The Benue Book and Arts festival (presented by SEVHAGE) is scheduled to take place in Makurdi the capital city of Benue State in Nigeria from 20th to 22nd June, 2019. It is being organised by SEVHAGE Literary & Development Initiative and SEVHAGE Publishers as part of the SEVHAGE Presents series of festivals. Featured writers include Professor Dul Johnson (Winner, ANA Prize for Fiction 2017), Dr. Maria Ajima (multiple award winning writer and critic, leading voice in Northern Nigerian literature), Agatha Agema (nee Aduro) (author of The Enchanting and other poems); sensational writer and prolific author, Chuma Nwokolo, Innocence Silas Sharamang (Double Winner of the Korea Nigeria Poetry Prize), Servio Gbadamosi (ANA Prize for Poetry 2015 and Shortlist, Wole Soyinka Prize 2018); the literary administrator and author of City of Memories, Richard Ali; short story writer and social media influencer Eketti Edime, Bizuum Yadok; T. J. Benson (award winning author of We won’t fade into darkness); spoken word maestro Bash Amuneni; spoken word diva and amazing poet, Daisy Odey; Maik Ortserga; Jide Badmus (author of Scriptures), Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto (multiple award winning poet), Seun Odukoya, Ahmed Maiwada (award winning poet), Isaac Attah Ogezi (award winning playwright), Mimi Werna, Aondosoo Labe, Debbie Iorliam, Oko Owi Ocho; Torkwase Igbana; Odoh Diego Okenyodo; amongst several others.
On Sunday, March 10, 2019, Pius Adebola Adesanmi, writer, scholar, educator, and public intellectual, was killed along with 156 others from 35 countries in the Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed close to Addis Ababa airport shortly after take-off. Prior to his death, Payo (as he was fondly called by many) was the Director of the Institute of African Studies, Carleton University, in Ottawa, Canada. His tragic demise at the age of 47 has left people in the communities where he conducted his professional work and social activism reeling with pains. The tragic nature of his death invites us to reflect on his life and times, as well as to philosophize on the immortal lines of the English poet, John Donne, in his “Meditation XVII”: “All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated… As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all… No man is an island, entire of itself… any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
The Nigeria Prize for Literature aka the NLNG Prize for Literature worth $100,000 is calling for submissions in the category of Children’s Literature! No time. Do you have a children’s story book written in the last four years? Do you think it is worth the prize? What are you waiting for? … Wait, are you Nigerian and do you have a national passport or national identity card? Weya o!
Another African statesman and fine gentleman, David Rubadiri, poet, academic and diplomat, has died at the age of 88.
(For Sewe Leah)
It is hard to come to terms
Harder yet to embrace the memory
What once was.
Of flowers that wither in the sun,
And roses that wilt in the grips
Of wanton boys
Who pluck them for sport
To decorate sandcastles.
Seems so vast yet vague and far.
And it is hard
To keep dreaming
When the walls are closing in
And your heart is breaking
One tiny crack at a time,
Then a million shattered pieces on the floor.
(And we make careers
Of picking broken fragments of us
From the ground).
(after seeing a photograph on Flower Rae Shearer‘s wall, overcome by sadness, for the bench)
a lonely bench sits in a park
waiting for stray bottoms
walking through the woods
of life, to sit and make it warm,
only leaves of fall, sad twigs
and sighs of famished trees
keep it company, touching its
wooden ribs and scarred face
with elegies of coming dusk
amu nnadi is author of four collections of poetry, the fire within, winner of the 2002 ANA Gabriel Okara Prize for Poetry, pilgrim’s passage, shortlisted for the 2005 Nigeria Prize for Literature, and through the window of a sandcastle, winner of the 2013 ANA Poetry Prize, runner-up to the 2013 Nigeria Prize for Literature and winner of the 2014 Glenna Luschei African Poetry Book Prize, and the recently completed a field of echoes, a book of almost 300 new poems.
In addition to all this, he is a close friend, mentor, lovely gentleman and teacher.
In collaboration with the Association of Nigerian Authors (Benue State Chapter), it is our pleasure to release the collection of short stories, A Basket of Tales – Benue ANA Anthology…
The collection is made of twenty-five exciting short stories from award winning, emerging and intriguing writers including Unoma Azuah, Hyginus Ekwuazi, Maria Ajima, Pever X, Iquo Eke, Sibbyl Whyte, Victor Olugbemiro, Jennifer Emelife, Myles Ojabo, Agatha Aduro, Enajite Efemuaye, Aondosoo Labe, Joshua Agbo and Kenechi Uzor. The stories cover a lot of grounds from humour to thriller, magical fantasy to realism…etc. There’s a slice of something for everyone.
A Basket of Tales is an anniversary project of the current Association of Nigerian Authors (Benue State Chapter) Executive Committee of the association led by Su’eddie Vershima Agema in collaboration with SEVHAGE Publishers and SEVHAGE Literary and Development Initiative. It the first of a series of quality e-books of literature covering various…
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Growing up, reading was my favorite hobby. I was obsessed with books. Indeed, books were best friends I would spent countless hours with and draw inspiration and strength from. With a book you are never alone.
Though reading had taken me to the continent many times as a child, I felt the adult I had become had to physically travel there and connect with my roots to understand my purpose in life. I literally had an epiphany when I set foot in Ghana in 2009. Instantly, I knew my mission was to share the magic of books with children by building libraries in rural areas across the continent. The Bisila Bokoko African Literacy Project (BBALP) was born.
Fast forward to 2011 when James Bayanai, a young aspiring lawyer from Zimbabwe reached out on Facebook. James had been following my work in Africa and wanted to meet. We agreed to do so in Capetown, South Africa where I was flying to attend the World Economic Forum. How far will YOU go to make your dreams come true ?
James took a bus from Zimbabwe and spent days on the road only to make our appointment ! I was speechless and equally inspired. He shared his ambition to become a lawyer and how brilliant children in his community were. Unfortunately, parents could not afford their education. I was determined to help. Together, we created and launched a scholarship program from the ground up starting with helping 10 of the most gifted children in Chirumanzu, Zimbabwe. There, we also opened the first BBALP library 4 years later ! James eventually became a lawyer and BBALP local Project Manager. From Chirumanzu Member of Parliament Anastancia Ndholuvu to the Ministry of Tourism and Education and the Mayor of Harare (Zimbabwe capital) – our literacy endeavor received warm support beyond expectations.
What could possibly top this ? The overwhelming joy I felt when I received the children’s first school reports and thank you notes — or my deepest gratitude towards James Bayanai and his local team for being a catalyst of unpreceded change. To date, over 200 children are now beneficiaries of BBALP Zimbabwean project.
At the beginning of 2014, we started a collaboration with Chirumanzu school to build another BBALP library but this time inside their premises. The vision was to grant access to students and the community as a whole. We budgeted, built the library and book shelves from scratch. Within a few months of hard work, books were on display and up for grabs.
Zimbabwe welcomed me with open arms. As I shared with its people the wonderful power that lays in reading, I stocked up on smiles for days. The land fed me delicious traditional dishes such as sadza and I shook precious hands that carry the know-how of Zimbabwean ancestral basket weaving.
Just as I felt compelled to share with this beautiful nation, visiting Zimbabwe made me realize how much more it has to offer to the world. Tourism and Fashion are just two examples of burgeoning fields in which I look forward to being actively involved in locally in the near future.
What I learned from this experience is that your talents, your gifts will be revealed to you. The key is to listen to your inner voice. They say the distance between your dreams and reality is called action. Eventually, you will realize that your purpose in life is not so much something you have to force yourself to do but something you cannot help doing. Reading books shaped my future. By hopping on a bus to meet me across borders, James began the life-changing journey of a whole generation. If you doubt you can find your path in your passions or a foreign country, it could very well just be in a book next to you.
Follow Bisila Bokoko on Twitter:www.twitter.com/@bisilabokoko
First published here. Republished on this blog with the kind permission of Bisila Bokoko.
Once upon a time, son,
they used to laugh with their hearts
and laugh with their eyes:
but now they only laugh with their teeth,
while their ice-block-cold eyes
search behind my shadow.
There was a time indeed
they used to shake hands with their hearts:
but that’s gone, son.
Now they shake hands without hearts
while their left hands search
my empty pockets.
‘Feel at home!’ ‘Come again’:
they say, and when I come
again and feel
at home, once, twice,
there will be no thrice-
for then I find doors shut on me.
So I have learned many things, son.
I have learned to wear many faces
like dresses – homeface,
officeface, streetface, hostface,
cocktailface, with all their conforming smiles
like a fixed portrait smile.
And I have learned too
to laugh with only my teeth
and shake hands without my heart.
I have also learned to say,’Goodbye’,
when I mean ‘Good-riddance’:
to say ‘Glad to meet you’,
without being glad; and to say ‘It’s been
nice talking to you’, after being bored.
But believe me, son.
I want to be what I used to be
when I was like you. I want
to unlearn all these muting things.
Most of all, I want to relearn
how to laugh, for my laugh in the mirror
shows only my teeth like a snake’s bare fangs!
So show me, son,
how to laugh; show me how
I used to laugh and smile
once upon a time when I was like you.
Where your eyes stare
those words you whisper
the continual flow of actions…
did it flash forth in a pot
was it something magical growing
from spot to spot?
Is the radiance of the sun
specifically shone on me?
Is utopia carved simply for my warmth?
Has the sun shone forth its bliss?
Why does the moment seize my ease
when dance should be me?
Sprinkle the air with what truth you would
take all the magic that rather should
stand to be the crown of our smiles
Give me this and take away your chance
let me fall to ignorance
and forever enjoy this beauty dance.