About Ajala Omodele
Born in Barbados and raised in Bermuda, Ajala Omodele is an educator, writer, poet and Memory Keeper. He has taught at the primary and middle school level and helped to design and deliver a graduate-level course at York University in Toronto, Canada.
He is the author of Dame Lois: The People’s Advocate, They Called Him ‘Roose’: Pauulu Kamarakafego and the Making of a Bermudian Revolutionary and Look for Me in the Whirlwind: A Story of Marcus Garvey. His upcoming book, A Tale of Two Women: Sally Bassett, Mary Prince and the True Story of Slavery in Bermuda, will be published later this year. While these texts are aimed primarily at younger readers, they also offer adult readers a comprehensive overview of aspects of the story of African people with which they might be unfamiliar.
Ajala’s poetry explores topics as diverse as love, fatherhood, child molestation, gun violence and slavery. His poem, entitled the crossing (aka why I don‘t like tall ships), was selected for inclusion in the 2022 Bermuda Biennial A New Vocabulary: Past. Present. Future. Several of his poems have also been featured in MOKO: Caribbean arts and letters.
Ajala says: “I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t bending words into shapes that best approximated how I experience the world. It’s how I learned to articulate what was beautiful, or violent, or unspeakable. Words gave me my voice, my sight. As I grew older and learned more about myself as an African, I began to use the spoken and written word to make sense of the psychopathic absurdity of racism and our sometimes-dysfunctional reaction to this absurdity, as well as the stubborn resilience of a people still under constant attack.”
He sees the study of African history as both a map and mirror that simultaneously shows us where we have been, where we are and where we can go, while reflecting - at every turn - our limitless capacity for courage, creativity and greatness.
A gifted storyteller and devoted keeper of the Memory of his people who is steeped in the tradition of the jali of West Africa, Ajala enthralls all who attend his public addresses, lectures and tours. He makes no apologies for his unrepentant truth-telling, declaring that he has a moral and spiritual obligation to accurately render the story of our Ancestors, so that their descendants can gain a deeper appreciation for the travails and triumphs of their forbears.
Photo: Nicola Muirhead