Posted in BOOK THOUGHTS, ESSAYS AND LITERARY JOURNEYS, EVENTS, LITERARY MISSIONARY

AWF READING FOR 31st AUGUST 2013: HOMECOMING with Tope Fasua and Numero Unọma (PERSONAL THOUGHTS)

Well, it’s back to Abuja for me and I am reading at the Abuja Writers’ Forum. As part of the monthly Guest Writers’ Session that the Dr. Emman Usman Shehu led organisation conducts at Nanet Suites every last Saturday of the month, I would be reading with Tope Fasua and Numero Unọma.

It’s been fun, you know. There have been calls from everywhere with the ‘Hey! I saw you in the papers’ and all. Surprising that the calls only started coming in after Dr. Shehu called to ask if I hadn’t seen any of the papers… Well, I still haven’t seen any. I copied the link from THISDAY online and discovered that I had been described as a ‘Cultural and development enth’ … Whatever that means! Had mon belle note the error to me and I got to check the dictionary to see if perhaps some editorial mishap had blessed me with a name to go for ages. Oh well! It wasn’t to be. So, for the record, I believe that’s meant to be ‘enthusiast’.

The AWF Readings are always a thrill and there is hardly ever a dull moment. I have been at most of them since the very start – was that 2008? It gets better each year and with each passing month. This year has been really cool! Only last month the AWF session had three guest ‘writers’ – artistes more of – at the session – all of them award-winning in their own right. They included poetry maestro, Musa Idris Okpanachi who read from his From the margins of Paradise which left lots of people grabbing copies to learn new vibes for their boos. Fortunately, he’s my paddy so I got lots from the original himself! SEVHAGE had organised an event for him two months earlier so it was only a reliving of that experience. Two filmmakers, Kalsham Keltuma and Ishaya Bako  thrilled us all with breath-taking short films. There were celebrities in the house including the lovely Mrs. Eugenia Abu (who came with her daughter and in her trademark kindness bought books there that were donated to the students and Corp members in the audience); Abubakar Adam Ibrahim and ElNathan John (journalists, writers and yup, Caine Prize nominees); Elvis Iorngurum; David Ishaya Osu and the like. It is usually like that. Lots of people come from far and wide. Dr. Kabura Zakama, Jim Pressman Mike Ekunno, Steve Fiberesimma are notable faces there. Now, in my bid to post this quick all the names do not come to mind but trust me, there are usually lots of interesting known, famous and infamous faces at this event. There are also lots of gifts won at the raffle where one qualifies by simply being present! Wow!

But to the August reading…

 

Tope Fasua
Tope Fasua

Tope Fasua would be reading, I believe, his book Things to do before your career disappears. He was at AWF last year – I was at that reading – where he read from his book, Crushed. Tope  an economist and chartered accountant, prides himself as one of Africa’s young modern historians and sociologists , by choice. Apart from keeping a column with the Abuja-based Sunday Trust newspapers and writing occasionally for other media houses in Africa, he is passionate about contributing his quota to the debate about Africa, using his home country, Nigeria, as case study. A position showcased in his debut book, CRUSHED, which is increasing garnering attention as a major out-of –the-box perspective. Tope is an engaging writer and personality whose brilliance shines in his speech as well as books.

 

 

Numero Unọma, whom I can tell from our gist today, would be expecting to show some photos and making an attempt at sounding intelligent – or so

Numero Unọma
Numero Unọma

she says. Hee hee hee. She said she would be expecting some questions…curious ones, cheeky ones, perhaps even rude ones. Hopefully, she wouldn’t be disappointed. For the record, Numero is a Nigerian visual artist and writer, with her deepest roots in photography and poetry. Calling herself an Afro-neo-feminist, she has lived and worked in many different cultures, and studied first psychology, then photography & multimedia. All these inform her work, bringing to the fore a perceptive subtlety in her visual work, and a brutal candour in her writings. Her visual work has been described as photographic poetry and her poetry as semantic imagery. She is as fun as she is fair skinned and yup, I can assure you you just would love her exhibition which has found lots of applause in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, other parts of Europe and West Africa.

 

 

Su'eddie Vershima Agema
Su’eddie Vershima Agema

Su’eddie… What would I be reading? Have you ever heard me read a short story? Okay, maybe once. But there is the chance to hear the other part of me that isn’t completely verse. Well, a short story and poems from Bring our casket home: Tales one shouldn’t tell. I guess I would have lots of buddies around since AWF is home so I would have to gear up. As I write now, I remember that a prophet has no [what’s the word?]…. eh, no something not nice [I would remember the word later if I am so honoured 😉 ] so I would have to be at my best. The Association of Nigerian Authors (in Benue and Abuja and other parts), the Benue State University‘s Writers’ League, and far more, the Abuja Writers’ Forum have given me some criticism that has helped me get better each day. I think I am still improving – even as I write. We would put all that to the reading tomorrow in addition to all the other talents gotten in the increased readings.

 

If you are in Abuja, please make it a date to come. If you can pick copies of our books, that would be great. I can assure you, they are affordable and definitely worth it. And if you can’t, just ensure you come. Have fun. What would you lose? If you are not in Abuja tomorrow or can’t make it to the Guest Writer session, make it a date to attend the next (and all subsequent) AWF readings.

The place is Nanet Suites, beside the Federal Secretariat. Time is 4pm and date, of course (for this month’s reading), 31st August 2013. Our hosts, the Abuja Writers’ Forum. See you there.

 

 

Photo Credits:

Tope Fasua (Tope Fasua)

Numero Unọma (TCD Photography)

Su’eddie Vershima Agema (Vzoren Photos)

AWF Session Pictures (Dr. Emman Usman Shehu)

 

Writers and audience at the AWF August session
Writers and audience at the AWF August session
Dr Emman Shehu and Mrs Eugenia Abu (holding a gift from AWF)
Dr Emman Shehu and Mrs Eugenia Abu (holding a gift from AWF – my book 😉 )
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Posted in EVENTS

LITERARY BUZZ: PURPLE SILVER OPEN MIC SESSION (25th May, 2013): READING

READING BUZZ: The Symbols Cuisine Gallery. 8:20pm.

It was the Purple Silver Open Mic session. WE had our discussion forum and continued with our readings/performances.

We had six performances – largely, okay, all poetry. The first shot was from Kenneth Apine, received with some criticism. Next was Ode Attah with ‘Inner Peace‘, a beautifully written poem that didn’t have a performance to match. Samuel Ikyobo read ‘Irony’ a poem that balanced irony and paradox in the same seat. Lots of people agreed that the poem might have been better if they had copies to go through… We put that in our thoughts (sound system) … Anselm Ngutsav read ‘Red Wine‘ a poem that praises red wine and red lips. The applause was much, especially from the ladies 😉 … Ene Adama performed ‘Hand made god’ in true Spoken Word form – from her head. Her hat gave her a look of a magician with words flowing from deep within…

The last poem was from Jennifer Jasmine Yahaya who read ‘African woman’, a woman of great pride and great breasts feeding lions. She started by craving our understanding as she was performing for the first time. Hmm. We expected the worst but she was really nice. The feeling I had was of Chimamanda Adichie and Toni Morrison in some strange combination. It seems I wasn’t the only one affected as there was a general ENCORE cry. She performed beyond par.

A few questions were asked on inspiration, themes and the like.

Announcements: Well, first and foremost, SEVHAGE in collaboration with the Writers’ League is bringing award winning poet, writer and deep critic, Prof. Musa Idris Okpanachi to Makurdi on Wednesday for a reading at the Benue State University, Makurdi. The main book to be read is his great new book, From the margins of ParadiseTime is set for 4pm and the tentative venue is the ALGON Hall.

Anselm (Purple Silver’s Coordinator) announced that book donations were sought in order to enlarge the library of the Orphanage home. A few other announcements and yup, it was time to call it a day. We thanked everyone for coming, invited them for our next reading on Saturday 1st June, 2013 and took our leave…

It had been some long evening but well, it was definitely worth it. More, please…

103PHOTO

Posted in BOOKS, LIFE, LITERARY MISSIONARY, SEVHAGE

THE LOYOLA JESUIT WORKSHOP FOR WRITERS (I): PRE

7th July, 2012

This comes in three parts: The first which is the personal experience and events leading to the workshop, then the second, the workshop itself and finally, the aftermath. Of course, you can jump to whichever part suits you best or just go to the full article. But here we go…

You can imagine the surprise when I was approached by a colleague, the Secretary of the Benue Association of Nigerian Authors, Mr. Maik Ortserga (who is also the Executive Editor of Aboki Publishers) to facilitate a workshop for young writers in Loyola Jesuit College, Gidan Mangoro. I was to go as an author, teach and share my work. The last time I had taught any literary class professionally two years ago. It wasn’t a funny experience. I was teaching great students who hadn’t been exposed to proper English two subjects: English – which like I mentioned they had little knowledge from, and to make matters worse, Literature in English. Wow! It was in Bantaje, Wukari Local Government and there had to be many sleepless nights to get to prepare lesson notes, improvise and do lots of things to make my students learn. I wondered what the Loyola trip would be like. We had had issues as somehow, we got to infer from a message that there would be no need for any facilitation of creative writing. I would simply have to go and read my work to the participants. I quickly closed my system and forgot all preparations of the paper I would share with the students the next day.

We drove into Abuja at night and lodged into a hotel.With nothing to do, I had a long walk with Maik and discussed much. Had some a meal to wish for but don’t worry, not telling. Can only say suya was part of it.

The next day awakened to another literary class in a different school: the Loyola Jesuit College, Gidan Mangoro en route Orozo, and Karshi [where I found myself schooling at some point]. I wondered what to expect.

I was with the Manager of Aboki Publishers, Mr. Benjamin Yio and the Executive Editor, Maik Ortserga.  Somehow we found our way to the school with some adventure. Well, we finally got there and were kept at the gate to await confirmation of our status as guest facilitators. Men, those guards sure stood out like some Americans in some big facility. The Principal, Fr. Ugo Nweke (SJ) came by somehow, and later the tutor we had been talking with, Mr. Wilson Ikwebe. It turns out he was one of those guys who had been a force to reckon with in the Benue State University back then. He showed us around as we headed for the hall where we were to meet the students.

We opened the door and there were those students – prim and proper. Then Mr. Ikwebe told us we had to facilitate. Ouch! I knew I was very far from Bantaje. There was a projector and I had to smile that the burden of my laptop was going to be rewarded. The regret was I had not finished the tutorial I was writing in the thought that there would be a different facilitator. Phew! I prayed and after all, we found a way to know each of ourselves. We wrote our names – participants, teachers, and us. We had our names written on a paper and tagged to our shirts. Well, the participants and staff did. With the imposing yet benign figure of Mrs. Omotayo Smith, we were assured it would be well. We had Mr. Togo Matthew and Chukwuemeka Nwaoha close by to aid. Mr. Ikwebe introduced us and said the programme was in organised by the Aboki Publishers in collaboration with the Association of Nigerian Authors (Benue Chapter) – plus SEVHAGE, I had to add. As we got around, I moved about, noting the names of the students and chatting with a few. They all seemed pleasant and best of all, their English was near perfect. Nice! At least, there wouldn’t be mixing Hausa with Turanci (English)! We were set. We prayed led by Mrs. Smith…

Hmm…

Posted in LITERARY MISSIONARY, SEVHAGE

EXCITEMENT AS UNOMA NGUEMO AZUAH COMES TO MAKURDI TO FEAST OF HER EDIBLE BONES

Makurdi the Benue state capital came alive on the 18th of June, 2012 when SEVHAGE brought award winning writer and internationally acclaimed writer, Unoma Nguemo Azuah to Makurdi, Benue. Nguemo Azuah, an Associate Professor of English at Lake College, Jackson, Tennessee in the United States, was billed to read from her latest novel, Edible Bones. The place was the NUJ House and the time 4:30 pm. It was the SEVHAGE’s first official Guest Reader session and an evening of literary excitement. In a pre-event interview, the Benue born writer who grew up in Delta and has been away for long said that it was exciting to be coming to Makurdi: ‘It’s such a great re-union. I may actually get down to Gboko to see my grandfather.’

The events started with prayers from H. O. C Kochis in the form of a poem titled ‘Creative Invocation: Approaching the Muse’. By the end of his rendition, there was confusion as to whether to say an ‘Amen’ or applaud.

The Moderator, Su’eddie Vershima Agema welcomed everyone and gave room for the literary flow, a session which was based on a general discussion of a literary topic, which on this occasion was the ‘Death of the artist’ in us. The literary flow was handled by Joshua Agbo, lecturer and author of How Africans underdeveloped Africa. It elicited lots of response from different people who took varying positions as to how the artist is in society. Some opined that the artist was dead due to the dependence on politicians who dictate the tone of how to write while others opined that the artist was not dead, just the art which was gradually dying due to various factors. Francis Amedu of the Benue State University submitted that the black man is an enthusiast of literature but he [the black man] is more concerned with development – the white man’s civilisation: ‘We had our own civilisation. The white man came and brought his own. We are still coping with the shock of the interruption of our civilisation and forceful entrenchment of their [the colonialist’s] will on us.’

Soon after there was a general introduction of members of the audience who included literary enthusiasts from different walks of life. The highest number of people however came from the Benue State University, Makurdi.

Kurannen Baaki who the moderator said had come from Kaduna for the event read his short story ‘Silent Night.’ He was aptly applauded and some of the blemishes of his writing and craft mentioned.

It was time to welcome the guest of the moment, Unoma Nguemo Azuah. Her citation was read by Mrs. Maria Ajima, poet and award-winning short story writer. The crowd stood up in awe at the end of the citation which Unoma said was one of her best ever.

Unoma read from two parts of her novel, Edible Bones. The first part was from the Prologue where Kaito, the protagonist of the book tries to fight away people trying to gain access into the American embassy. The second excerpt she read was Kaito’s entry into America right up to where he is driven out by April when he uses her toilet leaving the house totally smelly. Unoma read in character and tried to be the true voice of her characters switching easily from Ghetto English for April to typical Nigerian English for Kaito. The humour of the second excerpt left most of the audience giggling.

After her reading, Joshua Agbo came forth once more to question her on some aspects of the book which he said was so good that if it was a woman, ‘most men would want to claim her hand in marriage!’ In answering the several questions, Unoma said that the aim of the book was to show the experience of an illegal immigrant in America and also disabuse the mind of several people about foreign countries and instantly making it over there:

‘It is something I was guilty of. People think that when you go to America, it’s a better life. Living here is better than going out as an illegal immigrant. People are struggling to survive there. Going abroad doesn’t make you rich. America is a land of opportunity but you have to be prepared for it. Once you get there, remain legal.’

The feeling of inferiority complex shown in the book was the next question. The particular point of interest was Kaito’s feelings of extreme excitement after bedding a white girl. This, Unoma replied was only normal to what she had heard expressed of most black men. She said that such a feeling could also be explained in the context of a person who was expecting everything abroad to be perfect: ‘Sleeping with a white woman would be the perfect cap to the entire experience.’

There was feedback from the audience at this point. Lazarus Mom asked to know the major difference between writing in Nigeria and writing abroad. In response, Unoma said that writing abroad was double faced. Everyone could get a laptop there and there was the added advantage of constant electricity power supply. The other part was with time, with which one’s memory of home starts to fade. ‘You struggle to adapt. You struggle to remember. You have to call friends at home to confirm your memory and things.’ It’s one of the reasons, she said, she comes back home at every opportunity she has.

Dr. Lucy Vajime said that she had been impressed with the proceedings at the readings and was glad that people could come together to criticise themselves in order to become better as well as have an established writer around. She praised the efforts of Unoma in joining the ranks of Chimamanda Adichie and Chika Unigwe in filling the blanks and showing the diasporan view from different fronts. Francis Amedu said there was a trend of departure from Achebe’s traditional style to something rather more urban and ‘civilised’ in the writings of contemporary writers. Kerakaa Terlumun commented on Unoma’s delivery saying it was interesting. He however wondered on the usual headache of why the black man is still where he is in life generally. Dorcas Doobee Targba said that she had come to have a sense of pride in her race from her relations with white people (mainly her tutors) in secondary school. It had made her to vow never to go out especially since we were Kings over here. She applauded the guest author and said the book was great.

After the audience talk with the guest author, a raffle was held with several books from authors as diverse as Hyginus Ekwuazi, Nadine Gordimer, Chinua Achebe and C. L. Innes, Bernth Lindfors being won by different people including Yima Antiev, Amedu O. Francis, Regina Achie Nege, Mercy Ugwu, Dr. Moses Tsenôngu, Tersoo Ayede, Sunday Abo Echenu, and Aondohembafan Akase.

Unoma Nguemo Azuah took her time to sign several books and also gave fans the chance to catch several poses with her in photographs. As darkness stole the grounds, the people left for home impressed and ably fed from the rich feast of Nguemo Azuah’s Edible Bones.

 

(Visit the SEVHAGE site for the full proceedings…)

Posted in LIFE

THE BENUE UNIVERSITY SAGA AND JUNGLE JUSTICE by TERNENGE TOROUGH

Yesterday, 2012 29th March, a Dangote trailer crushed a final year student of the Benue State University, Makurdi to death in front of the school premises. Students in a mad rage over this burnt down the Benue Internal Revenue Service headquarters situated opposite the university. Two more lives were lost in further protests. The school has been shut down till further notice. In this piece, Ternenge Torough, a professional accountant and social commentator philosophises on the whole incident and its aftermath.

 

Jungle justice has never in any way served the society right. As much as I condemn in totality the reprisal attack on BIRS Headquarters  and the killing of a Benue State University Student by a Truck driver. How has the attack on BIRS shown that, those culprits involved are educated? Are there better ways that student could have expressed their grievances without taking laws into their hands? What do they stand to gain/loss for demonstrating the way they just did?

What can we do to avoid to this ugly incidence in future? Introduction of speed breaker on access road along the school area to reduce the chances of students of being knock down by reckless drivers. This has been done in other places where institutions like BSU are situated along the road side and I see no reason why BSU should be an exception.

Questions that comes to mind after this incidence;

  • Why should students move against government properties like BIRS?
  • How did the Police handle the control of student that was aggrieved and demonstrating?
  • Will further destruction of properties/lives after incidences like this serve any justice to the aggrieved party?
  • Will the students suffer more losses after the worrisome act they just displayed? Obviously, yes.
  • Can such demonstration be taken over by hoodlums in the name of they are fighting for a cause as students?
  • How do we educate students on better ways of expressing their grievances without taking the laws into their hands?

 

We must learn to live together. We all need one another to make this world a better place. We must build this Benue of ours rather than tear it down. May the souls lost RIP, BIRS should see this as just a temporary set back and should bounce back bigger. Businesses destroyed should not let allow this set back to be permanent but should find a way to bounce back. If possible, the culprits involved should be made to face the law. I pray this unfortunate incidence should not repeat itself again.

 

May God be with us.