Aderemi Adegbite, a Nigerian based in Lagos, has engraved his name in the literary environ with his poetry that is purely African. His works always have an undertone of African consciousness and some dwell on the values, arts and culture of the entire Black race. Most of his works have been published abroad in different anthologies alongside works of literary giants (renowned poets) in the United Kingdom, and in Nigerian journals.
The reorientation of the African youth is the hallmark of Aderemi’s works. The reason for this being that he believes it is through them that the biggest Cultural Revolution can be fought and won.
Aderemi is the founder and Executive Director of Kowry Kreations Media, a non-governmental and non-profit arts and literary organization. He is also the producer of Poetry Potter, a unique platform for poets, storytellers, folksingers, folk-dancer, artistes and journalist. He is a member of the literary organizations Creative Family International and Pen-circle of the University of Lagos. Currently, he is the General Publicity Secretary, Association of Nigeria Authors, Lagos Chapter (ANA Lagos).
Five Questions with Aderemi Adegbite:
1. How long have you been writing poetry?
Basically, I started writing in 2001, when I wrote my first book titled: The Genesis of Browsing (unpublished). But the shift in my writing to poetry, which I now see as my first passion started a in 2004 at the birth of my mentor’s (Lekan Balogun) daughter, named Moremi Balogun. And the title of the poem is "My Precious Treasure."
2. Who are your favorite poets? Which poets have most inspired and informed your work?
By the philosophy that reading makes a man but writing makes a greater man, I have read a lot of poets through my quest of becoming a good poet. Many good works I’ve read and bad as well, but today I can stand anywhere in the world and proclaim some poets as the best on Africa Soil. I love Niyi Osundare’s works for its “Africanism,” he is my father in arts and a good friend.
When I encountered Okot p’Bitek’s work: "Song of Ocol" and "Song of Lawino," I was marvelled by his prowess. He is a down to earth African poet without foreign influence and he represented Africa in all it’s ramification in the work. I was really inspired to write a collection of poetry which I titled: "Song of Omolanke" (unpublished), using his style, plot and imagery.
3. What do you hope to accomplish with your poetry?
As a poet, I wish to make the biggest name as one of the newest African poets in the world with my works, which are uniquely African. In trying to achieve this, I have written two collections of children's poetry, which are not less than 40 poems each, themes centred on African societal and cultural issues. Currently, I am working on my third adult collection of poetry. I have not been able to publish any of these collection but I hope to publish one before the year runs out.
4. What is your opinion on the state of African poetry today?
Although it is said that there are no bad work of arts, I am sure we have so many bad writers, particularly as poets. Because poetry is an inner expression of feelings through lines and stanzas, many writers think it’s a trade they can venture into anyhow. This opinion is bad! They really have to learn the craft; in fact, it’s the most complex genre of literature, which must be studied carefully. Yes, everybody writes poetry but most of them are bad poets. They think expression of thoughts in lines and stanzas is all they needed to know and thus they make a mess of the genre. Today, Fictionists regard poets as lazy writers because of the loafers in our midst. Whereas, poets are supposed to be the most respected writers in the literary world. That is how it was in the ancient African community. In my own opinion, African poetry needs a reappraisal.
5. You emphasise the importance of youth, and youth voices, in the development of cultural change in Africa. How can we better reach out to young writers to help foment such change?
This indeed is not an easy task but one has to keep his head straight to meet up with the sacrifice. Youth are the most difficult set of people to relate with. You have to learn their language, way of life and know their perspiration and inspiration for you to rarely make the said change. When you talk to them with harsh tones and terms they are not familiar with, they tend to rebuke you and your intention, no matter how good it is. Therefore, before any writer can stand up and beat their chest at a youth writer, he/she must have done a thorough research on them. Their temperament is also a vocal point that must be taken seriously.
As a children's writer, the first thing I did was to understand Africa's stances on certain norms and moral etiquettes, and finds the parallels with the present day African youths’ temperament. Then I write with soft diction with direct expression of my thoughts through lines and stanzas to effect change. It’s really a hard task but that is the reason one is a writer or poet.
Conscious effort towards effecting change in our society should be our vocal point of writing as youth and youth writers.