June 20, 2015
Grey clouds hung over the earth; patches of the season blotching the blue sky. Puddles filled the roads and streets, harbingers of curses and muddied clothes, inevitable consequents of either uncaring and/or unseeing motorists. In some places the parties had been stalled or disturbed by the rain which had fallen some hours before, in other places businesses were just beginning to entertain customers who had either been stuck at home or other places because of the rain. It was Saturday in the city of Ibadan; that day when caps and headpieces compete for attention and style and markets fill with teeming crowds of patrons wanting to stock up against the coming work-week.
Km 110, Iyaganku Road, off Alalubosa GRA, Ibadan.
In some circles, that Saturday only revolved around social and personal media to find NuStreams Conference and Culture Centre. The address was shared over social and personal media, as Google Maps wondered why so many people were requesting coordinates to the same place that day. The reason was simple:
It was the chant that had gone viral to inform the literary tribe of the visit of a Sage to the monthly #Artmosphere.
Located in the middle of an express way and an elite estate, with the railway just in front of it, NuStreams welcomed the tribe with glasses perched atop their noses, backpacks, suitcases, or folders on their arms or backs, and books and stationery in hands, purses, and pockets. They were smiling, laughing, exchanging pleasantries and ideas, questions and expectations, stories and notes. In their eyes were the stories of many writers, the emotions of many heroes, the twinkling of children about to get the much-awaited ice-cream.
They were the ones for whom phones are often another type of stationery.
The frenzy was palpable even over social media.
Baba ti de! Baba ti de!!!
It was a chant, a bird call to inform those still on the roads to hasten their feet and tyres. The elephant had been seen and, like every such sighting, it could neither be debated nor hushed.
Professor Niyi OSUNDARE walked into the midst of the tribe who he would later say reminded him of the 1940s and 50s where intellect and literature were respected and often shaped and sharpened during discussions among such sages as Wole Soyinka, John Pepper Clark, and Christopher Okigbo. On him was a head of white hair Tade Ipadeola, winner of the LLNG Prize in Poetry 2013, would later compare to the wig of barristers and adjudge true insignia of wisdom. They were grinning and smiling, ecstasy in their eyes and gasps; the tribe of people awed by the sight of a man whose poems and writings had stirred them at some point or the other to pick their pens and write from their hearts.
It was the hormone infused in the air as they chanted words, meanings of which they did not necessarily understand. They moved to the beats in their heads, commanded by the tune set by the poems of Professor Niyi Osundare as he took them on a literary journey of lyrics and rhythm. The excitement made the lights brighter, poems livelier, coffee hotter, WiFi faster, clothes lighter, faces friendlier, voices higher. …
Sún mọ bí, Ológùró,
I am in the mood for love tonight
Poetry became aphrodisiac as desire laced the gruff tenor of Professor Osundare. Legs crossed and butts squirmed; perhaps to accommodate wet and stiff southern anatomies. Minds journeyed on honeyed paths of fused bodies, moans, and groans; goosebumps, escaped gasps, and beaded nipples alone betraying the inner riots which sustained the external decorum.
Little parties of discussions reliving the experience they had just enjoyed, and setting dates for July 18, when the next session had been announced for. They went home that night twiddling books and pens, stories spinning in their heads, smiles uplifting their cheeks and dimpling their cheeks. You could tell; it was the new spring in their steps, the vigour in their “see you on the 18th”. You see, it was Professor Osundare’s fault. He had told them:
“This is important… Ideas matter… Artmosphere, what you are doing matters. What you are going to become in your life, you will shape with your hands.”
June 23, 2015
So yes, see you next month, at NuStreams, on the 18th, by 3p.m.