Exile at Home, Poetry
By Femi Ojo-Ade
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Exile at Home is a poetry collection that explores the theme of exile, 'a dreaded and deadly estate for today's Africans,' from two perspectives, within and outside the homeland. Exile, 'that time of turmoil, that season of mental bankruptcy and material buoyancy,' is full of pitfalls. If the exile finds no succour at home, he is no less of an alien abroad, where he remains marginalised, notwithstanding whatever wealth he may amass.
These poems delve into two periods of Africans' enslavement: Then (16th - 19th centuries), it was involuntary; now, it is voluntary. The main theme is Alienation. Nigeria and Africa are the primary settings. The other, diasporic settings, are Brazil, Cuba, and the United States of America, outposts where the poet visits and works.
This is a poetry about People. African heroes, such as Nelson Mandela, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Ken Saro-Wiwa, and Wole Soyinka. Villains, too: Nigeria's traditional rulers, university executives, politicians in uniform and in mufti, self-deluding merxists, and others. The characters are also Everyday People: Lovers, workers, students, black women and children, survivors all.
The poet derives his style from the orature of his Yoruba nation, in which the poet is a performer, a singer in conjunction with a participating audience. In the drum, the percussive thud of words loaded with the anger and impatience of a committed artist seeking change for the better. The staccato configuration of the language signifies the problems of a depressed society and suffering and dispersed people.
Beyond hate lies love: Love of his people, and his home, to which the exile hopes to return, alive.
About the author: Formerly Professor and Head of Department of Foreign Languages at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, FEMI OJO-ADE is currently Professor at St. Mary's College of Maryland, USA, where he has been pioneer Coordinator of the African and African Diaspora Studies Program. An internationally recognized scholar of Black Literatures and Cultures, Ojo-Ade is also an award-winning creative writer.
In addition to many articles and essays, he has published eighteen books of criticism, fiction, and poetry. The long list includes:
- A. critical texts: ON BLACK CULTURE; BEING BLACK, BEING HUMAN; DEATH OF A MYTH: CRITICAL ESSAYS ON NIGERIA; KEN SARO-WIWA, A BIO-CRITICAL STUDY; LEON-GONTRAN DAMAS.
- B. fiction: HOME, SWEET, SWEET HOME (translated into Brazilian Portuguese as MAMA AFRICA); DEAD END; BLACK GODS; ONE LITTLE GIRL'S DREAMS.
- C. poetry: EXILE AT HOME.
- D. Ojo-Ade writes in several languages, including his native Yoruba, Englich, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. His first novel in French, LES PARADIS TERRESTRES, was recently co-published by African Heritage Press and Amoge Press.
More information on this writer may be obtaine at: http://www.smcm.edu
His creative works include:
- Dead End (2001)
- The Almond Tree (2000)
- Exile At Home (1998) (Honorable mention 1999 Association of Nigerian Authors/Cadbury prize for Poetry)
- Ken Saro-Wiwa: A Bio-Critical Study (1999)
- Black Gods (2002)
- One Little Girl’s Dream (wins Association of Nigerian Authors’ Prize for children’s Literature in 1999)
- Home Sweet Sweet Home (Translated into Portuguese)
- Death of a Myth: Critical Essays on Nigeria, Les Paradis Terrestres ( French 2003)
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