWS by Alhassan Rabiu
Let me lay down my pretence,
To remind my land we aren’t there;
Let me wear a tongue of prudence,
So I can make this dream clear.
We’re strangled in pretentious smiles
While reality is far in zillions of miles;
So my heart mewls with my pillows,
Whimpering like those of fresh widows;
On my wet pillows I stand for a country
Whose agony has lived in a century.
Yet I see hoard of gold in a realm
Whose story shall stand tall and firm;
Here the pillows whisper to me
Images of a tranquil sea,
On whom a ship travels to my soul
To deliver fruits of my heart’s gaol –
A people cloaked in true prosperity –
With a tomorrow of grace in eternity.
As the whispers lull me to a sleep,
Sleep leads me to a heavenly keep,
Where there are no swords and spears;
Where true smiles are the only tears;
Then I see writings on ancestral walls –
‘The kingdom shall know no falls’,
‘The land to be free of gender inequality’,
‘Diverse cultures to sow seeds of unity’,
‘For at last, Ghana, a story of prosperity’.
I AM AT THE END OF WORDS by Wayne Adewale Samuel
Teetering on the edge of lips,
I remember what the first was,
I know what the last word is.
We have prevailed,
E go better.
A seesaw to comeuppance.
A coin toss of one chance.
We got it right,
Then we were terribly wrong.
The wailing in the night
Was the mornings victory song.
Should’ve stayed in his hands,
White Jesus could’ve saved us,
But his brother bumbled the Middle East,
So maybe it was a favour.
Maybe the swing, and the boy on it
Need to grow up.
He needs to get off and do the work,
It needs to stay up there.
Stop treating this like a playground,
They need to come back where,
People hold their heads high as the flag
And adult men no longer play in the sand.
Guns no longer immunize the hand,
And take shots at the masses around.
Where a prayer of thanks, is the only time
Hands kiss the sky, and knees hit the ground.
COUNTRY OF MY DREAM by Gideon Sampson Cecil
The day is green in this blessed land Guyana
Grey clouds wore her wardrobe over the sea.
Green parrots marched like soldiers in the wind
Brown waterfalls walked across this blessed land.
The dark-red horizon falls in love over the sea.
A red robin rejoices on a joyful coconut tree.
The vociferous ocean sends her rains from afar.
In the dew-dawn day cows grazed down an angry river
Slender corn trees weep in the eyes of the wind.
Sea birds danced on a brilliant bone white beach.
High sand hills climb the air to stand
stretching her beautiful arms all across this
immortal land Guyana.
A pale half-moon hides her face behind
a succulent mango tree,
as the world slumbers in rest.
In the dead night the rain clouds dream under the skies,
Her dark veil hides the silver stars at night.
From the eastern horizon, the crying moon shows me her pale light,
For me to see the beauty of Guyana for my eyes to delight
A green macaw calls her mate in the dead night
waking the night owl from her rest.
The teeth of the wind bites me from afar,
the warm moonlight caressed my lips in the rainy breeze
conquering my dreams of love for this blessed land.
NIGERIA OF MY DREAMS by Oche Celestine Onjewu
I dream of a land of tranquility as our founding father beget,
Where I shall salute the national flag with zero regrets,
Where the green part of the flag actually means agriculture,
Not some desolated fields where farmers lay dead as food for vultures,
I dream of a country where I shall call home,
Where I am welcomed in every part of this dome,
A land where I shall be able to work anywhere am residing,
Where value addition is better than certificate of origin.
A country that Honesty means something, and integrity holds water,
Where elites enter politics because they have something to offer,
When an Igbo man would in sincerity rule Bornu state for sure,
And then alas we shall hear the drums of war no more,
I dream of a country where leaders of tomorrow is no longer just some song,
Making me feel that my teachers all this while were wrong,
A country where the young ones are given due shots at leadership,
And not stuck in an endless loop of recycling politics.
I dream of a country where a child is accounted for,
Even before being given birth to, he/she is cared for,
I dream that Religiosity died on the altar of spirituality,
Where Federal character was sacrificed on the cross of meritocracy.
I dream of a Nigeria with love as its core,
Where education is loved and catered for,
Where there are no more strikes and hates from my professor.
I dream of a nation where hunger is no more,
Where the gap between the rich and the poor is closed-up on,
Where due process everywhere is followed to the latter,
So that be you rich or poor, first come first serve is our new Character.
I KNOW WHY THE BAT IS BLIND by Samuel Kuye
Ere monsters began to feed on flesh, we’re green
We all, so green, fed on leaves; fish fed on water
And snail on humus; none lacked skin, food or shelter
Till peacocks and ostriches contested for the fat and lean
The Cats, dogs, hippos, hyenas, orcas and sharks –strong willed
Snakes, crocodiles, eagles, hawks –all gone wild
On land, air and in waters –blood spilled
The herbivores and hens –hopeless, helpless but mild
The Bat and I sought for a world –of old order
We stayed on trees, heads-down –watching fighting and feasting
Claws, fangs, arrows and swords tear flesh –with no order
We see deaths delight dukes and dancers –more crying, less smiling,
The bat and I moved at night, roaming round in pain and hunger
Then I flew around in light, net wrapped me, cage kept me
And from hands to hands, for coins, I was starved and taken to homes
Seeing hens and chicks fed with maize –I lost my innocence
For in escape, I caught a chick and ate –I lost my way for long
I’m no more faultless, now in a web of violence
And bats flew in day light –they’re hunted and killed
But I helped my friend escape and she saw me preyed on a chick
“Alas” hawks now delight in deaths, I’ll rather press my eyes
Than see the innocent, gone wild, violent”
“Dear bat, night traveler, I still dream of a country
Where there’s no trap or deaths during the day
Nor hunters and arrows at night; nor greed and avarice;
For I know it’s not scarcity that caused insanity –
There’s abundance to tame violence.
TIME FOR RECKONING NIGERIA by Godwin Nket-Awaji Alpheaus
It is here, the holy hour of reckoning;
Hour to redress our bedlam-cluttered bed –
The cradle of my youth, blanketed with counterpane of convoluted concatenation.
A bed where we, offsprings of surrogate mother,
Wake with bleak dreams strewn on our scalps like bristled wisp of air.
It is here, time to sing with primordial flute,
For innumerable days, we’ve been stranded in this quagmire,
Nurturing the cacophony of being dumb.
We have watched the risible disguise of our Coat of Arm:
The valiant eagle becomes emblem of question, not national exertion –
Where is our strength, when the eagle becomes duck fettered in sadistic minds?
We have watched gavel become gravel hurled at poor birds,
While sanctity pledged allegiance to affluence, not porous pocket.
For our river doesn’t have weir,
We watched tide of birth flu immerse our shore;
Our oblong sphere suffers religious cardinal eclipse.
We send our offsprings, with tattered clothes, like Fulanis on street edge,
To hawk, not school, for there are trillion jobs in the country.
Our gullible minds become receptacle of stale truths,
Where rites of reincarnation play ubiquitous sleight.
Oh Nigeria of my youth, flowing with tender corpuscle of a suckling,
Will your auspicious shadow recede in my dream?
Will you silently watch hegemonic perfidy trick you into becoming tawdry?
A stale dream produces a rotten future!
Will the future perennially stare at your offsprings with bleak eyes?
A man who motivates his neighbor to destroy his home
Will never keep him under the same roof for eternity.
Build, build your home, for there’s no death as deficient as suicide!
THE NIGERIA OF MY DREAMS by Ogedengbe Tolulope Impact
Tomorrow, in the diary of my poetry,
I will write about a new country,
A vast haven beneath the silvery sky
Where honey flows and never run dry.
I will write about her shining rivers,
Coursing their paths in endless wonders,
The green plains, and the fertile fields
Producing bountiful grains with plenty yields.
I will write about her hilly mountains,
The vegetations, and the frolic fountains,
The precious stones, and the crude minerals,
Mined, refined, and piped freely to their terminals.
Tomorrow, in the diary of my poetry,
I will write about a new country,
A hallowed heaven devoid of terror and strife
Where citizens know the true value of life.
I will write about a unified nation,
Forcefully fortified against opposition,
An empire consecrated with perfect smile(s)
Where truth reigns regally with no guile.
I will write about a blissful heartland
Where food are as common as sand
I will write about the fount of pure streams,
A graceful utopia- the Nigeria of my dreams.
THIS DREAM by Ernest O. Ogunyemi
Softly, like butterfly on flower,
Something lighted on my brow
And crept into my eyes;
Something real and tangible
Like Nature’s beautiful world.
Children suckt no dry fingers
For mothers were the fullness
In the pockets of fathers.
Life was survivable there:
We ate no bombshell.
And like each stroke
Of the Artist’s brush
In our many differences
We found beauty.
Day broke into my eyes:
Life is still the same here;
Unchanging like the regurgitative return of Abiku.
But I pray
That this dream of yesterday
Will, if not today,
Be the reality of our tomorrow.
TIME by Chidi Jennifer Orjinta
A priest meets a man at a confession,
“What troubles your soul?”,
I am pondering over time,
The time it takes the love birds to sing in the wind,
With beautiful baby girls and strong boys dancing to their beat.
These images keep me up at night,
As I envision this alternate reality,
A place that fills me with pride,
As i gaze upon my achievements span far and wide,
Shaded by rooted branches resembling soothing tides.
That all children could feel again,
For they hold the seal for a tomorrow,
To give new life into old hearts,
To smile brightly at the world,
And talk about what truly matters.
“And what truly matters to you, my child?”,
Too much time has been spent accumulating and accounting,
such hard rocks we all have become.
“And how does that make you feel?”,
Trapped enough to believe in all the illusions i cannot see,
Trapped enough to have my dreams conflict with time,
wondering if time aids or sings a contradictory chime.
But i appreciate the lightness of my troubles father,
For when an elder listens a child can truly feel free.
NIGERIA WILL YOU MARRY ME? by Veralyn Chinenye
I grope deeply in thinking of you again and again
The waters roar in synonym with my voice
I hold a leaf in the middle of this ocean Wrapping promises on the feet of Rushing waters
With fearful excitement, like a bride
I crawl up to the deep
Defying the odds thrown at me
I think of you…
You have stolen a chunk of my heart
I’m lost in the beat of your drums
Please take me…
For I have no tribe, this is my tribe…
I connect bridges between Amala and Ewedu and watch Fura de nunu swing her waist down
For my love is unified in diversity
Treating all with dignity
Neglecting tribalism and shutting nepotism,
Folding the rising tides of ferocious favouritism
My love is beyond boundaries and bodies
My love is a cup full of Hausa’s drinking with Igbos, Yoruba’s dinning with Edo isoko and Urhobo embracing the Efiks
Come, let’s drink from this cup and ignore the poisoned beer from Satan
For in the saltiness of lake there is sweetness
Will you marry me, Nigeria?
Alhassan will be awarded the N8000 cash prize, and his poem, along with all the other TOP 10 finalists, will be automatically entered for the ALBERT JUNGERS POETRY PRIZE (AJPP) 2018 and published in the BPPC 2018 anthology. The finalists will also each receive a certificate and free copies of the BPPC 2018 anthology, to be awarded at the Words Rhymes & Rhythm Literary Festival 2018.
The BRIGITTE POIRSON POETRY CONTEST, a brainchild of Words Rhymes & Rhythm (WRR), is a monthly writing contest aimed at rewarding the under-appreciated talent of young Nigerian poets. It was instituted in February 2015 in honor of Brigitte Poirson, a French poet and lecturer, editor, who has over the years worked assiduously to promote and support of African poetry. Now in its third season, and being one of the few credible contests for poets, the BPPC has since grown to be one of country’s most popular, especially among the younger poets.
I am a member of the WRR editorial team.