Summarizing Awwal’s Juju, Guns & Roses

In the stead of Juju, Guns & Roses, maybe Owolabi Awwal could have been lenient enough to entitle his anthology Juju, Roses & Guns, to save any readers the stress of discovering the connection between the collection’s title and the entire content that form this reality shed as a piece of poetry. Juju, Guns & Roses is 19 breathless moments of poetic manifestation that symbolically covers the life of an individual before, during and after love/romance. It is even more interesting when the poet leaves a note that says the piece is an autobiography of his experience with three different women.

The somewhat artistic carvings of Owolabi Awwal Olanrewaju is a slice of rainbow with different shades of colours, emotions and plots. The long story told in sequence can be thematically classified into enchantment (juju), exploration (roses) and harm (guns). The poem stretches back to touch a point in the writer’s life when he deemed it fit to consider a relationship. To easily try this out, the poet must consider the allurement that rises from the sight of a woman as a new adult. This is the beginning captured with the Islamic verses of Fathia on The Night an Angel Said “Hello”. A sad boy needs love as prescribed and practiced in the poem.

Love happens so swiftly such that the players do not notice it, what happened in the first poem of the anthology is enough a good signal for the writer to delve unguarded into love. The love-stricken male is soon reeling in the adventures of romance, sex, commitment and the feeling of forever that is inherited in a relationship. Hence, he becomes a shoulder on which the woman cries on, on Lullaby, with the courage he manages to muster on Illusion.

The love progresses beautifully, Facebook or what he calls “the Blue street” becoming the channel through which both lovers must tell the world that they are two peas in a pod. He titles this a Public Display of Affection. Though he admits he is “a boy learning the art of affection,” his expertise at sex painted with Lullaby, sEX Chat, Hoely Pilgrimage and Can I Cum Into Your Life easily betrays that acclamation. He also will not forget the place of consent in any form of sexual intercourse and this unintentionally becomes the overriding message on Can I Cum Into Your Life with the woman’s grant of “the door is wide open”. These are the rosy parts or Roses of the relationship.

Owolabi Awwal Olanrewaju

Sadly, the first crack in the seemingly perceived everlasting relationship would be the apartness from each other recorded with Yellow Card. Yellow Card signifies warning in football. Hence, the weariness of the relationship, as it appears both distant lovers are struggling to save their love from impending “ruins”, is the first omen waking the writer up to a possibility of a future heartbreak. But he rode on aboard the “ship” anyway.

Once A Soldier makes room for nostalgia and reminiscences to a past love experience. It appears the memories of his past relationship is too dearly a souvenir to let go of: he groans assuringly “come what may/this love will never fade”. Therefore, it is no surprise to see the poet engage his ex lover for an erotic chat on the internet on sEX Chat. The poem even overshot the mark with his pursuit of sex with his ex lover. In spite of the impending danger and the insecurities plaguing Nigeria, we are shocked to know Awwal travelled all the way from Lagos to Ibadan or “a city reeking of rusted roofs” all because of sex.

It is however unclear whether the acts of blowjob and doggy recorded on the two poems that follow his travel were all experienced in the same instance. It is also not clear whether the irresponsibility he mentioned he is guilty of on If Semen Could Talk is a caption of the result of his sexual escapades in Ibadan. The writer engaged in unprotected sex and resorted to pill usage to prevent pregnancies. He would also like to think of the outcome of his recklessness if there weren’t a way out in the first place. If semen could talk, he knows his child will be “twice as tall” and “old enough to born a boy” with references to Burna Boy’s Twice As Tall album and the Stand Strong crooner, Davido, as the 001.

Two trips were made in this anthology. The first mentioned on The Road Trip is a visit to the poet’s mother. This poem also captures two moments of sex.

Owolabi Awwal’s Juju, Guns & Roses

The agitation, depression and the feeling of deadness that surround heartbreak is nursed on Telephone Conversation as the writer tries to erase the memories of his past affairs. He must burn whatever memento she left him with, even if such damage control is not effective in his search for healing. Thankfully, as told on If Your Friend Falls In Love, Do Not Say It Is Not Your Business, he has his friend, Dahunsi, to counsel and sail with him at his low. Perhaps, the friend warned him beforehand. As sad as this scene appears, you’ve got to marvel at Awwal’s representation of doom with walking a room in the dark in search of light. Google and Quora play an important role in the persona’s search for healing, though not very effectively.

The hurt lingers with references to Islamiat Bint Abdullah’s sorrowful lines on Awwal’s Our Love Was A Flower That Withered Too Soon. One thing we are left to deal with is the thought of whether or not the writer completely healed as the anthology closes with an allusion to Burna Boy’s Last Last. As we question whether or not he healed and questioned how he eventually healed; the poet too, questions why humans have to take themselves through the messy culture of loving and serving one another “breakfast”.

Rating: 9/10
Sam George Mac is a music journalist known for the reviews of several music albums and songs. He is a singer and songwriter of Afrobeats, Dancehall, Highlife and RnB with the stage name SGM — a graduate of Mass Communication from The West African Union University, Cotonou.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.