Kalakuta Republic

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Saqi Books, 2000 - Poetry - 116 pages
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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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About the author (2000)

In 1985, at the age of 18, Chris Abani was imprisoned following the publication of his first novel. He was released six months later. When his second novel, Sirocco, was published in 1987, it was seized by government forces and his publisher forced to close. That same year he was again arrested, detained and accused of sedition for performing anti-government plays. In 1991, after the performance of his play, Song of a Broken Flute, he was arrested for the third time and held on death row. He now lives in London. Kalakuta Republic is based on his experience as political prisoner between 1985 and 1991.

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