Peter Wuteh Vakunta. PARADISE OF IDIOTS. Bloomington. AuthorHouse. 2010. 84 pp.Cloth $15.99. ISBN 978-1452008017
Poetry has the potential to be both therapeutic and cathartic, allowing poets to wade through ontological meanders in their lives; to find answers to nagging questions of the moment; seek clarity in the midst of obscurantism; comfort and solace in troubled times; peace and tranquility in a world gone haywire. Versification provides a vehicle for the transportation of diverse attitudes, frames of mind, and fresh insights. Paradise of Idiots accomplishes these feats. The poet speaks in a confident tone of apocalyptic utterances: advising, warning, denouncing, protesting, and chiding. This long poem harbors the twin virtues of germaneness and clarity of diction. The poet willfully eschews the irksome ineloquence and syntactic sophistry characteristic of traditional poets. He dialogues with the reader like our traditional guardians of the word, the griots, did in a bygone time. Passion, energy, and cutting irony are the hallmarks of this didactic book.
PARADISE OF IDIOTS is one more expression of Africa's disaster and dilemma. The long poem chronicles the "dance macabre in the putrefaction" by "metamorphosed nitwits" feeding "feces to the poor". Vakunta's words flow feverishly in a harsh, harrowing rhythm, like blood gushing out of the bodies of innocent victims of Africa's reprehensible dictators. Cameroon is the particular site of the tragedy, but it could be Kenya, or Somalia, or Sudan... The poem's ending is ambivalently problematic: flight to Western paradise of peace and plenty, or a disheartening and defeatist escape into a wasteland of exile? Personal triumph or communal tragedy? Either way, Africa is the loser. [Dr. Femi Ojo-Ade, Professor Emeritus of French & History, St. Mary's College of Maryland, USA]