Chiedu Ifeozo on Inside Africa: Redefining African poetry

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This week on Inside Africa, we take a look at the art of poetic storytelling, transformed from page to podcast, Christian Purefoy chats with Nigerian poet  who reaches out to the youth through YouTube, as he uses technology to take his performances beyond the traditional.

Chiedu Ifeozo is Nigeria’s Youtube poet. Chiedu normally performs his poetry at home – on the internet using a keyboard and mouse as pen and ink, and a computer screen for paper.

He feels on the internet he can connect with a bigger audience. Chiedu returned to Nigeria from the UK five years ago.  He wrote the poem ‘Homecoming’ as a reflection of his feelings when he returned.  Online, the poem has over 4000 hits – larger than any audience he’s performed to live.

Here is the Homecoming by Chiedu Ifeozo.

“It’s very easy to get a close relationship in how many live performances you are doing and your growth on social networks… when they meet you they want to find where they can engage with more of your work. I realized there is a large demographic of young Nigerians who are on online platforms like facebook, twitter and youtube and  thought how to engage with them better using tools that they are used to. It’s about sharing that experience with people meant that people could relate to it.”

Nigeria’s music and film scene is thriving with plenty of home-grown talent and an eager audience.

Cheidu says he wants to do the same for poetry. We need to try and make it seem more fun to the younger generation and I feel the methods I employ in trying to present my work – these are the type of methods going forward to compete with music, fashion and television. The Nigerian audience interested in poetry may still be small, but they’re certainly enthusiastic.

“What I like about his poems is the reality of the things that he says. The facts of our undue suffering and as a continent – but it’s so poetically and beautifully put that you could almost miss it for the beauty of the art.” Modile Akituko, poetry fan Lagos, Nigeria

“The things he writes about are things people can connect to and I don’t think it’s just Nigerians. Anybody who has ever been in that situation connects with him.” Lydiah Gitukoh, poetry fan Lagos, Nigeria

“We are in a tech age and a lot of people look out for twitter followers and youtube hits but they forget that art is about being creative, is about engaging with people”. Chiedu Ifeozo.  

Another poem by Chiedu – This is Africa.

Taking an ancient art into the modern world. Christian Purefoy – CNN – Lagos, Nigeria




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