All posts by Dami Ajayi

Remembering Highlife

By Dami Ajayi


  • Title: Highlife Giants: West African Dance Band Pioneers
  • Author: John Collins
  • Publisher: Cassava Republic Press
  • Number of pages: 320
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Music

The West African phenomenon, Highlife music, is many things to many people. To some, it is a colonial legacy. To others, it is an abiding aesthetic. Yet to some, it is dance music for wiggling derrières, perhaps the finest that came out of West Africa in the period spanning about twenty-five years on both sides of colonial independence. More…

A Bride’s Mother’s Cry

By Dami Ajayi


  • Title: Now the World Takes These Breaths
  • Author: Joan Metelerkamp
  • Publisher: Modjaji Books
  • Number of pages: 61
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Poetry

To the uninitiated, the poetry of Joan Metelerkamp has an unnerving effect. For the reader who comes to her body of work through Now the World Takes These Breaths, her eight collection, it may feel like coming too late to a wedding party, and little is known or reported on the continent about this foremost South African poet, who has been publishing volumes of poetry since 1992. More…

A Marriage of Inconvenience

By Dami Ajayi


  • Title: Nuptials at Vespers & Other Strains
  • Author: John Ngong Kum Ngong
  • Publisher: Langaa RPCIG
  • Number of pages: 84
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Poetry

John Ngong Kum Ngong is one of the prolific Anglophone Cameroonian poets working today. With seven poetry collections already, Nuptial at Vespers & Other Strains is his eighth, and it has forty-four interconnected poems that dwell, as the title would indicate, on a kind of marriage. To the reader with a mind already primed by the delights of heterosexual love and attraction, the title of the collection might evoke images of a church wedding. However, four poems into the collection and the title poem will disabuse the reader of any notions of typical, white weddings (think Philip Larkin’s ‘The Whitsun Weddings’). The image of a wedding where the officiating minister, a gawky Mayor, ‘smiles at the thought of loot’, is put forward instead. More…

The Promise of Hope: A Review

By Dami Ajayi


  • Title: The Promise of Hope: New and Selected Poems, 1964–2013
  • Author: Kofi Awoonor
  • Publisher: Amalion Publishing
  • Number of pages: 297
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Poetry

On 21 September 2013, one of Ghana’s illustrious poets, Kofi Awoonor, was shot dead by gunmen of the Al-Shabaab terrorist group at the Westgate Shopping Mall. He was in Nairobi, attending Kenya’s biggest book festival, the Storymoja Festival. He was a father, an academic, a diplomat and a poet, with a practice of more than fifty years. A few days before his death, he held an advance copy of the book that was to become his last, The Promise of Hope: New and Selected Poems, 1964–2013, and was said to have remarked on its beauty. More…

American English Writer Preferred: A Review of Clifton Gachagua’s Madman at Kilifi

By Dami Ajayi


  • Title: Madman at Kilifi
  • Author: Clifton Gachagua
  • Publisher: Amalion Publishing
  • Number of pages: 60
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Poetry

Madman at Kilifi, Clifton Gachagua’s first collection of poems, won the inaugural Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets in 2013, in manuscript form. This was quickly followed by its publication as the first book of the African Poetry Book Series by the Senegal-based Amalion Publishing.

Before this laudable initiative launched by the African Poetry Book Fund, African poets were at the mercy of the traditional publishing process. This largely meant that putting out a book-length collection of poems was as easy as a camel’s passage through the eye of a needle. More…

The Wretched of the Cameroons

By Dami Ajayi


  • Title: Day and Night in Limbo
  • Author: Jean Tardif Lonkog
  • Number of pages: 108
  • Title: In Chains For My Country: Crusading for the British Southern Cameroons
  • Author: Nfor N Nfor
  • Number of pages: 161
  • Publisher: Langaa RPCIG
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Memoir

The recently deceased American author, E L Doctorow, once said that there is no such thing as fiction or nonfiction. In lieu of these two major categories, he proposed that there is only narrative. One is inclined, once again, to embrace this truth after reading two books by Cameroonians about living in Cameroon: Jean Tardif Lonkog’s Day and Night in Limbo and Nfor N Nfor’s In Chains for My Country: Crusading for the British Southern Cameroons. These two books, beyond having Cameroonian male authors, are both memoirs about the difficulties of existence and they staggeringly depend on remembrance and memory. More…

The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician, or the Lonely Scotlanders

By Dami Ajayi


  • Title: The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician
  • Author: Tendai Huchu
  • Publisher: ‘amaBooks
  • Number of pages: 273
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Fiction

Zimbabwean writer, Tendai Huchu’s second book, a novel, is called The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician, a rather mouthful title that enjoys the playful alliteration of a recalcitrant poet. More…