The Brain Gain - Dela Bobobee

There is a certain new tempo of rhythm
when the old flare of the nomadic is dim
rustling through the thick undergrowth
gnawing at the hearts of African youth
wading through the oceans and high seas
so solemn beyond what the mortal eye sees
on every valley, molehill, and mountain
flowing raw from the prehistoric fountain
Nkoyeni’s cryptic urgent clarion home call
gaining momentum without a sigh of a lull.

Rushing homewards are the youth with gains
albeit the hurdles, untold gory joys of pains
multiplying what Africa lost in the bargains.

When the old lofty barns we now overflow
heighten, our paces home will never slow
then comes the seeping away of the brains
which has finally suffocated the old drains.

There is also another great trek of a new flock
whose genes are not part of Nkoyeni’s old fold
these new creeds now speckle the youths’ pluck
in old sojourns as new trophies returning bold
the other new races now migrate on their own
their returning instincts to Africa never disown

where nuclei human first sprouted life abroad
their climate the foolhardy greed had polluted
their panting thirst for cleaner air very broad
the power of forgiveness, revenge now uprooted
legendary African spirit to accommodate given
the pillage, rape, indignity, forgotten, forgiven.

And I see a new Africa and a new conscience
ascending from the pit of mediocrity to the zenith
sparkling with magnanimity and true patience
bold sages again to look calm with pride beneath

where the savannahs, rainforests swallow the drought
for the pride lands the rains many gains have brought.


Kwadwo Oteng Owusu said...

..I salute this poem..for the idea it seeks to promote... i particular love the second stanza...big ups mann!!!!

LS said...

Surely you forget the reason for the 'poetry brain drain' has nothing to do with poetry itself. It is more to do with economics.

Poetry Prizes and Contests may help but not that much, since they are occasional events. The schools need to incorporate the teaching of poetry at a much earlier age. Am I right in saying African school children do not encounter any serious poetry until secondary school? Even that may happen only the students get to form 4 or something. By that time, they are learning only to pass exams, and most of them might remember it as a real chore.

Dela Bobobee said...


You have made a very good point here. Your comments have actually added another insightful dimension to the topic under discussion. Yes indeed, enhanced micro-economic policies would go a long way to rectify the poetic brain drain. Actually, most schools don't take the teaching of poetry seriously from the grassroots, just exactly the way you pointed it out. The students only engage in it just to pass their exams. But I guess that in itself can also serve as a stepping stone to derive a future road map. What actually makes a poet is not whether he/she starts early at the early stages of education per say. I believe that no amount of early poetry education, alone in itself, can make one a poet. That can only serve as an added impetus. What I think actually does the trick is the passion one puts in it, which can go a long way to serve as the missing link in the literary development. I know a lot of good poets, nay, literary geniuses, who did not actually start as arts students. It very remarkable how many of them come from different fields such as engineering, medical, commercial etc. It is their passion that motivates them to find time to indulge in their flairs.

In my opinion, no matter how early the introduction to poetry, if the passion is not there to fuel the exposure, the flair won’t go that far. Take for example some of our early childhood hobbies, promising talents and laudable aspirations that later dwindle in the face of the vagaries of developmental stages that actually make up our maturity. But the good news is that, that passion can be still be revived because they are still there lying dormant. But beneath all that are active volcanoes. They are the “sleeping fires” I have been talking about that needs stoking to maintain a steady flow in the storehouse of ideal poetic brains from draining through the dynamics of economics.

L S said...

thanks Dela,

you rightly made the point about literary geniuses who may not have had a liberal arts background, but I believe they are rather few.

In my opinion starting early ensures that there's a wider talent pool from which to draw.

I suppose it also helps if one's family is comfortable with one of their number becoming a writer, since no one gets rich in this business.

Dela Bobobee said...


Your candid comments have brought a smile of mixed feelings to my face, when you said that "it also helps if one's family is comfortable with one of their members becoming a writer, since no one gets rich in this business". Indeed, this has been the bane of circumstances faced by most writers in life. One’s partner may understand or forgive a spouse for taking up a career hitherto perceived as having no prospect of bringing much financial gains. It is really ironical that most vibrant talents were nipped at the bud by disapproving parents before they bloom into maturity. But I guess you can also testify the truth with me that, most world famous people are actually from the liberal arts. Even in Africa, for instance, prolific writers like Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Dennis Brutus and host of others spread all over other countries have actually made a case for a rethink. There are also a new generation of good writers sprouting everywhere in Africa. LS, believe it or not, I regard you as one of such writers. Maybe, I could also be one, who knows? Only time can tell.

Prestigious literary prizes and awards also do help in the recognition of the literary efforts of writers, and some can actually be very lucrative as well. But I don’t think only parents are the only culprits in this erroneous perception. It is true that mostly, some parents choose career paths for their wards, regardless of their natural talents, traits and flairs. We already know most of their preferred vocations. But sometimes, peer pressure to be in vogue at school also makes some students use their own hands to change their destinies, career wise.

This trend is rather prevalent mostly in our African societies, and unfortunately has dashed the hopes of many promising aspirants to their career choices. But the good news is that, society’s dynamic nature makes it imperative that the only permanent phenomenon in life itself is change. Another interesting angle to change is seen in culture. Culture is like a snake; the bigger ones eat up the smaller ones. Time conspires with change to alter cultures in different societies. Bigger cultures eat up smaller ones, sometimes to their detriment but mostly for good. Take female football for instance. Nowadays many parents are becoming comfortable with their girls engaging in pastimes or careers previously considered strictly male domains. But as for writers, their passion, more that financial gains, is what mostly keeps the bitter criticisms and societal isolations at bay.

Your second comment that “starting early ensures that there's a wider talent pool from which to draw.” is very, very correct. I remember when was in primary 3 or 4, one of our teachers taught us a little poem in my vernacular Ewe language.

“Ga sue ade le nye dzime
Didi sennua de le esi
ne me wor nuvo la
edia fun nam za kple keli
Gake ne me wor nunyui la
Ena me kpoa dzidzor”

(Translation please! Ok, ok... This little nursery poem literary means :)

“There is a tiny bell in my heart
It has a very loud echoing chime
When I commit a wrong act
It disturbs me day and night
But when I do a good deed
It makes me very happy”

The beauty and solemn meaning of this nursery poem fully dawned on me only when I started writing serious poems myself. And so when I read a poem that reverberates in my mind for a very long recurrent time, I know that poem is really a good poem and motivates me to put my own pen and paper to write. All this happen just because of my early start, like you rightly said. Thanks again.

L S said...

Thanks Dela,

for sprinkling stardust on me, and by the way you are an excellent poet too.

Maybe we need to start from the local, you know, as in the traditional poem and the translation you added.

As kids I don't think we come to these as poems. We think of them as songs, lullabies, dirges etc. never as poems.

The secondary schools start straight from 'Modern African Poetry' bypassing anything traditional. They may go back as far as poets like Dei Anang, Casely Hayford or Osadebay, but they make no attempt to teach the Ewe dirge, or Yoruba praise poetry. At least not until one reaches University.

Cheers & thanks

Dela Bobobee said...

Kwadwo Oteng Owusu,

Lest I forget, thank you very much for your comments. Actually, the poem “Brain Gain” attempts to paint a representative picture of the paradox imbedded in the much used “Brain drain”, mostly to depict an adverse effect. It seeks a way to highlight the hidden virtues less recognized with it. It recognizes the bold attempts by all Africans in Diaspora, who are harnessing all the natural talents in them for the future benefit of Africa as a whole.

This calls to mind the literary novel, “The Vicker of Wakefield” by Irish author Oliver Goldsmith published in 1766. In this book, a man made a comment on a returned voyager as “He went poor and came back poorer”. But he was instantly corrected, and asked to rather say that, “He went poor and came back poor”, not poorer. I guess this is so because the salient understandings gained abroad are a lifetime education from the university of experience, which actually is the best tutor.

Africa stands to gain in the long run. Many sons and daughters of Africa in Diaspora are actually returning home with gains. Some come to establish manufacturing industries and skills acquisition centres to cushion the effects of the deplorable social and economic conditions exacerbated by mismanagement and poor governance. There is a special area designated for such developments even in Accra, Ghana.

My special prayer for you all African sons and daughters over there is, to believe in yourselves. Harness all the God-given potentials in you for good. Have belief in your abilities, for you have hidden potentials in you to surpass even your wildest imaginations, only when you believe that all things are possible through Christ who strengthens us. Your efforts will never be in vain. Amen.

Dela Bobobee said...


Once again, you are right. I agree with you that as kids we don't such see these recitations as poems. We think of them more as songs, lullabies, dirges etc. never as poems.

Indeed, poets like Kofi Anyidoho are renowned for their excellent experimentations with transliteration of Ewe dirges, which actually make his poems unique. Take for instance his, “Akpalu fe Agohawo”, Some Nigeria poets like Osadebay, Okara and Okigbo, have also tried their hands on transliteration with much success. A very good example is, say, this Yoruba phrase of “Inu mi dun”, which literally means “I am happy”, but transliterated as “My stomach is sweet”. I guess the native speaker, or the Englishman is always fascinated by the way the English language can be stretched and twisted by Africans to present a very different variation to them, even as the original owners of the language.

I guess the mere flexibility of the English language in itself has made very good allowances for futuristic linguistic fabrications really possible. Unlike the French, who have a special academy of their own French language, which must strictly be spoken the French way, or not at all, the English language has the propensity to take more future alterations. Imagine funny nomenclatures and coinages like, infotainment (information and entertainment - television programmes that deal with serious issues or current affairs in an entertaining way) edutainment, docutainment etc. More scientific breakthroughs are also springing out surprises of new words into the English language repertoire.

The Ga “Kpanshimo”, “Akoshimo” and “Dzama” traditional songs derived from Akwelesuma and Homowo festivities are very good starting points for transliterations. I bet they would sound very wonderful and unique in English. Perhaps presenting our own traditional motifs wrapped in tasselled English packages can actually go a long way in portraying African poets as unique and highly sought after. Why not? Africans can definitely not write and sound like the original owners of the land. We would only be seen as copycats but not as originators until we learn to be who we are and present our own stories by ourselves. Why do Europeans throng to watch African traditional musicians and cultural drumming and dances? It is because of its unique traditional flavour and novelty, its breathtaking originality. It is because they believe that every African is born with a natural rhythm and a special grace that spontaneously sway with our dances. So can also be said when we write in borrowed languages spiced with our own traditional flavours. More power to your elbows.

Darko Antwi said...

A poem of faith and light. Quite prophetic, and much more beautiful. Dela poetry has the tendency to make a reader pause - just to adore the floral of words.

Weldone Dela.

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Dela Bobobee said...

Thanks, Darko Ntwi.

I really appreciate your comments. It is brief but very precise. I like it mostly because that is exactly what the poem “The Brain Gain”, was meant to be. “A poem of faith and light”. You are also right when you said that “it is also quite prophetic” in nature. My own personal definition of who really a poet is has always been; “a poet is a wordsmith with prophetic visions of pent-up emotions alloyed in the subliminal vaults that is made explicit on the grim tufts of reality”.

The first thing I did when I stumbled on this wonderful OGOV site was to go back and read all the older posts submitted by the contributors on this site. I like the question and answer interview segments very well because it gives me more insights into the personalities of the contributing poets involved. After reading almost all of your poems published here, I have come to the conclusion that, I am in the right place, with the right people, and the right time. Personally, I join my voice with the other critics of your poems to say that, they are quite very fascinating. I wonder if we were all given the same subject matter to write about, I would have done justice to most of them the way you handled them. I will find a special time to visit your personal blogs too. Thanks again, for your comments.

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Prince Mensah said...

I have enjoyed the back and forth between Dela and LS. I believe that Africa's literature, and its dominance on the world scene, is only a matter of time. I agree that both Dela and LS are part of this phenomenon that is virtually unstoppable, as in the scenarios that 'The Brain Gain' eloquently describes.

Dela's optimistic piece is very much needed as the continent is in the birth-pang phase of its re-emergence as a global powerhouse of innovation and ingenuity.

Inasmuch as prizes and fellowships are integral to the inculcation of written literature into the African psyche, I believe that 'charity begins at home'. The African child must be educated in the writings of his forbears, just as European and American children are educated in the writings of their own poets/writers/novelists. The initial mistake committed by our educational systems is to buoy our education to Western literature (anything less or otherwise is not considered). Instead of Shakespeare, we should be reading Soyinka; instead of Dickens, we should read Ngugi Wa Thiongo; instead of Frost, we should be reading Anyidoho. This should be what our children should be introduced to, and then we can introduce external literary influences. We have gotten it backwards and that is what is creating a copycat system, based on the West. We cannot allow this to continue because we are equally capable of producing literary masterpieces that educate, inform and establish an accurate picture of the African existence.

OGOV has been a main oven of thoughts about how to make our literary landscapes manicured enough to command the attention of our own people and, by extension, the rest of the world. I applaud the efforts of Rob Taylor to ensure that Africans do not forget their own capacity to control their literary destiny. I hope that Dela's poem will resonate with everyone who reads it and has the progress of the Mother Continent at heart.

Dela Bobobee said...

Prince Mensah,
I really appreciate your comments, nay, contributions, on the poem, “The Brain Gain”.

And also, on behalf of myself and LS (still trying to decipher the enigmatic initials), by using LS’s literary wordsmith eloquence, “sprinkling of stardusts “on LS and my humble self. Thanks for linking us with Africa's literature, and its dominance on the world scenes as, and LS and I, being “part of this phenomenon that is virtually unstoppable”.

Personally, I guess the majority of these new vibrant poets on OGOV (including you, of course) are also parts of this unstoppable rejuvenation, and rather exhilarating experience. I also share your views, and join you to applaud the efforts of Rob Taylor to ensure that Africans do not forget their own capacity to control their literary destiny.That is a very good one.

Indeed, I regard your comments more as a vital contribution to the brain gain, more than just a mere comment, as the case may be, because it would go a long way to shed more lights on the gray areas of African literature by Africans for Africans by the traditional ways for the whole world. Your insightful comments are capable of generating a whole lot of literary discourse analysis on this issue, and I promise to revisit your introductory track for further participation. Thanks, Prince Mensah.

Dela Bobobee said...

Hi guys,

Sorry guys, please pardon my unexpected brief absence from the blog, for some time when I would be offline to attend to traditional family issues.

Just heard the sad news. My ole Pa is dead and had gone to join the ancestors to watch over us their progeny. May his gentle soul rest in the eternal boson of the Almighty God. Amen.

RIP, Hunnour T.K Bobobee. Peace Perfect Peace. When a tree dies, its stump regenerates and flourishes to carry on the magic of life. I hope you understand.
Dela Bobobee

Prince Mensah said...


Please accept my condolences at this difficult time. May the Lord grant your father solace in His arms.


Rob Taylor said...


So sorry to hear this. Know that the thoughts and prayers of the OGOV family are with you at this time.

And I agree with what you say about trees and regeneration - we all carry with us a piece of those who touched our lives. May your father live on and inspire in this way for years to come.

Dela Bobobee said...

Thanks, Prince Mensah, and Rob Taylor,

Your sincere condolences are well acknowledged. You guys make me feel cool, as if we practically one family. Yes, of course, we are; OneGhanaOneVoice, silly of me not to notice the deeper meaning earlier.

May I use this opportunity to thank in advance, all the rest of the cool OGOV members who would later wish to commiserate with me through this medium? You are all appreciated. I would respond to your condolence registers through my Blackberry, if possible. I promise.

Rob, you have already made me feel relieved as if a heavy load of grief has been lifted off my chest, in your allusions to “trees and regeneration - we all carry with us a piece of those who touched our lives”. May I take it that you mean, my father though dead, is still alive in me? Yes, of course. This brings to mind the favourite Disneyland cartoon feature film with African motif,” The Lion King.” Mufasa was still alive in his little son Simba, who grew up in self-exile just for the sake of self-realization and to return to take over his father’s place that was treacherous usurped by his sly uncle, Scar. Oh my God, how little things mean a lot. The same may be said of my own scenario. Does history essentially really repeats itself?

This unexpected home call, for my late dad, and to me; still alive though, somehow would invariably accord me with an opportunity to once again visit my dear homeland Ghana. I will definitely be among e the chief mourners, but amidst the dirges; I will consciously take a very critical look at the Ghanaian traditional funeral rites and its significance in the traditional cultural milieu of the contemporary indigenous African societies. I believe things like funeral rites, extended family circles, marriages and child naming ceremonies, matrilineal and patrilineal family patterns are what make Africans distinguished as unique as Africans. You would be kept abreast with the proceedings on OGOV. Rob, this development, perhaps with your permission though, could become another topic of discussion on the characteristic OGOV Roundtable Discourse?

Dela Bobobee

LS said...


I really don't know what to say. You have my condolences. As Awoonor says in "Rediscovery":

When our tears are dry on the shore
and the fishermen carry their nets home
and the seagulls return to bird island
and the laughter of the children recedes at night,
there shall still linger the communion we forged
the feast of oneness whose ritual we partook of.

Dela Bobobee said...

Thanks, LS,

for the kind condolence message wrapped in a very smoothing oral poetry of Kofi Awoonor. To me it is truly like a single moment in a larger pattern of recognition and rediscovery, a true reawakening.

My spontaneous response when I read your words was “awww... what a very solemn and apt way to console a bereaved brother”. Know what? The message jelled rightly, and now reverberates as:

“Why we Drape in Black Funeral Clothes”

Adios, Dumega Hunnour T.K Bobobee
“Papa, hede nyui, ya wor odwogbaa”!

When a giant shady tree dies birds sing
not for the demise of an ample bosom
their mournful cries are always in blithe

so in our grief we learn new joyful dirges
for when a tree dies its stump grows back
that is why we must stifle our grief with joy
beneath our sombre faces lurk elation
as funerals become a celebration of life-
a life well spent to complete a full circle
to see a war veteran’s wardress adorned
with arrays of great-grandchildren as a legacy

when in funeral processions we drape in black
it is not because it is the colour death, far be it
the colour black is enigmatic like the magic of life
and so black is required for all other colours
to have depth and variants of hue –
it's a dynamic trait that embodies ritual,
dignity, force, reunion, strength –
it heals all wounds and misunderstanding
and above all, black is zero tolerance, and endless

life is a circle, never to be linear
the present belongs to the living
as the past is for the ancestors
and the future is for the unborn-
waiting for a turn to start another circle

“Papa, hede nyui, ya wor odwogbaa!
Adios, Dumega Hunnour T.K Bobobee
your befitting burial is a festival of life
that spawn arrays of offspring to live on

the sun sets, here comes the voyager at last
Papa, as you are going to that grand home
greet all the ancestors waiting to be reborn
greet Mama Adzinor, Freda Awusi Akwetey for me
please tell her that, her parting words are evergreen
like a tiny bell with an echoing chime in my heart
“my son, be like a tree planted by the rivers of water”

“Papa, hede nyui, ya wor odwogbaa!
Adios, Dumega Hunnour T.K Bobobee.

By Dela Black Bobobee –
on behalf of your descendants.

Darko Antwi said...

Dear Snr Dela,

I haven't been a regular visitor for the past three months. That explains why I've read the news of your Dad's passing just today. Beloved i pray the good Lord comforts you, even as I hope you become consoled.

Never mind coming back to thank me. We are mourning with you. May you come back (in due time) only to keep the fire aburning: through your just analysis and floral lines.

Your jnr poet & brother,
Darko xxx

Folks, please check-out facebook. Adjei Agyei-Baah has taken poetry to another level.

Delatrophy said...


Compatriot Darko Entwi.

Your condolence is highly appreciated.

I have visited your personal blog and enjoyed the good works you are doing there. Ayekoo.
What I really admire most is your glamorous “Baby Face” photograph there. It is really cool.
I will also follow the link to check-out Adjei Agyei-Baah on facebook. By the way, I am on facebook too.

It would really be wonderful if there is a way I could check on some of the Accra-based OGOV members in Ghana, after my late dad's funeral. Have a pleasant day.

Darko Antwi said...

Dear Dela, thanks for the visit & the following of my blog. Oh, that picture... it's something!

I've visited yours once again, but couldn't follow, as you don't have the gadget enabled. Anyway, I'll still pay visits - to read more of your brilliant works.

Your comments on the last OGOV statistics has kept me enthused. You've started a revival. Believe me Senior.

I will add you at facebook.

Should it get more private, i will be mailing you next time