My salutation to a rare gem, Maya Angelou!


May 28th 2014, the world lost a gem, a very rare one. But because I personally found my joy of writing in that rare gem, I have come to accept that, she’s not gone forever! In my heart and many other people who have come to value her worth of spoken and written words, her legacy lives on, her once crowded and dark cupboard with crooked legs, is now that priceless remedy, that soothing balm that heals and inspires, those expressive words: very deep, precise, real, cutting, profound, rooted and yearning. Even the most timid person can relate to her past, embrace her juicy livelihood and rise with her into the future.

Sometime ago while I was still in the University of Port Harcourt, studying English! For a presentation we were required to write an autobiography on a famous woman of our choice. Well, a non-existing one, I’d quickly picked Evita Peron and Lady Diana. Even though I wanted badly to write on Maya, but very well she was still very much existing, and her wellbeing was priority. And I remember, when I informed the lecturer then (Professor Helen Chukwuma, fondly known as ‘Madame” – currently a full Professor of English in Jackson State University, Mississippi, USA) and she’d smiled and urged me to go ahead with Evita instead. Her words were: “We all still need Maya alive” That was 18 years ago.

I read ‘I know why the caged bird sings” and was blown away by her deep expressive utterances of a broken past, that’s been written in such a way that allows the reader to travel back in time into their own childhood and feel the joy and pain mixed with reconciliation. A heavy pang of illusion overwhelmed me, and I just had to go back to the beginning to read it again – this time, capturing every alluring moment – till I got to the last paragraph: “She turned out the light and I patted my son’s body lightly and went back to sleep”. Compelling, captivating and easily approachable!

My favorite of her poems, Still I Rise! I know has really helped a lot of people going through some kind of difficult transition with life. We’d used this poem as a theme during shelter visitation with abused teenagers, for women going through counseling for some kind of battery or addiction and also during a group discussion to help boost self-esteem and self- confidence.

She will be greatly missed and has done her calling above and beyond with her strength and words that we shall never forget, there’s no pomp and pageantry about her, even without meeting her in person, you automatically connect with her personality, her words build and create freedom in breaking down barriers with whatever storms there may be. She has given herself as an example of a crushed seed, but not a destroyed sprout. She’s grown out of it by using her God given talent of “talking freely” to help inspire others. Her past is her testimony, her life’s work, a legacy for us all, and a force of humanity.

Today, I am encouraging someone to look beyond whatever bitter, twisted lies or dirt that has been written down about them in history, But still, like dust, “To Rise”

Just like moons and like suns, with the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still to get up and… Rise.

May God Help us all

18 thoughts on “My salutation to a rare gem, Maya Angelou!

  1. I am liking this seriously Yinka!! I particularly connected to her poem, phenomenal woman, it does not exhibit the fake and unreasonable deeds of a woman, but rather the cross every real woman has carried, the pain, the past and the challenges of what makes a lady a woman of history. It simply explain that, no matter what you think of me, as a woman, I have a past, it is my property, I am real, I have been bruised, but I am still standing tall. And that’s what makes me special and phenomenon. Great write up sis!!
    IBK London.


    • Yes IBK, our past is our property, Maya’s past is her property carried with grace that has been a remedy for all. I like that poem too, must have read it over and over, in fact edited it to soothe myself. lol. Thanks love. Looking forward…;)


  2. Maya Angelou was such an inspiration to women. I first heard her share about her childhood and everything she had to overcome and I was so intrigued by her that I went ahead and ordered all her autobiographies and some of her books from

    She was so wise, intelligent and gifted, teaching us that no matter what our circumstances are or what we came from, or what our past was…we can make something out of our lives. we can be great not just good. I watched Oprah’s conversations with her and I was so jealous, why did I not have her as mentor?……..

    Two of my favorite mantras to live by which, I adopted from her are : although the first one is from the bible Acts 17:28..

    She said one thing is definitely for sure… when she runs into any kind of trouble, she always quotes… In him I live, in him I move and in him I have my being, and peace always comes. I
    can definitely attest to that.

    If you don’t like something, change it, and if you can’t change it , change your attitude, I carry this in my heart every time.” Let the church say Amen to this one…”

    Thank you Yinka, for a nice tribute to a great woman, a true Legend.


    • Very well said Miggie! I LIKE!!! lol.

      “If you don’t like something change it, if you cannot, then change your attitude!

      A lot of women still carry baggage of past events with them, hindering their way to a new tomorrow, or still hold on to hurts of the past – things that cannot be changed – anymore, instead we should focus on the only thing we can change, our attitude towards that setback!

      Maya’s attitude about the world (what she’s been through etc.) did not stop her from embracing the goodness ahead of her – she couldn’t change what’s been opposed on her, but she’s changed her attitude towards the world by standing out – to talk about it – and help prevent any form of oppression (mentally, emotionally, physically and sexually).
      Honestly, was hoping to meet up with her too sometime…:(
      Anyway – we are still here to carry on with her work.
      Let’s do it!


  3. Yinka, I LIKE. I mean who else in this world gives out 5 literature books as birthday present, and is constantly reminding the birthday person to hurry up and read the books? ?? Yinka! ! Lol.
    So glad you wrote this, was actually waiting to remind you to, lol.
    She will surely be missed, but her legacy lives on, a reminder for us to still rise and move forward with the best life has for us, no matter what we’ve been through. RIP Maya!


    • Obi! – am ordering more books your way!! lol.
      Yes her legacy lives on, and may God help us all as we decide to Rise above all that’s crowding our minds!


  4. She’s indeed a national treasure, her last statement on social media was ‘listen to yourself and in that quietude, you might hear God’ a great message for us all. Good salute Antonia. God bless.
    Stella Fields.


  5. Yinka, ah, you bring back good memories of madame class, Offrima campus!! I remember that presentation very well, we were to wear our best to her class, no jeans, no bags, only formal wear, lol. See guys in tie and suits, lol. Probably the only time you and your crew wore skirt suits on campus, lol. we had to come out individually to do public speaking on our topic, waoh, good memories Yinka. I know madame reminds me of Maya, her passion for spoken words, good writing Yinka. Sure she’s proud of you, and also Dr. Alo, remember him? English syntax and construction, loool. All still waiting for you, remain blessed my sister.
    Chineme. A.


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