Saturday, August 13, 2011


A beacon of light shone brightly on Nigeria’s literary scene as Heartstrings, collection of love poems by Sam Umukoro, was officially introduced to the public on Sunday, August 7. It was an evening of poetry, music, love, as well as the gathering of stars and celebrities at Bogobiri House, Ikoyi, Lagos. The event attracted household names such as Basket Mouth, Yinka Davies, Ade Bantu, Mudi, Wana Udobang of Inspiration FM, Emem Ema of KUSH fame and Nneka. Anchored by Dafe Ivwurie, the stars took turns in reading from the collection Jahman Anikulapo, Editor, Guardian Newspapers, described as a cross breed between metaphysical and romantic poetry.

Heartstrings has turned some of us back to that ancient process that really defines humanity, love really does make the world go round,” noted Anikulapo, who introduced the book to jam packed hall. “Sam is a lyricist. Love is something to be cherished, not abused. It’s a book that is dedicated to women,” he added.

This was also underscored by the celebrities who took turns to read from the collection. In his usual self, Basket Mouth made everyone laugh when he introduced his reading with a tinge of comedy. While he read Tribute to Mama, Emem of KUSH fame read You’ll Know. In a performance that emphasized her understanding of the beauty of performance poetry, Yinka Davies read Red Wine, to the delight of the audience. When renowned on-air radio presenter Wana Udobang, came up to read If, there was no doubt in the hall about the beauty of the Heartstrings poetry. It was further emphasized as the audience listened to a musical version of one of the love poems, where Sam Umukoro featured MOBO Award winner Nneka.

Music artiste Chinasa read Jasmine Flower. Ade Bantu read Firedrops, while comedian Bovi, followed in the footsteps of Basket Mouth as he made the audience reel in laughter before reading On Her Cross from the collection. “Even the titles of the poems are like a poem itself,” he joked. Just before the enchanting evening ended, there was time enough for Wale Ojo to pay tribute to the late Sam Loco Efe, whom he performed with in the 1980s. Then he read Catherina from Heartstrings.

Dennis Amachree, who was chief launcher, emphasized the beauty of love and the need for couple to continually revive their passion for each other. He also promised to read some of the poems in Heartstrings to his wife, whose birthday coincided with the book launch.

Umukoro thanked everyone who came and was involved in making Heartstrings book launch a success and noted that there was need to ‘take poetry to the streets’. While Dr Kolade Arogundade, whose company, Giants in the Land, published Heartstrings, in partnership with Epik Books (Nigeria), explained that he was motivated to publish and bring books to people who may not ordinarily read them because books shaped his formative years. Epik Books was the first to publish Helon Habila’s Prison Stories, which included his Caine Prize winning story. Arogundade, currently a university professor at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, also noted that more should be done to resurrect the reading culture of Nigerians. Heartstrings, which deal with a sensitive topic that cuts across age, gender and cultures, may have just begun that literary revolution.

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