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Centre stage Clem Olaniyi


1. May we know you?

. A poet. Philosopher. Novelist. Orator. Farmer.

  1. When did you develop a love of poetry?
    As long as I can remember. Perhaps the age of 14.

  2. What has been the reception from your contemporaries on your poems?
    . Encouraging. They love and cheer for my style of writing. Some have my poems hung as mnemonics on their walls. That’s quite impressive and humbling for me

  3. What type of poetry do you favor?
    . All types. I write about anything. Everything. All things.

  4. Please share with us a bit about what you write about and why?
    . I write about life in general, even death. Talk about love, music, just anything. I’m always inspired to write at all times. Even at moments of grief and times of wild cheers I’m game on

  5. Have you had any of your poems published formally?
    . No. Not yet. Working on it definitely. I’ve had few suggestions and some offers to present my work for UNICEF in helping African children

  6. Do you think poetry can be used to change an attitude?
    . Surely, yes! Poetry is a way of life. Even every breath we take is hewn in poetry. Poetry is life. With poetry, a dirge can turn into a wild happy ballad. I just can’t be imaging life and nature without beautiful, orchestrated pieces of poetry in it. But to know what it is, you must feel it. If you’re not swinging in, you can’t mediate it.

  7. How often do you write?
    . Very often. It could be anywhere at anytime. Several times I’d wake up in the middle of the night to write. It could come by things I observe on the roadside, market, children, even the flowers. Just think of anything I’m there
  8. Share your dreams.
    Just a little I’d share. To see my name etched on the pillars of history. To create an awareness and help people realize their dreams. To help people know that poetry is not an odious thought or activity. Without poetry all forms of endeavors in life become vegetative
  9. When you look at your environment, do you see poetry gaining some level of recognition or popularity?
    We are a bit short on that right now in Nigeria of today, but we are getting “relocated” into feeding those who are bereft of it. So I believe someday, it will hold ground again. Those of old were taught with poetry. That’s why they still edge above newer guys of now. That’s why nothing exceptional has been well noticed because we are sold to a life of mundane activity devoid of creativity.

  10. What do you think of young poets liking the spoken word as a form of protest or expression
    .They yearn for fulfillment. They know that’s the only language the core of all hearts feeds on. They know a drop of water can suddenly become an ocean with poetry.

  11. Please tell us about your favorite poets, old and young
    William Shakespeare. Prof. Wole Soyinka. Those are ones still touching the strings and stirrings of my heart

  12. Which poet has had the most influence on you?
    William Shakespeare
  13. How do want to be evaluated by your peers and society?
    A phlegmatic Astute Observer. I am a clinical realist…I am evermore an alchemist of positivity, an adherent of an austere life. A man blessed with so much to offer but few of interests to be shared, who, when others don’t, does see promises in your eyes, the spark smoldering in your breasts, giving it tinder to see your soul ignites to passion
  14. Thank you coming on Centre stage
    It’s a great pleasure ma’am.

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Learning Lessons

Hello everyone,
I am sharing my fortieth year as a writer. It was a bit surprising when my husband noted thatthis year makesit the fortieth year of my writing experience.
So I had to ask myself a few questions. what has been my experience. I live in a country where the reading culture had been bastardised.
What have I achieved in all the 40 years? Is it worth celebrating?
Given the country I live in,I have grown a lot, my writing skills has improved. In recognition of that length of time, I changed the look of my website. made a conscious effort to reflect on what has moved me through the years.
I am bit surprised to note that I have always been socially conscious, from my romantic plays, to my detective series as well as so many other stories. I even wrote horror stories which recently changed forms to religious and fantasy.
I have published quite a number of novels, poetry and produced plays.
I am musing today and will share in the weeks to come my stories, rationale and lessons learned.Meanwhile let me share this with you
TREAD SOFTLY

Don’t get lost
In the weft of threads
Don’t swim west
From the heat of sweat
Don’t make mounds
From life’s hounds
Search through the chaff
From the flowing stream
Each clap of thunder
Each sighing hiss
Of the fierce lightning
Evidence of streaming light
Follow the rainbow stream
And friend, you’ll be home.

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When Parents Dream…..

For me it was not going to happen, I knew it from the moment she started telling me how she loved their white clothes. My heart sank each time she started the subject. I had a rebellious streak. Father passed away in my last year in secondary school, being a nurse would have been the next best thing. However I was not buying into that. We stared at each other. I was close to tears but stubbornly refused to back down. I told her very firmly that I had not the slightest intention of going to a nursing school. In the first place I was not going to have any relative pay for my nursing fees or any fees for that matter. I wanted to be a surgeon and since my father had passed away I was reviewing my choices. There was pain in mother’s eyes as she had to painfully let go of her dream of seeing her daughter wear the nurse’s uniform.
Years later it set me thinking, do parents live their dream through their children. I met quite a lot of parents who tried to push their children to one profession or the other. Tope was one of them. He got admission to read medicine at one of the best universities in the country. His father swelled with pride each time he told us and we all assumed that Tope would one day don the short coat of a doctor, I even envied him as I had wanted to be a surgeon remember? Then Tope came to look for me and I saw his discomfort. After a lot of nervous coughing he blurted out that he would be graduating as an accountant and had secured the firm that he would do his articleship. The shock was that his father had assumed that Tope would be going for his clinicals and housemanship.
Tope stared at me, he asked me to break the news to his father. I gulped asking him why he had kept quiet about his change of course. He shrugged and said, there was no way that he could tell his father about such a change. He explained that in the second year, he had quietly changed to accountancy , kept his grades clean and maintained a decent CGPA he had not had any problems, he did not fancy cutting people up and would have made a terrible doctor he explained.
We sat in silence as I had picture of breaking the news to his father. I did not look forward to that assignment, and I remembered my mother and I sighed. When parents dream…Could I one day be guilty of this? In Nigeria of those days, children of the sciences were valued and I remembered that my principal had insisted that I was going to be a science student even the fact that I consistently failed physics and was indifferent to Mathematics. He had a faith in me that was agonizing for me? I was happy debating, acting, reciting poetry but was stuck in the science class.
I became a firm advocate of career counseling thereafter because the opportunity became clearer to allow the child to choose irrespective of the dreams of our parents.
I became a parent and I understood why parents dream. I caught myself telling my children that they should opt for professional courses. Something that they can be masters of when they leave school and have to fend for themselves in a world that had rapidly changed from what I knew of it.
As a parent, I had dreams of them becoming self -reliant, the government jobs were gone, factories and industries needed a different kind of worker. You no longer needed to have understanding of the general Rules of the civil service code anymore. Nobody wanted to be in service to a nameless person but children wanted to hold their survival firmly in their own hands.
There was now the age of technology and the world had shrunk to a village.The language was now different, abbreviated to a level that you needed a dictionary ….a new dictionary to understand new words. Can Parents still dream?
We need to look for new dreams and search through our hopes and prayers what should be the pattern of our new dreams.
Sometimes we look at our children, they are now children of a new age , a new vision, it is fast paced and the parents have become the children as they look on confused, grasping at their dreams. Time to take a look and see what you can safely dream about
The world still need love, decency, uprightness, justice and we may still dream of honesty in the blind rush for money.
I take a look round and still tell my children, there is still opportunity, to be decent, have a sense of justice and fairness, be upright, share love to another human being and be a creature of the Creator. Now maybe the colour of the dreams may change but these values like threads run through life.
Be a man in the cascading confusion of a new age
Now when parents dream…… they see hope of a new dawn for man

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Is your child on the shelf?

“It is like this, I really can’t make up my mind if she is now redundant or her second value is non existent. Years ago Dayo was ready to have a stroke if Gbemi even hinted at having a boyfriend. I didn’t mind then. I agreed with him as I did not fancy looking after an illegitimate child while her school programmes was disrupted. So I joined and made quite a few threats myself. Dayo my hsband spoilt her rotten, gave her a car when she turned twenty one, rented her an apartment a proper flat not the famous one bedroom holes her mates were renting at that time.

Gbemi to all intents and purposes did not lack anything. She did us proud too at graduation, five prizes at faculty level and best graduating from the university. I felt a bit uneasy that she did not want to have a party as she graduated, but I shrugged it off. She did her masters and went to announce she was going to Scotland for her doctorate. I smiled and asked her when she was bringing a boyfriend home for us to vet. Gbemi shrugged that the man has not turned up. Suddenly I felt something was wrong, I remembered with shock that my daughter turned thirty a few months back, then I felt chills wondering if something was wrong with her. Seriously I started playing back in my memory the suitors that had been turned down by her father and how they had gradually dried up and I became uneasy. What have I done? Is Gbemi now on the shelf?” Tinu turned very worried eyes to me.

I wondered too. Gbemi is tall elegant, a really beautiful girl who should have been married a long time ago. What could be the problem? I made comforting noises to Tinu while I promised to have a talk with Gbemi at the earliest opportunity.

I had a chance a few days later when Gbemi came to see me. I watched this very beautiful lady come down from her expensive jeep as she scooped my grand-daughter in her arms. Gbemi loves children and would spend time with her young nieces and nephews. I commented that it seems she is taking her time about having children of her own. A frown came over her beautiful face as she replied that a woman needs a man before she gets pregnant right? I said yes but that I didn’t think she was in dire need of males as I was sure they would have been banging her door down. She gave me a look and flopped down on my worn couch and grinned.
“Aunty, Dad made such a do about me waiting for the right man and kept raising the bar that I think he made men redundant to me for a long while. If I could just get pregnant I probably will forget about the idea of marrying. I don’t want to be baby mama’ Gbemi made such a sound of distaste as she said the last two words ‘baby mama’.
“Hmm I see” was my comment but I wondered.

“Marriages are not just for the faint hearted you know” I told her wondering if maybe I should recommend Lola Babalola’s book to her.
If you keep looking for Mr. Right , you must be mentally ready you know I told her and we discussed what the issue could be.

“Aunty I am an old maid, looking for the kind of man Daddy says can make me happy, and if I am not lucky soon, I might just decide to remain a lonely miss in my big lovely house and expensive cars, men keep their distance, what can they offer me? I seem to have everything already. To all intents I might be on the shelf already”
There was silence as she finished, then she gave a bright smile but the smile did not reach her sad eyes.
Is your child on the shelf? I pondered for a long time. We all made such a fuss about getting an education, getting a career started and in the crush of our crowding ambitions left out the concept of thinking of starting a family. We need company along the road of the highway of life.
You might ask the question whether it was in anyway paramount in a woman’s life to get married at all.
As parents, and African, we are beset with the doctrine that we must carry on the line and we dream of the day when we sit at the high table as parents of the bride and groom. When we link our values with another family forming new threads and links.

As a parent we look forward to that day when the baby who cried anf held our finger is helped to start his/her own family. We feel we are discharging our responsibility as we hand over the baton.
However, we need to ask ourselves as responsible and effective parents, how well have we prepared our child to handle a relationship outside the family?. Have we made our child ineligible to have a healthy relationship?. Have we spoilt them to such a level that they can’t handle challenges of relating with others? Have we given such a doctrine that they are incapable of learning tolerance and understanding of strange moral codes and ethos that may be different from ours?. Have they become marooned on our myopic island that they cannot survive? Have we bred hothouse plants that wilts from the first puff of reality?
Is your child left on the shelf?