Adjei Agyei-Baah is a 31-year old Ghanaian living in Ghana. He holds a Masters of Business Administration degree in Strategic Management and Consultancy Service from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology School of Business, Kumasi. Some of his poems have been published in www.modernghana.com and www.kpokplomaja.com. He accidentally discovered his talent of writing when undertaking a research work on children’s rhymes and was asked by his supervisor create his own poems after selecting already existing rhymes from foreign poets. Some of his award winning poems include Mother Is Supreme (Luv FM Mothers’ Day Poetry Promo, 2008) and Similes of Love (Hello FM Valentine's Day Poetry Competition, 2009).
Five Questions with Adjei Agyei-Baah:
1. April 26th, 2009 marks the 10th anniversary of Asantahene Otumfuo Nana Osei Tutu II's ascendancy to the Golden Stool. What significance does this event hold for you personally?
The event signifies the unity among the Ashantis which has consecrated and dignified the Golden Stool of which its occupant Otumfuo Nana Osei Tutu II can celebrate such a day. This event is going to bring people from all over the world to Kumasi and as such Kumasi will be opened to people with ideas that can help develop the city. The event also shows the contributions of our traditional rulers to the socio-economic development of our country.
2. Do you think poetry can help keep Akan culture alive and thriving? If so, what role do you think contemporary English-language poetry can play?
Yes! Poetry has been part and parcel of the Akan culture dating back to time immemorial. I believe poetry can keep Akan culture alive and thriving if given the needed attention. The sad story is that poetry is only given the needed attention on great occasions like this. I think it is hard time a platform is created for it as a form of weekend entertainment for people to express themselves in divergent ways before society moves out of control. I will say yes because it is an avenue for Akan and Africa in general to define themselves before someone else does.
I will say contemporary English-language poetry has helped take Akan culture to a higher pedestal. It had been the medium to spread the Akan culture (specifically through poetry) to other people who could not read and understand our native language (Twi). Language becomes more meaningful and beneficial when it helps communicate and bridge the gap between various cultures. And I think contemporary English-language poetry has performed that role.
3. Your poem seems to be bridging the gap between oral traditions and written traditions. When writing it poem, did you intend for it to be read on the page, or to be performed?
This poem was actually written to perform at 10th Anniversary of Asantahene Otumfuo Nana Osei Tutu II scheduled on April 26th, 2009. I wrote it as an appellation which is an oral literature but later decided to get it published. Hence its styles of constant repetition which makes it appear more oral in its outlook.
4. Occasional poetry (poetry written for an occasion) is a rather obscure genre of poetry in many parts of the world. What relevance do you think occasional poetry has in Ghana? How do you think Ghanaian poets can harness occasional poetry to better reach their audience?
Occasional poetry is relevant, as it give the chance to audience to appreciate the subject matter better. There is a direct appreciation of poetry by the listener as he can relate the lines of the poem to the actual event. Besides, occasional poetry can stimulate people to write poems when their thoughts are provoked on such days like Mother's Day, Valentine’s Day etc. On such occasion, people who do not often write are compelled to write some lines for their loved ones.
5. Do you have any new projects or poems that you are working on that you would like to share with our readers?
Currently I am a part of a trio running a poetry recital competition dubbed Open Mic Poetry - Bringing Poetry to Life for students in Ghana. This program will come off in July 2009 and any form of assistance from your readers would be welcomed. Besides this, I’m almost done with some poems with the titles: "Letter to God," "Walking Asset" and others which I hope to share with others in the days to come.