BRIGITTE POIRSON POETRY CONTEST 2016: UNN’S VALENTINE MBAGU WINS BPPC JULY WITH ‘A UNITED AFRICA’ POEM

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Nigerian writer and poet, Mbagu Valentine, has won the July edition of the BRIGITTE POIRSON POETRY CONTEST (2016) which was themed ‘UNITED STATES OF AFRICA’. Valentine, a Business Administration and Management student of the prestigious University of Nigeria, Nsukka, won the contest with a very hopeful poem about Africa entitled ‘A UNITED AFRICA’.

He had previously come 6th in the March edition and was narrowly edged to second place in the June edition by eventual winner OGEDENGBE Tolulope Impact.

Valentine is a native of Ozalla in Nkanu-West, Enugu state. He is one of the Nigeria’s finest young poets. His poetry has a wide following, especially on Facebook where he is very active.

VALENTINE MBAGU, winner BPPC JULY

VALENTINE MBAGU, winner BPPC JULY

Making up the top three in the July edition is Izuchukwu Saviour Otubelu, in second place with his poem ‘SOUL OF AFRICA’ and first time entrant, Gaius Isuwa, in third place with his poem ‘MOTHER AFRICA’.

The July theme ‘UNITED STATES OF AFRICA’ sought to direct the power of poetry towards the growing call for African nations to make a fresh start and begin an era of prosperity by adopting collaborative and innovative methods toward engendering economic growth and social progress in the continent.

Below are the TOP 10 entries:

  1. A UNITED AFRICA by Valentine Mbagu
  2. SOUL OF AFRICA by Izuchukwu Saviour Otubelu
  3. MOTHER AFRICA by Gaius Isuwa
  4. LET’S COME TOGETHER! by Ogedengbe Tolulope Impact
  5. CURSE NOT YOUR TONGUE by Agbaakin Oluwatoyosi Jeremiah
  6. THE VOICE OF REASON (A Terzanelle) by Abd-afeez Abd-hamid
  7. WE SHALL BE FREE AGAIN by Frank Eze Ezechi
  8. UNITE AFRICAN ENTITIES! by Abegunde Sunday Olaoluwa
  9. MOTHER AFRICA BEHOLD YOUR CHILDREN by Olorundare Tope John
  10. LONG WALK TO WHERE THINGS WON’T FALL APART by Obinna Omotayo Jones

A UNITED AFRICA by Valentine Mbagu

Proclaim ye this naked prophesies to the running pregnant sea
That Africa will be the historic eyes from which all nations will see,
An Empire that will rise up to a fortified climax of supreme power;
Tell it to nations that Africa will stand tall as a mighty rising tower.

Though she rides through the storms of rough poisonous fields,
Still from her virgin breast will be sucked milk of democratic yields;
Her land will be the Eden tree from where all great rivers will flow,
A United Africa on whose fertile soil beacons of wealth will grow.

Africa will no more breed slaves nor be a color of discrimination
But a centre of honey for all bees to be attracted in open invitation,
Upon her civilization will be the bait for all nation’s eyes to migrate,
The African culture will form standards for all countries to emulate.

United will be the States of Africa as she commands raw influence
And attain the throne of sovereignty and supreme core dominance:
For the seeds of Adam will desire to feed her eyes than being told,
Then will the beauty of Africa rise above all nation’s treasured gold.

The tale of a United Africa will be heard across the burning horizon,
Her Olive trees will yield much fruits than the cedars of Lebanon;
An Empress that’ll pride herself in a fortified climax of core power,
Tell it to nations that United will be the sovereign States of Africa.

SOUL OF AFRICA by Izuchukwu Saviour Otubelu

Soul of Africa, breathe life to my spirit
For time is a succession of nothingness
The sun will not rise unless the sky’s cloudless
The day has dawned, but the flames are yet unlit

If the cap fits your head, shall you not wear it?
Your blood’s the engine that keeps the boat afloat
Give the white man a knife- he will slit your throat
Soul of Africa, breathe life to my spirit

Africa! Thy fame and courage, how ageless!
Put me to sleep in the bosom of your tent
To escape the reality of the present
For time is a succession of nothingness

Wrap me in your smile- and hide my nakedness
If I fall asleep and wake in midnight’s arms
Shall I not consult your oracles and charms?
The sun will not rise unless the sky’s cloudless

Upon the throne of newborn promise you sit
You’ve sailed across the watchful eyes of hardship
Ten miles the sea shore lies; twenty miles the ship
The day has dawned, but the flames are yet unlit

Soul of Africa, breathe life to my spirit
For time is a succession of nothingness
The sun will not rise unless the sky’s cloudless
The day has dawned, but the flames are yet unlit

Africa, my Africa, in thy womb I lay
To dream a dream which I’ll harvest at midday

MOTHER AFRICA by Gaius Isuwa

Mother Africa!
Upon thy black soil, we kneel
Underneath the scorching sun
With glittering skins
We, thy children, pour libation
We sing unto thee
The joyous songs of motherhood,
The blessedness of womanhood

With one voice, one heart
We pray thee, mother
Let thy wings shelter us
Let thine eyes travel with us
Let thy voice, through the winds,
Strength us on life’s battle ground

In thine arms, we pray
Wrap us from cold nights
Shower us with thy blessings
As we till grounds
Knot our hearts together
Fill our hearts with love
That we, forever, be one

This we pray! Mother Africa

LET’S COME TOGETHER! by Ogedengbe Tolulope Impact
(TRIPLE TRIOLET)

Africans, let’s come together,
And build an edifice of love.
The one that foes will not conquer
Africans, Let’s come together.

Yes, it is a combined power
That will make it stand far above
Africans, Let’s come together,
And build an edifice of love.

Africans, let’s come together,
And build an edifice of love.
For with it, we will live better
Africans, let’s come together.

It’s in helping one another
That will make us live like a dove
Africans, let’s come together,
And build an edifice of love.

Africans, let’s come together,
And build an edifice of love.
For with it, we will stand stronger
Africans, let’s come together.

The tales shall linger forever
In the memory of the cove
Africans, let’s come together,
And build an edifice of love.

CURSE NOT YOUR TONGUE by Agbaakin Oluwatoyosi Jeremiah

Africa, have you not bled bloody tears through your scars?
Strife is a midwife with knife to gut the umbilical cord
Binding negroid spirits onto the bowels of kindred blood
There’s no beauty in the ballad of bitter birds,
When each hoists her own sigil on her crest
Your birds curse among leaves, ‘I’m Paul’s’; you’re Barnabas’.

Halt! Warring brothers of Fula or Zulu, Tutsi and Hut’s
Your chants of solidarity have slept as a haunted land,
Beware! Amalinze the cat shall spill blood for his clan
He plucks your lives as seeds, away from venous gourd
Clutch not your self-gods, but clothe your naked sword
Supple leaves must wilt when seceded from their root.

Africa, when shall you whip your camels in Sahara?
March down South to the foaming springs of savannah;
You shall crack the shells of a cocooned Nirvana
As isu Ewura fortify your arms when you smith spears!
Fight, the bastard who points you to different fathers
Was not your tropical womb once a Rome for us to roam?

And though your night has tarried in the wild
She must be pregnant with the blackest child,
This truant moon has eaten her dish of fun,
Your sky soon shall be dyed gold with dawn
Sunlight crackles inside your darkly clouds
Lo! Your men shall file under Garvey’s vow:
Saying’ Hail! United States of Africa-free’

Africa!, you’re strong like the songs in your colour
Curse not your tongue with tongues they forced you to follow
And well borrowed, you scatter from your lair like swallows-
Their freedom fetters you to seek the haven in Tokyo
Behold, Your pearls are stashed inside your sokoto!

*Amalinze: a fictitious vicious village wrestler in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.
*Isu Ewura: a yam popularly eaten by the Yoruba race.
*Garvey: Marcus Garvey, the original brain behind the idea of a United States of Africa.
*sokoto: Yoruba word for trousers.

THE VOICE OF REASON (A Terzanelle) by Abd-afeez Abd-hamid

Uncertainty bedrocks our future,
This lack of direction, needs a fix
This voice of worth offer cautions.

Africans, heed this voice of reason,
Let’s take our future into our hands,
This lack of direction, needs a fix.

Think of the “sound” of united Africa,
Think of reaps from seeds of unity,
Let’s take our future into our hands.

Together our might, might break this jinx,
Let’s forge a needed path to glory.
Think of reaps from seeds of unity,

Let’s heed to this, let’s unite for real,
The onus is on Us, not just You,
Let’s forge a needed path to glory.

The onus is on Us, not just You,
Uncertainty bedrocks our future.
The onus is on Us, not just You.
This voice of worth offer cautions.

WE SHALL BE FREE AGAIN by Frank Eze Ezechi

I.
They came in droves (like swarms
of locusts, dotting the seas with watercrafts)
digging up humanity’s umbilicals
buried in the black-half of the earth;

we drank from their flagons of firewater
waving aloft, our gifts of guns and mirrors;

we drank and drank and lost our grip
on our loincloths, watched with heavy eyes
as they crept like ants into our pants,
stole our stars and set sail for the Western worlds.

II.
Now we are free like the birds, free from colonial claws
yet trapped in the thorns of greed and graft, and
tangoing in tribal talons and clashing cultures;

we are stuck ‘tween the fiery fangs of hunger,
and dancing to beats of deadly diseases;

we are drowning in the blood of our ilks
flowing fervidly from brooks of battles
coups, counter-coups and genocides.

III.
We shall be free again…

when waves from River Orange breathes life
into the sleepy soul of Ubuntu and she wanders
with the evening breeze—warm, brushing our nostrils,
whistling hope, lightening up our hearts with her flames of unity—

from the South to the North, and from the East to the West
peeling-off all pains in the face of our pyramids,
purging the Nile of her lingering lust for blood,

mending the mind of our broken Niger
and breaking the backs of epidemics and hunger
casting shadows of death and despair across our land.

UNITE AFRICAN ENTITIES! by Abegunde Sunday Olaoluwa

These zephyrs of thoughts my muse blows
as poesy flows, to seas of souls,
to splash fluids of reminiscence
on fiery hearts and fighting hands.

Gone black heroes had worked for peace
and had gone through tough odysseys,
to bring black soil tranquillity
and entombed corpse of enmity.

Won’t disunity now exhume
benumbed enmity from that tomb
and make dispute breastfeed zombies
of cacophonies as babies?

Before these zombies were revived,
unity in black’s jungle thrived.
Tiger treats bear’s cub as its own –
no gore of xeno in our home.

What discord’s zombies make us suck
which bewitches us off peace talk,
are free cans of dispute liquor;
African Union floors such flaw.

Black titans of Africa’s breast,
in the North, South, East and West,
suckle Africa’s oneness milk;
so, no blood stains peace’s bib of silk.

There are free can-o-pies of love
where Africans can hold peace pacts;
rebury discords and resolve
differences, to heal bleeding hearts.

MOTHER AFRICA BEHOLD YOUR CHILDREN by Olorundare Tope John

***mother Africa behold your children ***
Beside the fires, where they listened to the sweet foreign lore
They spite upon your head, a bitter gall
And thrust their hereditary on your tomb
To cling to their chests the white man’s tome

Yonder mother! Your children are called-“waywards”
Lost in lust in search of way forward
And surging back to lands you were once enslaved
to reap the sugarcane on your grave

Castles they built in air and chased the winds
From their fleshes they skinned away their father’s skin
To become pale pink and yellow
Enriching with their wealths, the foreign meadow

Mother the destruction of your land tolls
Lure your children back to your fold
From all and sundry
To reawake and protect your dying body

LONG WALK TO WHERE THINGS WON’T FALL APART by Obinna Omotayo Jones

When the indomitable Lions roar,
Free the town of Sierra Leone,
And let her not wander alone.

Tell the Pharaohs of Egypt,
To Lead the Elephants from the Coast of Ivory,
To drink from the riches of Zambezie.

Where the warrior of Zimbabwe,
Seduced Victoria from Seychelles,
And they wedded in a mosque in Rabat.

To the melodious vuvuzela,
Of the bafana bafana boys,
And the crescendo of unmatched joys.

Watching the black stars of Ghana,
Flying on the wings of the super eagles of Nigeria,
Cover the skies like night lights of Nairobi.

Tripoli of Lybia is To_go to Liberia,
And liberate her children from internal strife,
For it is a double edged knife.

Let us all ride on Egyptian camels,
And meet somewhere in the Kalahri desert,
Where peace is like waves of the Congo.

And please let all Algiers,
Be filled with descendants of Nigers,
All the way from as far as beyond the mountains.

Kenyans as well as Ethopians,
Sharing food with Gambians,
On a table set in Eritea.

As the winner, Valentine goes home with a cash prize of N5,000, a copy of ‘WHAT CAN WORDS DO’ by Kukogho Iruesiri Samson and a copy each of the 2015 and 2016 BPPC anthologies. All the other poets who made the top 10 will get a free copy of the BPPC Anthology and certificates which will be awarded at the WRR ‘FEAST OF WORDS’ LITERARY FESTIVAL 2016 (October).

VALENTINE MBAGU, winner BPPC JULY

VALENTINE MBAGU, winner BPPC JULY

In addition, all the TOP 10 poems will also be published in the BPPC anthology and automatically entered for the ALBERT JUNGERS POETRY PRIZE 2016.

“The July theme about the United States of Africa was meant as a daring escape into a future yet to be projected into reality. Small wonder a number of poets were beside the point. Some resorted to turning their eyes to the past, while they were invited to shape the dream into words. A handful of very interesting and well-crafted poems, which might have won the contest on the theme their authors chose to deal with, were simply off the subject. So, please, read the guidelines carefully before submitting your treasured poems.
The winners globally represent the various styles found in the contest, whether the poets have composed more formal or more fanciful, more dramatic or more pleasantly humoristic pieces. Congratulations to all on your talents. Again no one fell behind in the use of the poetic pen.”
— Brigitte Poirson

The BPPC is sponsored by WRR CEO Kukogho Iruesiri Samson in honor of Brigitte Poirson, a French poet and lecturer, editor who has worked tirelessly to promote and support of African poetry.

NOTE: Submissions are being received for the AUGUST edition on the THEME: “WOMANITY – THE GENDER AGENDA”

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