A Review of Ebidenyefa Tarila-Nikade's "The Other Room" By Nathaniel Okeke




A Review of Ebidenyefa Tarila-Nikade's "The Other Room"


Nathaniel Okeke


Title of the collection: "The Other Room"

Poet: Ebidenyefa Tarila-Nikafe

Publishers: ACCWS'PH MEDIA, Port Hacourt.

Number of pages: 137 pages (preliminary pages inclusive)

Number of poems in the collection: Eighty-five poems

Subdivisions: Five parts

Reviewer: Nathaniel Okeke


In The Other Room, Ebidenyefa Tarila-Nikade delivers a powerful and thought-provoking collection of poetry that delves into various sociopolitical, relationship and gender-based issues. Divided into five parts and consisting of eighty-five distinct poems, this collection spans across 137 pages, including preliminary pages and the blurb. The title of the collection is eponymous, taken from the first poem within the book, referencing a phrase used by former Nigerian President, Retired Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, in which he stated that his wife belongs to his kitchen, his living room and 'the other room.' In his words, ''I don't know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen, my living room and za-ho-za room.''


The introduction, written by EverObi, author of Some Angels Don't See God, sets the stage for the themes and emotions explored throughout the collection. With an erratic quality, the poems touch on a wide range of issues, with a particular emphasis on gender-based topics and socio-political topics within Nigeria.


In the initial poem, "The Other Room," Tarila-Nikade creatively juxtaposes the birth of male and female children, highlighting the stark contrast in societal reactions.


The birth of a son brought the assurance of a legacy

                   Like a pledge to uphold the name and fame,and fortune

A hero to emerge from the battlefields of life

A frenzied assembly gathered in atmospheric electricity

                    Ululations rose,like a cyclone,fierce and energetic

The bride price value is proven, and the celebration is unending

But a solemn song filled the air with tranquillity when a daughter was born.

Drumbeats ceased, and a forlorn assembly gathered

                   Lamentations began to blossom,marking her a burden


The arrival of a son is met with joy, representing the promise of continuing the family name, fame, and fortune. On the other hand, the birth of a daughter is met with sorrow, as the poet paints a somber picture of a forlorn assembly and lamentations, labeling the daughter a burden and decreeing that "she belongs to the other room." However, the poet challenges this notion and declares that women belong in every room of the house, carrying with them an inherent strength and influence. By envisioning a world without women in any room, Tarila-Nikade underscores the essential role of women in every aspect of life.


In "The Other Man", a short but rich poem following "The Other Room", Tarila-Nikade proves her mastery of human relationships. She paints a vivid picture of what a man can do to another man in human relationships and love affairs. So, "The Other Man" is a short, concise poem that explores the complexities of love, desire, and the fear of being replaced by someone new. The poet uses vivid language to convey the emotions and thoughts of an individual who is grappling with the presence of the "other man" in their life.



You know that man; 

The other man who is the other man’s nightmare

Whose lewd tongue and husky voice speak bold invitations

And gives shivers coldly whenever he calls a greeting

                  And with his words,he leaves the other man lost for words

Pressing to outdo the other man’s patterns

As the other man becomes a stranger

She prays that the other man won’t cherish the love the

other failed to treasure

May the confusing cuddles and passionate

embrace stirring up unbridled lust

Not be rekindled by the other man’s face

And may the other man not become the stranger

Once familiar but now unknown,a ghostly burst



The poem begins with a statement that assumes the reader's familiarity with the man being referred to "You know that man...." This suggests a shared understanding and a common experience, creating a sense of intimacy between the reader and the narrator. The "other man" is portrayed as someone menacing, someone who provokes fear and discomfort in the narrator. The description of his "lewd tongue" and "husky voice" - the use of the phrase "lost for words" implies that the other man's words have a profound impact on the narrator. They are impressed by his ability to outdo the patterns and gestures of the first man, which suggests a sense of competition and insecurity. This insecurity is further emphasized by the mention of the other man becoming a stranger, implying the potential for losing the love that was once cherished.


The narrator's prayer reflects their fear of history repeating itself. They hope that the passionate and lustful encounters that were once shared with the first man will not be rekindled by the other man. The use of "confusing cuddles" suggests a disorientation caused by the presence of the other man and the mixed emotions that arise from their encounters. The fear of the other man becoming a stranger, a ghostly burst, highlights the narrator's anxiety about the potential loss of intimacy and connection. The poem concludes with a simple, one-word plea: "Amen!" This word carries a heavy weight, encapsulating the narrator's desperate appeal for the situation to remain stable and for their fears to be alleviated. It reinforces the intensity of their emotions and the vulnerability they feel in the face of the other man's presence.


Overall, "The Other Man" delves into the complex realm of human relationships and shines a light on the insecurities, fears, and desires that can arise when confronted with the presence of a potential rival. The poet's use of evocative language and concise imagery allows the reader to experience the narrator's emotional journey firsthand, creating a poignant and relatable exploration of the human condition.


Throughout the collection, Tarila-Nikade explores a diverse array of subjects, including womanhood, Pan-Africanism, love affairs, politics, poverty, and ecological conditions. The poet does an exceptional job of capturing the nuances and complexities of these themes, weaving together vivid imagery, powerful metaphors, and emotional depth. Each poem resonates with authenticity and invites readers to reflect on their own experiences, beliefs, and societal structures.


In "Reeked of Indolence," - part one, the poet paints a vivid picture of a secret room filled with longing and regret, capturing the bittersweet nature of temporary pleasures. "Rage of a Beast" in part two delves into the violation of the speaker's body and the lasting impact of that trauma, conveying a sense of anger and powerlessness. From part three, "Solace" offers a sense of acceptance and hope for the future, emphasizing the importance of courage and resilience in the face of heartache. Overall, these poems showcase Tarila-Nikade's ability to capture complex emotions and experiences with raw and unflinching honesty.


From part four, the poem "Life" reflects on the challenges and disappointments that come with the pursuit of happiness and fulfillment in life. The speaker questions why the things we desire often elude us and why the reality of life never seems to measure up to our expectations.


...Fighting the forces of fate

May lead us to a path we hate

Better to let go to trust and see

What wonders life may have in store for us 


Despite the struggles and disappointments, the poem ultimately suggests that letting go of fear and trusting in the mysteries of life may lead to unexpected wonders and opportunities.


From part five, "Convoluted Hope" delves into the political and societal issues plaguing Nigeria, particularly the disillusionment and disenfranchisement felt by the people. The poem uses political references and wordplay to convey a sense of betrayal and disappointment in the nation's leadership and the state of the country. The excerpt below is deeply drawn from three major cliche that were predominantly used by some political faithfuls during the 2023 presidential election in Nigeria. Such words as Batified, Obidients and Atikulated are put in proper perspective by the poet to achieve some levels of political references.


The Batified and the Obidients mesmerised the Atikulated

When we sought to elect, a selection debated

Nigeria is not a place to hold fast to your dreams

Not when bespectacled Yakubu schemes

Propounding,and propagating an emilokanised franchise

Disenfranchising many with duplicitous lies

Compelling contemporaries to a blundered emergence

The Drums are silent, and a dirge is sung in exclusion...


The poem also touches on the concept of seeking hope and a better future elsewhere, as the diaspora becomes a symbol of the loss of hope in the nation's dream.


One notable aspect of Tarila-Nikade's poetry is the compelling use of language and poetic devices. The poet's command of words enables them to evoke strong emotions and create vivid imagery. The collection showcases a mastery of various poetic forms and styles, including free verse, rhyme, and rhythm. This variety keeps the collection engaging and ensures that each poem feels fresh and distinct.


The Other Room also places a strong emphasis on social commentary and activism. Through their poetry, Tarila-Nikade sheds light on marginalized voices and advocates for the empowerment and equality of women. Furthermore, the poet's exploration of other socio-political issues acts as a call to action, urging readers to question and challenge oppressive systems and injustices. This collection serves as a testament to the power of literature to provoke change and incite meaningful dialogue.


In conclusion, The Other Room is a powerful and impactful poetry collection that addresses a wide range of social and gender-based issues. Ebidenyefa Tarila-Nikade's skilled use of language, poignant imagery, and diverse themes make for a compelling read. This collection forces readers to confront societal norms and expectations, while also celebrating the strength and resilience of women. "The Other Room" is a testament to the transformative power of poetry and a call to action for a more inclusive and egalitarian society.

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