EKO Poems … Giving Voice to Public School Pupils
The Executive Chairman, Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board (LASUBEB), Wahab Alawiye-King (4th from left); initiator of the EKO Poems project, Ola Awakan; Chairman, Lagos State Branch of the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP), Adeniran Makinde (3rd from right) flag by LASUBEB officials at the unveiling of EKO Poems, an anthology of Nursery Rhymes<br />

Pupils of Lagos State public primary schools will not forget the Executive Chairman, Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board (LASUBEB), Wahab Alawiye-King, in a hurry, for not only facilitating their poems to be in the history-making anthology of nursery rhymes for public primary schools, EKO Poems but also enabling their voices to be heard on Lagos State issues.

The anthology, whose contents were written by pupils between the age bracket of nine and 15 years, was launched in Lagos. The book was published by Artwax Communications in partnership with Aramide, a publishing imprint of Fairchild Media.

In his remark, he noted that this modest effort is part of the Lagos State government’s resolve to continually foster creative thinking among pupils in the state, by providing a platform for them to express themselves through rhymes that they could call theirs, adding that the era of having only nursery rhymes that depict foreign nuances is gradually phasing out with a collection of poems that challenges children to reflect on their society, local values, and character.

The LASUBEB boss disclosed that EKO Poems is a product of thoroughly selected writings from hundreds of entries from public primary school pupils in the state, saying the work will open up the minds of the young ones to literary works and expressions.

Commenting on the anthology, Prof. Niyi Osundare, a poet and dramatist, observed that the contents have given a complex image of Lagos as a diverse state, yet for everyone and for all races. He commended the work for its ability to showcase the diversities that characterised the nation.

“I am delighted to see Igbo names, Yoruba, Hausa, Efik, Tiv, Idoma, Christian, Muslim, male, female, and African indigenous names being what Nigeria is and what I have seen. I applaud Mr. Ola Awakan and his team for this extreme initiative because I know what it takes, the efforts, and the importance of coming up with poems; I have written some too,” he said.

Adeniran Makinde, Chairman, Lagos State Branch of the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP), who reviewed the book, urged parents to take issues raised by children in the book very seriously, adding that Nigeria is currently at a critical moment and that the pupils have been able to paint the true picture of the times, speaking the truth from their innocent hearts.

“For me, the anthology could help to document the history of this period because whatever they have said through their poems are the facts of the period. They do not have anybody as enemies but are just looking around and writing their poems. It is an expression that is important that every leader should take note of,” he said.

Ola Awakan, the initiator of the EKO Poems project and editor of the anthology revealed that the poems selected were from over 5000 entries.

According to him, the initiative is ongoing, as he plans to go into children’s visual art and other genres of visual and performance art.

He said they are revealing and engaging, stressing that parents and educators should always encourage their children in all art forms, as the project serves as a platform to groom the next generation of poets.

culled from The Guardian Newspapers

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