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 oĂ«nskynlik ’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.