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Ghanaian poet Kofi Awoonor died during attack at Nairobian shopping mall

awonar01

Ghanaian poet Kofi Awoonor

died during attack at Nairobian shopping mall

23 september 2013

Ghanaian poet Professor Kofi Awoonor has died during the attack at Nairobian shopping centre Westgate Mall. He died on Saturday, aged 78, from injuries sustained in the attack in Nairobi.

Kofi Awoonor was in Nairobi to speak at the Storymoja Hay Festival, a four-day international litarary festival. Performers were also Ghanaian poets Nii Parkes and Kwame Dawes. Awoonor was due to perform on this festival on Saturday evening.

Awoonor was born in 1935 and became known for his poetry, inspired by the oral poetry of his native Ewe tribe. Awoonor gained a masters degree in literature at London University in 1970. His second collection of poetry, Night of My Blood, was published in 1971, a series of poems that explore his roots of colonialism and foreign rule in Africa.

His son was also shot, but has later been discharged from hospital.

 

Kofi Awoonor

Songs of Sorrow

I

Dzogbese Lisa has treated me thus

It has led me among the sharps of the forest

Returning is not possible

And going forward is a great difficulty

The affairs of this world are like the chameleon faeces

Into which I have stepped

When I clean it cannot go.

I am on the world’s extreme corner,

I am not sitting in the row with the eminent

But those who are lucky

Sit in the middle and forget

I am on the world’s extreme corner

I can only go beyond and forget.

My people, I have been somewhere

If I turn here, the rain beats me

If I turn there the sun burns me

The firewood of this world

Is for only those who can take heart

That is why not all can gather it.

The world is not good for anybody

But you are so happy with your fate;

Alas! the travelers are back

All covered with debt.

 

II

Something has happened to me

The things so great that I cannot weep

I have no sons to fire the gun when I die

And no daughter to wail when I close my mouth

I have wandered on the wilderness

The great wilderness men call life

The rain has beaten me,

And the sharp stumps cut as keen as knives

I shall go beyond and rest.

I have no kin and no brother,

Death has made war upon our house;

And Kpeti’s great household is no more,

Only the broken fence stands;

And those who dared not look in his face

Have come out as men.

How well their pride is with them.

Let those gone before take note

They have treated their offspring badly.

What is the wailing for?

Somebody is dead. Agosu himself

Alas! a snake has bitten me

My right arm is broken,

And the tree on which I lean is fallen.

Agosi if you go tell them,

Tell Nyidevu, Kpeti, and Kove

That they have done us evil;

Tell them their house is falling

And the trees in the fence

Have been eaten by termites

That the martels curse them.

Ask them why they idle there

While we suffer, and eat sand.

And the crow and the vulture

Hover always above our broken fences

And strangers walk over our portion.

awoonor01 

Publications

1964 Rediscovery and Other Poems (poetry)

1971 Night of My Blood (poetry)

1971 This Earth, My Brother … An Allegorical Tale of Africa (novel)

1972 Come Back, Ghana

1973 Ride Me, Memory (poetry)

1975 The Breast of the Earth: A Survey of the History, Culture and Literature of Africa South of the Sahara

1978 The House by the Sea (poetry)

1984 The Ghana Revolution: A Background Account from a Personal Perspective

1987 Until the Morning After: Collected Poems (poetry)

1990 Ghana: A Political History from Pre-European to Modern Times

1992 Comes the Voyager at Last: A Tale of Return to Africa (novel)

1992 The Latin American and Caribbean Notebook (poetry)

1994 Africa, the Marginalized Continent

2002 Herding the Lost Lamb (poetry)

2006 The African Predicament: Collected Essays

 

# More Ghanaian poetry on website POETRY FOUNDATION GHANA

# Website Hay Festival Nairobi

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