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The moon has
ascended between us,
Between two pines
That bow to each other;
Love with the moon has ascended,
Has fed on our solitary stems;
And we are now shadows
That cling to each other,
But kiss the air only.
Love Apart, a poem by Nigerian poet Christopher Okigbo.
Born in 1952 in the Southeastern Nigerian town of Ojoto in Anambra State, Christohper Okigbo is one of the most highly regarded post-colonial English-language poets both in Nigeria and throughout Africa.
Okigbo, who later relocated to Ibadan in the early 60s, moved back to eastern Nigeria following the secession of Biafra and volunteered in the newly formed state’s military. He was killed in 1967 whilst fighting for the Biafran army, defending the town of Nsukka against the Nigerian government forces.
It has often been said that my generation was a very lucky one. And I agree. My luck was actually quite extraordinary. And it began quite early.
The pace of change in Nigeria from the 1940s was incredible. I am not just talking about the rate of development, with villages transforming into towns, or the coming of modern comforts, such as electricity or running water or modes of transportation, but more of a sense that we were standing figuratively and literally at the dawn of a new era.
My generation was summoned, as it were, to bear witness to two remarkable transitions—the first the aforementioned impressive economic, social, and political transformation of Nigeria into a midrange country, at least by third world standards. But, more profoundly, barely two decades later we were thrust into the throes of perhaps Nigeria’s greatest twentieth-century moment—our elevation from a colonized country to an independent nation.