Writings of the general word's body

Friday, November 24, 2006

Odia's Dance Feast

A Feast of Return
A Dance Drama by Odia Ofeimun
Choreographed by Abel Utuedor
Directed by Felix Okolo
@ Cinema Hall 2, National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos
This Weekend
Saturday 25th & Sunday 26th November 2006
Show starts 5pm daily

Poetry International

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

Breaking News

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
By water
And fire
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.

Black Biro

Here's an excerpt from A. Igoni Barrett's The Tempest, one of two short stories published in the first edition of Black Biro:

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


Here's an excerpt from The Master by Akin Adesokan, published in Farafina (edition no. 6, August 2006).

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?"

"Nobody, Mama."

"Clear him out of here one time."


Uduak Isong is a writer you'll definitely be hearing more of in times to come. She is one of the winners of this year's Commonwealth Short Story Competition. Isong made the grade with her short story, Dangling Modifier. She is joined in the 'Highly Commended' category by 2 other Nigerians, Uche Peter Umez (for Smoldered) and Folake Emem-Akpan (for The Deceivers). Canadian Erin Soros was the overall winner.

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?

Kwani? LitFest

Kwani? Literary Festival 2006

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.


Kole Ade Odutola Reads in Florida - Nov 29

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.

The reading takes place: Wednesday, November 29 @ 7pm
Venue: The Civic Media Center, 1021 W University Ave. Gainesville Florida
For more information, call 352-373-0010 or email: outreach@civicmediacenter.org
This event is open to the public. Donations appreciated.

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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.

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ANA Abuja Special
November Reading

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.

Date: Thursday, November 30, 2006
Time: 4:45 pm
Some of her books will be on sale at the venue.
Uduakobong Kanico

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KWL/ANA Kaduna
Secretariat: Kaduna State Library, Kaduna state, Nigeria
Association of Nigerian Authors , Kaduna (ANA) Reading 25th November, 2006
ANA Kaduna invites writers to its readings which hold every fortnight . This week’s Reading Bulletin ANALYSIS will feature:·
Chairman’s BITE : “Writing is a lonely path ”- Dr Francis Ohanyido (Poet & Essayist), Chairman ANA, Kaduna to be presented on his behalf by Friday J. Abba , Vice Chairman ANA Kd & Chairman KWL.
Talkshop: Should public schools be privatized? What do you think?-
EDITOR Analysis – Barr. Tolani Balogun· Readings: Poems & shorts stories for critique· Sortie on the craft- lecture series by members on elements of creative writings. Roster anchored by O’Ben·
House Guest: Hon K Dennis – Special Assistant to Kaduna state Governor (South-South) .
Time: 3-6pm·
Venue: ANA/KWL Reading Hall, Arewa House, Kaduna
Note that all Sessions are in conjunction with Kaduna ANA.Affiliated societies from ABU Zaria, Kaduna State University, Kaduna and Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnics are frequently part of our Metropolitan Readings.The Monthly Kaduna State University(KASU) Poetry Slam will debut in January 2007.
Mathew Taiwo – PRO KWL/ ANA Kaduna

Monday, November 13, 2006

Abidemi Sanusi on Tour

Abidemi Sanusi tours Nigeria & Ghana

Cassava Republic
follows up the Diana Evans book tour of Nigeria with another writer,
UK-based Abidemi Sanusi,
author of Kemi's Journal &
Zack's Story.

You can catch Sanusi on tour,
Saturday 18th November 2006
in Lagos.

Details below:


  • 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.

New Reads

One of the new reads this week, is mine. I am one of two Nigerians featured in the new issue of In Posse Review. Here's an excerpt from my story, Efita's End, in which a local beauty is washed up by the river...

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).

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In Anietie Isong's The Last Messenger, a charismatic African Religious leader comes to London to give a talk and meets the disbelieving Professor Ralph, in an encounter the latter is never likely to forget. Here's an excerpt...
"An African mask with whiskers. That mask is in your bedroom now. It does not belong there."

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."

Akeh @ Large on Sentinel

In a hugely ambitious essay cum review of not one but 4 recent collections of poetry by Nigerian poets (Memories of Stone by Chuma Nwokolo; The Bridge Selection by Nnorom Azuonye; Why I Don't Like Philip Larkin by Esiaba Irobi; and Heart's Field by Uche Nduka), Afam Akeh reflects on the notion of exile and its bearings on new Nigerian Writing. Where does one quote from? I don't know, but it's got to be read - 'Poor' African Writers Travelling: Home and Exile in Younger Nigerian Diasporic Writing.

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.

For Dele Giwa

You would not know me,
But I followed you,
We shared a similar history,
Nurtured common dreams,
Common ambitions,
Common aspirations.

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


The Activist, the 2nd novel by award-winning Tanure Ojaide - had its launch earlier on this month and is now in the bookshops from the stable of Kachifo Ltd, publisher of Farafina Magazine.

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 info

Left: 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.


Association of Nigerian Authors
ANA Oyo State Chapter
Cordially invites
To her
15th Annual Convention

Writers in Politically Volatile Environment

Educare Trust Exhibition Centre,
Goshen Superstores Building, beside Coca-Cola, Sango, Ibadan.
Date: 17 & 18 November, 2006
Time: 10am on Friday 17th for Opening Ceremonies

Guest Speaker:
Dr. Nelson Fashina
English Dept, University of Ibadan
Convention Registration Fee is N1,000 only
Ebika Anthony

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Kowry Kreations Media…shell of creativity
Poetry Potter
Venue: National Library Hall, Opposite Casino Cinema, Alagomeji, Yaba, Lagos , Nigeria .
Date: Every last Saturday of the month ( Nov 25th, 2006 )
Time: 3 p.m. prompt.
Admission: Free, Free; Free!
Guest Artiste: Toni Kan,
Poet & Novelist
Highlights: dance: Crown Troupe of Africa,
music: Are, Awoko and Cornerstone.
Dress Code: Endeavour to come in your native attire.
R.S.V.P: Aderemi Adegbite 08035149337, Ropo Ewenla 08032311574, Lekan Balogun 08027727751