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Posted in POETRY, POETRY FROM THE WORLD

AT THE LAST MOMENT (a poem for the moment) by Su’eddie Vershima Agema

_________________________

at the last moment
(we would find the warmth)
_________________________

 

 

tormenting tides would wane
the storms shall cease
the floods finally fade
our rainbow would spread…
however sleep fared
life’s dream would kiss you

as the rays bless more
wake to stimulating smiles
come to the hearth then
the ghost would have found fires
and the spirit would’ve warmed our homes
no holes then dear, we would have a long lasting laugh. amen.

Courtesy: http://kissmybroccoliblog.com
Courtesy: http://kissmybroccoliblog.com

(From Home Equals Holes: Tale of an Exile – Joint Winner Association of Nigerian Authors Poetry Prize 2014)

 No matter where you are, hang on to hope, smile. In our deepest despair, the bleakest night, there come’s a light to repair it all and make it worth the wait. Have faith. Merry Christmas guys- and lovely ladies. SVA

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Posted in BOOK THOUGHTS, BOOKS, RAMBLES, REVIEWS

HOW TO BE A NIGERIAN WRITER by Elnathan John

You know the value of books. The process of making them intrigues you. You want your name on the front cover of a book and, like an earthworm inches through dirt into the ground, you want to make your way into people’s homes, heads and hearts. I am here to help you achieve that.

 

First, you must look the part. It is important to look like an African writer. Find multi-coloured kampala fabric and use it to sew shirts which you’ll wear to all writers’ events. Or an old t-shirt. You shouldn’t look like a model or banker. Your precious time is spent thinking of plot and theme and words, not on dress and grooming. Your hair needs to be unkempt. However, nothing says authentic-tortured-African-writer like dreadlocks. Please, note that in Nigeria there is a difference between dreadlocks and ‘dada’. Dada is less refined, naturally matted coils of hair due to superstitious neglect. Dada is uncool. Dreadlocks are deliberate. They are cool. They make you look wildly creative. If someone asks; no, you are not a Rastafarian. You are an African writer.

As a writer, you must flaunt your vices. You need to show that you are a flawed character. If you drink, drink too much. If you smoke, do it at inappropriate times. Show up at an event reeking of booze. People will understand. Vices are a tool of the trade.

Now, you have the basic tools: a multi-coloured kampala shirt, cool dreadlocks, and vices. You must set about the business of writing.

You do not need to read a lot to be a Nigerian writer. In fact, as a Nigerian writer you can make shameless statements like “I don’t really read much”, in public. All you need is a burning desire to write. It is sufficient to have read Shakespeare and Achebe, and maybe a little of Chimamanda Adichie for contemporary reading. The only thing you need to really study is a dictionary or thesaurus.

Please, note that all Nigerian characters are Africans who act the same: children are respectful of elders; parents are always responsible, wise individuals teaching children valuable lessons of life. Characters do not use cuss words or talk about sex, even when in the company of peers. Nobody’s mother smokes and we have no homosexuals in Nigeria.

Use big words instead of small words; ‘Discombobulate’ instead of ‘confuse’. How can you write like a layman when you are an African writer? It doesn’t matter how many people read or understand you. What matters is that you impress those who do.

Use many words. It is always better to err on the side of verbosity than to err on the side of brevity.

Protect your work fiercely and always insist that people give you constructive criticism. Anyone who points out, rightly or otherwise, that your writing isn’t quite there yet, is evil and an enemy of your hustle. You must believe that there is nothing like bad writing. After all, you were inspired by the spirits before you began writing – what do critics know?

Do not waste your time or money on editors. Editors are failed writers whose life ambition is to frustrate the hustle of real writers like you. Show your friends your work. But only the ones who are not jealous of your hustle, and who remind you that your writing is the best thing since point-and-kill. Find some popular person from your village who will write you a foreword without actually reading your book. Then, go to press.

Go to Ibadan or Lagos. Find a cheap printer who can print 1,000 copies without ink smearing on the pages coming out lopsided. Arrange for a transporter to bring your book home.

A book is not complete without a book launch. In Nigeria, a book launch is a fund-raising ceremony. It is not important to have writers at this event. Well, maybe the book reviewer. You need your state governor (who may not come but will send a representative with a cheque or a pledge); your Local Government chairman; your Pastor or Imam to bless the event; and any minister, senator or rich person that you know. It is important to find a Chief Launcher who will encourage others to donate to your hustle. Do not leave it to chance or the discretion of the Chief Launcher, unless you are sure of his capabilities. In Nigeria, nobody is allowed to embarrass the Chief Launcher by giving more money. So, if you can, gently hint that you know he will set the bar high for others to follow. That is the job of the Chief Launcher – setting the bar as high as possible.

You do not need a marketer, publicist or publisher. These people eat into your profit margin. If you have a car, carry a few hundred copies in the trunk at all times. Be your own marketer. Steer conversation toward your book and tell them you have written this really cool book. Someone will ask for it and you will tell them to hold on for a minute while you get it from your car. If you don’t have a car, have a big bag that can carry at least 10 copies. Do not be ashamed to carry your books to public gatherings. Book by book, God blessing your hustle, you may end up selling off the 1,000 copies your printer produced, and maybe even go for a reprint.

Get an award. It doesn’t matter what. It may be from your church bulletin which you have been writing for since you were in secondary school or your old boy’s association newsletter. You can even have friends get together to organise and award you the ‘Roforofo Prize for African Fiction’. Then, you can have on your book, ‘Award Winning Author’. No need to state what award it is. An award-winning writer is a good writer.

It is my hope that you make it as a writer and have many successful books in the market. And with well organised book launchings, you can be sure that God will bless your hustle.

 

 

ElNathan John is a satirist and award winning author of the novel, Born on a Tuesday. He blogs at http://elnathanjohn.blogspot.com/ … Follow his tweets at @elnathan

el jo

He is the creator of the Nigerian ‘How to series…’ Google it! You might also want to check:

How to worship the Nigerian God

Damn You – Letter to Nigerian Literature and all involved

How to show Nigerian love

http://dailytimes.com.ng/opinion/how-be-nigerian-mechanic

Posted in COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, EVENTS

LITERARY HAPPENINGS IN ABUJA AND MAKURDI FOR WEEKEND 9th FEBRUARY 2018

Are you in Abuja or Makurdi this weekend? Then you are in luck! Here are details of four great events happening in these towns.
If you are in Makurdi today, please join us for a SEVHAGE & OYALEWA Book Club Special Reading session – spoken word and other performances at
Venue: The Basement, Twin Theatre Complex, Benue State University, Makurdi.
Time: 4pm
There will be light refreshments.
Ticket: Free
 
RSVP: Call Oko Owi Ocho Afrika on 0703 028 5995
 
NSW8
Night of Spoken Word 8 with Dike Chukwumerije ‘Let’s be Honest’
If you are in Abuja, you can join Dike Chukwumerije and Tonton Nelson Raymond, amongst other great acts, for NSW8 Special Valentine Edition tagged ‘Let’s Be Honest’ It is one of the premier Spoken Word events in Naija
Venue: Merit House, Maitama, Abuja
Time: 7pm
Ticket: N5,000
RSVP: 0812 388 7996
 
leadingReporters-Bash
If you are in Abuja, you can also join the Abuja Literary Society for its lovely Book of the Month reading featuring the fabulous Basiru ‘Bash’ Amuneni’s ‘There’s A Lunatic in Every Town’ [published by SEVHAGE]. Bash is one of Naija’s finest spoken word artistes and his book puts to print some of his fine acts.
Venue: Salamander Cafe, 5 Bujumbura Street, Wuse 2, Abuja
Time: 7pm
Ticket: Free
RSVP: 0706 882 6622
 
 
On Sunday, and every Sunday of the month except the last one, the Abuja Writers’ Forum led by President Emman Shehu meet for a quality critique session. It features bamn people like Mike Ekunno, Kabura Zakama, Olumide Olaniyan, Amina Aboje, Didi Nwala, Lois Otse Adams-Osigbemhe, Lois among other incredible people. You can get honest feedback on any material you want. And you are in luck, they meet next tomorrow 11th February, 2018 and on the 18th. (Every last Saturday of the Month is Guest Writers’ Session where notable writers are featured to a book session at Nanet Suites)
Venue: Sam’s Vally Garden, opp Hamdala Plaza, Jimi Carter Street, near Asokoro [Tentative]
Time: 4pm prompt
Ticket: Free
RSVP: 0805 161 4969
Abuja-Writers-Forum-AWF-1
Know of any other literary events happening around the country? Lemme know so we can share – sharing is caring. Do share this and tag any one who might need to know.
 
Bonjour!
Posted in BOOK THOUGHTS, ESSAYS AND LITERARY JOURNEYS, INSPIRATION

RAMBLINGS ON THE WRITER’S DEPTH

There is something about the depth of the artiste – it is only gotten by going into the heart of this one. Several years ago, I would marvel at the profoundness of the works of lots of literary maestros. The depth of their creative springs and reaches left me bedazzled. I started writing, churning out tales easily with poetry and the seeming ‘myth’ of the work put into writing lost its hold on me: these were simply creative works thrown out. Unnecessary attention was usually given them – I thought. I read some critiques to show the pretensions of people’s works. But then, I got to change yet again as I became more of a writer by reading and growing values that I would hold on to.

Writing, which was overtly easy to me, became harder. Each word became important – what message is this giving? Does it speak what I want? Does it tell what I represent? Many thoughts died with words stifled out till at some point, it became somewhat more possible (but not easier) to churn out words. Poems and other write-ups took longer time and more edits. My being went into the process.

writer-with-head-in-hand
Source: Here

Where is this leading to?

IT brought me to realize that the depths I had seen in works several years ago were, in many cases, for real. I do not doubt that certain writers simply write without thinking. I do not doubt that several writers don’t write what they preach. Yet I know a whole lot do. It is these ones that make the reading worth the while, most of the times. The ones that make the name ‘writer’ worth wearing with pride. I should add: I also know there are certain writers who just write for the heck of it but I guess you have an idea of those I am talking about. Maybe I am even talking to you now.

There’s no art to finding the mind’s construction in the face rings true in this case too. You have to read the work and in some cases, know the writer deeply to know if both tally: You make your analysis of a work and if you know the author well you can tell if it is a reflection of his/her thoughts or simply a blessing of some muse on a(n) (un)deserving ass (pun intended).words1-220x220

I do not doubt the humanity of the writer. I believe it greatly and know they are more human than many with their foibles, mistakes and all. Now, does it matter that almost everyone on the road or in their room for that matter claims to be a writer? I don’t really think so. What separates (the) writer(s) is the depth of thought that (s)he has come to garner and yes, experience too. It comes from the study of several ones – in books read. The experience in a rich life lived, no matter how such. It’s the varying experience carried. A writer who hasn’t read is not really a writer worth much salt. A writer who hasn’t lived really, hasn’t lived.
(Yes, yes, importantly, there’s skill too and the unseen magic wand – hand? – of the editor)

I have studied several works and had the pleasure of meeting, interacting and enjoying the unique grace of the friendships of many writers. The true writer still exists and I have seen him and her severally. I get to discover that what I thought of some of their work was far less than what lay therein. They – most writers – are far deeper. It has been very humbling but worth it all. To know these people who are peculiar yet similar in many lights. These ones who would many times just want to be alone to access the recesses of their innermost beings or others who would just want to go out and get it. These ones who look at a bland wall and discover lines to leave others amazed.

All this has made sense why some artistes would risk it all for their craft. It makes sense why a lot of them see that there’s a lot they can offer in words and actions. It’s in the definition of that depth that has become them from all they have drunk of and become – of the words of others, of the life they have lived.

For every true writer, there’s a depth…

Phoneys, have fun. Children, enjoy. Writers, live on.

 

 

(Reblogged from…years ago.)

 

Happy February everyone. May each day smile for you.

Cheers!

 

Thought for the day:

Writing
Source: Here 
Posted in DEVELOPMENT, EVENTS

OXFAM NIGHT OF POETRY AND PHOTOS HOLDS TODAY AT BRITISH COUNCIL ABUJA 5PM

I am almost running out of breath in order to type this… Yes, my battery might soon die off since NEPA (or DISCO as they call themselves now) have danced away with the light. Weya, there isn’t too much time for talk:

OXFAM holds a night of poetry and photos today at British Council, Maitama, Abuja by 5pm. It hopes to be a thrilling event and it is themed ‘Protection of Civilians in the North East Crisis.’ I hope that they will soon do one for Civilians in the Middle Belt too… Wait o, why not ‘Protection of Civilians in Nigeria’… Okay, we can do that one ourselves. But for now, let’s come and get inspired even as we unite in the arts to do our part in bringing the peace in Nigeria. Details?

EVENT: OXFAM ‘A Night of Poetry and Photo Exhibition’
VENUE: British Council, Maitama, Abuja
TIME: 1700 hours (5:00pm)
DATE: 31st January, 2018

 

For emphasis, the date is today Wednesday 31st January 2018 and the venue is British Council, Maitama. Time is 5:00pm.

oxfam

 

PS:

In other news, I will posting info on this event as well as others that happened in the past week in the days to come so hold on as we thrill you to the literary side of Naija – well, mainly Makurdi and Abuja 🙂

 

PPS:

Birthday post not forgotten… No matter how short, we go do am. Summary is at the end of the day, I had a running stomach despite hardly eating the whole day!

 

PPPS:

OXFAM Night of Poetry and Photo Exhibition, date is today Wednesday 31st January 2018 and the venue is British Council, Maitama. Time is 5:00pm.

Posted in LITERARY MISSIONARY, REVIEWS

RISE, LIVE TO YOUR WRITE!

Life is one big contradiction in every field but it is more so when you are a writer—or so I think. You think you are there, you think you have the right words. You are in the moment and you bask as Mother Muse slowly pours herself unto your pages through the medium of creativity.

Depending on the time, you push yourself to the end or just rush it to a stop. Finally, you smile at seeming perfection. Ah! For the conscious writer, something pricks you to note that the work might have flaws here and there. So, you might decide to get editors or throw the work away. If you get the right editors, your headache begins. Have you ever noticed how those folks always seem to find faults here or there? Some of the faults are so obvious you have to hit yourself in the head! Ouch! How could you have missed that? This is the beauty of patience and seeking counsel. (Yes, if you miss the editorial seat, you might miss a lot of good stuff that might have made your work better.)

Anyway, you do your rewrite and maybe feel the work is okay… Or you keep editing till you tire out. I have been known on occasion to keep editing right up to the door of the final proofer and printer doors! Anyway, finally, you push the work out, hoping that someone will like it somehow and it will be the ticket to giving you something good. Some of us, and I am a front man in this group, edit and refine our work tying as many screws as possible.

In most cases, you get your work or book published and the feeling, for most, is indescribable. It is like a baby given to a parent. The looks of wonder at the new you is something the adjectives of the universe will not dare present. You hold that book close… Yes, I know there are a few who would look at their own book with bad eyes especially if it didn’t come out the way they like. Talk of all those parents who discover that their children are disfigured or not of the sex they want! But no, we are not talking of those sorts of parents. We are talking of the proud ones and yes, I didn’t derail. We are still talking about books.

It is easy to find authors who pick their published books and see things they wish could have been done or written differently. Many times have authors been caught reading what they hoped they might have put. Some would take a pen and correct a few lines shortly before reading at a festival or something. Sometimes you begin to see things that might best have been removed or something that might have been added for effect. It gets to the case of seeing your grown child not being the perfect baby you had once viewed. The hope is that with the next book, you will take extra precaution and have your heart more expressed.

Usually, the ideal thing that most writers come to discover is that a work is best left to fallow for three months or maybe a year… just enough time for you to have become a stranger so that you will edit your work through fresh eyes since looking at the same thing over slowly makes it seem perfect. But time is not on the side of anyone and how long can one really take? The changes and all might never be enough and we usually have to just halt. Much like what poet and scholar, Hyginus Ekwuazi says echoing older writers of yore, no true work of art has ever been truly completed. You simply have to get the maturity to let it go, and pray that point was a time worth your imperfection.

So much to writing, so much to reading. Oh well. In the end, who knows what I might want to edit from this piece… I will be mature and let it fly. Wherever your writing and reading takes you this weekend, and in the coming week, make it worth the time. Cheers!

 

(Reblogged from forever ago… Still me 🙂 )

Posted in comfort, GRATITUDE, LIFE

A RACE WITH SELF: A NEW YEAR NOTE

I have learnt to take a few things; to embrace the tears of others, whether in joy or sadness. It has been a year like that. 2017 was. I have grown tougher, and yet, softened too. I am not the man I was at the start of that year, or the man the year left. I have learnt to love more, but to also note, that even those we love have great flaws. While it takes nothing to be loyal and it is allowed to be blind, we have to be wise to listen when people point out errors in us and in those we love. No need to defend blindly or to be angry when we are told the truth. Importantly, there is no weakness in being sorry. No matter how far gone or how early, once we find our wrong, we should right it in what ways we can while acknowledging our guilt. We can change what we can, and should change it if we have to, and if it will make things better. What we can’t, we can’t and we can only find ways to assuage what damages we can.

Life is what it is – kind and unfair, in differing measures. We have to accept this.

I learnt an important lesson: to have a chest for happy memories where I would save treasured moments, to use in times of torment. There are those days when the skies get too bleak and it is only those memories that become the light to help us through the darkness those times bring. In simple English: appreciate every moment and store vividly every time of joy. You never know what tomorrow will bring.
There’s no time to be too bitter, let things go. Time is fickle and life too short. I know this. I lost two uncles (brothers), two cousins (siblings), a cousin’s child and a younger sister. To mention only those in the direct family. Just in a year…and all, in the second half. That same season when I did my nuptials (apologies to family and friends who I couldn’t get through to or thought I got to in my state of being overwhelmed… You still mean much, and we are still collecting gifts 🙂 ).
Vern, the treasure of most of us, was only 28 years old. She died on the 1st of December. She was buried, as is the tradition with young ones, a week later on the 8th, a day to my church wedding. I had thought I had lost the gift of my tears as I would experience the deepest of pains without an outlet to shed away the tears. For her, I cried non-stop for hours. And in my heart, the wound of her loss still bleeds, and will, for very long time. The trauma for my brother, James Blaze, and my other siblings, is perhaps more but we all mourn differently, pain being a private affair always no matter how shared. In the same season I got to share of the loss of the child of my good friend and adopted brother, Saddiq Dzukogi. It got me thinking on much too. A whole lot. And just when we thought it was all over, another cousin lost his daughter on the 31st of December, 2017. #sigh

In the spirit of the New Year, I am starting life afresh and thinking of things in new lights. I have my family, my co-driver, Agatha, with whom I am navigating… I don’t know where these roads would lead but I am hoping to be a better man in every ramification. I raise a toast to us all and ask, that in all our ways, we also take that step to be better than we were everyday. At the last second, life’s battle is not a race with others but with ourselves. May we smile, fulfilled whenever the curtain calls, and may life always treat us kind. Amen.

download (1)
Thanks Google Images. Let’s walk.
Posted in Uncategorized

FICTION | WHAT LIES BEHIND FACES by Su’eddie Vershima Agema

A tale for Christmas.

Merry Christmas guys.

PAROUSIA Magazine

A news article discusses current or recent news of either general interest (i.e. daily newspapers) or of a specific topic (i.e. political or trade news magazines, club newsletters, or te

WHAT LIES BEHIND FACES[1]

A Christmas Tale

“Move!” came the single shout of the Captain, Chris. It lacked the bark of an order, though the loudness indicated it was directed at the men. It registered to a few as a word of encouragement. Minions repeated it automatically through cracked lips that had long defeated every form of moistening. Chris sighed. Her once bright coloured hazel eyes were now reddish, packed with dust and sleeplessness. Her thin shapely frame belied the matron who two years previously had been fully stocked. She had her weather coloured brown hair closely cropped to her skull. Her once glistening fair skin was now a shade of chocolate patched with dust and a few scars. It was the same with a lot of the other soldiers whose clothes hung on them like rags on hangars.

Days without activity, food or water had long left the…

View original post 2,151 more words

Posted in AWARDS, BOOKS, LITERARY MISSIONARY

ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIAN AUTHORS (ANA) 2017 LITERARY PRIZES WINNERS

The ANA 2017 Literary Prize Winners were announced by one of the judges, Dr. Owojecho Omoha of the University of Abuja at the ANA Convention awards dinner on Saturday 28th October, 2017 held at Royal Choice Inn, Makurdi, Benue State. Only three categories (Drama, Poetry and Prose) were awarded out of the six contestable ANA Literary Prizes. The judges did not find any work worthy enough to merit the ANA/Maria Ajima Prize for Literary Prizes, ANA/Abubakar Gimba Prize for Fiction (Short Stories Collection), and ANA Children’s Literature Prize (for ages 7-13 years). However, an ‘Honourary Mentions’ list (for commendable works not strong enough to merit the award but worth mentioning) were announced alongside the shortlist release in September 2017.

ANA 2017 LITERARY PRIZES WINNERS
ANA Prize for Drama
Winner: Magnetism by R. C. Ofodile
1st Runner Up: The Masked Crown by Tunji Ajibade
2nd Runner Up: General Ologbosere by Dickson Ekhaguere

ANA Prize for Poetry
Winner: For Every Homeland by Obari Gomba
1st Runner Up: Of Waters and the Wild by Ebi Yeibo
2nd Runner Up: A Child of Smell by Seyi Adigun

ANA Prize for Prose Fiction
Joint Winners: Across the Gulf by Dul Johnson
What It Takes by Lola Akande
1st Runner Up: Devil’s Pawn by Kukogho Iruesiri Samson
2nd Runner Up: Goodbye Tomorrow by Ike Utuagha

The Honourary Mentions and their categories as announced in the list released in September are:
ANA /ABUBAKAR GIMBA PRIZE FOR SHORT STORIES
A Tiny Place Called Happiness by Bura-Bari Nwilo
Gates of Dawn by MSC Okolo
Tales From Our Past by Lucky James.

ANA CHILDREN’S LITERATURE PRIZE
The Adventure of Three Wild Boys by Wale Adewale
Sodality: A Tale of Friendship by Chioma A Diru
Dancing Tree by Stanley Okeke Oji

ANA/MARIA AJIMA PRIZE FOR LITERARY CRITICISM
• ‘Radical Theatre and Criticism of anti-People’s Culture: A Study of Esiaba Irobi’s Hangmen also Die’ by Nwagbo Pat -Obi
• ‘Vicarious Idiosyncrasies: The Mother-Daughter Ligament in Ernest Emenyonu’s Listen, My Momma Pays Your Taxes’ by Fynest Elvis

 

ANA 2017 LITERARY PRIZES JUDGES
1. Prof. Nelson Fashina – University of Ibadan
2. Salihu Mohammed Bappa- Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria
3. Dr. Ismaila Bala Garba – Bayero University, Kano
4. Dr Owojecho Omoha- University of Abuja
5. Dame Joan Oji – Educational & Literary Consultant, Abuja

 

For a detailed review of the 2017 Literary Prizes Shortlist, check here.

 

Dul with Su'eddie
Dul Johnson (2017 ANA Prize for Prose winner) with his publisher, Su’eddie Vershima Agema (2014 ANA Prize for Poetry Winner)
Posted in COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, DEVELOPMENT, ESSAYS AND LITERARY JOURNEYS

CHANGING THE NARRATIVE FOR PEACE AND POSITIVE DEVELOPMENT

If you’ve witnessed war, you will never underestimate peace. I have lived through some crises, like my people. I have seen Zaki-Biam and Wukari, small wars but even in those “little numbers” and events of red that darkened our sun, I experienced a full eclipse. Have you seen people cut down in one breath? Intestines hanging out, destinies flushed away with the wiping out of whatever we are today? It might seem far-fetched but close your eyes and imagine the person you love the most –your father, mother, sibling or lover. Imagine that person raped. Imagine that person shot… Cut down. This is not even half a description of what war is…
This isn’t a fear narrative or a graphic building of fiction. It’s a telling of what may come. It is a simple simplistic rendering or what may be for us, and indeed what is, for others.
Read the stories of the Biafran war or hear someone tell you. Read the stories of the two World Wars or of the war in Sudan, the genocide in Rwanda.
It starts with words. It starts with actions. The actions of our inactions. We watch hate narratives grow and stare on as hate actions build to destroy. The actions or our building hate that surrenders us to an evil fate. No poem, no story, no word can do justice to the evils that await if we refuse to do something to create peace.
Under the auspices of Writers and CSOs for Development, we – at SEVHAGE Literary and Development Initiative, Gender and Environmental Risk Reduction Initiative (GERI), Gender and Community Empowerment Initiative (GECOME), Women’s Right to Education Programme, Oyalewa Integrated Services Limited, ANA Benue, Mbachilin Development Foundation, Custodians Of African Literature of Jos and Sankofa of Ibadan, amongst other partners – did a full day literary and CSO driven programme across three cities on the 23rd of September to commemorate the 2017 International Day of Peace. Okay, and it was themed ‘Together for peace: respect, safety & dignity for all. That explains why we had to bring in so many of us and create that nexus between us writers and development workers.Peace
We had poetry, spoken word and fiction readings. We discussed the works and it was fun to see the CSO actors present react to the readings. There were some misinterpretations, some debate, some disagreements, general praise and all, done in good faith to bring clarity and better understanding. Otene Ogwuche, my chief co-planner read the UN Secretary General’s speech for International Day of Peace while I had the welcome note. We also rounded up the day’s proceedings later. Mrs. Elizabeth Jeiyol of GERI taught everyone the perspective game after a heated discussion on a piece, ‘Wahala’ by Daniel Iduh. The work is written from the point of view of a soldier agitating for war. The writers thought it was a cool story with fine imagery plus good language while some journalists and development workers thought it was hate speech and a flame blower for conflict. After our discussions, we reached a middle ground – these narratives exist and will always exist, how do we change the narrative? Terseer Sam Baki, a Civil Defence officer and poet shortlisted for the ANA Poetry Prize 2015 read some poems on peace. We had other readings from Aondosoo Andrew Labe (Benue ANA Publicity Secretary), Innocence Silas Katricia (who won the Korea-Nigeria Poetry Prize 2017) and Ene Odaba while Ciara Ogah and Michael Amedu had lovely spoken word performances. At the end, our compere, Oko Owi Ocho had to applaud everyone.
In the evening, we watched Beast of no Nation and discussed the movie – themes, ideas, style and the like. It was really enlightening for all us. We sure learnt a lot on the day. At the end of the whole event, we resolved that we would do more of such events, especially as the engagement was the start of a peace campaign aimed at peace and other development initiatives engagements. We resolved to start rewriting the tales of our places by living right and doing new things. The campaign continues and you can check by following us on Instagram and Twitter @sueddieagema @geri_initiative @Otenefrank @sevhagebooks

In conclusion…
It is amazing how a lot of us do not realise the power of stories to do a lot of damage and harm on the one hand, or building and healing on the other. I know the power of stories. I am a writer. I am development worker. I am a change agent. Who are you? What can you do?
Wherever you are, in what space you find yourself, be the change. Together we can change the narrative.

 

Happy Independence Nigeria.

We love you.

Posted in PRESS STATEMENT, PRIZES

ANA LITERARY PRIZES 2017: TITAN GAMES AND A REUNION OF SORTS

The Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) literary prize in any category is a notable prize looked forward to by almost every Nigerian writer. While there have been quarrels over quality, judgments and things of the like – as with other prizes, it has remained one of the most prestigious prizes in the country. The judges of the Association of Nigerian Authors just released the shortlist for the 2017 ANA Prizes. It is an interesting list featuring past winners, shortlisters and some literary heavy weights for the award. It seems a reunion of sorts and a fight, particularly in the three broad genres of literature: poetry, prose and drama.

In the poetry category are Obari Gomba, Ebi Yeibo, Seyi Adigun and Patrick Oguejiofor. Obari Gomba and Ebi Yeibo, both academics, are previous winners. Gomba who was shortlisted for his For Every Homeland won the coveted award last year while Ebi Yeibo, shortlisted for Of Waters and the Wild shared the joint prize for the ANA Poetry award in 2014 with Su’eddie Vershima Agema (me). Gomba and Yeibo were also nominated for the NLNG Longlist earlier this year. Seyi Adigun, a medical doctor, is a past Chairman of the Abuja chapter of ANA. He was shortlisted for his A Child of Smell. Patrick Oguejiofor is a notable community champion whose voice has been heard on several topical developmental, political and economic issues. This time, he throws his might in the poetry ring daring the other ANA heavyweights with his new collection themed on the Maiduguri madness through Maiduguri Requiems.

The prose section has some notable names, Dul Johnson, Kukogho Iruesiri and Lola Akande. Dul is professor of Literature at Bingham University whose shortlisted work, Across the Gulf was published by SEVHAGE earlier in the year. His novel is a bridge between thriller and literary fiction. It dwells on some aspects of the Biafran war and its aftermaths, with a view of how it affected the destinies of some families. It is a fine story packaged to fine quality with a memorable cover.  Professor Dul was shortlisted for the ANA Drama Prize in 2014 with his play, Melancholia – also published by SEVHAGE. Kukogho Iruesiri, who is a literary promoter of note is founder and publisher at Words Rhythm and Rhymes (WRR). He has earned some credits as a poet. Kukogho, more known as Kukogho Iruesiri Samson (KIS) entered his engaging unpublished manuscript, The Devil’s Pawn which is made up of about 50 episodes of thriller material he had previously blogged. Lola Akande, shortlisted for What it Takes, is a lecturer at the University of Lagos, who started writing seriously in 2009 after defending her PhD thesis. The fourth prose award nominee, the relatively unknown Ike Utuagha, made the shortlist with his book, Goodbye Tomorrow.

The drama category has Tunji Ajibade, shortlisted for his The Masked Crown, who won the prize in 2014. He narrowly missed the award in 2015 when he was shortlisted and came first runner up like RC Ofodile shortlisted in 2016. Notably, Ofodile won the ANA/Abubakar Gimba Prize for Short Stories in 2016. Ajibade’s plays largely explore history with a twist. He is known to employ narrative licenses to bend events of reality to conform with the ideas of his mind to get expected results. The two other shortlisted writers for the drama prize, which is usually not so hotly contested with limited entries are Solomon Iguanre with Oh Obedeki, Dickson Ekhaguere with General Ologbosere and Jerry Alagbaoso with his Tony wants to marry.

The ANA/Abubakar Gimba Prize will not be awarded this year as the judges found the entries only worthy enough to be honourable mentions. Bura-Bari Nwilo, whose Tiny Place Called Happiness, has made the rounds was a name some people might have expected to clinch the prize…

Like in previous years, the ANA/Maria Ajima Prize for Literary Criticism is also not going to be awarded as the entries seem not to have been impressive enough for the judges – or maybe, not enough entries were received. Nwagbo Pat-Obi who was honourably mentioned last year is honourably mentioned this year again alongside Fynest Elvis. In the end, one has to wonder at the level of scholarship and criticism in the country if year in, year out, no award can be given for literary criticism. Could it be because the needed was not available or that the available was not what was needed?

The final category, the ANA Children’s Literature Prize is also not for grabs this year as there are only honourable mentions for this category too. Thus, Wale Adewale, Chioma A. Diru and Stanley Okeke Oji will have to hope that there will be an honourable certificate for the effort. Yes, maybe honourable pictures too, as one of the three whispered to me.

(The full announcement for the list can be found here…)

So, who wins the coveted 2017 ANA Prize for the Prose, Poetry and Drama? Will the honourably mentioned have a certificate or at least, a handshake? We will all have to wait for the awards dinner of the 36th International Annual Convention of ANA coming up on Saturday 28th October, 2017 in Makurdi, Benue State.

 

 

Su’eddie Vershima Agema, editor and development worker, won the 2014 ANA Prize for Poetry in addition to being shortlisted and longlisted on different occasions in other categories of the competition. He can be reached at eddieagema@yahoo.com, @sueddieagema on Twitter and Instagram.