Posted in LIFE, POETRY

building memories by su’eddie vershima agema

i build memory
one block tenderly placed on another
of love and disaster; right steps and wrong songs
time cementing each with sorrows savoured, lessons learnt

slowly, materials disintegrate
shattering what once was me

the years wither to dust
and I am left to start building afresh
lost in sands that have become my now

 

 

memories-b

  • Su’eddie Vershima Agema (First published in Ake Review 2016)
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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.

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Thanks Google Images. Let’s walk.
Posted in DEVELOPMENT, ESSAYS AND LITERARY JOURNEYS, LIFE

BIAFRA AND THE REST OF US by Abubakar Adam Ibrahim

There is an eagerness for everyone to say something about Biafra, to blame somebody for the chaos that is about to unfold if care is not taken. This is not the time to say that IPOB had it coming. The issue here is that human lives are being wasted.
First, the killing of Biafran agitators by armed soldiers and the inhumane treatment soldiers have been metting out on Nigerians for decades now is not justifiable under the law and must be condemned for what it is – a gross abuse of the fundamental human right to life and human dignity. At the same time, the hounding of Northerners and other ethnicities in the Southeast, to be murdered in cold blood in the name of retalition by Biafran agitators should also be condemned in the strongest terms. These acts could lead to a cancerous spread of retaliatory violence in other parts of the country and in that case, no one will be safe. The anxiety in Jos should serve as a resounding alarm.
One would think that the lessons of history should serve to remind us that violence either by the authorities or by the civilian populace has never resulted in any meaningful accomplishment. The civil war and more recently the Boko Haram insurgency as well as the Zaria massacre should be enduring lessons for us.
But unfortunately, it would seem we are too anxious to repeat the same mistakes, perhaps on an even grander scale.
Since we are not savages, and I strongly believe we are not, both the government and the citizens must follow laid down laws to pursue their objectives, hence:
1. All acts of violence by all parties in all parts of the country must stop at once. We simply cannot have our soldiers turning their guns on us at the slightest provocation, neither should we take laws into our hands.
2. All those, soldiers and civilians, who are found culpable in killing or maiming persons or destroying property or otherwise causing a breach of the law must be subjected to the laws of the country. Peace can only be sustained by justice and fairness.
3. We must recognise that not every Igbo person subscribes to Nnamdi Kanu’s suicidal ideology the same way that not every non-Igbo hates the Igbo and should therefore avoid generalization and stereotyping people as well as spreading hate.
4. That if some people no longer wish to be part of the country they should be allowed to pursue this within the framework of the law. If the constitution does not recognise a referendum then IPOB, which I understand has the ears of some senators and political leaders from the Southeast, should push for it through constitutional means (via the National Assembly) and if this succeeds, a referendum could be conducted within the framework of the law. But until that is done, the Nigerian constitution maintains that the country remains indivisible and the president is sworn to defend the constitution and the territorial integrity of Nigeria.
5. IPOB must recognize that forming a parallel government with a “Biafran Secret Service” is a treasonable offense as well as Mr. Kanu’s hate speech and calls to “burn down Nigeria.” Regardless, there are lawful ways of dealing with this issue. If a court of law believes that Mr. Kanu has violated his bail conditions and issues a warrant, he should be re-arrested lawfully and prosecuted. And the last time I checked, these is not the duty of armed soldiers.
6. Muhammdu Buhari is the duly elected president of the country. He is human and admittedly could have handled this issue with more tact through considerate words and actions (that 5 percent talk was a grave error of judgment). And Igbo leaders as well could have played a bigger role in curbing Kanu’s excesses. This is the time for leaders, not rulers, to step forward and appeal for calm, for anxious gladiators to sheath their swords and for reason to prevail. That which hate cooks will always leave a lasting bitter aftertaste.
The sanctity of human lives must be prevalent in our minds at all times. Overhead, the vultures of doom are circulating and for the young ones eager for action, remember what is said: when surrounded by vultures, try not to die.
May reason and peace prevail.

 

 

Abubakar Adam Ibrahim is a multiple award winning writer and journalist who lives in Abuja.

Posted in LIFE, THANKS, TRIBUTES

All Honour for Fr J. D. O’Connell by Agatha Aduro

Today, I stand to salute a great man, whose greatness is bellowed by his utter humility. A priest, a teacher, a moulder of character. An Irish man, a priest of the other of St. Patrick’s Society – Very Rev. Fr. J. D. O’Connell, SPS, MFR.
After serving as a priest of Minna Diocese for 55yrs and school Principal for 50, Fr’s time in Nigeria is slowly coming to an end. It was therefore only apt that one of the many occasions in his honor be held today.
One day, I will write about this man. About his time at Government Secondary School Minna which is more correctly called Fr’s school – there is no higher honor than to be called Fr’s boy. A badge many wear with pride. His boys are legion; former governors, commissioners, lawmakers and even the legendary Cyril Stober. If you were a young boy in Minna and you were not in GSS, you were of all men, to be most pitied. And I perhaps may hold the distinction of being the only girl Fr wanted to offer admission to after it became an all-boys school – I mean, he had a complete plan of how I would sew the trademark gray trousers.
Remembering his stories of carrying wooden desks and chairs across River Kaduna to the hinter areas of Wushishi bring tears to my eyes.
Remembering his stories of disabling one headlight of his car so that the truant boys he was after, in the bush would not realize it was he, imagining it was a motorbike until he was upon them, bring laughter to my lips.
If you saw a school boy walking home in gray trousers but without a school shirt or with one leg of shoe, just know Fr was punishing him. Go home and explain to your parents why you went to school with shirt and came back without.
One day, I will write about this man, quietly dignified in the suffering that Parkisons brought him in this latter part of his stay. Determined to be completely self-reliant and hesitant to ask for help if he thought it was going to be a burden. Wanting to cause the least amount of disruption possible. One day, I will write about him, and it will break my heart.
Everyone in Niger feel an intense need to show this man how much he really means to us: from road walks to traditional titles. Today the Niger state government announced the re-naming of GSS Minna to Fr. J. D O’Connell Secondary School. That they may truly be Fr’s boys.
Fr O’Connell, much like the rest of us, doesn’t want to go. And when I say ‘Fr, don’t go’, he laughs. Because we both know that he is loyal to his vows, even to the last; Poverty. Abstinence. Obedience. Always Obedience.
It is the same laugh we get when he’s being stubborn about something. The same laugh we get when we say ‘Fr, you’re not sitting properly. Stand up and sit properly’. And he laughs, and stands up and attempts to fit his Parkinson-afflicted body properly into the chair. Or when we ask ‘Fr, have you been exercising?’ Always that laugh.
Jennifer and I are not in Minna at the moment so on Monday he called us to ask us our email addresses. On Tuesday, we both received mails with almost 30 pictures form the varioua activities going on now. Because Fr. O’Connell.
One day, I will write about this man. But today, let me say, here is a man who completely embodied his society’s motto: Caritas Christi Urget Nos; The love of Christ compels us.
Today, let me say ‘Here is a man, truly like Christ’. Here is a Man of God.

I’m afraid to tag all the Fr’s Boys on my Facebook friend list because this post will become a market! (That’s how we refer to GSS when we talk – Fr how was market today?) But I will. And if you are tagged and you believe Fr had any impact on your life, share on your wall and tag your friends! Heck, share this post on your blogs and everywhere else.

God bless Fr. O’Connell. God bless us all.

 

Posted in INSPIRATION, LIFE

And when my sorrow was born by Kahlil Gibran

And when my Joy was born, I held it in my arms and stood on the
house-top shouting, “Come ye, my neighbours, come and see, for Joy
this day is born unto me.  Come and behold this gladsome thing that
laugheth in the sun.”

But none of my neighbours came to look upon my Joy, and great was
my astonishment.

And every day for seven moons I proclaimed my Joy from the
house-top—and yet no one heeded me.  And my Joy and I were alone,
unsought and unvisited.

Then my Joy grew pale and weary because no other heart but mine
held its loveliness and no other lips kissed its lips.

Then my Joy died of isolation.

And now I only remember my dead Joy in remembering my dead Sorrow.
But memory is an autumn leaf that murmurs a while in the wind and
then is heard no more.

Posted in INSPIRATION, LIFE

MILES DOWN THE RIGHT

I woke up today, preparing for a lot of things, thinking of how I can better myself to be better for others. I thought of how I could make life far better, but somewhere deep within I guess I thought more of how I could have a better life for myself. Nothing wrong with that but it gets to that point for a lot of us when we slowly put ourselves above everything and everyone else, then forget what life is all about. At church yesterday, I was reminded greatly that sometimes in trying to live, we die, walking roads that might not have been our calling. We suffer depressions because we do not get certain things we want; we suffer depressions because we are simply working on feeding our most carnal desires and forgetting that there’s a bigger picture we are meant to help paint, with love, kindness, beauty and so much more.

I went out and had an interesting day, was not able to spread as much cheer, came back and found in the mirror a man with red eyes and amnesia, someone who might slowly have been forgetting life. I curled into a ball and tried to get the stress off but it stuck to my fevered subconscious as sleep played troubled games with my consciousness.

I got up, a lot later and thought of all the the awards and garlands that had passed me by; those won by others and of several missed opportunities. I thought again of all those I had neglected and all the good things I have stopped but should continue.

We are all here for a reason and it is easy to lose our paths when we focus on the wrong things, get into the wrong company or just live lives without taking time to reflect, meditate and strategise, then re-strategise. Who knows what tomorrow holds? When time comes to call, will you be glad of this moment? Will you have played your part right and walked your path well?

It is only noon and the paths still call in these woods of our lives. We all have miles to walk before we sleep.How many miles? Who can tell. Keep walking, and I pray that the roads lead you right.

Posted in COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, INSPIRATION, LIFE, TRIBUTES

GENDER CHANGES AND MOTHERHOOD by Su’eddie Agema

The piece is centred on certain views to gender change but more importantly, motherhood. In beginning, your permission is sought for just a little detour before the main gist…

So, what does one say about them – women that is. They are indeed the essence of everything that the world is. It has been said that there is nothing new under the sun; everything has been done in one way or the other. In essence, there is no inventing the wheel no more; it is just modifications. This is true of women. To talk about the values of women would be to just babble and repeat clichés that have been used from time immemorial. Do we talk about their physical qualities? Lovely hazel eyes; face that shines like the moon; lovely physique; figure eight… Is it their persons? There are descriptions to almost all the ladies we can come across, descriptions that we might want to personalise but have been used over and again. These descriptions come in personages of others who have lived long and granted names to the whole group; there is the great sweet mother of eternity that each one of us professes; Jezebel; Delilah; Mary; … what description?
They are delicate and complicated, true talk. They are different; soft and gentle but in most cases getting all the sympathy. Reminds one of the case of the house where every night the wife would be shouting ‘You would kill me today, you would kill me today!! Ahh! Ahh!! Ahh!!’ In the end, the neighbours tired of the rant and hoping to rescue the lady on this night before her wicked husband killed her, broke the front door of the house which was locked. Behold, the woman was on top of the husband plummeting him with series of blows that would have gained her the heavy weight if she had decided to join the boxing profession. The amazed neighbours in the normal style of doing things, turned and left without helping the poor man who could hardly shout from the pain… So, forgetting the humour, we get to look at the fact that in man cases, when a man is involved in a case and it is the woman on top, he is left to suffer his fate…
Well, that is the case of gender equality. Gender equality has come to mean women getting equal rights in all situations as men and in some other cases, having more rights than them.  It was employed in several sectors ranging from governance where there has been an increased call for more representation of these on boards of administration and governments. In Nigeria, President Jonathan promised that in his new government, there would be far more representation, has he lived up to his promise? You should know the answer. Then, there is the other aspect of women trying increasingly to become more like their male counterparts or even better…

What is wrong with all these? I don’t know. Perhaps, there is no wrong to it, perhaps there is. It must be noted that it is amazing to find great women of character and will. They sure can transform any place. Honestly, any lady who stands up and means it, somehow gets to be outstanding…meaning most ladies hardly fall into average – just greats or failures. The admiration of many for these sort of women is beyond compare.
More and more, the number of professional women rises to the detriment of even mere mothers. The world seems to be losing so many mothers and getting by this extension, many way-ward children. The main compensation these women would give would be to simply give treats of hang-outs and the like to their children or something of the sort. Now, in saying this, one is not unmindful of the exceptional few who find a balance – they are to be praised! But there is the increasing number of women losing themselves and being to become more like men and less than themselves…

One problem rises though, what happens when our women totally lose themselves? Gender roles would naturally attribute mothering and such to women. What happens when they neglect this role and leave it all to some paid or gotten assistant or in some situations, fathers? Hmm, it could be terrible many times. So, what are we driving at? It is good that women are striving to be greater; it is good that they are being given all the attention they are given… but it would be better if they remembered one of their primary roles which is the home or to be more particular, their children. Experience has shown that children who have more care from their mothers turn out to be greater than those who didn’t. By this care now, the watchword is not to spoil but rather to pay closer attention to one’s children. It is the greatest thing that a lady can do.

Forgetting all the attention given to women, or the strives at gender equality and all, the true essence of a woman – and now, we are looking at mothers – is mainly how and what her children would come to be. This is what distinguishes the mother from the father. True, the father is needed to make things right and to give the firm position but the essence of the mother cannot and should not be mistaken or underestimated.

It brings to mind the words of a great lady, Hembadoon Angela Itakpe, ‘A strong successful woman is not one that has built a career only but one that built her home alongside it. Not an easy balance, but we can try. Many times, you will seem to b running one side of this equation only. I guess the main thing there is realising it & trying 2 pull the neglected part back into orbit.’
It is only right to salute all the strong women of the world for their strength and for everything they stand for. It is possible that this piece might have been a bit back and forth but it’s main essence is a call to mind of the changing values of time and the evolving lady who strives to make the world better and more importantly, those mothers out there… There is the plea at the end here now that mothers find time to be mothers for therein would the world get better…

In closing, this piece and indeed my being for this month is dedicated to those professional mothers; whether selling akara or working as a Manager somewhere; shuffling between different jobs; or even struggling with school, exams or doing any other business and finding time to get back to the children. They are indeed miracles that nothing can explain. They are indeed the greatest. No gender equality or comparison can ever be used to measure their worth or put them in a state that would be as just and right as most feminists or others would want. These are the angels that we can’t do without. Thanks for every effort, every tear, every worry and every sacrifice… May the world and even whatever world after they believe in or not, bless their every effort and give them the reward that they truly deserve.

And to us all else, God bless. Amen.

 

(First Published: 22nd October, 2011 HERE)

 

 

 

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Posted in LIFE, POETRY FROM THE WORLD

THE MOMENT OF THE ROSE by Su’eddie Vershima Agema

The Almighty gives a gift – of a rose, to those who are blessed.
You hold it carefully, and ignore the thorns. You smell the fragrance and enjoy its beauty, always knowing that one fine tomorrow perhaps, it will wither. Or maybe you will wither first. Maybe a miracle will enclose you both into an eternal glass that wouldn’t ever break.
Maybe nothing.
There’s just now. You and your rose.
Inhale deep, and enjoy the fragrance. Lock it in your thoughts.
And if tomorrow takes any of you away. Smile, for today, you lived in the greatest of fragrances and beauty: the moment of the rose.

rose-hold

 

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 INSPIRATION, LIFE

SINGING AGAINST THIS SONG OF WRONG by Su’eddie Vershima Agema

I never knew how much I love Nigeria, my country. More and more, I feel it in my soul. The beauty of the several people that come together to form this great entity. I know how much we have lost because I have lived my fair share of three decades in this great place, seeing giants fall, watching establishments lose the essence of that which once lifted them high. Still, I have seen new growth in organisations and people too! Realities we thought would never fade have withered to dust but again, dreams we never dared imagine have become nature.

As time comes again, in this season where disbelief becomes the lot of many a person; when darkness is seen in the clouds of despair occasioned by an economic recession and a confusion that we cannot understand… When peace comes in snatches amid news from diverse parts, from the North-East to the South-South and the middle that belts us in sorrow… When grazers turn terminators and leaders turn raiders of our loot…

There is much to do, so much to do. We have to raise our spirits and fight with every fibre of our strength to keep our sanity, for behind dark clouds lie the sun – waiting to shine again, when you wait. There is the glory of wealth that will be ours again when confusion’s fog lifts and we play our parts. Silence is golden; but what use is gold to the dead? Speak against everything wrong and contribute in every way.

Look around you, there is a song, we need not add to its wrong. Let us chime our tune. You can start by signing at http://bribecode.org or you could simply write against all evils and fight against everything that kills us, support everything that builds the beauty in this land of ours.

Peace.

All for Nigeria

Song for the moment: Great Nation by Timi Dakolo.