Named after a prison cell familiar to many of Nigeria's political prisoners and dissidents, Kalakuta Republic is a powerful collection of poems detailing the harrowing experiences endured by Abani and others at the hands of Nigeria's military regime in the late 1980s. Abani's poems are dedicated to those who shared in but did not live through the suffering, like John James, his cellmate, tortured to death in 1991 at the age of 14, and other 'kindred spirits, dreamers, fools'. In them he describes the characters that peopled his dark world, from the prison inmates to their torturers, the generals. This is Abani's first collection of poems following his release from jail, and while intense episodes are vividly described, it is above all a work greatly tinged with humanity and a durable tribute to the triumph of the human spirit.
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Abani's poem Ahimsa artist Baraka Beatings believing Birds of Paradise blood bloom as angels Blues body bullet cell mate asks Chris Abani cigarette courtyard craft Daily epiphanies bloom Dancing dark dead death becomes death row demons dreaming emerge experience face of tyranny fear feet Fela Anikulapo Kuti guards hand haunts hope hours later human hurts inexplicably Hyacinth Leviticus incarceration Introduction Jacob's Ladder Jeremiah argued John James Kalakuta Republic Kamau Braithwaite kill Kiri Kiri Maximum Kiri Maximum Security Kwame Dawes laughter live Lt Emile Elejegba manages Mango memory menaces a parked murder never Nigerian night Nirvana Owen's Oyinbo Pepper pain papa piece poet poetry polemic prison Rambo rasa rectum Reggae rifle ruffles your shirt saxophone screaming Sergeant Adamu smell smile smoke solitary Someone song soul stalk stomach sucking suffering Sweat sweet Coca-Cola stings tears teeth terror throat tragedy verse walls wing Yoruba