Background and Poetry of Chin Ce by Amanda Grants
“Only the Soul like dynamite
Can burst the chain of ignorance”
Chin Ce of Nigeria, born in the years of her bloody civil strife, is best known as poet, writer and novelist. An alumnus of the Calabar university department of literary studies and 1988 best, he severally worked as graphics, reader and editor for news and publishing houses in Nigeria and Ghana prior to settling to a life of writing and traveling.
Among the younger generation of Nigerian poets Chin Ce is most individualistic in blazing a style of his own which is at once effective and drawn to nativity. A quality of his poetry is its ability to fire the imagination and debunk the establishments that control religion and politics. "The Call," "The Preacher" and "New World" reject pious canons in the same manner that "Prodigal Drums," "Wind and Storm" and "Second Cousins" seem to laugh at notions of patriotism and nationalism. Religion and politics, in his vision, constrict the individual who in a 'new' ascending 'world' direction must needs abandon them for the higher altitude.
In poetry Ce's sensitivity chronicles the social and political transitions of African societies - themes also portrayed in his fictions. In An African Eclipse, he is concerned with history and social progress. The volume attempts to demonstrate how the economic underdevelopment of Africa can be traced directly to a leadership which, judging from the range of imagery, is rated somewhere between semi-barbaric states. Images of slovenly reptilians fill his descriptions of modern Nigerian leaderships as they alternate between civilian and military regimes in an unending cycle of brutality and impoverishment. The national military and civilian hierarchies seem as two faces of the same coin, an image which the poet employs to graphically present a cycle of exploitation and brutalization in Africa. In the two series "Oracle" adopts the mode of the town crier or diviner while the persona in "Eclipse" is a modern social critic loudly recasting history on the side of humanity. Its denunciation of the activities of a Nigerian president in office and the prediction of breakdown and anarchy is resonant of Shelley's to the men of England against nineteenth century English monarchy. His essay, "Bards and Tyrants," proves his most vitriolic commentary on the nation, contrasting with endearing remarks for Ghana which, in his opinion, holds a better promise than the "buffoonery of the millennium" that Nigeria is said to represent in Africa.
Chin Ce’s second volume of poetry may read as a challenge of altered awareness as against the prevailing but inadequate parodies in Western philosophical precepts. Some poems in Full Moon have been compared to Wordsworth's in the lyricism, celebration of nature and elevation of personal and emotional relationships to greatly passionate intensities. As a promise of self awareness. “Requiem,” “The Years,” “Blessings” and “Eagle” hint at a field of dreams that seeks a way out of the predatory instincts of human nature: “Only the soul/like dynamite/can burst these chains of ignorance” ("Chains”). In "A Song of Rebirth" citizens of the universe are admonished to "...keep watch over the earth/And the spring that flows/From the sacred fountain of the heart..." The notion of immanent good capable of being nourished for collective harmony offers a hope for every corner of the globe in the ultimate knowledge and mastery of being.