NOBODY DRINKS DOGONYARO JUICE ANYMORE

I used to dread nightfall. Not because of the imaginary shadows I could have sworn lurked in the dark. It was also not necessarily because of the cats and rats that ran around the public toilet area. I used to dread nightfall because my mother made sure none of us children would have dinner until he or she had drank to the last drop his or her apportioned cup of dogonyaro (neem tree) juice. Continue reading “NOBODY DRINKS DOGONYARO JUICE ANYMORE”

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KABAFEST: AN INFERNO OR A FLASH?

From tomorrow, Kaduna will be lit up, courtesy of the Kaduna Book and Arts Festival (KABAFEST) which has assembled a dozen literary stars. It might be premature to start wondering whether it would be just a momentary flash or an inferno that would burn on even years from now. Time will tell. Continue reading “KABAFEST: AN INFERNO OR A FLASH?”

WAR AGAINST MECHANISED KITCHENWARE

Despite the fact that every new kitchenware that comes into the home chops off a portion of the man’s stature, today’s man has not yet realised that the greatest threat to his manhood is not the feminist movement but mechanised kitchenware. Continue reading “WAR AGAINST MECHANISED KITCHENWARE”

GOODBYE TO THE AGE OF WHISTLING.

Seventeen years after the death of my father, I still have not met anybody that could have matched, or beat, him at whistling. I still have not met another person who could work their jaw muscles and other bucco-labial organs to produce that deep and somber moan of the accordion; that pitched cry of the violin; that bark of the trumpet or that wail of the electric guitar.
Continue reading “GOODBYE TO THE AGE OF WHISTLING.”

SEX WORKERS: A Marginalised Group in Nigerian Literature.

There is hardly any other group that has been – and continues to be – underrepresented in Nigerian literature than sex workers. The marginalization of this class is so obvious that one would think that every new Nigerian writer passes through some confirmation rites during which he or she swears to perpetuate the age-old policy. Continue reading “SEX WORKERS: A Marginalised Group in Nigerian Literature.”

THE BURDEN OF POETISING (Part 2)

What happens to a dream deferred?” Langston Hughes

 

When Walter Lowenfels and Michael Fraenkel began their short-lived publishing venture before 1930, they hoped to publish artists anonymously thereby highlighting art rather than the ego of the artist. Noble as the movement was, its eventual demise could be largely traced to a paucity of contributions by artists, a great many of whom must have considered anonymity too exorbitant a price to pay knowing that their success in the arts industry depended highly on their fame. Continue reading “THE BURDEN OF POETISING (Part 2)”

THE BURDEN OF POETISING (Part 1)

Can we agree that there exists this realm of creativity into which the artist’s mind must soar or descend before they can create? Can we also agree that this realm is a ‘restricted area’, accessed only by those minds that have found ways to locate the access ports, which might be what the music composer, Yanni, means by ‘the keys to the imagination’? Is it impossible to imagine poets as miners of imageries who have to erect derricks over the hard shell that incases the realm of creativity? Is it not reasonable to believe that the poet’s first attempts will either drill too deep, to reach the dregs, or go too shallow, to suck up the watery parts? If so, would it then not be unfair or premature to judge poets based on their not-so-impressive debut works since only through constant practice and perseverance can one master the art of projecting the shaft to the proper degree? Continue reading “THE BURDEN OF POETISING (Part 1)”

AFTER THE ELECTIONS, THEN…?

“It’s an election year,” people kept saying. “That’s how conventions turn out on election years,” some of them added as if it should justify every shortcoming that beset the recently held convention of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) at Kaduna.

The convention offered opportunity for old friends to reunite and also for social media friends to finally get to meet in person, yet the social aspect of the program was obviously subdued by the politically charged atmosphere. Every group of two or more persons was most probably campaigning for their preferred candidates rather than discussing literature and the ways to advance it. Not a few attendees (especially first-timers, including yours truly) were disappointed by this turn-out. It was so bad that once the elections were conducted and the winners had emerged, the convention literally came to an end. For some reasons I cannot say, the winning entries for the various prizes were not announced. Imagine the disappointment of all the shortlisted authors who had hoped to be declared winners and get to pose for photographs with friends and well-wishers. Imagine the disappointment of millions of people who spent that entire night combing facebook and twitter for updates on the prize result. Bear in mind that this has nothing to do with the Local Organizing Committee which did everything they could to beat the odds and see that the convention actually held.

Now that the elections are over, the new administration must see to it that the next convention will not suffer such embarrassments as shortage of financial (and other) report copies. They must see to it that state chapters of the association are better supported both in cash and in kind to come up with and carry out projects that will help members’ career and also attract the thousands (if not millions) of writers outside the fold. At the last convention, the outgone president stated categorically that his administration would be bequeathing millions of Naira to her successor. I think that can get a lot of things moving.

Now that the elections are over, the new administration as one among her top priorities, the movement of the association’s land project from the drawing board to the ground. The past administration must be commended for the giant strides she took towards reclaiming portions of the land which had been lost to both human and natural forces.

Now that the elections are over, the current administration must do all it can to not betray the confidence of those that had trusted her with their votes. The administration must strive to do better than her predecessor in every way. Most of all, efforts must be made towards intellectualizing ANA more than politicizing it. Needless to say, the political aspect of the problem plagues the association down to the chapter level. You have people more concerned with occupying positions than actually moving the association forward.

Now that the elections are over, I expect ANA to start thinking of doing things differently from the past. It was obvious that a number of the shortlisted authors were not at the convention probably due to logistical reasons. One simple thing the association can do is decide henceforward to foot the transportation and boarding cost of shortlisted authors. I believe that the association is capable of doing that. If Saraba Magazine did that back in 2011, then I wonder what excuse ANA will want to put up in 2016. In addition, it wouldn’t be unreasonable if the winning prize money was increased to something above One Hundred Thousand Naira, and also if some provisions would be made for the first and second runners-up? We are talking about prizes organized by the largest association of writers in Nigeria and probably in the entire continent!

THE QUORUM IS BEING FORMED

If you are not HERE, it then means you are NOT here. HERE is Kaduna. HERE is the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Convention, 2015. HERE is the gathering of eagles and falcons, and of eaglets too. It is one of those rare occasions that bring together under one roof a good number of the literati, both established and emerging voices, both writers and publishers, and even the critics. HERE is the roll call, sort of.

It is good that the Convention has finally kicked off despite the slight setback it suffered earlier on. The Local Organizing Committee ably headed by Friday John Abah, and the Chairman of the Kaduna Chapter of the body, Usho Smith Adawa, must be commended for their immense effort. ANA is the umbrella body of Nigerian authors (creative writers, mainly), even though her membership list will hardly claim to represent half of actual Nigerian writers as untold millions are still outside the fold either because they don’t know about the existence of ANA or because they have lost faith in the body. As such, much still needs to be done to win back the confidence of the disillusioned and to also inform as many as are still out there in the dark.

Making it more interesting is that this is an election year and two contenders stand out: Denja Abdulahi and BM Dzukogi both from Niger State Chapter. You must have been aware of campaigns and pseudo-campaigns going on both at your State Chapters and on social media. I don’t want to comment on the campaign style of some persons, which is actually below the belt. Since yours faithfully will not be voting (not because I am apolitical, but because I am disenfranchised), I can only pray that the voters shun religious and ethnic sentiments and elect someone that will best serve the interest of the body.

I am happy that Kaduna is hosting this year’s convention because it affords me the opportunity of getting to meet with some of my social media friends for the first time. Dami Ajayi tells me he will be (unavoidably) absent. I would have taken him to go see DR Ink as himself and Adebiyi Olusolape did to me some years back in Lagos. But there is consolation. Servio Gbadamosi is already here as I want to believe is Su’eddie Agema.

I have read some of the books shortlisted for this year’s prizes and I dare say that they all good to clinch the trophies. Merely making it thus far is proof enough that you are remarkable. Below is the shortlist for this year’s prizes.

ANA PRIZE FOR DRAMA

  1. The Last Ilari –  Tunji Ajibade
  2. The Last Prophecy of Omu Nwagboka – Obumse Amechi Chiedu
  3. Unstable – Dickson Ekhaguere

ANA PRIZE FOR POETRY

  1. Blazing Moon – Nwachukwu Egbunike
  2. Clinical Blues – Dami Ajayi
  3. Euphoria of Sophistry – Terseer Samuel Baki
  4. A Tributary in Servitude – Servio Gbadamosi

ANA PRIZE FOR PROSE FICTION

  1. Bongel – Maryam Bobi
  2. Don’t Die on Wednesday – Michael Afenfia
  3. Long Shadows – Mnguember V. Sylvester
  4. A Pelican of the Wilderness – Jacqueline U. Agweh
  5. Satans and Shaitans – Obinna Udenwe

ABUBAKAR GIMBA FOR SHORT STORIES

  1. Fire on the Tip of Ice – Halima Aliyu
  2. Smithereens of Death – Olubunmi Familoni
  3. The Bottom of another Tale – Su’eddie Vershima Agema

ANA/CHILDREN’S WRITING PRIZE

  1. Ada Marries a Palm Tree and Other Stories –  Charry A. Onwu-Otuyelu
  2. The Leprous King – Daniella Clinton
  3. The Magic Mirror – Nnenna Ihebom

BEARDS: THE HAVES AND THE HAVE-NOT.

As far as growing beards goes, I was a late bloomer. At eighteen growing beards was still a recurrent feature in my list of prayer points. While some among my peers already had forested chins, all I could boast of was scanty shrub. But eventually, (praise the Lord!), I became fully bearded. By ‘bearded’ I don’t necessarily mean that I groom beards. I just mean that it is clearly evident that I am capable of keeping beards if I so wish to.
Beards have been, and in many cases continue to be, significant in virtually every field of human endeavor. As such, many of the greatest shapers of human life were/are bearded. Can you picture a beardless Karl Marx or Charles Darwin or Sigmund Freud? Can you even imagine a beardless Jesus Christ?
Don’t even begin to imagine what some men (adolescents and teenagers, mostly) do for beards. As an adolescent, I cannot deny to have done things too. When we got wind of a certain hair product called Hair Fertilizer which the seller swore could cause hair to sprout even on the head of a tortoise and vulture, we saved money and bought it. When Henry (A.K.A Hairy) whose mother sold ogogoro hinted us that he owed his hairiness to his habit of mixing the local gin with his body lotion, we raise the money and handed it to him to supply us some of the drink. We would wait for him at an uncompleted building down the road where he would show up with a shot of the gin which some of us would rub on our cheeks, chins and upper lips and on such other areas we wanted the hairs to grow. Needless to say, some of us took the liberty to also apply some of the local gin to the tongue. That was before someone (I can’t recall who, exactly) sold us the idea that methylated spirit had the power to pull out hair from skin pores the way midwives pull out babies from the womb.
Only a man can understand the humiliation that sometimes comes with being beardless or ‘un-beardable’, just as only a woman can understand the agony of still having a flat chest at age eighteen. The haves find that they have alternatives to choose from: they can either keep their beards or shave them off. The haves don’t miss any opportunity to flaunt it. They give their barbers elaborate instructions on how they like their beards to be carved. They claim it makes a lot of difference to have the barber devote another ten or so minutes to taking care of the facial hair after cutting the one on the head. The haves can hardly stay their hands from shooting up to stroke their beards even during religious practices, most times to the chagrin of the have-not.
Studies will readily prove that beardless men have a higher propensity of the most irritable. At the slightest provocation you hear them blurt, “Look at this boy of yesterday! Just because you have grown beards you now think we are mates, eh? Do you think I am a small boy?”
The beardless small-statured man, who is easily mistaken for a ‘small boy’, is the most miserable among men. He is derided by the bearded twenty-one year old. He is pushed about and even knocked on the head from behind and then apologized to after his old face shows he is an adult ‘man’. To minimize these mistakes, the beardless small-statured man adopts certain techniques. For instance he must dress in a way that distinguishes him from the teenager and then, he must almost always appear in public with his woman who is usually bosomy. Mind you, it is an indubitable fact that little men have a thing for large women, but that is a topic for another day.
Sometimes it can be hard not to think of bearded men as over-bearing. But you must understand that their attitude is beyond them. You must understand that this is psychology and biology at work.
And then, there is serious need to respect the beardless man (whether he is your man or a total stranger). Once again, I don’t mean the man that shaves his beard. I refer, of course, to the man that for whatever reason doesn’t have the capability to grow beards even if he wishes to. You need to make him know that you understand his agony. Always use ‘sir’ or ‘senior’ when addressing them. The smaller their stature, the more respect you must accord them.