Things in Africa are the way they are due to unexploited potential. We have been handicapped to think there's nothing we can do by ourselves.

Konya Shamsrumi: What is the process of writing a poem like for you? Is it a lot of hard work or easy?

The need to prepare one’s mind and body is so important in order to write poetry. Personally, before I write a poem, I have to go into deep sleep for at least an hour. This helps me to prepare my mind and create new ideas. Knowing what I want to write about is another important aspect. I usually have to think (and research) about the theme. This helps in finding or choosing the right language or registers to employ.

Writing poetry is easy and hard at the same time. It becomes easy when inspirations flood in and the urge to write is overwhelming. On such days, I can write up even two complete poems a day. The hard days of writing poetry are those days when everything is difficult, ideas hardly crawl in, the mind is occupied with many programs and laxity sets in. Those times, writing poetry sucks! I end up writing a single line for days or even weeks. So, to me writing poetry is seasonal.

Konya Shamsrumi: Please describe your sense of identity in this or any possible world in imagery or metaphor?

I write free verse mostly. To this, I add form and structure. It’s rare of me to write poetry without form and structure. I believe these two features attract one to read a poem in these contemporary days.

Writing in simple diction which can be apprehended at the very first reading has helped my audience have that first bite of anxiety before one fathoms the underlying meaning in a poem. Simple diction assists them to have a picture of the idea and to draw imaginations. Hard vocabulary distracts the readers as they often first consult the dictionary.

Themes. My themes are mostly African. I write themes which an average African can relate with and those themes which are generally accepted in the African setting. Whoever reads a poem from me can easily feel the hurt in the tone. This is due to the way I view Africa and the way Africa views herself and the way majority young people here view Africa.

I mostly use imagery in my poetry. Other devices come in handy. Imagery makes poetry appealing as one is able to feel, taste and appreciate the beauty of a scene.

On the other hand, I rarely use metaphors. It tends to confuse readers. Being a direct comparison, readers find it a fallacy to say “this is that”.

Konya Shamsrumi: If any of your poems could literarily save a person’s life, which poem would it be and can you describe the person whose life you think it would have saved?

The poem that fits this is REBELLIONS. This poem would heal and empower anyone with personal strife within themselves. We are living in crazy times, hard to deal with. Frustrations, depression, suicidal sentiments and very many other hardships. Failure, whether personal or general, triggers a lot of emotions. So, whoever fails and reaches the extent of wanting to end their lives, my poem can uplift their spirits.

Omadang Yowasi.

When anger fried me,
Death settled in my mind
Roaring and teasing,
I did not succumb to him.

When pity sat down on me,
I wandered off to the lake
To drown, I'd resolved
But I swam and walked away.

Mixed emotions burned me,
I admired the rope's loop
For everything would be fine
But still I didn't buy it.

When regrets about life
Overwhelmed my spirit,
I stood strong and decided
I will not die today.

Omadang Yowasi

Konya Shamsrumi: What does Africa mean to you, as potential or reality?

A stranger in Africa can’t love Africa more than me and others who are in Africa. Yes, I view Africa with potential. Africa being a developing continent, I truly appreciate the pace with which things are unfolding. We can’t compete to be at the same line with others.

Things in Africa are the way they are due to unexploited potential. We have been handicapped to think there’s nothing we can do by ourselves. We have a population which can consume our own goods here but this is not happening! We still want to impress our non-consumers who end up despising our crafts. Let’s learn to love and read our own before running to bookstores looking for that foreign bestseller. When will ours sell within ourselves?

Konya Shamsrumi: Could you share with us one poem you’ve been most impressed or fascinated by? Tell us why and share favorite lines from it.

Oh, yes. Thank you very much. I gladly would share it with you. The poem is my own, written in quatrains and in four stanzas titled TIED UP.

The poem itself is about personal failures. I’ve had ambitions. . . great ambitions, only to see them vanish before my eyes. These have disappeared partly due to my own making, financial restraints, people around me, and the ever-changing world. I return to this poem ever so often.

Almost everyone has failed in their lives but it seems hard to most writers to pen those experiences down (for fear of readers directly connecting the dots with the writer). This is what I’ve done, it’s what I’ve broken. My heart is light. Losing personal battles is something painful, so this poem directly speaks to me.

My favorite lines are two full stanzas. Stanza two and three.

I look at myself 
Disgusted and weak, 
Like a hawk on a fruitless 
Flight across a red desert. 

A lonely land lying low, 
A plain, no, a vast field 
I am, I've become 
Like a decayed carrion.

From Tied Up by Omadang Yowasi.

Omadang Yowasi is a Ugandan cop and poet. He’s appeared in literary publications like Writers Space Africa, Writers Global Movement, the Ghana Writes literary magazine(2018 AFCON POETRY series), Nalubaale Review in Uganda and in anthologies like the international bilingual anthology on the war in Cameroon and the Best New African poets anthology 2019. He is currently a poetry co-editor at Writers Space Africa. Omadang is a radical pan-Africanist.

Richard Ali Editor
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Richard Ali
Richard Ali is a Nigerian writer whose poems were first published in 2008. He has served in the National EXCO of the Association of Nigerian Authors and sits on the board of Uganda’s Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation. A member of the Jalada Writers Cooperative based in Nairobi, his work has been published in African Writing, Jalada, Saraba Magazine and elsewhere. The Anguish and Vigilance of Things is his debut collection, was published in 2020. He practices Law in Abuja, Nigeria.