What would you do if you knew that a great writer, a poet, would spend some of his last days with you in his presence?
Would you hug him tight, overcome with emotion?
Would you run away, afraid of the birth of reality?
Would you try to absorb all the wisdom from him before his time comes?
These are just some of the thoughts that softly haunt me as I remember my last moments with Kofi Awoonor. He was one of the best African poets in the 20th century. But it’s so unfortunate that such a great mind was snatched away from us due to a cowardly act of the Al Shabaab.
But I am glad, so glad that I had the chance to ask him a heavy question that had been boggling my mind as a young African writer. And Kofi responded by saying that it was a beautifully packaged question.
He told me to refresh my knowledge about true African poetry.
He told me to go back to my people and uncover poetic treasure in our customs.
He told me to ask all the questions that would suppress my doubts.
He told me to reconnect so that I may rediscover African poetry.
Little did I know that in a less than a day, this great teacher would be gone even before I sent him my first piece of literature for his review.
But I am glad that I got to be his student – that I got to ask him questions.
I got to laugh with him as he teased my bubbly nature.
I got to be silent and wonder at his wisdom as he read some poetry.
I got to bob my head to the rhythm of the folk songs he sang by his Ewe people of Ghana.
I got to learn… A poem at a time, until he put a full-stop on the lifelong poem he had lived all along.
“Where are you heading?” I asked.
Don’t you know?
Home – The second circle