The submission window for the 2019 Prize is open and will close on the 1st of December 2018. The K & L Prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (1000 – 2000 words). This is only eligible to African writers living in Africa, ages 18 – 25.



HEALING by Debbie Iorliam

Just when you think you have heard it all, you hear something new and you wonder if you ever heard anything before…


He stares at her but feels no longing. Baba Cookoorookoo has advised that a virgin of rigorous innocence is paramount.He makes certain his wife has gone for her usual Wednesday vigil. To be double sure he doesn’t get caught he waits for thirty minutes after she is gone. He advances towards her bed and grips her by the shoulders. His hands tremble but the demon in him roars swallowing his soul. He throws apart her skinny legs and penetrates her tender pelvis forcefully.

Her scream drowns any pleasure he might experience. He runs out of the house allowing his legs lead him. He runs almost endlessly, disgust and shame eating his soul. So profound his pain he thinks of a noose.

The zeal for a cure losing its appeal. He rolls on the ground allowing sharp stones and shrubs bite into his skin. How could he face his community? How could he tell his wife he ripped their daughter’s innocence in hope he would get cured of HIV?



Debbie Iorliam is a script writer, editor and model who lives in Abuja. You can read her blog here. 

For whatever reason, rape and every form of sexual molestation is WRONG! Let’s speak out against rape and sexual molestation in every form. Spread the word and speak. Take action in every way!


Maybe, a tale for Someday

Maybe someday I will write that poem, of lives that mattered and lies that counted. Maybe, I will sing a song to show the beauty of the wrong that brought about this long tale that I call life. Maybe, then, it would not seem important enough, with time’s chime lost to the exigencies of what pressures that time would bring.
Maybe, you would be with me. Maybe, we would be free – of us – and chained with realities of others.
But that is for someday.
Today, let’s be us. And dance in the spirit of the fights and cuddles, the distance and closeness, the peace and troubles.
Today, let us love and build those memories for…someday.

  • Su’eddie Vershima Agema



Posted in romance, TALES

A SONG TO A TALE by Su’eddie Vershima Agema

It was one song. The song of his romance. The song of his soul.

The tune played slowly into his ears as memory came rushing in.

He had been asking Julia out for some time. They knew they liked each other and he just couldn’t see why she would see their language difference as a barrier to their romance. He had asked on and on till she finally decided to come pay him a visit after giving him a subtle, ‘Maybe.’

His radiance had been enough to take away every darkness that might have been hanging anywhere. He beamed his smiles at his neighbours and made jokes that threw everyone to great laughter.

‘What’s the secret?’ ‘A woman?’ ‘What’s happening?’

The questions kept playing as he replied to each: ‘You no go understand.’

Soon, his room and parlour apartment was transformed into a palace. The dust that had found permanent rest on cushions and other parts took sharp leave. Cobwebs that had been spun by expert spiders and become some form of permanent artwork were brought down. He got new bedsheets from the market and put everything in place. Time ticked slowly even as he made each second count till the moment chimed. She came in from work, tired and a bit sweaty. He took her in his arms soon as she stepped in and the tiredness that clung to her like a cloak was lifted. Still, there was something in her eyes that he couldn’t understand.

‘What is it dear?’ he asked repeatedly.

‘Nothing. Was tired but now, I am strong! Thanks dear.’

He took her words, smiled his way to his room and appeared back with a plate in his hands. She opened it to find long grained white rice covered in a deep red sauce supported with some shrimps. At a corner of the plate were fresh vegetables. The aroma rose to her nose tickling the hairs within. He watched her as she closed her eyes. He got to his fridge and brought out two cans of Malt.

‘Would have got us wine but for starters, let’s not get you drunk on a first date.’

Her lips were spread in a huge smile even as her eyes filmed. He had his back to her as he tried to put on his radio set to slot in a cassette. He fiddled with it for some time, then decided to get a new tape. As he turned, he found her in his front. She stretched her arms around him and he smiled. After some time, she disengaged and gave him a cassette. He slotted it in. Soon, the voice of Rascal Flatts filled the room; I woke up this morning, with this feeling inside me that I can’t explain like a weight that I am carrying has been taken away… But I know something is coming… I don’t know what it is but I know it is amazing, my time is coming, I will find a way out of this … And it feels like today…

‘Come, let us eat,’ she called. He made some sounds of disagreement. She looked up at him with a deep frown.

‘Okay…’ he grumbled and joined her.

The plate was cleared in little time. Then he stood up, got to the room and was back with a plate of some dark mound with a smell that could not be mistaken – chocolate cake. Her eyes confirmed what her nose had declared even before he could put it down.

‘Ah! My favourite!’ she shouted and grabbed the plate out of his hand.

Soon, the song, ‘Feels like today’ caught their ears: ‘I woke up this morning, with a feeling I can’t explain like a weight that I have been carrying has been carried away…’

‘Stand up,’ he invited. ‘Excuse me dance?’

They laughed at this. He had a way of behaving old when he was in the mood. She refused to move. He got down to her chair and poked his fingers into her ribs. She started giggling then ended up laughing out loud. She stood up finally.

‘I don’t want to dance!’ she shouted over the volume of the song that he had increased.

‘Oh well, it isn’t an option now!’ he replied back, matching her loudness.

Feels like today…

The song soon changed to ‘Bless the broken road’, then JJ Heller’s ‘Tonight’.

‘From dance steps, I usually know how long a relationship would last and also a lady’s true feelings for me.’

‘Really?’ she said and raised her head from his chest to look into his face. ‘How long would we last?’

‘As long as the day goes,’ he replied and smiled. He buried his head in her hair as the scent rose into his nose. He looked at her face after a while, her eyes closed and against his chest. She looked up then, and he locked her lips in a kiss. The music stopped, but they swayed on to music from within, trapping time if only, for that moment.





SONG for the moment: JJ Heller ‘Tonight’ from The Pretty and The Plain album.



Excerpt from A Song to a Tale and Waiting by Su’eddie Vershima Agema

Picture Source:



There are so many things running through my head right now. I feel a pain in my chest as I pay for fuel at the new price of N145 per litre. I remember that a few days ago, I left the same petrol station at 00:30, with a near empty tank after having queued for over 5 hours. Today it takes only a few minutes to get my tank full. I drive out thinking of the fact that the prices of everything have gone up and the only thing that stays down, annoyingly so, is my salary. I begin to bitch and gripe about my never increasing salary as against ever increasing prices and then I remember that the Nigeria Police Force received over 800, 000 applications for 10, 000 vacancies. I remember that any time we complain about poor salaries, management reminds us that there are a thousand people out there who can do our jobs a hundred times better than us for less than what we are paid.

I get home and it’s dark. I fix my meal with the dim light from the rechargeable lamp that has been charged only for a few minutes even though it has been plugged in for over 48 hours. The darkness reminds me of my loneliness. It was dark yesterday too but I had company; a friend from out of town was travelling with his girlfriend and they missed their flight so they spent the night at my place. It was the first time I was meeting his girlfriend and I envied them the moment I saw them together. They didn’t shove their relationship in my face but I could see that what they have is good. I still feel envious as I eat alone, reminded of the much better meal that she had insisted on cooking despite my half-hearted protests.

I hate the fact that I’m happy for my friend and jealous of him at the same time. I am angry at myself because  five years ago, I let a good thing slip away from me and now she’s married to another man but I can’t seem to find the strength to move on. I get depressed when I remember that what she once felt for me was so strong and I was too blind. Now she feels only pity for me as she has moved on to better things. She still typifies the ‘perfect girl’ for me, not because I haven’t met other outstanding women, but simply because everything seems to always look good with hindsight. When I imagine what could have been, I leave out the quarrels, insecurities and harsh realities of life that would have made the relationship just like any other. I keep the picture perfect in my mind’s eye. Such fixation with the past is making history repeat itself with other possible girlfriends.

It’s almost 10pm and I remember that I have to be out of the house by 5am the next morning to go and face another challenging day at work. Work has become tedious all of a sudden because reality has called to question, the ideals that led me to turn down a better paying job in favour of a job that would let me live my passion and bring satisfaction and happiness. I ask myself more frequently whether it was worth it, especially these days when I can’t seem to afford anything and my friends drive cars that would take a year of not touching my salary at all to be able to afford buying. How satisfied and happy am I right now? I still enjoy the core aspect of my work, though I feel like I could trade that for a little more financial comfort. A foreign trip is being planned at work and I may or may not be part of that trip. I have contemplated walking away from everything without a backward glance once I touch down Schiphol but deep within, I know that I would still come back because my passion has such a strong hold on me.

With each passing day, it becomes more difficult to live in this country. Every day the hardship increases with no respite in sight. We sacrifice our dreams, hopes and desires on the altar of survival. Many people have stuck with their jobs simply for the money. There is always something else they would rather do but all those things don’t put food on the table. In a country where the unwritten code is doctor, lawyer, engineer or infidel, it would be deemed madness to say you want to pack a bag and travel the country or wake up in the morning to write poems which you will share in the evening with a gathering of friends. Each family in Nigeria is blessed with that one person that will quickly point out to you that you can’t feed a wife and children with poems or experiences; that Aliko did not become Dangote by being a historian or a museum curator. Your parents will ask God where they went wrong and beseech him to cure you of this madness and bestow it upon their enemies! When do we start living a life of purpose as against a life of survival?

I haven’t called my mother in a while now though I think of her often. She’s going through some challenges that money can solve but I have not the money. I know she would love to hear my voice and just talk, pour out her heart to me which she used to do until I gave her the impression that she was disturbing me, especially when we discussed the absence of a woman in my life. It worries her. It worries me too. She has decided to give me some space. I really should pick my phone and call right now but it’s late and I may disturb her sleep, not that she would mind. I have only N34 on my phone though, so I will postpone the call yet again.

The battery of my laptop is fast running out and I have to hurry to finish whatever this is that I’m writing. If I don’t finish it today, it will become one of many things that procrastination did not allow me to finish. As I think of a conclusion more thoughts pour into my head. I think of church and how it has mutated to a profitable venture rather than a house of solace that it used to be. I think of the last girl I almost had sex with but didn’t because I was able to stop thinking with my penis before it became too late; the girl has a huge crush on me, I was only lusting, there was no condom…

I think of how my one room apartment will fit into the living room of a very close friend with space to spare. I think of all the things I used to believe in that I’m indifferent to now. I try to count the number of generators I can hear but I can’t because their different sounds have become one sound; a noisy chorus that will last all night even if power is restored. I think of the bottle of red wine that has been in my fridge for five months now because I don’t want to take alcohol again though I still take Smirnoff whenever I go to watch a game at La’Mango. It just doesn’t feel right ordering a soft drink in a bar. I think of the wrinkled shirt I will wear to work tomorrow if power is not restored. I think about the girl I sat next to in church on Sunday who seems to like me. I think of my friend and his girlfriend with a little less jealousy. I think about all the people that will read this and how many of them can relate and what percentage will view me as a disturbed and deeply troubled fellow. More thoughts keep pouring in but I will stop writing now lest I expose more of my soul than I already have.




First published here… OluOlu blogs at Surutuu.



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

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

abubakar eljo
Elnathan John and Abubakar Adam Ibrahim

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



LETTERS FORLORN: Dear John by Agatha Aduro

Good ol' days...
Good ol’ days…

          I’ve spent the last couple of days on a website I first came across last year, when my friend Zino Asalor sent me the link. The website is and it contains hundreds of letters (about 900, in all) written at different times in the past, by different people. There are letters by people you probably never heard of, and there are letters by popular people like Albert Einstein and Nikolas Tesla. The letters cover a wide range of topics; from a letter of a grieving father to his friends, to that written by an 8yr old girl with gay parents to President Barack Obama (and his reply). I haven’t read all the letters but the site got me thinking.

Not too long ago, and yet, long enough for some kids to have no idea what I’m talking about, letters were our major means of communication. You wrote a letter when you were happy and you wrote when you were sad, you even wrote to yell at people you were mad at (and no, you didn’t write angry letters in capital letters). In primary school, we learnt the intricacies of letter writing. We learnt about the informal letter which we wrote to our friends and which opened with a variation of ‘Dear X…. How are you? I hope all is well with you. If so, glory be to God’. We were made to write many of these to our friends, real and imagined who lived in far flung places like London and Paris, or if you were in the village, to an aunt in Lagos. We were also taught about the formal letters we were going to write as job applications when the seemingly everlasting years of secondary and university studies were over. Those letters had two addresses and ended with ‘Yours Faithfully’, under which you appended your budding signature and your name. Those letters never got posted but we got the gist of letters. I doubt such things are still taught in schools. These days, we have many 16-, 17- and even 18yr olds, well versed in the virtual world of instant messaging (BBM, Whatsapp, 2go, to mention but a few) who have never written a real life ink-and-paper letter.

The thing about letters is this; one day, you’re going through old stuff, doing a bit of spring cleaning, then you happen upon this folded sheet(s) of paper. It’s a letter! From your mum, or your dad, or an old boyfriend… of course you read it again! It makes you laugh (or it can make you cry), it brings back memories of times gone by so vividly that they’re like scenes flashing before your eyes. If they’re sad memories, you can thank God that you’re not where you used to be. You may even remember some mischief done. This reminds me of the letter I wrote my dad a few weeks after resuming boarding school in JSS 1. The school was in Abuja, daddy was in Minna, Mum and siblings were in Lagos. Boarding school was not as glamorous as I had been deceived into believing. I was tired and I wanted out but I knew telling him straight up was not going to achieve anything, so I wrote a letter:

Dearest Dad,

I’m doing my best to settle into the routine of my new school. Everything is fine, except for the food. We are fed rice in the morning, eba in the afternoon and yam in the evening. Daddy, kwashiorkor is staring me in the face, please come and save me.

Your loving daughter,


I wish my dad had written back. It would have been better than his reaction. I didn’t hear back, but I wasn’t worried. Visiting day was around the corner and I could plead my case in person, tears streaming down my face.

Hehehehe…….. He came on visiting day, with a food flask filled with BEANS and plantain and said ‘I know you’re tired of carbohydrate and bringing rice for you would have been too much. Also, there’s boiled eggs in this nylon, and kuli kuli in this other one, to relieve the monotony.’ The heartbreak was indescribable. I mean, it was visiting day and everybody looked forward to ‘home food’ of different variety that was infinitely better than ‘school food’ and daddy showed up with beans! It was a double tragedy because he had also effectively shot down my attempts at leaving that school. That struggle would eventually take four years to come to fruition. In the meantime, I managed to control my emotions till he left, after which I cried myself into an exhausted sleep. A sleep from which I woke up to realize that someone had stolen the said food flask and its offending contents from under my bunk (hence the valuable lesson that no matter how bad you have it, someone else is probably envious of you!). Numerous other more pleasurable letters would pass between me and my dad, throughout my days in school, even up to the university. His letters always started with ‘Beloved’ or ‘Omo girl’ – perpetuating the belief that your parents only call you by your name when you’re in trouble – and ended with his signature ‘Aduro P’ or ‘Peter’, which was strange, because it was definitely not an invitation for you to call him by name. There were other letters from my siblings e.g. my sister begging me to describe university life to her (and she may well disown me for mentioning that)

Letters were also a way for my mum to assess your hand-writing. *sigh* – the life of a teacher’s kid. Nobody’s writing was ever good enough, but my brother got the worst of it. You see, his writing looks like everything is written at night and his letters are going to bed! I can hear my mum’s voice in me head saying ‘in spite of all the 2D exercise books I bought you these children, none of you can write well. Can’t you make your writing more like mine?’

Sadly, both my dad and I (and every other person) have become caught up in the modern day methods of calls (yeah, we’ve both stretched it to midnight calls on occasion!) and text messages that we’ve not written any letters in recent times (ok, I wrote him last month).

If you’ve ever gotten any pleasure from a letter, surprise someone today and send them a letter!



(First posted by the author here)

Posted in TALES


There’s a whole lot of work going on, that’s on the SEVHAGE Publishers front that I am a top part of, and in my personal et writing life. Wow! Really crazy, but well, we can smile. It is all for good.

That said, I have been hosted a record four times by the brilliant blogger, Ololade Olatuniji on her Loladeville site. Click HERE to check the stories and do leave a note.

Thank you for being out there and remaining a part of this existence.


In other news, Best of luck to the Nigerian Super Eagles. May Aondo keep our country safe.

Posted in TALES

THE NEW TIMES (A Short Story) by Su’eddie Vershima Agema

One of those days found Timbir taking his usual one- to two-hourwalks. He marvelled at the number of cars in the city. Was it really only inthree years that a walk down this same road would have encountered a countable number of very predictable cars? He waved to the cook at the corner, workingto meet the teeming demands of her ever increasing customers. She shot him a look of acknowledgement from a window, and continued with her work. These days, she had no time to even wave back. That was a big change. There was the time when she would cook only once and have remnants to spare at the end of the day. In those days, he would go in and talk to her. They would talk about anything and everything. He knew how many stories he had been inspired to write from simply talking to her. There was her son who had a calabash for a stomach who would have to wait for the remnants at the end of the day;

“Uncle, buy me this.” “Buy me that.” “Thank you, Uncle.” Very warm boy who made Timbir feel like a biological Uncle. Who would have guessed they were from two different regions of the country? Such was the warmth. The last time he had seen the boy, there had been noticeable change. The boy had grown up as had the warm “Uncle.” Timbir was now “Sir” in a very polite tone. He heard that the young man was in a very big school now. He missed the boy. It was also one of the benefits of the new times; politeness over warmth. He smiled at the woman, busy at work, in a proper suit who gave instructions to her workers in this big building. Who would believe that this was the same person he had called cook? Hmmm.

He continued on his way, stopping at the church; a big magnificent edifice. He remembered the previous years. People used to fellowship in the Pastor’s two bedroom flat. It was a common sight, then, to find ground nuts in the offertory box. All the times he had passed the area, had made him laugh. The Pastor had always told him to be wary, saying that the parable of the mustard seed remained.

“Perhaps, for your grand children!” Timbir had retorted each time with both of them laughing. These days only crisp currency notes lined the box. The Pastor had grown from the slim happy faced man to a fat, clownish person. An exploiting smile at his lips each time, he no longer visited Timbir. His visits were reserved for the bigger houses of the Faithful. The business of the church now took priority and even the spare time of the Shepherd had to be spent in more favourable investments. The prophecy of the mustard seed had sure come to pass. He shook his head. Things had moved fast and the whole country had changed in a whiff.

He continued his walk and eventually got to his car, someone on his trail. The beggar came in his tattered clothes and flagged Timbir down. He looked at him and turned his face away. He climbed into his jeep and thought of how different things had become. It was no longer a communal society and even family had become far. He engaged the gears and ignited his car to life, raising the dust into the face of the man now left behind. His brother, in his ragged clothes, looked on as Timbir drove off. It was the sign of the times.

Posted in TALES

Closure (Flash Fiction) by Su’eddie Vershima Agema


I felt my heart stop. There was darkness. Complete darkness. Then like a fluid transition, a different darkness. A mosquito stole its pint. I didn’t swap at it. I heaved in relief. I was no longer asleep.
I was drenched in sweat. I opened my eyes to darkness, one that seemed to devour everywhere like a glutton. I felt for my flashlight that always lay under my pillow. I found it and soon its rays filled the room. I got to my shelf and picked Ada Agada’s The Anxious Life. I tried to read but concentration had gone with my sleep and that dream. I struggled through a few lines but couldn’t go on. This wasn’t the book to read at this time. I tried to remember what the dream had been about. It eluded me as most things would when you need them most. I dropped the novel beside me, the flashlight still on. I picked my phone to call my sister, Augusta. She was in school at the university some three hours away. No, she would be sleeping now. I better not disturb her sleep and give her a fright. I dropped the phone beside me. I counted sheep to catch sleep. I must have counted a thousand when slumber’s warm embrace stole me once more. Before complete closure, I heard the distinct sound of an owl’s hoot.