Posted in EVENTS, FICTION, THRILLER

ABUJA WRITERS’ FORUM HOSTS SEVHAGE AUTHOR, DUL JOHNSON; JIDE BADMUS AND AUSTINE OROKO ON 29TH APRIL 2017

The Abuja Writers’ Forum, one of Nigeria’s premier literary organisation is set to host Dul Johnson, incredible writer, scholar and film maker alongside poet Jide Badmus and the sensational musician, Austine Oroko.

If you are in Abuja, do make out time to go to Nanet Suites (beside Bayelsa House, down the road from Federal Secretariat) by 4:00pm for an offering of this great event. SEVHAGE Author, Dul Johnson will be reading from his latest novel, ACROSS THE GULF, a book on the civil war written from a new angle as would leave readers intrigued. This is the third book of Dul’s we have worked on and one of his finest. We had an argument on it – considering he prefers DEEPER INTO THE NIGHT, which is more literary. In his office a month or so ago, I told him that ACROSS THE GULF was a finer read considering it is more entertaining, thrilling and grasping. Being the fine scholar he is, he prefers the one with more lessons.
‘Well, it isn’t as if THE GULF doesn’t have a lot of lessons. But can you imagine that I edited the book and kept smiling all through!’
It is like a continuation of part of the stories in SHADOWS AND ASHES. I am always glad when I come across new narratives, especially when they are engaging. Across the Gulf is a book like that and I think we set the bar with the production of that book’s cover. I will be uploading it soon. But let me not talk too much.
Dr. Emman Shehu​ has done a good job of consistently hosting writers and artistes every month to a thrilling reading where the public can interact, have fun and get a feel of good literature. I have been a beneficiary of the event – as an invited artiste and as a member of the audience. I think – I don’t think, I know – that it is a place worth going to. IF you can make out time to be there, it would sure be worth the hours.
Did I mention that there is usually great music, a conducive cool (AC chilled) environment, great gifts from raffle draws, amongst other amazing things? Don’t say I didn’t tell you…

For a limited time, Dul Johnson’s book will be selling for a thousand naira at the event. Don’t forget,
Saturday 29th April, 2017; 4:00pm; Nanet Suites. Be there or be square – or whatever they say.

In conclusion, here is the writeup for the event by Ibrahim Ramalan, for Blue Print newspaper… Do share:

The Abuja Writers Forum (AWF) will on Saturday host Jide Badmus, Dul Johnson and Austin (Aush) Oroko for the April 29th edition of its Guest Writer Session which holds at the Aso Hall, Nanet Suites, Central Business District, Abuja by 4pm.
According to a statement signed by the Forum’s scribe, Edith Yassin, in Abuja, one of the guests, Jide Badmus was born and bred in Ilorin, and hails from Omido in Irepodun LGA, Kwara State. The first of four children, he studied Electrical Engineering at the University of Ilorin and bagged a Master’s degree in Information Technology Management at Binary University, Malaysia. He is a practicing Electrical Engineer in building services.

Badmus has had a flair for creative writing as a child and started writing poetry in 2002. He has a wide range of collections on various themes and shares his short stories, critical opinions and poetry on his blog http://www.inkspiredng.com. Some of his works have been published in national dailies and online platforms.

His debut book collection,There Is A Storm In My Head, appeared this year on the imprint of  Words Rhymes and Rhythm Ltd (WRR). The poems depict a storm of emotions as a result of life’s uncertainty, disparity between dreams and reality, and the thin line between love and lust. The author’s writing style is defined as simple and deep; his poems are usually brief and fast-paced, the readers are left out of breath and asking for more. He is inspired by nature and beauty.
Jide is married to a beautiful wife, Linda and has an adorable daughter, Nora. He is a Christian and a soccer lover; he is a Manchester United fan. Watching soccer, reading, writing and watching movies are his hobbies. He lives and writes from Lagos.

Dul Johnson is a filmmaker and author from Plateau State and currently lectures, as a Professor of Literature, at Bingham University, Karu. He began his career as a drama director with the Nigerian Television Authority, Jos, and worked for many years before retiring into Independent Filmmaking and teaching. He has won national and international awards with his films and dramas, including There is Nothing Wrong with my Uncle (a cultural documentary), The Widow’s Might (a feature film), Against the Grain, Wasting for the West, Basket of Water, and many others.
Johnson began writing in his undergraduate days, trying his hand at drama, poetry, journalistic writing and short stories. From the mid- to late 1970s he wrote plays for radio (Rima Radio, Sokoto) and for the stage – some of which were produced in his undergraduate days.

Johnson has published five major works: Shadows and Ashes, Why Women Won’t make it to Heaven (short story collections), Ugba Uye: The Living Legend (a biography), Deeper into the Night (a novel) and Melancholia (a play). The last two were presented to the public on 28 October 2014.
His latest publication, Across The Gulf, is a novel that explores  loyalty,resilence, nationhood, love and tradition bridging two generations and an entire nation.
Austin Oroko hails from Utonkon, Benue State and is a graduate of the department of languages and Linguistics Nassararwa State University, Keffi. He speaks French and Italian as well as a little German.

Born in Lagos, he likes to describe himself as growing up all over the world with his six siblings as they accompanied their father, a former diplomat, on his official postings.
At the age of fifteen he started writing and singing his own songs with a dream to become a star that will influence the world through his music. Although he owned a keyboard when he was younger, it was his love for the guitar that caught his fancy and has become his mainstay as a performer.

Oroko has been on several notable platforms including AM Express, AIT,NTA Entertainment among others. He spent a lot of time listening and studying classical musicians and the likes of Tracy Chapman and Stevie Wonder who have had a deep influence on him.
His music can be classified as Indie rock with a touch of soul and has recently released a single, Oxygen,
The Guest Writer Session which also features a raffle-draw for books, runs from 4-7pm and is open to the public.

 

 

SHARING IS CARING! CHEERS!

Posted in EVENTS, PRIZES, TRIBUTES

ABUBAKAR ADAM IBRAHIM WINS THE 2016 NLNG PRIZE FOR LITERATURE

Okay, maybe you have heard it or you are hearing it here first. Check everywhere and make a shout for Abubakar Adam Ibrahim has won the $100,000 NLNG Prize for Literature for his novel, Season of Crimson Blossoms. Yaaaaay! He clinched the prize ahead of his literary twin, Elnathan John (with Born on a Tuesday) and Chika Unigwe’s Night Dancer.  We saw it coming! Matter of fact, when we got the news, Belle and I tried to make Abubakar to give us our share – or promise to do so when he collected the cheque but the guy has sense too much!

In 2013, while going for the Association of Nigerian Authors’ convention grand dinner, Abubakar and I discussed his travel writings (which I love best of his writings) and Chika Unigwe, who had been announced as the NLNG Winner for that year with her On Black Sister’s Street. Now, it is the turn of the literary Mallam to wear that crown.

It has been a fine year for the gentleman who was announced the 2016 Goethe Institut & Sylt Foundation African Writers’ Residency. He was also announced as the Chairman of the 2016 Etisalat Prize for Flash Fiction.

Abubakar Adam Ibrahim is one of Nigeria’s foremost literary journalists and a committed writers + arts enthusiast who never tires to promote writing in every form. He is also the author of the celebrated collection of short stories, Whispering Trees. You can read more about him here or visit his blog here.

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Abubakar Adam Ibrahim with the millionaire look (Picture Courtesy: Agatha Aduro)

Congratulations Abubakar. And may this season truly be yours!

Posted in ESSAYS AND LITERARY JOURNEYS, EVENTS

FOR OUR TEACHERS – THANKS!

For 5th October…

Today is World Teachers’ Day. All over the internet, different individuals and organisations celebrated various teachers. What can we do without them? Really, who are we without them? It doesn’t matter if we are talking of our non-formal teachers from mothers to the man in the streets who taught you a lesson or two; or those who taught us in various classes, they all deserve to be celebrated. If you can read what I have written, thank a teacher!

I could write of a million teachers; from Mr. Mbatsavde Emmanuel who tested my composition and became a big brother who I will never forget, to Mr. Atile Godwyns, my uncle and guardian through the high school years; Mr David and Suleiman, Aunty Joy, Mr Ukor Ayem (my primary school proprietor)… The list is endless. I have my parents to think of too; my father and mother, Mr. Charles Ayede, now even Belle, Professor Hyginus Ekwuazi and so many others. I thank the Almighty for each of them.

I spent some good months teaching in a secondary school in Taraba state, teaching Literature-in-English and English to students, some of whom couldn’t speak English! It was fun. The experience of my teaching inspired a short story of mine! I have had cause now on and off, to lecture and supervise some university undergraduates and give lessons to some of my fellow writers who I have also learnt from… What am I saying? Seeing both sides of the coin, I am most honoured that at least today, if only for one day, I can say THANK GOD THERE ARE TEACHERS!

For every one of you has ever taught me a thing or two – either privately or publicly, in class or out of it, I am deeply grateful and even if I don’t get the chance to say many times, I never took it for granted. For those of you, others who are teaching elsewhere, and impacting lives, enduring pain to ensure that students learn and get better, you are the real champions. I remember now Mrs. Marie Aduro, a fair proprietor who sweats it out every day in Minna for her students, fighting demons and policies to kill the illiteracy that looms large in that part of the world. I also remember Jennifer Aduro working hard to develop programmes to help aid in teaching. You are a star girl!

Kukogho Iruesiri Samson keeps on doing what he can to impact lives and today, he is also asking that you nominate a teacher to win 10,000 naira! Yaaaay, isn’t that cool? You can check the link HERE. Kudos to Dr. Emman Shehu, BM Dzukogi, Aidee Erhime, Debbie Iorliam and all the other amazing teachers there too.

Make a teacher happy today…

May the times celebrate and the world treat you kind.

Happy Teachers’ Day!

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Posted in COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, EVENTS, SEVHAGE

GO PINK DAY! WEAR IT PINK FOR CANCER OCTOBER 5th 2016

Hola!

You must have heard it somewhere that today is Wear It Pink day in Nigeria, yes? No? But it is! So, we are working together – all of us – to try to emphasise early detection of cancer as a means to save lives. Have you heard of cancer? Of course, you have. You think it is farfetched and can’t come near you or yours? Nice joke!

I have seen it first-hand. Only last year, I lost a dear dear loved one, Mr. Peter Aduro to cancer. I still don’t know how it happened and till the end of time, I am sure we will trade different stories about how it happened. Bottom line? Cancer. I have had friends talk about it too, how cancer affected their loved ones. In December last year, an elder friend of mine who is like a big brother, lost someone dear to him too. And the sad part is the cancer just springs on you like that thief in the night…

But I digress much from what happened today, and I hope the digression was it… Today, in collaboration with Nigerians all over the world, we met as partnering Non-Governmental Organisations and Civil Society Organisations to go GAGA PINK! We decided to go beyond a touch of pink to ensure we let the message we heard. We had an activity, discussed cancer – shared thoughts on the way forward, prevention, partnering and conquering. We took lots of pictures that we have shared across different platforms and which I present to you now…

 

Partners at today’s event included the Gender and Environmental Risk Reduction Initiative team represented by their ED, Mrs Elizabeth Jeiyol, Otene Ogwuche, Tine Agernor, Gift, Caroline Bako; Sewuese Mary and Debbie Ogenyi from Angel’s Foundation and Ikape James from Elohim Development Foundation. Of course, our SEVHAGE Literary and Development Initiative was represented by Su’ur Su’eddie Vershima Agema (me) and Debbie Iorliam. We had discussions on the day of the Girl Child coming on October 11th, 2016. We will work to have an event and also build strategies to help in the management of data to help in uplifting the girl child in line with the SDGs. Read up and see what you can do on that day too… Again, back to our talk on cancer…

Early detection saves lives…so much as you can, spread the word and depending on which type, find ways to test. Trust me, it is more expensive to treat cancer than prevent it. If you detect early you can have just a small part of you chunked away or get some cure… If it reaches a terminal point, you will degenerate and wither like a candle aflame. Trust me, never a pretty sight.

May the times be kind and may we be filled with the wisdom to do those things that would keep us alive, and healthy enough for ourselves and our loved ones. Amen.

 

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Source:  HERE

 

PS: Remember, it goes beyond October 5th – I am even posting this on the 6th! Do what you can every day. Together, we can fight and win.

Posted in BOOKS, ESSAYS AND LITERARY JOURNEYS, EVENTS, LITERARY MISSIONARY, SEVHAGE

MENTORING NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT THROUGH TEEN AUTHORS (ANA CONFERENCE IN OWERRI) by Su’eddie Vershima Agema

There is something about writing and capturing young hearts, young people, teaching, relearning and making things better. It has been a passion for me. Fortunately, in 2012, I was made a member of the Association of Nigerian Authors’ National Teen Authorship Committee alongside three other fine people.

WE had our first official conference from the 27th to 30th September, 2016 at the Logos Secondary School, Awommama, Imo State. That school is as big as a university! It should be one soon. Well, I will not bore you with the story of my journey from Makurdi to Owerri though I can tell you it was an amazing adventure. I joined public transport and had to take the Bayelsa bus, to drop in Owerri. Believe it or not, fellow passengers from Makurdi included live fish put in water, loads of yams, cassava, rice, orange and all you can talk of. We stopped in Aliade and Otukpo to get more passengers – and load. By the time we were set to fully hit the road, we also had live chickens on board and humans behaving like wild baboons! Oh, but I said I wouldn’t bore you with the journey so let me pity you. Maybe I will write a travelouge on that one at some point.

All delegates were lodged at the Disney hotel, where mobile network bars were shorter than a midget. Members of the Association of Nigerian Authors (from 20 chapters) were represented in addition to members of the National Executive and the National Committee. We went to the School for Day 1 of events on Wednesday 28th. We had heavy brunch in the Senate room of the school – I skipped though. IT was a lovely table with people like Denja Abdullahi (ANA President), Professor J. O. J Nwachukwu-Agbada, Professor Sam Ukala, BM Dzukogi (one of Nigeria’s most ardent Teen author activist), and Usman Nurain Muhammad (a teen author from Gombe who schools in ABU Zaria, who I quickly made friends with).

We walked to the field where we were to have the welcome ceremony and stared the sun in the eye as we introduced ourselves to wild applause by the gathered students and other guests. Professor Nwachukwu-Agbada (who was the Chairman) and Denja Abdullahi gave their speeches, then Professor Ukala (who won the NLNG Prize for Literature with his Iredi’s War) took the stage delivering a powerful keynote address ‘Mentoring Teen Authors for National Development’. I was working on my laptop and paying passive attention but soon, I had my head up. Ukala’s message mainly stressed that the artist is the visioner who sets the pace and redefines thinking, setting a course which humanity should take. He said that if our country is to grow and become the land of our dreams, then teenagers need to be groomed to think different, write better and redefine the orientation of our society. He got a standing ovation and I had to get my books to him quickly. BM Dzukogi spoke on the testimony of the Hilltop Arts Centre in Minna. BM was one of the originators of the National Teen Authorship scheme in Nigeria. As General Secretary of ANA, he also inaugurated the Logos School Arts Centre in 2012 which has now published three anthology for students and teachers. BM spoke of his son, Saddiq Dzukogi who has published three books and more (Saddiq has been shortlisted for the ANA Poetry Prize twice and is an editor to many fine poetry journals online). He spoke of other alumni of the Arts Centre which have continued to triumph because of their early start. He urged other states to go and start their versions of the centre and do their creativity campaigns.

John Sarpong (a 69 year old Ghanaian writer who was a part of the conference) gave a speech after ensuring that everyone danced. When he stood up to talk, everyone wondered what the Baba was going to say. Then, we were all dancing, then laughing and when he left, we were sober. So, what did he really say? A lot. Bottom line, with children, you have to entertain and in that moment, also teach. More like what literature should do, no? (He would later recite a million poems from his head to me; largely sound poems. Ah, Sir Sarpong is a funny man!) Then the Principal of the school spoke, with the occasion rounded up by the Director of the school, who in his vote of thanks gave another speech! Well, don’t worry, we will give small details at some point, hopefully.

We had dinner and went back to the hotel, where I was greeted by the death of the Israeli statesman, Shimon Peres on CNN. I pondered on his life, 93 fruitful years of service to teh earth. And now, he had gone the way of memory. What would time say of us all? I thought as other news items passed including that of OPEC nations trying to work a deal for better oil sales. We had a small writers meet in the lobby. Aha! I also watched a movie, The Walk. (Oh! That’s not meant to be part of this post… But I learnt much from the movie and was inspired. The movie is about Philippe Petit, a high-wire walker who walked a line between the two Twin towers. You should watch that movie. I even picked up some French and Mathematics from there. C’est la vie… C’est la vie!)

Day 2: Well, to save time, we had a fast meal in the hotel and waited, then waited, and waited… till we left for the school late. By 12, we had barely started. Then, we had to wait again. What were we waiting for? Maybe Samuel Beckett would help there. 🙂

But we started at some point, and the Director gave us an opening speech speaking on the value of writing and learning. He told us he had some manuscripts and he had declared to use the conference to learn writing, then finish his work. President Denja Abdullahi gave his speech and then it was time for the main workshop. BM Dzukogi was the first facilitator with his engaging ‘Mentoring as a Strategy for Creative Writing: Perspectives on the Hilltop Arts Centre, Minna.‘ (Click to read all about it.) After his paper which was well received, Professor Joy Eyisi, a Professor of English stood up to deliver her paper (without a paper!) She gave a talk on teaching English and drilled us on grammar. Ah! Most of us learnt we didn’t know how to speak English at all! There are some common errors in English that are so embarrassing! She told us she had been commissioned by the World Bank to teach teachers of English (teach the teacher) in a workshop to hopefully better the grades of students that have kept on falling! The first question she had asked was ‘What is the reason for the falling standard of English performance in examinations across the nation?’ Trust the teachers to give answers like ‘Dying reading culture.’ ‘Facebook.’ ‘Poor home manners.’ etc etc.

Professor Joy had presented 20,000 Naira and a new dictionary to the various participants, at each of the various areas she had taught across the federation. The deal was simple, if anyone could get up to 45 spellings right out of the 50 simple common words she was going to dictate, the person would get both money and dictionary (she added that any strange word she dictated would be withdrawn if they protested). Sadly, the highest result was 17 (or was it 20) out of 50! She kept her money and dictionary, and the teachers kept their shame! We all learnt from the fair professor.

Workshop over, Mr. Anaele Ihuoma gave the vote of thanks. Then, we went on a tour of the Arts Centre of the school. We were impressed. We took shots, smiled, made noise and headed out to Owerri town for a meal. It took us an hour or two to get there but the food was worth it. When we were through, our bus got caught under a live wire from an overhead electric pole! Don’t ask me how it happened. It took us time for the agberoes there to clear everything. When they were through, they asked for 7,000 Naira! We settled after much pleading and moved on. We got to a short cut and after a small traffic jam, found out the road had been closed. So, we took another route and finally arrived at our Disney hotel.

We refreshed and came down to the lobby to talk. Mr. Thompson Abutu (from Kogi chapter), David Onotu (from Plateau chapter), Moses Oginni-Momodu (from Oyo chapter), Richard Inya (from Ebonyi chapter), Okechukwu Onuegbu (from Anambra), Anaele Ihuoma (the national auditor) amongst others, all had one tale or the other. I walked from one side of the lobby to the other, sharing a laugh where necessary, frowning deeply alongside anyone who needed it and just being a comrade 🙂

It was soon time to drag a tired body upstairs and I did. I checked on Usman Nurain to be sure he was fine and headed to my room. I tried writing but ah, as one of my aunts would say a million times; you can’t cheat nature!

Friday morning. Farewells and I headed out to find the park. Now, instead of heading straight to the place I had been directed, I decided to sightsee and made a friend at the Cathedral of Assumption! The Igbo man swore that he would soon sell his blood – or anything else – so that he would go abroad and make money! He laughed a lot and agreed to be my photographer. When I was leaving, we shook hands and he smiled his gratitude.

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Tourist shots…

The Owerri people on the streets were really nice and kept rushing me to the park, some a bit irritated if I stayed a second too long. Well, I made it to Benue Links, got a fair seat while my fellow passengers were a bit squeezed behind. We had no chickens, fish or baboons but I am sure some people would swear that the driver was an ass. What was my business? I enjoyed what I could and headed back to Makurdi, thinking of how best to write better stories for children, inspire others and be my best, working with all the people I can to promote literature, development and the ideals I believe in. I know I wasn’t alone in that thought. Owerri was that inspiring.

Thank you Camilus Ukah, National Teen Authorship Coordinator for the experience, BM Dzukogi for pioneering much and Denja Abdullahi for all the work you have done and are doing.

Whatever demons we have, may time exorcise them and life give us the opportunity to make every second count.

Cheers!

Day 1…in pictures up and Day 2 down…

Posted in EVENTS, MEET THE POETS

THE SPIRITS OF THE EBEDI INTERNATIONAL RESIDENCY FALL UPON POETS SERVIO GBADAMOSI, EHIZOGIE IYEOMOAN, AND IKECHUKWU NWAOGU

Yes, you have heard of the Ebedi International Residency… and there are spirits there. These spirits are rare in Nigeria – imagine it, electric power supply, water, peace, quiet! Shoot someone already! Yes, let me school you only a bit.

The Ebedi International Residency in Iseyin, Oyo state is one of the few residencies in Nigeria that hosts writers (three at a time) for a period of six weeks giving them time to work on any creative piece of their choice. Now, they also get a small stipend (about thirty thousand naira or so) in the period and are isolated from distractions.

The three writers featuring in the September/October 2016 edition are my people, Ehi’zogie Iyeomoan, Ikechukwu Nwaogu and the cool Servio Gbadamosi.

Ehi’zogie is from Edo state and has an enviable list of awards in poetry which I wouldn’t want to waste your time mentioning. Just know, the guy can write and he has written. Last year, in Jos, we were in a hotel together with Saddiq Dzukogi, Romeo Oriogun (there was a fourth person… Eh, okay, I was the fourth person) and reading through our collective verse, I couldn’t help but note, ah, this really is a poet to watch out for any time. We were at other events last year too but again, I wouldn’t bore you much. He has a published collection of poetry, Flames of Forest, which was written to some acclaim. He also has a considerable number of poems published online. The thing with Ehi’zogie is he gets better with every new verse… So, he is working on a new collection there at Ebedi titled A Spring of Endless Songs. I have seen some of the poems, and I liked most of them but wrinkled my nose at a few others 🙂 He is working on refining and redefining that collection. We wish him luck!

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Ehi’zogie Iyeomoan, Ikechukwu Nwaogu, Servio Gbadamosi – The picture was taken after a long journey, so no vex. the guys are actually finer and more youthful looking 😉 

Ikechukwu Nwaogu… is a fiction writer and playwright. His work has appeared on different sites including www.naijastories.com (he is my brother for being here, I belong to the first generation of the Naija Stories family), http://www.mainlandbookcafe.com, http://www.shughar.com, http://www.elsieisy.com, and on http://www.facebook.com (well, almost everyone’s writings has appeared there, no? 🙂 ). Equally, his nonfiction pieces have appeared on http://www.mainlandbookcafe.com, and his personal blog,  www.inkspilla.wordpress.com. While at Ebedi, Ikechukwu will be working on a collection of short stories and if God agrees, a novel. We can only pray for that. And him too, of course.

The third writer and certainly the baddest of them all, Servio Gbadamosi! (Blow the trumpet!) I handed over the ANA Poetry Award to this young man in 2015, after getting tired of being the ANA Award holder for 2014 🙂 … He won the award with his poetry collection, A Tributary in Servitude which I begged him to publish. Note that he didn’t give me a kobo when he won the award! Any way, we have enjoyed many drinks and meals since then so I think that is compensation. But who is Servio? Ah! He is a poet, and Ibadan based culture and development practitioner. He is the brain behind Winepress Publisher and one of the founding partners of the famous WriteHouse Collective. Servio is one of Nigeria’s leading publishing consultants and a book dealer of great note. He has been published in several journals and anthologies like Crossroads: Anthology of Poems in Honour of Christopher Okigbo, Fela’s Re-arrangement: A Collage of the Poetic Biography of Nigeria’s Folkhero of Afrobeat Music and The Sky is Our Earth: Anthology of Fifty Young Nigerian Poets.

Servio hopes to use the opportunity of his residency ‘to research, reflect and continue work on a new collection of poems titled, From Northwind

All the three writers will also take part in the mentorship of secondary school students in Iseyin and environs in the area of creative writing, drama and public speaking.

Now in its sixth year of operation, the Ebedi Residency is a private initiative for writers to complete their creative works in an enabling environment at no cost. The Residency which has hosted about 75 writers from countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa, Cameroun, Ghana and Ivory Coast since its inception has also produced several award winning writers. The writers have included our SEVHAGE author, Professor Dul Johnson, my good friend Professor Musa Idris Okpanachi and the satire King, Elnathan John whose book, BORN ON A TUESDAY shortlisted for the 2016 NLNG Prize was completed at the Ebedi Residency.

Wait, why did Ebedi carry my friends and leave me? Hmmm, okay, maybe because I didn’t apply. But you can apply and should apply. To apply, visit http://ebedihills.com/how-to-apply (the link was down a while back but keep trying and go see what you can do). Best of luck to the residents at the moment and to all of you who would apply. For us all others, let’s keep writing, reading and being our very best. Cheerio!

Posted in EVENTS, LIFE

PROUDLY AJEBO by Dike Chukwumerije

You know you have become an ajebo when you find one dead Daddy Longlegs in your bathing water and, after scooping it out, you hesitate, grab a towel, run to the kitchen, break open a fresh bottle of Dettol and empty two caps in the bucket before proceeding. This is a sure sign. When you are handed a plate of iwu ngwo and your spoon hovers over it because there, under the thin strips of cassava, you see a small shiny insect taking a leisurely stroll. But village brother to the left and village cousin to the right are wolfing it down without scrutiny, so you rotate your plate round and start to eat from the side opposite to the strolling arthropod, and when you get to the vicinity of its ambulation you pat your stomach and announce loud enough for all to hear, ‘aho e ju’. I am full. And swiftly cast plate and insect aside. This too is a sure sign.

It’s been that kind of weekend, you know, one in which I studied the bandaged hand of the roadside roasted corn seller, and wondered if the incomparable pleasure of striping the crisped ube of its purple skin so its sour sweetness could blend seamlessly into a mouth full of meticulously masticated corn, was worth the risk of sharing this girl’s unknown ailment. Well, I finally decided it was, yes, but my brother what other sign do I need than the length of time it took, this evaluation of risk and reward, to know that I am now an ajebo? Or the fact that I who buried and mourned my father till the day I said, I will not mourn again, please, o gini? Life must go on. Then stood staring into the freshly dug grave of his sister and thought – Damn! I thought I was immune to this thing. Damn! Because the baby on the flight back, two rows in front, and looking back made me want to start making funny faces, with his round eyes like tear drops, making me wonder why there is so much hate in the world.

Or the airport taxi that waylaid me right out of the doors of Arrivals trying to sell me a N6000 ride back to town. Is it not N5000 again? Ok. Let us not argue – I told him – Let me see if someone will agree to take for N5000. And he buckled. Walking past me, he buckled and said – Oya come, Oga, rather than lose the entire goat is it not better to just lose its tail? Ever attentive for fresh metaphors, I said – What? And he said, Is it not true? To God who made me, Oga, I have been here for 3 days waiting my turn. We are over 700 taxies here. Is it not better I take the N5000 and go than keep waiting in this stinking place? And he lamented the lack of jobs, his desire for a new one, the distance to his home in Masaka. And I caught a fleeting look of his eyes in the rearview mirror, dull and crinkled with worry. Not my business. But the ajebo in me was stricken. What can we do in the face of overwhelming odds? I got to my destination and paid him his N6000.

Would he have come back if I didn’t? I don’t know. Because he drove away with my phone lying where it had slipped out as I struggled to pull out that extra N1000. You know how it is, patting your pockets at your doorstep, realizing the car speeding off is carrying your contact list, pictures of your wife and children, irreplaceable videos of moments in time you can never recover. Like the movies, I thought – I’ll cut him off! So, I ran down a side-street, sprinting like the day I lost the 400m final in JSS. That day too I ran my heart out. Like that day, I was seconds from the top of the road when he went roaring past, unnoticing of my flailing arms. So, I jumped into a nearby taxi and gasped, ‘Follow that car!’ But this is not a Hollywood movie. No. My very Nigerian taxi driver refused to start his car until I told him what exactly was pursuing me. That meant catching my breath first while all the time watching my phone disappearing down the road. No matter. I went back home and called the phone from my wife’s own. He answered. In that time, he had gotten to Lugbe already. But turned immediately and came back, holding out the phone, apologizing profusely, swearing he had no idea he had a phone he could have sold for thousands lying in his backseat. And I smiled at him and thought to myself – Hmm. This one too na ajebo…

‪#‎tolerance‬ ‪#‎originality‬ ‪#‎nsw7‬ ‪#‎madeinnigeria‬
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If you like things like this, then keep a date with me on Friday 30 Sep 7pm, or Sat 01 Oct 6pm, or Sun 02 Oct 6pm where I will be presenting ‘MADE IN NIGERIA’ a performance poetry production that explores key aspects of our 102 years history as Nigerians, and the distinct characteristics we have evolved in that time. It’s the 7th Edition of the Night of the Spoken Word (NSW7) Poetry Show, and buying tickets online qualifies you for a raffle draw. No lie. You could win a weekend for 2 at the Transcorp Hilton. For updates follow me on twitter and Instagram @nswpoetry, and like our facebook page – dikechukwumerijensw. Live Life Your Way.

 

Cover Image: http://naij.com

 

This is also part of our #LoveNaijaSeries. Read the first, ‘Singing the Song of Wrong’ Here

Posted in EVENTS

GUEST WRITER SESSION IN ABUJA HOLDS TODAY 30-07-16

The celebrated Guest Writer Session, organised by the Abuja Writers’ Forum, comes up today, the 30th of July, 2016 at the Aso Hall of Nanet Suites, Central Business District, Abuja. For small tips on previous sessions, click HERE.

Today’s session is themed around Nelson Mandela, whose day was celebrated earlier this month. Contemporary South African literature will be brought alive through talks, music, and other works of literature. But it doesn’t stop there… There will be four artistes to thrill; Kukogho Iruesiri Samson (KIS), Nwemneme Andy Chukwunonye, Margaret Hepworth and Dave Adzer.

The first is Kukogho Iruesiri Samson (a.k.a KIS), poet and literary promoter par excellence. He is the author of two books, What can words do? And I said these words. KIS is a multiple award winning poet and is the founder of Words Rhymes and Rhythm (WRR), an online poetry platform that has gained massive social media following. He is a social cause promoter and on days when he wants to, can be controversial – hee hee hee, yeah, anyone who knows him knows that. He has a passion for teaching and helping to promote the arts and social causes such as stopping rape.

The second guest for the July Edition of the Guest Writer Session is Nkemneme Andy Chukwunonye who is the author of Letter to Mandela. He is currently a Chief Research Fellow with the Institute and Conflict Resolution in Abuja. The poems in Hello Mandela, like that of the traditional African writer, are concerned with disillusionment and hope, injustice and the various challenges plus triumphs that are the lot of the African.

Margaret Hepworth is a teacher and educator who is the author of Clarity in Time, which features Mandela as a fictional character (she had to get permission from the Nelson Mandela Foundation in South Africa for this). Clarity in Time is a story of courage that is themed on a young Australian teacher who realises that there comes a time when one has to leave the side lines of life and become active, if any change is to come. Hepworth is a big fan of Nelson Mandela and more than just using him for fiction, she uses his story and words (usually paraphrased) to teach and encourage people about reconciliation, forgiveness and rising above set expectations of self.

To cool all off would be Dave Adzer, the cool soft voiced musician and guitarist who has been a thrill at several Guest Writer Sessions before. He would be on hand once more to be the melody to all the words. Yes, in addition, there will also be the usual raffle draw for free books amongst other cool happenings.

If you have any enquiries about the Abuja Writers’ Forum (AWF), the Guest Writer Session You can send AWF questions to Edith Yassin on 08051614969 or send a mail to abujawriters@gmail.com, visit the AWF website at www.abujawriters.com. Other literary happenings in Abuja or the like? Come on, drop a note in the comment or send me a mail at eddieagema@yahoo.com. Is this where I also announce that I am an editor for pay and publisher?  😉

Whatever you do, if you are in Abuja, ensure you make out time to come to the Guest Writer Session today, the 30th of July, 2016 at the Aso Hall of Nanet Suites, Central Business District, Abuja by 4:00pm. Bring friends… Spread the word!

Posted in EVENTS

THE POWERED ABUJA GUEST WRITER SESSION

Abuja is king when it comes to literary fun… Yes, and we are not doing comparisons before you start calling Lagos and Makurdi 😉 The Guest Writer Session put up by the Abuja Writers’ Forum held at Aso Hall, Nanet Suites, Central Business District, Abuja is one of the most consistent literary events in the country. No contest. Each event brings together amazing authors and talents from different fields that leave you smiling. Past authors who have graced the event include award winning authors like Musa Idris Okpanachi, Kasham Keltuma, Gimba Kakanda, Tanure Ojaide, Halima Aliyu, Dul Johnson, E. E. Sule, Elnathan John, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, Hajo Isa, Lois Otse Adams and even Chimamanda Adichie (well, hers was for a workshop)! Two months back we screened a movie by Ishaya Bako called Henia. I wrote a post on that. Read here. I had a reading there too with the beautiful painter Numero Unoma and the economist, Tope Fasua. There was also that fantastic time when they brought Satan to town! Hee hee hee, I am kidding. They brought Obinna Udenwe, the author of Satans and Shaitans along with his publisher and colleagues from Minna. The event always has lovely music and a great audience that includes writers, readers and fun seekers alike. The truth is it is always fun and you really wouldn’t want to miss the event if you are in town. It is a monthly event that holds every last Saturday of the month at the Aso Hall, Nanet Suites, Central Business District, Abuja, down the road from Eagle Square if you are coming from Area 11 and/or Asokoro and on the road to Transcorp Hilton/Millennium Park if you are going farther. Time is usually 4:00pm on the dot.

Who did they have the last time? That was June 25th 2016 (the event is for every last Saturday of the month). There were three guest artistes. The poet, G’Ebinyo Ogbowei who in addition to other awards has also been shortlisted (more than once!) for the NLNG Prize in poetry. He read from his book, Marsh Boy and other poems. Now, the fun part is Mr. Ogbowei is a lecturer and a pastor. However, when he started reading his poems, everyone forgot that part. Like the typical Niger-Deltan, most of the poems in the collection – and those he read – were about the troubles in the Niger-Delta. He also spoke about the agitations in the land, recalling a childhood of beauty that is now only a footnote of history. The pain was apparent. There was another side of him shown though… The lover man. He read some love poems that had people smiling. Mr. Ogbowei is an elderly man who has this commanding presence and when he reads, ahhhhh, it seems he is in a new world. Word after word just drop flowing, captivating the willing listener…

The last edition also had Edify Yakusak who read After they left, a thriller that focuses on the killings in the middle belt. Edify’s narrative is gripping and explores a part of us many of us wish never was. She read, deeply concentrating on her text as everyone watched, thinking of the graphic images and frustrations she conjured from her imagination. The other person on the list of performers was Sidney Okwoche, a final year student of the Federal University of Technology, Makurdi studying Forestry. Sidney thrilled us to some fine music. The songs were largely environmental issue based. Not a few of us had a rethink on a lot of issues. Sidney uses his music to protest injustice, particularly those against the environment and humanity. Interestingly, he only had a guitar and his voice. Nothing else. But, he did great justice. After the performances, there was a raffle draw for books and other gifts which a lot of people won. I was there with Aondosoo Labe and Aidee Erhime but none of us won anything. Better luck next time, abi? We gisted with a lot of people after the event and resurrected creative passions. These events can really inspire one…

So, who’s next and what’s to be expected? I thought you’d never ask!

The next session of the Guest Writer Session comes up on the 30th of July, 2016 at the Aso Hall of Nanet Suites, Central Business District, Abuja. It is themed around Nelson Mandela, whose day was celebrated earlier this month. Contemporary South African literature will be brought alive through talks, music, and other works of literature. But it doesn’t stop there… There will be four artistes to thrill; Kukogho Iruesiri Samson (KIS), Nwemneme Andy Chukwunonye, Margaret Hepworth and Dave Adzer.

Again, I think it is going to be worth the thrill. So, if you are in town, why don’t you drop by? It is always fun! If you have any enquiries about the Abuja Writers’ Forum (AWF), the Guest Writer Session You can send AWF questions to Edith Yassin on 08051614969 or send a mail to abujawriters@gmail.com, visit the AWF website at www.abujawriters.com.

 

Posted in EVENTS, REVIEWS

WHEN SATAN CAME TO ABUJA: WRITERS BEWARE!

If you know anything about Abuja, then you know it is the new city of sin. Not so new. It has taken over from Lagos and all those other evil lands. Preachers have done their best but it seems there are a lot of people who are fighting the prophets… Have you heard about the church of Satan? There’s much happening in the capital city.

So, I came to Abuja but there are several people who know that already. I should blog about what has been happening since Sunday. The capital city is burning with activities and every day has been some day of book and book magana plus one religious this or that. Now, let’s talk about yesterday, Saturday 30th April 2016. It was the Abuja Writers’ Forum’s Guest Writer Session at Nanet Suites. The artistes of the day were Obinna Udenwe (author of Satans and Shaitans), Ishaya Bako, a film maker, and a musician, Austin Oroko. Yeah, Obinna was the Satan holder. Of course, you know that is what this piece is about, no?

The session started with a musical interlude – okay, maybe an opening – by Austin Oroko. Next, Obinna Udenwe read some pieces from his engaging thriller, Satans and Shaitans, which was joint prize winner for the Association of Nigerian Authors’ Prose Prize 2015. The book is about terrorism in Nigeria and shows a backstory of what might be happening – of collaborations between the most powerful and wealthy people in the country; Christians, Muslims and everyone else. All of them working to ensure that they maintain power and get stronger in their caprices. This book if looked at critically might be confused as the testament behind what has become Boko Haram today. Remember it is fiction though. Obinna hinted that when he wrote the book, people had mentioned that he would be killed. Well, he published the book in the United Kingdom in 2014 and Nigeria in 2015. Still, he was still alive.

Ishaya Bako took the next turn showing his twenty-minute movie, Henna. The movie is set in a typical Northern Nigerian environment. It is centred around Reina, a girl of puberty age who is meant to be given out in marriage to a Mallam, just a few days after seeing her first menses. Now, we are shown Reina is a very brilliant student. It becomes disturbing that her dreams would be cut short because tradition dictates she must submit to the whims of a husband. I was touched because when I served in Bantaje, a community in Taraba state, some years ago, I had some of my finest and most beautiful students just disappear from class. It is like, you just don’t see them again. Much later, you might find them in town or get the memo from someone – they are married. The end.  Somewhere else, her friend Amina, dies after being married at a very early age. Ishaya’s narrative is engaging and he puts a twist to the tale that defies what would ordinarily happen in society. This was the second time AWF was hosting Ishaya. I was there at the first when he screened Fuelling Poverty, which I hear has been – or was – banned.

During the screening, Ishaya moved around, getting comments from members of the audience even as NTA interviewed him. Luckily, we didn’t say anything wrong or he would have caught us! Hee hee hee. Anyway, it was time for questions and answers.

Several questions were asked. Notably, Paul Liam challenged the love angle of Obinna’s narrative and said that the character, Donaldo, had not been properly developed and there weren’t pointers to what he eventually became – a murderer or so. Then, we were whispering, and the idea mainly from Paul Liam that there was a link between Chimamanda Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus and Obinna’s Satans and Shaitans was raised. There is this thing about the wicked Christian father who deals with the daughter in the two novels. In the case of the Obinna’s novel, the father is an Evangelist. Nana Sule, who sat beside me, was the one whose mouth we chewed the question into. The question was if it was possible that the author would have made a different person the wicked one, say the mother, or made his narrative markedly different from Chimamanda’s. Obinna replied that there was no way he could have done so because in Igboland, where he comes from, ‘fathers especially Christians like that are known to be the callous and wicked ones.’ Mothers are caring so there is no way he could have written it differently. Oh well. Now, we know that Igbo renowned Evangelists are all abusive and vicious. Thanks Obinna.

There were other questions thrown the way of Ishaya Bako the film maker and Austin Oroko – the Otong Kong smooth sounding musician. Oh, I should add that Nana Sule after asking Obinna the question above threw some words towards Austin: ‘I like – scratch that – I love your voice!’ Hmm, no be small blush o! Before the event started, he had passed by us in the restaurant and the girl had complimented his hat with a twinkle to her eye. We noticed the blush then, though I tried to cover up for my guy. So, the house went all rowdy at her ‘I love your voice’ compliment o. Dr Emman Shehu, our AWF President had to hold Austin’s head down so that it wouldn’t swell too much and blow.

There was a raffle draw for books to be won. Almost all of my people from Aidee Erhime to TJ Benson [who was shortlisted for the Saraba Manuscript Prize, Fiction Category], Nurudeen Temitayo [publisher of AMAB books who published the Nigerian version of Satans and Shaitans] Nana Sule…won. Halima Aliyu was the only one who didn’t win o. Halima is the Lead Editor at AMAB, the author of Fire on the Tip of Ice (a collection of short stories) and a brilliant mind. We sat together through the event – did I say that before? I was touched when a father brought his son, Favour, to me to sign Home Equals Holes for. I pray more parents would expose their children to such forums early enough.

It was soon time to head out after taking pictures and all those good stuff of chatting, yabbing and all. I tried to convince two new acquaintances, Aisha and Hadiza Obi to follow their thoughts to join AWF. I hope they will.

Did I mention some of the other guests that attended the event? Okay, there was Abubakar Adam Ibrahim [award winning author of Whispering Trees and A Season of Crimson Blossoms], Emma Shercliff, the fine critic Mike Ekunno, Dr. Abigail, Amina Aboje, the Galadima of Lokoja, Hajo Isa…amongst others. The AWF Guest Writer Session holds every last Saturday of the month at Nanet Suites, Central Area, Abuja while they have critique sessions every

IMG_20160430_181447
Emma Shercliff, Su’eddie & Abubakar Adam Ibrahim [Grinning in a shaky picture thanks to Halima Aliyu’s excited hands]
other Sunday in the month but the last at Terazzo Lounge, Port Harcourt Crescent, off Gimbiya Street in Area 11, Garki Abuja. 4pm prompt for all events. Hola if you need any more info or if you want to register into the forum. Anyways… back to that Saturday night…yesterday.

I got my stuff and took a walk with three friends – Laolu was one. The literary discussion had only begun. But let me not bore you too much. There’s so much to be discussed on the literary scene and new narratives to be written with others meant to be rewritten. I only hope we are courageous enough and get the platform to engage meaningfully.

Bonjour!