BRIEF ADDRESS PRESENTED BY ERIATA ORIBHABOR AT THE MAIDEN EDITION OF POETRY COURT’S BEAUTY OF WORDS HELD ON 28TH NOVEMBER, 2015 AT NAVY TOWN, OJO, LAGOS-NIGERIA

Distinguished well-wishers

Invited Guests,

Members of the Press,

Poets, writers,

Chief host

 

THE BEAUTY OF WORDS BY ERIATA ORIBHABORWhen the Chief Host of this programme Benjamin Osigwe said the following on his Facebook Timeline, he spoke my mind about this day we have been looking forward to with passion, excitement and hope built by pillar of words:

“I have not been sleeping for some time now, cause every time I open my eyes, it seems like it’s the fresh air of 28th of November 2015, that am breathing.’’

 

Whenever I encounter lines on Facebook that strike my inner, I hardly gloss over without a Like or Comment as appropriate. Interestingly, comments that attract my reaction, go a long way to inspiring the things I write. Reacting to Osigwe’s comment, I stated the following:

 

“When you drink, sleep and wake poetry, you sleep not appreciating how well you slept but on the day’s dawn, you walk around refreshed, not regretting drinking, sleeping and waking on poetic bites.”

 

Consequent upon the above unscheduled indirect ‘‘dialogue’’ between two persons, it is possible to appreciate and interpret the Beauty of Words from different perspectives. In this wise, one could picture a Writer bugged down by the onerous task of putting together an upcoming maiden event. Thus, the writer finds his brain working non-stop with sleep taking a temporary leave. However, he was confident of a silver lining of success as expressed in the fresh air he breathed. Words in this instance, were used as conveyor and expresser of one’s inner feelings as well as an encouragement on the way forward creating a cocksure feeling of triumph of success over failure. My comment therefore, spoke further life to that of Osigwe assuring that, nothing but success will be achieved as long as one was fully committed to whatever he does.

 

The appropriation of the Beauty of Words could be underscored against the acceptance one places on words; the conveyor of wisdom, love, nature, cultures and traditions, language, histories, etc from the point of view of the good, the bad and the ugly. Accordingly, the banal saying; beauty is in the eyes of the beholder comes to mind. Notwithstanding, it goes without saying that, the beauty of words have two faces; good and bad. It squarely reifies the position of the social scientist who looks at every situation from the point of view of Balance; juxtaposition all sides to every thing or situation to arrive at the best or way forward as the case may be. As poets strategic in the scheme of things, and in all ramifications, the beauty of words come alive in the way and manner words are crafted, deployed and consumed. I crave your indulgence to bring this to perspective as I recall a short story of a Greek born Lafcadio Hearn who resettled in Japan from the United States in 1890. He did a piece forwarded to an editor for editing. He was not entirely pleased by the editing and “revised…the whole paper’’. His reason was that, the editor recognized the ugliness of some words he used without recognizing their physiognomic beauty. By this, if words are human beings, they should be appraised beyond their looks. For example, the beauty of the lines we write should not be viewed one-sided e.g rhyme or any figure of speech, etc. It is the totality of the way they are written, built along essence and meaning and how they impart their environments.

 

The Beauty of Words could be underscored against diverse backgrounds but the best way to approaching this, in my opinion, and as variously expressed, is to see Words as harbingers of good and bad. The therapeutic configuration of words are present in healing lines of love, inspiration and lots more. In the same vain, words used in the opposite sense, could bring down an entire building if you get my drift. Words have pitched brothers against brothers, communities against communities and when written down, they deposit lasting memories of hate or love and their ancillary consequences. In the positive sense, I will like to share with you the following picture quote:

 

Imagine a world where the words you speak appear on your skin. Would you be more careful of what you say?

 

The above lines taken from picturequotes.com reminds me of the popular gossip addressed in Naija parlance as Amebo or tatafo witaut waya who enjoys telling every story no matter how told and not minding disaffection caused or pitting one against the other. The beauty of words in this situation could be adjudged from e.g. the number of marital homes that could be broken by one Amebo/tatafo whose negative use of words may be responsible. The way we use words, bring out its beauty whether rightly or wrongly. How wrong or right they may be appraised gives credence to beauty in its holistic sense. If words are humans, would we say some words are ugly while some are beautiful? We do have ugly and beautiful words as seen by different individuals.

 

The beauty of words could also be underscored against the background of lifting souls from the doldrums by giving hope and making people think and work outside the box for better results. No need mentioning how badly we score in this regard because our squalid environments tell all. Accordingly, we must speak proudly of politicians who mount the rostrum to speak hope for a people and committedly work towards achieving same. Life changing words, mean more when matched with action otherwise they end up as castles in the air. The following words/quote will interest you:

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” – Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

 

As harbingers of cultures and traditions, languages and more, words matter a great deal. Only yesterday, Black Friday was celebrated all over the world; a day set aside by business shop owners around the world to throw open their outfits giving out their wares at rock bottom prices. Why it was so designated, I didn’t make any effort to ascertain. However, one must be very cautious in the way we engage and deploy words like colour, tribe, race, religion etc even though in the final analysis, they display the beauty of words. As a people, we are not bound to use Black Friday as coined in the America and elsewhere.  The creativity and love for country in us comes large in the way we domesticate international words and activities in our creative expressions. For example, an online shop called KONGA may not have followed Black Friday blindly because on its website, I found out that the company has what it simply call: YAKATA MID-DAY SALES

How many of us here would say he/she doesn’t know what YAKATA means in popular Nigerian Pidgin/Naija languej? Promoting what is ours matter and as poets and writers, we have a responsibility in this regard to cause the right things to be done.

 

A generation of a people could be judged from how best or badly they market their reasoning translated in what we see, feel and consume. Actions, they say speaks louder than words but words come first before actions and they actually give life to them.

 

Mahatma Gandhi puts this succinctly in the following:

 

Keep Your Thoughts Positive, because your thoughts become your WORDS

Keep your words positive, because your words become your BEHAVIOUR

Keep your behavior positive, because your behavior becomes your HABITS

Keep your habits positive, because your habits become your VALUES

Keep your values positive, because your values become your DESTINY

 

Quoting the enigma of a personality called Mahatma Gandhi once more, he says, “Be the Change that you wish to see in the world”

 

As poets and writers, we are society’s mirrors. We owe it as a duty to see The beauty of Words in the way they are created and painted along positive lines for individual and societal good.

 

Concluding, if you are a poet or writer, the following will reposition your perspective according; Next time you think Beauty of Words, don’t forget to count yourself in because in your craft, you are expected to create and deploy words for the support and upliftment of souls and societies in general.

 

Thank you.

 

Eriata Oribhabor

SFEV/PIN – www.poetsinnigeria.org.ng

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