While watching Naija Got Talent 2012, I felt bad quit a number of times when poets came out to display their talents… they were just not given enough ears! Even the so called Nigeria’s premier poet (Sage) was cut short when he was called to perform in the finals. Lol. Well, maybe, he overshot allotted time. But would you blame him?
A fellow poet whom I respect deeply once told me the poets in Nigeria are not up to ten in number. Much as I respect his opinion I defer on his stand. Nigeria is blessed with many talented poets, people who could make love with words to the extent that you would want to commit if it were to be a crime. As the art of poetry grows in Nigeria, I submit that if poets do not appreciate one another we may find it hard to get our desired audience attention. At the book launch of a fellow poet (who writes fiction too) I heard poets who were called to perform complaining that they were being sidelined and not called as early as other acts who even came later. Can somebody please tell me if we could ever grow with this attitude?
Anyway, please note that the ultimate aim of this ranking is not to push anybody down or see anybody favourably; it’s to appreciate the effort of the listed poets in promotion of poetry in Nigeria in year 2012 and it was arrived at based on research. If your favourite poet is not at the top, or your favourite poets who may actually be better poets than the ones at the top is listed lower or absent, it does not diminish who he or she is. This ranking was done through asking fellow poets/followers of poetry for nominations: we looked at the events they organized, uniqueness, achievements they’ve made, their writing/performance, and the role they played in promoting other poets in Nigeria. However, note that priority is given to poets that excelled both in writing and performance poetry. Most of the comments were also what people said about them.
Before I start the rankings, I’d like to first appreciate all the respected poets/writers/readers who gave me their nominations. Thank you. And here is the list:
50. Holy Blaze
49. Lola Shoneyin
48. Kukogho Iruesiri Samson
47. Seyi Macaulay
46. Dike Chukwumerije:
45. Tochi Eze
44. Iyere Iheneyen
43. Emmanuel David Oritseweyimmi
42. Okwonna Nelson
41. Wanna Wanna
39. Prince Adewale Oreshade
38. Tolu Ogunlesi
37. Chiedu Ifeozo
36. Wome Uyeye
35. Obari Gomba
34. Clementina Owumi
33. Akeem Lasisi
32. Kunmi Adeoti
31. Femi Hefhef Falodun
30. Myne Whitman
39. Da Mor
28. Samuel Isong
26. Nini Efem
25. Chris Eleri
24. Ebenezer Akinrinade
23. Femi Owolabi
22. Faidat Yemi Adelabu
21. Uche Umez
She came out of nowhere and won the first ever Naija Poetry Slam. Since then all eyes have been on her.
The 13 year old performance Poet who got standing ovation in Nigerian poetry events all through the year.
18. Eriata Oribhabor
Abuja based Poet who writes in Naija langwej; he is author of two poetry collections and a mentor to many.
17. Tofarati GT
The grand tycoon of entertainment; he is the author of two poetry collections (Oriki & Town crier). He is a regular performer at major poetry events.
16. Matthew Adedoyin
He is called Apostle of sexology; his book, 'Epistle of Sex', was written with a touch of poetry and he performs too. He is however more known as a public speaker.
15. Ife Olujuyigbe
The Cleva diva as she is fondly called; she is a dexterous writer.
14. Ndukwe Onuoha
A political blogger and a dexterous poet. ND as he is fondly called is regarded as one of the best performance Poets in Nigeria for a long time.
13. Donna Obaseki
Also known as Donna K. She is regarded as the best female Poet in Nigeria; Donna always have an electrifying effect on her audience every time she performs.
One of the leading female Poets in Nigeria; a writer and performer; she is a delight to watch, especially for her fashion.
11. Razaq Ivori
(The African Masquerade)
He boasts of having the most sung along performance poem in Nigeria with his poem “Their minds going Loco”. One of the best performance Poets, he is a regular performer at major poetry events in Nigeria.
10. Yommy Bishop
He is regarded as one of the best writers when it comes to poetry; his romantic/sexual intonation has also won him the heart of many, especially ladies. Most of them tip him for the tops. His challenge however is performance; his peers say if he could perform his poems well he will sit among the best.
9. Bassey Ikpi
Though based in the USA, she organized the first ever Naija Poetry slam. She even came back to Calabar some weeks later to coordinate another poetry event. Bassey Ikpi is as dexterous as any great Poet of a world class standard. Though many Nigerians would not have known her if not for her event, she was said to have performed in major poetry events in the USA before coming to Nigeria in 2012
8. Soonest Nathaniel
An award winning poet and the elder brother of Increase. Soonest is one of the few Poets tipped to go the extra-mile in a creative industry that is less appreciated. He was even rumoured to be writing Poems for Increase when the 13 year old started gracing poetry events, but he bluffed it off.
7. Torpedo Mascaw
He is regarded as the best free style poet in Nigeria and one of the most highly connected Poets in the Nigerian entertainment industry. Torpedo could mount a stage and deliver excellent spoken word poetry without losing his audience. He organizes a weekly talent showcase event called ‘Freedom hall’ in Lagos. However, fans often see him as trying to mix just any line on stage so as to flow but not considering if they are deep enough.
6. Bob Ekat
His colleagues call him the energetic Poet. Bob’s dexterity in poetry goes beyond just writing, he is an excellent performer. Author of a book and audio poetry collection, he once did poetry for Coca Cola at 125. His energetic and dramatic delivery of his written poems were not the only things that won him the heart of fans, he distributed some of his books/CD free of charge in 2012. According to fans, his challenge is however his advantage; he tends to be too energetic at times.
5. Enigmatic Olumide
One of those who nominated him described him as “the poet who is always correct…” An inspirational poet, he has performed in major Churches and poetry events in Nigeria. An occasional traveller to different states just to perform 5 minutes poetry. His annual 31 days of poetry was done with a feature of 30 fellow poets in year 2012. He also mentors some upcoming inspirational poets across the country. His challenge however is that he is always spiritual, which makes some of his colleagues to see him as limiting himself.
He was a runner up at the first Naija poetry slam in Nigeria. Aside organizing a monthly ‘Chill n Relax’ in Lagos, Plumbline has performed in almost all the major poetry events in Nigeria. He writes well, performs well, and helps upcoming talents to improve their poetry with his advices. Though a ‘general’ when it comes to poetry in Nigeria, sometimes he could be seen as someone whom many upcoming poets are looking up to for hope, while himself is already losing hope on the future of poetry in Nigeria.
(The king not from Zulu)
Critics do not really consider him as a strong contender in writing/performance poetry. But everybody knows him as the organizer of the biggest poetry event in Nigeria in the year 2012. Apart from coordinating his own quarterly event, Word-Up, he also co-ordinates a monthly ‘Chill n Relax’ in Lagos with Plumbline. Olulu is someone to seek when you are looking for database of most of the performance poets in Nigeria.
2. Sage Hasson
Most people complain that he is deviating from poetry into music. But if you are looking for the most widely known Nigerian Poet, Sage otherwise known as Nigerian premier poet is the one to consider. His performance cut across different states in the country and towards the end of the year he crowned it with a performance at Naija got Talent finals. Sage is that Poet whose height may not speak volume but his words do. Most Nigerian aspiring Poets look up to him.
1. Efe Paul Azino
Show me a Poet whom over 60% of his fellow poets regard as the best poet in Nigeria, and I will show you Efe Paul. He is a great performer who also writes his poetry well. He performed in most of the major poetry events and organized his own poetry TV show, ‘Unchained Voices’. One of those who nominated him as the best poet described him this way, “If you listen to him and the other poets you will know why he rocked best…” (Paraphrased).