Revolutionary verses – A review of Ndukwe Onuoha’s poetry album

Ndukwe Onuoha is a poet and spoken word artist who draws his inspiration from human stories and everyday life. Some of the more memorable lines you will hear him perform are:

Change may come some day,

Change may come some way,

But that day is not today.

In his debut spoken word album – Revolutionary verses, he has put together seven poems and three skits in about seventeen minutes, mining memory in a bid to move us to a different kind of revolution. A bloodless one. Or at least provoke anger.

Anger at what? Everything that is wrong with the Nigeria – From the civil war and insecurity to the abduction of the Chibok girls.

The album is almost excellent because while the individual poems tug at our heart strings with moving story and melody, the overall album lacks the necessary cohesion.

The playful satire in the poems takes away the sting of each sad story and by the third listen you can tell that the title: Revolutionary Verses, is in itself ironical.

In the poem ‘For a girl whose name we do not know’, we witness the ability of the poet to dig into our memories and tug on our heart strings. He however fails to rein it all in at the end, so it feels like the entire album is a series of poems galloping away on their own.

This of course excludes the three skits titled: ‘Puff, puff pass’ which evoke a smile and reinforce the bleakness the poet tries to pass across.

One of the strongest tracks in this album is the poem ‘Memories’. The deft use of a sound very similar to the Igbo ogene and a flute fused with a poem that reminds one of Bassey Ikpi’s ‘Silence is the loudest kind of noise’ gives a nostalgic feeling that stays with you long after the seventeen minutes of the entire album has passed.

The constant rhyming in the poems can be grating because sometimes it feels forced. Yet, the poet uses it masterfully in ‘Tell them why we did it’, as he weaves a poem that will resonate with hip hop lovers.

Don’t take my word for it though. You should get this album and listen to it as you puff, puff, pass, remembering that according to the poet: ‘Pain don’t last as long as you got this grass.’

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