Saturday, 31 March 2012

Notes on Ify Agwu

I am a coward. I can't stand grief. So what happens when death takes three persons in one - poet, dancer and teacher? It has taken two weeks to be able to write anything at all.

I am still in shock on the loss of my friend and colleague, Ify Agwu. The news of her death reached me two weeks ago: 17 March, and since the first yell, I have not controlled the low sobs that come as breath on other days when memories of her walk into my heart. 

I keep hoping I’m in a dream (clichéd in perspective as it is). I try to bring back the past two months, where Ify and I exchanged phone calls because of a poetry project we were involved in. We also  mouthed  other plans; like collaborating on a performance. I can still remember the excitement in her voice when she called, and I stone-headed simply said, “see you in Ibadan…”

I remember joking two nights before her death, in her house, while talking to a mutual friend – Ropo Ewenla – that she took me more seriously than I took myself. 

So on that  day of her demise, I slept in her house and had woken to the sound of her packing for her travels which she mentioned a day earlier. I held her hands wished her a safe trip and told her I would travel later that day to Lagos myself.

Indeed, I left for Lagos to attend Odia Ofeimun’s birthday event, certain she was almost in Abuja. Through the day, I reminded myself to call and see if she was now safe in her destination. I didn’t.

It was the following next morning, as I was about to dial her number – a little groggy and all, when Ropo called and asked, “Have you received a call from Ibadan.”

“No, have they found a house for me?” Her death was the last thing on my mind. I referred to some other discussion we had. He became silent. Yet, nothing in my mind warned me that the next words were too bitter for the ears, until he muttered – “Ify. Is dead…”

Although, there would never be the right emotion to shelter this pain, like those in the past; I have great solace in the life Ify left behind – the memories of a good soul. Three poetry collections: They Run Still and Now That Dreams Are Born

I wrote a poem for her in Nigerian Talk, which Kola Tubosun has dedicated for her. I wrote each word in tears, and the editing process was weightier.

Do read, share the beautiful words that engrave Ify Agwu, perhaps you too will remember…


  1. Ify Omalicha's death is huge beyond words... She will be sorely missed.

  2. Wow!... This is really heart wrenching...May days like this be far from our dwellings and those of our loved ones. And may the keeper of life keep, console the family she left behind.

  3. Anonymous8:55:00 am

    Hmm, Ify, abi? We travelled separate ways (coincidentally to Lagos too) that day too. Was hoping for a meet and some discussion but she had different plans. I have thought of her on many days since then and had several discussions with mutual friends. To think that only a few days after I was faced with Fela...
    Hmm. May she rest well.

    PS: Lovely, lovely tribute. I do wish us better tidings.


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