A brief account of the poetry workshop: The Poet as Witness, guided by poet Kwame Dawes.
A rainy Saturday winter morn-ning in Oxford. I started walking at 7.45am from Iffley up to the north area of Woodstock in order to reach the Radcliffe Humanities building of Oxford University. I was excited. First, because I was going to go into the architectural entrails of the building that held the philosophy department of the university. This was exciting, because four years before I had intended to volunteer (research for free) in the department in order to soak up in the knowledge I was so hungry to learn and discuss with others. The intention was a failure. Second, because an unknown poet for me, had offered a ‘free’ workshop with the enticing title of The Poet as Witness.
Last year came to an end with me getting a mail from the Nigerian Writers Award group that I had been listed on their 100 Influential Nigerian Writers Under 40. Not a bad way to end the year, right?
My second year on the list and I smiled at the group of names there too: friends like the phenomenal Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, my brothers, Kukogho Iruesiri Samson, T. J. Benson and Romeo Oriogun, the poetic maestros Basiru Bash Amuneni, Dike Chukwumerije, Efe Paul Azino and Graciano Enwerem, the graceful Amara Nicole Okolo, Dami Ajayi, Kenechi Uzor, Eketi Edima Ette, Elnathan John, Emmanuel Iduma, Olulu Holloway, Jumoke Verissimo… to mention a few of my people on the list.
It isn’t always one wakes up in Oxford or to a day when you would attend Kwame Dawes’s poetry workshop. But that was the case on this fine Saturday, 1st December, 2018. The clouds were gloomy but that was the least of my concerns. I had spent the night in the town after coming in from Brighton the previous day. Kwame had had a reading, followed by a showcase of the African Poetry Book Fund books. It was fun but that is story for another day.
Life is one big contradiction in every field but it is more so when you are a writer—or so I think. You think you are there, you think you have the right words. You are in the moment and you bask as Mother Muse slowly pours herself unto your pages through the medium of creativity.
Depending on the time, you push yourself to the end or just rush it to a stop. Finally, you smile at seeming perfection. Ah! For the conscious writer, something pricks you to note that the work might have flaws here and there. So, you might decide to get editors or throw the work away. If you get the right editors, your headache begins. Have you ever noticed how those folks always seem to find faults here or there? Some of the faults are so obvious you have to hit yourself in the head! Ouch! How could you have missed that? This is the beauty of patience and seeking counsel. (Yes, if you miss the editorial seat, you might miss a lot of good stuff that might have made your work better.)
Anyway, you do your rewrite and maybe feel the work is okay… Or you keep editing till you tire out. I have been known on occasion to keep editing right up to the door of the final proofer and printer doors! Anyway, finally, you push the work out, hoping that someone will like it somehow and it will be the ticket to giving you something good. Some of us, and I am a front man in this group, edit and refine our work tying as many screws as possible.
In most cases, you get your work or book published and the feeling, for most, is indescribable. It is like a baby given to a parent. The looks of wonder at the new you is something the adjectives of the universe will not dare present. You hold that book close… Yes, I know there are a few who would look at their own book with bad eyes especially if it didn’t come out the way they like. Talk of all those parents who discover that their children are disfigured or not of the sex they want! But no, we are not talking of those sorts of parents. We are talking of the proud ones and yes, I didn’t derail. We are still talking about books.
It is easy to find authors who pick their published books and see things they wish could have been done or written differently. Many times have authors been caught reading what they hoped they might have put. Some would take a pen and correct a few lines shortly before reading at a festival or something. Sometimes you begin to see things that might best have been removed or something that might have been added for effect. It gets to the case of seeing your grown child not being the perfect baby you had once viewed. The hope is that with the next book, you will take extra precaution and have your heart more expressed.
Usually, the ideal thing that most writers come to discover is that a work is best left to fallow for three months or maybe a year… just enough time for you to have become a stranger so that you will edit your work through fresh eyes since looking at the same thing over slowly makes it seem perfect. But time is not on the side of anyone and how long can one really take? The changes and all might never be enough and we usually have to just halt. Much like what poet and scholar, Hyginus Ekwuazi says echoing older writers of yore, no true work of art has ever been truly completed. You simply have to get the maturity to let it go, and pray that point was a time worth your imperfection.
So much to writing, so much to reading. Oh well. In the end, who knows what I might want to edit from this piece… I will be mature and let it fly. Wherever your writing and reading takes you this weekend, and in the coming week, make it worth the time. Cheers!
The ANA 2017 Literary Prize Winners were announced by one of the judges, Dr. Owojecho Omoha of the University of Abuja at the ANA Convention awards dinner on Saturday 28th October, 2017 held at Royal Choice Inn, Makurdi, Benue State. Only three categories (Drama, Poetry and Prose) were awarded out of the six contestable ANA Literary Prizes. The judges did not find any work worthy enough to merit the ANA/Maria Ajima Prize for Literary Prizes, ANA/Abubakar Gimba Prize for Fiction (Short Stories Collection), and ANA Children’s Literature Prize (for ages 7-13 years). However, an ‘Honourary Mentions’ list (for commendable works not strong enough to merit the award but worth mentioning) were announced alongside the shortlist release in September 2017.
ANA 2017 LITERARY PRIZES WINNERS ANA Prize for Drama Winner: Magnetism by R. C. Ofodile 1st Runner Up: The Masked Crown by Tunji Ajibade 2nd Runner Up: General Ologbosere by Dickson Ekhaguere
ANA Prize for Poetry Winner: For Every Homeland by Obari Gomba 1st Runner Up: Of Waters and the Wild by Ebi Yeibo 2nd Runner Up: A Child of Smell by Seyi Adigun
ANA Prize for Prose Fiction Joint Winners: Across the Gulf by Dul Johnson What It Takes by Lola Akande 1st Runner Up: Devil’s Pawn by Kukogho Iruesiri Samson 2nd Runner Up: Goodbye Tomorrow by Ike Utuagha
The Honourary Mentions and their categories as announced in the list released in September are: ANA /ABUBAKAR GIMBA PRIZE FOR SHORT STORIES • A Tiny Place Called Happiness by Bura-Bari Nwilo
• Gates of Dawn by MSC Okolo
• Tales From Our Past by Lucky James.
ANA CHILDREN’S LITERATURE PRIZE
• The Adventure of Three Wild Boys by Wale Adewale
• Sodality: A Tale of Friendship by Chioma A Diru
• Dancing Tree by Stanley Okeke Oji
ANA/MARIA AJIMA PRIZE FOR LITERARY CRITICISM
• ‘Radical Theatre and Criticism of anti-People’s Culture: A Study of Esiaba Irobi’s Hangmen also Die’ by Nwagbo Pat -Obi
• ‘Vicarious Idiosyncrasies: The Mother-Daughter Ligament in Ernest Emenyonu’s Listen, My Momma Pays Your Taxes’ by Fynest Elvis
ANA 2017 LITERARY PRIZES JUDGES
1. Prof. Nelson Fashina – University of Ibadan
2. Salihu Mohammed Bappa- Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria
3. Dr. Ismaila Bala Garba – Bayero University, Kano
4. Dr Owojecho Omoha- University of Abuja
5. Dame Joan Oji – Educational & Literary Consultant, Abuja
For a detailed review of the 2017 Literary Prizes Shortlist, check here.
Nigeria’s Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka has postponed his visit to Benue for a reading and to see flood victims. The visit to Benue was scheduled for 12th and 13th of September, 2017. The laureate has been forced to reschedule his visit to a future date to circumstances beyond his control.
The Association of Nigerian Authors (Benue State Chapter) announced this, rising from a meeting of its Local Organising Committee for the National Annual Convention in Makurdi, yesterday, 11th September 2017.
The Chapter regrets the postponement and has promised to keep members of the public abreast of any related information in this regard.
Relatedly, members of the National Executive, led by Mallam Denja Abdullahi have arrived Makurdi for a pre-convention visit as well as other state activities.
Nigeria’s Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka is to visit Benue ahead of the 2017 Annual International Convention of the Association of Nigerian Authors ANA, holding in Makurdi come October 26. The famous writer is coming for a special reading and to also visit the flood displaced persons, alongside other writers in the state and the country general.
Chairman of the Local Organising Committee for the planning of the Convention, Professor Idris Amali announced this when he led other members to pay a courtesy call on Governor Samuel Ortom at the Benue Peoples House, Makurdi.
He said, while in Benue,Professor Soyinka is expected to kick start a major pre-convention activity with his special reading to a body of intellectuals, creative writers, students and lovers of Literature.
According to Professor Amali, the visit of the Nobel Laureate is unique because it would not only add to the credibility of the Convention alone but also provide an opportunity for People of the State to meet and interact with him one on one.
The Don maintained that the World acclaimed Literary Giant’s visit to Benue this Month would mark his second coming to the State since Nineteen Eighty Eight.
The LOC Chairman equally told Governor Ortom that a five member delegation from the National Body of the Association of Nigerian Authors, Abuja led by the National President, Mallam Denja Abdullahi would arrive the State same day with Prof. Soyinka for a convention assessment visit.
Responding, Governor Samuel Ortom promised to support the State Chapter of the Association of Nigerian Authors with the necessary logistics and conducive atmosphere for the reception of Professor Soyinka and the delegation from ANA National Headquarters, Abuja.
Governor Ortom noted that he looks forward to hosting Nigerian Authors who have made names across Nigeria and commended members of ANA Benue Chapter for helping to contribute to the development of the knowledge economy of the State with a view to showcasing its People and cultural endowments to the whole World.
The Governor urged the Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Professor Dennis Tyavyar to anchor the two visits and the main ANA Convention from the side of the State Government to ensure that it does not renege on its promise.
Meanwhile,the Benue State Executive Members of ANA led by the Chairman, Mr.Charles Iornumbe at a meeting drew up an itinerary for the visits one of which is the Nobel Laureate’s interface with IDPs at the Makurdi Ultra-Modern International Market. The laureate’s visit alongside other distinguished writers from across the country adds to the list of celebrities around the world who have taken note of the plight of the flood in Makurdi and are supporting their might in various ways.
It is here again; the popular ANA Literary Prizes. For a time to claim serious bragging rights, join a league of awesome hall of famers (that I am a part of, whoop whoop!), here are the details that you should either pass along or use. Note that the time to act starts NOW! Okay, here we go:
The Association of Nigerian Authors [ANA] hereby announces a range of prizes for its 2017 literary competitions. The prizes are:
1. ANA Prize for Poetry (published & unpublished) – N 100,000
2. ANA Prize for Prose Fiction (published & unpublished) – N 100,000
3. ANA Prize for Drama (published & unpublished) – N 100,000
4. ANA Prize for Children’s Literature- 7-13 years age range (Published works only and open to all categories of authors )- N100,0000
5. ANA/ Abubakar Gimba Prize for Fiction (Short Stories Collection-Published) – N200, 000.
6. ANA/Maria Ajima Prize for Literary Criticism (Focus on criticism of emergent Nigerian Literature) – N100, 000
Nigerian writers, at home and abroad, desirous of entering their works for the Annual Literary Prizes, may now do so. Works entered should have been published between March 2016 and March 2017.
REQUIREMENTS 1. An entry fee of N3, 000 (per entry) is required for all the prizes except the Teen Authors Prize. The fee is to be paid by the author or the publisher in favour of the: ACCOUNT NAME: Association of Nigerian Authors(ANA) BANK: Zenith Bank of Nigeria Plc ACCOUNT NO: 1014606745
Please, note: [a] The entry fee is for the purpose of prize administration only.
[b] A photocopy of the appropriate Deposit Slip[s] MUST accompany Requirement #2 below.
2. Six copies (6) of the book or manuscript to be entered, specifying the Prize being entered for, alongside a covering letter and the photocopy of the Deposit Slip used in Requirement 1 above, should be sent by post to:
The General Secretary, Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Entrance B, Suite 63 National Theatre Complex, Iganmu, Lagos.
The covering letter should contain accurate contact details of the writer or/and publisher of the work, including email and surface mail addresses and telephone numbers.
Please, note also that:
[a] The Association will NOT take responsibility for entries sent by post nor will it claim registered parcels in cases where it has to pay for such entries or parcels.
[b] Multiple entries, where applicable, are allowed but a work must not have been entered for the same prize prior to the present entry and it must have been published between 2016 and 2017.
GENERAL INSTRUCTION The works that are to be submitted in all categories should be original and not recast(s) of already existing works. All submissions are subjected to copyright laws of Nigeria as authors should note that they retain full responsibility for any sort of infringement. Works entered into for ANA prizes are expected to be of the highest language and literary quality.
(b) Maria Ajima Prize for Literary Criticism (published works only) Length: Not more than 15 pages of A4 paper size following format of academic essays.
1. Type double spaced using MS Word. Use Times New Roman Type face 12 point font size.
2. The essay, if published in a journal, newspaper, books or as electronic text on-line, must be within the valid dates indicated on this call for submissions.
3. Referencing style is either the latest MLA or APA style.
4. Five hard copies as loose sheets or as a bound monograph are to be submitted to ANA, plus a soft copy sent by email to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org 6. The essay should not be a generalized survey but should rather be focused on specific texts (in any of the genres) of selected authors at a time.
7. The essay should state where the texts or performance analysed can be accessed or located and where it (essay) has been published.
8. All entries in this category should be accompanied by a letter affirming the originality of the essay and authorial authenticity.
9. In addition, all other rules covering ANA competitions are applicable.
Copyright: The copyright to every winning entry is to be held by the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Maria Ajima Trust, and the author of the work. The winning entry will be published in subsequent ANA Reviews.
DEADLINE Deadline for the receipt of ALL entries is Friday, May 19th, 2017(there will be no extension of this deadline). A shortlist will be announced in September, 2017. Winners of the prizes will be announced by the judges at the Awards Dinner during the 36th Anniversary International Annual Convention of the Association of Nigerian Authors in October, 2017.
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.
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.
ANA President Denja Abdullahi (giving his speech)
Camillus Ukah (ANA Vice Chairman and Teen Authorship Coordinator) showing Anaele Ihuoma … (?) Then, that’s John Sarpong looking down.
Professor Sam Ukala, giving instructions. I am sure I am somewhere there. I was working, always working! 🙂
Usman Nurain Muhammad (ANA Gombe), Thompson Abutu (ANA Kogi) and John Sarpong (ANA Ghana! 🙂 )
Standing up to hail our fatherland. We always do. (Day 1)
Professor J. O. J Nwachukwu-Agbada (Chairman of the Occassion)
Prof Sam Ukala, Denja Abdullahi, Prof J. O. J Nwachukwu-Agbada
Sheriff Olanrewaju (ANA Kogi and author of Sambisa Squirrel), Su’eddie and Usman Nurain Muhammad (ANA Gombe and author of the chapbook, High School Verses)
Otitodirichukwu (ANA Enugu) giving a short talk while the MC and I look on, waiting for the chance to talk too. It was her birthday too. Much later, the next day or so, she lost her money on the way home. Wasn’t a funny experience.
Day 1…in pictures up and Day 2 down…
A Cross Section of Participants at the beginning of the second day.
ANA President Denja Abdullahi giving conference materials to Logos’ Principal (The school provided logistics for the materials in conjunction with the association)
BM Dzukogi delivering his paper
ANA President Denja Abdullahi giving a gift to the School Director,
Professor Joy Eyisi giving her lecture
At the Creative Arts Library
In front of some of the classes. With Richard Anya (ANA Ebonyi Vice Chairman), Nurain Usman Muhammad (ANA Gombe), Denja Abdullahi (ANA President), Okechukwu Onuegbu (ANA Anambra), Su’eddie Vershima Agema (National Teen Authorship Committee Member)
Craft from the Arts Centre
The second day of the event. Representatives of the various states with the National Executive, before heading to the venue of the conference. (Morning)
Cross section of participants and facilitators Day 2 (Evening)
So, we had our SEVHAGE Literary Festival here in Makurdi from October 16th to 17th [literary days] at Ejja Hotel and Suites.. It was so much fun! Now, we didn’t have the Makurdi mammoth crowd coming but we had some fun time. Wow! amu nnadi, the amazing poet, drove all the way from Port Harcourt and was of tremendous support all the way.
I had my siblings coming from different areas: TJ Benson from Taraba, Servio Gbadamosi and Tope Adegoke Mark from Ibadan alongside Romeo Ogun da Silva from that axis… Innocence Silas and Bash Amuneni came from Abuja, and KIS Kukogho Iruesiri Samson found love compelling his feet to Makurdi. Everyone had an amazing adventure and we will put each up soon.
Sibbyl Whyte, Debbie Iorliam, Celina Kile, Ene Odaba, Otene Ogwuche, Anselm Ngutsav, Afrika Ocho, and my right hand men, Aondosoo Andrew Labe and Tersoo Ayede were around to make things amazing. Sefa Ikpa, Felicia Okpo, my brother, Gabriel Agema, our SEVHAGE author, Terseer Baki was there too, adding colour. Nelson Apochi of Reading4Change taught me how to Tweet live. I used Anselm’s phone to learn. Oh! That was fun.
So, we shall do a small snippet… In the week of our festival, we went to the National Library to donate books; we went to an orphanage gave books and ‘milk’; we went to prison too and gave books and ‘recharge card’. Hee hee hee! It was fun at all the places and trust me, I could write a story about that. Oh, that was on 14th and 15th.
We had two days of events on 16th and 17th. Some guests didn’t turn up but we had a morning session on rape. We had guest panelists including Mrs Victoria Daaor, Oryinashater Gaai, Lazarus Mom, and Tersoo Ayede. It was moderated by Otene Ogwuche. Within that session, we had a spoken word drama too… Can you imagine it? A full spoken word drama! It was really nice. I have to give it up for Ene Odaba who put it all up. Ciara, her friend, did well in that play too. Celina Kile dazzled everyone with a spoken word performance on rape…and went on to give at least one performance for every session throughout the festival. We had two other sessions including a discussion in the afternoon moderated by Anselm Ngutsav and a night of awesome performances moderated by Ocho Afrika and Ene Odaba.
On the second day, Saturday 17th October, 2015… we woke up in the hotel to lots of gist. We took a stroll; Debbie, TJ Benson, Romeo, Innocence, myself…to get a meal. It was beer (boiled grilled millet) and akpukpa (boiled grounded beans). Bla bla bla… Morning session was mainly moderated by TJ Benson. There was a talk on publishing and writing led by Servio Gbadamosi, myself and a few others. It was interactive. After this, amu nnadi took his turn talking (continuing from his contributions to the earlier talk) by talking on ‘Making Poetry Count’. He gave many key points but said one shouldn’t really hope to make money from writing. He cited many examples including how he tried to get his book published traditionally but with little success. ‘Poetry doesn’t sell’… As a publisher, I have an idea of this. Sha, amu nnadi went on to say if one wanted to make money, it would be easier to get it from selling fuel (which he once did)… One anecdote to the other. Ah! The man get head – and heart. After that session, I took over the moderation and we had readings from people like Swem Peter Abayol, Romeo, Terna Ortese, Sam Ogabidu, Innocence… Celina Kile and Bash Bashiru Amuneni rounded it all off with amazing spoken word pieces. The latter performed some from his ‘Freedom’ album. You really should try getting the album to buy o… Bash is something else. Amazing guy…
In between, amu nnadi bought snacks for everyone. Then, TJ Benson and Debbie led an excursion to the Benue river. Ah… It was lovely. There are some amazing pictures to show for that event… we will get them out later.
In the evening, we started our session by 5:00pm and had many laughs, poking fun at each other. My brother, Gabriel was around and we teased on much. Guests like Terseer Sam Baki (recently shortlisted for the ANA Prize for Poetry 2015), Felicia Okpo, God’sgift Jozef Ike, among all the others were top participators. We read and also played some active games. There were performances that left people smiling from spoken word to ordinary poems and short stories… Terna Ortese, Ocho Afrika and I moderated…Somewhere along the line, KIS [Kukogho Iruesiri Samson] came. There were those who started to shake, thinking he was going to cause trouble. I told them they don’t know KIS or pops [amu nnadi]. Two of them aren’t the brash type.. amu nnadi walked in and went straight to hug KIS and all was well… The sun smiled 🙂
Then, the night called and we all moved on to the end of the event… at least in name only. The gist continued o… I wouldn’t tell you that some of the guys slept in the ladies rooms… but I can tell you that KIS and I talked till 3am when he slept. I couldn’t sleep, so I went down to the hall where we had had the events. I got a book ‘Beast of No Nation’ from Servio’s stock and read for long.
Morning came…and we had our first guests leaving. We made noise for long, hugged, talked, hugged more…then somehow had to leave the hotel. Interestingly, everyone remaining flowed to my cabin. Yes, and the fun thing is the gist continued…after a lot of more photos. What more do I say? Eventually, Monday found some people leaving and others on Tuesday… We went to the museum, visited NTA and the river plus others. But let me not bore you with those… 😉
NOTE: all through, far more kept being done.
Alright, you have an idea now.
Thanks to everyone who came and those who supported in whatever way they did. Thanks to Kunle Kasumu…and amu nnadi, for everything.
Let me rest myself a bit. Phew! Tired … but before we go, a few pictures.