The use of Yanni’s – FROM THE VAULT – “Nightingale” sound in Onotu’s Ode is only reminiscent of a mix of ancient wonder with medieval magic. “Hopeful” is the resounding voice of a poet filled with more love for his country as he feels for “Aunt K,” his subject of admiration and long worship.
The poem speaks of a poet who is not quick to submit to the naysayers on the fate of who he loves: a country like his, a person like “Aunt K,” who is a rare image of something like a unicorn.
His choice of words are descriptive and designed to show the reader the poet’s level of respect for the elderly, his admiration for culture and his undying allegiance to his country. His respect for “Aunt K” indescribably described as he calls his approach of praise and respect yet an “impertinence of youth, a daring that should be pardoned.”
His imageries are graphic tellings of one (the poet) who wants to learn from a teacher (Aunt K). Who wishes to be whisked away to the lands of her travels (source and store for wide knowledge), with happy colours to conjure while hitchhiking through Gore to Bombay (perceived to be the origin of the poet’s Aunt K).
David Oracle Onotu in this deep and expressive poem shows the extent of his enthusiastic ethos and positive energy towards his subject as his “innards are overblown but joy does not kill.” The respect, the reverence, the salute and humility with which David approaches in earnest, but with caution this Ode to Aunt K (Kachana) which he calls a “trespass” (the ode) that is long overdue, is thrilling.
This poem is both an ode to Aunt K and the poet’s country. He talks of his country’s history, geographical zones, and independence which we cannot lose because it’s birthed in blood.
The admiration for his country continues in a promise that his country would grow despite the governance style that the people frown at (My brothers, the ones in big politics govern our people in a way most detested by our people).
He addresses the gifts, the rights, the wrongs, the strength of Africa embodied in a poem so passionate as the prominence of the author’s themes.
We are “Wide eyed urchins” with “strong root, fertile fields, mighty trees.” The poet who is from the middle planes (central of his country) boasts about the beautiful damsels who are an impressive lot: “they fetch, they work, they carry, they cook, they do not tire (image of the kind of women Africa has with similar strength like Aunt K’s).
He tells Aunt K of the noble men of a great land…heroes and patriots “Wiwa, Okigbo, Ekwensi.” He describes our trade, our commerce and our hospitality in his imagery, metaphor and personification as he “sat by the way side, a black sun, greeting the travelers who journeyed in bands…” This is the magic he sees in the North.
For all the sufferings his country (Nigeria) has endured, he is hopeful. He sees her as “the brilliance of a full moon,” a hope that the poet didn’t just learn from his travails and traverses but from Aunt K- his inspiration and true idea of love and learning who “renews his faith in mankind.”
For the goodness Aunt K has shown to David despite the many divides and fault lines created by man and nature, the poet finds finally, a friend in Aunt K.
There are “gentle sagas and secret joys” that help to strengthen the belief of Onotu. This would last for a long time. He has learned gratefulness of speech, sweetness and tenderness.
While “there’ll be magic in the rising of the sun and healing in the stampede of morning warmth,” the poet will remain hopeful in the fertile fields and charming sites” with smiles that would last.
“There is not a quietest spirit” called “Aunt K”