Sigh-Length Tales: A Review of Younglan’s A TALE OF HERDSMEN

When Younglan, in the second half of 2019, released a spoken word single titled “a tale of herdsmen” produced by Haskebeats a great relief came in; not that the problem was solved but that the problem has now been captured and given a voice; the hearts of many a concerned person is relieved that it has found a voice to express in better words the state of the heart. 

With great sound and oratorically powerful voice, the Tudun Wada bred prodigy laid bare the filth that is our co-citizen; the piece is wholly a cry to the Supreme One concerning the inhumane killings in the land. There is one voice yet two spirits behind the spoken  poem: the voice is Younglan’s but the spirits are those of a despairing citizen and a hope-filled Christian respectively; the despairing citizen wonders at many things: ranging from the possibility of peace, of life down to irony of humanity’s suicide; with such irony as war for peace and death for life we come in contact with these sad tales, a tale occasioned by godless herdsmen; this despairing citizen continues to enumerate the ills of his society: ethnicism and religionism (the hangmen by which mother humanity kills her children) not to talk of the monster of them all: bad politicians (those fattening us up so as to serve us to the abbatoir of the herdsmen who serve political gains). The tale of herdsmen is no secret for round about us are baskets (streets) holding the heads of slain men and women and children. This citizen whose voice represents all citizens of goodwill shows concern to all affected whether Christian or Muslim, be it Maman Mallo or Mallam Lamido, or those unfortunate to be at the receiving end of mob reactions, a citizen is a citizen and as such deserves justice and peace and security. This fight is not a small one, it is as much for today as it is for posterity, it is for us as for our children; with this citizen, we take the sword so that our children will not have to take it, so even if we too will become victims of this herdsmen we will do so until the change comes. But the citizen knows that this change cannot be a politically engineered one (since the one promised in 2015 has failed us) hence we turn to the one who gave head (life) even to the herdsmen: God in heaven.

The hope-filled Christian collects the baton from the despairing citizen; there is a deep theological interplay in the poem as suggested by the content and tone of the piece. We see a poet who believes in God but has both courage and doubt which amounts to stinging questions: “is the earth a stage for God to watch with his angels?” “Are the gods asleep or deaf?” This is not the type of Judas’ doubt but the courageous seeking if answers such the Virgin Mary asked the angel: “how can this be?” Here is the subtle twist of piece, from an attack on nation to an attack on a religion; such is the indispensability of the religious to man. The poet takes his spirit as a Christian and sends a message to both agent and its sponsor (the herdsmen and the government); with stunning allusions to biblical stories that depict similar calculated extermination of God’s people: from Pharaoh to the Baal regime to Nebudcanezzar; the poet-christian lights up the faith of his brethren as much as he seeks to terrify his foe: “we fear him who can destroy both body and soul…those about us are more than they are…we are servants of him who does deliver but… But here comes the most epic moment of the poem for me, here faith reaches its crescendo: “even if he doesn’t deliver us we will still serve him” in allusion to the three young men persecuted by Nebuchadnezzar.” 

Dear Christian listener, Younglan is saying prophetically that Exodus 14:14 is our hope in this moment of evil but if faith be put to test then let it be sustained by the imitation of Daniel 3:18; hence worship not the fear they spread nor shy away from facing the death brought upon us. This is no blind hope or lame faith, it is a rational faith, hence, we will do our best by fighting, fighting by being careful and vocal (not minding the hate speech talk) but much more so let our fighting, as the body of Christ, be by “prayer and worship with songs” as “we await until the day our Lord Jesus comes”; it is this coming that is the ultimate deliverance for God’s people. Keep calm but strong, he who promise shall return to keep his promise, such is the message of Younglan.

The talking points of this spoken word are nostalgic: from the gory picture of the tales of this herdsmen whose urge is men’s head to the stirring faith of the word artist, from the nationalism in it to the conflict of thought process (questionings dominate the piece). But one serious question that Younglan will have to answer is: “what gods is he referring to who have been slain?” Is it a tribute to African Traditional Religion? If not it holds a conflict for the Christian confession inherent in the piece. It’s hard for a philosophically attentive mind not to glean a subtle attack on islamization and unbalanced Governance (serve their gods) from this poem, an opinion supported by the biblical allusions used.

Underneath everything in the poem, the lesson for me as taught by the narrative of the piece is that: there can be balance in being a Christian and a human, that religion need not conflict with patriotism or human reason. The goal is to be human and still be holy and vice versa.

Tales by moonlight have been replaced by tales of herdsmen, we look forward to the day that this tales of death will be replaced by the light of the Resurrection. Younglan deserves an accolade for this piece, if not for the sweet voice then for the mastery of words, if not for the literary finesse then for the poet’s growth of faith within the plot and the balance of faith and reason.

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About the Author: 

Izang Alexander Haruna: The named writer is from Jos, Plateau State; currently studying Criminology and Security Studies at the National Open University of Nigeria. A Catholic-Christian by religious orientation; literary enthusiast with strength and preference for poetry and reviews. Already published in many local and international journals, magazines, Anthologies, and blogs. Currently working on couple of  self publications. Lives in Jos, Plateau and can be reached at izangalex@gmail.com as well as 07068306307.

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New Horizon Creatives is a caprecon international foundation advocacy and literacy program geared towards solving societal issues through art.

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