A Soiree for Soyinka (for Kongi @ 88)

By Iboro Otongaran

A time had come for dance and pithy songs

And also for a moment to clear the forest

In a feast for a man whose theatre sparkles

With dance and drums, and casts a timeless

If enigmatic look on life, leaving critics with

Eternity of work to ensure him immortality

In endless search for meaning from a pen

Whose verses paint a canvas of life foibles

Plus other genres of brilliance and ecstasy


So devotees gathered and also those drawn

By a name they admire but find forbidding

Dense beyond reach yet tantalizing by fame

The gathering was a big promise, thanks to

The Club that choreographed imagination

Of feast, Soyinkan theatre and illumination

For a weekend of escape and education

This was the pull for all, especially those

Hungry to slake their accustomed taste

On the vintage cuisine of the genius’s oeuvre

And wanted to sip from his fabled palm wine

And more so for new minds whose hearts

Pulsated with a quest for a break to pry open

The much-lamented armoured door that bars

Them from the much touted literary brew

From the peerless pride of the Black race


Nothing speaks better than outcome, they say

The evening looked the part, did it taste the part?

Yes, there was theatre filled with songs and dance

Worthy of Soyinka’s art in cadences that dripped

With history and language arresting in delivery

And raw to the feel, but was the forest cleared

Of tangled foliage to let in light for clear sight?

Did we open the door to admit the young people

Out at Watbridge, thirsty and eager that evening

To grab at any hint leading finally to the Holy Grail?

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