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‘Ori Agbe’ For Kongi

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‘Ori Agbe’ For Kongi


Ori Agbe1As Wole Soyinka clocks 80 on Sunday July 13, 2014, different activities have been lined up for the celebration of this Nigeria’s illustrious poet and Nobel Laureate. For some years now annually, the month of July is Wole Soyinka’s season. Arts exhibitions, stage plays, poetry readings, musical shows and all kinds of literary activity are usually put together to celebrate him. This year is not different at all even as the great poet attains the golden age of 80.

And so, in the spirit of this celebration, famous Nigerian performance poet and journalist, Akeem Lasisi has joined the train of celebration for Soyinka with a timely release of a musical and video poetry titled ‘Ori Agbe.’ Lasisi is coming out with this new album almost three years after he celebrated poet and academic, Niyi Osundare and the slain Minister of Justice, Bola Ige, with tracks in ‘Wonderland’ (Eleleture).

Released on the label of Full Point Music, ‘Ori Agbe’ was first produced in 2004 to mark the 70th birthday of the man several admirers affectionately call Kongi. However, the title track has been reproduced and is now accompanied by a video.

The album is full of interesting poetry spiced with songs, dance and other dramatic elements Lasisi, producer of ‘Post Mortem’ and ‘Wonderland’ (Eleleture) is renowned for.

In the title track, Lasisi speaks of Soyinka thus: Because there may never be a second night/I shall plant my tongue in the soil of tonight/I shall construct a castle of words/As an eternal monument for a sage’s birth/ Emo rat rises healthily in Opo Ile/Aferebojo rises healthily in its hole/Whether eku emo rises well or not/Once Soyinka rises well the deed is done.

“Although this is not the first time we would release a poetry video, ‘Ori Agbe’ is very symbolic,” says Lasisi of the work dedicated to the Nobel Laureate.

Lasisi, a two-time winner of the ANA/Cadbury Poetry Prize, says Soyinka deserves to be celebrated and honoured for his several achievements. “It is a poetic honour to whom is due,” he says, “and it is a fine excuse to recreate the panegyric/praise tradition of the Yoruba. But, when considered along similar efforts that we have made in the past – including the production of ‘Eleleture’ – ‘Ori Agbe’ has been produced to exhibit the entertainment qualities of poetry.”

Lasisi, who is also a journalist with The Punch newspaper as arts editor explains that the title song was inspired by an old album of Ifa priest and poet, Yemi Elebuibon.

The video was shot at Freedom Park, Lagos Island, where Soyinka incidentally has an office, comes with the full complement of talking drums, bata, flute and Yoruba proverbs.

Other artistes who featured in the video includes Edaoto Agbeniyi, Lasisi’s associate and singer,  Awoko and Ayisat Kafidipe are featured in the video which presents the totality of African arts that Soyinka himself has always celebrated in his works. It also features former dance captain of the National Troupe of Nigeria, Emmanuel Adejumo, and his dance troupe.

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