The sands of Mbanor kiss my feet
As my eyes behold mounds of my past
Thinking of my present as I bury the future
I am at a door in my head
Yesterday a lasting now
Where my will fights convention
Rather than strike at folly
I let my rod slip and take a feather
To tickle correction into my ward
Urging him away from the troubled waters
In which he swims
I find troubles crowd back
And pull him in as he sinks deeper
My feather a stone tied to his feet
I stand before the earth
Fresh sands slipping through my fingers
A glass of fate’s misfortune to my lips as I sip sorrow
I take a rod to close the door to his memory
Where pain sits astride a father’s loss.
Happy Father’s Day to all the beautiful fathers out there and to those mothers who are more fathers than a million others.
I wanted to cart psalms from the scripture of my mouth. Write a poem to celebrate this day, but like before, I failed again. So I resort to my escapist style of writing what is neither poetry nor prose. Dagga, I merge you into genres (Is this line a poem? Can’t a single line be a complete poem?)
I picked my pen to write a poem and what came out was a bible quotation. Bible quotation to celebrate Aj Dagga Tolar? But isn’t that the beauty of poetry? But maybe that is where my failure to write Dagga a poem began.
“And God said let us make man in our own image…”
God is draped in dreadlocks
On his head is planted a continent of rough angels
In the song note of September novena
I sing you from the choir in my mouth
I wrote other lines that I threw out immediately. The four lines could be a complete poem, but how can I sing of Dagga from the choir of my mouth without linking the battalion of stars that surrounds his life and throne of deeds? So I stop the poem to write a biography, a book review and an autobiography. Like a God that I mentioned him to be (it is the freedom of a poet to either capitalize his G or not) and how he weaved my destiny through soft and hard trainings.
If this is prose, it defies narrative techniques. Because it talks to you Dagga. So when I alternate I(s) and you(s) and Dagga is being described by an omniscient, it is the freedom that I enjoy.
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.
And the refrain goes on and on as you are sweetly drawn either by the sweet smiles or the sonorous sounds pouring from the lips of the artist…
Then, you either hear the answer said by an accompanying artiste or the lady herself: ‘DianaAbasi’… You must have heard her perform or perhaps, read her book? You haven’t? But you know Iquo na… Of course, you do.
Today is Iquo’s birthday and two years ago, I wrote this. I am reblogging to talk about my dear friend and sister once more. Iquo, I celebrate you. Far more than you know. You are a dazzling beauty full of grace and we love you…
People, I present once more, my sister, Iquo:
Iquo DianaAbasi Eke is a poet, fiction writer, performer and mother whose presence fills a place with warmth that can easily leave you marveled. She has the face of a friend who you think you must have seen before. I was fooled once. Seeing her for the first time, I searched the catacombs of my mind, through the maze of a million memories seeking where I had lost the knowledge of this one… When later, we spoke and she mentioned that she was sure she knew me, I smiled thinking: ‘I knew it! Yes…’ The next question was ‘From where?’ Turns out, we were siblings on the social scene who had crossed each other’s paths a couple of times. Thinking, I discovered today, the first place I came across her was on this a post (click HERE for it). Turns out SEVHAGE was releasing the second edition of my first collection of poetry, Bring our casket home: tales one shouldn’t tell at the same time as her own book. NOTE: Iquo’s book went ahead to be longlisted for the NLNG Prize in 2013 and also the Association of Nigerian Authors’ Poetry Prize (read on that HERE).
Iquo’s Symphony of Becoming is a collection of easy flowing poems that would capture the spirit of any reader. It is told in free flowing verse that is simple to the eyes, sweet to the tongue and an easy glide on the mind’s plate. Iquo has performed her poems in different cities of Nigeria and not a few ‘ooohs’ and ‘ahhhhs’ have punctuated her offerings.
Iquo can easily be found in any literary gathering (and notably belongs to the Lagos Chapter of the Association of Nigerian Authors), especially if it would be somewhere in the Western part of our lovely Nigeria. I should know! Last year, I caught her at three events in succession from Lagos to Abeoukuta and Ibadan – from the Lagos Book and Arts Festival to the Ake Festival and finally at the Association of Nigerian Authors’ convention (respectively matched to the cities mentioned). Trust everyone to be singing her name at these places. I guess it wasn’t just because of her works and performances, plus her warmth. There’s that warmth that I am sure is punctuated by her being a mum. Yup! Two great kids…
Hmmm, I should probably not start this paragraph with her name … but again, oh well… Iquo has a blog (click HERE for it) where she writes prose, poetry and does some good reviews too! I didn’t know she did reviews too – but she does. And hopefully, we will get to feature her on our SEVHAGE reviews.
In our interview of the week at SEVHAGE Reviews, we speak to Iquo on a lot of things including her writing, her life and much more. Click HERE for the interview and do leave a comment. More, spread the word and let’s get talking about our writers and people who matter to us. If we don’t celebrate ourselves, who do we expect to?
So, on this birthday, dear sister mine, cute one and fighter, keep keeping on, drink the wine but remember to complete all the tasks you have to. If you celebrate her like I do, say her name…and read that interview!
Elias Ozipu, Iquo, Amu Nnadi (in the back), Saddiq Dzukogi, Su’eddie V. Agema, the head of Jennifer Emelife hiding, and Remy Binte … (ANA International Convention 2014 in Ibadan)
OUR NIGHTS NEED MORE STARS (A Poem) by Benjamin Elemide
(for Su’eddie Vershima Agema)
our nights need more stars
to brighten hope for tomorrow
our galaxy devoid of constellations
that keeps eyes glued to miracles
i saw you birth stars into words
to keep us smiling like morning sun
i saw you weave history in your footprints
for posterity to learn wisdom from you
when you find yourself in the sky
don’t forget to write yourself with clouds…
Long ago, I learnt from someone that commitment and love go far beyond words. Today, I found that love in many ways.
I had put off notifications on Facebook so I was sure that I would not have too many people disturbing my peace. Still, calls came in from different sources and I learnt that there are other social media channels that will still make public announcements! Friends and family threw words at different moments that left me smiling. What more can I say?
I got to also tick off several items on my TO DO list.
I have picked a lot of lessons today. Everyone has problems and issues, activities, interests and other people too that they have to cater to. Give space. As long as you have grace, Aondo’s goodness, accept the love that will come your way from a myriad of sources without expecting much. Also, always make time to think and pray. Especially for your significant other (always), those you love and everyone else who matters. In all seasons, no matter how you feel.
Special thanks to those who took out to reach out, especially those who took time off important schedules to write notes, say prayers and be with me. I am deeply honoured. No gifts can replace the time and affection. That’s what counts the most to me.
(put your trust in Aondo and nothing would ever surpass you…
…for Su’eddie Vershima Agema on the 20th…)
So the day breaks into a new year,
Usually it’s a cock, but today, lots of texts. Greetings from loved ones to you Happy birthday, t’is the refrain they chant. Unruly greys will begin to show, Reassuringly, they can be dyed.
Sedulous scribbles from Sibbyl to Su. Hoping to put a smile in your heart. Almost like I have known you for ages That is not meant to be laughed at, Mister! Even so, feel free to blush. Rarely do we find one with such sunny disposition. Always, a smile could be heard, Over the phone, spreading cheer through the lines. Never one to be stuck on something sad.
Designed by Aondo, you’s an awesome package. Oh! We shall ne’er forget mother; Keeper of this babe for nine, Wherefore, she birthed, and gave you to us.
Ardent lover of literature. Hopefully we wait to read what books you write . Even so, I am sure you wouldn’t brag. Meekness; you shall inherit the earth for sure.
Bearing gifts people come to you, As they once did for Him, Understandably, they are not the Magi. Go with God, a prayer we all say for you. At last, each letter of your name counts.
Happy Birthday Sibbyl Whyte and may Aondo bless you for everyday. Cheers!
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.
Okay, maybe you have heard it or you are hearing it here first. Check everywhere and make a shout for Abubakar Adam Ibrahim has won the $100,000 NLNG Prize for Literature for his novel, Season of Crimson Blossoms. Yaaaaay! He clinched the prize ahead of his literary twin, Elnathan John (with Born on a Tuesday) and Chika Unigwe’s Night Dancer. We saw it coming! Matter of fact, when we got the news, Belle and I tried to make Abubakar to give us our share – or promise to do so when he collected the cheque but the guy has sense too much!
In 2013, while going for the Association of Nigerian Authors’ convention grand dinner, Abubakar and I discussed his travel writings (which I love best of his writings) and Chika Unigwe, who had been announced as the NLNG Winner for that year with her On Black Sister’s Street. Now, it is the turn of the literary Mallam to wear that crown.
Abubakar Adam Ibrahim is one of Nigeria’s foremost literary journalists and a committed writers + arts enthusiast who never tires to promote writing in every form. He is also the author of the celebrated collection of short stories, Whispering Trees. You can read more about him here or visit his blog here.
Congratulations Abubakar. And may this season truly be yours!
In the midst of so much, many times we forget. Quite a lot. Sometimes, we condition ourselves to do this. At other times, it is events that force this forgetfulness on us. For whatever reasons, many times, we change. We come across people at later points in our lives, who mean so much to us. Then, we try to recondition ourselves to meet these ones. We lose what we have built in trying to give to these ones…
On this day, as many, we have to realise that we can never be enough, alone yet if we do need to be alone, then it helps to be so. There are dark periods in our lives when we would go wrong, and go wrong so long it would seem there’s no good to us. We are humans. The season comes. In such moments, you might also get into those crazy times when you miss anniversaries or remember them, then find out with pain, the implications of the forgetting and remembrance.
Still, life gives us choices, and even when it takes away, brings back much. If you look carefully enough, you would always find something beautiful to hold on to. And even in despair, when darkness forces you to forget… Believe. Then love, always love, and open your heart. The tears will come, when they will… But again, remember you can always recondition to be what you want. Smile. Through the tears. Smile.
Believe too… That the night passes, and the morning comes just like the celebration of a time when love said yes. Just like the time when a forebear passed. Just like the time when a lovely child was born, smiling like the forebear many years after. Whatever side of the cup you decide to view is yours – half empty or half full. Be confused. Think. Be foolish, if you must. Hold on to love. Believe. Forget again or not… But again, just remember, always remember… There is life. There is beauty and there is today and tomorrow. Believe.