DIARY OF A NAGGER (A Review of Timi Rowland Kpakiama’s SONG OF BENASORO)

Title: Song of Benasoro
Author: Timi Rowland Kpakiama
Genre: Poetry
Format: Paperback
Extent: 66 pages
ISBN: 978-978-934-004-0
Publisher: Origami Books, Parresia Press

 

It is a collection of 15 poems by one Benasoro and one Brisibe about a million trivialities. Put more precisely, it is basically a diary of a provincial nag by name Benasoro, who is languishing in unrequited love for her husband Brisibe who fancies some other woman. Benasoro just cannot understand why Brisibe “despises” her for Cecilia whose

“… bones crack

Like dry kuru wood when

She walks. Her age

Has long passed child-bearing…”

 

She cannot hide her disgust for ballroom dancing which she thinks is “for those with scabies on their buttocks”. She finds it appalling that

“A man whom you are not married to

Would politely place his hands

On your shoulders

Bobbing up here and there like averen insects.”

 

But at the end she learns to

“cast down my pride,

And trampled on it

With the sole of my sandals

And learnt the steps of the ballroom dancing,”

 

Benasoro is a total aberration of “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” She lacks the jealousy of Cleopatra. Where you expect her to fight her rival, she whiningly complains to her inattentive clansmen. Where you expect her to be reasonable, she jeers at her rival from a safe distance. No psychoanalyst will take Benasoro seriously. Not because her case is irredeemable but because she is unstable. One moment she is deriding ballroom dancing and another moment she becomes very interested in it she wants to learn it. One moment she admits that Cecilia “drinks from the clay pot” and then later she tells us that Cecilia is so posh she doesn’t “drink from our water pot…”

She doesn’t even spare her husband who has become so westernized that he will put on his “three-piece suit under the/ roof of this scorching sun…” We further learn that he

“… kills his time

Reading Marx’s The Capital

He does not have spare time

For unproductive talk.”

 

Brisibe is suffering from Salvation Complex. Even before he becomes a member of the People Liberation Party, he vows that “he will single-handedly uproot the huge/ tree of poverty and ignorance/ that is blocking the view of Oyakiri clan.” He claims

“… he alone has

The chest to chase the python poverty

Away from the impoverished gates of Oyakiri and Kabo.”

 

There is very little else Brisibe seems to have to do than deride every other person. He believes that

 

“… the Kaduna Mafia

Are responsible for the arrival of

Python poverty swallowing the hopes of our countrymen.

The mafia must be eliminated at all costs.”

 

Benasoro is not only hysteric but also suffers from Persecution Complex. In THE THATCH OF THIS RAFTER IS FALLING, she tells us how

“For decades, each Hausa warloard

Has lived in the castle of our skin.

The dissident says his pygmy mind

Had not been circumcised

On the mountain of books,

So he does not care that

The university’s gate is growing rusty”

Song of Benasoro chronicles the career life cycle of the average politician. At first, they don the revolutionary garb armed to the teeth with Marxist or liberalist ideologies. Next, they endear themselves to the masses, vowing to restore the world to the state of Eden if given the opportunity to occupy public offices. But once they have gotten there, they will align with the old enemy and mutually rape the helpless masses. Brisibe completes that crazy cycle. Through the People Liberation Party, he occupies a position of power from where he hopes to dismantle the

“… Structures of the Kaduna Mafia,

Grind it into powder and blow it into

The endless pit of River Gongola

Where it will be washed away forever.” (pp 19)

 

But soon he joins the Millionaire Club, and

“… washes his velvet hands

With Spanish wine at the same table

With retired Generals whose oil fields sullied the creeks

Of Oyakiri and Tarakiri clans!” (pp 21)

 

At first glance, one can easily be intimidated by some of the names in the AKNOWLEDGMENT page and in the blurbs section of this book. One would think that these persons should have been able to spot, and then alert the poet about, the handful of stones that has ended up marring his plate of rice. The reader’s enthusiasm begins to corrode right from the ACKNOWLEDGMENT page which seems too rife with grammatical errors. None of the fifteen poems that make up the collection can be totally absolved of one grammatical error or the other. There is no doubt that the poet and his publisher have good intentions towards their readers. But that alone is insufficient to make the readers’ hearts dance. More can be done by both writers and publishers to see that works don’t get out of the laboratory until it has survived the test of fire and.

One good thing about this book is that it will make you wonder once again what makes a thing a poem? Is it its form or its substance? Is converting a flood of words into short uneven lines (whether or not these words spark up imageries at a higher plane) enough to make a write-up a poem?

I am not saying that reading this book isn’t worth the pains. Of course, any effort to propagate literature is a welcome development. Majority of us may not dispute the fact that Song of Benasoro is a poetry collection, even though most of us would wish that the words within were as graphical and picturesque as the rich cover design of the book.

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About Uchenna-Franklin

I am Uchenna Ekweremadu (with/out a middle name ). I write. Poetry and prose, mainly. Nonfiction too. My works have appeared in Grub Street, Coe Review, Saraba Magazine, Imitation Fruit Journal, The Write Room, Wilderness House Literary Review, A&U American AIDS Magazine, Kalahari Review, Sentinel Nigeria Literary, Flashquake and elsewhere. I have interests in music, history and photography.
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