Osundare @ 70: Talent not enough By Louis Odion, FNGE

Professor Oluwaniyi Osundare

A survey of Nigeria’s major
newspapers last Sunday would reveal a complete blackout. Not even a quarter –
let alone full – page advert featured to trumpet a major landmark. Save for a
short tribute by President Mohammadu
Yet, it was the 70th birthday of one
of Nigeria’s finest poets ever, a master prose stylist, an original thinker
and, above all, a moral titan.

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Well, that should be expected in a
land riven by philistinism. He is not to be counted among the tribe of
politicians that can  hardly boast any principle. Neither is
he one of your wealthy tycoons with no identifiable business address, nor
the false prophets in garish cassocks. Professor
Oluwaniyi Osundare
operates at a much higher intellectual and ethical
Surely, only the deep can call to
the deep.

Professor Wole Soyinka….The Pathfinder

Indeed, what sets the Ekiti-born
bard apart is not so much the gift of a unique facility that spews lyrical
lines effortlessly – that prodigious power that infuses words with life and
tweaks same to evoke the deepest meaning possible. (By the way, just anyone
with writing talents can scribble anything.)
Rather, what distinguishes Prof Osundare from the rest is a
sky-high moral capital, a fierce refusal to be purchased or captured, in an
environment where intellectual promiscuity has quite become fashionable.

President Muhammadu Buhari…Honors Osundare’s birthday with a tribute


He flourishes in the tradition set
by Professor Wole Soyinka.
Other than poetry, he has also been
involved with Nigeria in the last four decades as a public intellectual.
Whereas many have lost their innocence along the way in cavort with power, he
remains uncorrupted and incorruptible.
Two years ago, he was named winner
of the coveted National Merit Award.
Soon came the gossip that the trophy might begin to becloud his critical lens,
muffle his trenchant voice, to the pleasure of the already fawning Goodluck Jonathan who had the statutory
privilege of physically presenting him the prize in Abuja. That, as against spitting fire of old, the “people’s
poet” might soon begin to “lick ice cream” like many others.

The Author, Louis Odion….Holds Prof Osundare in very high esteem

It was a defiant Osundare who fired back a bazooka: “Nobody is keeping me quiet!”
Speaking at a lecture organized in
his honour in Ibadan, he clarified: “Nigerian government didn’t give me
award; it’s the NNMA committee that recommended me; it’s a peer-review award.
We were many academics on the list before I was chosen. This is the only award
regiment in Nigeria that I recognize.
must learn to celebrate the best in us. This is a beautiful country. We must
not judge Nigeria by the thieves in Aso Rock and in the government houses in
the states. There’s so much beauty in Nigeria.

Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan honored Prof Osundare with the Nigeria National Merit Award

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have a country to build, not a ragtag assemblage that we have now. It’s we that
have to build it, not Indians or Americans. Don’t give up hope; don’t despair.
It used to be said, ‘As long as there‘s life, there’s hope’, but for us, it
should be ‘As long as there is hope, there’s life in this country!’”
Many happy returns of the day, Prof.


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