Author Topic: Renowned Ghanaian poet and statesman Kofi Awoonor killed in Kenya mall attack  (Read 2220 times)

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Offline mayya

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Renowned Ghanaian poet and statesman Kofi Awoonor killed in Kenya mall attack

By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, September 22, 2013 7:59 EDT

Topics: Kofi Awoonor

Renowned Ghanaian poet and statesman Kofi Awoonor was among the 59 people confirmed dead so far in an attack by Somali Islamist militants on a Nairobi shopping mall, Ghana’s president said Sunday.

John Dramani Mahama said in a statement: “I am shocked to hear the death of Prof. Kofi Awoonor in Nairobi mall terrorist attack. Such a sad twist of fate…”

Awoonor, 78, was killed while shopping with his son in the Westgate Mall, Ghana’s Deputy Information Minister Felix Kwakye Ofosu said.

His son was injured and has been discharged from the hospital, Ofosu said.

Awoonor was Ghana’s representative to the United Nations under the presidency of Jerry Rawlings from 1990 to 1994, and was also president of the Council of State, an advisory body to the president, under former president John Atta Mills. He stepped down from that role earlier this year.

He was a renowned writer, most notably for his poetry inspired by the oral tradition of the Ewe people, to which he belonged.

Much of his best work was published in Ghana’s immediate post-independence period, part of which he spent in exile outside of the country after the first president Kwame Nkrumah, whom Awoonor was close to, was overthrown in a coup.

His books included “Rediscovery and Other Poems,” published in 1964.

Offline mayya

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A Poem by Kofi Awoonor
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2013, 21:07:20 PM »

A Poem by Kofi Awoonor

Posted on 29. Mar, 2011 by Sam Palpant in Africa-America Dialog, Blog

Kofi Awoonor was born in Ghana in 1935 in the small farming village of Wheta, the son of a tailor and a chieftain’s daughter. He was educated at the University of Ghana and studied further in London and New York. Awoonor’s poetry, rooted in the oral poetry of his history, has kept close to the vernacular rhythms of African speech and poetry. “It is for this reason I have sat at the feet of ancient poets whose medium is the voice and whose forum is the village square and the market place.”

This Earth, My Brother

The dawn crack of sounds known

rending our air

shattering our temples toppling

raising earthwards our cathedrals of hope,

in demand of lives offered on those altars

for the cleansing that was done long ago.

Within the airwaves we carry

our hutted entrails; and we pray;

shrieks abandoned by lonely road-sides

as the gunmen’s boots tramp.

I lift up the chalice of hyssop and tears

to touch the lips of the thirsty

sky-wailing in a million spires

of hate and death; we pray

bearing the single hope to shine

burnishing in the destiny of my race

that glinting sword of salvation.

In time my orchestra plays my music

from potted herbs of anemone and nim

pour upon the festering wounds of my race,

to wash forever my absorbent radiance

as we search our granary for new corn.

There was that miracle we hoped for

that salvation we longed for

for which we said many prayers

offered many offerings.


In the seasons of burning feet

of bad harvest and disastrous marriages

there burns upon the glint edge of that sword

the replica of the paschal knife.

The sounds rounded our lonely skies

among the nims the dancers gather their cloths

stretching their new-shorn hides off offered cows

to build themselves new drums.

Sky-wailing from afar the distant tramp

of those feet in rhythm

miming underneath them violence.

Along the roads lined with mimosas

the mangled and manacled are dragged

to the cheers of us all.

We strew flowers at the feet of the conquerors

beg for remission of our sins…


…He will come out of the grave

His clothes thrown around him;

worms shall not have done their work.

His face shall beam the radiance of many suns.

His gait the bearing of a victor,

On his forehead shall shine a thousand stars

he will kneel after the revelation

and die on this same earth.


And I pray

That my hills shall be exalted

And he who washes me,

breathes me

shall die.

They led them across the vastness

As they walked they tottered

and rose again. They walked

across the grassland to the edge of the mound

and knelt down in silent prayer;

they rose again led to the mound,

they crouched

like worshippers of Muhammed.

Suddenly they rose again

stretching their hands to the crowd

in wasteful gestures of identity

Boos and shrieks greeted them

as they smiled and waved

as those on a big boat journey.

A sudden silence fell

as the crowd pushed and yelled

into the bright sharp morning of a shooting.


They led them unto the mound

In a game of blindman’s bluff

they tottered to lean on the sandbags

Their backs to the ocean

that will bear them away.

The crackling report of brens

and the falling down;

a shout greeted them

tossing them into the darkness.


and my mountains reel and roll

to the world’s end.