The Director of the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Nnimmo Bassey, has urged Nigerian youth to use poetry to advocate social change.
Mr Bassey gave the advice on Monday in Port Harcourt at a workshop organised by HOMEF.
He noted that poetry “is part of our culture, and the people have always done campaigns using songs, poetry, and drama to change things in their communities.”
Mr Bassey added, “The aim of this training is to also encourage young people to continue in the tradition of using poetry to pass messages to the large audience and authorities instead of engaging in social vices.”
The rights activist advised youths to pay attention to the environment, learn and share, and help propagate the ideas that poetry could be used for social change.
“Nigerian youth should also be much more attentive to what is going on around them and to articulate and write them down for posterity. We know our people are very creative,” the HOMEF director stated. “If you look at poetry in Nigeria, you find out that most of the ecologically environmentally sensitive poets in this country are mostly from the Niger Delta, and this is because our environment has been devastated.”
He noted that the life expectancy in Niger Delta, at 41 years, was one of the lowest in the world, while Nigeria had one of the lowest among nations, 56 years for men and 54 years for women due to environmental pollution.
“The gas flare and oil spill we live with cause a lot of cancers, all kinds of breathing difficulties, and skin diseases. People are drinking polluted water because they have no alternative, and so it is really a miracle that people are alive at all,” stated the HOMEF boss.
He warned that “if nothing is done urgently, it could drive the people to extinction.”
“A conscious poet is an activist, so we want young Nigerians and everyone to be an activist. Everyone must be conscious of what is going on, and everyone should speak up through poetry or other channels,” Mr Bassey said.