Review: Poetry collection, Over the Years by Dr. Louis Bankole Jones
I’m delighted, if not enchanted, when a Sierra Leonean ventures into the literary realm, and Dr. Louis Bankole Jones’ maiden slim collection of poems: ‘Over The Years’ is no exception. The field remains open and encourages more writers/poets of diverse backgrounds, with fresh inspirational voices in luxuriating their valuable work to educate, inform and entertain readers especially those Sierra Leoneans yet to be acculturated into the culture of reading for information and entertainment. Our folks shouldn’t be stuck solely in the pursuit of academic prowess or advancement. It’s sad to be reminded that literacy in Sierra Leone is deplorable, and the emergence of the nation’s gruesome civil war hindered the advancement of education there. A nation that pays more lip service to education than to its transformation as reformation would be stalled in the oasis of underdevelopment and its attendant social problems. Dr. B. Jones points his homegrown radar toward a new vision and perspective as a medical doctor; who received his medical training in other parts of the world, including his beloved heartland and homeland. (Photo: Dr Louis Bankole Jones)
His poems dilute empty theories if not the cerebral cortex and penetrate the short comings of humanity. And he pivots at the confluence of spirituality and humanity to help prepare us for the necessary and inevitable celestial domain. He’s endowed with the ability to explore the mind, body and soul connection. And he does so with clarity, vividness, intensity and raw emotions, seemingly boiling over with nostalgia and organic patriotism. His genuine fortitude indicts toxic ignorance, greed and lust for power, even by folks without the fire in their bellies to help change the lives and destiny of a destitute nation, nailed and crucified on the cross of poverty and backwardness. Aside from the motherland, he transports us to his exile days in neighboring Guinea, forced on him by tragic events in Sierra Leone. His love of nature blossoms in the poem Valentine’s Day, experienced in South Brunswick N.J. In the poem; The Lily’s Turn, he compares the beauty and gift of nature with the gloom created by humanity.
Disbelieving beings, shocked and dumbfounded
At the madness of their fellow human fools
The lily flower smiles and says:
“Look at me how beautiful and calm I am
Amidst this terrible gloom.”
“When will you realize
This is not God’s purpose
For humanity, nor for all creation?”
The enigma of hopelessness ongoing in this battered nation has infected the vulnerable as self-centered converts to abuse the DNA of good citizenry and leadership. Children and aged men and women are left to fend for themselves, as the connected and selected prosper, some by looting the national coffers. And celebrate their sudden huge fortunes amid the abject poverty of the masses, who are condemned to eternal poverty. The poem on page 11: ‘Who Are They’: reminds us of, and illuminates the ugly past. In the absence of legitimate and functional leadership, pandemonium of a rudderless nation eventually lands SL at the lowest ebb, if not the point of no return.
And who are they
Who eat the still-pulsating hearts
Of young virgins
And drink the blood
Of our freshly killed fathers and mothers?
Please tell us who are they
Who say they are fighting
To save us all?
And who are they
Who buy their blood-stained DIAMONDS
And sell them for guns, bombs and drugs
And who are they
Who speak on their behalf?
Dr. Jones’ bare knuckled stance as pragmatism should not be mistaken as advocating anti-government bad blood, or over the top radicalism. He’s speaking the truth that could save his motherland and himself: Only if our people and the leaders could listen to his passionate message. Recent reports of violence nationwide remind us that Sierra Leone has not learned the lessons of its grim past. ‘Over The Years’ is a stack reminder that this ailing nation need to chart a more peaceful and responsible path in conducting the business of politics, and its people coexisting amicably with those of a different political persuasion as various ethnic groups. Grenades are littered all over the country and they could go off at will without much deterrence. The writer in me is often asking the question boiling inside me. Is the Sierra Leonean blood cheaper than the value of its natural resources so easily carted away at rock bottom prices? This poetry collection must be on the coffee table of every Sierra Leonean and African. Readers around the world too would benefit from its eye-popping events, revelations and illumination. I find this book interesting and enjoyable and a worthy investment. I look forward to more inspiring and artistic work coming from the promising pen of this Sierra Leonean patriot, Dr. Louis Bankole Jones.
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Reviewed by: Roland Bankole Marke
Author/poet: Dr. Louis Bankole Jones
Poetry collection title: Over The Years
Publication date: September, 2011
Roland Bankole Marke © 2012
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