Eyoh Etim’s Virtual Chants – Summary

Eyoh Etim's Virtual Chants - Summary
Eyoh Etim's Virtual Chants - Summary

Eyoh Etim’s Virtual Chants – Summary

The text Virtual Chants by Eyoh Etim comprises of the following poems; I am the Land that you Desecrated, May Day, The Civil Wanderer, The Poetic Defoliation of the Arrogant Tree, The Church, The Widow’s Counsel, An Outrageous Proposal, Dawn Approaches, Hearts Missive, …he arms them and…Wike and the Rivers.

The above poems are imbued with different styles, as exemplified by the author. It is a truism that authors that are style imbued intentionally borrow or deviate from the conventional way of writing to capture the main thrust of the message intended. This is seen from the analysis of the selected poems in ‘Virtual Chants’ by Eyoh Etim. Most of the selected poems are subjected to different semantic interpretations or semantic inconsistencies, as shown below:

In ‘May Day’ Text 2, in the poem ‘May Day’, the poet referred to ‘sing to the god of May’. Semantically and literary speaking, this is a satire. May the 1st of every year is chosen as or marks ‘Workers Day’ in Nigeria, during the military or civilian regime. Therefore, the poet assumes the status of a spokesman for the people (workers) whose fate is left hanging in the hands of the leaders who apparently care little or nothing about them. By so doing, the poet paints an ugly picture that with the prevailing economic situation, an average Nigerian worker has nothing to celebrate or point to, apart from the rhetoric of ‘a better future’ always rendered by the leaders to mark the yearly ‘Workers Day’ Celebration on 1st May.

The poet did not also spare the workers shortly after standing in the gap for them. He first calls the workers ‘termites’, who only ‘cease’ to work on this day. This satire or foregrounding by the poet connotes a lack of productivity by the workforce vis-à-vis the call on workers to change their attitude and channel their energies into meaningful ventures. He goes on to say, ‘This day is a negligence as the workers, march to show solidarity in suffering. Politicians rule; pockets are more important than the projects.’ (Text 2: May Day, p.84)

The poet does not fail to mention the leadership problem facing the Nigerian elites. The poet in the extract above in Text 2: May Day, through the use of logical and emotional appeal ‘…workers march to show solidarity in suffering’ and the use of Face Threatening Acts (F.T.A.) for example ‘…politicians rule, pockets are more important than the projects’. It is against the preceding that the poet paints a sordid picture of

The endemic problem of corruption,

Massive looting of scarce resources,

A dearth of basic infrastructure,

Maladministration, and General poverty in the land, as shown in people ‘suffering and smiling’, and

The attendant problem of insecurity and criminality

These had been the major drawbacks of the contemporary Nigerian situation. This is the hidden or intended message the poet intends to convey to his target audience through his poem, ‘May Day’.

In another poem in Text 6, entitled ‘The Church’, the poet did not fail to educate his readers on the noticeable changes in the people’s value system, particularly amongst the Christian folks.

According to Christian doctrines, the emphasis had been on ‘love’ and ‘being a brother’s keeper’, where Jesus Christ, the symbol of the Christian faith, gave up his life on the cross so that others can be saved. But the poet, in the poem ‘The Church’, again uses satire to connote the extravagant lifestyle of the church leaders under reference as, ‘prominence is given to corrupt leaders who pay tithes or donate massively in churches irrespective of their occultic and corrupt enrichments… the poor is sucked dry where cultists, occults and other dark acts hide on Sunday, dressed in beautiful apparels and accorded respect and given front seats while the poor remain poor and mocked at by church leaders and given back seats (The Church, p.192)

The metaphoric expression ‘sucked dry’ has been used to describe the poor who represent genuine Christians. It shows how they are relegated to the background by most church leaders in Nigeria. These church leaders are said to be chasing fantasies and wealth instead of propagating the tenets of Christianity or preaching the gospel of Christ to safe souls and embracing Christ to be free from mortal sin.

When the poet warned that ‘judgement shall start from the church’, he was apparently giving assertion to the biblical narrative that if some of the church leaders, as captured in the poem ‘The Church’, do not ‘repent’ and turn a new leaf, that they shall face eternal damnation on judgement day when Jesus Christ comes again (cf The Holy Bible, English Standard Version).

This is a wake-up call to the leadership and the followership to repent, turn a new leaf, and escape from the wrath of God. The poet also used Face Threatening Acts (F.T.A.), where he described some wealthy Nigerians either as ‘cultists, occults or engaged in other dark acts and are given fronts seats in church on Sunday’. He bemoaned the obvious laxity and lack of background checks by church leaders. The poet especially calls them ‘new breed churches’ who accept massive donations and tithes from people without their background checks to know if they had any known genuine sources of income.

The poet’s use of emotional and logical appeal when he describes ‘the poor remains poor and mocked by church leaders’ is a sad reminder of the moral decadence in the society as represented by the Church, which is seen as the mirror of the larger society. For example, the poor or children of the poor who always respond to national duty by voting leaders into positions of authority on election day are often neglected or abandoned to their fate as soon as the deed is done. This is obviously a sad reflection on the reality on the ground, which the poet believes should be attended to without further delay.

In Text 7: ‘Dawn Approaches’, the poet describes ‘a beastly beautiful python’, which is rooted from ethno-religious sentiments, drawing analysis from two different extremes, ‘beautiful’ signifying good, decent and worthwhile, while ‘python’ represents iniquity, danger, suspense, fear, anxiety, and threats. In summary, a ‘beastly beautiful python’ is a figurative expression, a metaphor that connotes that no matter how colorful or beautiful or appealing something could be, it can hurt. This is a bitter lesson to all classes of people irrespective of social status, religion, or gender. The keywords are that we should be cautious or be extremely careful with whom we do business, as most human beings could be unpredictable.

Text 10: ‘Wike and the Rivers’ could be likened to a satire of a typical Nigerian high-profile politician who allegedly uses his position to amass wealth to the detriment of the poor masses who are left to ‘gnash their teeth’. At the same time, the State and the majority of the populace remain largely undeveloped. The poet, however, captures the iconic character ‘Wike’ who in real life bears the name of the Governor of Rivers State, an oil-rich State in the Niger Delta zone of Nigeria. The area is known for oil exploration, exploitation, and other ecological hazards. Despite being the second oil- producing State in Nigeria, Rivers is largely underdeveloped despite providing wealth to the Nation through oil resources.

The poet carpets the character in the poem ‘Wike and Rivers’. His perceived lust for power, affluence, and his alleged clamp down on his perceived political opponents and critics heighten tension and uncertainty and create an unnecessary public outcry in the land. The poet assumes the role of ‘a Messiah’ crying for help for a people he describes as ‘helpless and hapless’ who could not express their sentiments because of fear of the ‘unknown’.

Eyoh Etim’s ‘Virtual Chants’ captures the I-literature, which cuts across poetry, drama, and prose. For instance, there is twitterature which is the literary utilization of Twitter where literary works ranging from poems, short stories, and dramatic presentations are shared and discussed in different forms.

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Peter Hezekiah Lawson (Sir Pee). The CEO of onlineproject.com.ng. A reputable researcher, Web Developer, ICT Instructor and a publisher of many research works in Education.