Posted in INSPIRATION, LIFE

THE WEIGHT OF MY HOPE (A Prosaic Poem on Writing) by Victor Olugbemiro

Speaking has never been able to carry the weight of my emotions or thoughts or feelings or desires or dreams…
Somehow, I have been able to convince myself that ink on paper is an effective outlet; so I write
But when I read what I write, it just stares back at me, an incriminating evidence of yet another inadequacy.
I keep writing though, with the hope that someday, I won’t still feel hollow after writing; someday, I can fully express writingmyself through writing and be satisfied that what I write expresses exactly what I feel.

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Posted in BOOK THOUGHTS, FLASH FICTION

THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD (Flash Fiction) by Su’eddie Vershima Agema

You raise your thoughts to the highest heavens, even though you are at your lowest. You drink of the wonders of so much written, yet find no merit to quench the thirst that is drinking you up. You hear more words, and see much more evils …

What should be, what should be?

The puzzles turn on and on in your head till your every thought becomes a mass of unanswered questions, much like wires turned loose.

You have stopped watching TV, you have stopped reading the news, you have struggled to leave the world. But somehow, the troubles still get to you. The news you refuse to find, the realities of the time.

You pick your pen to put into action once more that blood that bled so much to create weapons that left everyone marveled. You want to bleed out all the evils that have now become a monster in you.

It flows and you smile, but not for long as you find more of those villains coming to get your people. You discover that your leaders are complicit…

Then you go to Opi, kiss the junction and remember that one who wore the eagled insignia. You pick his mantle and make the sign of the cross.

Suddenly you realize you no longer believe that the pen is mightier than the sword.

Posted in BOOK THOUGHTS, ESSAYS AND LITERARY JOURNEYS

Wordsmiths in Nigeria: Relics of a lost age? by Chika Nwakama

Art is life. Life’s art. Writing is an art, it could also be a life. What else captures the details of the past, intertwining it with the occurrence of the present, yet plodding the way for the future but writing. With just a few words, your imagination travels between time and space, thus making geographic demarcations of boundaries look seamless. The secrets of life are kept afresh and handed down to subsequent generations through writing. So why aren’t the wordsmiths leaving up to their billing?

Arts in Nigeria has gained a lot of momentum lately. The actors, musicians, painters, even photographers and make-up artistes are gaining prominence and recognition in our society. The fashion industry riding on the success of the entertainment industry is recording quantum strides. All, but the writers. How could this be, that the queen and bride of all creative manifestations be relegated to levels befitting of paupers? The beholders of the secrets that lay in the lairs of the deep are fast drifting into oblivion. Some say writers can’t survive in our society. Many others say Nigerians don’t read. Indigenous literature it seems lose their footing to foreign ones. The average girl would hastily grab a Sidney Sheldon over a Lara Daniels. The Dibias would only receive accolades but we stock up our libraries with Grishams.

However, lest we rush ourselves into hasty conclusions, based on the obvious, let us remind ourselves that our counterparts in the sister arts equally faced this clog. But unlike us, they did not hurl accusations. Like them, we need to take action. We need to start appreciating indigenous wordsmiths. We hear there is a dearth of good writers in the country. This is a farce. Ever year, my compatriots receive accolades globally. It is up to the writers to test the waters and create the butterfly effect that would enable a literary environment flourish in our country. The works of Pulp Faction book club, Naijastories, Nigerian Writers forum and Debonair Bookstores are appreciated but a lot still needs to be done. Reading competitions have to be inculcated in our primary schools. Book clubs and literary groups with emphasis on local content have to be re-introduced in our secondary schools. Arts festivals and book carnivals have to be taken to the national level. We have the capacity to host art events that would rival the pedigree of the hay festival.

Only then would the publishers, corporate world and film makers come to share in the slice of the cake. The onus is on us as writers to partake in defining a new Nigeria for our youths. Where intellectualism thrives over ignorance and sentiments. Where jingoistic views would be overtaken by enlightenment. Though it is not an easy task, nor one with immediate visible results, the fruits of such venture have generational implications. He who plants a seed today leaves a shade for the next generation. In this plethora of misguided conceptions and ideologies, what seed are we planting that would provide shades for the future one? How do we preserve our fast depleting culture , if not through writings.

Do we want our children to hear of our stories from the lips of foreigners? Let us stimulate the taste buds of indigenous literature and keep them salivating for more. More importantly for our sakes. The only way to attain immortality is through writing. A writer never dies, he merely lives in another form. Through his writings.

 

First Published on Naija Stories

Posted in CALLS FOR SUBMISSION, LITERARY MISSIONARY, POETRY

CALL FOR (SUBMISSIONS) POEMS CELEBRATING NIGERIA AT 100

Straining at the Seams: Poems for Nigeria at 100 Edited by Kabura Zakama

Kairos Productions is pleased to invite submissions from poets for publication in an anthology titled Straining at the Seams: Poems for Nigeria at 100. The anthology, intended to discuss the life and times of Nigeria since the merger of the Northern and Southern Protectorates in 1914, will be published in the third quarter of 2013. This will contribute to the celebration of the centenary existence of Nigeria.

There is no restriction as to form or length of the poems to submit but each poem should address the challenges, achievements and hopes of the 100-year-old Nigeria. Authors can submit a maximum of 3 poems for consideration. You may submit unpublished or published poems. In the case of published poems, you will be required to certify that you own the copyright. Authors retain the copyrights to all their works.

Only electronic submissions will be accepted. Please send an email to the editor at strainingseams@yahoo.com with your name and Straining at the Seams as the subject line. Please send all submissions as an attachment in one MS Word document. Your submission should also include the following:
i. Name
ii. Email address
iii. Mailing address
iv. Mobile phone number
v. A short bio of not more than 80 words

Submissions that do not follow the guidelines will be rejected.

Submissions are open until 31 March 2013 and final decisions made by 30 April 2013.

No submission fees are required and no royalties will be paid to authors. Every author whose poems are published in the anthology will receive 2 complimentary copies of the book and can purchase additional copies at 30% discount.

Editor: Kabura Zakama
Editorial Consultant: Toyin Adewale-Gabriel
Publisher: Kairos Productions

 

EXTRA NOTE:

Find Dr. Kabura Zakama at http://kaburazakama.com/

Check Toyin Adewale-Gabriel on Wikipedia – Toyin Adewale-Gabriel.

 

Now, that’s for clarity on who they are. You think you are up for the challenge? Get those poems sent right away!

 

Cheers!

 

PS: NOTE that it is poems ABOUT Nigeria and can be written by anyone… #justsaying 🙂

 

 

 

Posted in CALLS FOR SUBMISSION

CALLS FOR SUBMISSIONS: THE AFRICAN STREET WRITER

January’s Theme>>> “Africa: The Art of Building It”

Highlighting the fact that The African Street Writer (TASW) is an African Ideology for Africans, our choice of first theme is amassed around building Africa with the most overlooked means; the art.

As Africa is becoming a great force to contend with, one might ask, ‘what has Africa got for others to want to contend with it?’

Let’s put aside its rich culture, its beautiful people, its peculiar troubles or whatever Africa might be known for…Let’s see how Africa can build her future with its art.

With this in mind, submissions should be built around the thought of making a better Africa today.

Entries would be accepted from two categories (Fiction/Non-Fiction and Poetry). Submission begins from January 1st 2013 and ends January 31st 2013 for the first Issue.

Submission Guidelines

  1. TASW charges no submission fee
  2. All entries should not be more than 1200 words and should be sent as an attachment totheafricanstreetwriter@yahoo.com.
  3. Please note that we are only interested in materials written out of inspiration, experience and/or creativity. We do not accept entries not written by the writer and as such; originality is the key.
  4. Multiple entries are welcomed
  5. For Fiction, the subject of the e-mail should be: Fiction/Title.
  6. For Non-Fiction, the subject of the e-mail should be: Non-Fiction/Title
  7. For Poetry, the subject of the e-mail should be: Poetry/Title
  1. In all your submissions, you must include at the top of the page: Your Full name, Country, Phone Number, Email Address, Blog Address (if any) and a short biography of not more than 75 words.
  2. ‘Like’ our page on Facebook or follow us on twitter to receive updates

 

**NOTICE**

Selected works would be announced by the first week of the month of March, 2013.

TASW would run a bi-monthly online publication/e-zine and will only publish fifteen works from both categories (Fiction/Non-Fiction and Poetry) in every issue

The titles of the fifteen best works would be published by the first week of March, 2013 and they would be spread across the month of March.

The Best work out of the fifteen in each category would be our ‘Top Story’ for that issue. Only ‘Top Story’ Writers would be paid, for now.

TASW promises to pay ‘Top Story’ Writers within 72 working hours.

TASW welcomes responsible criticism, through writing or other suitable forms with evidence, to any writer who was denied of his/her earnings.

Payment Package

you write, we pay

The payment package includes:

  1. 1.       The best article of each category (Fiction/Non-fiction and Poetry) of every issue, earns $50,
  • You could either ‘Claim‘ the cash within 72hours or ‘Stake‘
  • Once you claim, the money would be paid within 72 working hours, but if you stake, the money would be at stake and would increase if you win in the next issue following the one you just won.
  • If you win the best in any other issue within the total six issues of TASW year, you earn $150, if you stake and you don’t win in any other issue, you lose your initial earnings.
  1. 2.       If we publish two (2) articles of the same writer in one issue, you earn $20, (Articles that are not compulsorily a top story)
  • Claim or Stake for $30 for three (3) published articles within two issues.
  • Claim or Stake for $50 for four (4) published articles within three issues
  • Claim or Stake for $100 for five (5) published articles within six Issues
  • If you stake and you don’t win in any other issue, you lose your initial earning.

*Please note that the payment package would be reviewed every TASW year and all funding will be made available prior to the start of TASW year*

Posted in ESSAYS AND LITERARY JOURNEYS

ARTS AND ITS UNIVERSALITY: A CONVERSATION [1]

Senghor visiting Frankfurt am Main in 1961.
Senghor visiting Frankfurt am Main in 1961. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Conversants: Ada Agada and Su’eddie Vershima Agema

 

Ada AGADA: I promised this piece on Su’eddie’s prodding. Let me start by saying I believe in the universality of art, in the structured unity of the human mind regardless of race and cultural plurality. I will define universality simply as the transformation of the particular by lofty thinking and lofty sentiments into a transcedent mode everywhere recognizable as a creation and achievement of the human spirit. While the particular remains time-bound the universal escapes time. It becomes timeless. This means that the universal is present in every author. The problem then is whether this presence has become a transcendence. Shying away from social themes which my friend thinks is peculiarly characteristic of Western literature (and I disagree even with the average in consideration) does not guarantee universality, as surely as writing about so-called universal themes like love, hatred, death, and marriage fails to satisfy the universalist conditions in the absence of loftiness of thoughts and feelings. It is the human intellect, uniform in its structure, that organizes these lofty thoughts and feelings. The universality success rests substantially on the quality and advancement of a writer’s brain. This is not to say the writer should write a textbook that will send you to sleep from page one. Here the intellect serves the interest of art, not of thought. Why is L.S. Senghor greater as a poet than Christopher Okigbo, a great poet in his own right? It is because Senghor is more universal, more elevated in his thinking, more expansive. So the question is not whether one writer is universal and the other is not but why one writer is said to be universal even though all writers reflect universal concerns in their writings. I have answered this question. Now I will proceed to illustrate my point with concrete references to two magnificent writers in the second part of my submission – the English Thomas Hardy and the Nigerian Chinua Achebe. Keep a date with me.

Su’eddie Vershima Agema: When I mentioned that we would be having this conversation long, I knew it would be so. Hmm.
Since this is a conversation aimed directly, I take it head on.
I start by correcting that faulty line of Senghor being greater than Okigbo… M zambe [please] my brother, check that properly. Okigbo is seen as one of the best poets of African extraction &no one contests… Check. Literary tradition, the critics, connoisseurs &even readers have long done the coronation… Check.
Now to the talk on this all…

I believe that writing should not always be consigned to the way you put it my brother. The art should have more than the philosophy… it should have ‘art’. What then is art? It has been described by many people to mean different things but I hold it to be an expression of an innermost feelings. It captures our entirety through a rendition of all there is within us. Now, any work that carries this &does so fully wins us. It needs a little sprinkling of finesse to give it that extra crunch plus…

Some editing &proper carriage put in a way that is easily carried gives it that grace that is the universal. So in this way, it transcends just philosophy stated &other such things told to be a story of one &all that can be accepted everywhere, adopted &claimed for each one’s own. This forms the heart of my argument which I continue on the thread of the second part to your talk.

 

Ada Agada: @S’. I only read that Okigbo is the most exciting poet from English-speaking Africa. He is the most musical of the black poets but is surpassed by Senghor in magnificence and originality. Kofi Awoonor also noted this point of Okigbo’s heavy borrowing especially from Eliot. Those who rate Okigbo higher have not read much of Senghor who wrote in French. I have read the best poems of both. @S’. I don’t mean philosophy per se but thoughts, elevated thoughts.

Su’eddie Vershima Agema: I still think you should do your views on Okigbo are not so concrete. I have read much on him to know that above his ‘borrowing’ and the ‘musicality’, there’s a depth to him that is beyond words to express at this second. Talking of originality, what do you say of his own moulding of tradition into the fabrics of his poetry? Of course, I know Leopold Senghor and have read on him, his works extensively. What you have raised is a big argument but oh well, several scholars have gone on and on in several arguments on the greatness of who is greater – their loves or someone else.

NOTE now that I am not just saying that ‘I read’ that Okigbo is something. I have read enough of both him and others to know that he is worth the honour of his crown as one of the very best that black Africa has produced…

When it comes to our concepts of universality again, I think of it in this way: you being a philosopher look more towards it in terms of elevated thoughts. I being just a lay man look at it from the view of expression – an expression that can be felt and owned by people everywhere. Our very stands are created based on our personas, learnings, and thinking. Would we ever agree? I wonder. We would argue based on our various thoughts and leanings… We have read much to support our stance and would easily argue to that effect. Would we reach a compromise? Can we agree to disagree?

 

Ada Agada: @S’. I think we have already reached a compromise although our core beliefs stand. The agreement is that there can be no universal without the particular. We only disagree about the dimensions of universality. In fact I suspect you are a particularist, one who believes the universality thing is superflous.

 

The discussion continues here…

 

Ada Agada is the author of the novel, The Anxious Life (Aboki Publishers, 2011). He is also a poet. He holds a Masters in Philosophy from the University of Nsukka, Nigeria.

NOTE: This conversation was extempore and is largely based on direct talks between the two conversants.

English: Christopher Okigbo photo
English: Christopher Okigbo photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Posted in BOOK THOUGHTS, ESSAYS AND LITERARY JOURNEYS, LITERARY MISSIONARY, REVIEWS

RAMBLINGS ON THE WRITER’S DEPTH

There is something about the depth of the artiste – it is only gotten by going into the heart of this one. Several years ago, I would marvel at the profoundness of the works of lots of literary maestros. The depth of their creative springs and reaches left me bedazzled. I started writing, churning out tales easily with poetry and the seeming ‘myth’ of the work put into writing lost its hold on me: these were simply creative works thrown out. Unnecessary attention was usually given them – I thought. I read some critiques to show the pretensions of people’s works. But then, I got to change yet again as I became more of a writer by reading and growing values that I would hold on to.

Writing that was overtly easy to me became harder. Each word became important – what message is this giving? Does it speak what I want? Does it tell what I represent? Many thoughts died with words stifled out till at some point, it became somewhat more possible (but not easier) to churn out words. Poems and other write-ups took longer time and more edits. My being went into the process. Where is this leading to?

IT brought me to realise that the deep depths I saw in works several years ago were for real. I do not doubt that certain writers simply write without thinking. I do not doubt that several writers don’t write what they preach. Yet I know some do. It is these ones that make the writing process all worth the while. The ones that make the name ‘writer’ worth wearing with pride.

There’s no art to finding the mind’s construction in the face rings true in this case too. You have to read the work and in some cases, know the writer deeply to know if both tally: You make your analysis of a work and if you know the author well you can tell if it is a reflection of his/her thoughts or simply a blessing of some muse on a(n) (un)deserving ass (pun intended).

I do not doubt the humanity of the writer. I believe it greatly and know they are more human than many with their foibles, mistakes and all. Now, does it matter that almost everyone on the road or in their room for that matter claims to be a writer? I don’t really think so. What separates (the) writer(s) is the depth of thought that (s)he has come to garner and yes, experience too. It comes from the study of several ones – in books read. The experience in a rich life lived, no matter how such. It’s the varying experience carried. A writer who hasn’t read is not really a writer worth much salt. A writer who hasn’t lived really, hasn’t lived.

I have studied several works and had the pleasure of meeting, interacting and enjoying the unique grace of the friendships of many writers. The true writer still exists and I have seen him and her severally. I get to discover that what I thought of some of their work was far less than what lay therein. They – most writers – are far deeper. It has been very humbling but worth it all. To know these people who are peculiar yet similar in many lights. These ones who would many times just want to be alone to access the recesses of their innermost beings or others who would just want to go out and get it. These ones who look at a bland wall and discover lines to leave others amazed.

All this has made sense why some artistes would risk it all for their craft. It makes sense why a lot of them see that there’s a lot they can offer in words and actions. It’s in the definition of that depth that has become them from all they have drunk of and become – of the words of others, of the life they have lived.

For every true writer, there’s a depth…

Phoneys, have fun. Children, enjoy. Writers, live on.

We started here [Credit: Su’eddie V. Agema]
Posted in BOOK THOUGHTS, BOOKS, ESSAYS AND LITERARY JOURNEYS, FICTION, LITERARY MISSIONARY, REVIEWS

THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON (THOUGHTS) by Su’eddie Vershima Agema

TITLE: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

AUTHOR: F. Scott Fitzgerald.             THINKER: Su’eddie Vershima Agema  

F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of the biggest writers ever. His The Great Gatsby is noted as one of the classics of literature. It is acknowledged as one of the greatest American novels of the 20th century. Not too many people are familiar with his ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ – or weren’t before Brad Pitt  lead-star role in a movie of the same title. Just coming from a reading of the book and wow! I am not sure I have had such a good laugh in some time. The fluidity of Fitzgerald’s narrative just holds you captive. He tells his tale in the story-teller narrator format that seems to have disappeared. You read the story almost feeling the narrator in front of you reading the tale – or better, simply rendering it. There’s the premise that puts you into the historical sphere of the story: ‘1860…’ when it was the proper thing to be born at home. You find him gearing you up, letting you know how things would go: ‘I shall tell you what occurred, and let you judge for yourself’…

We follow the eagerness of Mr. Roger Button whose wife has put to bed – wait for it [and Fitzgerald sure keeps you waiting building suspense through an agitated doctor, surprised nurses and all] – a man! Wow! Well, if you have watched the movie you have an idea. But trust me, that’s where it ends. The story is different from the movie in that the author colours his rendition with lots of humour, he holds you still with suspense. He keeps you guessing, builds adventure into the whole thing and just let’s you keep on reading. Now, in the story you find a man faced with the dilemma of a man-child! Yes, a seventy year old man. Hmm. Somehow things keep twisting along the way as certain events happen to thwart the narrative and make it an enjoyable read.

If you are a literary scholar, you would find much to ponder on. You can find post-colonialism and the like or something to quarrel about in the allusion to slaves and all. There’s the charged place where Roger Button wishes that his horrible son should have been black: ‘…for a dark instant Mr. Button wished passionately that his son was black…’ That might signal a minus to some people. This is also because later we connote that more than just wishing the son was black because he thinks the son horrible, he wishes he could have used that occasion to let people know his son was more of a slave or worse, sell his son into slavery. You find this interpretation in the connection that brings the above stated quotation: ‘they would plod on, past the bustling stores, the slave market – for a dark instant Mr. Button wished passionately that his son was black…’

It would help anyone to note that this is just a showing to buttress the feelings of the time when blacks were slaves and the like. Such an emotion or wish would also be typical of a person of the time. As such, Fitzgerald was only being realistic.

The story also explores existentialism in several ways and a great touch of solipsism. It – the story – shows how several people look at things centred round their viewpoint alone. You find this in the lives of Mr. Roger Button, the general society and even Benjamin Button himself. You just discover that everyone seems to put existence around themselves. It is the way society views Benjamin at different points that gets you thinking. At some point, they see the weirdness of him and despise him. As he progresses, those same people that disdained him love him, then later repeat the cycle. He seems to also point out that in the end, we just phase out…

Somehow, Fitzgerald finds a way to couch unpleasantness in a way as not to make the reader displeased. Perhaps he knows that there is too much tragedy in the world and he shouldn’t make it worse by reminding his readers of it. That is on the one hand. On the other, he imbues realism into his work by not making a fairytale of his story but as earlier mentioned, couching the anguish shown at points. This he does in what many consider the death of Benjamin’s mother (you would note that she is not mentioned in the story). You would also discover this in the silent phasing away of Mr. Roger Button, the grandfather and some other characters. You might be tempted to think that they weren’t important which prompted the silence closure. A worthy point to counter that would be that even in some cases of our lead character, the author does the same thing.

Now, several people would see this as a weakness on his part. Some would ask, why would he leave the mother angle quiet? Some would further ask why the story of Benjamin’s wife is left quiet too. Matter of fact, some would build a case of feminism against Fitzgerald. Maybe this is where one would have to jump in to say the story is a SHORT story and cannot therefore carry the full tale of everyone. The phasing of the other afore mentioned gentlemen should also act as compensation of sorts. 🙂

You find also find great lines in the tale. Some romantic, some just to add to your knowledge. For those ladies who love older guys, there’s some big representation. This finds expression in Hildegaarde’s proclamation to Benjamin: ‘You’re just the romantic age…fifty. Twenty-five is too worldly-wise, thirty is apt to be pale from over work; forty is the age of long stories that take a whole cigar to tell, sixty is –oh, sixty is too near seventy but fifty is the mellow age. I love fifty’ [I can imagine the smiles on most men this age when they read this. Well, as long as they remain fifty, no problem. If they dare go further…]. You also come across such lines that remind you of our everyday situation in some coloured language. For instance, when there’s some love-lost between Benjamin and Hildegaarde, we are told: ‘She went out socially with him, but without enthusiasm, devoured already by that eternal inertia which comes to live with each of us one day and stays with us to the end.’ When there are rumours as to the origins of Benjamin, Fitzgerald says ‘the true story, as is usually the case, had a very small circulation.’ And for those people who think that publishing is easy or country specific or maybe limited to our time or something, we get this part: ‘Even old General Moncrief became reconciled to his son-in-law when Benjamin gave him the money to bring out his History of the Civil War in twenty volumes, which had been refused by nine prominent publishers.’ Yup, like yesterday, today and tomorrow, money works; money talks.

In all, Fitzgerald creates in his short story, ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ a strangely fantastic realistic world that criticises the vanity of life. He gives another thought to the oft quoted Solomonic wisdom. So to say, he shows also the passing vanities of people and society. He shows the futility of most of our actions and gives hope too emphasising that nothing lasts forever. Of this final lesson, he shows things in two light: nothing lasts forever whether pleasant or unpleasant. Enjoy things as they are.

In such times, this is a lesson most of us can take home to bed. [Yawn*] Indeed…

You know, one could go on writing pages and pages of ideas inspired by that piece but let’s not make this writing longer than the paper [let’s not make the critique longer than the story :)]… Not to mention, the sleep. Phew! That story had me reading and now writing this without interruption.

If you haven’t read it, what you waiting for? Find it here

Cheers, S’

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…)