Friday, December 22, 2006

A Poetic Christmas with Taban Lo Liyong and Obu Udeozo

This morning I dashed off from the office to do "Christmas card delivery" at Bookshop House, Marina. (Cards for my lawyer uncle whose chambers is on the 8th floor, and my grandmother).

Stupid building had a refugee-camp queue for the lift. Nigeria has its wonders, which wonder itself has no knowledge of! After a few minutes of waiting for godot's lift to arrive and belly us up into the building, I decided to "step" up. 8 floors.

You should have "seen" the pain that radiated from my waist upwards as my nimble feet gobbled the concrete! The staircase was tucked away in one corner of the building, and, if you're a fan of the TV series 24, all sorts of conspiracy theories and lurking shadows and disguised cleaning-personnel begin to pop up in your mind and around the corners of the staircase.

Suddenly, I was on the eight floor. Uncle not in office. Dropped the cards, and began the descent. Much easier. Lost my way briefly.

On the ground floor of the Bookshop House is the CSS Bookshop -- I'll be damned if that isn't why the building is called Bookshop House!

I decided to step inside - in case I never told you, bookshop haunting is one of my top 5 hobbies (University ofIbadan bookshop and Booksellers anytime I'm in Ibadan, Numetro in Lagos, the secondhand b/store at Yaba busstop etc etc).

When I emerged onto the hustle and honking of the Marina, about twenty minutes later, I had added to my library 3 books - all collections of poetry:

1) Stimulus and Other Poems by
Obu Udeozo (FAB Educational Books, Jos, 1993)

2) Excursions by
Obu Udeozo (FAB Educational Books, Jos, 1993)

3) Homage to Onyame by
Taban Lo Liyong (Malthouse Press, Lagos, 1997)


From the May 15-22, 2006 issue of Newsweek:


The prototype of the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner is being built in a virtual factory so big, it effectively spans continents.

Engineers in Japan build the wings, Koreans add the raked wingtips, Brits refine the Rolls-Royce engines, while Italians and Texans fit the horizontal stabilizer and center fuselage. Project managers in Everett, Washington, watch it all take shape with 3-D glasses that allow them to walk around the digital prototype and monitor every change made by their 6,000 workers worldwide, just as if the model were being assembled in a real factory.
Read the rest of the article here.
And then, of course, you want to ask, where are the bleddy Africans?
A: They're the stowaways on board, stupid!
Now that's what I call true globalisation.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

From the Archives: On Happiness

Article first written by yours sincerely in 2004. Back in the day, when I used to suffer Acquired Immune Delusions (of "philosophical" grandeur) Syndrome. (I wrote it around the time Nigeria won the award of HAPPIEST COUNTRY ON THE EARTH). Needs major overhaul ;-) -- a bit on the stilted (is that the right word?) side esp towards the end, parading a scattered reasoning... ok, maybe I shouldn't always resort to self-deprecation... but it does need to be reworked anyway...

by BOA (c) 2004

The search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness – Eric Hoffer


Some time ago, some organization crowned Nigeria as the country with the Happiest people on Earth. Now, if you knew Nigeria well, you’d almost think of that as a kind of Joke. I’m not too sure how they came up with their Judgement. Did they judge our Happiness by the astonishing amount of parties we organize every weekend. Or by the exploding number of stand-up comics our society is churning out by the day.

Is there a Happiness Index? Y’know, a kind of :

Happiness Index = The Odds Against Happiness / Sum Total of Happiness Opportunities

Or is there another equation, one that would rival Relativity in its profoundness. Is Happiness the elusive “x”, the unknown and unknowable? Is the value a fluctuating decimal? Is it like water, existing in a multiplicity of states? Is Happiness the direct opposite of Unhappiness? Can it be learned, and taught, imitated and practiced? Can it be stored or stolen, or even copyrighted? Is happiness a fleeting fancy, or an assured ambience? Isn’t one man’s Happiness another’s Dampen-ness?

Happiness, to some elation,
Is, to others, mere stagnation

- Amy Lowell

Henry David Thoreau said that the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. I think these lives of quiet desperation are somewhat like longwinded sentences. I therefore suggest that Happiness Are the commas that punctuate these longwinded sentences. For the minority who are privileged to (on the other hand) lead lives of desperate quietness, who have Expensive Toys to show for their Ambitions, Happiness for them Exists as Full Stops. Rests in the scales of the Sym–phonies of Existence.

Kin Hubbard said it is pretty hard to tell what brings happiness, since Poverty and Wealth have both failed. I say it is pretty hard to tell what happiness is. Is it Joy, or Excitement? Yes? Okay! What then is Gladness?

Happiness seems to drag Questions along, like a huge electric tail. You then begn to wonder why John Stuart Mill says “Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so.” Does he mean that Happiness is allergic to questioning, to probing? Yet we have come to the conclusion that Happiness itself is almost one big Question. A question averse to questioning?

More questions: How long can a man exist or survive without the faintest piercing ray of Happiness illuminating. For how long can the engines of existence operate without the lubrication of Happiness?


You are seated by the River of Life, feet nestled in the salt-ness. Assume that Happiness is in the form of the fishes that inhabit the depths. You sit still, silent, prepared to wait as long as it will take you to catch some fish. You mind swirls with the pictures and names of super-achieving people who had Happiness elude them, how they suffered in silence as an oblivious world worshipped them and envied them. You can recreate in your mind how so many of them ended up – an overdose, a slit wrist, a noose, an Asylum ID….

The sun is beginning to exchange it’s yellow for a bright, dull-orange. The dough of night rises slightly. Yet your line remains unmoved, unmoving, in the still glory of slackness. Suddenly, Something tugs hard. Not on your line though. The pull seems to be more on your heart, your soul. Despair sets in. By the way, Despair is only one of the numerous variants of Non-Happiness.

You gaze into the water and watch the illusions and mirages created by an absence of Happiness. You stop seeing your reflection in the water, you stop seeing the periodic ripples triggered by your restless bait, instead you begin to see the Bright Darkness of your Unhappiness, and the Bright Unhappiness of your Darkness.

You can’t help giving Power to your Despair and Despair to your Power. You are a self-pitying statue. (Interestingly, self-pity turns out to be another variant of an absence of Happiness). It is as though ice has seeped into you, and you can sense your Free-"ze"-dom. Your Happiness can only return by Positive Thinking and by Positive Comparison.

Positive Thinking says “ C’mon, cheer up. Everyday isn’t Xmas! You may have caught nothing, but at least you sipped of Nature in its stark nakedness (sic) all day long.

Positive Comparison thinks of Rwanda and Iraq and Afghanistan and Gaza, and says “C’mon, yours ain’t that bad. Folks there are worse off than you, so you must by implication be happier than they are.”

Which is not true, since you remember that Nigeria is the happiest country in the whole world, not America.

Seye Oke Book Event @ Nu Metro, Sat 23rd Dec, 2006


Saturday, 23rd December 2006


Nu Metro Bookstore, Silverbird Galleria, VI, Lagos

An inspirational writer, Seye Oke was born in Lagos. Her first novel, Debbie’s Diary was used as a reference book in school libraries. Seye founded Splendour Dynasty in 1998; an organization committed to creatively publishing God's love, mercy and grace. She presently works with an International Management Consulting firm and writes monthly newsletters on her site

She will be reading from her new book, Love’s Lie and discussing her life, works, writing career and her thoughts on inspirational fiction in the exquisite ambience of the Galleria.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Crash Landing @

Saw a movie on channels tv last thursday night. Channels movie slot starts around 11pm. I missed the opening portions, but still I think I must have started to pay attention quite early on in the movie.

Two girls are in a car (one of them is driving) on a road that winds across a cliff. The brakes fail, the car loses control and leaps off the edge of the cliff into the water below, with a sickening splash (sounds like the car broke on impact).

A girl is preparing to take her bath. She undresses, and goes into a filled bath. Camera also follows the movement of a gloved intruder in the house, watching the girl, preparing to strike. Girl settles comfortably into the water. Intruder picks up electrified object (hair dryer?) and from where he is standing tosses it into the bath. Girl jerks to death. Obvious electrocution.

Girl enters train, and makes her way to an empty coach at the back, in search of a seat. Man (already seated) gets up and begins to follow her. Once they are alone, he begins to talk to her. Apparently she knows him. Next thing he’s flung coach door open and pushed her off, to her (instant) death.

At this stage, anyone watching is (most likely) going to be hooked. You start to see a connection between the strange deaths that open the film. Why are girls dying? What’s happening? Serial killer?

Then your fears get confirmed when, a few scenes later, two men (pathologists) converse in a morgue, and examine the bodies of the two drowned girls. And one of them says something like: “It’s a bad day for air hostesses!” he goes on to explain to his perplexed colleague that this is the fourth air-hostess corpse he has seen that day.

And then the hook gets hookier.

Then, when a plane carrying a billionaire’s daughter and her “revelryous” friends is hijacked by the crew (the supposed “hosts” and “hostesses”), everything becomes very clear.

Now we know why the real hostesses were done away with.

The billionaire’s daughter’s bodyguard is the hero of the movie, taking out all six (five fatalities, one arrest) hostage-takers through the course of the movie, and landing the Boeing 747 on an improvised runway on an atoll in the middle of nowhere (atoll populated by American soldiers doing God-knows-what) , whilst a not-small storm is raging…

One has come to expect these things from Hollywood. Blissful suspension of belief ;-)

Twice, when he is at the mercy of a gun-totting hostage-taker, seconds away from the trigger’s last dance, the billionaire’s daughter saves him by
1) hitting attacker from behind
2) arrowing attacker from behind (with something that looks like an arrow-gun)

There’s something we say in Nigeria: Actor no dey die!

I enjoyed the movie, apart from the co-pilot who was killed by the hostage takers, there were no fatalities amongst the passengers (Pilot was shot too, but he made it). Unlike in Snakes on a Plane, where the snakes carried out a massacre of plane passengers. Shudder, shudder!

When the credits were showing, I thought I might see the name of the movie. I didn’t, but I made sure to take the name of the hero. Antonio Sabato, Jr.

This morning I turned to Wiki. Wise, wise one, tell me the name of the movie. To my disappointment, Wiki said “sorry, can’t be of help!”

IMDB eventually turned out to be the saviour.

Movie Title:
Crash Landing (2005)

PS. Channels was acting stupid that Thursday Night. Early part of the movie they were showing adverts every 3-4 minutes. They do that often though. Crazy. Eventually, I guess the guy pressing the “show advert” button dozed off. The adverts died along with the kidnappers ;-)


Below is a "murderous" ;-)) review of the film by mianobekes from Hungary, on the IMDB page

"This film was embarrassing in its clichés, poor acting and generally low production values. It starts out badly with the long haired 3 star general calling the hero, Masters, "major" when he is obviously wearing the silver oak leaves of lieutenant colonel. But what was most distressing was the crew of soldiers on Neptune Atoll. How out of touch with any kind of reality can you get? They were all experts on flying a 747 and the scenes of the soldiers digging the ditch were beyond comical.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Lamentations: Why I Can't Marry Valyusha

I got this loving email on Monday from a certain Valyusha:

From: "Valiusha" <>

To: "Thomas" <>

Subject: Hello, I want to know you!

Date: Mon, 11 Dec 2006 16:56:58 +0200

Hello, Dear!

I am looking for a man who can make me happy. I want to hear the whisper of tender words in my little ears every morning I wake up. Iwant to feel the tender touches of his strong hands every evening when we are alone. I want to smell his perfume and to see him smiling when we are together out in the restaurant enjoying each other. I want to make his life a miracle... I am looking for a husband and I am here:

If my words found an answer in your soul, I am waiting for your note...

Warm hugs!



Dearest V,

I got your letter, and read it utmostly flattered to be on someone's longlist/shortlist for human husbandry.

However, sadly, very sadly, I regret to inform you that I will not be able to husband you; for the following reasons (apart from something to do with an abnormal "SPAM COUNT") -

1) You will not hear my whisper of tender words in your little ears every morning when you wake up because I sleep till NOON!

2) You will not feel the tender touches of my strong hands every evening when we are alone because we will not be alone in the evenings. My second job takes the evenings.

3) You will not smell my perfume because I am allergic to ALL perfumes. And you will not see me smiling when we are together out in the restaurant enjoying each other because in the restaurant we WILL NOT be enjoying each other. Not when I will be thinking of the bill I alone will have to pay afterwards.

4) You got my name wrong in your email; you called me "Thomas". Conclusion: If this is the kind of "miracle" you intend to be performing in my life, NO THANKS!

5) On this page of your site where you list gifts you want from me, you did not consider the fact that I am from Africa. You asked for chocolates and flowers and private email lessons and email access, instead of asking for African things like, uhm, uhm, an assurance that I will not marry more wives after you.

Yours Lovely

And loads of feline (not bear) hugs,


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

2006 Nigerian CEO of the Year, Bunmi Oni, Booted Out

Bunmi Oni, 53, erstwhile Cadbury (Nigeria) CEO, was today sacked by the Board, for his role in the falsification of the company's financial statements over the last few years. Also sacked was cadbury's Finance Director, Ayo Akadiri.

This is nothing less than tragic. Reason? Oni won the award of Nigeria's most highly respected chief executive on September 14, 2006. And, very ironically, it was the same Price WaterHouse Coopers (International audit consultants) that conferred the award on him, that was engaged by Cadbury barely 3 months later to investigate the alleged manipulation of results by him.

Bunmi Oni was awarded the national honour of Member of the Order of the Niger (MON) in 2001, and was Cadbury helmsman for eleven years.

Here are excerpts from a tribute in the Tribune (Monday 25th Sept. 2006), written just after he won the award:

...As reported in the press, if profit was the most crucial factor in the survey, Oni would not have ranked that high, nor would his company. But, he is acknowledged by peers as a CEO who would rather make less profit than cut corners. In a country that has been almost completely quartered by “corner cutters”, Oni would rather see his company go through tedious and complex litigation with local and state governments than pay “a simple bribe”...

...We salute the integrity, excellence, industry, innovativeness, vision, and exemplary leadership of Oni, not only in Cadbury, but also in the larger society where his contributions have provided the needed light in the tunnel...

"Can there be two Kings in a Palace?"

Those were the rhetorical words of Adebayo Alao-Akala, deputy-governor of Oyo State, in response to a TV journalist who enquired about who was truly in charge of Oyo State. That was on the 12th of January, 2006, the day Akala "became" Governor after the super-controversial impeachment of his boss, the Governor, Rashidi Ladoja.

Ladoja, protesting the injustice of the jungle impeachment, had vowed not to relinquish power. Akala, on his own part, has been "sworn in", and was exerting his authority as the "Last Man Standing in Agodi Govt House". So, you see why that question may have been relevant then.

Interestingly, at this time, eleven months later, that question is proving relevant again.


Because the Supreme Court of Nigeria has just upheld the decision of the Appeal Court declaring the impeachment a nullity. The picture above is of Usurper Akala being sworn in, last January. Now, he is returning to his position of deputy governor. And finally getting to answer the question he asked many months ago.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

New Fiction: "SeaHorses" in Litro

My story SEAHORSES will be appearing in this week's (print) issue of LITRO - Original Fiction for the Underground.

LITRO is the literary equivalent of METRO (the free newspaper), and is distributed every Friday at

Stockwell (around 0730 to 0825)
London Bridge (around 0815 to 0845)
Libraries in the London Borough of Lambeth

...and more generally or sporadically in:

Random bars/cafes in the East End
Trams in Sheffield
Buses in Durham

You may also read and/or print the story online here:

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Letter to BOA about BOA's Letter To TIME

A reader, Nilla, posted the following comment on my blog

I didn't find your letter to the editor in response to the Fela Kuti article, in the Dec. 11 2006 issue.
9:41 PM, December 05, 2006

And I almost suffered a heart attack. Then I
replied her immediately:

Dear Nilla, Thanks for pointing this out. Perhaps because of distribution delays I have not been able to get a copy of the December 11 TIME issue here in Lagos. Hopefully I should get a copy today. But I made the decision to blog about it based on the (detailed) - and genuine :))) email I received from TIME magazine. I shall withhold further comments until I see the magazine myself. Best, BOA

And then, still dreading the still-loitering heart attack, I fired off an email to the TIME editor for clarification. Still not satisfied with waiting for a reply, and trying to fend off the thought that had started to paint my impending public humiliation in bright colours, I launched an attack on the TIME website. I was going to smoke out my letter at all costs :) the way the Marines smokedMr. Hussein out three years ago.

At long last, I found a lot of things! :)
I discovered that there were as many as four different editions of TIME, all carrying different pieces (Sometimes the same cover story though). I'm sure a lot of you already knew this, but then that's you, not me.

There's TIME
Asia, TIME Pacific, Time Europe, TIME Canada, TIME for kids, and TIME International(?).

Back to my main gist. I finally found my letter on the TIME Europe website, here. It's the second letter from the top. Of course I was very relieved, I hate to imagine the "fallout" had I blogged/bragged about the appearance in TIME of a letter that wasn't published.

The letter is published in the Dec. 11, 2006 issue of TIME Europe magazine. I guess I'm a li'l too old for TIME for Kids :))

So, Nilla, while I thank you for the observation, I also want to say YOU CHECKED THE WRONG TIME! :)))

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

More Found Objects

Reality 2 : Fiction 0

Reality always, always, always, trounces fiction - in humor, in "shameless", "ego-less" absurdity, in everything...

Or what else could one say to these:

Ziggy Stardust, an indiscreet parrot in England, blew the cover on its mistress's love affair by repeating her amorous exchanges in front of her companion. The latter, named Chris, realised something was up when the bird started squawking "Gary, I love you."

A 68-year-old man in northern Nigeria told reporters that after having married a total of 201 women in 48 years, he had resolved to make do with the four wives he still had. His main complaint: older wives had an unfortunate tendency to turn the younger ones against him.

Drinkers had to be evacuated from a Welsh pub when somebody realised that a tubular object that the landlord's wife had long used as a rolling-pin was in fact a World War II shell.

Read more

Sunday, December 03, 2006

My Letter in TIME Europe and other stories

My Letter to the Editor appears in this week's edition of TIME Magazine (December 11, 2006 issue), appearing on newstands today, Sunday December 4, 2006. I wrote the piece in response to the profile of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti in the recent special TIME issue 60 Years of Heroes (November 13, 2006).

My poem, THE HOUSE AIDS BUILT also appeared today in LIFE (December 10, 2006 Issue), the magazine of arts and culture published alongside The Guardian on Sunday (Nigeria).

Friday, December 01, 2006

Found Object

Thursday, November 30, 2006

2006 Macmillan Literary Nite @ Muson Centre, Lagos

From The News (article by Blessing Ogunli)

Come Thursday, 30 November, the annual Macmillan literary night, would take place at the Shell Hall, MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos, at 6 p.m. The event, which will bring literary lovers and enthusiasts and with theme: Nigeria writing: New works, is organised by foremost publishing house, Macmillan Publishing Nigeria Limited.

Speaking at a media briefing, Professor A.B. Fafunwa, vice chairman, Macmillan and Chairman, Literary Committee, stated that this year's edition will take a critical look at the works of the new generation of Nigerian writers—prose, drama and poverty—with a view to understanding what they write about and at the same time to promote their works.

"The night would afford us the opportunity to look at the issues that today's writers are writing about in relation to the society. Is there any similarly between what the male and female writers write? Or are they concerned with different issues? Who is writing poetry? Who is writing prose?" he asked rhetorically.

The former Education minister, however, added that though it will be impossible to cover all the writers in order to give definite answers to the questions posed above, it is hoped that the programme of the evening will give the audience an idea of what they write about and also help them to draw out their own conclusion.

This year’s edition, which is the fifth in the series, will also witness the presentation of Macmillan UK award for the most promising writer for children to Nigeria’s Ngozi Ifeanyinwa Rasak Shoyebi, whose work, The house that Kodjo built, came tops in the children category.

Furthermore, the night will not only be about works alone as the Crown Troupe and Nephetic Group will also be around to thrill the audience with songs and dance drama, which will leave everyone with a message of hope for a better Nigeria.

From The Guardian (article by Gregory Austin Nwakunor)

...Prof. Fafunwa, who is also, vice chairman of the board of Macmillan, posed a rhetoric, which captures the thrust of the event. "The new writers of prose, drama, poetry - who are they? What issues are they concerned with? Is there any similarity between male and female writers? Or are they concerned with different issues? Who is writing poetry? Who is writing prose?"

Even as answers to his questions would be difficult, he reasoned that the 2006 edition of the literary night would provide ample feedback to the puzzles. It would "be impossible to give definite answers," he acknowledged. But "the programme of the evening will give us an idea and may be, answer some of these questions.

"Some of the new writers that come to mind are Toyin Adewale Gabriel, Lola Shoneyin, Ify Agwu, Ayeola Mabiaku, Eman Usman Shehu, Angela Nwosu, Ken Wiwa, Sefi Attah, Hope Eghagha, Chimamanda Adichie, Promise Ogochukwu, Nike Adesuyi, Uzodinma Iweala, Akin Adesokan, Remi Raji, Tolu Ogunlesi, Ogaga Ifowodo, among others," and the programme will include some of them...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Limericked Bible (a.k.a Revised Limericked Version)

The people were all at a loss.
'However shall we get across?
'But then - hand on heart -
Moses waved sea apart,
And praised, 'God Almighty! You're Boss!'

Don't gape so, my dears!

1)The above is not my creation.

2) yes, it is the Bible. Theologians amongst us will easily recognise the above as something that happened in, uhm, uhm, the Psalms... no, 'course not... Exodus... yeah, Exodus!

An English clergyman, Reverend Christopher Goodwins, has translated the Bible into limerick verse.

The Limericked Bible is published by O-Books.

Quote of the Day

The truth is that magazine publication is very difficult--and sometimes achieving it is an anticlimax: if you had a poem in The New Yorker next week, there would be a pleasant interval when your friends and neighbors see it, and when you can think about people you don't know getting some emotion from it. But the next week, another issue of the magazine comes out, and for many weeks after that, and you still have all the same large and small problems, including the problem of ambition and frustration, that you ever had.

Robert Pinsky (former US poet laureate)

Ian McEwan: No Time For Atonement?

British Novelist Ian McEwan is fighting charges of copying/borrowing/lifting from No Time for Romance (1977), the memoirs of romantic novelist, Lucilla Andrews (1919 -- 2006) for use in his Booker-shortlisted novel, Atonement (2001).

The Times online (UK) has helped to make things clearer by "tabulating" the similarities:

Excerpts from Atonement (Ian McEwan)

“. . . she had already dabbed gentian violet on ringworm, aquaflavine emulsion on a cut, and painted lead lotion on a bruise . . .”

“. . . practising blanket baths on life-size models — Mrs Mackintosh, Lady Chase, and baby George whose blandly impaired physique allowed him to double as a baby girl.”

“These bandages are so tight. Will you loosen them for me a little . . .There’s a good girl . . . go and wash the blood from your face. We don’t want the other patients upset.”

Excerpts from No Time For Romance (Lucilla Andrews)

“Our ‘nursing’ seldom involved more than dabbing gentian violet on ringworm, aquaflavine emulsion on cuts and scratches, lead lotion on bruises and sprains.”

“. . . the life-size dolls on which decades of young Nightingale nurses had learnt to blanket bath. Mrs Mackintosh, Lady Chase and George, a baby boy of convenient physique to allow him to double as a baby girl.”

“Go and wash that blood off your face and neck . . . It’ll upset the patients.”


Other famous writers accused of "borrowing" include

1) 2002 Booker prize winner Yann Martel

2) Pulitzer-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin

3) Harvard undergraduate Kaavya Viswanathan

4) South African writer Antjie Krog

5) 1996 Booker Winner Graham Swift

6) Chinua Achebe, accused by Professor Charles Nnolim of borrowing heavily from a historical pamphlet The History of Umuchu, for his novel, Arrow of God

7) Calixthe Bayela

8) Tony Blair/Downing Street

9) Most bloggers :)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

3 Events: Odia Ofeimun, Abidemi Sanusi and Bernardine Evaristo

This blog is in dire need of reforms (apologies to Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, for my plagiarising of a trademarked word).

English Translation: This blog has to start getting serious. (y u laughn?)

In line with the new spirit of reforms permeating every sphere of our national life and of our polity, I am hereby tendering an unreserved apology to my millions of readers for assaulting your hungry visions with disgruntled and miscreantic junk from my email box, prehistoric, middle-class cartoons, and all what-not.

As proof of my repentance, I am bringing to you, live, sizzling, and exclusive pictures from 3 recent literary events in the city of Lagos, Nigeria.

Bernardine Evaristo's reading at the British Council Lagos, Thursday 3 November, 2006

Abidemi Sanusi's reading at Bookworm, Lagos, Saturday 26 November, 2006

Odia Ofeimun's stage play, Feast of Return, Saturday 26 November, 2006

Femi Osofisan(L), Odia Ofeimun (R)

The Masters again

Abidemi Sanusi reading from Kemi's Journal at Bookworm

Abidemi Sanusi @ Bookworm

The Bookworm audience at Abidemi's reading. In blue shirt is Anthony Oha, lecturer in English at the University of Benin

Poet, novelist and banker, Toni kan and another guest at Bernardine Evaristo's reading

Denise Waddingham, deputy Director, British Council Lagos, discussing with Mordi Ochi, poet and Crossing Borders particpant

Kaine Agary, author of Yellow-Yellow (debut novel), forthcoming in December 2006

Folu Agoi, Chairman, Association of Nigerian Authors, Lagos State chapter

Bernardine Evaristo

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Voltron, Defender of uhm, uhm, Many Childhoods...

Wandering around the internet as I regularly do, I clicked on a link (on The Raven's blog) that led me to the Voltron website. What happened next is best described by a Simile:

The feeling that I felt was LIKE the feeling that Adam must have felt when he woke up in the Garden of Eden and saw Eve staring unblinkingly at him.

Adam: (in ecstasy; at the top of his voice): Holy Adam!!! ("Moses" wasn't in existence yet, remember) ...WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? ... (cautions himself) ...we have met before, uhm, uhm (fails to find a suitable name) ... haven't we?

Eve (shyly): I, uhm, I... (looking away)... was a part of you... uhm, uhm, I actually watched as you were being formed...

Adam: So, where have you been all the while, leaving me all alone to stew in my aloneness...?

Eve: gazes sadly at him in edenic silence (in actual fact her gaze is directed at the broad, muscular cliff :) of his chest)

Adam: (suddenly feels his ribcage) ... Oh!... (thoughtful silence follows, it's difficult to tell if it's sweat or tears streaming down his face)... To God ... be.. the ... Glory...

(Trivia: Did you know that Adam was the first citizen of Nollywood)

Fade out

To all you precocious ones who read Shakespeare (in the original) at 8, Sartre at 10, and Dostoyevsky at 13, three-hundred hearty cheers to your grey matter. Sadly, some of us were not so gifted. (sob, sob)

When I, BOA, wasn't reading Enid Blyton or Why the Cat and the Rat are Enemies, I was watching Voltron and SuperTed. [And when I got tired of the passivity of reading or watching, I immersed myself in the "activity" of starting - or abandoning - one of the many debut novels (The Mystery of the Disappearing Cat, featuring the Mystery Trailers, was the only one that made it to THE END) that I have to my (dis)credit :o) lol.] (pardon my brackets... idio(t)syncratic is the word for 'em)

Voltron was there when I was being formed. But I lost him/it/they, at some point, as I strove to be cured of that virus called childhood. Worst of all, I forgot that I had lost him/it/they... until now, catching sight of the images above...

...In that heroic contraption must be chunks of many childhoods rattling around :)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

There's more to life than rejection!: New Work & Other Stories

I have bored you enough with "rejection news", don't you think! It's time to swing into another gear. There's more to life than rejection!

Moral of the story: A good review/acceptance a day keeps the ego (& Muse) aflame ;))


My poem I Dared To Call Him Father (for Fidel's Daughter) appears in the
latest issue (Issue 7) of the Agenda Broadsheets (Page 6).

The Broadsheets feature exciting poetry and paintings by young people (16 - late 30s), and this issue (7) is published to accompany the latest
Agenda, Vol 42, No 2.

Agenda (and the Broadsheets as well) is edited by Patricia McCarthy.


Below are the reviews I have seen online, of my story TO A CARTOONIST (in Obituary Tango, the 2006 Caine Prize Anthology).

Equally brilliant is Nigerian [BOA's] To a Cartoonist in which the narrator addresses the cartoonist who produced those famous cartoons depicting Mohammed, published in Denmark, which caused a furore. It's a clever, witty piece of writing.

[BOA] se “To a cartoonist” aktiveer die debakel rondom die strokiesprente oor Mohamed en die effek van satire. Hierdie Nigeriese skrywer ondersoek die effek van hierdie omstrede strokiesprente op sy liefdesverhouding. Met die ontdekking daarvan het sy verloofde hom verlaat en hy maak oënskynlik ’n objektiewe analise van die effek hiervan; maar dan kom die onverwagse slot en hierdie sterk gestruktureerde verhaal: Hoe sal jy maak om jou geliefde terug te kry?

Translation (by Muthal Naidoo)
[BOA's] “To a cartoonist” brings to life the debacle over the cartoons of Mohamed and the effect of satire. This Nigerian writer examines the effect that these controversial cartoons have on his love relationship. With the discovery of it, his beloved leaves him and he makes what appears to be an objective analysis of its effect; but then comes the unexpected conclusion and this strongly structured story: What must you do to get your lover back?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Quote of the Week

And the winner of our contest for quote for the week is an internet creature called "samjordison"; for his comment posted on the Guardian (UK) Books Blog

"...don't forget all that time wasted reading other writers blogs when you really should be doing some real work. I bet the internet has destroyed a number of promising careers."

Who am I to disagree.
Now you know the reason why, a century after, my BIO still keeps reading "He's saving up the courage to start a novel" ...

"In came the blog, and hush went the novel..." - BOA: (Quote of the minute!)

This is CNN & Other Stories

It's one of the world's most famous words. That deep, confident voice that has grown to become one of CNN's trademarks. I always assumed the voice belonged to a white guy. (I was wrong. James Earl Jones is of Irish, Cherokee and African-American heritage)

The most famous [CNN] ID is a five-second musical jingle with James Earl Jones' simple but classic line, "This is CNN." Jones' voice can still be heard today in updated station IDs. - Wikipedia

His story is amazing:

James Earl Jones possesses one of the most instantly recognizable voices in entertainment history: a commanding basso profundo with a built-in echo chamber that is the very sound of authority. Jones' great range as a performer has made him a legendary American artist. He is a major classical stage actor-his performances as Lear and Othello are towering achievements.....Surprisingly, Jones suffered from a severe stutter as a child, which left him virtually mute. The remedy he found for his affliction was acting. As a child, he was estranged from his prizefighter father and raised by his grandparents on a farm in Michigan. His early years were lonely; he was quiet around other children, self conscious about his speech problem. At the University of Michigan, where he went to study medicine, he began to develop his voice with acting lessons. His rapid improvement gave him an appetite for further theatrical experiences, and soon he quit medicine to devote his attentions to the theater.

According to National Public Radio, as a boy Jones "had such a severe stutter that, for eight years, he refused to talk and was functionally mute"...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Still on Rejection (Paranoia?)

I received this email on Monday:

Date: Mon, 13 Nov 2006 13:12:12 -0500

From: [American Print Journal]

To: [ME]

Subject: Re: Fiction Submission (Novel Excerpt)

Hi ----

I wish I could tell you great news. If you consider that I really liked what I read and would probably read the entire novel great news, then maybe you'll be okay. I don't feel like this is quite self-contained enough, so we're going to have to pass. But I hope you'll send us more work in the future. Your writing is sharp and lively.


Can I trust you to keep a secret? I have been getting some quite "nice" (quite detailed, quite encouraging, "We'd like to see more of your writing") rejection letters lately; I almost forget the fact that a NO is a NO is a NO :))

If I remember well, the novelist Chimamanda Adichie once said that, during her early days in the submitting business), she discovered that as time went on, the rejections ("They come with the territory" she says) moved away from impersonal, form letters, to custom-made, kindly notes (from what I guess we'd call "truly-saddened" editors...)

Whoever said a rejection always had to make you sad?

Kim Addonizio on Rejection

From Kim Addonizio's blog, (March 23, 2006)

Rejection letters—Get used to them. “Butch it up, Kim,” said my writer friend Lisa Glatt, once when I was whining to her on the phone. If you don’t want to be rejected, don’t send out.

Better odds of acceptance: work seriously for 7-10 years first before sending.

The logic: just because it’s rejected doesn’t mean it’s bad. Just because it’s published doesn’t mean it’s any good.

And: The work is more important than the publication, but you may not really understand that until you are published.

Also: it is actually very easy to get published. Somewhere. By someone. Once that happens, it will not be enough. You will want to be published somewhere else, somewhere better. Then you will want books, then awards for the books, then big grants and fellowships and endowed chairs, and then eternal youth. The desire to publish is usually composed of a dash of desire to give one’s gifts, like vermouth in a double martini. The drink itself is ego and insecurity. I call this the Pinocchio Syndrome: Publish me! I’m only a wooden puppet writer! Make me a real writer!

The work is more important.

If you achieve success in publication, further rejections are inevitable. Some of them are: Reductive, misguided readings of your work, sometimes by the people who admire it most. My favorite of these is “Bukowski in a sundress,” an enthusiastic (?) comment offered by the judges of the National Book Critics Circle Award one year.

Condescending reviews by sexist, retromingent Visigoths (I stole this phrase from another writer, I forget who, but it has come in handy many times, and you can see that retromingent is a versatile word for anyone's poetic lexicon), if you are a woman. Some male reviewers are like those boys in high school, who tell everyone you’re a slut and then, when they catch you alone on the hall stairs after classes, push you against the wall and try to stick their hand down your pants.

Being envied. Some people will despise you for doing well, or for their perception of your greater luck. This is called projection. They will make you a god, and then they will try to crucify you.

Another rejection: Being ignored. No one listening. You can see what a blessing this could be.

(c) Kim Addonizio 2006

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

How to write a short story

There's a review of Alice Munro's latest offering, The View from Castle Rock (Knopf; 349 pages) here. It's titled HOW TO WRITE A SHORT STORY, which is precisely why I am posting it. I love articles with titles that sound like they have the capability to show me how to pull the rabbit of a polished, finished book out of my hat of (mere) desire.

But of course, you write a book by writing it, not by reading about how to write it, and certainly not by wishing you had written it. Many, the saying goes, wish not so much to write, as to have written. But if an article will increase the prospects of my arriving at the land of HAVE-WRITTEN without having to go through the narrow, dusty, haunted catacombs of WRITE, then I must grab the article, and milk it for all it's worth!

Friday, November 10, 2006

From the Archives: A Story's Journey

Came across this old email in my inbox. It was a response to a flash-fiction submission I made to Ink-Pot:

Date: Sat, 04 Sep 2004 09:37:23 -0400
Subject: Re: FF, Tolu Ogunlesi, Matilda, 1000 words

Thank you for submitting "Matilda" to Ink Pot. As usual, I enjoyed your fresh voice, images and vignettes. Unfortunately, though, I'm going to have to pass.

While this piece is interesting, it feels a bit scattered. It feels a bit, in the end, as if it doesn't quite know how it got there. One of the difficulties I had was with tense. You begin in present tense with the couple together, in the middle you recall their falling out and you end in present tense with the couple apart. It was hard for me to reconcile, then, just what exactly was going on, when.

I hope you will continue to send us your work and wish you best of luck with your writing.

I eventually reworked the piece. It became:

1) Longer, and more importantly
2) Less "scattered" - I hope! :))
3) Renamed

and was accepted for publication by Pindeldyboz almost a year later (July 2005)

Wed, 27 Jul 2005 22:23:21 -0500
From: "pindeldyboz online"
Subject: Re: Fiction Submission: THE MAN OF THE LAST WORD by Tolu Ogunlesi

Hi Tolu --
If it's still available, I'd love to accept "The Man of the Last Word" for publication in Pboz. I'll use the bio at the bottom of thedocument unless you decide on a newer one, and we'll let you know when it's going live...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

More on writing (not from my inbox)

"Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass."
- ANTON CHEKHOV (1860-1904)

"But like most Cinderella tales, behind quick fame are years of related hard work, done outside the literary world’s attention."
- P.R. Dyjak

I found [writing] appallingly difficult as a child. I still find it enormously hard to find a voice for each story. I've written 110 books and each is more difficult than the last. Every time, I set myself a task that is above me, as I'm reaching to grow as a writer.
- Michael Morpurgo

"...Acclaimed" [is] what they put on your covers when they can't say "prizewinning" or "bestselling"... Also, when you've been writing for as long as I have, you get "respected". This means "old" but that's fine too.
- Adele Geras

"The point of poetry is to be acutely discomforting, to prod and provoke, to poke us in the eye, to punch us in the nose, to knock us off our feet, to take our breath away."
- Paul Muldoon

"[The] need to make, to create, to invent is, no doubt, a fundamentalhuman impulse. But to what end? What purpose does art, in particularthe art of fiction, serve in what we call the real world....In otherwords, art is useless, at least when compared, say, to the work of aplumber, or a doctor, or a railroad engineer. But is uselessness abad thing? Does a lack of practical purpose mean that books andpaintings and string quartets are simply a waste of our time? Manypeople think so. But I would argue that it is the very uselessness ofart that gives it its value and that the making of art is whatdistinguishes us from all other creatures who inhabit this planet,that it is, essentially, what defines us as human beings..."
- Paul Auster

"...Writers don't need tricks or gimmicks or even necessarily need tobe the smartest fellows on the block. At the risk of appearingfoolish, a writer sometimes needs to be able to just stand and gapeat this or that thing — a sunset or an old shoe — in absolute and simple amazement..."
- Raymond Carver

"Some writers have a bunch of talent; I don't know any writers whoare without it. But a unique and exact way of looking at things, andfinding the right context for expressing that way of looking, that'ssomething else. The World According to Garp is, of course, themarvellous world according to John Irving. There is another worldaccording to Flannery O'Connor, and others according to WilliamFaulkner and Ernest Hemingway..."
- Raymond Carver

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

On Writing (Advice from my email box)

" do what you need to do to survive and then you do whatever else you can manage [writing] on top..."
--- Ike Oguine, author of A Squatter's Tale (October 2006)

"'s never too early (nor for that matter too late) to start [writing]. There's a bright future for new Nigerian literature, and I think as many as can write, should."
-- Okey Ndibe, Author of Arrows of Rain (April 2004)

"As one character states in my novel, "A story that must be told never forgives silence." We need to tell the story of Nigeria, to call villains by their proper name, to demur from theapotheosis of rogues, to enter our moral objection tothe coronation of knaves as heroes. Somehow, even if in frustratingly slow degrees, these interventions touch people, enlighten, vivify, illuminate."
-- Okey Ndibe (February 2004)

Never give up on the wonderment of life. Write on and live on
---Uche Nduka, Poet, (September 2004)

"Remember that a long poem has to earn its right to be long -- what are you saying in this poem that deserves such length? Can it be said more succinctly? Where is it's heart?"
--- Bernardine Evaristo, Novelist (October 2005)

"... flattery won't make you a better writer..."
--- Bernardine Evaristo (October 2005)

Here's a link to a wonderful article on writing, from the Atlantic Online.

Baghdad Photo Exclusive

This is me (back row 2nd left; in the Field Marshal uniform) and my battalion, relaxing on the steps of Saddam Hussein's biggest palace in Baghdad moments after capturing him (December 2003). We found him crouched behind the door in the picture.

The Future of Nigeria (2)

Picture taken at the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) orientation camp in September 2005 (c) BOA

Monday, November 06, 2006

Area Boys: A Short Film

This is very exciting news. A short film, AREA BOYS, written by Oladipo Agboluaje, and directed by Omelihu Nwanguma will be shot here in Lagos between now and the end of the year. I know for sure that this film will rise above the trademark mediocrity of Nollywood. If in doubt, check the production pedigrees of the crew (below) :))))

Amidst the mass of "marketers-masquerading-as-producers-and-directors churning out badly-produced "bestselling", explosive, awardwinning, scintillating, chartbursting Hollywood movies, there are a few moviemakers who stand out for their passion, artistic commitment and quality of work: Tunde Kelani, Tade Ogidan, Kingsley Ogoro and Jeta Amata (Amazing Grace, 2006)

There's also
Newton Aduaka, but he's based outside the country. In 2005 he received a Euro 60,000 grant to make Helon Habila's prize-winning novel, Waiting for an Angel, into a feature film.

Here's the synopsis of the AREA BOYS project, from the official website:

Having grown up in a world where corruption and greed over-ride all else, life-long friends Bode and Obi decide to repent from their way of life when they encounter a near death experience following a botched scam. They cut their ties with megalomaniacal boss (Dele) and his domineering girlfriend (who has a soft spot for Bode) and form their own partnership with a view of leaving their corrupt world for good. Life as a ‘good’ citizen proves a difficult experience for the guys and they plan to do one more job, behind Dele’s back, to raise the funds that would ease them into a lifestyle of Godliness. But their plans fall apart before it’s began when against their better judgement, they work a scam on Dele’s turf, the scam back-fires, and he finds out about it. The friends are then faced with a life or death situation as they search for an escape route whilst hiding from the clutches of Dele’s henchmen. And as the sun fades on the bustling city of Lagos, Bode and Obi are put to test about the true value of their friendship with the ultimate question: How far would you go to save the life of your friend...?

Set in the inner city of Lagos, AREA BOYS is a fast-paced coming of age drama about the loss of innocence, the advent of hope and the true value of friendship.

Crew Profiles:

Oladipo Agboluaje

Oladipo Agboluaje was born in Hackney and educated in Nigeria and Britain. He has written several poems, short stories and plays for radio and the stage. He also teaches post-colonial literature and creative writing. Plays which have been produced include, Early Morning (Oval House, 2003), Mother Courage and Her Children (African adaptation, Eclipse Theatre, 2004), which ran at the Hackney Empire, British-ish (New Wolsey Youth Theatre, Ipswich, 2005) and For One Night Only (PBAB, 2005)

Omelihu Nwanguma

Omelihu Nwanguma is an award winning filmmaker whose second short film, SEEKER, has won awards and nominations in acclaimed world film festivals. In the last four years since he began working in the film industry, Mr. Nwanguma has worked with high profile film directors such as Mr. Ron Howard on the Da Vinci Code and Mr. Christopher Nolan on Batman Begins.Mr. Nwanguma is now embarking on his third short film called “Area Boys” which will be set in the bustling metropolitan city of Lagos.

Janette-Nicole Nzekwe (Producer/Actor)

Janette’s recent work includes "Yesterday Was A Weird Day" at the BAC theatre by Look Left Look Right Productions. Television include: Fatimah Rachu in the BBC’s ‘Casualty’ directed by Paul Walker and Carol in ‘One More Bridge’, Sytel Productions.; Tituba in ‘The Crucible’ directed by Sue Higginson; ‘GT’ (Feature Film) by Summer Orange Productions directed by Lucien Williams.

Bello Mohammed (Producer)

Mr. Mohammed is the managing director of Sanpet Brother Ltd (SBL), a private run family business with over 30 years experience in Nigeria whose interest spans right across many sector of the Nigerian economy such as, ICT, Telecoms Services, Security Solutions, Solid Minerals, Oil & Gas, Property Development and Banking. Mr. Mohammed’s passion to be involved in producing films attracted him to the Area Boys project. He will be working as the main point of contact in Nigeria.

The Newcomer’s Guide To Making A Nollywood Movie

Nollywood is no doubt a multimillion-dollar industry, whatever reservations anyone may have about its output. (Quality, I believe, is in the eye of the beholder). It is said to be the third largest movie industry in the world after Hollywood and Bollywood, which, for its age, is no mean achievement.

This definitely implies that there will be many people out there who desperately want to be a part of the Nollywood success story. This article is for you, and comes packaged in the ageless, energetic tradition of the D-I-Y manual.

The very first task is to select your actors. Do this even before writing the script or determining the plot. The Golden Rule of Nollywood is: The more the number of popular actors you can include, the better your sales will be. The actors/actresses don’t all have to act major roles. Most of them only need to show their faces for five to ten seconds throughout the whole movie. (You could make them walk past in supermarkets or on the streets, or act as newspaper vendors from whom the hero/heroine can buy a paper).

Then you have to get a title for your movie. Choose a title that will clearly explain what the movie is all about. Nollywood audiences do not like titles that have nothing to do with the plot of the movie. Examples of great titles: MAD MAN, STUPID HUSBAND, THE LOVE OF MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL, I DON’T LOVE YOU, SEARCHING FOR HUSBAND etc etc.

Once the movie title is sorted out, you have to design and print your movie posters. You must cram into the poster, the faces of all fifteen popular actors whom you succeeded in convincing to make appearances in the movie.

The pictures on the poster can show them doing things they didn’t do in the movie, e.g. Desmond Elliot holding a machine gun and sweating, despite the fact that he played a three-minute role as a doctor in the movie. You are also allowed to include one or two actors who didn’t actually appear at all in the movie. No one will know until after they have seen the whole movie, and by then it’d be too late.

At this stage, get in touch with your actors and drag them onto location. Acting must start immediately. They will usually require no scripts or advice from you. Everyone will gravitate towards their instinctive roles, and before long, your movie would have acted itself out beautifully. Confused? Let me explain. Someone like Jim Iyke will always be a fine boy bad boy, Pete Edochie a billionaire red-capped Chief, Aki and Pawpaw will always be street urchins living from prank to prank.

Once acting has started, it is very important to determine how many “slaps” and “slumpings” will feature in the movie. The more the slaps and slumpings, the merrier. A Nollywood flick without slaps is like a Bollywood movie without the dance. Jealous/angry lovers must always slap their rivals or partners. Someone must always clutch his/her heart and slump in slow motion. This leads us to a very vital issue, the stethoscope phenomenon.

Your set is incomplete without a stethoscope. Ask one of your lesser-known actors to play the doctor. No movie can be qualified to bear the Nollywood tag if there’s nobody holding a stethoscope and shaking his head: “I’m sorry, we lost him/her. I’m sorry…” And don’t forget to include a hysterical nurse, whose only line is “Doctor, Doctor, please come! Doctor, doctor…”

Another major decision involves deciding which of your heroes or heroines will have to die (usually an unjust death). You will have to choose a means of death – one, or a combination of the following: Gun-totting assassins, food poisoning, heart attack or voodoo.

At this stage, you have almost succeeded in registering your name on the Nollywood Wall of Fame. Relax, don’t start rejoicing yet. There’s still a little more to be done before you can sit back and start counting your millions. What you will have in your hands at this stage is a skeleton of the movie, the backbone, which you will need to flesh out. This is very easy.

Simply shoot scene upon scene of people chatting and laughing freestyle, driving around town in search of God knows what, fiddling with files in tastefully furnished offices and talking of “billions” on phone, dining out at fast food joints, shopping at upscale boutiques, getting jobs in restaurants and bukas, stealing from briefcases containing wads of naira notes, traveling to America. Emphasize the passage of time: six months later, six years later, six decades later, six centuries later etc.

At this stage you should check the length of the movie. It should be at least four hours. If not, shoot more (and longer) scenes involving the actions mentioned above. Once this is accomplished, chop up the video into two-hour portions. Name them “parts”: Part 1, Part 2, etc etc.

Important point to note: If you have spent more than one week (of shooting) thus far, you are a failure, and not cut out for Nollywood. Discard the movie and go and find work carrying cement on a construction site.

At this stage, the movie is finished. Congratulations, and welcome into the prestigious Inner Circle of Nollywood. All that is left to do is simply to shoot the TV advert of the movie. This is the easiest part of your work, and the most enjoyable.

You will enjoy this bit even more than you enjoyed the actual movie shooting. Simply splice shots of the most action-ridden scenes in the movie (e.g. the slaps, and the slumpings). You may even include scenes from Hollywood blockbusters e.g. Terminator 3.

Important point to note: the voice-over is very important. A breathless voice-over reeling out all the following words (in no particular order): explosive, scintillating, romantic, tragic, comic, action-packed, life-changing, grab your copy now now now! You are allowed only ONE sentence for all these adjectives.

And, last but not least, you must give God all the glory. You fail to do this at your own peril. Nollywood audiences despise ungrateful movie-makers. Nollywood audiences do not watch films produced by atheists. As a filmmaker, you must openly acknowledge that you are nothing but a bic biro in the hands of the Almighty Creator.

Important point to note: Start the next movie IMMEDIATELY.

PostScript: Romeo and Juliet must always surmount the machinations of enemies and come back together at the end of the movie. If any one of them died during the movie, he/she will have to be resurrected (preferably in the mortuary, as resurrecting them from the grave might prove a little too difficult for the audience to swallow).

Best wishes as you prepare to carve your name permanently in the golden sands of Nollywood.

(c) BOA

(Previously published in Daily Independent, Life magazine, and and

Friday, November 03, 2006

Applying for Godot...

Someone sent this to my box yesterday. The caption says the picture was taken a few weeks ago in Lagos. This crowd is supposed to be gathered for an employment test by one of Nigeria's leading banks (names withheld). The picture says everything about the employment problem in Nigeria. The land where twenty thousand people apply for twenty jobs.
Reports say that eventually, the crowd had to be dispersed by the police, using teargas....

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Not Again...

Nigeria mourns. Another plane crash, the fourth in one year - three claiming about a hundred souls each, and the fourth, (a small plane) claiming about a dozen of Nigeria's finest military officers.

Bellview Airlines Crash: Saturday October 22, 2005 117 casualties

Sosoliso Airlines Crash: Saturday December 10, 2005 108 casualties (60 were students of the Loyola Jesuit College in Abuja)

Nigerian Air Force Crash: Monday, September 17, 2006 13 casualties (Senior Military Officers)

ADC Airlines Crash: Sunday October 29, 2006 96 casualties (Next week, November 6, it will be ten years since another ADC airlines crash, this time in the marshy waters of Ejinrin, killing all 143 aboard.)

Beyond the statistics and the lists of distinguished victims and the apportioning of blame and the press conferences and the investigations and misinvestigations, nothing in these tragedies is as touching as the personal stories and details of the lives that have been lost - that final phone call, that last sighting, the goodbye kiss just before boarding, the final promise, the dream now floating ownerless, the many ironies embedded in the sequences of actions in the final days/hours of those lives, the final moments in the plane as it reached (ADC in this case) - in vain - for the skies in what is perhaps one of the shortest flights ever in history - less than a minute by all accounts.

I personally knew only one person in that crash, Dr A.Y.A Haruna, Consultant Psychiatrist at the Yaba Psychiatric Hospital, Lagos. He was on his way to Sokoto to take up his (brand-new) appointment as the Medical Director of the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Sokoto. Monday would have been his first day in that position, but he never made it to Sokoto...

The papers since Monday have been filled with the stories... May all the souls of the departed rest in perfect peace.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Three Pictures...

Three images I stumbled upon on the Benetton website. Pictures will always speak louder than words. How would you convey these images in speech? Novelists, poets, journalists, kindly step aside, artists and photographers, the future belongs to you!

A tribute to Edward Said

This contribution, a short tribute to Edward Said, Palestinian-American literary theorist and critic, who died three years ago, is from Damola Awoyokun, literary activist, journalist and one of the most brilliant essayists of the upcoming generation of Nigerian writers:

Prof Edward Said (saheed) was a narrative in hybridism. He combined the bests of Arabic and western civilizations. He like one of his mentors, Iqbal Ahmad, was another recruit in the parade of intellectuals in revolt against the dictatorships of idealisms, of violence and all activities of hate not of truth that make the fact of cultural pluralism impossible. To Said, the use of one’s mind is the real martyrdom. Every battle against imperial control must start at the level of text since the quest for it so much relied on the text. No doubt then that his seminal work, Orientalism(1978) was how the west instrumentalized knowledge for the purpose of colonial domination of the Arab nations. He followed this up with Culture and Imperialism (1993), dealing with the same subject but broadening the victim to the whole of the third world. In his lifetime, Said wrote over 25 books which include two on classical music. On September 25, 2003, he died in New York after he lost a 13 year jihad against blood cancer.

Read more by Damola Awoyokun on Edward Said

You can also read more of Damola's essays here:

Damola Awoyokun is the Managing Editor of Fawi Publications.

Madonna... and a letter for Bill...

This morning I was reading a newspaper article on Madonna's adoption of a one-year-old Malawian boy. As I raced through my eyes caught the following line:

"He was reported to be remarkably alert following the long flight."

Instantly, one of the tenants in my mind (a naughty goblin called Subvar Sieve) hiccupped very violently, and brought all mental proceedings to a halt. Here is what Subvar stammered:

"He was reported to be remarkably alert following the long flight." Yeah, right! The "African" boy, just one year old, but very alert after a long flight. Yeah, right. What else would you expect from an "african" child, already used to long periods of starvation, dodging landmines, wielding machetes and guns far heavier than him, and chasing lizards for breakfast, lunch and supper... yeah right, remarkably alert...

I asked Subvar to explain, but he just stared at me catatonically... he gets these spells once in a while, actually...

He hiccupped again when my eyes got to the last line of the article:

"The boy's father, Yohame Banda, has agreed to the adoption. "What I want is a good life for my child," he [boy's father] said."

I have been ruminating on Subvar's mumblings, and I am beginning to think I need a good life for myself too. I want to get out of this godforsaken africa.

Hi Bill Gates, are you there, are you online at this moment. Please come adopt me... I'm bright, I'm African... and, and, I promise you I'll do an MBA immediately you adopt me... with an MBA you can leave Microsoft in (my) very safe hands... I'm waiting, Bill... Say hi to Aunt Belinda... and my siblings-to-be...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Nigerian Icons (Suggestions)

Just a few quick toughts before I rush off... Araceli and iGwatala, thanks for dropping by...

My list of Nigerian Icons is beginning to take shape:
I eagerly await your additions... and of course, all suggestions are open to (civil) debate...
You may post your suggestions as comments on this page or send them (with your name/blogname included so I can acknowledge you) to OMOALAGBEDE@YAHOO.CO.UK, I will put them all up on this blog... perhaps we can have a voting process later...

#Things Fall Apart (BOA)

#The Danfo (iGwatala)

#The Super Eagles (BOA)

#Afrobeat (BOA)

#Nollywood (BOA)

#Lokoja (confluence of Rivers Niger and Benue) (BOA)

#The Nigerian Passport (iGwatala)

# Ori Olokun/Benin Bronze head (iGwatala)

# Nigerian Pidgin English (iGwatala)

# Danfo (iGwatala)

Yuyutsu Ram Dass Sharma Reading & Book Launch in London

Exiled Writers Ink: Mountain Poetry of Exile
Monday 6th November 2006 at 7 .30 pm
Poetry Cafe, 22 Betterton street, London WC2
(Covent Garden tube)
'Way to Everest: a photographic and poetic journey to the foot of Everest'

Recipient of fellowships and grants from The Rockefeller Foundation, Irish Literature Exchange, The Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature and The Foundation for the Production and Translation of Dutch Literature, Yuyutsu RD Sharma is a distinguished poet and translator. He has published six poetry collections, including, The Lake Fewa and a Horse: Poems New (Nirala, 2005) and a picture book, A Photographic and Poetic Journey to the Foot of Everest, ( Epsilonmedia , Germany , 2006) with German photographer Andreas Stimm. He has translated and edited several anthologies of contemporary Nepali poetry in English and launched a literary movement, Kathya Kayakalpa (Content Metamorphosis) in poetry. Yuyutsu’s own work has been translated into German, French, Italian, Hebrew, Spanish and Dutch. He lives in Kathmandu where he edits Pratik, A Magazine of Contemporary Writing and contributes literary columns to Nepal ’s leading dailies, The Himalayan Times and The Kathmandu Post. He is completing his first novel.

Nepalese musicians: Bishwo Shahi and Prabin Tamang

launching 'Modern Kurdish Poetry' ed. Kamal Mirawdeli and Stephen Watts

a rare collection of Kurdish twentieth-century poetry translated into English for the series Endangered Languages and Cultures. Thirty Kurdish poets, from Haji Taufiq Peeramerd and Abdullah Goran to Sara Faqé Khidir and Choman Hardi, are represented. An introduction to Kurdish literature has been authored by Rafiq Sabir. Stephen Watts is a poet and editor, much involved in translation studies. His own poetry has been published as The Lava's Curl (1990, repr. 2002) and Gramsci & Caruso, Selected Poems 1977-1997 (2003) as well as a bilingual selection of his work in Czech translation. He has co-edited Voices of Conscience : Prison Poems (1995), Mother Tongues: Non English-Language Poetry In England (2001) and Music While Drowning : German Expressionist Poems (2003) and has compiled a very extensive bibliography of 20th century poetry in English translation. His interest in Hungarian poetry is long-standing.

Chaired by: David Clark of Exiled Ink magazine
£1 EWI members and £3 others"

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The American and British Visas as Nigerian Icons

Eba and Afang Soup: Nigerian Icons

Okwui Enwezor and David Adjaye are the two Nigerians who made it onto the just-released ArtReview magazine's annual list of the 100 most powerful people in the contemporary art scene . In May of this year, Archbishop Peter Akinola, Primate of the Anglican Communion of Nigeria made it into Time Magazine's List of 100 most influential persons in the world.

News like this does far greater to positively brand Nigeria than all the expensive, over-deliberate attempts by the Nigerian Government under its many (Govt-driven) branding projects like the Heart of Africa project. I'm no brand pro, simply someone interested in the concept of branding... and when I grow up, I'd like to do some work in branding - individuals, companies, governments etc...

On this site is a list of items, places and events that have been selected as "ICONS OF ENGLAND". The website defines an ICON as "uniquely important to life in England and the people who live here. That we can all agree on. Some are obvious. Stonehenge. Cricket. The Crown Jewels. Others are more controversial."

It went on to list the qualities expected of potential ICONS:

1) Icons are symbolic - they represent something in our culture, history or way of life

2) Icons are recognisable in a crowd - if no-one has heard of it or knows what it looks like, it cannot be an icon.

3) Icons are fascinating and surprising - they have hidden depths and unexpected associations

*It adds that icons AREN'T "people": When we're talking about icons we don't mean people. Churchill and Darwin may live on as historical figures but we won't be including them as icons in this collection. This does not mean we ignore key individuals. It just means that we will include Shakespeare’s plays rather than the man from Stratford, Stephenson's Rocket rather than Mr Stephenson himself.

English Icons

Alice In Wonderland .The Angel of the North. The Archers. Big Ben. Blackpool Tower. The Bobby. Bowler Hat. Brick Lane. Cricket. A Cup of Tea. The Domesday Book. Eden Project. The FA Cup. Fish and chips. Fox-hunting and the Ban. Globe Theatre. Hadrian's Wall. The Hay Wain Hedges. HMS Victory. Holbein's Henry VIII. Jerusalem. The King James Bible. The Lake District. Lindisfarne Gospels. Magna Carta. The Mini. Miniskirt. Monty Python. Morris Dancing. Notting Hill Carnival. Oak Tree. The Origin Of Species. Oxbridge. The Oxford English Dictionary. Parish Church. The Pint. Pride And Prejudice. The Pub. Punch and Judy. Queen's Head Stamp. Robin Hood. The Routemaster Bus. Rugby. Sherlock Holmes. The Spitfire. SS Empire Windrush. St George's Flag. Stonehenge. Sutton Hoo Helmet. Tower of London. White Cliffs of Dover. York Minster.

...On this basis, I am moved to start my own ICONS OF NIGERIA project. Hah! My problem with the Nigerian Government's desperation to brand Nigeria positively for the world lies precisely in that "desperation". Rome was not built in a day, neither was England "iconned" in a day.

There is something too deliberate about Nigeria's branding attempts:

1) expensive CNN adverts (one of them had the President demeaningly playing "salesman": WELCOME TO NIGERIA, THE HEART OF AFRICA", it made me feel sad for my country, and I wondered where in the world you would see a President or Prime-Minister appearing on a CNN advert to "sell" his country. None of the "Sights&Sounds" that I have seen on the CNN show Prime Ministers/Presidents (agreed this Nigerian one was a paid advert, not a Sight&Sound feature, but still...)

2) Expensive Time magazine adverts - I have seen adverts by state governments in Time Magazine... money that would have been better spent within the country, not outside... those adverts are like Africa giving aid to the West...

3) A while ago, the Government announced plans to construct an "Abuja Millenial Towers", which would become Abuja's symbol of identity, our own Eiffel Tower/London Bridge/Statue of Liberty etc.. (was that giggle yours?) giggle!) A columnist referred to it as a "Tower of Babel", which might not be a far-fetched appelation judging from the controversy the 53 billion naira (about $400 million) plan has been generating.

In a country where a lot of people wallow in poverty, good governance (which will translate into a higher quality of living) will do more for our national brand than expensive towers, CNN adverts or branding seminars in London or New York. The way we are currently pursuing this branding project smacks of a blind desperation to whitewash our rottenness and paper over our very glaring failures as a country. True achievers go unrecognized, whilst mediocre, thieving politicians cart away all our national honours.

The National Creativity Award was instituted by the Government of President Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999, and on the 14th of September, 1999 Professor Chinua Achebe (father of Modern African Literature) was announced as the maiden winner. That first time has turned out to be the ONLY time the Prize would be awarded. The award carries (carried!) a measly cash prize of one million naira (less than $9,000), in a country where parliamentarians collect furniture allowances three or more times that

... Achebe went on in 2004 to reject the award of Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) in an open letter to President Obasanjo, citing "...the chaos in my own state of Anambra where a small clique of renegades, openly boasting its connections in high places, seems determined to turn my homeland into a bankrupt and lawless fiefdom..." as his major reason for his turning down the award.

Presidential spokesperson Femi Fani-Kayode, (who has over and over again proved himself adept at the Art of Gutter Language) in a now famous, and characteristically Faniesque reply to Achebe said "...That being the case, our response is that his position as regards the state of affairs in his native land and his rejection of the great honour done to him by the Nigerian people is regrettable. It is not a slap in the face of the Nigerian government or Mr. President, but rather, it is a slap in the face of the Nigerian people..." Honour my foot!

Digression. Sorry. Bottomline is that, as long as Nigeria continues to fail to honour the most basic of obligations to her citizens (Infrastructure, security, justice, decent healthcare and education, etc), branding this country in Time Magazine or on CNN will be akin to forcing a severely under-sized Father Xmas costume onto an obese, bad-tempered, wolf in an attempt to admit him into a Cute-Dogs party...

Let's follow the criteria of the English Icons project and see if we can come up with our own truly Nigerian Icons: symbolic, recognisable, fascinating and surprising...and, no people (i wonder why?)...

...well, here we go... let me hear from you... if there's anyone reading this, that is... (problem is I keep assuming there are, incurable optimist that I am...)

...(PS) methinks that whatever we come up with, sadly, at the pinnacle of our Nigerian Icons List will be two VIIs (Very Important Icons) - the American and British Visas