By afric.iWRITE | 1:38 AM
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7 things I miss doing; Now that technology has taken over.

by Uloma Emenyonu




  1. Letters: I miss the days of writing letters. Those days you had to write your friend or loved one, it would take weeks to get to the person; sometimes they were never even delivered. The funniest one was if you had to write your friend or loved one who lived in the US or UK, that took about 3 months or so, and then before you received the person’s reply, it would be another 3 months.
If you were in the boarding house like me, it was BIG deal to receive a letter. It meant you were special.
The best were the love letters. How I used to love getting them nice love letters, especially if it was from a toaster I liked. I would read them over and over again and then keep them safely stuffed somewhere. Again, if you were in a boarding school like me, it was big deal if the letters were ever found by nosy friends. In my school then, those chics would read them in front of the whole class and people would either jeer at you, or secretly wish they were you.
I miss those days, when we used to ‘tap’ people’s stamps, so we could use them to write letters. We even used to go as far as trying to re-use old stamps. We would carefully use an eraser to wipe out the black marks on the stamp; and trust good old NIPOST, those letters never got delivered.


 2.     Birthday Cards: I don’t remember the last time someone sent me a card for my birthday. Thanks to text messages, and phone calls, those gestures have gone extinct. Now, with facebook? Forget it. And don’t flatter yourself by thinking that your friends all remembered your birthday. If not for facebook birthday notifications, trust me, you wouldn’t have been such a celebrity on your birthday. I really really miss birthday cards and those days i used to just spread them out on my dressing table, or hang them in my room, then when the month was over, i would keep them somewhere safe so that my friends could see them when they came over.


3.  The days of “no-cell phones”: Believe it or not, there were times we had no cell phones. Those days that you could set out to visit a friend without knowing if he or she was in town. Sometimes you would wait at the person’s house for hours, without knowing that he or she was just next door.
It was worse when you travelled all the way from the east to visit your friend or relative in Lagos, only to find out that they had moved house, or that they travelled.Those days were sweet believe me.
Now with GSM, we know this can never happen, but still, we miss those days


4.Making international calls through NITEL
Do you remember the time we used to depend on NITEL for our international calls? Those days if you ever ventured to use your NITEL line at home to make international calls, your parents would hear “nwi”. The NITEL bill for that month would be enough to pay school fees for you and all your siblings for a term and your father would still have change to buy your mother a new wrapper.


If you wanted to make an international call, you had to go to NITEL, and buy a call card of ‘God knows how much”. This call card entitled you to about 4 to 5 minutes of airtime. Then, you had to stand on one long queue,  longer than a traditional BRT queue from Oshodi to CMS on a Monday morning. And then when it got to your turn, you had to speak, and then wait for the person on the other side to hear it, before you could now speak again. Tough one I tell you, but I do miss those days all the same.


 5.    Making Local Calls with NITEL
Who remembers this line: “ All trunks are busy, please call again later”, and then the dial tone would be gone. Those were the days of land lines. And mind you, not all of us had land lines. Some of us used to go to our neighbor’s houses/ offices, or father’s offices to receive phone calls. Then, your caller would call and someone would come to the house to tell you when next the caller would call again. And then, you would abandon any prior plans and go to venue of the call to sit by the phone.
If you had mischievous people around you, they would use another phone within the house and tap your phone calls. Funny what we put up with, but I loved it.


6.    The days of Tally Banking
There was a time visiting the bank was a whole day’s job. If you ever had cause to visit a bank, it would be good not to make any other plans for that day. The Banking halls were always filled with an average of 30-100 people ( I might be exaggerating here). You would be given a tally and then you would wait for the whole day for your turn. Most times, your turn would come just as the cashier wanted to go for lunch; and that lunch usually took hours. By the time you finished from the bank, you would be hungry and very very tired.


 7.    The Type writer:
I don’t remember the last time I saw any of those noise makers of those days; the type writer. Where if you finished typing a line, you had to shift it back. Those of us who studied Business studies during our J.S.S days had to learn how to use it. Woe betide you if you made a mistake. You had to look for Tipex to clean it off, or you would start all over again. Then if you wanted to make more copies, you would place a carbon paper underneath your paper and put another paper. Most times they never came out clear. But we loved them all the same
The last time i tried to use a typewriter, my wrists nearly broke from punching those keys so hard.
We're so used to the computer now, but i still miss the things of old


Uloma's days at Alvan Nursery School (I guess)
There are so many more that i don't remember, but i do miss those days a great deal. i'm sure you miss them too

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By afric.iWRITE | 3:35 PM
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Writing and Publishing In The Age Of Social Networking

Written by Myne Whitman, and Published by Saraba Online Magazine, Issue 7.



"Myne Whitman tells the pros and cons of self-publishing, social networking, and all their in-betweens."...EI


It was August 2009. I had decided to start writing full time a few months earlier. I had joined a writing group and somebody suggested blogging. Since then, my blog has proved indispensable. I had started by sharing my work-in-progress and as feedback poured in, I was encouraged and inspired to continue. I love being read and that is the opportunity I appreciate most of all from blogging. Since I want to get better, blogging is the perfect way to sample a variety of opinion. Not all criticism is constructive, of course, and it is helpful that I can discuss these comments with my writing group. I have also taken part in several writers‘ blogfests, which are useful not only because of the writing involved but the critique from fellow writer-bloggers. This way I‘ve received professional feedback on my writing exercises, scenes from my WIP, and short story drafts.

In addition to my writing group and blogging, I polished my writing craft and style through freely available online writing courses. The critique from my writing group showed that they were taking effect on my work. Soon, I wrote =The End‘ to my WIP, which had grown from a novella to a complete manuscript, and I began to shop for publishers. I queried traditional publishers in the United States but their replies showed that they preferred a story set in the US, which was their major market or if it had to be African, then literary fiction. I really wanted to tell a contemporary Nigerian story which Nigerians would love, something simple and easy to read. So I looked to Nigeria. But there were not that many publishers and the few I discovered appeared resource constrained.

So I began to study alternative means of publishing. I researched Lulu – whom I actually used for an initial eBook – Authorhouse, and other so-called Vanity Presses. I kept an open mind as I read the testimonials of those who had used them in the recent past. I found that most of the successful ones were full-time writers and they‘d had a prior audience before self-publishing. As both of these factors described me too, I saw that this avenue was worth a try. Others factors I considered included the fact that the publishing world has begun to come to terms with the internet age and self publishing was becoming a valid choice of getting books to an audience. The print-on-demand technology and the advent of eBooks and e-readers like kindles and Nooks meant that the cost of producing books were no longer too exorbitant for an individual.

My decision was made when I considered my blog followers. Most of them had been reading A Heart to Mend as excerpts on my blog and I wanted to give them a chance to read the whole story. I also found out that most publishers would not accept a manuscript that had been published online. I knew that this was just a first outing and there were several more stories to come. So I said, traditional publishers could come later if necessary, self-publishing it is! My research had shown that I needed a way to take some of the burden off and I chose AuthorHouse because they assign an author a production team. I also liked that they had access to the major retailers in America, Europe and the UK and a lot of author resources to guide one through the stages of
marketing and publicity.

The main advantage of self-publishing for me is that as the author, I have full control over the content, design, and marketing of my book. I also decide when it goes to press and I retain all the publication and subsidiary rights. Thus, I was free to penetrate a niche market like Nigeria, which a commercial publisher would have ignored. (I know of several books by Nigerians, set and written in Nigeria but published in the UK or USA, which are yet to be distributed in Nigeria). I also believe that my book had a greater chance of success because I was very committed to promoting it, more than say, a publisher who has hundreds of other titles. In terms of sales, A Heart to Mend has been doing relatively well and I get most of the net revenue. I want to point out that apart from the commercial success, there‘s also that deep satisfaction of knowing your creative work is out there making and contributing to conversation. A Heart to Mend was published in December 2009 and I am always amazed by the number of people who have read the book from all around the world.

On the flip side, self-publishing is expensive and requires a capital outlay to begin with rather than an advance you may receive from a traditional publisher. Even when my book came out, I had to invest further time and money in the publicity and marketing. If I had been published traditionally, I could‘ve left all that to the agents and publishers and gone back to my next project.

Not so with self-publishing. I had to put in a lot of effort and energy to get A Heart to Mend buzzing. A hurdle to be aware of is that a lot of media organizations still do not review, distribute or feature self-published books.

You can understand why I will always be grateful for the vehicle the internet provides to a writer and published author like me to get my book out there. Setting up an active blog and publishing my book has served a double purpose for me; finding out the target audience for my kind of writing and building a platform too. If not for the social networking channels, A Heart to Mend would never have gone viral the way it did. It was through the support of bloggers that I did my first blog tour for A Heart to Mend with the attendant publicity. By the end of that blog tour, I was getting requests for interviews and features almost daily. I put up chapter one of the book on a free reading website and it became a massive hit. It remained in the top 10 for three consecutive months!

The beauty of the internet was that I could remain in my work room with just my laptop and a connection, and meet up with these dozens of interviews. As time went on, I continued networking with other writers and self-published authors and I as I shared what I had learnt, I picked up some good nuggets from them too. I set up a Twitter page and opened up my Facebook profile for use with my pen name. As I became more adept at using the word-of-mouth tools on those two sites, the visibility of A Heart to Mend quadrupled. I learnt how to interconnect these media, how to set up scheduled tweets or how to update Facebook via RSS feeds, etc.

The challenge of using social networking is that of distraction. For me, Facebook has proved the most addictive. I find that sometimes while updating my pages, I may stray into something else entirely and so on, thereby wasting precious time that could have been put to better use. One day I took a break from writing and as usual, the first point of call was Facebook. The site was down, and I kept refreshing it for almost five minutes before it dawned what I was doing. I laughed at myself, left a message on Twitter about my addiction and went to check some other things. I had to really think that day but it is what it is. Apart from work, Facebook is also the only place I can keep in contact with all my family and most of my friends.

Finally, I think the reason social networking worked so well for me as a writer and publisher is because I am a social person. During the times I am not writing, I enjoy the company of other like-minded people and being able to use the internet and social networking to connect to more and more people in my writing life is a thing of learning and also of pleasure. At the end of the day, I have to find a way to strike a balance by ensuring that my internet use is mostly purposeful and in a way that is linked to my writing and also setting out a specific time for my writing itself without any distractions. That way, I still get a lot of writing done while remaining in the social circles.

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By afric.iWRITE | 2:59 PM
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Saraba Issue 7 Explodes with Myne Whitman, Kola Tobosun, and Others

Recently, I got a short word from EI of Saraba, and I was glad to read the name of a freind of mine, Myne Whitman. Below is what he said to me.



EI: Saraba, an electronic literary magazine is in its 7th Issue. In these


issues, we have exlpored themes as diverse as Family, City Life,

Economy, Niger Delta, Religion/God, and Technology.



Our goal, from the onset, has been to encourage young emerging writers

- although our contributors have ranged from unknown writers to

well-known ones. We are proud to assert that our contributors are

mainly young writers, whose writig are previously unknown, and whose

talent and promise are overt in their works.



We have published writers mostly from Nigeria. But in addition, our

contributors are writers resident in London, Paris, South Africa,

Malawi, Zimbabwe, Kenya, India, USA, Zimbabwe, Russia, Cameroun,

Australia, and so forth.



Our 7th Issue, which is our most recent, was released on 30th

November. It is our proudest effort till date. In the Issue, we

question what technology means to us, and whether it can even be

defined.



Writers in the issue include Sokari Ekine, Myne Whitman, Unoma Azuah,

Kola Tubosun, Temitayo Olofinlua, Damilola Ajayi, Omar Abdul-Jabbar,

Uche Uwadinachi, Ironkyo, Emmanuel Iduma, Yemi Soneye, Olusola

Akinwale, Deji Toye, Mark Lalude, and Adebiyi Olusolape.



It includes an interview with Russian digital artist, Vladimir

Gerasimov, as well as a feature of his illustrations.



The issue can be downloaded from http://sarabamag.com/featured/saraba-7/



Our Issue and Chapbooks are published on www.sarabamag.com and can be

downloaded free. We call on literary enthusiasts and the general

reading public to explore the wide talent on offer.



We encourage reviews, links and critical acclaims of our work. Our

site is compatible for discussion and sharing.



Join us in creating unending voices
 
 
 
d'INK: Please, lets support EI and Saraba.

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By afric.iWRITE | 4:39 AM
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The Light is Not So Distant - Part 1(an initial account of Onyeka Nwelue's movie, The Distant Light)

Now, let me say this. I need to talk, because I am part of the birth of this great thing that is about to happen to the history of Nollywood. People may think we’re kidding, but they’ll all be here when it will happen. Some of us have been with the crowd, watching series of movies produced by various producers in Nollywood, and we have been quiet about them. We have been with the viewers, so we know what they feel about this industry that has been sustaining itself since inception. This industry has strived without support from any government body, or funding from any financial institution. Yet, we have seen Genevieve Nnaji and Omotola Jalade Ekeinde. It is this same industry that brought back Pete Edochie from Things Fall Apart, and made young minds like Enyinna Nwigwe to be heard. If they have been operating this industry on low budget, why then should we bother about the low picture quality and a cliché in story lines?

I met Onyeka Nwelue on Facebook about two years ago, but the way we have been fertilizing our friendship will make one think that we have known ourselves from childhood. Between both of us, I can not remember who first requested for friendship from the other. I think we just happened to pick interest in each other’s talent. I am a writer of poetry, short fiction and prose. I divorced my hunger for my first degree in Architecture, and welcomed my original talent; Writing. While I was busy reading this young man’s works online, he was busy googling my works too. Hey, I found out he was from my state; Imo. I wanted to meet him. He wanted to meet me too. Vandoz Inn was the place we decided to meet, since I could not go to Hollywood Hotel, the previous day, to meet him. I resided in Federal Housing Estate, Egbu Road, while Hollywood Hotel was at Prefab Housing Estate. Vandoz was likely the best place to meet with him, since it was along MCC Road, between both of us. I was the first to get there, with a friend of mine, with my big screen laptop, and a bottle of big stout.

When Onyeka walked in, I knew he was the one. I hadn’t met him before, but seeing someone with the hairs he had on his head was more convincing. Who else could have had those scattered hairs? Onyeka. He came straight to where I was, we exchanged pleasantries, and he sat down. He was a young man. A very young man. He had already turned twenty-one by the time we met for the first time. We did not talk about that. We have never talked anything about age, since it has never mattered. I started off the discussion. I wanted Onyeka to be part of those of us that wanted to revolutionize the way people perceived the art of writing or literature in Owerri. I wanted him to join a few of us. I told him that the Association of Nigerian Authors in Imo State and a few other literary associations had been greatly politicized, and that a few of us who had the real talent were no more so eager to join their camps. We were setting up a new association to be spearheaded by young writers. We had already registered it as The Literary Club, Owerri. I went ahead and said many things that were true about literature in the eastern part of the nation, and how we needed to act fast, so that our generation would eventually not be seen as a failure.

Onyeka smiled, after my long speech. He said Igbos were good story tellers, and that he felt for them. He was not going to be part of any association, or rather, the setting up of any association. He also brought one fact to me, that the same politics I was running away from was the same politics I was giving birth to. He wanted to concentrate more on his writing first. He was going to take part in associations later on in his life, when he must have achieved a lot. I listened to him while he talked. He had his point. I had mine. We discussed The Abyssinian Boy, his novel, and how successful it had been in the market. We talked about my unpublished collection of short stories, and he said he couldn’t wait for it to be published. He knew I was going to do well in the market, he thought. The meeting ended with a few more bottles of stout. He left to meet with Uche Umez, while I went straight to the construction site.

It took a whole year before I saw Onyeka again. He was back from India, where he visited for medical reasons and for a literary festival in Jaipur. He had gone to Jaipur with Wole Soyinka. It was part of his promotion plans. I think it was during the same period that he had a problem of racism with the Hong Kong Embassy, after they denied him visa because he was black. He won them through the media, and they gave him the visa, and an apology letter. He told me all this over the phone. We finally settled that he was to visit me in Bonny Island on the 10th of April, 2010, where I had just started my new job. He was to come to Bonny Island, after attending the African Movie Awards in Yenegoa. I made sure I kept him updated on how to get to the boat jetty, and what to say to any personnel he met on his way to Bonny Island.

I met him at the visitors’ center. He still had that same scattered hair. He had also grown skinnier than the last time we met. He was having a copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, in his right hand. I received him with huge expectations, knowing that I was finally ready to publish my collection of short stories, and we were going to talk about it. He also appeared happy to see me again, and followed me into the estate, after getting his pass into the estate.

I took him to room 18B (a historical room for those that have been opportune to read one of my short stories). He kept his bags, and followed me to the canteen where we had lunch. Everyone at the canteen knew he was a foreigner. No one in the whole camp had his kind of hair, and no one dressed like him. Onyeka was wearing an orange Indian top. In fact, Onyeka had become a black Indian. I swallowed my opinion, and went ahead to ask him what next. He said he wanted to achieve something while in Bonny. He wanted to start the draft for his next work; a movie. He came with his Apple Notebook and medicated glasses. He was ready to write. I was to meet him only in the evenings, for us to take a tour of the environment, and talk about things that mattered in our careers. We were to discuss other people too. We were to talk about A. Igoni Barret and Uche Peter Umez. We were to discuss the future of a few talented writers like Jumoke, Sylva, and Richard Ali. We were to talk about how well Ayo had done with DADA Books. We were to discuss our love lives. Adaobi for me, and Chizi for him. Onyeka went into 18B, and I went back to the office.

Dinner came, I went to see Onyeka. He had already strained his eyes, and he looked a bit used. He was wearing an Arabian kaftan, but he was not sleeping. “I have already written five thousand words,” he told me.

“Five what?” I was surprised.

“Oh yes, five thousand words,” he continued, “and if I go on with this rate, I’ll finish this movie.”

“Really?”

“Yes, I will,” he replied. “Uche told me that he was able to write about seventy thousand meaningful words in India, before he came back. Now I see.”

My spirit was inspired. That was exactly what I wanted to hear. I had been alone, with colleagues that knew nothing about literature, and anything you said sounded alien to them. I was happy that Onyeka was around to inspire me to move on. Fire On! In the evening, we took a tour around the serene estate, and stopped at a pub for a bottle of Gulder each. We were brandless when it came to beer. ACB – Any Cold Beer.

Guys, we talked about you.

I concluded that Igoni was a strong and gifted Niger Deltan, but his words were a bit heavy for ordinary readers. We thought Uche Umez needed to come out with a complete novel, and that Ayo Arigbadu was trying to work on Sylva Ifedigbo’s work. Onyeka said Chimamanda was engaged to a man. I felt disappointment within my spirit. I had this fantasy of getting married to her. Poor me. He laughed.


Onyeka met with German anthropologist, Sabine Jell-Bahlsen, while on nation-wide tour for his book, The Abyssinian Boy. Sabine had spent 26years in Oguta in Imo State, writing about the Lake Goddess. Her research gave birth to a work titled, Ogbuide of Oguta Lake Goddess. After his discussions with the German lady, he was inspired to make a movie out of the myth surrounding the Lake Goddess. He was surprised by how a foreigner would be the one to tell us our own story. That was not about to happen. Onyeka went straight to Oguta, his maternal hometown. He met with a lot of the rural people. And as if that was not enough, Onyeka traveled to Asia, where he enrolled into the Asian Academy of Film & TV, where he studied Cinema and Scriptwriting. He did all this because of Ogbuide. I smiled when Onyeka told me this story. I smiled because he was meant to be an atheist. Why then did it seem as if he now believed in gods? He immediately wiped that thought from my mind, saying he needed to tell a story of his people and their beliefs. When I asked him what he was going to call the movie, he said he was not very sure. He only gave it a proposed title; The Distant Light.

While he was busy writing The Distant Light in 18B, I was busy sending him food supplies. It was day 2. It was the day he broke his glasses. He refused to be discouraged by the omen. He was about to write a movie. As expected, he had already written more than ten thousand words. He was almost done. In the evening of Day 2, we went to pay my elder sister a visit. We had a lovely chat with the family, and everyone was laughing with his ribs. Later, we visited another pub, and had two bottles of Gulder each. It looked like Gulder was becoming the brand.

In the morning of the third day, Onyeka gave me sad news. He was to leave Bonny Island the next day. He had something to attend to urgently. I was to get him boat booking by all means. How about our story? He was to complete it before dark. I called for breakfast, and left him in the magical bedroom.

In the evening, Onyeka was through with the first draft of The Distant Light. He was so excited, and I was too. We went to Woody’s Bar, with some colleagues, to enjoy the live band. It was where Onyeka read my manuscript, and was himself excited about the stories. He promised he was to tell Ayo about me. He was hopeful I had a story. We made promises that we were going to work together. He gave me an offer; to be a member of Blues & Hills, a literary agency for young writers and artists. I accepted. But we were bothered about the funding of this new movie, because none of us had money. We had the product, at least. I did not even read the draft of The Distant Light. I only saw a few words, and that was it.

In the morning, Onyeka boarded the NLNG Flash Boat, and was on his way to Nsukka via Port Harcourt. I succeeded in getting him a booking, which looked almost impossible. He left Gabriel Garcia Marques’s One Hundred Years of Solitude with me. When I went back to the office, slumped into my chair, I knew at once that something had changed in me. One visit by one writer gave me all the inspiration I needed. I went into work immediately. I wrote two more interesting stories.

Two months later, Onyeka sent me the electronic copy of the “final” draft of the script; The Distant Light. I read it and was greatly impressed. I felt like running from one end of the estate to the other. I wanted to tell people that Nollywood was about to change. I wanted to tell them that we were about to have another Kunle Afolayan. I wanted to tell them that we were about to win all the Oscars. But we were handicapped. We had no sponsor. No one to bring money for this beautiful movie to be shot in Lagos and Oguta. Someone had just disappointed us. He said he was not going to fund the movie again. I immediately went into action, calling everyone I knew. Someone else was interested in the work. He demanded for terms, but before we could even send him the terms, he was gone. I felt what every other movie maker in Nollywood feel everyday; not being able to place their movies on normal budget. Onyeka felt worse. But we decided that we were never going to stop searching.

After a few months, I must confess, I lost touch and stopped searching. Onyeka never stopped. That is the result we’re seeing today. Today, there is a page on Africa Movie Academy website for The Distant Light (http://www.africafilmacademy.org/distant-light), and hope is alive again. Everyone in Nollywood is talking about the movie and the young man behind it. Onyeka is 22 years old now, and it seems he is about to walk on the red carpet of Nollywood. The first rehearsal for The Distant Light was held on the 21st day of November, 2010. The cast of the movie is intimidating. It promises to feature the popular and veteran actress, Onyeka Onwenu, O.C. Ukeje, David Nnaji Cyprian Iwuala, and Bollywood actor, Arun Jay. It is to be produced by DADA Films, under Blues & Hills Production, and K-Stunts of Johannesburg. Kunle Afolayan, Adaora Mbelu, Jaffey Nwelue and Tee Mac will be involved with the production. I also got my fair share; to work on the Behind-The-Scenes.

Another one came. My collection of short stories was accepted to be published by Serene Woods of India, and Swapnil Chugh had become my publisher. We knew that our meeting in Bonny was not a waste, after all.


“THE DISTANT LIGHT” is an adventure, but happens to be a very simple story about arrogance and belief.

Professor Mba and his students are on an excursion to study the pristine People of the Forest, when they meet a group of ‘desperate and over-ambitious’ young people: Andrews Herrera (the arrogant son of a drug-peddler), Claire Winifred (a desperate travel writer), David (a loquacious anthropology student), Suresh Gupta (a gentle-hearted Indian photographer) and Dozie (an aspiring musician whose desperation for fame and success brings him to the Lake Goddess)

There’s Padro, the long-haired man with supernatural powers who leads them on this journey.

It is in the Forest that they discover their weaknesses and strengths.

The message of “THE DISTANT LIGHT” is this: a people’s culture and tradition are there to be respected and tolerated and that the new generation has lost his culture and needs to be reunited with it.



So, you see? Nollywood is about to change for good.


Lets support this movie. Lets support genuine talent.



The light is no more distant.




…d’INK

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By afric.iWRITE | 9:47 AM
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A Review of the Novel, I Do Not Come To You By Chance – by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani

There are some stories, written and yet to be written, that naturally respect gender. Such stories, when told by the appropriate gender, taste like Prawns picked from the barbeque stand and placed on a dinner plate beside some fries. One of such stories is Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani’s I Do Not Come To You By Chance, published under the house of Cassava Republic. If I was allowed to talk, I would have seeded such a story to the male gender, hoping to hear more accurate narrations on the experiences they or their friends have accrued from engaging in today’s popular YahooYahoo. Scam activities have never been a woman thing, but the way Adaobi packaged and presented her debut novel, made me feel the story had originally been written by a repentant conman, whose years of deceit and theft were hunting. I am happy to announce that I Do Not Come To You By Chance – a story about a young man who experienced the normal hardships of many Nigerian homes, was dropped by his fiancé for lack of cash, and finally picked by his Uncle, Cash Daddy, who introduced him into the scam world – was totally written by a female writer. Adaobi has completely stirred the world with her first story, which appears well researched and intriguing.

Having had the opportunity to grow up in a society that popularized these 419 activities, I found Adaobi’s novel almost perfectly sown. From the way she categorized the different kinds of letter sent by scammers to their mugus, and all the documents that may follow up, to the way she allowed the major character – Kingsley – to lead his mugus through the different stages and steps. And when I thought he was over and done with a particular maga, Adaobi pushed him to remind me of new things to say to make any mugu pay. I’m sure that if we insisted to see the end, where Kingsley could no longer convince his mugus to pay, this particular literary work would have had no end.

I have had several experiences, living in a city that hosted several men and women who have rendered virtually all the white men homeless. On one occasion, I was in a renowned cyber café in Owerri, checking my email box and a few online magazines, when a haggard looking young man approached me where I was sitting, in front of a computer. His shirt was not even buttoned up. He tapped my shoulder. “What are you doing?” he asked. I seized my breath to avoid inhaling his bad alcohol soaked breath. Kai-Kai! “What’s your own?” I asked, hoping not to get an answer. I also checked him properly to know if we had met before. I had not met the young man in all my entire life.
“What do you mean by what do I mean?” He was now ranting, throwing his hands in the air. “An old man like you! (normal). You left your house! (one point). Entered okada! (second point). Ran into this cyber café! (yet another point). Bought a ticket! (he was still hitting his points). Sat well, and ALL you came to do is browse facebook (FULL STOP!).” The air was calm before he ended it with “while your mates are here MAKING MONEY!” Everyone was watching. All eyes were on me. All his points were made. I was ashamed. As if they did not notice, a girl sitting at the extreme end of the café let out a big laugh. All the others followed. It was the kind of laughter the pinched the heart. They were all laughing at me. Heavy drops sweat sprout from within me. My eyes reddened. Like that old movie titled Willie Willie, where the soul of the major character, who was murdered, refused to leave the earth, I wanted to disappear. My time had not finished at the café when I logged off and sauntered out of the café. It was on my way out that I browsed through what everyone had in front of him; what they were all browsing. Yahoo – Email Extraction websites – Web Chat – Google Language Translation – New Scam Formats – Logos. I noticed a young man was carefully shielding the monitor, refusing me to see what was on the screen, while he placed a sheet of paper on his lap and wrote down what he saw on the screen. It was when he dropped his head to write that I saw the screen. I only saw a few letters written in bold, MTCN, before he noticed my gaze and blocked the screen again. MTCN is the acronym for Money Transfer Control Number. For me, it was the end of the world.

Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani has, through her book, brought back those memories to me. I Do Not Come To You By Chance brought back the memories of teenagers, who were still in secondary schools in Owerri, who were driving big cars on the streets, and building big houses at places only the rich could afford. It reminds me of a few of my friends who have been misled, who have dropped out from school and paid for bulk hours at the popular cafés for their newly chosen profession – Fast Money. Just like Kingsley’s younger brother had wanted to drop out from school, so he could join the fast lane, many of our youths have such plans. I boldly make this statement, “I Do Not Come To You By Chance can never be less timely”.

Kingsley was unraveled in a family where morals were held on high esteem. Paulinus, his father, was an engineer, while Augustina, his mother, was a tailor trained in the walls of the university. Kingsley, parented by two individuals that considered nothing but education, read Chemical Engineering at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri. It was at the university that he met his heartthrob, Ola. Ola was a very pretty girl, who always had her way into Kingsley’s heart. After his national service, and years without gaining any source of living, Ola left Kingsley for an uneducated Igbo business man. Kingsley ran to his uncle, Cash Daddy for help. Cash Daddy was a very successful scammer who commanded the respect of his people. Kingsley was smart enough to swindle his preys in a very short period of time. He became rich; what he needed to get Ola back, and train his brothers and sister. He lived out the real meaning of his Igbo name, Onye-aghala-nwanne-ya (be thy brother’s keeper). But what amazed me while reading Adaobi’s first novel was how things turned out and eventually ended.

This beautiful blue sea of unraveling fiction gives rise to the aged question. Are the Igbos gifted with the gift of story telling more than any other tribe in Africa? With Achebe’s fifty year old wonder, Adichie’s masterpieces, Unigwe’s letters, Nwelue’s India, Umez’s flawless tales, and now Nwaubani’s honesty in unraveling possibilities, we can not but beg for the next Igbo name to be heard. It all shows that natural literature evolves from Africa. The irony in this is that books are considered boring and expensive in a continent that has produced great writers. Yet, writing is our gift from the creator. The black man was busy scribbling in his caves, when the westerners were busy searching for slaves. Adaobi is from the tribe that watched events in the day, and scribbled them out at night. I Do Not Come To You By Chance is a textbook for the westerner who wishes not to encounter his early doom. Adaobi’s first work of fiction is the westerner’s Holy Bible. It is a tale of love, difficulties, heartbreak, family values spiced with regrets. I congratulate the writer for not letting her inner voice surpass the narrator’s voice. Like Adichie, Nwaubani came out fully made.

I proudly announce the birth of yet another Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, at a time we thought it was all over. I Do Not Come To You By Chance answers the question that has been in our mouths, “When will a writer who resides in the shores of the country – Nigeria – ever hit a best seller like those Nigerian writers who reside abroad?” Adaobi hails from the eastern part of Nigeria, which belongs to the Igbos. She grew up in Enugu State, the coal city; the heart of the Igbo man. She gained her education in Nigeria. She speaks her mother’s language fluently. Her first book was published here in Nigeria. Adaobi appears natural in her fiction. No wonder why she got her fair share of the “Common Wealth Prize” cake.




Dear Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani,

I do not come to you by chance. I have not met you, this interesting lady, in person. I only hope to meet you soon. When I see you, Adaobi, I will only ask you two questions.

Why are the ladies still winning the male writers, even in themes meant for men?

Where you, at any time in your life, a Yahoo Girl?

But till then, please keep writing, so that we can keep reading you. God Bless.


Regards,
Binyerem Ukonu Sam Jr.
Author/Poet




This review was written by Binyerem Ukonu Sam Jr., the author of the collection of poetry titled Ekwurekwu – a meal of verse. He is also published online. Binyerem is a member of the Association of Nigerian Authors, and a founding member of The Literary Club, Owerri. He resides in Bonny Island, where he works as a contractor with the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas. His new book will soon be published. Sam Jr. is an architect.

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By afric.iWRITE | 4:20 AM
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BN Book Review: Onaedo – The Blacksmith’s Daughter by Ngozi Achebe





By Nkechi Eze

Today, we review Onaedo: The Blacksmith’s Daughter, a new book from author – Ngozi Achebe.
Ngozi Achebe was raised in Nigeria and also spent time in England, where she was born. Her interest in 15th and 16th century history was the catalyst for writing Onaedo – The Blacksmith’s Daughter which is her debut novel. She currently lives in Olympia, Washington with her children Jennifer and Nnamdi and is a practicing physician.



In a brief synopsis of the book from the author’s website, ‘Onaedo – The Blacksmith’s Daughter’ is described as “…a work of fiction and the tale of two women separated by four hundred years of history. Maxine, a modern American woman who is half-white and half-African comes across a set of diaries written by a slave in the 16th century and tries to write a book about it. She uses elements of the discovered diaries in her book and also information she has discovered herself based on ancient stories retold to her by a collaborator.”

I have always loved books. On my entrance form to primary school I wrote reading and writing as my hobbies and meant it. Yes I know, I was a geeky child. At 10, I read ‘Things Fall Apart’ quickly followed by ‘Arrow of God’. These ‘post-colonial’ fiction novels were revolutionary for me not only because of their rich proverbs, characters that spoke and had the same names as myself and people I know, but also because they taught me about my pre-colonial culture.

This past week I had the privilege of reading one of such didactic yet entertaining books – ‘Onaedo: The Blacksmith’s Daughter’ by Ngozi Achebe. The novel is mostly set in a less chartered era for Nigerian writers – the era of Portuguese exploration and trading on the coast on West Africa, in the part we now know as Igbo Land. This novel is not only refreshing for its unique context, but also because it does not idealize its Igbo characters or completely demonize the Portuguese antagonists, however, I do not claim that previous novels in post-colonial literature are guilty of doing the opposite.

The novel about Onaedo is actually written by Maxine, a modern-day character who discovers slave diaries by chance at a neighbor’s yard sale. Perhaps because Maxine writes Onaedo’s story, the conversations in Onaedo’s era are far from pretentious. The word choice ranges from playful (amongst Onaedo and her friends), to formal to metaphorical to wise, as wide as a range that modern day conversations provide. There were some writing gems in the form of proverbs that anyone today would be wise to adhere to. This range of conversations makes Onaedo’s world seem more realistic and makes the novel itself more appealing to a variety of people. Yes, my 10-year old self would have approved.

As previously mentioned, we are not presented with an idealistic portrait of pre-colonial life. In the form of Oguebie, we are presented with a power-hungry brother that betrays his clan in the hopes of gaining power. In the form of Eneda, a skilled blacksmith and Onaedo’s father, we are privy to the entrepreneurship that the Igbo people are known for today. He is a man who gains respect using his God-given talent (to be more precise, talent from his chi). In detailing his profession, Ms. Achebe deftly uses descriptions of Igbo-Nkwu art to prove that Africans are far from the savages that we were portrayed to be by the travelogues of 16th century Europeans, stories of us that have persisted until today in our portrayal in Hollywood films and Western news media. In Pasquale, we are presented with a truly ambiguous character. We want to hate him for his role in the slave trade, yet his gentle nature and will to prove himself worthy back in Portugal shows that like a quilt composed of many fibers, Ms. Achebe’s characters are composed of many motivations, so it is sometimes hard to simply judge them. These ambiguities are especially true for the truly brave feminist hero, Onaedo’s aunt and midwife, Aku. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but she commits atrocities in order to maintain the status quo of society, and to maintain the dignity of those in her care.

Onaedo herself is also a sometimes morally ambiguous character. In many ways, she is a victim of circumstance, but she weaves through the challenges that life offers her – in the form of her love for a poor apprentice, her marriage, amongst other challenges with determination and a will to succeed that is enviable.
Ms. Achebe succeeds in this novel because whereby the novel could have been weighed down by historical facts and figures, she makes it a story of people simply trying to navigate new challenges at a time when the world was interacting like it never had before. My only gripe with the book was its ending. As sad as I was, I grudgingly recognize that my unresolved feeling reflects the emotion of many people in Onaedo’s shoes – helpless, yet hopeful.


Source: Bellanaija.com


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By afric.iWRITE | 6:59 AM
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We Celebrate the Giant Called "Ofor"!

Review – Gerard Aluka’s “Broken Club.”
By
Richard U. Ali


The engagement of political themes by Nigerian writers puts them in a peculiar situation. This situation, often untenable, is between the avoidance of clichéd stereotype in writing and the need to express social reality with words, whether to express and let be or to express and prescribe. Yet, the political terrain is such that it has produced the most fantastic characters most of who, in their self-interested venality, in their stupidity and vanity, do seem to have been made in just one mad factory – so much for cliché and stereotype! On the second issue, on the purpose of writing and our success at it, well, that would depend largely on the powers of the writer who dares write political fiction.

Gerard Aluka has presented us with a fine example of contemporary political fiction from Nigeria. His “Broken Club” is a swift moving short story about two main characters, Eddy and the persona through whose mind the action is filtered, who is only referred to once as “Bull”. The Nigerian political reality is often one peopled by Siamese characters, one in the limelight and the other less so. The freshness of Aluka’s prose comes from his exploring the psychology of such relatedness. But it would be simplistic to think that this relationship is one of mutually complementing opposites. There is hardly any difference between Eddy and the persona – both are selfish politicians who had met during their Student’s Union days, and the experience of their betrayal of that cause became the foundation for their subsequent, very successful, political support for each other. Through the mind of the persona, Aluka presents a potpourri of emotions and a slew of well rounded characters. There is a kaleidoscopic quality to his prose, and the description of characters is very apt, done in a few words like in a Tolstoy novel. The story revolves around the metaphor of a broken baton, that instrument of state power, in this case the breakdown of the relationship between the two friends over an imminent Union Strike. The flashback device is used to stunning effect to give the reader a grounding in Nigerian politics as well as the background of the two main characters.

However, there are certain issues with this work, making it typical of its time in a not flattering way. Chiefly is the issue of language and grammar. There have been erratic changes of time specific Point of View from present tense to past and back to present again – that do not seem justifiably done. For example, most of the narrative happens in Commissioner Eddy’s office, where the persona is standing, just after having been physically assaulted by his friend Eddy – one would expect a present tense point of view to match the persona’s immediate thoughts. Reminiscences of their Student Union days, a decade or two before, would of course be in past tense. Another issue is the choice of certain words – an example, “Eddy shouted on {at?} his secretary.” – that are more appropriate to street talk, and not the educated characters he has created in whose mouths he puts them.

It may be possible, in the popular manner, to lay both these on the nail of “typographical” errors. Yet, typographical errors are solely the responsibility of the writer! And the critic must, with kindness, ask - why? Is this not more indicative of the hurry far too many writers have to send in their work in response to calls so soon after having written them, without taking the time to fine out their phrases? A story is like a piece of wood under a carpenters’ hands, effort must be put in for the best of it to come out, by using a plane to smoothen and level its surface to perfection. Writers should take this further step.

In spite of this, and we hope this writer would further put his style, language and choice of words again into the crucible of editing, there is a lot to commend in this offering by Gerard Aluka. The depth of his social perception comes out in the skillful manner he shows a whole lot by creating simple contrasts. An entire essay can be written around the circumstance that creates this brief excerpt;

“It was Eddy who delivered the address of the executive governor of the
state. It was he who arranged the policemen that
surrounded the venue that day. He also paid for the refreshment of the voting
members. He pleaded with everyone to approach the exercise with dignity. And
said the police will deal with anybody disturbing the peace. He wished
everybody luck.”

There is no doubt in my mind that Gerard Aluka is a writer to watch and that he will in time take up the brand already lit by Uche Peter Umez and Chimamanda Adichie if he is willing to spend the effort in finessing his language generally. He stands at an important crossroad in his literary career and whatever the choice he makes, he is one young writer to look out for.




Jideofor says “I am a regular dude, Now 26. Currently staying in Owerri, Nigeria. Studied Statistics in Imo State University. And Journalism in International Institute of journalism. Published Trickles of a Time (a collection of poetry) in 2007. Have written a good number of poems and short stories (including THE GOAT HAS LEFT THE TETHER and BROKEN CLUB cf:halftribe.com).”

Link(s): http://halftribe.com/index.php/poetry/hope-a-change.html
http://www.facebook.com/#/profile.php?v=app_2347471856&ref=ts&id=745480169




We also celebrate our own Uche Peter Umez, who is one of those young writers who have broken the chains of the art.
Uche Peter Umez is a winner of the 2006 Commonwealth Short Story Competition, and
his poems and stories have been published on-line and in print. He is the author
of Dark through the Delta (poems), Tears in her Eyes (short stories) and Aridity
of Feelings (poems). He lives in Owerri.

Link(s):
http://www.cba.org.uk/awards_and_competitions/Short_Story/documents/ThreeApplesbyUchePeterUmezPDF.pdf

http://www.facebook.com/#/uumez?ref=ts





Ali is Editor-in-Chief of the Sentinel Nigerian Magazine; richardalijos@gmail.com

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By afric.iWRITE | 6:44 AM
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Broken Club… 13.12.09...by Jideofor Aluka

Eddy tried to push you out of his office. When his hands reached your chest you found it hard to swallow. In that instance your mouth clasped. Everything ran out, away from your mind. It was hard for anyone to accept. For what?
Madam was the first to rush into the office. She was screaming. No sir. No sir. If she put herself in-between you she would be ruffled.
Rogers came in. With the table that had tripped you to the floor, he kept your fists apart.

Did you not walk into this place on that Monday morning? You and Eddy. It was Eddy’s first day in office as the commissioner for social welfare. The PRO led you two with your entourage. Those who followed you were the commissioner’s orderly; a police corporal you said his baton was broken and worn. And seven other people drawn from Eddy’s kiths and kin.
Eddy’s office was where the tour ended. You advised Eddy it was the proper thing to do, to visit all the departments in the ministry. You said he was supposed to meet as many of the ministry staff as possible. They ought to know their honourable commissioner from day one, you urged.
You saw the fair, busty lady occupying a desk as secretary to the honourable commissioner. You called her madam. And since then you’ve called her Madam. Even though you got to know her name is Deborah.
You asked the PRO jocosely. ‘You guys have even chosen a PA for the commissioner?’ He caught your game. And everyone laughed.
‘She’s beautiful, anyway… and I know she would be smart.’ You added, commending the brisk way Madam opened the door to Eddy’s new office.

That was seven months ago. About a year earlier you had gone to Chief’s country home to thank him for his support. That was what you told Chief. Even though your actual mission was to ask for his continued support. It was you who made the arrangement. It was you who knew who introduced you to Chief’s younger brother. It was you who gave the man twenty thousand naira as appreciation. And he mumbled that fifteen thousand would be going to Chief’s younger brother.
It was Eddy who bought the Remy Martins you presented to Chief to thank him for his support.
Chief received you well. He told you he was the one who was supposed to thank you more. You were the engine and axle of your ward, he said. The vote from Eri-Eri I made him party chairman.
When he acknowledged that you said ‘thank you Chief.’ You did not hesitate to mention the efforts of the ward chairman and the woman leader. You mentioned the names of other members of the executive council of Eri-Eri I. When you said that Eddy nodded. He nodded calmly because you two understood how that day had gone.

The voters arrived the venue of the election before it was 9:00am. There was long disagreement with the electoral committee over what model to adopt for the exercise. But not everybody was aware. Open secret ballot. You agreed in private with the chairman.
A little while later, the chairman came to tell you opposition persisted. Option A4 they insisted. He told you the treasurer and his line-up would not budge.

You remember the treasure. A smallish man with a big head and a harsh mustache. He wore brown caftan two times his size the day you joined the executive council meeting called by the chairman. In a serene tone he asked why you were at the EXCO meeting.
While he talked you did not stop choosing from the tray chairman’s niece passed before you. You did not relent as you picked the biggest garden egg with a quantity of groundnut sauce. You were pent-up. And you did not ask the little girl about Nda Oyi, her father, as was in your mind. You kept gaze on your fruit and made sure you did not see the treasurer’s face
‘Madam Aisha is here.’ Treasurer also frowned.
You concluded he had no case. If he brought Madam Aisha into it, you had no case. He should have known.
Madam Aisha insists she is the substantive woman leader of Eri-Eri I. Chief Mrs Grace was suspended three weeks past by the disciplinary committee set up by the party executive at the LGA level. When people gathered in front of the hall that day, outside the party secretariat, Dr Oguna had said someone could be in that capacity as part of the delegation to welcome the first lady. The chairman of the disciplinary committee had said it to everyone’s hearing.
Madam Aisha was part of the delegation. When she shook hands and smiled back at the first lady, the first lady wished her luck as woman leader.
The chairman got his voice in defence of Madam Aisha. Treasurer disagreed. Others disagreed with him. And the meeting did not hold.

This is a small man you thought. You could constrict him with your left hand. You worried that the day was slipping from you. You went to the gate and told Eddy it was hard to change things to your favour. If his candidate lost Eri-Eri I, he was sure his candidate would lose the governorship.
You went back and saw the vice chairman was not at a place. His face looked like he was looking for somebody to call.
Of the three candidates you called one person awkward. You called him awkward because he was not supported by the chairman’s faction, which you belonged. He was not supported by the treasurer’s faction. He was awkward. The vice chairman had given him no chance. And you too did not.
The vice chairman had a hopeless mope as a huddle formed for the awkward candidate. You shared his hopelessness. You talked to him and he agreed to your plan.
It was Eddy who ran to you with a proposal. Twelve thousand naira for each person in the opposition. It was the chairman and the woman leader who lured the electoral officer away. It was Eddy who arrived in minutes behind the building with a sack bag filled with two hundred naira bills. It was you who handed the treasurer twenty thousand naira. You appealed to him. Your proverb meant a man does not dare another man.
He began to tell you how his disagreement with chairman began. He told you it was a time before they became members of the executive council of Eri-Eri I. He reminded you of Chief’s court case. You told him you followed Chief’s case in the court until the embezzlement charge was thrown out for improper presentation. He told you he was supposed to be in the court that day. He was selected to be in the list. And he would have received the five thousand naira given to other supporters of the party stalwart. He was supposed to be there to sing praises of Chief. But he was singled out from the list. He told you it was chairman who made that happen. Chairman made him lose five thousand naira. He told you chairman continued to make effort against his becoming visible in the ward. He told you the chairman did not understand that he’s an inalienable ally in the ward. That was his disagreement with the chairman.
You pleaded with him. And you told him all his troubles were over. You told him you would introduce him to chief, as he has supported your plan.

Option A4.

The line for the awkward candidate was obviously longer.
Someone started the noise. What are we doing? There is no order. It is not fair. It is not free. We don’t agree.
The others you had arranged joined. You caused chaos.
The electoral officer made an announcement to suspend the exercise. The chairman and treasurer stood behind him.
In the morning of the next day, it was announced in the radio. Eri-Eri I reported the freest and fairest election. You made Chief party chairman.

Months later Eddy’s candidate became the governor of the state.

The day Eddy was confirmed commissioner you said Eddy had got to the end of his own track. You said that to a mutual friend. The man was at the swearing in with you. He said Eddy was not at the end of his own track. He just covered a lap, he mentioned. When you said it was a very lucrative lap, he agreed. And told you it was as much like you too had covered a lap in a 4x4 track.

Then, you remembered where it all began, during the political season of 1992.

You bickered with Eddy in front of the university auditorium. The spectators called it a bull fight. They shouted Bull vs Bull… The noise around you now does not feel like the spectators cheers that day.
The next day your posters were everywhere in the campus. BULL FOR PRESIDENT… , ENYI. THE PRESIDENT YOU WANT…
It was your H.O.D who first called you Bull. The appellation spread from the mouth of your course mates. Dr Akin had called you Bull that day you stood up in class. The day you interrupted his explanation of how international treaties work. You wanted to empty your bowl. When you said that, the lecturer’s dumb look was going to make everyone laugh. ‘For a bull to rise in such a manner it must be five gallons of hot liquid for the grasses.’ He forced you a laugh.
The day he lectured about international activism as an element of international relations you did not grasp a thing. You met him for a private lecture. He told you activism without measurable political influence is worthless. He received you many more times and you began to see him as a mentor.
It was not you who involved Dr Akin when another Bull (ENYI) out of rumour materialized as presidential candidate. It was a friend of yours, your course mate. It was this friend of yours who told you you could use persuasion on Eddy. He told you you could persuade Eddy to step down for you. He told you that’s diplomacy. It was he who told you Dr Akin handles the toughest course in Eddy’s department. Your course mate told you your head of department is your tool.
Dr Akin talked to Eddy. When he did he cajoled Eddy. And told him you two were for the same cause. He told Eddy how well he admired his political vibrancy. Even though he was an outsider; as he called persons outside the humanities. He said to Eddy, that he admired his political resolve even as member of the science faculty. But it is a game of give and take, he made him know. Give your friend this one and as a member of your faculty for the next semester I will encourage you.
That day, as your H.O.D talked to Eddy before you you did not talk. Eddy too only listened. You listened because you were almost certain of the outcome. Eddy listened because it was supposed to be the final agreement on the matter. Because many of your friends and supporters had talked to him. He was promised support as Director of Socials.
As Dr Akin talked to Eddy, as he lectured him on reciprocation in politics, he said the kind of things he would say in your class. Politics is about forging alliances. Politics is a continuous affair. It is a union that lasts many years.
‘My friend’, he called Eddy. ‘This is an opportunity to create a synergy that will last you a life time.’
‘The Bull is an ally.’ Your H.O.D said not looking to any particular of you. But he heaved pride into your steady heart. Eddy’s face staggered up like a boxing promoter who’s about to throw in the towel.

‘Give me your support as D.O.S.’ Eddy begged.

That day you agreed on how to execute the first riot.

You were president. Eddy was Director of Socials. You were the face of student activism. The previous administration had begun efforts to have the school authority rescind a new levy. The levy was called examination fee. Announcement of the levy was made in your class by your H.O.D. That day you wanted to debate it. But Dr Akin sternly told your class all he had to do was pass information that came from the vice chancellor’s office. It was announced the semester before you ran for president.
You said students were not supposed to pay extra money as examination fee. You said it was not fair. The other time you tried to raise the levy in class Dr Akin laughed you off and called you a weak activist. In same manner, he said it was not his responsibility. He would not solicit for students before school authority. He told your class such matters were not considered a problem in his own days. In his own days of school activism. (If student activism had not been killed.) But in the days he taught you privately he encouraged you to resurrect it.
It was Eddy who organized the seventy or so students in Zik Square. It was he who had told them the university authority compromised the last Student Union Government and would go ahead with the levy. It was he who told them you would lead a demonstration to the vice chancellor’s office. The students, under you, were to register their displeasure. The seventy heads drew voices in the hundreds. The voices said; WE ARE NOT HAPPY, WE CANNOT BEAR THIS, TREAT US LIKE YOUR CHILDREN… The placards also read same.
A placard had REVERSE THE ILLEGAL FEE written on the white surface with a black colour. Later you told Eddy that was an inappropriate way to express a legitimate displeasure. You told him it shocked you when you saw it. That was when you stood in the pavement in front of the vice chancellor’s office. It was when your voice aired the mind of the students before the vice chancellor and the school authority.
You didn’t like what the placard read. But you liked that the vice chancellor was uncomfortable. You liked that his infamous baritone could not hide discomfort. You liked that he recognized you as the new government. And when days later your S.U.G council debated the ambiguous response you got from the school authority you said the most important point was that you registered your position as a new government.

That was on a Wednesday. On Friday of the next week police was in campus. A report had it that someone was shot. There was rumour of two fatalities. A girl you know was raped. A boy lost money that was supposed to be his school fees. The students rioted when your rumour seeped into campus that the vice chancellor had reneged on his pledge to drop the levy. Part of the false talk was that the special squad of the Nigeria Police had arrested Eddy on his way to class. The students caused trouble. And the police came.
While police paraded the school main gate students broke louvers and ceiling. By the time you made the five minutes plea for peace you were in front of the auditorium. You knew a boy called Eric and some other group of rascals had pulled down the fence around the back gate. You knew your riot had slipped away from you. You knew it had turned violent. You heard the sound you were told later was the sound of gun shot by students. You knew it was then everything wrong could happen to anybody. You knew nothing about the safety of your students. You had no clue what the school authority was up to. You did not know Eddy’s whereabouts.
It was later, that night, Eddy told you the signal you were both expecting came. But it came late. He told you when you searched for him he was at the library waiting for the representative. He told you he stayed there from 8:00am till it was dark.
You began to blame him for what Eric and the other boys did. You told him he should have given them signal that the plan was on course. You told him you could not go to them because you feared of your safety. Because you feared that if you told them their role was no longer necessary it was a must that you settled them. And you hadn’t the money to.
Eddy complained to you that they had started off rather too early. They should have given more time. At least 11:00am. He told you by the time he learnt of the riot it was late. He could not leave the library. He learnt he was declared missing.
It was then you repeated that it was not your fault that the riot started. The school authority had promised to provide the appropriation of the S.U.G from the school budget. They said they would do so from the beginning of the week. When you negotiated, you said the week was tense. You needed the money to arrange activities for the students. It was to avoid what happened. You wanted to avoid rascals hijacking the legitimate demand of the real students. But the settlement came late.
The next day you led a peace rally. It was on a Saturday. You led the peace rally to restore calm in campus. You did not say anything about the fee. You said what was paramount was peace and the safety of your students. That day you said your government would do everything to make sure peace reigned in the institution. You promised that the students would get their due through dialogue and discipline. As years went by, you maintained that that was a high point in your activism. You said it taught you how to handle agitations with dialogue.

It was the point The Union secretary, Rogers, made again and again. ‘Let’s continue with the dialogue.’ He said this with a tone that defied his height. It wasn’t the Rogers that would hold Ike by the collar and tell him he was a stupid vice-president to oppose the views of his principal. It wasn’t the Rogers you begged to stop fighting with a certain landlord. The landlord claimed he had paid his annual dues to the secretary of the union. He fought him because the landlord couldn’t recognize him as the secretary. He does not talk soft always. You said the only soft thing about him was his albino skin. Whenever you said that you added that the path he took to the summit he had reached in activism tanned him into something between hypo pigmentation and a dark skin colour.

It was when Rogers came between you and Eddy you unclasped your fist from his shirt. He too did. Your safari suit did not rumple. But Eddy’s shirt did. He strengthened it before stepping back to his desk. You did not look at Eddy. Instead you looked at Madam. And you looked at Rogers.
Something made you wonder if Madam told Eddy anything about you. But you didn’t think about that again. You wondered why Rogers talked soft. You wondered if he felt Eddy’s office needed diplomatic silence, as he often said. You wondered if he would say your idea failed.

The day you saw Rogers at Eddy’s office, it was like a re-union. They were on a courtesy visit to the honourable commissioner. They were the executives of The Union. You called Rogers to one end of the corridor. You said you wanted to talk to him as an old acquaintance. When you talked you asked him about the affairs of The Union. It was then he said things to remind you you are a founding member of The Union. It was then he laughed out loud and said ‘You are a part of us.’ That you would understand the challenges of The Union.

You had met Rogers some days later at The Bar. He told you your record was up to date. He gave you receipt for all your outstanding dues. It was then he spent so much words to let you know you are eligible for any position in The Union.

Eight weeks later, the president died.

It was Rogers who came to tell you Mr Etioka was dead. After a brief illness. It was he who told you it was good PR for the honourable commissioner to release a condolence message for such a stakeholder. Which you prepared immediately.
When Rogers was about to leave the ministry that day, he told you this was your opportunity.

You did not tell Eddy of your plan until you had done all the groundwork. Rogers promised to give you every assistance you needed. He said you were the kind of ally any activist wanted. He assured you the support of majority of executive members. He told you he was certain his plans to make you president of The Union would work.
Even then, you did not tell Eddy. You told him on a Saturday evening at The Bar. It was after your third visit to the shrine Rogers had told you about. You did not go to the shrine with Rogers anyway. Actually when he told you everything about the shrine it shocked you. But you never let Rogers know. You were surprised how willing he was to tell you about such a place. But you never let Rogers feel your shock. You agreed when he said you were an old player. He said you knew all these things. You agreed. You agreed because you did not want to look naive.
It was then he explained the direction to you, without looking at your dismissive face twice. It was then he called the name of the man he last took to that place. And told you the man’s own did not work. He told you it was because the man did not show enough goodwill to the destitute as he was asked to. Then you told him you no longer believe in such missions. And he did not challenge you. You told him you will get the support of Eddy. He said you were right. His effort and the support of the honourable commissioner to the executive governor of the state would make you president of The Union.

When you told Eddy, it excited him.

You said it was good your name was not in his official list of aides. He said ‘that was a wise decision.’
You said ‘I know…’
You repeated ‘I know’ before you carried up your cup of beer. You poured the beer into your mouth. And thought about Eddy playing the early days of your alliance in his mind.
Your mind ran home from that distance when Eddy started to caper about the Awka conference. You did not say anything else about your ambition. You bore you expectations in your mind.
It was five days later you discussed your effort to become Mr Etioka’s successor. Eddy said ‘you have all my support.’ He told you ‘you are a part of this office.’

It was Eddy who delivered the address of the executive governor of the state. It was he who arranged the policemen that surrounded the venue that day. He also paid for the refreshment of the voting members. He pleaded with everyone to approach the exercise with dignity. And said the police will deal with anybody disturbing the peace. He wished everybody luck.
When you crossed each other at the entry of the hall he whispered to you. And he left. The next time you saw Eddy was on Sunday. He attended your thanksgiving service at your hometown. He came with his wife.

You told Eddy everything about the first executive meeting you head. You assured him of stability. And he promised the government will continue to show understanding in the challenges of The Union. He promised you the bus The Union had requested from the office of the executive governor will be provided in no time.

Eddy’s office was becoming crowded. People who had heard the noise wanted to see what was happening. They crowded the lobby to Eddy’s office. Eddy’s orderly tried to shove Madam off the door. She stood there all the while. She stood there as if she intentionally blocked the door. As if she didn’t want anyone else to see what was happening.

When the police tried to come in, she said ‘where are you going with that thing…’ Because the corporal held a baton. And it had touched her. That was when she said ‘where are you going to with that thing.’
And then she said ‘please stay there.’

She said it with scorn. And maybe it was what made you throw a gaze at her. That was all you did in the past few seconds. Because shame and uncertainty pinned your feet to the floor of Eddy’s office. But your face made it look like anger. It looked like uncontrollable anger. Rogers continued to mollify you.

‘My dear please get out of that place.’ Eddy shouted on his secretary.
The wedge of people behind her made it look like Madam walked with a reluctant step. Eddy watched her with a frown. And you watched Eddy.
You turned to see Madam’s behind. A sting of irritation overwhelmed you. Like you felt two days after you returned from the Awka conference. The day you cautioned Madam in a loud angry voice. It was the day you told her the comment she heard you make was a command, not a request. You told Madam she was misbehaving because you had begun to play with her. You said so because she sneaked into your room that night at the Awka conference.

Madam sneaked into Room 013. When the door opened you looked and saw her behind wrapped in a luscious ivory gown. You could not tell if it was fear or anxiety that gripped you at that moment. You had asked her if she felt lonely in her room. And you had said she could come for your company if she did. You said that as an easy continuation of the jokes you shared at the dining. But she came anyway.
Madam sat in-between your legs to watch BBA with you. You sat on the bed. When she drew the blind and locked the door you wanted to tell her never mind. You wanted to tell her you weren’t expecting anyone.

She asked you if the commissioner had slept. You told her there was no problem. As you said that you thought of something. You thought of the times you went out in the night with the commissioner. You moved out without his driver to see a mistress. And he would give his orderly three thousand naira to buy bread for his family. You wanted to tell Madam how long you knew Eddy. You wanted to tell her the times you shared a whore. The time you went for the convention of S.U.G officials in the Western Region in Lagos.

You did not tell Madam you and Eddy wanted to drive around some female hostels in town. But you told Eddy you were tired.
You chuckled. Madam looked at you as if she wanted to kiss you. She did not ask you what amused you. So you did not tell her about the place Eddy had taken you to in Benin, the city she grew up. You did not tell her Eddy had taken you to a brothel in Benin, and girls held you hostage…
Madam turned to see your face again. And you began to touch her nipple. That was when you began to play with her.

Rogers closed the door as Madam left the office. You listened as he called Eddy. ‘Honourable commissioner. Please you can solve this amicably.’
You watched Eddy. He opened a file and began to sign the documents in it.
Rogers continued to explain to him.
Rogers explained to Eddy that your mission is not personal. He told him it was for the mutual benefit of the government and The Union. He said the aim is to foster the existing cordial relationship between The Union and the government. But he did not tell him he had dropped at the gate the first day you came to discuss the matter. It was the day you came to Eddy’s office to discuss the agitations of the executive members of The Union.

The EXCO encouraged you to table their concerns to the commissioner. It was in an informal meeting at Rogers’ place. It was not Rogers who said The Union was not getting full co-operation from the government. It was not he who raised doubt over the end of year bonus. But he chipped in that the bus donated by the government was different from a bonus. He said the bus had been pledged for more than a year. Then he said you should beg the commissioner for a bonus of five million naira.
The day you talked to Eddy over the bonus he said he would discuss the matter with the governor. His response satisfied you.
But it did not satisfy other executive members more than two days.
They pressed you on. The letter they sent you cited Article E, section 1 and 2 of The Union’s constitution. They accused the government of indifference to the plight of the masses. They said the government was playing with the sensibilities of the masses. They reminded you The Union have a mandate to defend the defenseless masses. They informed you The Union would have to take action to check the excesses of the government.

Rogers told you the vice president was head on over the matter. He agreed he was involved in the letter. But told you he reluctantly accented to the letter. He added it wasn’t something to worry about. You told him it was irresponsible of the vice president. But he maintained it was not anything serious.
You did not remind him Article E says the president could be removed for acts of negligence… incompetence and dereliction of duty. In a tone that looked pathetic he said the VP’s grievances could be assuaged. He urged you to put more effort to get the bonus. He said you should let the commissioner know the EXCO is threatening strike action. They threatened strike action over government plans to rename the Central Market.

You could not tell Rogers Eddy had explained to you his shortcomings. Over the recent weeks he had had to make a lot of explanation over the Encourage a Child programme. The governor was unhappy over the security hitch that involved the wife. The first lady was pelted with sachets of water during an awareness rally for the programme. Eddy is also being questioned for not awarding a contract to print calendar to a party chieftain. And the chieftain recently made unfavourable comment about the government.

Also, you did not tell Rogers the second time you went to the ministry for the matter you saw Eddy so disturbed. He was disturbed and you empathised with him that you did not talk about your colleagues. Instead, you forced Eddy to join you for lunch.

Eddy told you what worried him. It was the fight between his wife and his niece at his home. You knew he told you his relatives have been disturbing him for jobs in the ministry. He told you they were making too much demand on him. All the things you know he had done in the name of family were not enough. His sister in-law who is a level 8 teacher wants him to help her become a secondary school principal. They hardly appreciate the money he often gave. They say he has helped too little of his kiths and kin since he became commissioner. They accuse the wife of encouraging him to abandon his family. That was what caused the fight between Eddy’s niece and the wife. And it made his personal life difficult.
What you once jabbered with Rogers was that the governor is the type who doesn’t like to hear about strike. You know. Eddy told you. He told you when you used to parade with him. He told you the day the governor told his cabinet a strike action is a failure on the part of any council member covering the sector. Avoidance is a rule to keep ones job.

You came alone to Eddy’s office in the morning. You wanted to involve him in pleading with your colleagues to show understanding in the matter. Because the heat had become too much on you. But you did not meet him. Madam told you he got an urgent call from the governor.
Rogers did not tell you your VP contemplated reaching the commissioner directly. So you did not know about the letter that got to the office after you left. You did not know the letter warned the commissioner of strike action if the concerns of The Union were not attended to.

The commissioner read the letter and said you threatened his livelihood. He said he was disappointed. He said he would meet you with brute force as you resorted to indignity. He said it to Madam’s hearing. And he said he would push you out of his office if you raised the matter. As you have done this afternoon.

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By afric.iWRITE | 4:46 AM
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Celebrated (Eight Writers in Eight Weeks)

Dear Member,

I write to inform you that we have set out the months of February and March as "Celebration of Works" months. We have titled it "Celebrated (Eight Writers in Eight Weeks)".

What does this mean?

Simple!...


We will promote and celebrate the best of the works of some of our members. These works are either published in print or online. They may be articles, journals, diaries, poetry, prose, paintings, etc. These works shall be celebrated on a weekly basis, on our group page, via messages, and on our new blog. This simply means Eight Writers in Eight Weeks. (Did I hear someone shout "WOW!")


How do I get my works to secure a week for myself?


Pls. send the link to any of your works. Send that work that you are so proud of. Send it to afric.iwrite@gmail.com

If your work is not online, please send the details to the same email.

You never know, you might be the one that will be celebrated.

We will get back to those that are chosen, and will be celebrated.


Remember, we will not favour anyone, except some of our writers who have broken the chains of the craft. These writers are but a few, and will not be part of the eight to be celebrated. They shall also be featured weekly.

These are the chosen writers and members of afric.iWRITE:

Chika Unigwe (Author)
Uche Peter Umez (Author)
Onyeka Nwelue (Author)
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Author)
Muhtar Bakare (Publisher)
Emamode Edosio (Film Maker)
Sylva Ifedigbo (Author)
Richard Ali (Author)


Each week, one of these shall feature with one of our Celebrated (maybe YOU). I'm sure you're dreaming to be featured with one of them already. Then, do this simple thing. Send the online link and details of your work to the email above.

Format:
(on the body of the email, write)

Name:

Genre(Poetry, Prose, Articles, etc.):

Link(s):

Detail(s):

Brief Bio.:



We wish you luck!



Be Celebrated!




Regards,
afric.iWRITE

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