Posted in BOOK THOUGHTS, Uncategorized

SPARKING THE LITEROSPHERE WITH SEVHAGE (WHERE WE HAVE BEEN)

Sometimes finding titles to these posts can be a challenge… However, getting titles to publish hasn’t been so much of an issue. We have had a healthy number come in. So, where have we been?

It has been a very busy season for me and all of us at SEVHAGE. We made a call for volunteers last year due to all the work we have and also a desire to spread the literary net at SEVHAGE Reviews. We got a good number of entries – and we wouldn’t mind getting a few more. We are sorting things out and would soon be reaching out to all those who applied so that we can start work in earnest. Our Head of Reviews, the poet, Innocence Silas has been up to task. You can check our ABOUT page and see if you want to catch up with us.

stork-cover-final-copyBut other than that, we have had a rich season working with some amazing writers and getting their books ready for press. A few weeks back, we received copies of Professor Hyginus Ekwuazi’s One day I will dare to raise my middle finger at the stork and the reaper. First publication was in 2015 and it is amazing to know that we have had to get the full works in print again. The book, Ekwuazi’s fifth book of poetry is a lovely collection of narrative poem that border on the beauty of life and is a blend of verse that would make any reader smile. I wrote the Afterword and I think that it is the sort of book that you would want to read, for any season.

We are also working on two other collections of poetry which are nearly ready for press; Bash Amuneni’s There’s a Lunatic in Every Town and Tope Ogundare’s The Book of Pain. Bash is one of Nigeria’s finest spoken word artistes and his collection is as interesting as he is. We are all looking forward to the book release in March (next month) – that is for the paper back. It would be accompanied with his Freedom audio spoken word collection, for the early birds who would be picking up the collection. You sure wouldn’t want to miss it. Tope, on the other hand, is a doctor and psychologist. You can check some of his fascinating writings featured on his blog at www.zaphnathpaaaneah.com. We will be having the e-copies by the end of the month. So, that is three lovely poetry collections already – what more can one ask for?

It isn’t all poetry. We just went to press with Dul Johnson’s Across the Gulf, one of the most challenging covers we have done. In the end, Eugene Odogwu – our graphics department head – was able to rally the team and bring out something beautiful and we fell in love with the cover, as much as we did with the story. The book will be out in stores early March.

Finally, we are working on two e-books, FOOLS 101 by John Chidi and for tomorrow (Valentine), MOUNT ORGASM by Ehi’zogie Iyeoman. Aha! Yes, there’s a poetry collection brewing up by a friend that has to do with the rain, terra cotta and some other wonderful images as will leave you smiling. I wouldn’t spoil the fun by calling names…

So, you see, there’s just so much work to do. I have decided too that I would be blogging a bit on the wonderful wonderful experience of publishing, its challenges and the backstory to some of the books. Some of the posts will be on my personal blog but most will be on our official SEVHAGE blog. You would be amazed at some of the tales.

In all, the times might be harsh but the works are smiling. Keep a date with me and us, and feel free to pre-order or make orders for any of our books at info@sevhage.com. All the poetry books go for a thousand naira, in some cases, exclusive of courier. We will send account details and we can discuss mode of transportation. If you are in Abuja, Benue or Ibadan, you can be sure you have no challenge.

May this day smile for us all. Cheers!

 

PS: We are doing some discounts on editing and book vanity publishing deals [yup, we do that too]… You might want to take advantage. Send us a mail at info@sevhage.com, let’s talk and see how we can get to seeing your works ready in-print or somewhere, online 🙂

 

PPS: What are you doing for Valentine? Particularly, what new writing have you been up to? So many things happening to make the times bleak but you know you can spark the times with something beautiful, right? Whatever it is you think you can do, get to it and make it worth it. Cheers!

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Posted in BOOK THOUGHTS, BOOKS, Uncategorized

FOR THE LOVE OF THINGS BETWEEN COVERS (RAMBLINGS)

I am not ashamed to say that I have found the greatest pleasure under covers. Being intimate with just one soul, usually one. But there are those days when there are a number of us. It is always fun. Lovely…lovely, books.

Books are amazing and have done so much for a whole lot of us. Where would we be without books? It has continued to grow from those few papyrus pages of yore.

Take a minute and think – where would we be without books today? They have come together to form the tales that are our lives. We are almost like books in some form of the writing stage.

Today, I think of all the various books that have shaped my life from the great books of Literature, the Bible, other books of religion, my development books. More than these, I am thinking of the Kobo reader that gave me a vista to new books that I never might have read. I remember fondly now that I read Khaled Hossein’s The Kite Runner and other titles from him plus Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s Angel’s Game there. The same reader gave me the chance to share with loved ones, Belle, Debbie Iorliam and a few others. Wait, have I told you of the people I met from books? Kunta Kinte? Okonkwo? Dr Zhivago? Gabriel Van Helsing? Ah! The writers? From Achebe to Hemingway, Habila to Aristotle 😉 Okay, the comparisons aren’t coming out too well 🙂

But before I sound too nerdy and some people start talking of how people are no longer reading or all, let me say that I am also grateful for the gift of the world’s most famous and used book now: no, not the Bible. No, not the Koran or any top book you want to think of. Wait, did Ikhide just say ‘Facebook’? Top marks! Who else would have gotten it? Well, that is one book that we can’t do without, no? I have met so many lovely people after reading from that book.

Books have come to hold a more special meaning for me considering I have had four out and am working on more. As an editor and publisher, there are more that I am playing with too. There is nothing as beautiful as finding life in books. Really, where would we be without books?

Lest I forget, it is also Shakespeare’s birthday! Yaaaaay! I celebrate him as well as my friend, Ozioma Izuora, the amazon that keeps fighting. You don’t need to hear that she is from UNN to feel her lioness roarsShakespeare taught me much and I still remain mesmerised reading him. It is sad that his works are hard to enjoy on stage since the beauty of the words of the maestro are lost while one tries to look at the actions of people. But we will manage. Reminds me of that movie, Shakespeare in Love? Have you seen or watched it? Ah! You should if you haven’t. That is if you appreciate romance, thriller, adventure and the grace of verse. Should I start quoting some Shakespeare now? When it comes, it just feels like speaking in tongues: ‘There’s no art to finding the mind’s construction in the face…’ So, let me hide what else I have in mind.

Okay, two last lines: think of many romances books have brought…why don’t you spark life up some more again with a book or two. Happy World Book Day, Happy Copyright Day and Happy Shakespeare Day!

 

PS:
Special dedication to all those who books blessed me to find, amazing friends: Belle, Hyginus Ekwuazi, DaMore, Servio Gbadamosi, Omadachi Oklobia, Xikay, and the one million and whatever number else of the people on a dial that make my life worth it every day. Thank you, really much. I shall write some tales on books and love found from covers, maybe plus some shared between covers. Aidee thinks that we can be really cliche with our telling but maybe if I do just a few more cliches that come from the heart, we will all be fine. Love it or hate it, the books will still rule! Cheers.

Posted in BOOK THOUGHTS, BOOKS, FICTION, TALES

OF A BLACK ASS, ELNATHAN JOHN’S TWIN AND A REVIEW by Su’eddie Vershima Agema

Did I tell you that I now do reviews for that lovely website, http://wawabookreview.com? I do, and they are great guys there. Somehow, Belle got to be reviewing after getting the contract from the editor, the deeply intellectual Biyi Olusolape. I decided to join the train and it has been fun. My first book of review was The Road to Mogador. I named the review there ‘Of Transitions, Agendas and Bad Balls.’ You can go take a look.

Now, I was given two books to review for December and yes, don’t envy me. It was Elnathan John’s Born on a Tuesday and A. Igoni Barrett’s Blackass. I have known ElJo since the early Abuja days and he has remained one writer that leaves me smiling, always – whether he’s criticising, lashing his satire or just writing. Only problem with my affection for him came in the person of Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, another talented writer who has come to be a friend and troublemaker who I respect and honour. Abubakar and ElJo write alike such that sometimes when I read one, I feel like I have read the other. Their lives also seem to be going in the same circles. Any surprise that they have been to a lot of workshops together? Okay, you didn’t know that one, abi? How come they were first shortlisted

abubakar eljo
Elnathan John and Abubakar Adam Ibrahim

for the Caine Prize in the same year? And read the Caine collection, A Memory This Size and tell me where one’s story starts and the other ends. Any surprise now that Born on a Tuesday and Season of Crimson Blossoms came out at the same time? Wait for the next one. Cassava Republic is also publishing the UK version of Abubakar’s books. Ah! But let me not talk much about their similarities; a scholarly paper will be better than this my plenty grammar abi? Na you know. Sha, the thing is, when I read Abubakar first – and I get to do that usually, him being closer and all, then I get to read something similar in ElJo’s hands, I feel like I have read the tale before, so it feels one kain. That’s the feeling I got with ‘Bayan Layi’, the Caine 2013 shortlisted tale. My friend, Pever X, wouldn’t let me be because of the tale. He was head over heels for that tale. I like it, but I had read a similar one in Abubakar’s book. There are times when I am lucky to read Elnathan John first and wow! If you have read him, you know… but…

Now, Bayan Layi has been turned into a book and I have been forced to review it! Chai! What do I do?

born on a tuesdayI started reading the book with some fear… There was no need for the fear! It is as if, finding its spirit into a book, Bayan Layi transformed into something else. I enjoyed it this time around. By the time I got to Chapter Two of the book, the stress of the road overcame me. I was on the sixth leg of my journey. I had gone for the ANA convention in Kaduna, then gone to Nasarawa, then Abuja, Lagos and to Abeokuta for the Ake festival with Belle. We were on our way to Benin from Ibadan. There was road stress, work stress, and they played with my emotions too. 😉 I decided not to let the book waste. Haba, such a fine book. Oh! I should mention that at the festival El Jo and Abubakar were given 200k for their books alongside three other fine Northern female writers.

At some point, I decided to pick Blackass after an encounter with Igoni, the author at Ake. The guy is cool sha. I didn’t like his other book, Love is Power or Something Like It (a collection of short stories) which most people especially Belle think is all that. So, I was wondering what lay behind the covers of this new one. When the book sold out thrice at Ake, I had to go like ‘Wow! Okay o!’

Long story short, I read the book and I can say it is one of the quickest books I have read. The 300 or so pages melted away as my thumb pushed one page over the other in sharp succession. I laughed and laughed and blackass_igoni-barrettlaughed.

Summary of the story is this: a dude, Furo Wariboko wakes up on the day of his interview to discover that he is now a white man. He has some adventures and gets to meet Igoni (the author o!) and a lovely lady who takes him in and discovers his black bumbum. A lot of adventures happen and we see Naija proper. Igoni takes us on a tour of Lagos through the eyes of a white man who has a Nigerian soul. We see the way Nigerians behave towards their fellow blackies and to the whites. A lot of people have this set view that we all behave in one way towards the fair skinned guys but going through this book gives you an idea of how it really goes. Igoni also takes us to Abuja and gives us a tour. In several instances, we are introduced to certain aspects of our culture gaining grounds that we might not readily read or know about: transgender, the use of whites to our whims, the feeling of helplessness that lies within a lot of people who we think great and the like.

I will be reviewing the book shortly and yes, I will share the link. With this tale, I think Igoni has found a space in my heart. I will try to read past those few ten pages of that Love is Power book again. Whatever feeling I get from there, I know that the guy is truly gifted. If you get the book, please read it. It is one I will recommend over and over again. How many books can take your mind away from your boo? Okay, don’t answer that. Even your boo geti boo! Hee hee hee.

Have a lovely week ahead and in all you do, make every second count.

Cheers!

Posted in BOOK THOUGHTS, ESSAYS AND LITERARY JOURNEYS, RAMBLES

HEY WRITER, STEP OUT OF THE VEHICLE AND PRAY IT IS OKAY! (RAMBLES) by Su’eddie Vershima Agema

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 getTagxedo disorder 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? Tagxedo disorderThe 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 week, make it worth the time. Cheers!

First published on the SEVHAGE Reviews website.

Posted in BOOK THOUGHTS, BOOKS, ESSAYS AND LITERARY JOURNEYS, EVENTS, INSPIRATION, LITERARY MISSIONARY, POETRY

THE SEVHAGE FLOOD COVERS

Yaaaaay! So, ladies and gentlemen…

After a loooooong wait, here we have our FLOOD collection covers… It has been a long wait since 2012 when we started the project but here we are. We have over a hundred poems in the poetry collection with entries from Niyi Osundare, Hyginus Ekwuazi, amu nnadi, Aondosoo Labe, Servio Gbadamosi, Jennifer Emelife, and a whole lot of beautiful people. Ah, trust me, it is a book worth waiting for. The Tale book has Pever X, Seun Odukoya, Sibbyl Whyte, Sewe Leah Anyo, Dotta Raphels, to mention a few…

Schedule for the full release online or rather, talk on that, can be found HERE

We are working on the SEVHAGE Women Collection too, we had far more submissions than we bargained for… But we will soon get to that. Anyway, we were talking about the flood… So,

without further ado, find here then, the covers…

The Rainbow Lied eCover2

The Promise e-cover (1)

Posted in BOOK THOUGHTS, LIFE, LITERARY MISSIONARY

RANTING ON WHERE I HAVE BEEN: ON THE ROAD

20150609_152657
Transforming the room

Hey guys! Really sorry I have been a bit off… There has been lots of stuff to catch up with. There was an interview I had with the network service of our Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) which I travelled to the capital for… Ah! That was something else. The way it is done, the interviewee usually has to host the session. I guess the idea is to ensure the interviewee is ‘much at home’ with the interview 🙂 Oh well… So, I drove in on that beautiful Tuesday, for the interview. Mehn, you should have seen the traffic. It was the day for the official inauguration of the National Assembly… It seemed all their supporters had to come to Abuja. Well, I got to town and headed straight to my lodgings. When the NTA guys were through rearranging my room, I had to wonder where I was!

Oh well, it was a beautiful interview and I had to answer a set of ten or so questions like three times! Phew! I read a story, ‘Simply Mortal’ from The Bottom of Another Tale, my collection of short stories… three times! Performed three poems including ‘An Anthem of Pain’ (from Home Equals Holes: Tale of an Exile), ‘Awambe Awambe’ (a war poem in Tiv and English), and ‘If the Sun wasn’t so mean’ (the last  two from my first collection of poems, Bring our casket home: Tales one shouldn’t tell. It was soooo much fun. And yup, you should have seen me doing the theatrics! Yaaaaaay! The interviewer, Dooshima, was wonderful as was Alex Omanchi (both in the picture above). We kept on talking and cracking jokes in between sessions and all such that I hardly had an idea that about three (or was it four?) hours had gone.

The interview aired on Thursday of the same week. Really cool. Don’t worry, I might get to post the video online at some point. Just remind me to do so 😉

After that, I was able to catch up with a lot of people including Ben Ubiri, TJ Benson, Hymar David and Cece Ireneh, among

Hymar David, Cece Ireneh, TJ Benson and Su'eddie
Hymar David, Cece Ireneh, TJ Benson and Su’eddie

other writers. Yes, there were family and friends to meet but why bore you with that talk …

Since then, there has been a million running around and you don’t want to know the half of it. At a point, I thought my butt was going to scrape off. Thank goodness for family, my parents, friends, my lovely sister and yes, the belle.

Now, I was in Ibadan too and met with a million people that I cannot start mentioning! Maybe I should put that in a different post… Ah! What a town! There was the Niyi Osundare event I posted about earlier… At that place, I met everyone – well, nearly everyone. There was Anita Ikhifa who I hadn’t seen since my reading in Ibadan two years ago… There was Peter Akinlabi, Akintunde Aiki, Femi Fairchild Morgan, Servio Gbadamosi, Tosin, Jonah Obajeun…Iya Ibadan too (yeah, I know you don’t know them but Google might help small…that or Facebook. Lovely award winning writers, bloggers and peeps there)…

And the men themselves, Hyginus Ekwuazi and NIYI OSUNDARE! When I was going to perform my poem at the event, the

Performing at Osundare's event
Performing at Osundare’s event.. That’s Prof. Osundare and Femi Morgan behind me… I felt like one bamn preacher sef! 🙂

renowned poet and Professor, Niyi Osundare stood up to greet me and gave me a hug while offering a handshake. Big honour. He said he had read me…and when I completed my performance, he gave good constructive criticism. Same as he did for Richard Anyah, who had performed before me. Prof. Osundare said Servio and I write alike… Hmmm. Strange.

Somehow, I got back with Debbie, beautiful friend/thought stealer and invaluable colleague, who I had been traveling with after sneaking to go pray with my loved ones in Ife. Sometimes life teaches us to always value our health, our loved ones and those we hold dear more in certain periods. Maybe you should thank the heavens for any and every one who you have with you right now. Never take any moment for granted.

with Servio Gbadamosi and Prof. Hyginus Ekwuazi
with Servio Gbadamosi and Prof. Hyginus Ekwuazi

Oh well, there’s been much since then. As the Chairman of the Association of Nigerian Authors, I was able to conduct an inter-secondary school competition in Makurdi, Benue here. Had support from writers like Anselm Ngutsav, Debbie Iorliam (both were judges), Ene Odaba, Tersoo Ayede… Mount St Gabriel’s came first.

Now, I have ranted on and on and on. Bottom line: I am back. Did you miss me? I missed you. I still do. So, do quick, get back and let’s continue with this, yes? Okay. #hugs

Posted in BOOK THOUGHTS, BOOKS

WHY ARE YOU WRITING: To Impress or just wear a dress? Hee hee hee

These days it is very easy to find anyone and perhaps, everyone, say they are writers. It gets really yuckish… You go like ‘I am a writer’ and discover, you could easily have said ‘I am a human’. But  that isn’t our talk for today. Question is simple: Why are you writing?

blah blah blah
blah blah blah

The question has been on my mind for some time as I work on new endeavours in poetry and yes, my prose. You know, the famous poet, Christopher Okigbo once said ‘He writers poetry for poets’ and so had his verse in tangles that till date are a bit more difficult than untying the Gordian knot with one’s hands. For some of us too, we simply just write without giving a thought to what our words are saying…

For a few there is the pressure to write in a certain way especially because some awards have been placed on one’s shelf… Others need that award and just write in certain ways… Recently, I was working on a few pieces and discovered some writer buddies speaking oddly. So, you see someone say: ‘I have had my chattels purloined by bandits who have left my existentialist preoccupations exacerbated.’ And you wonder… Eh? Say what?!

But it gets worse with poetry. And that is where the major issue comes… Poetry can be a tough bone to chew. It doesn’t help matters when some people decide to simply just jumble lines and throw them at you…

So, I bring this question to you today: simply, why do you write?

If I were to give my own answer as I have come to realise it more and more, I would say we should try to be as more open as possible. There’s much to say and a lot of people will love to hear our thoughts… Who knows, your words might be the soothing to get someone out of a particular pain: and it doesn’t matter if you are simply ‘rambling’ about your day like my sister, Yemie, or flowing with the spirit like DrSwag…or even Topazo… who knows…Izza with her poetryAnoosha? Whoever you are, don’t underestimate those words or what they could mean… So, why waste them?

These days it comes to me more often, the value of our essence. The beautiful essence of our presence in words, art or just living… Each moment counts, every word relevant… would you make yours worth it?

Bonjour.

Posted in BOOK THOUGHTS, FICTION, LIFE, REVIEWS

RAMBLES, ATONEMENT, HEALING AND RENEWAL: READING KHALED HOSSEINI’S THE KITE RUNNER

I was recently admitted into the new age spirit of an e-reader, a Kobo specifically. It took reading The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini to remind me that I still love that traditional smell of a fresh book that reaches to you like the smell of fresh fries on a hungry stomach.

In The Kite Runner, we are introduced to a certain present time by the lead character narrator. He talks of a phone call in 2001 that has changed him. Then by the next page, he takes us on a ride through his memory lane talking of his entire life from childhood to the time when he got married and that very time – 2001. It took some 150 or so pages to get there so you can imagine that with the excitement of Hosseini’s narrative and flowery diction, I had to trace my way back to Page 1. Now, the e-reader wasn’t fast enough to get me there – or I didn’t want to waste time – so I jumped to one of my bookshelves and picked the paperback. I read the two pages in seconds and was back on speed with my book (Page 175).

Oh! Did I mention that I am still reading the book? It is one you should. I think Khaled Hosseini is worthy of every praise he is getting. His story as I have read so far traces how we make decisions that haunt us. Our lead character out of childhood jealousy and a hope to impress his father betrays his best friend (Hassan) and does not stand up for his friend in a time of danger. This is despite Hassan being in that position because he had stuck to his ground

The Kite Runner
The Kite Runner

retrieving a kite for the honour of our lead character (Amir). Hassan forgives Amir and begs him to play but guilt strangles any joy that Amir might have had. In the end, he sets Hassan up and makes him to be driven away.

Okay, you don’t get the picture. There’s this caste system and Hassan is the son of the servant of Amir’s father. So, despite being born at the same time with Amir and sharing the breasts of a woman brought to suckle them (Hassan’s mother ran away and Amir’s mother died after childbirth), Hassan is to be Amir’s servant too. They become friends and Hassan is OVERTLY loyal. He is a strong boy who stands up for Amir always. Now, eventually Amir gets envious of his own father liking Hassan. He also wants to win the love of his father who doesn’t think much of children who prefer reading to playing soccer! Anyways, so, that is the point where this and that happens, Hassan still sacrifices a million times more for Amir and has to leave with his father breaking a relationship of many years.

War and instability comes to Afghanistan. Amir leaves his native Afghanistan and migrates to America with his father (his mother is dead, by the way). Time rolls on itself and a lot happens; his father dies, he gets married etc etc. He hopes to have fresh starts but he discovers; the past never really leaves us. It cannot be really buried. Perhaps ignored sometimes but never buried in entirety. Like our shadows, this past clings to us and when day shines we find it walking beside us. Well, that’s most of what I have made of his position.

As I read on, I think empathically of what Hassan’s life would be like at that point. How the pranks and nonchalance of the young Amir changed the destiny of Hassan and his father. I am thinking of how our acts of commissions and omissions end up being the decider on the making or breaking of people. I am thinking of my own childhood, decisions I have made and wondering if there aren’t holes to the past that I need to fill in whatever way. In some cases we have little or nothing to do but if we think deep we will discover that though we can’t right all wrongs, there are certain things we can do to make amends and be better.

As Hosseini says, there is a way to be good again.

Yes, there is a way to be good again. May the times give us the grace to be better each moment and work to right whatever wrong we can. We only live once, why don’t we make it worth it?

Posted in BOOK THOUGHTS, CALLS FOR SUBMISSION, REVIEWS

REVIEWERS WANTED: WHERE ARE YOU?! [INTRODUCING SEVHAGE REVIEWS!]

Hi, my name is Su’eddie Vershima Agema and yes, except working with a publishing house and holding some literary administrative positions, I LOVE BOOKS, WRITING AND PEOPLE! I also like bringing books to people’s attention and finding a way to share works I love and works of people I come across…

Now, we have a blog, http://sevhagereviews.wordpress.com and we have had some wonderful reviews and interviews: Abubakar Adam Ibrahim (Caine Prize Shortlist 2013) and Reward Nsirim are just a few. We are launching some interview series soon to feature amazing Nigerian, African and international writers! Yaaaaay! Plus, we have features of reviews on their works as well as select pieces. If you haven’t seen it, get there and see it…

Book World!
Book World! 

Oh well, too much talk. We need reviewers! Have you been reading any good book and would love to share your thoughts on it? Thoughts on literature… We welcome them all. Please send an email at sevhage@gmail.com with the title: ‘REVIEW’ and we will take it from there. Do you think that you can’t really review professionally? Oh, come on! That isn’t a problem… I am not sure I can… and I prefer the ones that only show what you feel. So, if you can, simply write your thoughts and let’s see how we can make all of it fun…

Trust me, you will be connecting to a great community and who knows where it will take you to tomorrow? I offer you my friendship too and let’s see where it will take us to.

Cheers!

Posted in BOOK THOUGHTS, LITERARY MISSIONARY

Books: A Journey of Self Discovery by Bisila Bokoko

Growing up, reading was my favorite hobby. I was obsessed with books. Indeed, books were best friends I would spent countless hours with and draw inspiration and strength from. With a book you are never alone.

Though reading had taken me to the continent many times as a child, I felt the adult I had become had to physically travel there and connect with my roots to understand my purpose in life. I literally had an epiphany when I set foot in Ghana in 2009. Instantly, I knew my mission was to share the magic of books with children by building libraries in rural areas across the continent. The Bisila Bokoko African Literacy Project (BBALP) was born.

Fast forward to 2011 when James Bayanai, a young aspiring lawyer from Zimbabwe reached out on Facebook. James had been following my work in Africa and wanted to meet. We agreed to do so in Capetown, South Africa where I was flying to attend the World Economic Forum. How far will YOU go to make your dreams come true ?

James took a bus from Zimbabwe and spent days on the road only to make our appointment ! I was speechless and equally inspired. He shared his ambition to become a lawyer and how brilliant children in his community were. Unfortunately, parents could not afford their education. I was determined to help. Together, we created and launched a scholarship program from the ground up starting with helping 10 of the most gifted children in Chirumanzu, Zimbabwe. There, we also opened the first BBALP library 4 years later ! James eventually became a lawyer and BBALP local Project Manager. From Chirumanzu Member of Parliament Anastancia Ndholuvu to the Ministry of Tourism and Education and the Mayor of Harare (Zimbabwe capital) – our literacy endeavor received warm support beyond expectations.
What could possibly top this ? The overwhelming joy I felt when I received the children’s first school reports and thank you notes — or my deepest gratitude towards James Bayanai and his local team for being a catalyst of unpreceded change. To date, over 200 children are now beneficiaries of BBALP Zimbabwean project.

At the beginning of 2014, we started a collaboration with Chirumanzu school to build another BBALP library but this time inside their premises. The vision was to grant access to students and the community as a whole. We budgeted, built the library and book shelves from scratch. Within a few months of hard work, books were on display and up for grabs.

Zimbabwe welcomed me with open arms. As I shared with its people the wonderful power that lays in reading, I stocked up on smiles for days. The land fed me delicious traditional dishes such as sadza and I shook precious hands that carry the know-how of Zimbabwean ancestral basket weaving.

Just as I felt compelled to share with this beautiful nation, visiting Zimbabwe made me realize how much more it has to offer to the world. Tourism and Fashion are just two examples of burgeoning fields in which I look forward to being actively involved in locally in the near future.

What I learned from this experience is that your talents, your gifts will be revealed to you. The key is to listen to your inner voice. They say the distance between your dreams and reality is called action. Eventually, you will realize that your purpose in life is not so much something you have to force yourself to do but something you cannot help doing. Reading books shaped my future. By hopping on a bus to meet me across borders, James began the life-changing journey of a whole generation. If you doubt you can find your path in your passions or a foreign country, it could very well just be in a book next to you.

Bisila Bokoko

First published here. Republished on this blog with the kind permission of  Bisila Bokoko.