There’s Other News – Tanure Ojaide

At thelagosreview we do not publish poetry because our intention is to privilege critical engagement over all else. But since the Covid-19 pandemic hit we have been received a deluge of poetry submissions and so in the next few weeks we will be publishing poems beginning with Tanure Ojaide, one of Africa’s greatest living poets. We are making this exception because these works commend themselves to us as meditation, therapy and documentation and so important for these fraught times. Editors

There’s Other News

Other than the haunting casualties of coronavirus,

other than muted celebrations of recovery

in the face of a heavy toll,

other than debates about the role of destiny

in all this—many unscathed, others dying or narrowly

escaping the virulent skirmishes and battles

in the pandemic war of 2019-2020—

there’s other news. Individually, the milestone

of a birthday, the failure in a contest that would have been

great and for which a friend consoles you for your past glories

& unexpectedly a friend’s daughter wins a scholarship.

Statistics of road accidents down to almost zero;

the same of kidnapping and armed robberies.

Mass shootings seem to be last century’s blemish,

as gangs call a truce to distribute food to vulnerable elderly.

So much transformation that marks out the season

a turning point from the barbarisms that bedeviled us.

There’s other news not breaking as Covid-19’s.

For many, the coming of downpours

to douse the intolerable heat of the tropics;

in some lands despite the lockdown

they cannot resist the seduction of cherry blossoms

& where the viral decimation astounds

it’s the first warm days that turn things

to spring to life. . .

Other than Covid-19, there’s other news;

good or bad but something different

and also worth remembering this very year.

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