If I speak of myself in different ways, it means I look at myself in different ways
—Michel de Montaigne
When I hear the word reflection, I think about a body of water—the way it flows and seem to go nowhere. How it seems to leave yet leave behind more than traces of itself. I think about how a mirror replicates whatever is in its line of sight. I think about how this world is a reflection of the world that existed before it. How we are versions of those who birth us. How we are the image of God.
The creative art is an art of observation, contemplation and manifestation—and this particular issue of Libretto Magazine is a representation of this. Each piece of writing or image in this body of work is a product of meditation and deliberation—and portrayal of the society we live in. As artists and writers, we try to understand why things are the way they are. Our works seek to understand—rather than claim to understand.
Issue 3 opens with a poet asking questions about love and violence. Oluwatobi Poroye in Metamorphosis explores the tendency for parents to be overprotective, hence hindering rather than tending to the growth of their wards. The adult pursues individuality and independence, but we find ourselves in an environment where parents are struggling to make a clone of themselves. In his words,
my tongue craves the height of skies. so father
paints. erases. repaints me
In running from my father the same poet speaks the abuse a boy child faces from his violent father. Ihezue Somto has a similar tale to share in call us boy, an abusive father (and husband) and a crushed quest for self-discovery.
Whatever breathes in us wears a gag.
Once, we took it off,
just once, we wore our sister’s dress.
Father tore it off our skin,
And how violence breeds more violence. The family is a model for the bigger society—and we see violence on a larger scale in communal disputes, tribal and religious wars as depicted in Abdulbaki Ahmad’s Prism
The fluidity of thoughts and expressions of The Sea by Osahon Oka is worthy of note. The influence of nature and our need to preserve it cannot be overemphasized. I am inspired by landscapes and flora and I always find poetry with natural imagery beautiful—this is what Adeyeye James Oluwatobi and Obinna Chilekezi offer in their short, crisp deliveries.
The highlight of the nonfiction pieces in this issue of the magazine is the heart-touching call for Disney to honour Nikkita “Queen of Katwe” who died of brain tumour. Ifesinachi Nwadike questions the seeming abandonment of the child movie star whose performance in the 2016 movie brought smiles to millions of viewers (and millions for the filmmakers).
It’s a thought-provoking piece of writing, a revelation of the disparity between the life on the screen and reality—especially for the less privileged and voiceless. How stardom and obscurity could be seeds in a pod, and how the flashing lights of the paparazzi could selectively fail to reveal deep shadows.
Recycling is another intriguing piece by John Chizoba Vincents, exploring identity, reinvention and reincarnation. Nicholas Leam speaks of loss, of a part of us when loved ones leave. These nonfictional musingsshare a part of the authors, show us that even in our peculiarity, we have similar experiences—fears, doubts, and a hunt for clarity.
There are two exquisitely written fictions, three insightful interviews with great personalities and an assortment of stunning images (photographs and virtual arts) and one book review by my friend Umar Yogiza. These works interrogate the themes of identity and community. And the need for us to revisit pending conversations, answer questions of equality, violence and the sacredness of the human life.
Personally, I believe the essence of reflection is to learn. Learn about who we are, where we are—retrace the paths we passed, rivers we crossed and strategize how to proceed. Reflection is taking time to assess progress, identify shortcomings and propose how to do things differently where necessary.
This Issue 3 of Libretto has been able to satisfy these elements. This is a marathon of beautifully crafted art—you won’t be able to stop until you reach the finish line.
Three poems – Oluwatobi Ezekiel Poroye
Prism – Abdulbaki Ahmad
Call us boy – Ihezue Somto Onyedike
Four Poems – Osahon Oka
Yesterday night – Adeyeye James Oluwatobi
But I have to leave – Obinna Chilekezi
Reflection: a journey through death – Animashaun Ameen
Leaving – Nicholas Leam
Recycling – John Chizoba Vincent
Disney Should Honour Nikita Pearl Waligwa – Ifesinachi Nwadike
A thousand words – Nwabuisi Kenneth
The Biology of Courage – Mark Blickley
Ten photography – Connor Orrico
Arts – Patrick Chukwuka Onyejiaka
Art – Payal Dutta
Four Arts – Oliver Perry
Four Arts – Sam Kthar
Art – Vincent Chiwala