Sam Omatseye completed Peter Obi, by Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo

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Sam Omatseye finished off Peter Obi and dressed him in a bishop’s robe the day Shettima had his ascension ritual. But Omatseye forgot to remove the price tag. Maybe it was intentional. Maybe he wanted to be caught. Or maybe, just maybe, he wanted to embarrass his warlords in Daura. One thinks of Daura because Omatseye would not dare to embarrass the Jagaban of fragrant offal.

Sam Omatseye finished Peter Obi in his play called “Obi-tuary”. Like a crocodile girl, I wept for Obi-dient’s followers. I’m sure they’ll spend the next 40 days and 40 nights grinding yellow teeth held together by custom braces. But what he did to the Biafrans in the same column made me wonder if anyone has ever hugged Sam Omatseye and told him that his Biafra story is valid, and as such he shouldn’t lose contact with its fragrant offal.

I love Sam Omatseye’s poetry. It’s his prose that bothers me. Any writer can easily lie in a prose made up of meandering paragraphs. But no writer has managed to lie in an unknown floating poetry. I do not know why. But I think it must have something to do with the form. Worrying about meters, searching for rhyme, stopping for stanza, rolling tongues for rhythm, posing for personification, licking lips in lyrics, alleging in allegory, mutating in imagery, altering reality in alliteration, smiling for comparison, metamorphosing into alter metaphor, signing for syntax, fishing for onomatopoeia, flashy hyperbole, the poet always forgets to lie.

Sam Omatseye completed Peter Obi kpatakpata. He exhibited Obi’s Apapa nyash in the market. What everyone saw was not pleasant – dried poo, exhaled blood pointing to untreated hemorrhoids. But if he had gotten too close and wiped Bola Tinubu’s saliva off his glass, he would have seen the ghost emerging from the veins leading to the most sensitive part of the fowl’s anus. But he missed it. And on missing it, he got arrested for cheering as the dancing folks went home.

In the poetry, the people who barely talk talk about Awolowo, Jesus, and all the other saviors in the rapidly expanding universe. In prose, people who don’t consult Mandela’s bones before going to dance in the market, miss their steps, lose their minds and disappear like ogiri in a bitter leaf soup. It was the spell that struck our beloved Sam Omatseye when he confused the moans of the children of new Biafra with the fall of the wall of Jericho when the Israelites carried the Ark of the Covenant and marched for seven days. While both are products of our human condition, one arises from the “understanding of our confusion”, the other arises from the “confusion of our understanding”.

Sam Omatseye finished Peter Obi, before the wrestling match even blew. He did it with such class and enthusiasm that the recruits gathered for the off-Broadway fight were scattered home. Even Peter Obi’s pre-match wins were quickly undone. Like the medal that proclaimed that despite years of washing hands with saliva, something healthy, something new, something fresh is possible. We also took away the medal of Peter Obi who declared that despite the loud sounds of the drum of the spiritual child, something good could come out of the East. Sam Omatseye swept all those medals into Itsekiri’s gutters.

In his collection of poetry, SCentered offalSam Omatseye captures our cognitive dissonance when he preaches thus:

“You could swear our kidneys never joined
Since ancient times
To the rhythm of the dances
Or accents
Or in songs
Or in the grounds of the village square
Or the way the king cried
On the market…
Even if we give up our bonds or our hugs
We could never deny the blood they shed
Of war gourds
The blood of our brothers
The saliva of the sisters…”

Sam Omatseye finished Peter Obi. Like a man who bathes in the breath of John Donne, finishing Peter Obi, Sam Omatseye avoided diminishing Sam Omatseye. His excessive kindness and sympathy irritated the uninitiated. After all, the smell of burnt offerings has always appeased God. It did the same magic for Sam Omatseye. We just have to wait for the Jesus of the Borgu to come and declare the end of the days of the holocausts.

Sam Omatseye finished off Peter Obi and dressed him in a bishop’s robe the day Shettima had his ascension ritual. But Omatseye forgot to remove the price tag. Maybe it was intentional. Maybe he wanted to be caught. Or maybe, just maybe, he wanted to embarrass his warlords in Daura. One thinks of Daura because Omatseye would not dare to embarrass the Jagaban of fragrant offal.

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A poet can hear the trumpet but cannot distinguish the animal from which the sound originates. As for a prose writer, dark matters limit his thought. They weigh him down until his cock rolls over the poto poto left over from yesterday’s rain. In the sanctuary where he worships, whips hang. The memories of where they landed on his shoulders are the only muse he needs. This is Sam Omatseye’s luck. It is also his immunity to intellectual purgatory.

Sam Omatseye finished Peter Obi. Like a man who bathes in the breath of John Donne, finishing Peter Obi, Sam Omatseye avoided diminishing Sam Omatseye. His excessive kindness and sympathy irritated the uninitiated. After all, the smell of burnt offerings has always appeased God. It did the same magic for Sam Omatseye. We just have to wait for the Jesus of the Borgu to come and declare the end of the days of the holocausts. Until then, we join Sam Omatseye in enjoying the smell of flesh romanticizing fire.

The poet dies who asks permission to write his sonnets. Asking a hairstylist if you need a haircut is an epic mistake. Sam Omatseye knows this. All poets do it, even those who are intoxicated by dialectics. Lost hope is the only baptism that leads to exogenous laughter. But for poets who fight for winks from onlookers, no white rooster will follow them home. The groupies will still sing, but it’s nothing but a requiem high mass of weird riddles. Yeah, he can’t wait for him to die before burying him. He can not.

Sam Omatseye finished Peter Obi. He said that Peter Obi was a hidden antichrist who had come to take the children of Nigeria to the Garden of Gethsemane. If so, that meant the Supper had been served. Has Sam Omatseye received his? Did Sam Omatseye wash his feet? Was the washing done with Daura water or Bourdillon water? What could go wrong if this cup died or if all of a sudden there was excitement on the Eastern Front?

A poet who entered the dictionary and fished only “rabble”, “jokes” and “harangues” has a lifeline of redemption that has run out of steam. A poet who seduced his readers by ending an essay on the people of tomorrow with an obituary flies with a broken wing. In a comic allegory, a poet is ashamed at the funeral of his opus. But this case of Sam Omatseye is only different in how the fragrant offal ultimately decomposed.

The poet dies who is afraid of the flags that flutter in the air, of the hymns that spring from the loudspeakers and of the feet that trample the dusty and hungry Apian paths. For calling the fervent prayers on Facebook the masturbation of freaks, for being smug in the face of the trembling tweets of the traumatized, for ignoring like an infantile cacophony the Instagram sighs of the stagnant sons and daughters of a yellow half-sun, the poet turns into a retired prostitute from the rapidly shrinking red light district.

Sam Omatseye finished Peter Obi. But when he bundled up Nnamdi Kanu and lifted him up in a display of acrobatic prowess, Kanu’s scrotum blinded him in a farewell to injustice. Even after Chido Onumah told him that “we are all Biafra”, he shouted in his self-incriminating chant: “I am not the Biafra you are fighting for”. But which Biafra is it? He is stingy with his response. He is generous with his generalization of Igbo and Biafra with a reluctant “maybe” acting as a comma. A sweet tooth, he summons the zoo, hoping to permeate the air with it. His name is Okoro, exactly. But that is not why it should be confused with Igbo.

A poet who entered the dictionary and fished only “rabble”, “jokes” and “harangues” has a lifeline of redemption that has run out of steam. A poet who seduced his readers by ending an essay on the people of tomorrow with an obituary flies with a broken wing. In a comic allegory, a poet is ashamed at the funeral of his opus. But this case of Sam Omatseye is only different in how the fragrant offal ultimately decomposed.

Sam Omatseye finished Peter Obi. And with that, he delivered the preface to his last testament to the chronicle of an announced psychosis. With the possible exception of you, the right honorable gentleman piper, every politician is a brat, my generalist friend. And that’s how every columnist is a snowflake.

Forget the poetics and the polemics. Sam Omatseye is an excellent columnist. The same goes for the palm wine shooter in our village neighborhood. But unlike Sam Omatseye, the neighborhood palm wine shooter in our village doesn’t reveal everything he saw atop the palm tree.

Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo teaches post-colonial African history at the School of Visual Arts in New York. He is also the host of Dr. Damages Show. His books include This American Life Sef, Children of a Withdrawn God, among others.


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