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Virtual Poetry Rendition: An Evening of Ahmed (Stokes) Koroma’s Poetry Collections

3 April 2021 at 17:32 | 1309 views

Virtual Poetry Rendition: An Evening of Ahmed (Stokes) Koroma’s Poetry Collections

By Paul Duwai-Sowa (PDS), Toronto, Canada

On Saturday April 11, 2021 the Sierra Leone intellectual platform, LeoneNet informally known as the “Junction” and friends of Ahmed (Stokes) Koroma (photo) will host an evening of poetry with the rendition of Koroma’s poetry collections, Of Flour and Tears, Along the Odokoko River, and The Moon Rises Over Isale Eko.

Ahmed (Stokes) Koroma a Poet? Yes! Like Raymond Sarif Easmon, a Sierra Leonean Physician famous for words than medicine, Ahmed Koroma’s education is as contradictory as the cities he writes about in his poems.

Koroma is a native of Sierra Leone where he attended two of the most prestigious boys schools, St. Edwards Secondary and the Prince of Wales. After high school, he completed undergrad in Chemistry at one of Africa’s oldest western-education-type universities, Fourah Bay College (FBC), University of Sierra Leone. He emigrated to the United States of America to pursue graduate studies in Chemistry at the California State University at Northridge.

Ahmed (Stokes) Koroma is now an Analytical Chemist in California yet he trades his titrators and rheometers for a computer keypad to explore poetic possibilities. Koroma says, “words matter even in chemistry.” For Koroma, chemistry is career, but poetry is bliss. A heart and soul that guides him with his analytical work and the world he writes about.

Koroma’s quintessential lines seem to intertwine with the cities and people he adores, entreating his very own humble beginnings as a descendant of the peoples of Sierra Leone and Nigeria, and an environment that represents commonality in culture, tradition, and language. Ahmed (Stokes) Koroma says he didn’t write about Odokoko and Isale Eko as much as he wrote about the beauty of the people, their resilience, food – borlorgi, sorkortor-yorkortor, bitas egbonor, foo-foo, their dresses – Print and Agbada.

Ahmed (Stokes) Koroma’s first collection Of Flours and Tears uses the motif of the Sierra Leone civil war to explore the agony and rescue of a failed state.
I sit and watch at Mount Olympus when terror comes to reign so long I sit and watch singing a sad song when terror comes and reigns so long.

The poems in this collection capture tyranny, hope and renewal of a country that is as promising as it is disenchanting. Yet Koroma challenges readers to make a connection to a place destroyed by war, but also how to move forward to a unique place of opportunities for prosperity.

Like Zena Agha’s poem, Where I’m From, Koroma’s makes no apology of his second collection, Along the Odokoko River in which he explores a nostalgic fold and the distance of his relationship to a place he grew up. These poems evoke his appetite for return and connection to a home of promise where,
It is with assorted emotions
That I continue to wait by the shore.

Odokoko is a conflicting place of plush and flush where the ordinary is just as important as the bourgeois. A place where religion is intertwined, and traditional ceremonies are about as everything that bring a jester and princes/princesses in one courtyard. A go-lucky place and roundabouts of tragedies.

In his third collection, The Moon Rises Over Isale Eko, Koroma revisits his maternal roots of Lagos Island and the Eko people who inhabited the region and the distant community in Foulah Town. Isale which loosely means down or bottom, is an evocation of the rollercoaster rides of the cities Koroma writes about. The Moon Rises Over Isale Eko is a novel collection of poems that yearn, want, amuse, and anger.

From flours and tears to Odokoko and to when the moon rises, there will be readings of Ahmed (Stokes) Koroma’s poems to Sierra Leoneans and friends on April 11 at 3pm (EST) and 7pm (Freetown and London). The evening offers an insightful overview of the triumph and tragedies of the people of Odokoko (Freetown) and the filial relationship of Isale Eko (Lagos Island) and their distant community in Foulah Town.
Among the entertaining entries are MCs: Fatmata McCormack and Dwight Short, readings by Ahmed Deen Sesay, Kayode Adesimi Robin-Coker, Pede Hollist, Mimi Sei, Malcolm Finney, Fatou Taqi and Farouk Sesay, and a prologue to Along the Odokoko River by Mohamed Gibril Sesay.

Ahmed (Stokes) Koroma is one of the great poets of Sierra Leone. The audience awaits this exciting evening of music and rendition of poems from Koroma’s portal of poetry.