Lessons from Joe Ushie’s ‘restitution’

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Prof Joseph Akawu Ushie cannot be mistaken for anyone else. After ten months of being indebted to thousands of his followers on the social media, he has returned to pay his debts. In this ‘Dept-paying Epistle’, entitled, “THIS TIME I MUST PAY MY DEBTS”, the Don, my lecturer and mentor has done four things, successfully.

  1. Responded to the good wishes poured on him on the occasion of his 2019th birth anniversary since January;
  2. Acknowledged the condolences sent to him by friends on the occasion of the ‘cosmic elevation’ of his biological father who joined his ancestors and was committed to mother earth in March this year;
  3. Moved a vote of thanks to friends, who as usual, invaded his privacy to lump messages of goodwill when his latest volume of poetry, “Yawns and Belches” won for him the Shehu Sani ANA Prize for poetry;
  4. Taught ‘unsuspecting’ members of the public of the prevailing mental explosion that can erupt, when a writer suppresses the heavy pool of emotion that flows in his mind and begs for ‘articulation’.

For some of us who happened to read some of his works before knowing him in person, we appreciate the innocent looks that appear on his physical presence, which often betray the Marxian philosophy that has apparently besieged and engulfed his mind for donkey years.

Ushie cannot be mistaken for his ‘stylistic elevation of matters’ and ‘linguistic decoration’ that seem to break the common rule. Reading from him makes you understand why Clark was bold enough to submit that “Here Nothing Works”. Of course, “even the suffocating odour from the decomposing body of his near-deceased fatherland is an indispensable fillip that urges him on.” You won’t be interrupted by that sharp sense of conviction, that truly, this man is ‘careless’ about whose oxe is gored.

Yet, although he came for restitution, to replicate the good wishes of his friends and neighbours, in retaliation to the outstanding ‘chorus of praises’, Ushie won’t be satisfied without dropping a ‘lesson note’. A teacher’s reward, we learnt will be in Heaven. But no, Ushie has never taken ‘no’ for an answer. He has packed a handful of his and wishes that friends and neighbours around could follow his projections to sail beyond.

In that lesson note, the Prof of English Letters notes that one must not wait for pleasant atmospheres to turn their thoughts into books. He believes that unfortunate happenstances could even be more pleasant for fictions than the rest. And so he strikes the tinkling gong and cautions that one must regulate his thoughts.

Still thrusting on, the erudite scholar cautions that those who must attempt to follow his footsteps must be circumspect. He believes that pouring ones mind on a slate to make a book is one thing and succeeding in the retention of that expected idealistic dissemination is another. In this way, he teaches that all factuality must gain an ‘appropriated assemblage’. You must not be like that tree that faced a pronouncement of malediction by the ‘Son of Man’ who in intense hunger rained his anger to course the ‘innocent’ tree whose season was not due.

An orphan since January 2019, Joe Ushie states that a writer must prepare their works in such a way that they can stand the test of time. His metaphorical portrayal of books as orphans cannot repel a comparison with his ‘officially registered’ experience as an orphan. Having lost his parents, Ushie has been a ‘certified’ one for eitgh months and still counting. No one gives him instructions again. He wakes up anytime thinking like a poet and writing like Karl Marx. Simply put, this academic giant opins that all literary works are like orphans because once published and circulated, their authors won’t be there to ‘fend for’, ‘guide’, ‘protect’ or ‘defend’ them.

The take home pay therefore is that, just like him, if your effort is worth the stress, you could be honoured with ‘prizes’ or ‘awards’. This is even as he stresses that the excitement about creative works of arts are not the ‘awards’ or ‘prizes’. The excitement, according to him, is the ability to mould the thoughts into acceptable patterns of literary composition, even though some ‘deconstruction’ may set in at some point. This way, even if the awards eventually come, it is still as a result of the fact that the story was well crafted. This is exactly why he says: “The prize came, and I was happy, no doubt; but I do not write with prizes as my target. I write because if I don’t respond to certain stimuli from many environments, I could burst into flames or lapse into some sort of schizophrenia.”

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