Sọ̀rọ̀sókè: An #Endsars Anthology, edited by Jumoke Verissimo and James Yéku, was published on February 7, 2022. The anthology features poems that memorialize the #EndSARS movement. It also features a brilliant cast of 32 poets, among which are established and new voices like Gbenga Adeoba, Biodun Bello, Yejide Kilanko, Tayo Bello, Rasaq Malik, Uchechukwu Umezurike, Soji Cole, and Kola Tubosun.
In October 2020, Nigerians took to the streets to protest police brutality. The target of the protest was the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a police force unit that had been accused of subjecting Nigerians to unlawful arrests, murder, harassment, and torture. At the time of the protests, which took place in Nigerian cities and around the world, Verissimo and Yéku invited poets to reflect on the situation. The poems were published on Brittle Paper and formed a collection that served as “a real-time repository of poetic thoughts on the protests against police brutality that took place both online and in numerous Nigerian locations.” This anthology comes from that initial attempt to digitally archive the poetic responses to the urgency of the moment. With the anthology, the poems take on a new life in book format—both ebook and print.
The two editors are both poets and academics. Verissimo is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Alberta, and Yéku is a University of Kansas Assistant Professor of African Digital Humanities. Yéku explains that the anthology continues the initial impulse of demanding the end of systemic oppression:
It is important to articulate what motivates our project as poets. In the direct contexts of #EndSARS, we write to archive the self and preserve the memories of the fallen. The poets in our anthology trenchantly demonstrate the power of poetic justice to demand real change and liberation from the shackles of tyranny. This is why we write.
Congrats to Verissimo, Yéku, and all the contributors for creating this much needed work that honors those who died from SARS violence and remembers their legacy. The anthology also makes space for these poems to have a new life, find new audiences, and circulate in ways that make them more impactful.
Copies of Sọ̀rọ̀sókè are available on Amazon and across bookshops in Nigeria. Profits from copies sold will be donated to charities that promote the objectives of the #endSars project.