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Nigerian Poet Inua Ellams Pens A Poem For Baga

Nigerian poet Inua Ellams re-imagines Gregory Djanikian's 'Armenian Pastoral' poem as a somber reflection on the tragedy in Baga.


This morning Nigerian-born, London-based word/graphic artist Inua Ellams reached out to us on twitter with a poem he wrote for Baga. The piece, Nigerian Pastoral, is part of Ellams' ongoing project in which he resets existing poems in Nigeria. With the latest in the series Ellams re-imagines Gregory Djanikian's Armenian Pastoral as a somber reflection on the recent tragedy in Baga. "My father was a Muslim when he married my mother who was a Christian and we lived in Jos, Plateau State in northern Nigeria," Ellams told Okayafrica. "I was born into conversations about Christianity and Islam, over which sat better with the soul of Nigeria and with my family. As a kid, I knew the core similarities better than I did the differences, to such a degree that I saw no major conflicts between the faiths and went to the mosque as often as I did the church. Seeing the rise of the extremists and what has become of the towns and the places I grew up in has been heartbreaking and I think of the innocents caught in the crossfire, of those who are as I was. This poem is an attempt to shed light on who those innocents might have been, and further to raise questions on why the recent tragedy in Baga was largely ignored by mainstream western news outlets, if there are racial undertones at play." Read Ellam's poem for Baga, Nigerian Pastoral, in full below.

Nigerian Pastoral

-After Gregory Djanikian.

#Afterhours

If Adamu were leaning against a wall

mouth flush with fresh coconut

when trucks screeched to a halt

and Adewunmi were writing her name

in sand, dragging the small stick

when the magazine clicked

and Afoaka were hushing her twins

waving the straw fan back and forth

when the first shots rang out

if Aliyu barefoot by the oranges

were squeezing each fruit for ripeness

when the bullet shattered his cheek

if Akarachi refusing to run

were praying in his room

when the rocket struck the roof

and Azuba in her new hand-stitched hijab

were tucking away stray wisps

when the blast ate her skin

How long would it have to go on then

beginning with A and spilling over

into all the alphabets

before mother sister father child

could bear the same weight

in any faith, in any race,

be mourned with the same tongue.

Follow Inua Ellams on Twitter at @InuaEllams. For more, read our February 2013 interview with Ellams, "Poet Inua Ellams Returns to Nigeria For the First Time in 16 Years."

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Croatian Authorities are Under Fire for Wrongly Deporting Two Nigerian Students to Bosnia

The students and table tennis players were in Croatia for a tournament when they were picked up by police and sent to a refugee camp in neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Abia Uchenna Alexandro and Eboh Kenneth Chinedu, Nigerian table tennis players and students at the University of Technology Owerri, were wrongfully deported to Bosnia after taking part in a sports tournament in Pula, Croatia, The Guardian reports. Organizers of the event are now demanding that the students be immediately returned to their home country.

Chinedu and Alexandro, both 18, were reportedly picked up by Croatian authorities on November 18—the night before they were scheduled to return to Lagos—in the country's capital Zagreb. They had visited for the fifth annual World InterUniversities Championships, which took place outside the capital in the city of Pula, and competed in the table tennis tournament. They were exploring the city afterwards and say they were approached by two officers while getting on a train and asked to provide identification.

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Cardi B Teases New Remix of Davido's 'Fall'

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Image courtesy of Trap Bob.

Trap Bob Is the 'Proud Habesha' Illustrator Creating Colorful Campaigns for the Digital Age

The DMV-based artist speaks with OkayAfrica about the themes in her work, collaborating with major brands, and how her Ethiopian heritage informs her work.

DMV-based visual artist Tenbeete Solomon also known as Trap Bob is a buzzing illustrator using her knack for colorful animation to convey both the "humor and struggle of everyday life."

The artist, who is also the Creative Director of the creative agency GIRLAAA has been the visual force behind several major online movements. Her works have appeared in campaigns for Giphy, Girls Who Code, Missy Elliott, Elizabeth Warren, Apple, Refinery 29 and Pabst Blue Ribbon (her design was one of the winners of the beer company's annual art can contest and is currently being displayed on millions of cans nationwide). With each striking illustration, the artist brings her skillful use of color and storytelling to the forefront.

Her catalog also includes fun, exuberant graphics that depict celebrities and important moments in Black popular culture. Her "Girls In Power" pays homage to iconic women of color in a range of industries with illustrated portraits. It includes festive portraits of Beyoncé, Oprah, Serena Williams and Michelle Obama to name a few.

Trap Bob is currently embarking on an art tour throughout December, which sees her unveiling murals and recent works for Pabst Blue Ribbon in her hometown of DC and during Art Basel in Miami. You can see her tour dates here.

We caught up with the illustrator via email, to learn more about the themes in her work and how her Ethiopian heritage informs her illustrations. Read it below and see more of Trap Bob's works underneath.

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