In Overwhelming Treasures, Chimeka Nduka Ekeghe puts together forty-six poems on the themes of love, life and Nigeria in eight sections the poet calls “seasons”. Each poem is a story in itself.
In these poems he talks about love, women, life, emotions and death. He also writes motivational poems and pores over corruption in Nigeria in the midst of its vast wealth.
In Love or Infatuation he describes his enthrallment in the following words:
“ . . .
When she first set sail
Had picked up my heart by the tail
And locked it up mercilessly without bail
. . . ”
Then he questions the nature of the feeling he is having:
“. . .
In love am I?
Or just as infatuated as a fly?
. . . “
This imagery is a powerful and an apt description of infatuation. A fly ‘harasses’ anything it is attracted to — sweet or foul-smelling – but will swiftly anticipate a swat and not stay firm to express its passion for its object. Hence, it is not attracted to the object but to what it stands to gain from the object.
He regrets that his loved one does not always pick his call, but states his determination to persevere in loving her. He would not relent after “a hundred falls” and before fully winning her heart, he is already preparing for their “wedding hall”.
He describes love as being as blind as a bat’s hind. This is food for thought, for I can’t decipher this simile.
A leap is a sudden jump and must be done with some force in order to attain some significant height or distance. This is the noun that describes his state of sleeplessness in Overwhelmed. When insomnia comes, it is abrupt and completely takes him from one situation to the other.
Marriage’s Mystery lies in the ability to unite two individuals.
Happiness is an essential condition to be attained in marriage for,
. . . a house always in mourning
May collapse after a few mornings.”
This is good use of assonance and homophone– “mourning”, “morning”.
An essential requirement for a successful marriage is to submit to the saying, “for better or for worse”. This he expresses beautifully as, “A lifetime contract sometimes devoid of art”.
In Abiriba the Beautiful he talks about his hometown and lauds the beauty of its people and land, and the physical manifestations of the wealth of its inhabitants, both local residents and foreign residents. The beauty of Abiriba is derived from the nature of the hills, the lush vegetation, and the palatial homes. Because of the beauty and wealth of Abiriba and Abiribarians Abiriba is affectionately dubbed, “Small London”. In this poem is also found the rites of passage of the Abiriba people.
Around Christmas each year, sons and daughters of Abiriba living in all corners of the world converge at Abiriba to celebrate Christmas with church services, family reunions, and feasting.
The festivities end having reinforced Abiriba unity in the words, “Abiriba Bu Nge.”
Mother of the Human Nation is dedicated to all women.
The message in this poem is well-known. In it he enumerates the trials, travails and virtues of women, but he does that in words that are fresh such as:
“Fairest of all God’s creatures
Endowed with breathtaking features
Far more interesting than a he
And as busy as a bumble bee
Mother of the race of men
Far more caring than a hen
Unique and priceless, a true gem!
A shaper of destinies, yours and mine
Responsible for lives turning out fine
Stamps her feet in the sands of time
I never cease to wonder
Sometimes lost in my ponder
On the uniqueness of this gender
The variety of services rendered.”
In these few words, the status of women as the fairest of all of God’s creatures –creatures endowed with features far more interesting than man’s, is mentioned and the unique role of women as the first educators of humankind is also mentioned.
Chiemaka Ekeghe ends the poem by expressing, on behalf of all men, love for women and gives them a standing ovation in the words, “CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP….”
Boiling Hot talks about the ills that result from anger. An unforgiving person is likened to a prisoner who has thrown away the key to his prison, and when irritated, he advises that one walks away “Because diseases accompany anger with glee”. This is a description apt and clear.
The poem, Timeless, talks about the wise use of time. The first stanza holds great potential for a beautiful rhythm. The stanza below is suggested by this reviewer:
Tick tock! Tick tock! Goes the clock
Pointing fingers to the flock
Of humanity in the dock
Or in forests, deserts, hills and rocks.
By this I introduce the terminology, “fingers of a clock”, which makes more sense to me than the usual expression, “hands of a clock”.
“Humanity in the dock” also gives a better imagery than “humanity by the dock”, employed by the auther. The former conjures up the image of awaiting judgement in a court room, which is closer to the biblical message of judgement we all know of than the latter imagery which conjures up the imagery of people by the habour — a not so meaningful imagery.
“TV, the Internet, iPads, and phones
If not used in moderation like bank loans
May break your earthly vision’s bones
And melt that mission like an ice cream cone.”
The idea of one’s mission melting away like a cone of ice cream is very original and apt, and the expression, “If you stab your time with a knife”, is also very original.
Many more poems are found in this book but with this foretaste, the reader is encouraged to discover for himself or for herself the gems enshrined in the book.
Overwhelming Treasures is really a treasure trove, and as the poet stated, is dedicated to Almighty God. It’s, therefore, not surprising that it has quite a heavy leaning on religious themes, which is good, anyway. He ends his book of poetry with the poem that assures the reader that “God Is Crazy About (sic) You.”
Poetry, unlike prose, is terse and, therefore, calls for more careful reading and reflection than is usually the case in prose. This condition Overwhelming Treasures has fulfilled. But conventional poetry is also made up of words that dance to some sort of rhythm or music, one might say, and of images that roll by conveying concepts and thoughts profound or commonplace. But, ideally, the symbolism, when original, heightens the freshness and quality of the composition. In this latter quality, I see Overwhelming Treasures as what might be described, without meaning any offence, whatsoever, as a mixture of poetry and what I would term “prosaic poetry” because some of the lines and stanzas lack rhythm. He employs striking and original metaphors and similes, however, and the poems are educative. He also employs a good dose of rhymes.