-OSIWA Poetry Fellow, Lekpele Nyamalon, urges students
A Liberian poet, Lekpele M. Nyamalon, is challenging Liberian students to pay keen attention to reading in order to be abreast of information and dispel misconceptions people have about Africa.
He said it will help every student to discover facts and falsehoods people will say about Africa. For example, he noted, the Ebola scourge that struck Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone made people pessimistic about Africa, referring to it as a “failed” continent with many social ills.
“To know ourselves better, we the current generation should be able to read and research any false account about us; we can correct some of the misconceptions about Africa,” Nyamalon told the Daily Observer in an interview.
Mr. Nyamalon made the assertion on Wednesday, April 5, when he presented a copy of ‘Soaring Africa,’ an anthology of poems published in 2016 by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), to the Daily Observer. The Obsever has published many poems by Nyamalon in its arts and lifestyle section, LIB Life.
The anthology, which is now part of the African literature collection in the Daily Observer’s Stanton B. Peabody Library, features some 73 original poems by eighteen established and emerging poets from across West Africa, including Nyamalon, reimagining the continent using the metaphor of the soaring eagle.
Nyamalon was also among other African poets in Senegal who compiled poems on ‘Reinventing Africa,’ a program for West African poets sponsored by OSIWA. Four of his poems are featured in in ‘Soaring Africa,’ namely: Come on Stage Africa; Holding our Fathers’ Bags; I am The Black Root; and I Saw Africa Rise.
Giving a brief explanation of each of his poems, he said ‘Come on Stage Africa’ likened Africa to a beautiful young girl with talent that is afraid to show it “perhaps because of fear, lack of self-confidence and low self-esteem.” He said the poem calls on Africans to be courageous and exhibit their talents to put the continent on the global stage.
He said ‘Holding our Fathers’ Bags’ looks at the valuable stories about Africa in African history, and seeks to encourage African students to read their cultural history and dispel whatever false information others will say about Africans.
‘I am The Black Root,’ according to the poet, calls on members of the Black race to reflect on their struggle with other races and to appreciate themselves.
‘I saw Africa on The Rise’ highlights the future of Africa despite being in existence for centuries. This piece, Nyamalon said, gives hope to Africans to imagine the future of their continent and to work towards its development.
Commenting on how the poems were selected and assembled, the Liberian poet said it was done through a vetting process with each applicant submitting ten poems.
“It was from the vetting that my work was considered and I benefited from the program. I am therefore humbled to be a part of this ‘Poets Residency’ and thankful to OSIWA for the support. I am also grateful to the Daily Observer family for supporting me to publish most of my work over the years,” Nyamalon said.
He underscored the lack of government support for writers as a serious challenge; however, he said it should not deter writers from doing their job because they form an integral part of building the culture of every society.