and I was there…

Drove to the Salamander cafe with the trio of Richard Ali, Gimba Kakanda and Abdulaziz Abdulaziz (some pair). Place brought memories. The last time I had come with a mentor of mine and we had met Tricia Adaobi Nwaubani. We were too early, it was 18:30hrs and the event was billed for 19:00hrs. Gimba and Abdulaziz left soon. The door opened and several people began to walk in: the poet Hajo Isa, the nice talking Anita Dudu, Michelle, Pope (remember him from the post of the open mic?), Abuja slam champion and spoken word maestro Dike Chukwumerije, the book master Dr. Kabura Zakama and much later, Caine prize short list writer, Elnathan John. I saw Joel too, former The Treasured Writers’ Ambassador (the programme is a child/teen summer camp workshop run every year by Mrs. Eugenia Abu. I was a senior facilitator at the last one). For this post, I would only put in a large summary of events…

there was a country

The book for discussion was Chinua Achebe‘s There was a country: A Personal History of Biafra. We discussed the book in great depth and I found out there were certain things I didn’t pay attention to. It was when someone said that there were white men on the cover of the book that I noticed – and to think I had the book all the while. The idealism of the past was also discussed. It was fun getting to understand deeper truths not just about the book but also about certain realities in our country. There was some level of controversy as we went through the book. There were questions of what the book stood for, its impact, its validity, the questions raised and the like.

Isa made an important note that the book was a deeply honest book that carried the imperfections of the writer (Achebe) without pretensions. He could have edited certain parts but he wanted it to appear exactly as they were to him. Richard Ali mentioned that we as a people have not been really prepared for the present and future. As such, we have been met by the continuous retrogression that has become our lot.

At the end we all agreed that the book brings to fore the fact that there are lots of questions that we as a country have to answer. WE have to be prepared. We have to stand up for what we believe in and integrate more. There’s more to our country than we know. We have to tell our stories and be heard all through so we can understand ourselves better. Elnathan John suggested we have more inter-tribal … eh… fun.

There was much left unsaid and truly we might have continued for ten days… We had to stop for that while. The discussions raised more questions than gave answers. It didn’t change views largely but informed more. We departed, each one talking on a lot of other things. There was another literary event for Sunday – the AWF critique session and the symposium for Achebe on Monday 20th at the International Conference Centre in Area 10

Hmm. Much more to think of. Hmm. There was a country, one was Biafra, one was Nigeria. There is a country, Nigeria. There’s much to be done. May Aondo (God) save us all. Amen.




Friday 2013, 17th May.



Some all-rounded writer with the wits to turn anything and everything to words with inspiration... cheering to glory and on...


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