By Yinka Olatunbosun
Written mostly between 2008 and 2009, Dis Sick Republic, a collection of poetry by A. J. Dagga Tolar inevitably gets its title and content drawn upon a period in Nigeria’s political history that was characterised by reports on the failing health of the then President Umar Musa Yaradua and the corresponding tale of failure of governance in the country.
Expectedly, the collection of poetry has influences from the period as indicated by the titles of the poems such as, “Republic of Our Sickening Heart of Love,” “Language Here cannot be sick” and more.
In one of the pieces titled, “The Execution of Agriculture and the Minister”, the poet appropriates the imagery of Agriculture which is not in anyway really about farming. Several societal malaise were alluded to in the poetic lines which qualify as the poet’s purgation of emotions.
These include unemployment, bad governance, accountability and transparency; as well as Nigeria’s interference in international relations.
Sadly, the poet couldn’t prescribe a solution out of this quagmire but through his verses, beams light on the power belonging to a few to run a nation to the ground and at the same time paying tributes to famous activists who have died in the struggle for social justice.
His use of rhetorical questions are powerful, evoking thoughts and actions while his wordplay on party acronyms to sum up their history of inhumanity to the citizenry is admirable.
With “One Man, One Vote”, Tolar couldn’t have been less prophetic in his words if weighed against the current political climate. It reads: “Burning us more into the hell hole of unexistence and deprivation and our collective heritage sold out..”
Dis Sick Republic is published by Kraft Books Limited, Ibadan.