Journalist Kuni Tyessi’s Being Twins



In this collection of fifty poems, readers will through lives and experiences that are akin to the humankind.

Kuni Tyessi holds a mirror onto the life of a single woman whose experiences as they connect with those of other women and men, became representational.

Her journalistic, social and academic essays and features of which this collection is an extension, have contributed in creating awareness about some of the social ills that affect women and children.

It is no wonder, therefore, that her poetry searches deeply into gender issues, hoping that through it, the torments of unequal representation, culture, unfavourable policies and other man-made limitations that women are made to bear will one day have lasting solutions.

In a very literal sense, Being Twins, is structured in the tripartite way in which a story is designed, which is also the way human life is supernaturally designed; the cold, slow morning of our lives, which gradually gives way to the hot, vibrant afternoon, which must give way to the limp coolness of the dreaded night which is also the moment of rest. The three parts are entitled ‘Relationships’, ‘Being Twins’, and ‘Mortality’, reminiscent of beginning, middle and an end.

Readers are slowly drawn into the life of a timid woman through her prayer to God for rescue from a relationship in which she has been trapped, and we travel with her through the vagaries of life that is the lot of many women in traditional patriarchal Africa, from girlhood to marriage.

The tragedy of her existence increases as she enters into lonely moments, with tears, insults, rape and backbreaking labour. This moment is best described as the stage of slavery. Even the right to enjoy sex is taken away from her. But wisdom comes with experience, and so, ironically, the third movement entitled ‘Mortality’ launches itself with rhetorical questions; a pointer to the fact, as the poet hopes, that freedom is in the horizon.

There is much more in this deeply probing collection that only a careful and interactive reading can reveal its poetic value as well as its main and numerous sub-meanings.


Reviewer: Professor Dul Johnson

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