Young poet Oppong Clifford Benjamin speaks on his art and The African Dream
Oppong Clifford Benjamin is a poet who calls himself a proud citizen of the African Continent, he is originally from a village called Prestea in the Western Region of Ghana. Oppong has been writing poetry since age 14 and his work has been noticed by other seasoned and young poets across Africa in countries like South Africa and Nigeria.‘
I first met poetry in 2005 during my junior high school days when Omo Ghana organized a nation-wide poetry and essay competition in which I contested. His poem; This is My Home placed 7th among 300 other young poets. From then onwards, his obsession grew stronger and stronger and he fed it by reading and learning all he could about poetry until he started to capture wrongs in society, African history and culture and happenings in this personal life through poems.
This piece was born out of a chat I had with Clifford available here.
Poetry in the opinion of Clifford is an art of using words to express emotions. The beauty of poetry comes when you make words dance to their own rhymes. When words are used to combat threatening issues in a society Poetry then becomes the world in words. I asked this young poet to mention poets whose works have influenced and inspired him. He did not mince words when he named Kofi Awoonor as someone he greatly looks up to.
The way Kofi blends his native language with English to make poetry leaves a pleasant taste both in the ear, mouth, and mind of the reader Clifford points out. Besides Kofi, the young poet mentions Nigerian Kukogho Iruisire Samson, an Orange Prize winner and the owner of Words Rhyme and Rhythm (WRR) who he describes as unique in his writing style and desire to showcase young African poets, and Noleen Desiree Titus; a South African essayist who writes to spread the gospel online.
Poems by Clifford have for the most times been on issues threatening Africa and Her Development, sometimes his poetic sword cuts across his past life experiences, which is why he conveniently titles his style of poetry as Pan-Africanism. His writing style has been noticed beyond the borders of his home Ghana with a number of his works receiving international recognition.
My Lame Friend On The Street caught so much attention on the Words Rhyme and Rhythm (WRR) page on Facebook when it was first posted there. ‘My Lame Friend On The Street’ is a poem written in honor of a disabled friend this poet had in Ghana who begged for alms on the Tetteh Quarshie Highway. The two once talked about the beggar’s plight which moved the poet after he found out that the beggar was actually a degree holder from the University of Cape Coast, one of the leading universities in Ghana.
Clifford said he wrote the poem after he ran into the beggar in a slow moving vehicular traffic and noticed the fortunes of his lame friend had turned around as he was now driving a sleek car. ‘That poem about this disabled friend of mine really carried me on to higher heights in poetry because I delved deep into myself to write it’.
Another poem that was published on WRR is You Remain My President. This poem was a tribute to the late President John Evans Atta Mills of Ghana. The Poem received so much sympathy from poets across Africa. More of Clifford’s works have been published by WRR. A Girl For Women, however, caught the attention of eyes outside Africa. This was a poem written in honor of Dadae Anderson, a women Empowerment Activist from Liberia by Clifford and published by the UK Poetry Library. There is a lot more work in publications by Clifford and more to follow as his poetic juices keep flowing tastefully.
Poetry aside, this Pan Africanist has also founded Builders of the African Dream to bring together young Africans who are committed to the noble processes of African emancipation and Renaissance. This organization works with foundations across the continent in humanitarian projects. They have partners in Ghana, Uganda, Liberia, and Kenya. Builders of the African Dream is organizing a peace summit and walk in Kenya from September 17-21, 2013 as part of applauding the peace in Kenya.
In an advice to up and coming young poets across Africa and the world, Oppong Clifford Benjamin says all must keep on writing with no or very little expectation of making money out of poetry because he believes ‘poetry is best written not by the hand or mind but the heart, so excellence will meet you only when you love doing poetry without expecting a reward’.
In connection with the African Dream, the young poet says the African youth must prepare their minds and hearts to work hard for a better Africa by harnessing the power of knowledge and learning from their history and pride as Africans. ‘Africa will be for Africans only when Unity marries Unification’–Oppong Clifford Benjamin.
Written by Oral Ofori