Nigerian students use poetry to warn on climate change

Basit Saba recites

Sequel to the widespread misconceptions in the traditional African society that climate change and its impacts manifest only when the gods are angry, some students have, through poetry, debunked this and submitted that human actions and inaction were mostly responsible.

“We made it happened, burning of bushes, felling of trees and we accused the gods of chiding us in wrath, clean the land, clean the earth, stop the smoke in every form. If we all turn deaf ears, where shall we go from earth?” said Basit Saba of Ikotun Senior High School Lagos, in his presentation at the Poetry competition on “Combating Climate Change and its Impact in Nigeria”, to commemorate the World Poetry Day.

The 2019 World Poetry Day observance held on March 21, was organised by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in Nigeria and Lagos Education District One. The poetry competition involved all the ninety-nine schools in the District. However, only fifteen finalists from fifteen schools made it to the finals.

In line with the objectives of the World Poetry Day, especially as related to restoring a dialogue between poetry and the other arts such as theatre, dance, music and painting, the 15 finalists in their presentations, demonstrated the convergence of poetry, theatre, dance and arts to convey the message of climate change and its impact in Nigeria. Most of the poetic recitals were preceded by a dramatic introduction.

“Climate change, who are you?” asked Miss Omoyemi Sodiq of Stadium Junior Grammar School, “You are a global challenge. You respect not all national borders. A threat to humanity! Your threat requires urgent climate action’’.

In her presentation titled, ‘Mother Earth’, Miss Bolanle Bolaji of Ijaiye Housing Estate Senior Grammar School, noted that “Mother earth sits quietly and in pains, suffering through high temperature, through global warming, through malnutrition, through heavy rainfall, through sea level rising, and through rising infectious diseases.”

In a highly poetic flow, Miss Saidat Lamina of Iju Senior Grammar School said, “What about our plants and trees? Mother earth needs some bees; on the trees and some honey bees. Global warming is everywhere; Climate change is already here; there is a lot of things we can’t bear. Let us save our mother nature; Let’s give it a perfect structure.”

Speaking at the occasion, the Director of UNIC, Ronald Kayanja, called on schools and stakeholders in the education sector to revive the oral traditions of poetry recitals.

Mr Kayanja who was represented by the National Information Officer, Oluseyi Soremekun, explained that poetry not only unlocks the creative potentials in people, it also contributes to language skills development, builds confidence in public speaking and asserts people’s identity.

Poetry, according to him, has no particular language. “Poetry is universal. It can be written and recited in any language, including indigenous languages.” He noted, “Poetry speaks to our common humanity and our shared values, transforming the simplest of poems into a powerful catalyst for dialogue and peace.”

Addressing the audience comprising of students, school principals and teachers, the Tutor General/ Permanent Secretary of Education District 1,

Olayimika Ayandele, expressed gratitude to UNIC for its consistency in educational programmes and FABE International Foundation, for providing prizes made of upcycled wastes recovered from the environment.

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