A poem by Adjei Agyei-Baah, composed for Professor Wole Soyinka and the notable mane that adorns his crown. Soyinka himself dedicated a poem “To my first white hairs” to the discovery of the first ‘sudden sprung’ of white curls emerging, ‘frail invaders of the undergrowth.’
This poem was presented to Professor Soyinka on the occasion of his 80th birthday in 2014 at an event held at the State Banquet Hall in Accra, Ghana, to launch the book Crucible of the Ages: Essays in Honour of Wole Soyinka at 80 by Ivor Agyeman-Duah & Ogochukwu Promise. (1)
In The Grey Hair of Soyinka
There’s something mystical
About your grey hair, Baba
Not in its seductive whiteness
Your flower that continues
To bloom on high
Even in its twilight years.
Your hair is much more of a spectacle —
Rising embers that end as fireflies
Fire flights that radiate a dream fulfilled
A dream fulfilled which remains our haven
The expansive shade of the baobab tree
For generations to savour our ageless tales.
This hair indeed envisioned a path
This hair, the stepping stones of African literature
This hair whitens the dark corridors for humanity
Indeed, this hair caused a stir
Perhaps the reason it knows not a fall.
by Adjei Agyei-Baah
- Professor Soyinka replied to the poet: “My mop of grey/white hair insists that I ensure that it is given full credit for any panegyric, since I abandoned it ages ago to do whatever it liked, even refusing to take it to the hair-dresser for the occasional attention.”
Adjei Agyei-Baah is the author of Afriku (Red Moon Press, 2016), Ghana, 21 Haiku (Mamba Africa Press, 2017), Piece of My Fart (2018), Finding the Other Door (Mamba Africa Press, 2021) Mamelon a Mamelon (Edition Unicite, 2021) and Scaring Crow (Buttonhook Press, 2022. Adjei is the primary author of the four Haikupedia articles about African haiku. He is the co-founder of the Africa Haiku Network and The Mamba (Africa’s premiere haiku journal). He teaches English and Literature at the University of Ghana’s School of Continuing and Distance Education and is currently pursuing his PhD studies at the University of Waikato.