World Poetry Day: Seven Reasons To Take Nigerian Poets Seriously

FILE: Nigerian novelist, poet, Chinua Achebe.
World Poetry Day reminds us of the profound impact poetry has on cultures and societies worldwide. Held every year on the 21st of March, this day provides an opportunity to celebrate poets, poems, and an art of expression that has one of the most transformative powers in individuals’ lives.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), World Poetry Day also seeks to support linguistic diversity through poetic expression and increase the opportunity for endangered languages to be heard.

On this day, the world comes together to “honour poets, revive oral traditions of poetry recitals, promote the reading, writing, and teaching of poetry, foster the convergence between poetry and other arts such as theatre, dance, music and painting, and raise the visibility of poetry in the media”.

For Nigerians, embracing poetry and taking poets seriously is not just an option but a necessity, and here are seven compelling reasons why Nigeria and Nigerians must again begin to take poets and poetry seriously:

  1. Preservation of Culture

Nigerian poets have played and continue to play a crucial role in preserving the rich cultural heritage of the nation. Through their verses, they immortalize traditions, languages, and stories that might otherwise be lost over time. By taking poets seriously, Nigerians ensure that their cultural identity remains vibrant and celebrated.

  1. Social Commentary

For ages, poets have served as the voice of the people, reflecting societal issues and advocating for change. In Nigeria, where various social, political, and economic challenges persist, poets offer invaluable insights and critiques. Taking poets seriously in this context will mean listening to their observations and using their words to inspire positive action and reform.

  1. Inspiration and Empowerment

Poetry has the power to inspire and empower individuals, providing solace during difficult times and fueling aspirations for a better future. Nigerian poets, with their diverse perspectives and experiences, offer words of encouragement and enlightenment to fellow citizens. By taking poets seriously, Nigerians tap into a wellspring of inspiration that can drive personal and collective growth.

  1. Promotion of Language

Being the Giant of Africa based on the population, it is no surprise that Nigeria serves as home to over 500 languages, making it one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world. Poets, through their mastery of language, celebrate this diversity and promote the use of indigenous tongues. By paying more attention to the poets, Nigerians support linguistic inclusivity and foster a deeper appreciation for the beauty of their native languages.

  1. Cultural Diplomacy

Poetry serves as a powerful tool for cultural diplomacy, fostering understanding and dialogue between nations. Poets from Nigeria, with their distinct voices and perspectives, represent the country on the global stage, bridging cultural divides and building connections with people worldwide. By supporting these poets, Nigeria’s cultural diplomacy efforts can be enhanced, which promotes the nation’s positive image internationally.

  1. Education and Literacy

There is perhaps, no better need for poetry than the crucial role it plays in education, helping to develop language skills, critical thinking, and creativity among students. Hence, by taking poets seriously, Nigerians will prioritise the inclusion of poetry in educational curricula, thereby nurturing a new generation of poets, writers, and deep thinkers; the nation will also be fostering a deeper appreciation for literary arts.

  1. Celebration of Identity

Poets in general celebrate the diverse identities that make up the fabric of the nation they come from. Whether through themes of heritage, religion, or ethnicity, poets highlight the beauty and complexity of identity. Thus, if Nigerians begin again to take their poets seriously, then, they will be embracing and honouring the multifaceted nature of their society, fostering unity amidst diversity.

In conclusion, Nigerian poets contribute immensely to the cultural, social, and intellectual landscape of the country. It is imperative that they are taken seriously. Nigerians need to recognise the power of poetry to inspire, educate, and unite, ensuring that the voices of poets continue to resonate and enrich the nation for generations to come.