Biography

In a bid to cater to the interest of esteemed readers for exemplary individuals I am hot on the heels of figurative personalities and successful individuals across the globe to make them special guests to The Ethiopian Herald Sunday Special Edition’s Success and Art columns. The six star poet on www. poemhunter.com that represents south Africa drew my attention. It took me about 6 months to get him.

Chinedu Dike’s a miss- it-not story falls in the common area of success story and art. So I shall start the interview in success column and take the rest to the art column. I envy you for the palatable story and poems that awaits you. Good read!

The Ethiopian Herald: Would you brief us about your upbringing and educational backdrop?

Chinedu Dike: Chinedu Dike is a Johannesburg-based businessman and freelance writer. A Nigerian by birth, he graduated from University of Nigeria Nsukka with a bachelor of Engineering Electronics in 1997. After the one year compulsory National Youth Service Corps NYSC, during which he taught Mathematics and Physics at Obanliku Community Secondary School Sankwala in Cross River State; he relocated to the Nigerian main economic hub, Lagos, where he lived and worked before moving to South Africa in 2003.

Born forty-seven year ago and raised in Enugu Coal City, South-east Nigeria; Chinedu attended New Haven primary school, and completed his secondary education at College of the Immaculate Conceptions C.I.C Enugu in 1989. As a dedicated student academic excellence was not farfetched. He was a star student throughout his six years in high school.

Endowed with an open mindset Chinedu reflects the qualities of fairness, honesty, and thoughtfulness. He is also a well determined individual who does not hesitate to fight for what he believes in – yet pleasantly calm, friendly and accommodating.

The devout Catholic believes that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God; that Jesus has died, He is risen, and He will come again to judge the living and the dead. Dike understands that the furtherance of universal brotherhood of man ‘good works’ and total submission to the will of God, are the quintessence of the Christian Faith. And that no one can serve God better by becoming ‘less human’.

Herald: What is poetry for you? How did you develop the art for poetry? Could you tell us the ups and downs you faced in inditing poetry? Do you have a role model?

Chinedu: Poetry is a form of literature which portrays life experiences or a phenomenon with lucidity of thought in an imaginative way. Its design is a free flight of creativity on winged imagination. During the course of a poetic creation words are wedded with exquisite skills to create sounds, visionary clarity, and impact – on a complex idea that may be difficult to describe in any other kind of writing.

In poetry words are given wings of emotion to fly high with the human soul and propel the reader to change for the better. A proper perspective, sublime crystallization of purest passions while in mental solitude, and exquisite care in rendition of words to utmost justice, are the indispensable tools for a poetic design. The art is an exclusive preserve of the intricate mind. You must also be passionate about it to get it right.

I have painted on the canvas of the following poem, the essence and intricacies of poetry as an art, or what you may refer to as a scrutiny of the psyche of poetry.



THE POETIC MASTERPIECE

Poetic Masterpiece — A Childbirth Of Profundity.
Like delivery of Divine Revelations 
which favours calmness of wilderness;  
It's brought forth in Creative-Glory-Of-Solitude:  
An abode of Enlightenment in whose mirror of grace,  
purest passions reflect out from shady reality —
To gratify inflamed curiosity of Inward-Eye,  
as it wanders around source of enchantment,  
seeking in expanded awareness to capture
the essence of a phenomenon shrouded in mystery.

In blessed serene mood with passionate intensity,  
mind labours hard to replicate images
unveiled in the exalted realm of thought.
With illuminative wizardry that nudge limits of speech,  
the wordsmith graced with breath of poetic creation 
gives life to words —
Freeing them from rigid implications. 
Soulful words that sway soul of the reader,  
leaving the excited spirit with an enigma to ponder.
Such is the sublime nature of every Poetic Masterpiece. 




Poetry comes from deep recesses of the subconscious mind. I employ the art as a vehicle to drive home my deepest concerns about the human condition to the society. I am not your usual poet. Why do I say this? It is because I took up the sciences in my secondary and tertiary education. I only studied literature in high school as a more interesting option to Economics or Geography – it was compulsory then for every science student to study at least one of the three subjects. I must confess that I found my literature classes by far more interesting than that of my best subject mathematics. It was the only class that I truly looked forward to with much enthusiasm at the time.

I wouldn’t say that I’d consciously developed the art of poetry – perhaps I had done so unknowingly. I recall an incident that took place when I was in form two at high school. My dad had asked me to write to a group my mother was part of, to inform them that due to my youngest brother’s illness, that she would be part of burial arrangements of a diseased member. In an official letter to the group, I ended up writing over half page of a foolscap sheet.

When my dad looked at it, he told me that he was impressed by my use of English. However, he did complain that the letter was too long. In one sentence he summarized my lengthy letter: ‘I could not be part of the funeral arrangements due to my child’s illness.’ The handwriting was beautiful and the encapsulation of thought superb. I copied it out, then folded the original copy and put it inside a pocket of my school bag.

I set about thinking how I could learn to skillfully organize my writings with such economy of words. I concluded that I would begin to pay close attention to rendition of words by popular fiction writers. I was a teenager and reading of James Hadley Chase series was in vogue, I joined the chorus. How I loved his style of writing. Much later I stepped up to more voluminous novels by such authors as, Robert Ludlum, Frederick Forsyth, Jackie Collins, Jeffrey Archer, Harold Robbins, John Gresham, Jacqueline Susan, Sidney Sheldon. There were quite a number of them.

I also read books by some African authors: Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, James Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Cyprian Ekwensi, Flora Nwapa, and Mariama Bâ, Christopher Okigbo, Ola Rotimi, Elechi Amadi, and Camara Laye among other African literary giants; all the time paying attention to their proficiency in English grammaticals.

Reflecting on it now I believe that correction by my dad marked the beginning of my journey as a poet.

I must not fail to mention here that I was an A-student of literature throughout my years in high school. I enjoyed prose and drama but found poetry a hard nut to crack in the beginning. But through hard work I got the hang of it after awhile.

I dropped literature after my secondary education, but continued to read whatever books that captured my interest. In this time I had forgotten about poetry entirely. Not until Dr Nelson Mandela became critically ill in 2013 that I started thinking about the art again. I had suddenly developed a strong desire to tell Mandela’s story in a short poem: A compact and forthright biography of his.

Hitherto I had never tried my hand on any poem whatsoever, but I was willing to give it a go. I pondered over this lofty project of mine for days. Within this period I found the title MANDELA – THE IMMORTAL ICON for the poem. But without a clear perspective on the job, I was unable to make a headway. After a month of what seemed like a strenuous effort in futility, feeling defeated I jettisoned the idea about drafting the poem.

Several weeks after Madiba had passed on in 2014, I felt compelled by an absolute necessity to draft the tribute to the colossal statesman. Mandela’s story is one I had more than a smattering idea about, and it was my utmost wish to create a profound poem with beautiful tone and intellectual context. I put off everything to give the project my best shot. With the freshness and eagerness of great enthusiasm, I set seal to yet to be discovered Creative-Glory-Of-Solitude.

What seemed like a brilliant perspective and an interesting storyline were there alright, the problem became how do I remove the subtle hues on the corners my artistic representation. It was a task made arduous by the fact that I had already opted for a concise verse of 14 lines – which must be embellished with Shakespearean sonnet rhythmic splendor. The aim had been to give the piece a classical look. Working on the poem was a passionate labour that saw me go through a state of intensity and release. I’m very thankful to God for the inspiration.

Do you have a role model? You asked. The answer is yes, I do. My inspirational figure is my dad, Romanus Amandi Dike. I know that l’m a much better person today because he has positively shaped my personality and character. Over the years he had been able to inculcate in us his children the virtues of humility, honesty, patience, and a healthy level of detachment from mundane things.

Here is a God fearing man who forgives so easily without grudges. From him I learnt that forgiveness is an attribute of the strong and not the weak. My father preferred oral correction of his children’s mistakes to flogging or any other form of punitive measures, as was the case in those days.

He always encouraged me to open up to him on any issue that might be troubling me, no matter how personal or inappropriate. I was exposed to good and bad influences, but because of my love for him, it became very important to me that I walked on the windward side of the law. The last thing I wanted was to hurt his feelings. Ever since I can remember my dad has always been there for us. In fact, there are no words that can describe my deep gratitude towards this man of many noble qualities.

Peter Obi is another person I hold in high esteem. Obi is a Nigerian politician of well-known and approved public opinion. Undoubtedly above and beyond the errors of his colleagues and contemporaries, the well groomed administrator with a quiet fortitude enjoys enormous goodwill nationally. A political fortune that is hinged on his sagacity and unimpeachable integrity.

The Harvard trained former Governor of Anambra State, Nigeria, whose stewardship in the face of substantial economic, fiscal and structural challenges in his State, was nothing short of excellent; not only does his success serve as an eloquent reminder of the values of hardwork, transparency, and accountability; it also reinforces the belief that with great skill, an ingenious composer could make music from even the most discordant tunes.

The Ethiopian Herald Sunday Edition 29 December 2019

By ALEM HAILU

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