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 ūüôā

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… ūüėČ

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.

Debbie Iorliam
Debbie Iorliam
Sibbyl Whyte
Sibbyl Whyte


TJ Benson: Courtesy Anselm Ngutsav.
TJ Benson: Courtesy Anselm Ngutsav.
Sibbyl Whyte reading
Sibbyl Whyte reading
Morning Session, Saturday
Morning Session, Saturday
Romeo, Felicia Okpo, TJ Benson
Romeo, Felicia Okpo, TJ Benson

lonely heart (a poem) by amu nnadi

(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 woodslonely heart
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.


echoes of idoto (a poem) by Su’eddie Vershima Agema

Today, in Idoto, a small literary festival is being held in honour of Christopher Okigbo. It is nice to know that poets and artistes find the grace of remembrance. One of the poets there gracing the event isChijioke Amu-nnadi who has kept pouring one new verse after the other on his road to that river, Idoto, self-confessed mother that inspired our Okigbo. I drank of this river, drank of Okigbo, took some amu nnadi too, and a few lines not worthy of any of them came up. Here’s my sharing.

echoes of idoto (a poem)

(inspired on amu nnadi’s wall; a poem in chants for christopher okigbo)


From here...
From here

the field grows as sounds bellow
verse echoing
okigbo’s chants

no longer will collected thoughts
stop at few pages
for a lengthening grows
from idoto’s river
as spirits bestride the trove

let the wind whisper wordsriver-jpg
let the sands salute spirits
let the river renew rites

at heaven’s gate
new verses and old merge
as the rivers flow
testimony to the waters
of that one who now has blessed us all
ending even imagined drought…


there’s a shrill…
the field grows as sounds bellow
the elephants march
silencing every tertrach
there’s an echo…

and our hearts beat the verse



‘Say my name?’

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.

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).

symphony of becomingIquo’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 LagosIquoo 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, say her name…and read that interview!

Elias Ozikpu, 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)
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)

Becky (A Poem) by amu nnadi

i knew you long before i knew you existed
long before you stood before me, warm
and new york said hello with her brilliant smile;
you bear in you the light of the cosmos, your eyes
two rivers leading to a great sea, your heart
warm, incarnate and inextinguishable, flame
where you carry as constellation and flower
the hopes and dreams of your people

long before i knew you existed, long 
before that warm embrace of welcome on 76th
and the fragrance of gratitude from a coarse
african, with words like the sorcery of rivers
i have felt on my brow your brightness, the
warmth of the sun that is the joy of your complexion
as the virgin plains of my homeland, with
their creased landscape of hills and valleys

i have followed, long before i knew you
the bright rays of your rainbow, your flaming
followed them as though in them the world built
a lighthouse, to bring to shore all the wayward
and lost ships of life; for in you lives the miracle
of humanity, for you love without restraint, as sun
just loving, not knowing which calyx its brightest
rays will touch and coax into the loveliest petals

in you, becky, lives a world of many gifts
in you the gift of grace and compassion
in you the fire of conviction, your veins teem
with it, touching everyone, inspiring
nursing and nourishing hope in man
in you the radiance of joy and the softness of pollen
in you the gift of warmth, like a blazing daylight
in you, becky, the gift of embrace, holding everyone

and i declare, in the lines of my poem and in the
beating of my heart, once i felt it too, your kindness
far removed from you, not knowing you existed
separated by the great expanse and strange customs
of the sea, troubled by its waves and rising tide;
you were that great sail that steadied my tremblings
that great light that led me to medgar evers, where
held in the tenderness of eyes, my heart bled with bliss

today i come to honour you, becky, with cowries
the white fowl of my poem and the freshest palmwine
i come bearing the censers of love, to honour you
as you did me, long before i knew you existed
long before you saw the dimmed light of my eyes;
today we all come bearing our token gifts, to share
with you the great wonder of faith in another; for
though i did not know you, though you did not know
me, you reached across the sea and valleys and hills

and touched me with your light, familiar as air;
for you are filled with oxygen and all that give earth life
you are, becky, what endows humanity with human
and eternity, with goodness and the light of the cosmos:
i honour you, my words honour you, my poem honours you
today i name you in the consecration of my lips;
let your people honour you too, hold you up as lantern
for you shine with the brightness of hope, warm
and inextinguishable, kind and beautiful beyond words

amu nnadi is the author of some five collections of poems including the fire within, winner of the 2002 ANA Gabriel Okara Prize for Poetry, pilgrim’s passage, shortlisted for the 2005 Nigeria Prize for Literature, andthrough the window of a sandcastle, winner of the 2013 ANA Poetry Prize and runner up to the 2013 Nigeria Prize for Literature. He also won the Glenna Luschei Prize for African poetry. Catch an interview with him here

amu nnadi wrote the poem ‘becky’ to a loud ovation in the United States… So, need to know about him? He writes his poetry in small letters alone. He is a great man with a fine soul, generous, and nearly never sleeping scribbler who loves literature especially poetry with a passion. He lives in Port Harcourt with his family and will be publishing his new collection of poetry,¬†a field of echoes¬†with his publishers, Paressia, this 2015.




The following creative works are shortlisted in alphabetical order (by titles of entries) and not necessarily in order of merit. The eventual winners will be announced at the Award Dinner of the 32nd International Convention of the Association of Nigerian Authors in Akure, Ondo State.


ANA/Prose Fiction Prize

Cat Eyes by Pever X

Tamara by Ikechukwu E. Asika

Urichendere by Dike-Ogu Chukwumerije


ANA/Poetry Prize

In The Wings of Waiting by Ikeogu Oke

Length of Eyes by Obari Gomba

Through the Window of a Sand Castle by Amu Nnadi Chijioke



ANA/Drama Prize

Embrace of a Leper by Isaac Attah Ogezi

Oduduwa King of the Edos by Jude Idada

The Playthings of War by Opeyemi Dedayo


ANA/Esiaba Irobi Prize for Playwriting (Shortlist)

Coma by Jude Idada

Under a Darkling Sky by Isaac A. Ogezi


ANA/Chevron Prose Prize on Environmental Issues



ANA/NICO Prize for Short Stories




Maria Ajima

Prof. Emmanuel Sule Egya

Dr. Sahilu Moh’d Bappa

Sarpong Asiedu

Chiedu Ezeanah


The winners would be announced at the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) annual convention holding in Akure.



Source: ANA-Ng Website