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

Monday, October 16, 2006

The FUTURE of Nigeria Unveiled...

On Saturday, October 14, 2006, the build-up to the 2007 edition of Nigeria's most prestigious Youth Awards, The Future Awards was flagged off to a select audience of young people (I was graciously invited, and did joyously attend) , at Tanjia, Raymond Njoku Street, Ikoyi, Lagos.

(I was shortlisted for the Young Writer of the Year award in the maiden edition (February 2006), alongside Chimamanda Adichie (eventual winner) and Rotimi Babatunde).

Below's the full text of a press release from Redstrat (a strategic communication outfit focused on young people), organisers of the event:

"The Future..." launches with Panache! _____________________________________________

Oh, what can we say?! On the 14th of January, RedSTRAT gathered together a small but critical number of young people together at the upscale Tanjia in Ikoyi, Lagos, and the mandate was simple - to officially kick-off the journey towards "The Future..." Awards 2007. This, as usual, is an innovation from "The Future..." - a pre-event for the people who are the target of this event to begin to 'feel' it - to bounce ideas off the organisers, to join the train and ultimately to add even more verve to what we now know as the BIGGEST event for young people in Nigeria! What we had at this event was a beautiful gathering of the brightest and best young minds in this country: from every strata and from every segment.

Guests included Big Brother Nigeria's Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, singer Ashionye Michelle Ugboh, Director of YDNX (LTC-JWT) Modupe Awofeso, actress/radio presenter Funlola Aofiyebi, CADBURY manager, Lola Talabi, Olamide, newscaster with Channels TV, comedian Jedidah, Tosyn Bucknor, Ini Mbang of MASK and son of Prelate Sunday Mbang, Morenike Gbadamosi from INSIGHT Communications, Shina Okeleji from the BBC, Augusta Uford, Pageant Executive with the MBGN, radio presenter Zika, Chinedu Amah of BBN, Tunde Aladese from TRUE LOVE, Mary Ero from MBI, Ifeoma Nwadukwe from JOY magazine, Lape Soetan, Tolu Ogunlesi of Accenture … it was breathless!

And it was strictly for young people between 18 and 31. It was supposed to be a small event, but even though the organizers stopped accepting confirmations on Thursday hoping that some of those already confirmed wouldn't turn up, that didn't stop it from turning massive; yet it didn't lose it's beautiful intimacy. At 5pm exactly, the event (which was basically also a TV event, i.e. shot in a proper TV studio for the TV cameras present) kicked off with the compere, Chude Jideonwo, welcoming the guests with the very important point that the day's event was very, very informal, loose, fun and intimate. The guests got the message because an atmosphere of conviviality pervaded the event - with jokes, backslapping, good-natured barbs, and even flirting!

E-sure got everybody standing with the national anthem, and then Chude was back at the center: there was to be an impromptu discussion revolving around Nigeria - "Why bother? - and after Ruonah Agbroko from THISDAY, kicked off the discussion, it just went on its own steam: the issues moved from the Atiku-OBJ rift, thorugh issues around if Nigeria will ever change, the change Dora Akunyili IS making, what the EFCC seems to be doing, revolution or no revolution, the fact of young people who are ashamed to be called young, whether change can happen powered only by one generation, and all that… It was serious one minute, then comic the next, then charged the very next, then everybody's cracking up the following moment - it was one joy ride of a conversation - it was such a fun, fun discussion! To show just how successful the discussions were, very surprisingly, Samson Adeoye of The Guardian requested that the people gathered - especially since they were so diverse - be made into a pressure group; this was immediately seconded by Mary Ero who offered TV airtime for the pressure group and supported soon after by Ms. Talabi who promised to help source the funds! Oh, yes! If they were agreed on one thing, it was that this was one event which they would certainly want to be at whenever, wherever! Phil from the Star Quest was next to serenade the audience with his guitar, and after that it was straight to the major reason these upwardly mobile young Nigerians were gathered together in one place that lovely evening at the seductively lit Tania - presenting "The Future.." Awards 2007!

First the promos for event were unveiled (they start playing on MBI, STV, Nigezie, Nigeria International, Today's Woman with Adesuwa, Cool FM, Metro FM, Rhythm 93.7 and many others this week), and then a 7 minutes cut from last year's hugely successful maiden edition was played to massive applause! Next, one of the directors of RedSTRAT (the organizers) informed the guests that if they thought 2006 was huge, then they should get ready to have their minds blown by 2007! After which the criteria for next year's awards were presented, alongside the new (15) categories, people like OAS Helicopters, MICCOM Resorts, STORM Group, Le Saison and POLO who have already agreed to support the event, the new judges for this year including Ndidi Nwuneli and Folake Folarin-Coker amongst others, and it was also revealed that nominations end on the 31st of October. The guests found out how they could be a part of the idea - and everyone signed up to be a member of the Resource Group. One thing was certainly agreed upon: this is most likely the most credible of all awards this country has seen. The processes (4 stages) are rigorous, there are checks and balances and it's so, so admirably transparent. It also has carved a niche of its own that has strength of character, stubbornly refusing to follow old trends.

In his presentation, RedSTRAT's director also opined that "The Future…" is for all young people; it certainly goes beyond RedSTRAT -it is BIGGER than RedSTRAT: last year, most of the things (from decorations, performances, ushering, organization to sound etc) were handled by young people, that is part of the essence of this event, and so young people from 18 - 31 MUST begin to see this as THEIR event. It is a gift to the young Nigerian. After the presentation, questions were asked and answers were given, there was a premier of wave-making TV show, Nigeria International, showing on NTA Network, AIT Network and BEN Television (and produced by one of RedSTRAT's Directors, Adebola Williams) while the people enjoyed the food from the king of small chops, SAHEETO, and then there was networking all around - laughter ringing from corner to corner. You want to know how enjoyable this event was? How about the fact that more than 80 percent of the guests were still around laughing, gisting and exchanging numbers more than 30 minutes after we had officially drawn the curtains?

There's no other way to say this: if you missed this event, or if - unfortunately - you weren't one of the 80 invited people; you certainly missed out on one hell of an evening! This event was supported by Tanja, Saheeto-King of Small Chops, Nigeria International, and dtalkshop's TAKAii. For more information on "The Future…" Awards and to see more pictures, visit

(c) Redstrat 2006
The people behind Redstrat

Emilia Asim-Ita (Head, PR & Sales)

Presently, she writes for The Guardian, HOT, Takaii, Dove Media Billboards and Bubbles amongst others. Amongst other things, she is one producer-at-large of Patito’s Guys, Events Consultant to African Profiles magazine and is presently working on two books that she intends to publish together. Right now, Emilia is one of the brains behind SLEEK, publishers of the SLEEK Magazine, and the guys behind the Creative Academii... more

Adebola Williams (Head, Planning and Logistics)

Adebola is the Producer of Nigeria International, which shows on the NTA Network, AIT Nigeria and U.S. and BEN TV in the U.K. He was previously Producer of Young & Nigerian on MBI, as well as being co-presenter of Youth Talk. Adebola who also served with Rescue and Holdback Ministries as a Volunteer, Counselor and public relations officer, started out as a stage actor with several awards to his name. He's always been a fine actor and smooth talker. After a few offers to do TV, he started as a presenter and associate producer with a business programme Economywatch on the NTA...more

Chude Jideonwo (Creative Director) :

He has worked with Inside Out with Agatha (26 Nigerian stations and DSTV), Let’s Talk About It (MBI), Health Forum (NTA), and Video 10 (NTA) – in research, and production capacities. He was also with multiple award-winning talk show on the NTA Network Service and DSTV – New Dawn with Funmi Iyanda as Associate Producer, and whilst he was there the show won at least 23 awards. Apart from this, he was Assistant Director of The Academy (an international reality TV show). As a presenter, he presented The Sunday Show (NTA), and is now a presenter with Patito’s Gang. He is also a scriptwriter – with his credits including House 4, and The Academy; and he has been consultant on Media/PR and TV production to a number of organizations that include BOOKWORM Ltd, dtalkshop, FARAFINA, Dm Audiovisuals, Remof Communications and the Half-way-Home. He was also, until very recently, Assistant Publicist with Common Ground Productions... more

Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday the 13th and Paraskavedekatriaphobia

Welcome, listeners, to this special FRIDAY THE 13TH edition of your favorite blog-dio programme, TALKING BULL! Before we go on, let's hear a message from our sponsors, TONGUECORP, makers of false teeth, toothbrushes, ventriloquimeters and truth detectors.


Welcome back, it's me, your popular and regular host, B. Shit. Today is Friday the 13th! Really, I shouldn't have agreed to host your favorite show today, due to the numinous implications of this day, but the truth is that an empty pocket is far worse bad luck than any numinous numeral! (In case you didn't know, I am paid per show!) Sorry for the digression. Back to our big story! Let's hear what our inhouse expert, and author of the Online Times bestselling compendium, Everything Under The Sun, Prof. Wikipedia*, has to say. Over to you, Prof!

Thank you, B... Good day viewers and fans of this absolutely fantabulous Friday show on Blogistan's No 1 Radio Station, WWBS. I'm glad to be here, I tell you! Did you know that a Friday occurring on the 13th day of any month is considered to be a day of bad luck in English and Portuguese-speaking cultures around the globe. Similar superstitions exist in some other traditions. In Greece and Spain, for example, Tuesday the 13th takes the same role. The fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskavedekatriaphobia, a specialized form of triskaidekaphobia, a phobia (fear) of the number thirteen.


Paraskavedekatriaphobia - the scientific term for The Fear of Friday the 13th! It's a specialized form of triskaidekaphobia, which is a phobia (fear) of the number thirteen.

Oh dear, what a mouthful! Why the hell don't they just leave it at "The Fear of Friday the 13th?

Beats me too, B... [chuckles again]...wait for this, do you know what the scientific term for the fear of long words is?

Longrammarphobia? [chuckles proudly]

[laughter] No.... Hippopotomonstrosesquippedalio... damn short word, in my opinion

[Both laugh for five minutes]

[Prof continues] ... Back to what we were saying...In the Spanish-speaking world, it is Tuesday the 13th (as well as Tuesdays in general) that brings bad luck; a proverb runs En martes, ni te cases ni te embarques, simply meaning: On Tuesday, neither get married nor start a journey.

Different strokes for different folks, I'd say...

Precisely... a reflection of the fetishistic inclinations of Homo Sapienic species... Did you know that in Formula 1, there is no car with the number 13. The number has been removed, after 2 drivers were killed in crashes — both driving cars numbered 13.

Don't cars without the number 13 regularly crash as well...?

Good question! They do! ... And did you know, B, that infamous serial killers Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer and Theodore Bundy all have 13 letters in their names...

Jeez! Thank Goodness "B. Shit" is only... hol'on a sec... yeah... only five letters [deafening sigh of relief]... if it had been thirteen letters I'd have ripped you apart with my bare hands right here in the studio right now... ha ha ha... well... thank you loads Prof... once again, we have benefited from your immense wealth of wisdom. We hope you'll join us again next week to impart to us out of your bottomless well of bull...

Sure, B, my pleasure to be on Talking Bull anytime

Uh, Prof, before you go, any last words for our listeners?

Yeah, just remembered this... it'd interest them to hear that Fidel Castro and Wole Soyinka were both born on "Friday the 13th", Fidel on Friday, Aug 13, 1926, and Soyinka on July 13, 1934... and wait for this, Tupac Shakur died on Friday the 13th - September 13, 1996...

[Sudden Power Failure in the studio, the sound of static fills the airwaves...]

*All facts courtesy of Wikipedia

Thursday, October 12, 2006


I keep stumbling upon new writing deadlines. When I should be taking a break from writing, or writing the novel I'm supposed to have been writing for ages now, I find myself sniffing out (yet) another Call (or set of Calls) For Submissions to keep busy with.

Yesterday I mailed off (snail-mail) my entries for two poetry competitions, one in Ireland (Feile Filiochta), the other in the US (Dorothy Rosenberg Poetry Prize). I hardly make any snail mail submissions - which is not my fault since 99.5% of the submissions I make are to magazines/journals/anthologies outside Nigeria - outside Africa in fact, and it's a bother to have to mail off loads of work using the unreliable Nigerian postal service, NIPOST. Not to talk of the near-impossibility of getting IRCs (I doubt if we have them here in Nigeria, seriously!), and of course the cost of international postage. Email is far easier for me, so I mostly confine myself to those submissions I can make by email.

Good thing is, quite a number of excellent journals accept email submissions: Callaloo (for writers submitting from outside the US, but you have to query first), The New Yorker (surprised?), Glimmer Train, McSweeneys, Prospect (UK), Magma, and many small press journals in the UK and US.

If one is thinking of submitting to The Paris Review, Wasafiri, Sable, Stand, Acumen, The Rialto, Ambit, etc, you have to do it the old-fashioned :))) way. One way I worked (walked?) around the snail mail sub problem was to leave some money with a friend in the UK (on my visit in 2005), and then email my work (already laid out properly, of course) from Nigeria to him for printing and postage. I've submitted to Wasafiri, Faber and Faber African Short Story Anthology, TinHouse, that way. [Wasafiri was the only success :)))]

Back to my deadlines talk. Weighing on my mind at this time are the following deadlines:
1) Callaloo (one of 4 special 30th Anniversary issues): December 1
2) BBC African Performance (Radioplay) Competition: December 15
3) Castello di Duino International Poetry Competition: January 2007 (I got a "Noteworthy Poet" commendation in the 2006 edition, and my work is due to appear in the competition anthology)

And then of course there are a thousand and one other magazines I'd like to submit to: Paris Review, Wasafiri (again), Atlantic Monthly, and the big-name British Poetry mags (Ambit, Stand, The Rialto, Poetry Review, etc). And yes, almost forgot this, the Guardian (UK) poetry workshop deadline is Sunday (I'm a big fan - but it's been a Love most unrequited, so far...)

At this rate, I might never face that novel - not when I could always write more poetry and short stories! But I guess one could combine everything. I don't need to shut off every other thing to write a novel, do I? Well, I dunno the answer to that, since I have never written a novel before....ok, ok, ...that'd be true if we disregarded my THE MYSTERY OF THE DISAPPEARING BIRD (or was it a cat?) - featuring the Five (or seven?) Mystery-Trailers (it was my brother who created the "Down-Trackers"). I wrote that Blytonesque opus when I was twelve, and it, very sadly, remains unpublished... sob, sob. The world doesn't know how much fine literature it is missing...sad, sad...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

"We Wish You Luck" and other Weapons of Mass "Declining"

Two emails in my inbox this morning had the subject-line :

Re: Poetry Submission, ---- --------

Those are the sort of emails that you read with the four (or is it forty?) chambers of your heart cramped into your mouth.

You find yourself at a fork in the road. One way (a snailtrail) leads to Congraturica ; the other (an autobahn) to Tryagainistan. Of course you know which way you're supposed to take, but often find yourself cruising helplessly down the other way...

The emails in question both decided to sleep facing the same place (that's a loose transation of a Yoruba proverb) - rejections both, one from SmallSpiralNotebook, the other from Stride Magazine. Other (very) recent rejection notes sitting in my inbox: Orbis, MIPOesias, 2GQ and Magma.

NB. I have had work previously published in Orbis 132 (2005) and Magma 35 (2006).

I'll end with an few words from BroodingPoet, whose blog I stumbled on this morning: "...Writing, more often than not, is about failure and fortitude. Countless talented students of writing will find happiness elsewhere. Countless young poets will send off their poems, expecting—as I once did—instantaneous praise. Few poets deserve such praise. Rather, success is built upon failures: the failures of ambition, the failures of luck, the failures of timing, and the failures of placement. For me, I've learned from those failures, and more, I've learned that, in truth, a rejection isn't a failure. It's just a rejection."

Monday, October 09, 2006

It's my work, but I won't be able to read it

An "exciting" email in my hotmail account this morning:

Hi ----

Please send me your surface mailing address so I can mail your copy of the Karogs journal. ASAP,

I hope all goes well with you and family,

Best , Remi


What the above means is that my work (poetry) appears in "Karogs", Latvia's (Latvia is a country in Northern Europe, btw, not a pop diva!) major literary review (print) of the arts which is dedicated to the translation of contemporary and continental literatures in the country. There is an online version of the journal here.

The issue in which my poetry appears is a special issue focused on "Nigerian Literature in the Last Decade", and is edited by Nigerian poet and university teacher Remi Raji . Remi's collection Lovesong for my Wasteland (Bookcraft, 2005) was shortlisted earlier in the year for the inaugural $20,000 Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature.

So I may now proudly add to my BIO : His work has been translated into Latvian! :)))

It's my work, but I won't be able to read it. That might mean a few lessons in Latvian in the months ahead. See ya la'er! I'm off to the Latvian Embassy!

Ahmed Yerima wins 2006 Nigeria Prize for Literature

Ahmed Yerima, CEO, National Theatre is the 2006 Nigeria Prize for Literature Laureate
Ahmed Yerima moments after winning the $20,000 2006 NLNG Literature Prize (Drama)

2005 Nigeria Prize for Literature longlisted author (poetry), Chiedu Ezeanah (facing camera) - congratulating 2006 winner, Yerima, moments after the announcement.

Theodora Akachi Ezeigbo, award-winning novelist, short story writer and Professor of English, University of Lagos.

Wale Okediran, medical doctor, parliamentarian, novelist and National President, Association of Nigerian Authors


I arrived late at the Muson Centre, venue of the 2006 Nigeria Prize for Science and Nigerian Prize for Literature Award Ceremony. I travelled out of Lagos Saturday morning, intending to return in time for the ceremony. The IV said 6:00p.m. I was delayed by a traffic jam along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway (caused by an accident), finally arriving at Muson at a few minutes to 9p.m. I assumed I had missed "most" of the programme, but it turns out I hadn't. I sat at the same table with Uduma Kalu, poet and arts journalist with The Guardian; and Henry Akubuiro, editor of the Sunday Sun Literary Pages. (I was meeting Henry for the first time, though he has published my work in his pages. he actualy informed me that a poem of mine was appearing in the next day's (Sunday October 8) issue of The Sun. (The poem Love & Death appears, beneath an interview with Ivorian writer and animator Veronique Tadjo).

I missed Folake Solanke's keynote speech, but not James Iroha's (Gringory of New Masquerade Fame) rib-cracking "address". Every word Gringory uttered drew hearty laughter, and you could feel the audience hanging on to his every word as if their lives depended on it. Evidently his legendary sense of humour preceded him, and completely intimidated whatever (anti-laughter) defences the audience might have been tempted to deploy. A masterful (& unselfconscious) control of the audience was very evident, and he switched effortlessly between his trademark "Gringoringlish" and proper English as he narrated anecdote after anecdote. The old man certainly hasn't lost anything of the (comic) genius that made The New Masquerade (the TV serial where he played "Gringory"), a hit on the Nigerian Television Authority in the 80s. (You may read a James Iroha interview in the Sun Newspaper here)

I missed the early course(s) of the dinner proper, but made up for it with the red and white wines (that wine, oh that wine!) that still abounded, and I didn't miss out on the main course. . And of course I did not miss the announcement of the 2006 Prize Laureate. Immediately Yerima was announced as winner, Osofisan sprang up from his seat and moved over to Yerima's table to embrace him.

T i d b i t s

* I was surprised to hear that Ahmed Yerima has never won an award in his writing career. He has written several plays, and his work is regularly staged in the country. His play Idemili was staged through August at the National Theatre, Lagos, to flag off the (recently revived) drama season.

*Osofisan has won virtually every winnable award. He is the 2006 winner of the prestigious Fonlon-Nichols Award bestowed annually on an African writer for excellence in creative writing and for contributions to the struggles for human rights. You can read a profile of him on Molara's blog. He has been a Judge of the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa, and a former President of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA)

*Interestingly, Osofisan handed over to Yerima as CEO of the National Theatre. Osofisan spent four years as the CEO, but sadly seemed to leave the theatre as moribund as he met it. The imposing structure has lain idle for many years now, bereft of theatrical activity (instead serving as a venue for weddings and stand-up comedy shows), in a state of extensive disrepair (leaking roofs, absence of power supply), and under threat of privatisation by the current Government. Yerima's (recent) emergence as helmsman has seen the beginning of a revival (infrastrural and artistic) at the Theatre. But there is of course still a long way to go in recapturing the glory of the architectural masterpiece (its design was taken from the Palace of Culture and Sports in Wama, Bulgaria) built specially for the 1977 International Festival of Black Arts and Culture, FESTAC.

*Emeka Egwuda is a much younger dramatist, and former Chairman of the Lagos chapter of the Association of Nigerian Authors; and relatively unknown outside the Lagos literary community. He has published plays and children's books. He was shortlisted for his play Esoteric Dialogues

*Culture Activist Toyin Akinosho in his Artsville column in the Sunday Guardian of September 10 wondered aloud why Osofisan decided to enter for NLNG single-work $20,000. He argued that Osofisan should have left the jostling to younger writers - and instead contented himself with garnering recognition for LIFETIME achievement. It is of course an indisputable fact that Osofisan is Nigeria (perhaps even Africa's) most accomplished playwright after Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka. He has actually produced more plays than Soyinka, and is more widely performed (at leats in Nigeria)

*From next year, the Nigeria Prize for Literature will have a monetary value of $30,000. It is the turn of Children's Literature next year. The prize rotates annually amongst the genres of Fiction, Poetry, Drama and Children's Literature.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

221 Ways of Killing a Human Being

Ogaga Ifowodo had a reading at Jazzhole, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, last Saturday (September 30). The attendance was quite good, it turned out to be a gathering of writers, journalists, and art enthusiasts. Ike Oguine, Toni Kan, Araceli Aipoh, Niran Okewole, Chiedu Ezeanah, Austyn Njoku, Wumi Raji, Maxim Uzoatu, Uduma Kalu, James Eze, Akeem Lasisi, Chike Ofili... Conspicuously absent, however, was Odia Ofeimun.

Ogaga took us on a journey through his non-fiction (memoir-in-progress) and his poetry. He read an excerpt from his prison memoirs (it appears in New Writing 14, edited by Helon Habila and Lavinia Greenlaw), before moving through his poetry collections, HOMELAND AND OTHER POEMS, MADIBA, AND THE OIL LAMP.

All 3 of Ogaga's collections have won one or the other of Nigeria's most prestigious poetry prizes... his latest (3rd) collection of poetry THE OIL LAMP (published by the Africa World Press) explores the environmental degradation in the Niger Delta... he read poems from all three collections (HOMELAND AND OTHER POEMS, MADIBA, THE OIL LAMP).

Ogaga lives in the US now, he's currently on a Doctorate in Literature program at Cornell University. He studied Law at the University of Benin and was one of the most committed activists in the fight against military dictatorship during and after his University days -- earning a stint in prison (along with novelist and journalist Akin Adesokan) in the late nineties under the tyranny of the late dictator Sani Abacha.

What made the reading strikingly engaging was the fact that Ogaga was not just reading poems borne of the (quotidian) interplay of Muse and Imagination. In Ogaga's creative offerings, Experience and Memory are very active ingredients. Everything he writes about he has experienced; he has been (and still is, I guess) an activist, and he has been a prisoner (which in my opinion validates his poetic tribute to Madiba)

In addition, Ogaga hails from Oleh, in the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria. Perhaps the only thing that surpasses Oleh's oil wealth (hundreds of oil wells) is the poverty of its people. He regaled us with first-hand tales of the fight against dictatorship, a vivid reminder of Nigeria's very recent -- and not altogether completely exorcised -- "darkest" days. One of his most moving narrations dealt with Major Okuntimo, the arrowhead of the military junta's murderous invasion and intervention in Ogoni Land (which culminated in Ken Saro Wiwa's death).

Ogaga narrated how Okuntimo had at a press conference during those dark days boasted of his knowledge of 221 ways of killing a human being. In Ogaga's poetry "Okuntimo" becomes "Kitemo" and in the mouth of a narrator of one of the poems becomes "Kill-them-all". The power of poetry to portray (and blend) horror and humour without obscuring hope/healing. We have survived the dark days (hopefully), but Ogaga's poetry remains a potent reminder of where we are coming from, and an encouragement to us, that we should never fail to send our present (and future) to the past's dark classrooms, to learn those lessons that cannot be learnt anywhere else.

The Nigeria Prize for Literature Award Ceremony

My IV for the 2006 Nigeria Prize for Literature and Nigeria Prize for Science Grand Award Night arrived today.

Date: 7TH OCTOBER 2006

Guest Speaker:


Guest of Honour:


Dance Drama:


The 2006 Science Prize Laureate has already been announced. He is Prof. Michael Umale Adikwu. The Literature Prize Luareate will be announced at the dinner. This year's prize is for drama (the prize rotates yearly between fiction, poetry, drama and children's literature).

The 2006 Literature Shortlist
-Mr. Emeka Egwuda (former Chairman of the Association of Nigerian Authors - Lagos State Chapter)
-Professor Femi Osofisan (Former General Manager, National Theatre, Lagos, and Nigeria's most performed - and perhaps most accomplished playwright after Wole Soyinka.
-Dr. Ahmed Yerima (General Manager, National Theatre, Lagos)

This is the 3rd year of the existence of the Nigeria Prize (for Literature and Science) and is the first Award Ceremony I will be attending.