Lament with Drums for the Hero: for Kofi Awoonor
By Patricia Jabbeh Wesley
Oh, my mothers, what sort of grief is this?
Kofi Awoonor, poet of poets,
father of the father of poets,
dew catcher, so that those walking
behind do not wet their garments,
Kofi, the one from whom we drank
before we knew how to hold the jug,
before we knew ourselves,
before we knew words, father of poets,
oh, which lappa shall I put on now?
So, they say our mother’s great son
has been laid waste by angry men?
Oh, what words can we use now, Kofi?
Did you leave us a word somewhere
on your garment, in the pool of blood,
the word you would have used
to tell this other story?
Now, what shall we use to wipe
our eyes now that you are gone?
Oh, may the millipedes not find home
in our mother’s dwelling.
May the sun not shine on the hut
of those who took you so violently.
But where are the words now, father?
Oh, my mother, so you say, where
now shall we dwell on our homecoming?
Show me the homestead
that will welcome us home now,
Kofi, show me the homestead.
Kofi Awoonor, one of Africa’s greatest poets, Ghanaian writer, has left us. He was among dozens massacred in the shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Professor Awoonor is among those early writers of multi-genre African literature, those who risked their lives in their writing, jailed, tortured over their long writing career and now, to be killed so senselessly. As a student of African literature, a fellow poet of the generation that stood upon their shoulders, I call on all lovers of literature, of Africa and of African literature to celebrate the life of a great poet even while grieving his murder. We are forever indebted to your courage, your talent, your ability to stay strong despite decades of instability in Ghana, your homeland.
THE JOURNEY BEYOND – KOFI AWOONOR
The bowling cry through door posts
carrying boiling pots
ready for the feasters.
Kutsiami the benevolent boatman;
5 When I come to the river shore
please ferry me across
I do not have on my cloth-end
the price of your stewardship.
By Kofi Awoonor
On this dirty patch
a tree once stood
shedding incense on the infant corn:
its boughs stretched across a heaven
brightened by the last fires of a tribe.
They sent surveyors and builders
who cut that tree
planting in its place
A huge senseless cathedral of doom.
These are a list of some of his books that are on Wikipedia.
- Rediscovery and Other Poems (1964)
- Night of My Blood (1971) – poems that explore Awoonor’s roots, and the impact of foreign rule in Africa
- The House By the Sea (1978)
- This Earth, My Brother (1971) – a cross between a novel and a poem
- Comes the Voyager at Last (1992)
- The Breast of the Earth: A Survey of the History, Culture, and Literature of Africa South of the Sahara (1975) Anchor Press, ISBN 0-385-07053-5
- Ghana: A Political History from Pre-European to Modern Times (1990)