“We promise we shall build the new cities over your bodies” – Kofi Awoonor. It’s his birthday!

Kofi Awoonor 1

Today would have been Kofi Awoonor’s 79th birthday.

Dela, of African Soulja, and I will celebrate the poet on our blogs and on Twitter.  The hashtag is #Awoonor79.

I begin with an excerpt from  “In Memoriam”, the opening poem of Awoonor’s The Latin American and Caribbean Notebook (1992). The poem begins with a “single line honor roll”:

For friends gone ahead: Joe de Graft, Ellis Komey, Paa Kayper, Camara Laye, Chris Okigbo, Alex La Guma, Robert Serumaga, and Geombeyi Adali-Mortty, all the brothers who sang our song,  and went home to the ancestors.

The promise in the last stanza of the poem resonates with me as I hold on to the hope that one day, we will do all this over, do it right, this African Project.

And who said that the drama of the dying
wipes out the consequences
and the central theatre of death?

Brothers, your tombs are the verses you carved
on granitic memories;
oh, how I grieve over the tempests
that blew away the young poets
singers of all our songs in this land of fetters.
We promise we shall build the new cities
over your bones,
that your mortuaries shall become the birthplace,
that our land and people
shall rise again
from the ashes of your articulate sacrifices!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, UNCLE KOFI!

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