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Nigerian poet, former editor of Arts and Self Expression for Know Yourself Magazine, Valentine Okolo has published a didactic poetry collection, I Will Be Silent.
Genocide. Sex Slavery. Women Rights. Activism, are the elements embedded in the pages of I Will Be Silent, which is currently available on Amazon.
Okolo, who is also known as Poetval, is a filmmaker and a social activist who speaks for those whose voices are drowned by oppressive task masters.
Valentine’s literary inclination, which he has applied in the media and publishing industry started many years ago.
In 2005, he was the editor of Arts and Self Expression for Know Yourself Magazine, a self-help publication based in the United Kingdom. He co-created and was the Creative Director / Director of G-Planet, a musical gospel TV Show, which aired across Africa and the United Kingdom for four years. G-planet was one of the first ever shows in Nigeria that interviewed and showcased the talents of upcoming and established gospel artistes in the country.
He also extended his Directorial duties to the TV show Divas Dynasty, a show aimed at celebrating successful women from different walks of life. The Show aired on HiTV in Nigeria and the in United States. In 2009, he co-founded and became the editor for BusinessIQ magazine, the Pan Africa magazine for entrepreneurs in Africa.
After a hiatus from entertainment and Television through the years 2010 to 2014, he returned to the silver screen in 2015 when he was instrumental in bringing to technical and creative life the homegrown TV game show Nairabet Sports Challenge. A show which aired in Nigeria for a full season and was much loved by sports fans in the country.
In the same 2015, “I Will Be Silent,” the titular poem of his poetry collection became the most googled poem about genocide on the Internet. A poem he casually posted on an online poetry sharing forum, where he was briefly a member, for feedback. To his surprise the poem became the most popular poem on genocide on the web and was searched for and read in over 25 countries worldwide. This was quite an unusual feat for a poem rendered not as a spoken word video but as text. His other poetic works have featured in respectable literary journals based in the United States, such as Apogee, Origins, and Shot Glass.
Okolo’s poetry collection ‘I Will Be Silent’ is divided into three main sections: Pain, Perseverance and Pleasure.
The first section, Pain, echoes the voices of those who were exterminated in various pogroms and conflicts, those sold into sex slavery, and those whose innocence was taken advantage of and used as angels of death. Represented aptly with lines from the poem “Without a Name” :
On this day
innocence was drowned in water,
and puberty terminated
by the blade of the guillotine.
Every crisis has its collateral damage.
They called you collateral damage
and made clones of you,
a platoon of expendable soldiers
in the command of an executioner.
In the second section, Perseverance, the poet celebrates the resilience of those who have gone through the battles of pain and remain standing to bear witness to the living. This he represents in the poem “Ode to Women’s Rights” with the words :
I am balancing
on the blade
of my tongue,
on the navel
of a hurricane.
a magnificent storm,
terrible and calm,
of social revolution.
Or acknowledging a woman’s self worth in the same section with the exhultational micro poem “Birthright” :
may you always
remember your birthright.
For you are salt;
the jewel of the sea,
with a thousand
The third section, Pleasure, talks of sweet, romantic, and sometimes the erotic memories of pure love. The likely aftermath of persevering through trials. This section is highlighted here by the sublimely erotic poem “Metaphor” :
You begin by calling yourself the mug
which holds my rising steam
and the breath
of my rejuvenation.
Since you are the mug
I’ll be the spoon
that goes in and turns
and keeps on turning
until your heat clings to my metal.
Poet, Valentine Okolo, is no stranger to the literary arts and the entertainment world. A consummate artist, he has thrilled audiences, though, behind the scenes with some of his creative inputs . And it’s our hope that he will continue to thrill us with his creative mind many years from now, both from behind the curtain, and in the spotlight.