Writings of the general word's body
Friday, November 24, 2006
Here's Nigerian poet, Chinwe Azubuike meeting Gabeba Baderoon - South Bank Centre, London, 25 October 2006. Read Azubuike's essay and poetry about the recent death of her father and her widowed mother's shocking treatment by the father's family - here.
Here meeting fans and signing his books is Martin Espada who performed on the same bill as Gabeba Baderoon.
Kwame Dawes, though he did not perform on this particular evening, was one of the headliners of Poetry International 2006. I told him I loved his piece in Granta 92, Passport Control (or... "can I be a Jamaican, please?").
Gabeba Baderoon here signs a copy of her latest collection, A Hundred Silences.
- Images taken by MW, South Bank Centre, London, October 25, 2006
I read the obituary
Of a tree, and a toddler fish
I pen a line in the condolence
Register of a cassava-stick
I attend the lying-in-state
Of a youth's dream; a fisherman's destiny
I've heard of death
But death by Oil
Is new, fresh, far
From a cliche.
It is night, yet day
A streetlight of flares
In a land where electricity
Is an abomination,
Where streams are caskets
And the air is a floating pool of
Timed death. Where sea-Shells
Sing night and day in crude tongues,
Throats dried in oil slicks.
I have heard of rigged elections
In this land
But this news of Rig-ged Annihilation
Is Breaking News to me...
I lay a wreath
For a village that used to be.
And read the obituary
Of a tree, and a toddler-fish.
© Tolu Ogunlesi
- Breaking News is taken from the anthology, Dance the Guns to Silence - 100 Poems for Ken Saro Wiwa. Reproduced with permission.
As Onari’s bulge grew, so did Bayo’s infatuation, and the size of Kelechi’s gift offerings – till Onari was living wholly off Kelechi’s fears, and, by self-seeking design, stoking the fire in which her good fortune was smelted.
For instance, with Kelechi around Onari would burst into Bayo’s room and burst out: ‘Feel it, Bayo – touch it! Can you feel the kick? He’s asking for his namesake you know. You have abandoned us.’ Or, lying on her bed with Bayo beside her, and Kelechi banished to a chair and the role of spectator, she would hitch her gown to the top of her thighs and place her ankles on Bayo’s beer-belly, and wheedle: ‘My feet, Bayo. Only your hand does anything for my pains.’ And helplessly Kelechi would return her shy smile, and grip her thigh insides bloody in silent anguish, watching all her efforts destroyed, by a foot massage.
- Read on
- Black Biro is currently the only online literary magazine published within Nigeria. The first issue features short fiction, poetry, essays and visual art.
In The Master, Alfred, a Geography teacher, goes on a long journey, crossing the border from Nigeria to Cameroon - in search of an enigmatic, reclusive writer he worships, named Dankor. On the road, the narrator encounters this woman making a hell of a scene:
"Do you know who I am?"
"No, and I no wan know!"
"Na lie-o. You go know today. Not tomorrow or day after. Go ask anybody on Iweka Road, you pig-mouth! Talking to me like that? Are you crazy? In fat you're more than. Idiot!"
Her cartons and luggage had made it out of the women's stalls, but now a transport union official wanted to prevent her from unloading at the frontage. As she spoke, she handed out each porter's fee and dismissed them.
"Go anywhere and ask about Mama Success. That's me! I have been trading for this market before they born you in the village. Calabar, Bakassi, Malabo. Everywhere. Po. Do you know who built this shop, you goat in slave uniform? Where is Obasi?"
"I dey here-o, Mama," said a stocky man chesting up a bench.
"Who hire this monkey?"
"Clear him out of here one time."
In other news, Nigerian Chika Maureen Ukaigwe is the second placed winner of the 2006 BBC African Performance playwriting competition. Once Upon a Time in Lagos, by Ghanaian Efo Kodjo Mawugbe is joint third winning story.
Winner of the competition is Kenyan John Rigoiyo Gichuki who entered under a name the organisers original thought was Ghanaian. The competition news bafflingly refered to Gichuki's choice as having "entered under a false name!" Exclamation theirs, but I'm surprised. Have they never heard of a pseudonym in writing?
M.G Vassanji and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie are two of the names joining Binyavanga Wainaina (Kenyan Caine winning writer and founder of East Africa's most talked about LitMag, Kwani?) in Nairobi next month for the Kwani? Litfest.
The festival holds between 11 - 28 December 2006.
Writing seminars and workshops (from 15 - 20 December) feature on the programme.
There will be music from DJ Ntone Edjabe, editor of Chimurenga Magazine - the next edition (Futbol & Politricks) will be launched @ the Kwani LitFest on December 14.
Please see the Kwani? LitFest Blog for more info.
Nigerian-born poet and photographer Kole Ade Odutola will read from his poetry collection at the Civic Media Center, Gainesville, Florida. In his poetry, Ade Odutola combines choice Nigerian words and phrases with the English language. The poet is a member of the Association of Nigerian Authors and a founding member of the Coalition of Nigerian Artists. He has worked as a photo journalist and has coordinated the film forum for the Goethe Institute in Lagos. His first volume of poetry, The Poet Fled, was published in 1992; his second, The Poet Bled, appeared in 1998.
Unoma Azuah Reads in California - Nov 30
Unoma Azuah, winner of the 2006 ANA/NDDC Flora Nwapa Prize wor Women Writing - for her novel Sky High Flames - will be reading and signing copies of her book @ the University of California, Pomona. The event takes place in the university's English & Foreign Languages Department as part of the programme, Harvest International.
Sky High Flames is now available in a revised edition.
ANA Abuja Special
The Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Abuja Chapter, announces its special November reading session.
The Guest Writer for the event is Maria Ajima, author of The Web, Cycles, Speaking of Wines and Poems of Sanity. Ajima, an award winning poet and short story writer currently teaches in the English Department of the Benue State University, Makurdi.
All lovers of the literary arts are invited to this event which takes place at Reiz Continental Hotel, behind Nicon Insurance Plaza and adjacent to the National Library, Central Area, Abuja.
Monday, November 13, 2006
Abidemi Sanusi tours Nigeria & Ghana
You can catch Sanusi on tour, from
- Saturday 18 November – NuMetro Bookshop, Silverbird Galleria, VI, Lagos - @ 4pm.
- Saturday 25 November - Book Worm, Eko Hotel Shopping Complex, Ajose Adeogun St, VI. – @ 2pm.
- Sunday 26 November – Day Star Church, Ikosi Road, Kudirat Abiola Way, Oregun, Lagos - @ 10am.
- Monday 27 November – Agip Hall, Muson Centre ( for the African Refugee Foundation / part of the Liberian Celebration Day)- @ 4pm.
- Monday 20 November – UNN Staff Club - @ 6pm.
- Tuesday 21 November - Public Reading @ University of Nigeria , Nsukka
- Wednesday 22 November - Reading & Performance at GAP - @ 6pm / tel: 08069663006.
- Friday 24 November – Reading at NuMetro (Ceddi Plaza) - @ 6pm.
- Saturday 3rd December – Reading at BusyInternet - @ 2pm.
Author's image courtesy of Cassava Republic.
Iya Alake hurried back to the market, beating at herself, biting a finger in regret, untying and retying her gele and wrapper in turns. Death, especially the tragically untimely kind, holds much spectacle, and Iya Alake rose to the occasion. At the entrance to the market, it suddenly occurred to her that the news was best broken with loud weeping. So, she let out a ringing cry that made storekeepers stand bolt upright, knocking over their wares.
"Sisi Teacher is dead!"
A running clatter of overturned goods, scattered stalls and the bleating of goats for sale, collided with women's cries and turned the market into a riot of noise. The market was deserted within minutes as the women formed a chorus of laments in the direction of the river. Iya Sikira broke away unnoticed and headed for home, eager to tell her husband of the fate that had befallen his beloved—and her rival. Her two other rivals were on hand to witness Chief Mayokun's reaction.
"Our husband! Our husband!" Iya Sikira called after him as he dashed out, leaving behind wives shocked at the dawning realization that they were jealous still, of a woman lately turned into a ghost.
- Efita's End... (read on).
The professor fell to the floor. (Later when he reported this to his friends, they said it must have been his knees. Professor Joe said he suspected Ralph had always had arthritis.)
"You may think that a mask is just a mask," The Last Messenger said. "But I am afraid it is not. A mask has its own soul. It has the capacity to hold and evoke memories, to build bridges to past times, peoples and places."
The essay is published in the current issue of Sentinel Online. As it happens, Afam Akeh has been revealed as the new editor of what was known as Sentinel Quarterly. The last issue of the print journal in its present incarnation will be out in December (last issue edited by Nnorom Azuonye). From March 2007 however, it's all change with the print edition. With Akeh at the helm, the print publication will be known as Sentinel Quarterly: Journal of African and World Literature - with a special emphasis on 'African' - of course. Instead of the current tight focus on poetry alone, in will come Short Fiction, Reviews and Essays on poetry, fiction, music, theatre and film. Read the fine detail on Sentinel.
You would not know me,
But I followed you,
We shared a similar history,
Nurtured common dreams,
Now that they've got you,
I'll go for the sword;
I'll learn the tactics of their battle
That I may fight,
And win your war.
© Wumi Raji
- For Dele Giwa is taken from Rolling Dreams by Wumi Raji. Reproduced with permission.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
In an affordable paperback edition, The Activist is about the Niger-Delta and its people, underscoring the need for unity amongst the various peoples of the Delta in order to secure equity for themselves and all other nationalities within Nigeria. The novel tackles the tensions of the Niger Delta including environmental degradation, multinational oil companies, corruption among the elites and more. Find out more about The Activist...
Helon Habila recently reviewed The Book of Not, Tsitsi Dangarembga's sequel to the acclaimed Nervous Conditions. The Book of Not is published by Ayebia, which in 2004 re-issued Dangarembga's first novel in the UK.
Here also is I've Been A Crew, the first poetry collection by Austyn Njoku, now available to order or review online. Readers can contact the publishers for more information about the book and can even send in reviews to recommend the collection to other readers. Njoku is the author of a 2nd collection of poetry, Scents of Dawn.
It's all happening stateside when it comes to visual arts shows, from what I can see on my radar right now...
Above: El Anatsui's exhibition, ASI, opened on November 1st in New York and displays until December 22nd... see infoLeft: Beyond the River is an exhibition of artworks by the artist Victor Ehikhamenor. It opens on November 30 @ The Embassy of Grenada, 1701 New Hampshire Ave, NW, Washington DC. The exhibition is on display till December 29. For more information on the artist, visit: Sozaboy.
Right: Look away from the illustration now... or jokes apart, visit this vital show if you're in Brooklyn NY. Ghariokwu Lemi provided the visual images to Fela Anikulapo-Kuti's epoch making records, designing 26 of his album covers. It is political art at its most uncompromising and thought-provoking. In this exhibition, Political Cartoons from Nigeria, Lemi headlines a display of his works, as well as others by Comfort Jacobs and Lordwealth Ololade. The show opened on November 10 and is on until December 17. It's @ SOUTHFIRST, 60 N6th Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
ANA Oyo State Chapter
15th Annual Convention
Writers in Politically Volatile Environment
Educare Trust Exhibition Centre,
Date: 17 & 18 November, 2006
Time: 10am on Friday 17th for Opening Ceremonies
Dr. Nelson Fashina
English Dept, University of Ibadan
Convention Registration Fee is N1,000 only