Embracing power of poetry for societal change

Poetry has been one of the oldest and very popular forms of literary expression. One of its major attractions is its ability to use language colourfully through rich imagery and symbolism to pass across messages that touch in the souls of those who read it.

Muyiwa Adesokun uses his poems to express many of the feelings of Nigerians and, indeed, many others with similar realities, therefore, raising issues for social conversations.

Adesokun, in his collection of poetry, The Taxi Driver and other poems, does a good job in somewhat using popular scenarios in Lagos and Nigeria at large to talk about social issues, yet, he doesn’t miss out on spreading messages that are of universal importance.

The first poem, ‘Not for Sale’, speaks of the all-too-familiar signs that we read on many houses in Nigeria that warn people of fraudsters who sell houses that are not on the market.

Hence, the sign ‘Not for Sale’ is inscribed on many houses. However, the poet uses this message to push us to have another conversation that is very important—child marriages. Many people have put up signs on their daughters and turned them to properties in exchange for money or positions.

Also, Adesokun, in the poem, ‘Leaders of Tomorrow,’ speaks on a society that has failed its youths. The recent #EndSARS movement gives credence to the frustrations of young people.

The first stanza of the poem, ‘Defenceless young men Are murdered by men Who swore to protect and defend… Were we not once christened The Leaders of tomorrow? Leaders of an uncertain tomorrow?’

Humour is also a tool that the poet uses to convey his messages. In the poem, ‘Public Holiday,’ the poet jokes about how some public holidays apply to some (government workers) and not to others (private workers).

Though humorous in content, it sends home a salient point that working in Nigeria can be so exhausting that everyone craves and desires a break.

The persona in this poem looks forward to resting during a public holiday; ‘she will smell of… imported wine and Netflix’ (lines three and six) and then she will be jolted to reality that the day will be a public holiday for government workers only.

Public holiday in Nigeria is always something workers eagerly await as it will spare them the daily hassles and hustles, especially in a city like Lagos.

The poet discusses the peculiarities of Lagos traffic in his poem, ‘Lagos Traffic.’ Every page of the book lends a voice to prevailing social matters and even matters of the heart, such as; ‘Tales By The Moonlight,’ ‘Scars,’ ‘Rumour Has It,’ and many more.

There is something for everyone in this collection. Well done, Adesokun!


  • Onwah is a book enthusiast and blogger.


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