Posted in EVENTS


DISCUSSION BUZZ: The Symbols Cuisine Gallery. 7pm.

We walked in, Maik Ortserga (Executive Editor with Aboki Publishers and Secretary of Benue Association of Nigerian Authors) and I. There was Anselm Ngutsav, Apine Kenneth and Stephen Aba. I was still wondering if I had made the right choice of forfeiting my Abuja trip for this session – and something else ;). Well, seeing the guys made me know that I was in the right place – home. Purple Silver, the growing voice of literary flow and camaraderie in Makurdi, Benue that I am proud to be part of… Okay, to the point.

The event started with the discussion aspect and after some debate, we agreed to discuss Wole Soyinka’s interview with the Daily Post that Achebe is not the father of Modern African Literature. A few of us had not heard about it so it was nice that it came. I moderated the session and we all had a swell time. There were two primary voices that took the debate, Stephen Aba who supported Soyinka’s stance citing history as his strong point to show Achebe wasn’t really the father of modern African literature and Maik on the other hand who said that Achebe truly was through the validation and reinvention of African literature that had come through Achebe. The argument for was that though there were other people afore, Achebe had deeper vision and caused a revolution in African writing. He made English to speak Igbo, brought new styles and invented a new course that a lot of people followed. Through him finally, a new African literature was born. People started paying proper attention to the literature due to Achebe’s intervention. The argument against still continued that one couldn’t really say the Wright brothers were the fathers of aviation. It would be more appropriate to say it was Da Vinci… At various points, we had to define what African literature was, where Achebe was given the title first e.t.c. Wow! It wasn’t some small argument to and fro. Fortunately, the two chief proponents were cool speaking people so there were no flairs in the air. Just lots of not letting go. Kenneth, Anselm and Ode Attah put in their contributions too but there was no agreement. Well, we put it to the vote – a casual vote, and several people present decided not to cast their ballot. Achebe won though 🙂 Someone asked why Soyinka hadn’t said so when Achebe was alive. The reply was simple: ‘Blame the journalists! Why didn’t they ask Soyinka when Achebe was alive?’ 🙂
We disagreed on some points but we agreed that Soyinka wasn’t being sentimental. Achebe had contributed a lot and changed the course of African literature forever. The debate of fatherhood is one that has too many factors involved that we need to properly work and debate to make a proper conclusion.

Next, we moved to discussing Northern Nigerian Literature in a broad sense. We made it clear that we weren’t politicizing the term or brand and were only using the name for convenience to cover the literature from this side of the country. With two of the shortlisted writers from this side, Elnathan John and Abubakar Adam Ibrahim being shortlisted for the Caine Prize, what does that portend for the literature of these parts? Furthermore, why has the literature from these parts being silent for so long? What can we do to enhance our literatures here? All these with thoughts of how we can reinvent ourselves so that someday perhaps we might be called the mothers or fathers of Modern Northern Literature…

The consensus was there is a thriving Northern Nigerian literature that hasn’t been promoted enough or exploited. There is more tugging towards the established voices – voices established by other critics and/or media. The literatures of our part need to be given more attention. We have to learn to read far more of ourselves as of others to be more rounded. There’s a need to celebrate ourselves too through prizes, criticisms and the like. We need to believe in our own.

(Okay, we could hear our voices though and don't mind the flash wahala :) )
(Okay, we could hear our voices though and don’t mind the flash wahala 🙂 )

There was a performance session and we just had to cut the talk though there was far more to say…

Well, the performance continued







MOVING (A Children’s Short Story) by Su’eddie Vershima Agema

Dad’s Mercedes wagon appeared from nowhere. We squeezed our two bedroom apartment into the car. Soon, its stomach was touching the ground from the load it carried. By the time the entire luggage had found space, we discovered we couldn’t find any for ourselves. Terngu and I exchanged glances.

The car looked overfed.

Makurdi was our destination. Mummy said it was better there. There were fruits and water which we only bought here – or used to buy. Eating and going out had become a luxury since Dad lost his job. No one visited anymore. The Landlord had also become harsh and said we should go away. We were leaving.

I took a quick run to find my friends. They followed me back. Mummy says that people go to burials to make sure the dead people wouldn’t come back to finish our food and water. I wondered if they came to make sure I wouldn’t do same.

I met Dad and Mummy looking for me. After a little scolding, they pointed to the place where I was to sit. I stood, looking at it. I knew my buttocks would hardly fit in. Terngu was sulking in the corner, load all around. I looked at my sweaty body and pitied myself.

“Go in!” Dad growled. He was waiting to close the door. I squeezed myself into the space. The car was stuffy and I could hardly breathe.

“Make sure you send us fruits!” It was Uche and Babu, my friends. They had come to my side of the car.

“I will. I will bring when I am coming!!”

Dad gave them Five Naits and they ran off, excited. I wished I was Uche or Babu. I imagined the candy they would buy. Ouch!My legs were hurting.

I removed my shoes as a horrible stench hit my nose.

Hmmm!! Dad, there is garlic in the car!”

Dad’s frown deepened as Mummy burst out laughing:

“There is no garlic.” Okay. Excluding garlic there could only be one explanation:

“Mummy, Terngu farted!”

Terngu punched me. I hit back as Dad’s voice commanded us to stop. My nostrils were not liars. Terngu’s buttocks had overdone it this time.

“Daddy, Terngu’s fart doesn’t want to go.”

“Terngu, why won’t you allow my child rest?”

Terngu said nothing but carried one of my shoes and stuck it to my nose. The stench hit me worse than the shalanga, pit toilet we used to share in our compound.

Hmmmmmmmm” was the only sound I could make in disgust.

“What is that?”

“Unde’s shoe.”

“Would you apologise or not?”

I grudgingly did. The journey was already too tiresome. I wished I was back home making toys. Or playing with Babu and Uche, or buying something with the money Dad gave them! I wondered if Makurdi was worth it after all.

“Mummy, I don’t want to go to Makurdi again.”

“What?!!” Dad asked and I had to stammer a reply I can’t remember now.

“You don’t want those fruits or to see the River?” Mummy asked.

I remembered these but was too tired. I wanted to go back home. I had decided. After all, I was an adult now. I closed my eyes to Dad and opened my mouth to state my stance when Mummy gave me some biscuits from her bag. Biscuits!! My favourite! It had been months. I could hold my peace for a while. As I munched, I set my eyes on the road. I hoped that the sight of passing objects would be enough to make me forget my aching buttocks. The discomfort was getting unbearable. Then, I slept…

©Su’eddie Vershima Agema



Unoma Azuah…Unoma Azuah… Who the hell is she? Right? Well, she’s one of Nigeria’s finest writers and academics. She got the Hellman/Hammett award, the Urban Spectrum award, the Leonard Trawick award and the Association of Nigerian Authors/NDDC Flora Nwapa award for her debut novel Sky-high Flames. Her short story collection, The Length of Light though not as popular as her novel is a powerful collection where the enigmatic gap between ordinary people and their dreams is dramatized in scenes that reveal severed roots, patriarchal intrusions, socio-economic impositions, inhuman cultural values, and hostility.

Okay, so Unoma Nguemo Azuah has a new book out, Edible Bones (released December 2011) which has already won the Aidoo-Snyder book award. She has been reading everywhere in Nigeria. Something struck me: She kept saying that her aim for publishing the book in Nigeria is to go in sync with ‘charity begins at home.’ What? Home? Now, home to her is Nigeria in general – why she also published in the country. The interesting thing is the true home, Benue had been ignored… till now.

Join us as we welcome the delightful kpam wan u Benue (pride of Benue), Nguemo Azuah to Makurdi on the 18th June 2012 for a reading from her Edible Bones. The time is set for 16:00hrs (4:00pm) and the venue is a place behind NUJ House, Makurdi. There shall be a raffle draw for guests and buyers of books. Yes, that’s another thrill – there would be lots of books on display. You sure can’t miss it. One way or the other, we hope to make the event to be as fun as possible with lots of lovely readings, chats, a social ambience and if all these fail, a few gifts to compensate. 🙂

You can catch up a bit on the event with a Pre-Event Interview. You can also get acquainted with Nguemo Azuah through her site… or well, you can just wait till that day. Whatever you do, if you find yourself in Makurdi, make sure you make it a date. And if you are not, oh well, we would have fun on your behalf and give you in-depth reportage. Send enquiries to… Hola! M sugh u!

Posted in LIFE


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.



The Tiv Chuma. Courtesy: Su’eddie Vershima Agema

Chuma Nwokolo Jnr is not a stranger to these parts nor our literary community having done a workshop here at the State University alongside Geoff Ryman as well as having readings at the university’s Writers’ League and this great body too – all with Geoff. He is known to most of us personally but permit me to tell us a bit more of what we all know.

Chuma Nwokolo Jnr was born in Jos in the year 1963. He is a graduate of Law at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. A founding managing partner of the Law Firm, C and G, he was called to the Bar in 1984. His first novel was published by Macmillan in 1983. Very little is heard of that novel these days – we even wonder the name. Nwokolo is more known for his publishing of African-Writing (online and in print), a literary magazine that has featured several literary lords and ladies from across the African continent. Thus, it is needless to mention that he has a very active web presence blogging at as well as having several essays, short stories and poems on diverse websites. Need anyone say that Chuma (as he is fondly called by several, older and younger, friends and fans) is also on Facebook and Twitter?

He has a collection of poetry, a few novels, African Tales at Jailpoint (1999), One More Tale for the Road (2003), Diaries of a Dead African (2003), and his recent toast The Ghost of Sani Abacha, a collection of short stories, that he would be reading from this evening. Chuma is generally known for his trademark humour that stands out in his fictional narratives. His poetry however is more serious and deep, demanding some serious thoughts and analysis. Little wonder he has to explain several parts when he’s reading, and he sure does a lot of reading. With his latest book, he has done lots of tours from Europe to the Western part of Nigeria and now, our own Makurdi. He moves to Abuja, Kaduna and other places too. Chuma has a commanding presence at over six feet and a unique look especially with that special hair of his that you wouldn’t find on anyone else. His deep booming voice and commanding presence are both captivating as they are inspiring. Several people have changed reading styles for better after exposure to a presentation by this iroko of an author.

Chuma, like the traditional African writer is a social crusader who in addition to using the essence of the wig to fight has written fiction and non-fiction fighting perceived ills in society. His poem, ‘This Land is Mine,’ which he also reads this evening, is testimony of that.

Chuma has a zest for literature and would easily be caught in a literary underwear than any other garment. As mentioned earlier, he was in Makurdi for a literary workshop and took the time to do lots of mentorship and literary promotion. It gained him several fans and lots of well wishers, testimony seen in the number of people present here. It is for this and many more that the Sam Ogabidu led Benue ANA and the then National President of ANA, Dr. Jerry Agada on November 3rd, 2011 deemed it fit to honour him among others with a certificate of distinction for his literary zest and continued literary evangelisation.

This citation could go on forever but Chuma threatened to dose off if it does. So, we would break it a little not forgetting a proper toast: To a man who has done so much, we can only pray that far more greatness comes his way and that neither the ink of his thoughts ever dry, nor his literary muscle ever slack. Join me, ladies and gentlemen, friends and everyone present in welcoming the elder brotherly silently salient smiling and charming Chuma Nwokolo Jnr as he brings back the ghosts of Sani Abacha and enthrals us to a most delightful evening. Thank you.

(This citation was offered by Su’eddie Vershima Agema at at the Benue Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Guest Reading Session at the NUJ House, Makurdi on 23rd February, 2012)



Generally, the protest rally on Day Four was not dissimilar from those of the previous days. The major difference was that the people converged at High Level Roundabout (the convergence points for the rally have been shifting from day to day). The numbers kept increasing as the movements continued. True vehicles and bikes kept moving and some other people were seen on the roads. However, it was evident that the number of people moving about town had reduced greatly. Also noticeable in the protests on Day Four was the presence of far more youths and women. It seemed they had thought everything was child’s play but noting the seriousness had come out to join. Several other people who had relied on News Channels (but were disappointed) and the social media (especially Facebook) got tired of the reportage which they eagerly looked to. They decided come out to the march instead of post comments of encouragement. Several Federal Government staff absent from the previous days were seen. Some confessed that they had thought the rallies would be over in a few days. Noting that it might not if the numbers were few, they had decided to come join the march.
It turned out to be a day of publicity for the state as for the first time, the rallies were seen on AIT. Also, selected people stayed at home to post feeds to various media outlets. The presence of more youth also meant more live feeds to Facebook. It wasn’t long before the full impact of the rallies was seen. Noting the seriousness, a lot of people came out from their houses to join the protests. Those who couldn’t for one reason or the other promised to join. Day Four turned to be a turning point for Benue as it seemed most people came to notice the importance of the march for the first time.
The convergence was by 7am at the High Level roundabout, Makurdi. The people came in their numbers. The number though as much as on previous days was looked at as not being impressive enough. The NLC leaders gave their charge and told the protesters the course that the day’s events would take. As usual, the movement was of the police taking the lead, the NLC vehicles with music, accompanied by okada (commercial motorcycle) riders, then the banners and the main protesters. The march started in earnest with lots of excitement shining in the faces of the people and songs on their lips.
The march moved along the Old Oturkpo road all the way to Aliade Road and unto Kanshio. They seemed determined to reach a new side of town and make their impact felt. There was a stop and some addresses made. The addresses largely centred on the need for good governance, better leadership, and a call for the reversal of pump prices of PMS to their original price.
Next, a u-turn was made and the protesters soon found their way to Abu King Shuluwa road. They marched on through different routes notably Akpehe, till they arrived Wurukum passing the market side before terminating at the Wurukum roundabout where there were many more charges.
It was announced that the rally would start by 7am with the convergence point being the High Level roundabout.
While there was every spark of determination in the eyes and personage of the people, it was several of the protesters expressed sadness and disappointment that the government had allowed the protests to stay this long.
Most of the young people who joined the protests for the first time expressed their joy at joining the protests and promised to bring far more people the next day. Meanwhile, most of the protesters from the previous days said they prayed that the government would heed the Nigerian call and answer the demands of Nigerians. They said they hoped that the protests would be the last one. They however swore that if the Federal Government didn’t reduce the price of Petrol or answer to their demands for better governance, they would keep coming out to the streets. Hopefully, there would be no need for that.

Note the numbers...

At the event



The general message was that the convergence was set for 6am at Labour House, Benue Crescent, Wadata, Makurdi. Several people had been warned not to come out for any reason other than the protests due to security reasons. In several parts of Makurdi, things were set to be business as usual. Several corporate organisations ordered their staff to go to work or risk disciplinary action. No one seemed to take anything serious. All over town, small shops were open from Ankpa Quarters to High Level and even North Bank. Black market fuel sellers were seen boldly doing their business. A lot of people wondered if anything was really going to happen at all.
Not a few people felt that Makurdi had betrayed the cause. It didn’t help matters that Simon Anchaver, the NLC Chairman was a man who had been accused of being highly corrupt and a bedfellow of the government.
Suddenly, a few security vehicles appeared on the end of Ugbokolo street, on the road leading from High Level Roundabout to the Police Station. After them, the NLC led by its banners, and officials with Anchaver at the forefront. Fela songs filled the air. Accompanying the NLC, ,were the TUC, and several other interest groups most prominent including the Benue Non-Governmental Organisation Network (BENGONET) with a great majority of her members in attendance led by Lady Shaahu (the Chair) and Mrs. Josephine Habba of Jireh Doo Foundation; Okada (commercial motorcycle) riders Association; Market men and women, students and Academic Staff of Universities’ Union (ASUU)
The NLC had converged at the Labour House as planned at 6am. There was some organisation and mapping out of plans and strategies for the day’s activities. The general module was announced: it was to be a peaceful rally that would move to High Level through Wurukum to North Bank, the Old Bridge and to Wadata again. Okada men were to lead, then those with banners and the various leaders of organisations represented were to take the lead, followed by the union vehicles, the general people. The security officials (consisting of the police and civil defence) were asked to form the rear as it wasn’t their rally. The security officials however insisted on taking the lead ahead of even the banners and all. The people didn’t argue much. Who argues with the armed in a land of stray bullets? All the police men were spotted to carry weapons with live ammunition.
The first incident of note happened a few minutes after the start of the march when some people suspected to be State Security Officials were spotted handing certain bills. A few people discovered the bills were in support of fuel subsidy removal. An alarm was raised and the men were accosted and dealt with, all their materials comprising hand bills and Compact Discs (CDs) were seized.
The march continued towards the Roundabout at Ogiri Oko road (close to the Police Headquarters), then to the High Level roundabout where there was a brief stop to address the people by the NLC chiefs. There was also a call that the people chant along Fela’s songs playing changing some parts into Tiv. It had the people chanting ‘Or mbaiv’ (Tiv for ‘thief’) in rhyme to Fela’s ‘You be Thief!’ The movement flowed on to Mr. Biggs Roundabout. There was no stop this time. As the protesters moved, people moved to those who stood by the sides, distributing bills to them and encouraging them to join the protests. The offices of corporate organisations that were shut with staff asked to go home. Meanwhile, small provision shop owners were not disturbed. Shortly after the movements started from Mr. Biggs roundabout, a few tire burners were spotted. The NLC Chairman, Anchaver called that the protesters halt. He reminded everyone that the protest was peaceful and that no form of violence was going to be entertained. He asked that the tire burners either clear the way or the protesters would take a different route. The tires were cleared and movement continued.
There was a pause at the Wurukum Roundabout where speeches from leaders of the NLC, CSOs, ASUU, and Student Union government were made. The general statements focused on showing the ills and excesses of the Federal Executive Government particularly the Presidency. Records of the expenses of the President and his allowances were read to the bewilderment of the people. There were lots of charges for the people to be strong and say ‘NO’ to the evils of government with a reverse of the price of pump price back to sixty-five naira or lower. The Nigerian National anthem was sang. Next, the songs of ‘Or mbaiv’ and Fela’s ‘You be thief’ filled the air.
The protesters faced the New Bridge, the police ahead. At the end of the bridge, there was a large group of youths standing by the road and just watching. There was some confusion as the protesters did not know to whose camp the group belonged. They seemed more of an anti-protest team. There was a silent nearly unnoticeable slowing in the movements of the protesters. There seemed no need for the fear as the youths turned out to be North Bank youths who had heard about the protests and decided to wait for the rally to reach them. They gave shouts of protests and quickly pledged their solidarity singing Fela’s songs with a strange pronunciation of the ‘if’ for ‘ip’ making their chants ‘You be thip.’ The North Bank group formed an advance team and went ahead of the security officials singing their chants. The movement of the protesters changed as the slow turned into a jog.
At the Court Five junction, the security officials accosted some tattered suspicious looking men with some bags riding bikes. Most people pointed out that the men looked like ‘Boko Haram’ members especially with their unkempt hair, dirty dusty looks, and filled bags. The police searched them and not finding anything on them, let them go after apologising.
The protesters stopped at the NASME Barracks junction for some more addresses which were carried out by more leaders from represented groups. The advance group moved first followed by the Security officials then the formation of the protesters who started from the beginning. They passed the timber shed, St. Mary’s then made another stop close to the North Bank mosque. More addresses were made. Another drama occurred as a car bearing ‘PRESS CREW: OFFICE OF THE FIRST LADY, BENUE STATE’ tried to pass through the crowd. Some people scared the occupants and after fear shown, the people scaring them simply laughed and continued with their protest movements. A lady passing on a bike also had a lot of men grab her buttocks. The songs at this point were mainly calling the President Goodluck Jonathan ‘Bad luck.’ The security officials looked very tired at this point and they all seemed to have their ways to their vehicles. They were no longer ahead of the protesters but behind them.
The movement continued onto the Old Bridge where a lot of people marvelled at the inscription indicating it had been built in 1932. There was a stop at the roundabout close to the General Post Office for more addresses. The Okada representatives made the most prominent speech saying they wanted the government to make things right for them (okada) as they were tired of stealing and atrocities and wanted to live an honest life which they believed only better governance would bring. The protesters moved through to the Post office, passing onto Wadata. In Wadata (most inhabited by Hausas), most of the chants were ‘Sai Buhari.’ Shouts of ‘We voted Buhari and you people gave us bad luck’ rent the air.
At some point in the movement, some of the security officials left the rally. They appeared at this point, most exhausted. They reported that while the protest was going on, some armed robbers and cultists were operating in some parts of High Level. The security officials had tackled them and enjoined in a chase. Sixteen suspects had been caught.
The fatigue was telling on a lot of people at this point. The movement stopped at the Labour house where several closing speeches were made from the CSOs, Student Union Government and NLC. There was a general call that Benue people get prepared to OCCUPY as there was no stopping till the government reversed the price of petrol to sixty-five naira or lower. There were also several calls for transparency in government. It was Mrs. Josephine Habba that stole the show this time. She called for the people to note that the basic need for the protests was for the children and children’s children to come. She said the children of most big men and government people usually stayed abroad and would not fill the pains of the people. Therefore, there was a need for children in Nigeria to feel at home. Mrs. Habba continued that no government official had joined the protests because they have no need to complain as most of their needs were met by the monies stolen from the Nigerian masses. There was therefore a need to OCCUPY Nigeria and Benue and keep it intact! She got a thunderous applause. She wasn’t the only one with the applause as the police were specially commended for being very peaceful and nice. It was noted that in addition to maintaining peace and order, the police had been very polite and nice even to giving lifts to protesters who were fatigued at different points. A general applause was made for the police. It would seem the police seemed to have noticed that they are part of the masses and unfortunate tools used by government against their fellow masses – a stand they had decided to change.
The NLC Chairman, Simon Anchaver announced that pending any directive or negotiation from President Goodluck Jonathan, the protests would begin by 8am at the Wadata house. He saluted the mammoth and now reenergised crowd for their commitment. He said though the protests were coming to a pause for the day, day two of the protests would have no pause. Anchaver called on protesters to bring along food, water, two pants (for the ladies), and other necessaries as there were plans to sleep out till President Jonathan changed his mind.
Everyone dispersed charged, promising to be back on the second day with all they could.
Reports suggest that only Makurdi was active in the protests with other parts of the state being hardly affected. There were reports of businesses going on as usual in Gboko with only car stops being mounted in Katsina-ala. The general telephone networks seemed to have coincidental network problems with calls and text messages being able to come in, calling out or texting imp0ssible. Only MTN had all the services available. This caused people to think there was a deliberate plan to inhibit communication.
Soon after the rally, the streets were empty with very few people about. However, by six o’clock, the whole town came to life with all night economic activities taking full force. Petrol sellers and black marketers were in force along with eateries, cyber cafes and other private shops. One might have thought that the Makurdi people have decided to sacrifice their mornings to the protest only to regain it all back with force at night.