The Researcher’s Groping Around For Who A Poet Is

A Synopsis of

The Researcher’s Groping Around For Who A Poet Is

The …

Inaugural Lecture

Delivered on Thursday Wednesday 30th  June, 2021 


Abdullahi Bayero Yahya
Professor of Hausa Studies (Poetry)
Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto
Department of Nigerian Languages

Email: bagidadenlema2@gmail.com 


Students of poetry know very well that the study of their field is never absolute. Indeed, knowledge as a whole can never be fathomed completely. Hence, their teachers have times without number emphasized that no single scholar’s opinion on a composition is final since knowledge itself is infinite. In fact, this must be the ground upon which the initiators of the lecture of this nature call it, “The Inaugural Lecture”, to remind the boastful professor that the search for knowledge has just begun on his attainment of such a rank!

The History Behind This Lecture

The writer of this Inaugural Lecture has for a long time been trying to make a selection from the myriad of topics that had filled his brain upon which the lecture he should write the paper. There was the urge to try one’s hand on the conspiracy between the Western world and rulers of the developing countries. What a fertile area to expose the double standards of the West in world politics! On discarding this thought the writer was beckoned by the same mind to consider writing on the question, why must the West and United States insist that the wealthy-poor-developing nations should practice democracy, democracy alone and not for a moment study, try or taste any other form of government? Democracy, the convenient creed of the West!! Close at home, a floating idea comes to mind to write on the history of Usmanu [anfodiyo University, Sokoto, extolling those who brought glory to it. Yes, and mentioning those around these exemplary leaders who presented themselves as holier-than-thou, who were boot-lickers and destroyers. Then the burning desire would arise to conduct a research on two questions: How many books written by Shehu Usmanu ]an Fodiyo and his contemporaries are studied today in the primary and secondary schools of Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara states? Is the history of these great people studied in these schools of the three states? This writer has for years been yearning to compose a poem that would motivate students to invent scientific and technological machines that require no raw materials from outside Nigeria. The opening stanzas of this poem would dwell on the writer’s brooding on his inability to study Science. He entertained the idea that this poem would have been his Inaugural Lecture wherein he would have presented how to make his new weapon which would make every other weapon, conventional or WMD dysfunctional without its permission – its button!!!

It was while the head of this writer was getting to the brim that two students of his (now his able colleagues in every respect) halted these musings and declared: O! our dear teacher, we desire nothing other than you to explain to us in your Inaugural Lecture which you have not presented yet, who a poet is!!

Upon hearing this, the writer immediately recalled a stanza from a poem he composed as a farewell to them at the completion of their undergraduate studies. He had no choice but to oblige. They wanted to demonstrate their obedience to their teacher’s command contained in the stanza: that they should challenge and correct his papers and books. Hence the subject of this lecture the choice of which was made by my beloved students, who are today scholars of no mean repute.  They are Professor A.M. Bunza and Dr. Ibrahim SS Abdullahi!!! In order to respond to their challenge this lecture is divided into the following segments:

·                       Definition of poetry and outlying the features of poetry.

·                       Describing who the poet is.

·                       The lecturer’s humble mite in the study of poetry.

·                       A mention of those who influenced the lecturer in poetry.

It is to be noted that the views expressed in this lecture refer to Hausa poetry.

Meaning of Poetry

Poetry is the smithy of the poet. It is the place where the poet moulds words to produce an artistic jewellery, shining linguistically and socially.

In an academic study of it, poetry may be defined as a patterned speech of wisdom on a subject/theme embodying a selected set of words measured so that the speech can not only be read but also sung.

It has several characteristics which include the following:

Ø    It is a discourse between hearts which is also influenced by reason.

Ø    It involves a selection of words which comes to the poet almost unconsciously.

Ø    These words, with regards to their syllabic nature, are also unconsciously arranged to produce melody when uttered.

Ø    It has a theme.

Ø    It uses language stylistically for both aesthetic and semantic qualities.

Who the Poet is

A poet is a wordsmith. He possesses the ability to create embroidery of speech using his coloured words. Succinctly put the characteristics of a poet may be the following:

·                     A poet is born -  A poet’s ability to compose is innate not acquired. This ability needs only to be stimulated. In fact, a poet might not initially be aware that he possesses the ability until when it is stimulated. Some people argue that one can learn how to create a piece of poetry through association, pointing out as their basis that children or members of the chorus (using oral poetry) being able to compose after a long association performing with their leader. This is not plausible for the simple reason that not all members of the said group turn out to be poets. If this is the case, the only tangible reason why one or two members of the group turn out to be poets, not all, is this: that innate ability to compose has always been in the one or two members of the group waiting for the right stimulus which is in this case long association with the poet.

·                     A poet controls language not vice versa. This is due to the innateness of his ability to compose poetry. The words and aesthetics of poetry come to him in a way that even he cannot  fully explain.

·                     Words, to the poet, are not lifeless. To him words are felt, heard (with ears and heart/mind), tasted and even smelt.

·                     The poet creates words of wisdom such as idioms, proverbs and philosophical adages.

·                     A poet is the teacher of the society.

Lecturer’s  Humble Mite Over the Years

It is this writer’s view that the study of poetry is an exciting fathomless ocean. This being so, a call is in order to the students of poetry that they should not be contented with the trodden path. Rather, they should go into its study with open eyes and mind, or if need be, take ‘the road not taken’, as Robert Frost would say in his poem of same title. In this way, they would perchance discover many things not known before, and therefore make a lot difference!

The teachings of eminent scholars of Hausa Scholars were the greatest luck in the study of poetry that this writer had come across. These scholars are Professors M.K.M. Galadanci, [alhatu Muhammad and Abdul}adir [angambo. They imbibed in him love of poetry, patriotism of Hausa language, zeal to explore Hausa poetry and struggle to promote the language.

The influence of these scholars and the writer’s  love to emulate them led him to make some humble contributions on Hausa poetry few of which are stated below:

·                     Poetic jargon/register.

·                     Study of style in Hausa poetry.

·                     Influence of his academic endeavours.

·                     Insistence and success in making teaching Hausa in Hausa in his Department.

·                     Initiating the teaching of Research Methodology in Hausa Language in the Department of Nigerian Languages of the University.

·                     Expanding the sphere of dissemination of knowledge in Hausa through writing of articles and books in Hausa and creation of a journal with its medium as Hausa named ZAUREN WA{A 

Mention of those who influenced the lecturer in the study of Hausa poetry

As a child this lecturer was influenced by his parents. He was subsequently influenced in one way or the other by the following:

Teachers who imbibed interest in poetry into the lecturer

*                  At Primary School Level


1.                  Malam Muhammadu Kwalkwali

2.                  Malam Abdurrahman Okene

3.                  Mr. Olayinka


*                  At Secondary School Level

1.                  Malam Idi Ka’oje

2.                  Mr. Richard Alexandra Ross


*                  At Tertiary Level (Advanced Teachers’ College, Sokoto, now Shehu Shagari College of Education)


1.                  Mr. Williams

Teachers who influenced the Lecturer in the Study of Poetry


*                  At University Level

Ø    Professor M.K.M. Galadanci – Insightful and In-depth Study of Hausa      Poetry.

Ø    Professor [alhatu Muhammad – Explorative and Creative Study of Hausa   Poetry.

Ø    Professor Abdul}adir [angambo – Study of Style in Hausa Poetry.

Ø    Professor Mervyn Hiskett – In-depth Study of Hausa Poetry.

Students who motivated the Lecturer most

1.                  1972 Primary II Pupils of Town Primary School Kware. They imbibed in the lecturer the urge to study how to teach using poetry.

2.                  Government Secondary School, Anka students of classes 1, 3, 4 and 5 of 1975, 1976 and1982.

3.                  Undergraduates of Usmanu [anfodiyo University, Sokoto in the Department of Nigerian Languages, for the academic sessions 1987/1988, 1991/1992, 1992/1993, 1993/1994 and 1994/1995.

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