Embracing life’s puzzles in Linus Emelonye’s anthology of poems — Ngozi Emedolibe

The Funeral of the Igboman

If the life of the Igbo was a puzzle, Linus Emelonye’s anthology of poems, The Funeral of the Igboman has boldly tried to solve it in lucid verses.

The intentions of poetry are well-captured by famous American poet, Robert Frost. According to him, “A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness”.  This incidentally, is no different from what consummate artist, Linus Osigwe Emelonye has brought to bear in this anthology of poems, insightfully titled, The Funeral of The Igboman.  

Like a lump in his throat, the author has highlighted the fears, joys, optimism and pessimism of existing as an Igbo of Southern Nigeria, surrounded by obvious political, geographical and cultural realities. Throwing himself into the arena as the man in the mirror, the collection published by Bellbird Media is stuffed with 42 poems, divided under five parts: Biafra, Nature, Family, Philosophy and Mysticism- with each part deconstructing issues in relation to the set theme.

Part One, Biafra, sees the author reminiscing in granular details some aspects of the Civil War, a historical conflict in Nigeria, where he incidentally played an active role as a commissioned military officer on the side of Biafra. The poems in this part are unique, reliving the key issues about the war in the shades they deserve; and ultimately having the author condemning the strife and urging Nigerians to move forward and consolidate as a nation. The last verse of one of the poems in this part, “The Funeral of Biafra” captures this view thus:


             The epitaph of Biafra will ever display:


            “Brother Kill brother” is madness supreme;


              War has no victory, but peace is victory,


              Sustained by trust.Truth and Justice”.


This mindset of his, obviously confirms the author as a patriot in every sense of the word.

Linus Emelonye

The second part of the anthology has poems aggregated under the theme, Nature. Dissecting issues about the environment, the author reflects on the mysteries availed by natural phenomena and posits the awesomeness of a Supreme Being behind all the wonders of creation. The poem, “A Spider’s Web”, presents an author who has been articulate in observing his environment with an open but interrogative mind, meaning to understand and unravel some of the mysteries therein.


            I wandered along an old bushy path;


            Till I met a signal, ‘Road Is Closed!’


            Erected by a spider, wise and clever,


            To catch any victim that ventured to pass.


           I stopped to study the spider’s web;


          Like spokes of a cycle, strands were laid;


         From twig to twig, right, left and centre;


        These were the pillars of the great structure.


        The strands were joined with concentric bands;


       Right in the centre was her home and nursery;


        The entire web was a communication system;


         More perfect than what a nation could build.


These lines of appreciation of the natural wonders of creation, continue in the remaining poems contained in this section like: “Marvels in Nature” and “God’s Art Above Our Art”; which the writer renders with overt introspection.

Reading the entire anthology reminds one of an author whose experiences in life have been so enriching. Readers will notice the telltale signs of an author who is blessed with the rare ability of having something to say about everything, an obvious sign of wide and passion-driven scholarship. In so many ways, the author proves to have relieved his life in those words constituting the pages of this book.

If an author can only vomit what he has swallowed, then it won’t be out of place to expect a book of poetry this engaging from Emelonye, with his life story of paradoxes. He lost his father as a child and was left to be raised by an uneducated mother, who in spite of all odds was hell-bent on her only son having the best of education. This tall dream, through thick and thin, became a reality, culminating in a university education acquired in UK as well as career opportunities in some of the outstanding companies of the 1960s and 1970s Nigeria. That also paved the way for him as an entrepreneur who lived in different regions of Nigeria before retiring to his native Umuma Isiaku, Ideato in today’s Imo State.

An ardent believer in hard work, he impacted the lives of his many children from a closely-knit polygamous home with his life of discipline and consciousness for knowledge and this resonates today in his family, where his first and second generations are already being celebrated for their exploits in arts, business, law, and information technology amongst other endeavours of life.

Although Emelonye’s work constitutes elements of bias for patrilineal supremacy, the articulate way he has organically structured this collection of poems, speaks volumes of his creative and fecund mind.

-Ngozi Emedolibe is a media practitioner 

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