Isee by Ndukwe Onuoha
As we gradually get back to the steady rhythm of life before COVID put our communities on pause, this poem serves as an everyday prayer to help us connect not just the divine within us, but the humanity in each other.
“Isee” is an Igbo word that, roughly translated, means “amen”.
Prominent in the illustration that accompanies this poem are Nsibidi symbols – a now mostly-forgotten system of writing indigenous to some communities in the South-East and South-South regions of present-day Nigeria. These symbols represent ideas rather than words, so are easy to understand despite one’s native language. This is a nod to the fact that once you remove all the artificial boundaries, we are one humanity.
I hope you enjoy this poem and that the message therein becomes a part of your daily philosophy.
Ndukwe Onuoha is a Derby-based Nigerian Spoken Word Poet and advertising Creative Director. He has performed on stages across different countries, and tells everyday stories with his writing. His latest Spoken Word album, Nwachukwu, is a celebration of his Igbo heritage, and can be found on your favourite music platform.
Olu Jbanj is a digital artist with skills in motion graphics/ animation, illustration and graphics design based in Lagos, Nigeria. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Visual Arts from the University of Lagos.
Chris Barker is co-founder of The Smallprint Company letterpress studio, and a skilled operator of the presses in the studio. Chris has a BA (Hons) in Fine Art and over 25 years experience in the commercial print trade.
Hannah Barker is co-founder of The Smallprint Company and has a BA (Hons) in Fine Art. Hannah was commissioned to translate Olu’s artwork into a linocut to accompany Ndukwe’s poem.
Isee has been produced as an illustrated print for a collaborative commission between The Smallprint Co. and Ndukwe Onuoha. Taking an illustration by Olu Jbanj, Hannah has carved a lino cut to sit alongside Ndukwe’s poem which has been typeset and printed by Chris. As a bonus, with every print purchased, you receive a link to hear Ndukwe perform the poem to music, produced by Toye Aru.