Awoonor: His death, My Response

Posted: September 23, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

Kofi Awoonor  A day ago, Prof. Kofi Awoonor was shot dead! I have lost a bit of myself for 24 hours.

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.

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Comments
  1. Mama Afrika says:

    Thank you for taking the time to remind us all of what the world forgets all too often in cases like these: EVERY person matters. They aren’t just numbers “One of the 60-something killed in Nairobi”. They are poets, parents and friends.

    I am sorry for your loss. I am sorry for the loss of his family and friends. I am sorry for Africa’s loss. Rest in Peace with the ancestors who have gone before you, Kofi Awoonor. Rest in Peace.

    Like

  2. Rex says:

    My respects to the man.

    Like

  3. We heard of this tragic shooting here in Canada (2 Canadians were also victims). Thank you for sharing this memory, that shows a deeper, more personal part of the tragedy. May he live forever in the words he leaves behind.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Chika says:

    I ve bin weeping ever since dis agents of darkness.

    Like

  5. Uzoma says:

    Oh when the “golden enchanter” and poet leaves what becomes of words and poetry itself? The news of his death has broken me because I have been influenced by his writings. His poems, often difficult, but powerful and mysteriously moving, are predominantly rituals of lament over the “senseless cathedral of doom” which educated Africans have allowed to usurp the shrines of their ancestral gods. As a African, who appreciates African proverbs and proverbs in general, I see the same in Awoonor. His poem, “My Uncle the Diviner-Chieftain” highlights a Ghanaian proverb that says “No one prophecies on an empty belly.”

    Oh Awoonor, a fine poet and proud African, may your soul rest in perfect peace.

    Like

    • Dela says:

      My Uncle the Diviner-Chieftain! Uzoma, this loss is tragic. We have lost a lot as the new generation of poets but we will learn from his craft and be exponents louder for the African voice. Thanks for reblogging to your community too.

      Like

  6. Uzoma says:

    Reblogged this on 85 Degrees and commented:
    Oh when the “golden enchanter” and poet leaves what becomes of words and poetry itself? The news of his death has broken me because I have been influenced by his writings. His poems, often difficult, but powerful and mysteriously moving, are predominantly rituals of lament over the “senseless cathedral of doom” which educated Africans have allowed to usurp the shrines of their ancestral gods. As a African, who appreciates African proverbs and proverbs in general, I see the same in Awoonor. His poem, “My Uncle the Diviner-Chieftain” highlights a Ghanaian proverb that says “No one prophecies on an empty belly.”

    Oh Awoonor, a fine poet and proud African, may your soul rest in perfect peace.

    Like

  7. A.D. Everard says:

    Uzoma – I am so sorry to hear of this. Words become useless and have no meaning or strength at such a time. Know simply that my thoughts are with you.

    Like

  8. adu gyamfi says:

    BEREAVED
    The death of great poet
    May be big blow to a nation
    But for an emerging versifier
    It is a personal tragedy
    Awornor’s misfortune
    Is my own misfortune
    Only takes a solace
    In the fact that
    When a poet dies
    A poet is born

    Am not posting dis bcos dis man is no more. but I remember when I was in school like most ghanaians, I detested poetry then one day I came across a poem titled: The Cathedral. I read it and it felt I had neva read anything like that b4. Till today it remains my favourite african poem and among the 10 best world master pieces I shortlisted. And he’s also my favourite african poet. We were both residents of north legon. He’s got a parcel of land by the roadside around wisconsin university. And anytym he wil come there my cousin will tell me: that’s de man u always talk abt why not go and see him. But I will be reluctant cos I wanted to complete my poetry projects then I will ask him to review and forward it. Now he’s no more. The project is ready. Which GH author give dat forward n will I appreciate it as I wud if it were him? You see why I say am bereaved?????

    Like

  9. Lina says:

    O we have indeed lost a great mentor, and truly a great tree on which we lean has fallen. We have lost a great citizen, but surely shall recover. Do rest in perfect peace.

    Like

  10. RIP, Prof. ‘He de nyuie le nutifafa me’

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  11. […] I shall review a poem by our fallen poet, Kofi Awoonor, whose works I have decided to highlight for Ghanaian Literature Week. A lot has already been read, […]

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  12. […] and very short so ride along with me as we review ‘The Last Dinner’. This picture of Kofi Awoonor and Kofi Anyidoho above, taken by Nana Kofi Acquah should be archived as a national […]

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  13. […] I was among the very first people who heard the news of his passing, I should suppose, because when I did, nobody on my twitter timeline had tweeted it. I waited for confirmation and watched a few government and official feeds but found nothing. Finally I read it again from one very trusted source and that was it. Kofi Awoonor was dead. […]

    Like

  14. Paul Okah says:

    You’re really a blessing to the literary world. Keep it up and greetings from Nigeria!

    Like

  15. Paul Okah says:

    Of all the poems of Kofi Awoonor Williams, I am in love with ‘Songs of Sorrow 1&2’

    Like

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