Spoken word poetry in Nigeria is an evolving art form that revolves around the use of poetry to communicate orally and can sometimes be or not without rhythms. Though this form of art is yet to garner mainstream support and influence in the Nigerian pop culture, it is an ever-growing industry and some people have manages to carve a name for themselves through performing poetry at various occasions.
In today’s post, we shall be deliberating on some of the top spoken word poets in Nigeria you should know about.
Jump on it!
Top Nigerian Spoken Word Poets
Dike is one Nigeria’s most prolific performance/spoken-word poet with and also the founder of Simply Poetry – a foremost poetry organization in Nigeria that aims to improve and instill poetry into Nigeria’s mainstream culture.
He has made so many achievements under his name and career as a poet and writer including creating, hosting and directing bi-annual Performance poetry show; Night of the Spoken Word (NSW) performance poetry event, a movement initiated with the aim of inserting performance poetry into Nigeria’s mainstream pop culture and everyday art. Dike can be seen mostly producing poetry that speaks and motivates Nigerians and African’s to see themselves as one and not different.
His works have been rendered on various international and leading events in the nation, some of these which include; TEDx Maitama in September 2017, the 23rd Nigeria Economic Summit in October 2017 – a recitation by the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo at The Platform in 2018, speaking alongside Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, at the 5th Lafarge Africa National Literacy Competition in Lagos in 2018 as well as others numerous platforms.
One of his recent works which attract more people to his works is his ‘South Africa, why poetry performance which was directed to the cavalier South Africans during the Xenophobia attacks on Nigerians.
Dike Chukwumerije is one reason to believe in a stronger and more united Nigeria, not only does his works speak it, I do too.
Titi is a Canadian-based Nigerian poet, writer, and performer with roots in the center of Excellence in the nation. She is highly acclaimed as the first poet to appear and perform at a Nigerian Presidential Inauguration; Muhammad Buhari in 2015, performing her ‘We Are Ready’, a poetry performance that heralds the citizenry of Nigeria to a new season of change and happening.
Titilope Sonuga has won several accolades for her vibrancy in the art of poetry (performance) and some of these includes A Mother Knows (poetry rendition) for GTBank’s Orange Initiative, reading alongside some of the literary giants in the world; Sonia Sanchez, Jayne Cortez, Chinua Achebe and others at the first poetry showcase of the Achebe Colloquium on Africa at Brown University, being a speaker at TedxEdmonton in 2014, was the ambassador for Intel’s She Will Connect Program in Nigeria during 2015 – 2016 and so many more.
Also to display her artistic endowments, Titi has even been involved in Ndani’s Gidi-Up with the role of Eke.
She has two albums in her name; This is how we disappear and Swim
Philip Asaya is one Nigerian poet every person interested in real and relatable poetry performances should be following.
He is the host and organizer of a prominent poetry event in Nigeria; Say It Out which holds annually in Benin City, Nigeria.
His works are usually centered around the social norms, doings, wrongs of the Nigerian society. With works such as denomination, infractions and more others all speaking of the truth happening around Nigeria and her people. Philip deserves more accolades for putting in the work to creating such beautiful and intensified works.
You can find Philip Asaya’s works on YouTube.
Acclaimed as the pioneer of spoken word poetry in Nigeria, Mr. Hasson is a prominent spoken word artist in Nigeria who hails from the Niger State in Nigeria, born in Kaduna – Sage Hasson has been doing poetry since the 90s when the art form had barely gained recognition.
Mr. Hasson is on the move to grow poetry in Nigeria to as he urges poets in an interview with keepsmag.net “support poetry, it is really important because poetry is culture, poetry is the mother art, you know all the other arts came out of poetry. Poetry is divine, support poetry.”
He has two poetry albums to his name; The Poet and Tinkle Tinkle Super Star and has plans on a third; The Song Speaks
Efe Paul Azino
Efe is one of the leading performance poets in the nation. Based in Lagos, Nigeria; he is the founder as well as director of the Lagos International Poetry Festival (LIPF) which was founded in 2015, director of the annual Book and Arts Festival and the Lagos Black Heritage Festival. He is a graduate of the Lagos State University
His resilience in the spoken word scene has resulted in his various performances in many art festivals like the Johannesburg Arts Alive Festive, British Council Lagos Theatre Festive and many more.
Graciano Enwerem is known to some as the head-coach of a football club in Port-Harcourt, Nigeria with a mission to help youths from the gutter become responsible adults in the Nigerian society and to many others one of Nigeria’s top spoken word artists – who is also very comic in his doings.
The founder of the Figures Of Speech (FOSMovement) Movement, was the grand-prize winner at the War Of Words season 3 and ever since hasn’t halted his activities and doings in the Spoken Word sphere.
After doing so much in the industry, Sir. Grr as fondly called by fans became the author of Poetry 101, a poetry/spoken word manual that elaborates on how to become not just a spoken word poet but one that stands out from the crowd.
He has carved his name in the hearts of many literary creatives in Africa especially in Nigeria and her neighbor; Ghana.
Tobi Abiodun is a poet and spoken word artist born and raised in Benin City. His poetry cuts across the personal, the social and the political.
Tobi is a multiple slam champion, holding titles in major Nigerian cities and poetry venues including Lagos, Abuja and Port-Harcourt.
His short story They Say He Had Eyes Like The Burning End Of A Cigarette was long-listed for the Poets in Nigeria prize for short fiction and published in the Odour Of Death Anthology. His first poetry collection is due out in 2020.
His career further took a leap when his poem Small Boy Big Force got featured by Heritage Bank in Nigeria.
One of Nigeria as well as Africa’s top spoken word poets Wana Udobang is a storyteller and artist working of various disciplines including journalism, poetry, performance and film making.
Her works have on various international medias such as BBC, Aljazeera, The Guardian.
Under her belt of achievements are two albums Dirty Laundry (2017) and in memory of forgetting (2019).
With her film-making skills, WanaWana as popularly known by people is telling the African story through interrogating fellows in the creative space and sharing them with the world.
These clips can be found on her Youtube Channel.
My favorite piece from WanaWana is This is Not A Feminist Poem – because it really isn’t.
The two-time winner of Word Up/i2x Media’s War Of Words; Nigeria’s foremost poetry slam, Samuel Wayne is an amazing poet whose name is a force to reckon with in the spoken word scene of Nigeria.
Samuel defines poetry as ‘a way to talk to people without necessarily having conversations’ and has made his voice heard throughout the nation with his clinging unto the monetary award price not just once but twice.
His vision for ten years’ time would is to be really visible and a much more relevant figure in the television and media space of Nigeria.
The ‘One day, I will write a love poem’ poetess
Atilola is a dynamic woman – she graduated from the prestigious University of Lagos after studying Computer Engineering – worked at PwC and then went on to acquiring a certificate in Advanced Cosmetic Science in Australia. She is an entrepreneur with a difference.
Even with all of these in her hands, Atilola never once backed down from her poetry which has won her various accolades on both national and international levels.
She has performed at major poetry events in Nigeria such as Word Up, Unchained Voices and so much more and has received wider recognition contesting at literary events such as the first Rio International poetry slam and many other poetry/literature contests.
She even trains interested teenagers Spoken Word Poetry.
We do hope she’s finally found love now!
Chika Jones is an interesting Nigerian performance poet who is also an alumnus of the British Council’s Young Critics’ Programme for the year 2017.
He won a National poetry slam in 2013 and ever since has graced some of the biggest stages ever since. He was even a guest performer for the Wole Soyinka at 80 cultural exchange in 2014 and was selected to attend the Caine Prize Short Story workshop for the Port Harcourt Book festival.
He has performed his poems at many literary events such as the Lagos Book and Arts Festival, Lagos International Poetry Festival, Ake Arts and Book Festival and was selected to attend the 2016 class of the Farafina creative writing workshop and even recently featured in Heritage Bank’s Fishing.
Based in Lagos, Chika is establishing his roots deep in the state and with hopes to spread throughout Nigeria and the world soon.
Donna started writing at age 13 and hasn’t rested her oars just yet.
She is one of the leading and most known poets in Nigeria due to the level of exposure her vivid works have gotten her over the years.
She is a lawyer, an energy law expert and has consistently earned the tagged of the “queen of spoken word poetry in Nigeria” through the years of 2012 to 2015.
Among her achievements as a prominent spoken word artist includes; being the only Nigerian and one of 11 women selected by one.org for the National Month of Poetry, on its “National Poetry Month: Uplifting Verses from 11 Strong Female Poets” alongside great literates such as Maya Angelou, Naomi Shihab amongst others.
Ogunnaike was also among the women to feature in, and the only Nigerian selected to speak on, Google International’s doodle in celebration of the International Women’s Day, 2016.
What a powerful poetess, right?
She has a poetry album, her debut ‘Water for Roses’ which was released in 2015.
If there are other prominent spoken word poets in Nigeria, kindly leave them in the comments and let’s be educated too.
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