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  14 August 2018   Arts and Writing  |  Beauty & Style  |  Education  |  Entertainment  |  Family & Romance  |  Health  |  Politics & Business  |  Sports  |  Technology & Autos  |  Travel  | 
In Glow and Thoughts: A Morning after Winning, by Adeeko Ibukun
September 04 , 2015

When I started writing, I did not know I would win a prize. I did not even know I would be published at all, not even in pamphlets or online journals. There were times I was at crossroads—this was because I knew the energy in me could be used to forge a life in different directions—and then, something would happen and it would put me on its compass.

I remember, about 3 years ago, reading a line on Facebook, “bathing my eyes in the season of freeze,” and instant-messaging the writer of the post, implying I knew she was a poet. She is Unoma Azuah, the poetry editor of the then Sentinel Nigeria, a literary journal for contemporary Nigerian writing. I did not know her before then. She agreed with me that she was a poet and shared her website with me; later she requested to see some of my poems. I sent her Muse and Your Eyes and she published them. I knew that day I would write more. I knew then the compass bearing and I did not feel lost.

But the process of writing and producing a worthy work is only fired by hope. Some brilliant artworks have the history of falling out of sync with their time leaving the artist depressed. This is not an easy thought to bear, knowing one may suffer such fate. So one periodically needs validations to stay in the court, to stay in the process—here, I do not imply quick need to be noticed or famous, but I speak of encouragements that could help one vault over the constant fear that accompanies the journey of writing: its milestones of failures often waiting as rejection letters in the mailbox or trashed copies of unsuccessful drafts. 

While respite seems to be emerging for the prose genre, poetry seems to suffer more and, for this, without need for references or particular stories—the facts stare at me now—a number of talented writers have quit the art. Ours is the loss of whatever enlightenment the works of art they could have produced could bring us. 

Yet we need artist because we need art. Sometimes I think only carefully created artworks will redeem us. Some part of Africa is conflict ridden. Her politics is fueled by blotted individual interest, religion and ethnic divide and more importantly ignorance. There is hardly room for common good in the ethos of her politics. But good literature increase our pores; it breaks through firewalls of self, sentiments and prejudice to make us feel the experience of others or perhaps make us see ourselves better in shades of lights that give illuminations.

Stories, poems, play and others are therapeutic; they put us in malleable frameworks where we spend hours learning and considering the experience of others. This experience often has emotional truth and suspends dangerous binaries that favour conflict. The participatory element of literature engenders empathy and enlightenment in all of us, often at subliminal level where character is built. It increases our tendency to be interested in others beyond the framework of stories and cleans the lens of our vision for increased perception to better understand complexities.

To what extent is art crucial and how far will this brand new faith steer me, is the jarring thought that woke me this morning in the ambience of the Eureka Place, Kampala city. I am glowing in the warmth of the people of Uganda, how they easily smile and always willing to offer assistance anytime I needed one. I am in the broad arms of the Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation, particularly encompassed by the geniality of my host, Beverley Nambozo. I am ambling in the across-border experience the platform offers me, the overwhelming loom of winning, the possible impact it would have over my future works and the energy and faith it gives.

It is 29th of Aug, the morning next to the night I was announced the winner of the 2015 Babishai Niwe Poetry Award. The time is about 9 am (local time), the sun is out and regal, its brightness slips from the curtain like a baby’s smiles, there are birds tweeting outside as hints of promises, they make me consider flying but the voice of Sheila, who wrote the Ghost of Jevangee and took the second place, lingers; she said to me (in private) before checking out of the hotel at about 7 am, ‘Ibukun, this experience will make me read and write more.’ There is certainty in her eyes.

Adeeko Ibukun lives and writes from Abeokuta, Nigeria. He is the winner of the 2015 Babishai Niwe Poetry Award. 

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