Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Tribute To Ghanaian Poet & Diplomat Kofi Awanoor (information, comments, and poems)

Edited by Azizi Powell

I mourn for all those who have died or have been injured in the tragic terrorist attack on shoppers in a Westgate Mall in Naroibi, Kenya (September 21, 2013). My condolences to all the families & friends of the victims of that horrific tragedy.

Ghanaian poet & diplomat Kofi Awanoot was one of those who died in that attack. Here's some biographical information about Kofi Awanoor:
"Kofi Awoonor (March 13, 1935 – September 21, 2013) was a Ghanaian poet and author whose work combined the poetic traditions of his native Ewe people and contemporary and religious symbolism to depict Africa during decolonization. He started writing under the name George Awoonor-Williams"...

Here's an excerpt from an article about the tragic circumstances of that poet's death:
"Writers and poets from around the world have joined in mourning following the news that Professor Kofi Awoonor, a Ghanaian poet and diplomat, died after sustaining injuries during the terrorist attack on Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya.

Professor Awoonor, who was 78, was in the city to participate in the Storymoja Hay Festival, a celebration of writing and storytelling. He was due to perform on Saturday evening as part of a pan-African poetry showcase.

Professor Awoonor’s death was confirmed by the Ghanaian High Commission in Nairobi in the early hours of Sunday morning. One of the main aims of the Festival is to encourage reading and literacy among Kenya’s young people."


(Kofi Awanoor)

On this dirty patch
a tree once stood
shedding incense on the infant corn:
its boughs stretched across a heaven
brightened by the last fires of a tribe.
They sent surveyors and builders
who cut that tree
planting in its place
A huge senseless cathedral of doom.

That blog includes commentary about this poem.

(Kofi Awoonor)

When our tears are dry on the shore
And the fishermen carry their nets home
And the sea gulls return to bird island
And the laughter of the children recedes
At night
There shall still linger here the communion we
The feast of oneness which we partook of

There shall still be the eternal gatemen
Who will close the cemetery door
And send the late mourners away
It cannot be music we heard that night
That still lingers in the chambers of memory
It is the new chorus of our forgotten comrades
And the halleluyahs of our second selves

I corrected a few typographical errors that were made in this reposted poem.

Example #3: Song Of Sorrow
(Kofi Awanoor)

....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;


I happened upon this diary about the Westgate Mall tragedy from the political left leaning website dailykos: "Why No Discussion of the Westgate Mall Attack?" by matching mole.

In respond to thee question "Why no discussion [on dailykos] about the Kenyan mall attack, one commenter wrote:
"It's Africa
People die all the time. It sounds cold, but that's what you come to expect when you imperialistically carve out countries without regard to ethnic and cultural considerations."
by evilcommunist
Another commenter responded with this:
"Thanks for your cold heartedness

I AM African and I contribute to discussions here about the USA, but I guess it is too much ask you to feel empathy towards people who live on the wealthiest continent that provides every single need for your comfortable American life. Huh?

From the Coltan that allows you to have your mobile phone and fancy electronic gadget to diamonds, gold, copper, tin, manganese, bauxite for aluminum, not to mention the human resources that built the West during past centuries and even today. Sure you can flippantly toss of the continent telling us its just Africa, people die there all the time.

If you bothered to google you'd realize how intertwined the USA is in cooperation with African Union forces in the fight against al Shabaab extremists in Somalia and North Eastern Kenya.

And the renowned Ghanaian poet and former Ambassador to the UN who died in the Kenyan attack was my mentor and Uncle. He was invited to Kenya to perform at the Storymoja Hay Festival for Writers. So I am in mourning and find your comment truly offensive.

Tells you how interconnected we are on this planet. Show compassion!!"
by zizi on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 08:16:39 AM PDT
By the way, that commenter has the same nickname as me, but isn't me. That said, I definitely agree with what she wrote.

My thanks to all those who I quoted in this post.

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