In Lagos, Amadi Unmasks his Chemical Poems

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By Yinka Olatunbosun

Ifeanyi Amadi, a UAE-based Nigerian writer recently hosted journalists in Lagos to mid-day conversations around his two books titled “Tourist in Wahala Land” and “The Chemical Poems of Ayatollah Khameni.” The graduate of University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) left the Nigerian shores five years ago in pursuit of his dreams as a biomedical technologist. But when he is not in a laboratory mixing chemicals, he is probably preparing reagents for socio-political discourse through his writings.

As a former student union member at UNIPORT, he had been disillusioned by the ineffectuality that often trails the fight against corruption and human rights abuses in his home country. In his frustration, he was prepared even for violent revolution against the corrupt leaders. With the hunger for positive change, he started to map out a strategy for activism. But when much didn’t change during the time of President Musa Yaradua, he had a serious rethink.

“I tried to start a movement during the Yaradua period but it failed. But after that, I decided that starting a movement will not be the best option. I have to reach people individually by channeling my energy into writing,’’ he recounted.

Upon his arrival at UAE, he started working on his collection of poetry, largely influenced by his knowledge of Iran, French and Cuban revolution as well as “The Rosicrucian Manifestos.’’ But the acerbic truths loaded in the poetry collection made it hard to be published in the UAE, a country where there is strong government interference in publications.

“I finished the book and published it through AuthorHouse in the UK. The chemical poems of Ayatollah Khameni is a collection of poems expressing my opinion and my anger towards the ills and the evil that is happening in the society. Most of the poems are about corruption and the backwardness of our race when compared to other races in the world,’’ he revealed. For this poetry collection, he was nicknamed “Ayatollah Khameni’’ during his university days.

Like his poem, his play ‘Tourist in Wahala Land’ dramatizes corruption through the archetypal characters. With a colourful cover made of animated graphics, the book is a fictional satire based on a tourist’s sojourn to a third-world country.

As a Nigerian living in the UAE, he has had a taste of how the image of Nigeria has depreciated in the last three years.

“The image of Nigeria was good when I moved there five years ago. But a year later, things started deteriorating. I noticed a mass movement of Nigerians into UAE. Both educated and non-educated, skilled and unskilled people moved to Dubai. When other Africans commit a crime, they claim they are Nigerians. The situation is worse now. More and more Nigerians are caught in crimes. That was part of my motivation for writing this work. I am trying to make them see that there are also Nigerians who are in their country to make positive impact and create positive change,’’ he said.