African Citations expedition: Tech-U Reading Society welcomes Lasisi ‘home’. Hosts Sola Olorunyomi on Thursday

From Left: Afolayan, Ibitoye, Afolabi, Lasisi, Fatokun, Fasanya and Mosobalaje

Elijah Adeberu


The Reading Society of the First Technical University (now Abiola Ajimobi Technical University) returned to the stage recently when it hosted performance poet, Akeem Lasisi, on the university premises in Ibadan, Oyo State.

Lasisi, who has been the institution’s Public Relations Officer and also teaches at its Centre for Languages and General Studies, showcased his renowned poetry skills, treading his fellow members of the reading society to an unforgettable performance.

The event, held at the New Academic Building of Tech-U, attracted many scholars and other literary enthusiasts, including Professors Sowemimo Oluwasola and Adebayo Mosobalaje, the Centre Director; Dr I. Afolabi; Dr O. Oyebiyi, Mrs R. Abimbola and Mr B. Ibitoye. The event was anchored by the society’s president, Dr Ayodeji Afolayan.

While Lasisi entertained the gathering with his trademark spontaneous poetry performance, the programme gave the audience an opportunity to have a feel of the poet’s new project — African Citations, an exhibition of his poetic tributes, the maiden edition which was held in Lagos last December.

Also on display were frames of poems that Lasisi dedicated to icons such as the University’s chancellor, Akogun Tunde J. Afolabi MFR; Nobel laureate Professor Wole Soyinka; legendary writer the late Chinua Achebe; and the founder of Afe Babalola University, Aare Afe Babalola.

There were equally poetic tributes to Tech-U’s pioneer vice-chancellor, Professor Ayobami Salami, now the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Lagos State; and to the university itself, titled ‘Ennobling Minds.’

Lasisi travelled down memory lane, recalling how he transitioned from poetry writing to performance and then diversified into studio and video recordings. According to him, visual art poetry is his newest perspective.

“I ventured into poetry performance based on my experience as a Yoruba man,” he said.

“I know poetry has always been with us. Our indigenous poetry is rich. It’s not dry. It’s not lonely. It’s fat and gives a total experience. Above all, it is very entertaining. I also know that the modern English poetry is not that versatile. So, I decided to explore the possibility of fusing the two. I want people to enjoy my poetry and relate with it.”

Then followed the critical engagement of his works and poetic adventures — by the participants who generally applauded his efforts. For one, Mosobalaje sought to know what have been the distinguishing elements of each of the poetry media, especially from Lasisi’s perspective of a poet in continual transformation. While the guest (Lasisi) rather established a kind of give-and-take relationship between the sub-genres, another lecturer at the centre, Mr Kola Mohammed, wondered how the poet was able to shoulder the burden of active journalism, especially when he was at ‘The PUNCH’ for 15 years, with that of a restless performance poet that he is. The poet, whose popular works include IREMOJE: Ritual Poetry for Ken Saro-Wiwa (a poetry collection) and ‘Eleleture’ as well as ‘Udeme’ (poetry albums and videos), stressed the roles played by passion, the imperative of having to double up his energy and the fact that Punch gave him a rather rare support.

Fasanya and Fatokun

He said, “The journey couldn’t have been too easy, but, at the end, journalism and my literary career helped each other.”

Earlier in his welcome remarks, Mosobalaje noted that the Tech- Reading Society was a campus-wide group independent of the Centre for Languages and General Studies.  He thus welcomed new and potential fresh members at the event.


On his part, Ayodeji expressed happiness that the society is back in action after an elastic break. He said machinery had been put in place to ensure consistency, adding that the idea was to boost creativity, intellectualism and scholarship while also enhancing networking.

A proof of Ayodeji’s declaration is that the Tech-U Reading Society committed itself to working on the manuscripts of two of the student members – Basirat Fatokun and Ezekiel Fasanya, who are budding poets and prose writer respectively. More importantly, the society will, on Thursday, June 27, host Professor Sola Olorunyomi of the Department of African Studies, University of Ibadan, who will speak on ‘Listening to Ifa and Digital Wombs in Future of the Narrative and Auto/Biography’. It promises to be a memorable encounter.

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