Posted in BOOK THOUGHTS, BOOKS, RAMBLES, REVIEWS

HOW TO BE A NIGERIAN WRITER by Elnathan John

You know the value of books. The process of making them intrigues you. You want your name on the front cover of a book and, like an earthworm inches through dirt into the ground, you want to make your way into people’s homes, heads and hearts. I am here to help you achieve that.

 

First, you must look the part. It is important to look like an African writer. Find multi-coloured kampala fabric and use it to sew shirts which you’ll wear to all writers’ events. Or an old t-shirt. You shouldn’t look like a model or banker. Your precious time is spent thinking of plot and theme and words, not on dress and grooming. Your hair needs to be unkempt. However, nothing says authentic-tortured-African-writer like dreadlocks. Please, note that in Nigeria there is a difference between dreadlocks and ‘dada’. Dada is less refined, naturally matted coils of hair due to superstitious neglect. Dada is uncool. Dreadlocks are deliberate. They are cool. They make you look wildly creative. If someone asks; no, you are not a Rastafarian. You are an African writer.

As a writer, you must flaunt your vices. You need to show that you are a flawed character. If you drink, drink too much. If you smoke, do it at inappropriate times. Show up at an event reeking of booze. People will understand. Vices are a tool of the trade.

Now, you have the basic tools: a multi-coloured kampala shirt, cool dreadlocks, and vices. You must set about the business of writing.

You do not need to read a lot to be a Nigerian writer. In fact, as a Nigerian writer you can make shameless statements like “I don’t really read much”, in public. All you need is a burning desire to write. It is sufficient to have read Shakespeare and Achebe, and maybe a little of Chimamanda Adichie for contemporary reading. The only thing you need to really study is a dictionary or thesaurus.

Please, note that all Nigerian characters are Africans who act the same: children are respectful of elders; parents are always responsible, wise individuals teaching children valuable lessons of life. Characters do not use cuss words or talk about sex, even when in the company of peers. Nobody’s mother smokes and we have no homosexuals in Nigeria.

Use big words instead of small words; ‘Discombobulate’ instead of ‘confuse’. How can you write like a layman when you are an African writer? It doesn’t matter how many people read or understand you. What matters is that you impress those who do.

Use many words. It is always better to err on the side of verbosity than to err on the side of brevity.

Protect your work fiercely and always insist that people give you constructive criticism. Anyone who points out, rightly or otherwise, that your writing isn’t quite there yet, is evil and an enemy of your hustle. You must believe that there is nothing like bad writing. After all, you were inspired by the spirits before you began writing – what do critics know?

Do not waste your time or money on editors. Editors are failed writers whose life ambition is to frustrate the hustle of real writers like you. Show your friends your work. But only the ones who are not jealous of your hustle, and who remind you that your writing is the best thing since point-and-kill. Find some popular person from your village who will write you a foreword without actually reading your book. Then, go to press.

Go to Ibadan or Lagos. Find a cheap printer who can print 1,000 copies without ink smearing on the pages coming out lopsided. Arrange for a transporter to bring your book home.

A book is not complete without a book launch. In Nigeria, a book launch is a fund-raising ceremony. It is not important to have writers at this event. Well, maybe the book reviewer. You need your state governor (who may not come but will send a representative with a cheque or a pledge); your Local Government chairman; your Pastor or Imam to bless the event; and any minister, senator or rich person that you know. It is important to find a Chief Launcher who will encourage others to donate to your hustle. Do not leave it to chance or the discretion of the Chief Launcher, unless you are sure of his capabilities. In Nigeria, nobody is allowed to embarrass the Chief Launcher by giving more money. So, if you can, gently hint that you know he will set the bar high for others to follow. That is the job of the Chief Launcher – setting the bar as high as possible.

You do not need a marketer, publicist or publisher. These people eat into your profit margin. If you have a car, carry a few hundred copies in the trunk at all times. Be your own marketer. Steer conversation toward your book and tell them you have written this really cool book. Someone will ask for it and you will tell them to hold on for a minute while you get it from your car. If you don’t have a car, have a big bag that can carry at least 10 copies. Do not be ashamed to carry your books to public gatherings. Book by book, God blessing your hustle, you may end up selling off the 1,000 copies your printer produced, and maybe even go for a reprint.

Get an award. It doesn’t matter what. It may be from your church bulletin which you have been writing for since you were in secondary school or your old boy’s association newsletter. You can even have friends get together to organise and award you the ‘Roforofo Prize for African Fiction’. Then, you can have on your book, ‘Award Winning Author’. No need to state what award it is. An award-winning writer is a good writer.

It is my hope that you make it as a writer and have many successful books in the market. And with well organised book launchings, you can be sure that God will bless your hustle.

 

 

ElNathan John is a satirist and award winning author of the novel, Born on a Tuesday. He blogs at http://elnathanjohn.blogspot.com/ … Follow his tweets at @elnathan

el jo

He is the creator of the Nigerian ‘How to series…’ Google it! You might also want to check:

How to worship the Nigerian God

Damn You – Letter to Nigerian Literature and all involved

How to show Nigerian love

http://dailytimes.com.ng/opinion/how-be-nigerian-mechanic

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Posted in LIFE

THE KIDNAP OF MR. TUBAL CAIN AND A DISCLAIMER

Recently, my friend and client, the Nigerian writer Tubal Cain was kidnapped in Aba. He was on his way to his village to make final preparations for his mother’s funeral. The car he was in was snatched. His phones were also snatched. The phones were used in making calls to several people on his contact list including myself. They impersonated Mr. Cain and tried to extort money from people cooking up several stories in the usual 419 way.

Eventually, Mr. Cain was rescued from the lair of the kidnappers in time for his mother’s funeral which was on the 18th. He has returned to his base and is recuperating under strict supervision from his Doctors. Meanwhile, he only did his phone welcome back day before yesterday (27th February 2012). He has instructed that that word be passed round to everyone to ignore any calls that might have been received from his phone lines or anybody claiming to him between the 6th of February and 27th as it was the work of those kidnappers.

Find attached the official disclaimer at the end of this post.

Thank you very much for your concern and be assured of Mr. Cain’s continuous goodwill. S’

Mr. Tubal Cain

 

This is to bring to your notice that Mr. Cain Tubal was kidnapped in Aba on 6th February, 2012 on his way to his village to make final preparations for his mother’s burial. He was however rescued in time for the burial. He is at the moment recovering from the anguish and turmoil of the entire experience.
During the kidnap process though, Tubal Cain’s handsets were seized by the kidnappers. The lines have been used in trying to scam several people with the users impersonating the person of Mr. Cain.
THIS IS TO DISASSOCIATE MR. CAIN FROM ALL SUCH CALLS AND MESSAGES AS HE ONLY DID A WELCOME BACK YESTERDAY.
We can only pray that far more better days would come to our country.
Thank you very much for your concern and be assured of Mr. Cain’s continued good will.

Signed,
Su’eddie Vershima Agema
for Mr. Tubal Rabbi Cain

Posted in LIFE, POL TALKS

NLC RALLY: OCCUPY NIGERIA: BENUE STATE – DAY THREE

Convergence as agreed was at Cool Off by 7am. The people had come ready to occupy. The doubled number of people was evident at a glance and impressive. Several came armed with their sleeping materials. The NLC officials announced that the day’s proceedings were to start with a march around town before the eventual re-convergence at Cool Off. The protesters moved from Cool Off Park (Opposite Togo’s supermarket) to the Wurukum roundabout, and unto to Gyado Villa along the Gboko road where the people stopped for an address by various officials.
After the lecture, a u-turn was made back to the Wurukum Roundabout where there was a turn to the New Otukpo road. The road which is notably one of Makurdi’s busiest with a lot of banks was dead quiet before the arrival of the protesters and only them seemed the people about except for a few vehicles with green leaves around. The movement diverted to Ishaya Bakut road unto the Police B Division Junction along Old Otukpo road. There was a right turn to High Level Roundabout where the protesters came to a halt after more speeches.
The NLC announced that the protests would have to halt for the day and called on people to come prepared for a proper sleepout the next day by 7am at Cool Off park.
A lot of people protested against the decision of the NLC to suspend the rally for the day and called for its continuation. Most of this group marched from the High Level roundabout to the Mr. Biggs’ Roundabout to settle at the Cool Off spot where they said they would occupy till the next day.
It was noted that during the general rally, more protesters converged at the Cool Off spot with some gathering at other roundabouts around town. These people said they had decided to form separate (but not independent) groups to enhance the power of the protests. Their position was to ‘occupy’ these spots, they declared.
There was an absence of a well represented media. The NLC officials and leaders of other represented groups called the various media representatives and asked them why Benue had not been properly reported across the various channels and stations. Only two of the print media represented (one from Peoples’ Daily) could show evidence of reportage of the activities of the rally. One of the TV station reporters said it was usually difficult sending live coverage as there was an absence of a satellite to send messages directly. As such, coverage had to be done and then sent to the respective stations at the end of the day. It was at that time that editing would have to be done on the various clips before presentation. By this time, events usually overtook the reports which would lead to some of them either not being aired or not being aired adequately. Some other reporters submitted that it was the choice of their stations to air what they wanted. The NLC charged the media to shelve their excuses and report objectively all that had been happening.
Social media representatives were also advised to keep people abreast of the true events as they unfold. To this extent, certain people were also advised to come along with their laptops and modems. Talks of setting various command posts were discussed. Media strategy meetings were also held by the representatives of the various organisations so that proper reportage of events would be done.
On the whole, cars and bikes were seen on the road, and some shops were open in Makurdi, it is noteworthy that on Day 3 of the protests, far more people, bikers and cars have joined the rallies, more placards and banners have appeared with more organisations coming up to show their commitment to the cause. As it is, the protesters are asking for better governance, a reversal of pump price to N65 per litre or lower, and that the government tackle more pressing issues such as Boko Haram, security concerns, corruption and other vices.
Some groups have scheduled meetings including the Civil Society Organisations (at Woodland Park by 4pm), Association of Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Okada Riders association, Trade Union Congress and others. The plan is to plan effectively in such a way as to operate in consonance with the Nigerian Labour Congress but also have alternative plans since the NLC weren’t showing proper coordination of the whole protests. Also, some of the protesters declared that they would continue with the sleep-out at various parts of Makurdi. Not a few people are meeting to strategise on ways to make the protests stronger, with or without the NLC leadership coordination.

Find links to other days at

https://sueddie.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/nlc-rally-occupy-nigeria-benue-state-day-two/

Protesters at Wurukum Roundabout

Wurukum Roundabout by Ageshi Transport

Benue Rally at Katsina Ala, Makurdi

Makurdi in full!

Posted in LIFE, POL TALKS

NLC RALLY: OCCUPY NIGERIA: BENUE STATE – DAY ONE

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.