Remember the time of poets like Godwin Okigbo, Gabriel Okara, Niyi Osundare, Tanure Ojaide, Odia Ofeimun and JP Clark were as World renowned as your favorite celebrity? Probably. You most likely don’t even know most of these guys I mentioned, talk less of the words they coined in poetry.
FYI, These names were among the fresh poetic voices that articulated the Nigerian condition after the Civil War and during an era where was no social media or even Media as we know it, these poets gained respect for their craft by their words and deep insight into humanity.
Many reasons abound for the slow ‘demise’ of poetry, not only in Nigeria and Africa, but across the world. According to an article on CNN:
Between TV, movies, music, video games, sports and the Internet — not to mention the fine arts — consumers are overwhelmed with content. To cut through the clutter, our entertainments are becoming louder, edgier and flashier. That leaves little room for the quiet charms of poetry, which can demand close readings to be fully appreciated.
It is the reason why the recent ads by Nigerian financial institution Heritage Bank are smart and risky. Smart in that the brand uses the modern mediums – Video, Social Media, Motion Graphics – to convey its poetic message. Risky because Poetry even at its peak was not exactly ‘mainstream’ in Nigeria, even less so now in a society undergoing a severe economic and technological evolution.
In collaboration with contemporary poets like Titilope Sonuga, Sheila Ojei and Efe Paul Azino, the ads give a whole new look to the art form, especially within the very small poetry community in cities like Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. Employing ‘Oral poetry’, popularly called ‘Spoken Word Poetry’. It’s noteworthy that the ads didn’t shy away from hot topic issues like Gender and Cultural Identity. Check out the series of ads below and let’s know what you think about them in the comments!