I knew Kofi Awoonor! I knew him because all poets know each other. I knew him because the spirits of all poets are fellow citizens of one country. His works have stayed with me ever since I first read his acclaimed ‘The Cathedral’. Today, he’s gone, shot by cruel terrorists who ambushed the mall he had walked into in Kenya. Our country has lost a citizen.
Kofi Awoonor has been a mentor. I don’t say this because he is dead; I say it because like me, he was Ghanaian, Ewe and a poet. And like me, he had a story to tell, which he spent his life telling. I listened to him. Nothing can so immediately take away this sorrow I feel.
I reviewed ‘The Cathedral’ and ‘The Journey Beyond‘ on my blog previously. Over the years, I have read his many works including Rediscovery and Songs of Sorrow. Awoonor was a man who lived daring death: calling it by name and different names in all the poetry he wrote. He didn’t fear to go.
But the manner of his departure has left me mourning, has left Ghana mourning, has left Africa mourning. If there were any voices introducing the English reader to the song of traditional Ewe poetry, his sounded loud beside Anyidoho’s. The gap his death is leaving is too monstrous to be called a gap. This chasm!
We will not have another Awoonor. The immensity of his loss will take a while to fathom, that he died at the hands of cruel men will take a longer time to accept, that we shall no longer hear his voice will be everything crippling to cause our silence. We shall hear him across the stars. When we have cried and the tears now fail us, sobbed till our voices be hoarse with tremulous weeping, we shall hear him, the voice of laughter, bidding us to carry ourselves and trudge on from this place where he has fallen.
Kofi Awoonor, Rest in Peace. Don’t console us, don’t stop us from weeping. Just Rest in Peace.