Afegbua Shabban is the 10th son of a family of 18 children. He was born into a royal family called the Afegbua Family on the 19th of April 1973 in a place called Agotelor in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. A native of Okpella, the largest village in Etsako in Edo State, Nigeria, he currently resides in South Africa.
Five Questions with Afegbua Shabban:
1. How long have you been writing poetry?
I have been writing poems since 1995. I never thought that I would be able to write anything in my life. The first poem I wrote just flashed in my head; it came like an explosion. The poem was called "Restless Life".
2. Who are your favourite poets? Which poets have most inspired and informed your work?
To be very frank with you, I didn't know any poets at the time I started writing poems. Inspiration to me was a spiritual gift. Like I said, I never thought of myself as someone that could write. All the poems I wrote came into my head spontaneously. For example, if I witnessed an event, some few hours after that event, a word or phrase relating to that event would just bump into my head and if I refused to acknowledge it, it would remain there as an assignment that must be done. It would get to a point where if I didn't want to write it down, it became a problem in my head.
I really don't know a name of any poet right now.
3. What do you hope to accomplish with your poetry?
I write poems when the need arises. I don't really think of myself as a poet. I only write when something happens or there is a message in my head.
4. Do you feel Africans feel each others suffering more strongly, or differently, than non-Africans? In other words, do you believe that empathy for tragedies such as the Lagos explosion is universal, or that Africans have a particular connection with one another, be them Nigerian, South African, or Ghanaian, that changes the way they feel the pain of one another's suffering?
This question is very complex but I will try to answer it the way I know it. Africans feel the pains of Africans more than the outside world. This is where pain is conceived and given birth to. Anyone who is born on this soil knows this, but a good number of us tend to deny this obvious fact: Africans caused the suffering in Africa. What happened in Lagos was a result of carelessness and so many people paid with their lives for this careless attitude of those in power at that time.
Yes, Africans have a particular connection with one another, unbelievably. Any man who fails to acknowledge the pain of a fellow man is not fit to be called a man. Pain is the only obvious thing in Africa. Pain is real and whoever denies this is not a man, but a beast.
The suffering in Africa started when the principal gladiators of this continent embraced themselves with an evil friend called power. This is where the will to serve was lost and most of them began to feel stronger than the people that made them who they were. The path of discord was widely opened and evil was embraced like a lost and found old friend. They no longer see anything good about being good. The quest for power monopolies takes precedence and the superstition of false beliefs, dogma, creed and above all, the twisted ignorance of error and selfishness perverted their minds and they became unstable with a daunted memory of what is right and wrong. This led them overboard in the ship of African destiny and the result is the chaos and unrest in this continent today. The people that were chosen to captain the ship of Africa's destiny betrayed God's tender love. They wasped their own will and drove the ship into the crooked lake of discord.
This is how the suffering in Africa began. When a man of power starts to think of himself, degradation, greed, jealousy, envy and hatred will invade his thoughts and the brotherhood of man will be forgotten. Africans created African suffering.
5. Are any Ghanaian poets as well known in South Africa as Dennis Brutus, Oswald Mtshali, etc. are in Ghana? Do you feel there is a connection between the poetry of the two countries?
I really don't know, but the one thing am sure of is that any good poet is known all over the world.