The poet laureate is easily one of our biggest events as a community. Just as the Nobel Prize is bestowed on an individual who has done exceptionally well in a particular field, with the poet laureate, we seek to honour and crown an outstanding creative every year.
We make sure that our themes border on heavy African narratives. For last year, we had “sankofa yenkyi”, a Ghanaian word from the Akan tribe that means “it is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.”
“My dad got me a poetry teacher, Paul Liam at the age of 8, to strengthen the meaning of poetry on top of my soul and to help with the foundation. After that coach, I gathered 30 poems suitable for publication. My dad published the book when I was 10 years old.”- Zakiyya Dzukog
Brazen walls of power that makes their builders vulnerable,
or is it the builders that make themselves vulnerable?
Could it be that between the petulant layers of history
and the creamy strands of change,
brittleness is being used as cement?
Ballot boxes are metaphors for sugar cubes:
dissolving on the tongues of thugs and grey-haired godfathers.
Dissolving into nothingness.
This land swallows colors and spits out shadows.
Feeble legs walk on corridors of power with
while youthful lips are forced to mold into silence
and writhe beneath the whispers of fear.
Threnodies of the sixties on replay,
withered policies of the seventies on display,
masses left to do nothing but pray.
Yet, every morning, I stand by my window and watch
as the sun rises,
as it ignites hope in me.
A hope that one day, we’ll rise in our youthful agility,
flex our fingers
and rip out the brittleness in our sugar cubes,
that we’ll repair the creaky staircases of power
and climb up to leadership,
that doggedly, without compromise,
we’ll chase the anthills away.
Ibiteye Overcomer is a twenty-year-old Nigerian. She is an avid reader and a poet who uses poetry as a means to express her views and thoughts about pressing matters with ease. You will find her on Instagram @bimolaovercomer.
Poet Laureate is an honorary position conferred by Tribesmen as an institution. After a season of featuring some amazing creatives on our community, this is a season for us to vote for the most outspoken creative. Poet Laureate is translated “The People’s Poet”, to bring creatives together, tribesmen by tribesmen.
Who can participate in Poet Laureate?
Every tribesman can participate in this competition. Every creative is allowed to showcase their art and compete.
What are the categories in Poet Laureate?
There are five categories for submissions:
Prose fiction(1000 words max)
Poetry (1 poem)
Short Story (Non-Fiction) (1000 words max)
Spoken word artistry. (1 minute video)
Art & Photography ( 3-5 pieces)
Note: Art & Photography Submissions are welcome but can’t participate in the competition. We will share it on our visual platforms for appraisal. (Submit to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Also Note: Spoken word submissions can be posted on the creative’s Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter account, please ensure you tag us and we acknowledge receipt.
What are the criteria to submit entries for Poet Laureate?
Make sure you meet the following criteria to be eligible.
When we read books telling stories about Africa, we are eager to learn about our continent and our history. It is however more beautiful when we see our true stories, our history in print. Female African authors are fulfilling the purpose of African literature; to show the world Africa as she truly is. Amongst them are:
Buchi Emecheta, whose full name is Florence Onyebuchi Emecheta was a novelist although she also wrote plays. Emecheta’s works resonate with the themes of motherhood, child slavery, and female independence. Her first published book was Dutch written in 1972 after which she wrote her second novel Second Class Citizen, which is among her most notable works. She also wrote The Joys Of Motherhood which ironically describes the struggle of women in African society. She won the Jock Campbell Prize of 1978 for her novelThe Slave Girl.
Mariama Ba was a Senegalese author and feminist. She expressed her frustration and the fate of African women in her works. Mariama described the struggle of women and their continued fight for survival and recognition in African society. She wrote only three books which include her first book So Long A Letter written in 1981, Scarlet Songs in 1986, and La Fonction Politique Des Littératures Africaines Écrite in 1981. She was awarded the First Nomu Prize For Une Si Longue Lettre in 1980.
She was a South African writer and political activist. Her works dealt with issues like racism and the apartheid era in South Africa. Her works have global recognition, and she was also described by Alfred Nobel as “a woman whose writing is beneficial to humanity“. Her work centered on racism, love, and politics. She wrote The Conversationist, Burger’s Daughter, and July’s People. She was awarded the Nobel Prize For Literature in 1991.
Marguerite Abouet is an Ivorian writer who is widely known for her graphic novel Aya. She also wrote Bande Dessinées. Her graphic novel was published in a bid to paint a different picture of Africa asides from that of the recurrent war and famine. She was awarded the Angouléme International Comic Festival Prize For Best First Album in 2006 and the Rising Star Award For The Best Self Publisher Glyph Comic Award.
Chimamanda Adichie is a Nigerian writer who most people like to describe as a product of Chinua Achebe. She writes novels, short stories, and fiction. She wrote her first novel Purple Hibiscus in 2003 after being inspired by Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. She also wrote Half Of A Yellow Sun and Americanah. The latter was inspired by her experiences as a black woman in America. Chimamanda’s most notable award is the MacArthur Fellowship (2008). She is sometimes described as a feminist but most importantly she through her works, voiced her opinion on the Biafran War in Nigeria and other issues facing the African continent.
Nnedinma Nkemdilli Okorafor, also known as “Nnedi” is a Nigerian-American writer. Nnedi is best known for her development of the magical realism genre into what it is today- a blend of African mythology and space fiction, appropriately called Afrofuturism. She writes fantasy and science fiction for children and adults. her works include Akata Witch, Who Fears Death, Zahrah the Windseeker, and Binti. She also writes comics. Nnedi has won many awards including the Nebula Award for Binti, the 2012 Black Excellence Award for Outstanding Achievement in Literature, The Locus Award, The Lodestar Award, and the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story for LaGuardia.
7. A scene is a scene, not the whole story. Don’t waste all your pages writing just a scene of a story simply because you want to be perfect. Always remember you’re writing a draft not a final piece you want to publish right away
8. Clichés are fast becoming universally boring. You’re a writer not a clown. Readers are tired of reading wicked step mums, maltreated maids, and moon-like mothers, don’t write clichés please.
9. Character development is a key to writing a perfect piece. Readers connects with characters not the writers, we don’t care who you are as a writer, just create awesome characters for us. Amaka Azie still talked about character development recently.
10. There’s always the shinny object syndrome at the beginning of every novel. That doesn’t mean you need to quit because you’re tired of writing. I just want to remind you that it takes time to finish a masterpiece.
11. Best-selling novels are written from a perfect point of view, you should not expect a particular POV to fit all kind of story. Pick the one a reader will feel comfortable to read from. You should check out the short handbook I wrote on POVs, the small book basically simplified POVs for contemporary writers.
12. Throw yourself into the story. As a writer, you can’t write what you can’t think. When you picture yourself in the story, your characters come alive, your enjoy writing, and you become more interested in the story.
13. Write in segments. You do not necessarily need to write chronologically. When you’re segmenting while writing, it allows you to write haphazardly and retain small pieces of the story that doesn’t fit into the part you’re writing now.
For example, you may be writing chapter two now, then an idea of a scene comes to your mind, you should put that idea down as a segment which may be the backbone of another chapter.
14. Sometimes you just have to damn the rules to create a masterpiece but remember to know the rules before attempting to tweak the rules else you make a fool of yourself.
The African story is the story of Africa’s true identity. It is the story about our culture, norms, traditions, and heritage. Several male African authors in their different ways have projected Africa to the global audience through their writings. This has helped our stories to be told in the proper African way and portrayed the Africa that Africans know, not the Africa that others think it is. Amongst these authors are:
Wole Soyinka is a Nigerian author, playwright, and poet. He is well known for his activism in politics and his criticism against the ills of the African governing system. Wole Soyinka changed the face of African literature after emerging as the first African to be awarded the Nobel Prize For Literature in 1986. His notable works include The Road, The Strong Breed, The Lion and the Jewel amongst others. Wole Soyinka is described as an icon and his style of writing displays an outstanding knowledge of the English language and excellent vocabulary. His influence on African literature cannot be easily forgotten as he has inscribed his name on the prints of African Literature through his writings.
Chinua Achebe, best known as the father of African literature, was a Nigerian novelist. He wrote against the imposition of the Western culture on our traditional culture and this he depicted in his novel Things Fall Apart where his main character refused to be aligned to the norms of a new culture. He was awarded the Nigerian National Order of Merit Award in 1979, St. Lois Literary Award in 1979, and the Man Booker International Prizes in 2007. Chinua Achebe had a great impact on African literature as he paved the way for other African writers. His works also birthed another notable African author, Chimamanda Adichie who was inspired to write her first novel after reading his novel Things Fall Apart.
He is a Kenyan writer who writes mainly in Giyuku, his native language. His works range spans novels, plays, essays, and short stories. His first novel Weep Not, Child in 1988 was marked the first novel in English published by a writer from East Africa. He wrote about the struggles faced by Kenyans in their fight for independence and the Mau Mau rebellion. He is noted for his works, Weep Not, Child, Petals of Blood, Matigari, amongst others. He has also won the 1973 Lotus Prize For Literature, 2001 Nonino International Prize For Literature, and many other awards and honorary degrees.
Camara Laye, the author of The African Child also known as L’enfant Noir was an African writer from Guinea. His works were listed among the earliest works of Francophone African Literature. He is notable for his works The African Child (L’Enfant noir) and Le Regard du Roi. He was awarded the Charles Veillon Prize which is his most notable award. Camara Laye describes the life of an African child in the book briefly based on his true childhood experiences. He is one of the African authors whose books are widely read.
Having considered these African authors and their influence on African literature it is therefore noteworthy that these African authors have not failed to tell the African story truthfully and so, they have contributed richly, to black history.