Sunday, July 30, 2006

globetrotter - a poem

© Amatoritsero Ede

*taken from TOK: Writing the New Toronto Helen Walsh ed. (Toronto: Zephyr Press, 2006)

*Reproduced with permission.
**Image: courtesy of the artist

diana evans tours nigeria

Diana omo Evans tours Nigeria

Diana omo Evans won last year's inaugural £10,000 Orange Prize for New Writers with her debut novel about a set of twins, 26a.

Set in Nigeria & the UK, 26a also won a Betty Trask award & Decibel Award, receiving a nomination for the Guardian First Book Award.

Book lovers in Nigeria can catch up with the author on these dates...

Saturday 5 August @ Jazzhole, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi - Lagos 7-9pm

Wed 9 August @ British Council, 10 Emir's Palace Road, Kano - 6 - 8pm

Thursday 10 August @ British Council, Plot 2935, IBB Way, Maitama, Abuja - 6 - 8pm

Friday 11 August @ Signature Gallery (Abuja Literary Society), Ademola Adetokunbo Crescent, Abuja - 6:30 - 9:00pm

Saturday 12 August @ The Media Store, Silverbird Galleria (in partnership with ABC Bookclub), Victoria Island, Lagos - 4-6pm

All events are free.

Further info at Cassava Republic

*Author's Image by MW; taken 17 April 2005, South Bank, London.

globetrotter - contd

© Amatoritsero Ede
*taken from TOK: Writing the New Toronto Helen Walsh ed. (Toronto: Zephyr Press, 2006)
*Reproduced with permission


I smiled when I received a text message from a poet friend, congratulating me on my first 'cover'. My friend's just proud, I guess, as I share the cover of the 1st Poet's Letter print mag with 11 other poets.

The magazine launches @ the London Poetry Festival, Wednesday 23rd of August - RADA, London @ 6.30pm.

For more info, please visit the Poet's Letter website.

ngugi in london

Ngugi wa Thiong'o... Wizard of the Crow

One of Africa's greatest writers, exiled from Kenya for 22 years because of his highly political and acclaimed work including the bestselling novel Petals of Blood, Ngugi returns with his first novel in 20 years, Wizard of the Crow. Set in a fictional modern African state, it is a magisterial, acerbic and humorous landmark of post-colonial literature. Ngugi will be discussing his life and his work with journalist Maya Jaggi.
Date: Thurday 10 August 2006
Time: 7pm
Venue: 7pm, doors open at 6.30pm Congress Hall, Congress Centre, 28 Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3LS
Info & ticket information: Foyles

lagos ana

Lagos Writers Celebrate Patron's Day

The annual Patron’s Day of Association of Nigerian Authors, Lagos Branch (ANALagos) holds on Saturday, August 12, 2006. The Patron’s Day is a day set aside by creative writers resident in Lagos, under the umbrella of ANA Lagos, for thecelebration of the few big-hearted individuals and organisations that have made meaningful contributions towards the advancement of Literature, and the Association.

This year’s edition is quite special, as reflected in its highlights, which include the formal investiture of Chief Chris Ojomo as Patron of the Branch.Chief Ojomo is an engineer who has proved himself very intellectual, creative and assiduous. He is expected to be the second active Patron of the Branch; whose only committed Patron, up till now, is Mr Tayo Aderinokun, MD, GuarantyTrust Bank PLC.

The other highlights of the special event include poetry performances, readingsfrom creative works of new and established writers, and a special presentationof a thrilling play entitled OUR LANDLORD, written by Osaletin Sylvester Isekhaigbe, directed and performed byOnileagbon Theatre Troupe.

Venue: National Gallery of Art (Aina Onabolu Complex), National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos

Time: 1.00pm Prompt.

While authors and publishers are advised to bring their publications forexhibition and sale at the get-together which our new patron has promised tohost, we’d like to implore all ANA Lagos members who are yet to formalize orupdate their membership, to pay up on or before the event.

New ANA Lagos Secretariat
This is to remind all members of the creative community that the Secretariat ofANA Lagos has been moved from 9, Eric Moore Close, Surulere, to 31, Shomade Crescent, (Babajide Bus Stop), Off Alhaju Masha Street, Shitta, Surulere.


Folu Agoi
Chairman, ANA Lagos

ede... more poetry

Reproduced with permission

africa centre closes

Press Release

Africa Centre, London, closes for refurbishment

In line with plans for the redevelopment of the Africa Centre, with effect from the end of July, all routine activity inside the building will cease while a series of site investigations take place and architectural plans are completed.

The purpose of the redevelopment process – enabled by a new funding dispensation from Arts Council England – is to guarantee that the institution’s main facilities can effectively serve the Centre’s mission as a flagship Arts Centre in Europe, and at the same time provide income that will ensure sustainability. Recent financial difficulties have led to the deterioration of the Centre’s Covent Garden building, hindering the full and effective use of the facilities and affecting programming.

Since being launched in 1964, the Centre has played an important role in projecting a positive face of Africa in London, and providing a focal point for all forms of cultural and social activities related to Africa, through meetings, exhibitions and performance arts.

The Council of Management, reconstituted in 2004 with a new Chair and found by the Charities Commission report of May 2005 to be "capable of effective management to take the charity forward", is determined that this role should be continued in the future, free from the uncertainties of the past twenty years.

The redevelopment process will take between 18 months and three years. During this period, Africa Centre activities, including ‘Talking Africa’, its radio programme, and ‘Africa Visions’, the annual literature programme and tour, will continue, while other projects will be developed as part of the process of charting the Centre’s future programming vision.

The Council is committed to keeping all its various stakeholders informed of developments at the Centre, and will be issuing updates on a regular basis. It would also like to assert in the strongest terms possible that there is no intention to close down or sell off the building. The Council is fully committed to retaining and developing the King Street site, which has been one of the main strengths of the Centre in its forty-year history, and offers an unrivalled shop window for Africa in central London.

Council of Management of the Africa Centre

For more information, please contact: Oliver Tunde Andrews, Chair, Council of Management, The Africa Centre, tel: 020-7836-1973; or e-mail

Monday, July 24, 2006


Still on Caine Prize related matters, here's an excerpt from Love Poems, for which Helon Habila became the 1st Nigeria to win the award, back in 2001...

But it was Lomba's bowdlerization of Sappho's 'Ode' that brought the superintendent to the cell door:

A peer of goddesses she seems to me
The lady who sits over against me
Face to face,
Listening to the sweet tones of my voice,
And the loveliness of my laughing.
It is this that sets my heart fluttering
In my chest,
For if I gaze on you but for a little while
I am no longer master of my voice,
And my tongue lies useless
And a delicate flame runs over my skin
No more do I see with my eyes;
The sweat pours down me
I am all seized with trembling
And I grow paler than the grass
My strength fails me
And I seem little short of dying.

Read Love Poems online...

caine prize 2006

Darrel Bristow-Bovey - the other South African on the Caine shortlist & the only man - was in the running for his dialogue-driven short story on Johannesburg's criminal underbelly, A Joburg Story.

Kenyan writer Muthoni Garland signs an autograph at the South Bank reading. Garland was short-listed for her story, Tracking the Scent of My Mother.

Academic & literary translator, Wangui wa Goro (left) poses with writer, Laila Lalami, author of Hopes and Other Dangerous Pursuits. A Moroccan, Lalami manages the literary blog Moorish Girl. She was short-listed for her short story, The Fanatic.

Here posing with Kadija George (left) is Nigerian Sefi Atta who made the short-list for her short story, The Last Trip. Atta is the author of the novel, Everything Good Will Come. Kadija George organised Atta readings in the UK in 2005.

*Photos: taken @ the South Bank Centre, London, on 11 July 2006 (c) MW

mary watson, caine winner

Left is Mary Watson, winner of the Caine Prize 2006, photographed at the South Bank Centre, London on 11 July.

Watson, a South African, won the prize for Jungfrau. The story is taken from her collection of short stories, Moss (Kwela Books).

My report on the reading is available online - for a week.

Others at the reading, Ebun Olatoye of True Love (W. Africa) magazine, poses (right) with short-listed Darrel Bristow-Bovey.

Writer Ike Anya is also shown with literary activist Kadija George. "But I'm not famous!" George demurred when I was about to photograph her. "A lot of people are famous because of your efforts," I told her.

Images: MW

ojaide: truth or hokum?

A recent interview given by the poet, Tanure Ojaide, has got Nigeria's so called 'younger writers' in a proper huff. Ojaide had much to say about his work, and the country's poetic production in the main, but it is what said about the '3rd or 4th generation' of Nigerian writers that is in contention. In short, Ojaide declares that:

"There’s still no new generation you can identify in Nigerian poetry now."

There have been many responses to Ojaide's views on the younger poets, including this one, by Obi Nwakanma:

TANURE Ojaide’s “bombshell”.... turned out to be quite a whimper. The poet neither provided new, thoughtful insight into the nature of writing, nor did he advance a vital, compelling examination of the social issues around Nigerian literary culture particularly, or its unique expression within the tense intermingling that frames literary production in every era, and how that is shaping critical response to Nigerian literature in the larger backdrop of developments across cultures and within new currents.

What came out of the Ojaide interview is a rather glib statement, in which Ojaide dismissed new Nigerian writers as “copycats.” For a poet, that is a very drab worldview. Tanure Ojaide was responding to a statement made by Akachi Ezeigbo about a “fourth generation” of Nigerian writers. Ojaide’s answer needs reproduction here: “I still believe” he said “there is no new generation yet…when you look at Wumi Raji, he’s basically Niyi Osundare. When you look at Akeem Lasisi, he’s basically Niyi Osundare. There are some poets I read they write after my poems. This is to say they haven’t got a voice of their own. We shouldn’t deceive ourselves. There is still no new generation you can identify in Nigerian poetry now.”

Ojaide further says: “if you place my latest collections, maybe, Water Passion and Oil Remedies or House of Words, side by side with what the new poets are writing, you can hardly see any generation gap as you can see between us and the Soyinka generation. So, I think our generation continues - what I call the New African Poetry. It’s too late for anybody to separate them. I’ve read Maik Nwosu, Ogaga Ifowodo and others, and I haven’t seen any difference yet.” And this in fact is the crux for me. Ojaide’s does not even know the generation he’s describing. I suppose he meant Remi Raji, of whom he ascribes an Osundare influence but that is a small matter. In the broader contest of national poetry, there are often continuities.

Read Nwakanma's piece...

music for the off key

Peepal Tree Press & Courttia Newland invite you to the launch party to celebrate the publication of

Music for the Off-Key

on Monday 31 July at Inn on The Green, 3-5 Thorpe Close, Portobello Green, Ladbroke Grove, London W10 5XL Tel: 020 8962 5757
7.30pm – midnight

Music and spoken word performances, deejay and drinks

tel: 0113 2451703 / text 07890 269138

“A long-awaited collection from an outstanding storyteller, Music for the Off-Key is a memorable celebration of the surreal nature of everyday life.”
– Andrea Enisuoh, New Nation

Music for the Off-Key COURTTIA NEWLAND
published 1st August by Peepal Tree Press.
Peepal Tree Press 17 King's Avenue, Leeds LS6 1QS, United Kingdom
Telephone +44 (0)113 2451703

achebe colloquium

Press Release

Achebe Colloquium
In Celebration of Nigerian Excellence

July 14th, 2006
After nearly 18 months, the Chinua Achebe Foundation is about to conclude its ambitious Interview project of conversations with Nigeria’s elder statesmen and women. The final interviews will be published shortly and the entire project will be concluded with an elaborate conversation with Professor Chinua Achebe. This month, the Foundation will turn to a generation of future leaders within Nigeria and the Diaspora, whose life and work offer the hope of solutions to thegrave issues raised by our elders.

In a 5 part series of rigorous intellectual discussions with renowned experts, The Achebe Colloquium will showcase profiles and roundtable discussions of world-class professionals in myriad fields, bringing to the fore levels of excellence and achievement in the younger generation that most Nigerians are not even aware of.

The first Colloquium – Science and Medicine - will be serialized in several media next week. The entire project will be conducted in a manner accessible to the majority of Nigerians and other interested persons around the globe.

We invite our brilliant youth to join us as we ponder our collective future together.

Chinua Achebe Foundation Media Office

8th lagos book & art festival

We write to invite you to the 8th edition of the Lagos Book and Art Festival.

The Festival is an initiative aimed at helping totransform this country's teeming population into true human capital. It has been a major, fixed activity in the arts and culture calendar of Lagos City. Over 25,000 people participated at the Festivalat the same venue last year.

The Committee For Relevant Art (CORA), which organises the Festival, is a 15-year-old club of culture enthusiasts, with the mandate to do all it can, legally, to help boost the scope of appreciation ofall the contemporary arts of Nigeria.

What Does The Book and Art Festival Look Like?

This event is set up in a carnivalesque way to attract families and a public that seeks entertainment. All the last seven editions have been filled with fun and thrills, with a full band performing, galleries displaying art, theatre performances, and a series of art, craft, textile, dancing workshops focused on kids happening all over the open field. The festival features scores of book stands, symposiums on literature and book parties. There are at least four drama skits and full theatre productions on the festival grounds throughout the three-day duration of the Festival. The idea is to make 'The Book' have mass appeal. Ours is not a Book Fair. It's the city's prime culture picnic, an arts festival with a high Book content.

The 8th Book and Art Festival is expected to be opened by Professor Ayo Banjo, former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan. The event's annual book talk, 'My Encounter with the Book', will be delivered byPat Utomi, professor of the social environment of business at the Lagos Business School. There's live music by a cast of highlife and Afrobeat bands, featuring Y. S. Akinnibosun and His Classic Band, Seyi Solagbade and The Black Face, Fatai Rolling Dollar and a host of other music stars.

The intellectual 'core' of the Festival is the symposium that features Book Reviews and a discussion around the infrastructure of reading. This year's colloquium will focus on the female narrative voice in Nigerian literature. A review of four books, including Peju Alatise's Crossroads, Helen Oyeyemi's The Icarus Girl, Mobolaji Adenubi's Splendid and Aracelli Aipoh's No Sense Of Limits will involve a panel of literary scholars and amateur book lovers in a conversation with the four female authors at the Muson Centre.

A full day of the Festival is dedicated to landmark birthday anniversary of four special people; ProfessorBiodun Jeyifo, who turned 60 in January, Professor PatUtomi, who turned 50 in March, Steve Rhodes, who turned 80 in April, Professor Femi Osofisan, who turned 60 in June and Benson Idonije, who turned 70 in June. The play, Moremi (Revised Standard Version), has been pencilled for performance on the second day of the Festival.

We thank you for doing what you do and for your beliefin the possibilities of this country.

Very truly yours,
Toyin Akinosho
Secretary General

Jahman Anikulapo
Programme Chair

Monday, July 17, 2006

unbelief, a poem


I remember a dream lost
Like a fable cast
In a passing wind.
I remember a premature victory
Cry, now uncried,
Since the quintessence we were
Of lifelong companionship
Has made me a liar.
Now I take it all back
The many years I lived a fool
Boasting to every ear
That what we shared
Defied even the gods.

© Nnorom Azuonye

* Unbelief is reproduced with permission

after lapofest

This year's LAPOFEST took place over 2 days earlier this month (7 & 8 July).

Keynote speaker, poet & professor of literature, Niyi Osundare, addresses the festival audience.

Here, Osundare shares a joke or two with participants. Folu Agoi, Chairman of ANA Lagos, is 2nd from right.

Excerpt from Folu Agoi's vote of thanks...
On behalf of all members of the literary community inLagos, under the aegis of Association of NigerianAuthors, Lagos Branch, I’d like to thank allindividuals and institutions whose wonderfulcontributions led to the success of the annual LagosPoetry Festival (LAPOFEST) 2006, held on Friday, July7, 2006 and Saturday, July 8, 2006 at MBA Auditorium,Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, and NationalGallery of Art (Aina Onabolu Complex), National Theatre, Iganmu.

The first class of these great contributors are Prof. Niyi Osundare, who, besides giving the Keynote Address, witnessed every moment of the 2-day carnival;and other Special Guests who also participated fully in the event, including Prof Akachi Ezeigbo, whothrilled the audience at MBA Auditorium, LASU with her exciting recitation; Prof Steve Okecha, more renowned as a chemist and environmentalist; Dr Shambhavi Gopalkrishna of Political Science Department,University of Lagos, who treated the audience to her stirring poetry; Lari Williams, who read copiously from his latest collection of poems entitled, Heartlines on Drumcall; Odia Ofeimun, who gave an electrifying speech, spiced up with some of his oldexhilarating poems; Dr Promise Okekwe, the all-round artist who gave a stimulating speech at the event;Tunji Sotimirin, MC of the event; and the literaryduo, Ebika Anthony (Chairman, Oyo State Branch of Association of Nigerian Authors, ANA Oyo) KunleOkesipe (General Secretary, Centre for Poets).

*Photos: Courtesy of ANA Lagos.

2nd olaudah equiano prize

Press Release

Iroko Productions LLC announces call for entries for the 2nd Annual
Olaudah Equiano Fiction Prize

July 10, 2006, Bay Shore, New York: Iroko Productions LLC today
announces calls for entries for the second annual Olaudah Equiano
Fiction Prize.

The $1000 prize is open to Africans living abroad. It is for an
unpublished short story of 3000 to 5000 words that centers on the
experiences of Africans abroad.

Entries for the second edition of the prize will be accepted from
July 10, 2006 until September 30, 2006. Shortlisted candidates will
be announced November 30, 2006. The winners will be announced on
December 24, 2006.

All stories submitted for the first two years of the competition
will be considered for publication in an anthology of short fiction
devoted to new voices of Africans abroad slated for publication in
the spring of 2007.

The judges for this year's competition are Okey Ndibe of Simon's
Rock College of Bard, Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Wale
Adebanwi, a Bill and Melinda Gates Scholar at the Cambridge
University, England, and Obiwu, Director, The Writing Center,
Central State University, Wilberforce, Ohio.

According to Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo, the CEO of Iroko Productions
LLC, "The first response to Equiano Prize was excellent. This year,
we intend to take the competition to a new height so that by next
year an elegant award ceremony will become part of the event."

Last year's prize was won by Chielozona Eze, an assistant professor
of postcolonial and Anglophone African literature at Northeastern
Illinois University for his short story, "Lessons in German."
The second prize went to Anietie Isong for his story, "How Great
Thou Art
." The $300 2nd prize is endowed by Dr. Chuma Osakwe in the
memory of his late father, Chief S. B. C Osakwe.

The 3rd prize of $100 went to Chika Unigwe for her story, "Confetti,
Glitter, and Ash."

Iroko Productions LLC is the publisher of Children of A Retired God
by Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo. Production works on the film The Last
African Virgin is slated to start in the spring of 2007.

For detailed guideline on Equiano Prize, please visit

Contact Information: Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo
Email: Rudolf@...
Phone: 617-697-1733

tok - anthology

Amatoritsero Ede, award winning poet and author of Collected Poems: A Writer’s Pains & Caribbean Blues (Bremen, Germany: Yeti Press, 1998) - is included in a new anthology, TOK: Writing the New Toronto Book 1. TOK features short fiction and poetry set in Toronto, which brings to life the sights and sounds, taste and smell, of the city through the eyes of its culturally diverse writers.

Ede is writer-in-residence at Carleton University in Canada and is editor of the Sentinel Poetry online. TOK is available to order online.


African Showcase
Friday 21 July from 12 - 6pm;
Saturday 22 July from 10am - 6pm
@ the Willesden Green Library Centre
London NW10
Over 20 stalls plus, music & dance, food & workshops.
African Writers Evening
Friday July 21, 2006; Start Time: 7.30pm

The African Writers' Evening welcomes Hisham Matar (Libya) back after the successful sale of his first manuscript to Penguin (Viking) and subsequent publication of In The Country of Men. He will be joined by the poet Jessica Mkakyera Horn (Uganda) reading from her recently completed manuscript, Speaking in Tongues, which will be released later in the year. Hosted as always by Nii Ayikwei Parkes.
Venue: 22 Betterton Street, Covent Garden, London WC2
entry: £4 / to reservations: events [at] x-bout [dot] com

okigbo conference - call for papers

Postcolonial African Literature and the Ideals of the Open Society/Teaching and Learning from Christopher Okigbo’s Poetry


It is with great pleasure that we write to invite you to participate in the first international conference on the life and poetry of of Africa’s leading 20th century poet, Christopher Ifekandu Okigbo. Co-hosted by Boston University, Harvard University, University of Massachusetts Boston and Wellesley College, the conference is scheduled for September 20-23, in Cambridge and Boston, Massachusetts, USA, as part of the worldwide celebration of the poet’s legacy on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of his birth and 40th anniversary of his death.

As a specialist on Okigbo’s poetry, it is our hope that you will be able to present a paper at the conference. Each paper is expected to explore any aspect of the conference theme (above) with reference to Okigbo’s poetry sequencesFour Canzones, Heavensgate, Siren Limits, Fragments out of the Deluge, Laments of the Silent Sisters, Lament of the Drums, Distances, Lament of the Masks, Dance of the Painted Maidens or Path of Thunder. Contributors may focus on the poet’s representation of the ideals of the open society in one or more specific sequences. Alternative topics for inquiry include the global contexts and influences on Okigbo's work, intimacy and freedoms of _expression, interracial and intercultural exchange, syncretistic ritual, the enigma of cultural origins, etc. as represented in his poetry and life as a whole.

As far as possible, contributions should include a brief summary of the state of Okigbo criticism and a critical examination of the challenges of teaching and learning from the poetry, as they pertain to the topic examined. Titles and 250-word abstracts of proposed papers should be sent not later than January 31, 2007, to Professor Chukwuma Azuonye, Chair, 2007 Okigbo Conference, Africana Studies Department, University of Massachusetts at Boston, 100 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston, MA, 02186-4310, or by e-mail to

The conference (whose varied sessions will hold on the campuses of the hosting colleges) promises to bring together an extraordinary diversity of scholars, writers, artists and public intellectuals united by their common interest in the socially transformational power of Okigbo’s poetic vision. Featured keynote speakers include Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Molara Ogundipe, Ali Mazrui, and Ben Obumselu, and leading Okigbo scholars from across the world, notably Romanus Egudu, Robert Fraser, Uzoma Esonwanne, Gerald Moore, Paul Theroux, Ulli Beier, Dubem Okafor, Dan Izevbaye, Isidore Okpewho, David Richards, and Michael Echeruo.

Preceding the conference will be an exhibition of drawings and paintings inspired by Okigbo’s poetry (beginning from August 18) and a workshop for high school teachers featuring Okigbo’s poetry alongside Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Chimamanda Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus. The art exhibition, scheduled for Boston University, will feature such leading artists as Uche Okeke and Obiora Udechukwu alongside Okigbo’s daughter, Obiageli Okigbo. The teachers’ workshop targeted at promoting diversity and multiculturalism in high school literature and social studies curricula will draw together over 100 teachers who are expected to introduce Okigbo and other African writers into their classrooms.

One of the major highlights of the conference is the first ever joint appearance on a public forum of the two women closest to Okigbo’s heart—his wife, Safinat (Judith Sefi Attah) and daughter, Ibrahimat (Obiageli Okigbo). Other highlights include: poetry reading by vintage coterie of contemporary African poets (including Gabriel Okara, J. P. Clark, Niyi Osundare, Tanure Ojaide, Funso Aiyejena, Ifi Amadiume), dramatized reading of Okigbo’s Dance of the Painted Maidens, two films inspired by Okigbo’s poetry (Branwen Okpako’s The Pilot and the Messenger or Who Killed Christopher Okigbo, and Toyin Adepoju’s Meditations on Labyrinths, and round-tables reenacting all the major connections in the poet’s life (Ibadan, Fiditi, Lagos, Nsukka, Makerere). There will be forums for launching new books by and about Okigbo as well as for the Christopher Okigbo Foundation and the Christopher Okigbo Society.

The conference will conclude with a gala nite featuring the highlife music of the late fifties and early sixties.
For further details, please visit the conference website

Chukwuma Azuonye, PhD
Convener, 2007 Christopher Okigbo Conference,
Professor of African Literature
University of Massachusetts at Boston
100 Morrissey Boulevard
Boston, MA 02125-3393
617-287-6795 (Telephone)
617-287-6797 (Telefax)

NOTE: Potential participants should please note that it has been established beyond all reasonable doubt and with reference to surviving close relatives of the poet (his brothers, sisters, wife, and daughter) and his close personal friends (Chinua Achebe, Vincent Ike, and Ben Obumselu, among others), that Okigbo’s middle name is Ifekandu NOT Ifeanyichukwu. His brother, the later Dr Pius Okigbo, to whom he dedicated his first book, Heavensgate (1962) and with who he was very close, writes in his 1994 toast (reprinted in Critical Essays on Christopher Okigbo, ed. Uzoma Esonwanne, 2004), “His parents named him Ifekandu, ‘greater than life”; they baptized him Christopher, the name he wore to his grave.” In addition to Christopher, Okigbo was given another English name, Nixton (see Ben Obumselu, Christopher Okigbo: A Poet’s Identity,” in The Responsible Critic, ed. Isidore Diala, 2006). Thus, his full name is Christopher Nixton Ifekandu Okigbo.

the 419 squad

Here's the Hip Hop crew, The 419 Squad providing the entertainment at Fusion, a fashion show featuring the designs of Toyin Ladejobi of TL Couture - in London.

ana oyo - july 29

Association of Nigerian Authors
ANA Oyo State Chapter

cordially invites you

to its LiterarySUNSHINE

LiterarySUNSHINE is comprised of readings, performance, interactions, jokes, food & drinks etc.

Guest Writer: Tope Fakayode (Novelist & Language Instructor)

Host: Hon. Jelili Adeleke ( Member, Oyo State House of Assembly)

Venue: Educare Trust Exhibition Centre, Goshen Superstores Building, beside Coca-Cola, Sango, Ibadan.

Date: Saturday July 29, 2006 Time: 4: 00 P.M


Ebika Anthony

poetry potter is back - july 29

Kowry Kreations Media
shell of creativity

Venue: National Library Hall, Opposite Casino Cinema, Alagomeji
Yaba, Lagos.

Date: Every last Saturday of the month (July 29th, 2006)
Time: 4 p.m. prompt. No African time, please.

Admission: Free, Free; Free!
Guest Artiste: Akeem Lasisi, The winner ANA-Cadbury Poetry Prize 2005.
The founder of minus poetry, Wale Ajakaye, will sing
Ijala to the delight of everyone and Are, a musician of substance
Also will thrill the audience with his unique music.

Dress Code: Endeavour to come in your native attire.
R.S.V.P: Aderemi Adegbite 08035149337, Ropo Ewenla 08032311574, Lekan Balogun 08027727751

Sunday, July 09, 2006

footie fever

Commemorating today's World Cup finals in my own little way - these pictures were taken in Cardinal Place, London SW, in the height of England's footie fever. The football tables surfaced every lunchtime and it was sheer fun watching all the 'suits' unwinding during their breaks from office work and having a go at trying to win, their ties flying on the breeze.

Check out this lady, she's so into it that she's had to take her shoes off. The footie tables were very popular for a while, then they suddenly disappeared, round about the time England got knocked out of the tournament.

ambrose campbell 1919-2006

As a boy in Nigeria, Ambrose Campbell, who has died aged 86, sang in the church choir and grew up - the son of a minister - under a strict Victorian regime. But after dark he escaped, slipping out to the Lagos waterfront where seamen gathered from along the coast, sharing experiences, drinking palm wine.

The above, from the obituary of Ambrose Campbell - Nigeria's oldest musician who died in the UK last month. Read the obituary by Val Wilmer - in full

on the caine...

This year's winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing will be revealed tomorrow, Monday 10 July. It will be a choice between 5 writers (4 of them women) including Nigeria's Sefi Atta.

The Caine writers - Atta, Muthoni Garland, Laila Lalami, Mary Watson & Darrel Bristow-Bovey - will be at the South Bank Centre on Tuesday 11 July. Hosted by TV personality Jon Snow, the shortlisted writers will be reading from their work.


Update, 10 July
South African Mary Watson has won the 7th Caine Prize for African Writing. She got the £10,000 award for her short story, Jungfrau, from Moss (Kwela Books, 2004). Chair of the judges, Dr Nana Wilson-Tagoe described Watson’s winning work as: “a powerfully written narrative that works skilfully through a child’s imagination to suggest a world of insights about familial and social relationships in the new South Africa… It is superbly written and does what a short story should do, by leaving spaces around its narrative in which readers can enter again and again.”

Mary Watson lives in Cape Town. She got the Meritorious Publication Award for her collection of stories, Moss. She is currently working on her first novel - as well as a collaborative novel with a group of other South African writers.

bag lady, a poem

And the poem this week - is mine! This below is published in the current edition of Sentinel Poetry Online. I have 3 poems in the issue, including one that a poet friend has described to me as "morbid", and Promised Land.

Bag Lady


Bag lady with sackfuls of regret
Rolled in a knapsack, heaved, hauled
As the mollusc bears around its home.

She moves as with feelers, unseeing
Eyes in rituals of avoidance, noses up
Repelled by a sight they would not see.

Woman to whom things have been done
Sacrificial wearer of scars, bearer of losses
Walking wounded from battles long lost.


Bag lady with sackfuls of regret
Tucked deep in under-eye pouches
Stuffed down the protuberant tum.

Beaten to a pulp by life’s fictions
Hers is the joy of a wandering haze
A happy face on life’s sad street.

She walks, magnificent as Monroe
Dark as Alek, regal as Iman - owning
Nothing, she claims ownership still.

At peace with her many loads, knowing
If you must own nothing, own your regrets.

© Molara Wood

azuah's abuja reading

Sky-High Elation at Unoma Azuah’s Reading in Abuja
E. E. Sule
As one eats his favourite dinner, downs it with his favourite drink and relaxes satisfactorily, set for a sound sleep, so we took our literary dinner from Unoma Nguemo Azuah’s novel, Sky-High Flames, satisfied that ANA-Abuja had fed us with what we wanted and relaxed into the calm arms of the cold night on Thursday 29th June, 2006, when Unoma was the guest reader at ANA-Abuja’s regular reading.

Isaac Ogezi and I drove from Keffi. He consistently pressed on me a sense of punctuality because he didn’t want us to arrive a minute late and, especially, because Unoma is a writer we have always discussed and have considered our friend because of her kind gesture of sending us her novel when it was just a few days old. We arrived at Reinz Continental Hotel at about four-forty in the evening. Inside the flamboyant hotel reception, bespectacled Ahmed Maiwada, incurable participant of every ANA-Abuja’s activity, greeted us cheerfully. I quickly introduced Isaac to him because I knew they had been friends without meeting each other. Ahmed would rush to his office to pick a copy of Wole Soyinka’s From Zia, With Love he bought as a gift for Isaac, but the latter told him not to bother, that he would collect it another day.

The question held behind my teeth with patience, as Isaac and Ahmed conversed, burst out, "Is Unoma around?" Ahmed replied: "Yes, she is around, but not in the hall now; Emman Shehu is there." Isaac and I went into the hall and there was the big brother [Shehu], cheerful as ever; and standing with him was a tall smiling figure he introduced as Chukwu Eke.

After greetings here and there, we settled down. People kept coming into the hall and I steadied my gaze on the door to see if I could catch Unoma’s face. Her image from the backcover of her novel was getting increasingly sharper on my mind. The programme began without the usual introduction of one standing up to introduce himself/herself; I guess big brother had cleverly edited it out to present Unoma to us as a surprise. Along with others, I was called to the "high table" and my seat was adjacent to the guest reader’s from the left. I was surely taken by surprise when the creator of Ofunne was called to take her seat: the lady I had pinned my eyes on turned out not to be Unoma! A gentle-looking and smiling lady in a simple long wear and headscarf, looking almost matronly, walked gracefully forward and took her seat beside me. I still had to ask, "So you are Unoma" as I shook her hand. And she beamed me a smile and asked if I was Sule and gave me a knowing hug. She would later ask of Isaac. Too, Chinyere Obi-Obasi who was on the high table and had seen Unoma’s picture didn’t believe her eyes. Apart from the writerly simplicity, Unoma looked more humble and quieter than we thought she would be.

Unoma Azuah is flanked by (L-R) Chukwu Eke, Chinyere Obi-Obasi, Emman Egya Sule, Asimiafele & Hajia Fika.

Big brother MCied the occasion himself; he always does. Aigbokhoaode Asimiafele, chairman of ANA-Abuja think-tank Committee, an elderly man, also on the high table, opened the reading as he read his poem, written in the US like Unoma’s novel. This set the tone of Americanism (I am talking about the racism so-and-so) that would pervade the entire occasion. Then big brother, as a way of introducing the novel to the audience, read a eulogising review of Sky-High Flames by one Christy Williams of the Department of English, University of Hawaii, Honolulu. It was while he was reading that Jerry Agada, ANA’s Vice President, walked in and gave the occasion a national presence. I had all along been wondering where Denja Abdullahi, ANA national secretary, whose presence had always been generous to such occasions in and outside Abuja, was at this time.

Unoma, before reading, apologised that she could not provide copies of the novel because she had been hoodwinked into thinking that copies of the book, which she sent earlier, were available in Nigeria until she came and discovered it was not so. Chinyere had her copy of the novel and it was passed round for everyone to look at. Unoma began her reading in her soft, feminine voice, going through four extracts in such a progression that gave the audience the beginning, the middle and the end of the novel. It was pleasant listening to her reading out the life of Ofunne.

Time for questions and contributions brought out the elation in the audience. Even though a lot of them had not read the novel, and did not have the novels in their hands to follow Unoma’s reading, they asked such intelligent questions about the novel, Unoma’s life, writing and publishing in the United States that made the reading a success.

A lady was interested in knowing whether the story of Ofunne was a fact or fiction. Unoma said although her work was fiction, she had, like most writers, drawn from realities in life. The story, she said, was based on the true-life story of her aunt who, though brilliant and vivacious, was condemned to early marriage that took her life. Isaac ended his contribution, centred on the weakness of Ofunne’s character, by asking Unoma whether she had done research enough to know that syphilis was capable of making one infertile as she had shown in her story. The audience answered for Unoma. Yes, syphilis can destroy the seed in a man or woman.

Ahmed said he had read Unoma’s poetry and thought she was a good "poetess" (Unoma rejected that appellation because of its anti-feministic complexion and we helped her get Ahmed to alter it to "poet"), probably better than a fictionist, and that he expected that she should have published a volume of poetry by now. He also expected a poetic dinner from her that evening. A collection of poems, in limited copies, had been published long ago, Unoma said; she promised to send Ahmed a copy.

A guy was interested in knowing how easy it was to find a publisher in the US and whether one, with his money, could self-publish or not. Unoma answered that it was not easy to find a publisher interested in an African story in America. Out of the about one hundred and twenty publishers she scouted on the Internet, only three were interested in her manuscript. If she hadn’t found a publisher, she wouldn’t have self-published because, apart from the relegation of self-publishing to vanity press, she didn’t have the money to do that. And as a response to Chinyere’s question bothering on editing and reworking, Unoma said she had it tough because her editors kept wanting her to remove something or add something. In fact, the Sister Dolan-Ofunne relationship in the missionary school was elaborated as her publisher’s idea of emphasising the role of the missionary (who are, of course, the white people) in moulding the character of a young black woman.

For Patrick Oguiejiofor, that protagonist of Okigboism, to what extent was Unoma’s pocket fattened by the publishing and marketing of her novel in America. Was she given any advance payment? Unoma said she was given an advance payment but refused to disclose the amount. She also told us how her royalty was worked out.

When it was my turn, I expressed my worry about the paradigm of the woman telling (always) the woman’s story. When will Nigerian women writers tell other stories other than the woman’s story? A concomitant question is, when will Nigerian literature move from the preoccupations of the present to the fantasies of the future as Charles E. Nnolim has advised in one of his recent essays? Unoma’s response was that the woman will stop telling the woman’s story when women are fully emancipated from the subjugation of men in our society.

It was Chukwu, that amiable fellow who descended from the hills of Enugu to Abuja to witness, according to him, the innovation of Emman Shehu-led exco, who sent the hall reverberating in laughter. He took a good look at Ahmed and told us that he (Ahmed) was a good example of the kind of madman a writer should be. Ahmed denied it amidst guffaws. Then Chukwu took his time to convince us that all writers were mad people and unless a person chose to be a deviant in the society, he could not be a good writer. After presenting himself to us as the writerly madman, he made two important points about writing and publishing. First, he said we should de-emphasise the problems of publishing in Nigeria and strive to attain excellence in writing. Publishing works is not the issue, but the issue is how qualitative are the works. A young writer should keep working hard on a manuscript until it is worthy of being a great work before he approaches the problems of publishing. Second, Chukwu warned that we should be careful about denigrating self-publishing, especially in Nigeria. He contextualised his warning in the story of his friend who sneered at self-publishing in Nigeria, took a long jump into America, thinking that he would find a publisher that would make him a Chimamanda. After going round the US without finding a single publisher interested in his manuscript, he returned to Nigeria, wretched, and alas! he self-published the manuscript with the worst printer in Nigeria.

After taking that dose of humour from Chukwu, we took an Abuja Literary Society announcement from Ken Ike before we settled for a light refreshment of tea, coffee, chicken, cake and club sandwich during which we chatted freely, hugging and handshaking one another. Unoma, the celebrity of the day, was crowded, had snapshots with people and we were all sad that she didn’t have copies of her novel to autograph for those who didn’t have. Ahmed, now going versatile, introduced a Nupe film he produced along with ANA-Niger actors to me. He autographed a copy for me. I trapped Ifeoma Chinwuba, author of Merchant of Flesh, in a brief feministic chat. Chinyere introduced me to her unwriterly gentleman of a husband and thereafter engaged me in jokes. She is a well of jokes and laughter.
A section of the audience...

Since everything that has a beginning must have an end; since every delicious dinner will certainly finish, we all reached that moment where the best thing to say was to bid one another goodbye. Unoma herself accompanied some people to the hotel gate since she stayed in the same hotel. We went into the cold arms of the night, ready for sound sleep.

*Images: courtesy of ANA Abuja

metro litro

Saw this piece of news about Sudanese writer Kola Boof in the Metro - a free newspaper available at tube stations last week. Apparently, Boof has created a character based on her former lover Osama bin Laden - for a US soap opera. You can read a Boof profile in Farafina Magazine issue 4.

In an international telephone conversation with a writer friend recently, I mentioned the two books of autobiography 'written' by Jordan (aka Katie Price), Britain’s most famous Page 3 girl. Jordan has been diversifying of late, shifting tons of books in lucrative publishing deals, whilst many real writers can only get book deals in their dreams. Jordan is the kind of person you’d expect will have difficulty writing a grocery list! My friend was baffled, but I explained that it’s become commonplace for fluffy celebrities to ‘write’ books about lives they’ve not yet lived (Jordan is yet to hit 30, I think) and make a few millions in the process. The main reason of course, is that these books sell by the bucket loads - which says something about Britain, though I don’t quite know what that is. And for many, the books they write are in fact ‘ghostwritten’… some obscure writer does all the work while the celebrity comes and signs the autographs. And if you’re David Beckham, you can even win a prize in the process!

Meanwhile, Jordan has gone one better, and written a novel, titled Angel. I first learned about it in the Metro. Later the same day I could already see the copies in the window display of a major book store. My only consolation? At least the publishers have had the decency not to price (Ms Price - not too Pricey?) it too highly. It was rather cheap for a brand new book, in fact.

From the Metro to Litro, a publication that gives makes original fiction available free to commuters in some London stations every Friday morning. You can go to the website and register for a brand new story to be sent to you by email every week. And here’s an excerpt from a short story by Chika Unigwe, published recently in Litro…

“Name?” The immigration officer sounds bored. This is a routine poem that he recites for a living.
“Mary Eze.”
“Address?” He glances at me as he flips through to the page with the visa.“Baarlestraat 101, Beerse.” The address is easy to remember.
He says something in Dutch.
“I don’t speak Flemish. Sorry.” I smile and tuck a stray braid behind my ear. I hate Mary Eze for having braids in the passport picture. I loathe having my hair braided. I much prefer just having my hair permed.
“French? Parlez vous Francais? You speak French?” The voice is authoritative this time.
“How. Long. You. Live. Here?” His words come out slow and deliberate. His eyes never leave my face.

-Read the whole story...

headturner... snapped 17 june

owambe with ireti

My friend Ireti and I went to this serious owambe party in North London on June 17. The location was one of those London spaces that serve as Sports Centre for youths during the day, and ready party venue for Nigerians (and other communities, I'm sure, the rental charges yielding tidy sums for London councils every year) on weekends. There must have been a thousand people - two thousand and more possibly - in the hall, every last one dressed to the nines - right down to their toes. But just look at this scene above... Ireti and I were nicely turned out or at least we tried to - even wore the aso-ebi - but we practically disappeared in this gilded throng. The picture above gives an idea. I surveyed the scene at one point and asked Ireti: "How on earth is a person to stand out in a place like this?" No chance. Still, it was fabulous, and we enjoyed ourselves.

The party venue was on the Broadwater Farm estate - my first time there. Broadwater Farm was one of those places I only heard about now and then in the news, when recalling the riots that took place there in the 80s.

Here (and in the foreground of the two pictures above) is Ireti, dancing the night away. Ireti is something of a celebrity on London's airwaves, I'm lately discovering. She had often told me about her several times weekly participations on Radio phone-in shows, what she said during conversation with Vanessa Feltz or some other host, the lot. But not being a radio listener, I had no real appreciation of any of it, until someone phoned me recently to ask: "Is your friend the same Ireti on BBC London?" I was like, "Uh... yeah?" By the end of the conversation, it had been impressed upon me that Ireti is known to thousands of radio listeners in the UK. I'd have to start listening to the radio, I guess...

Ireti Bakare-Yusuf is like a Nigerian Anna Wintour, totally obstinate in her views about what is fashionable and what isn't. But she knows her stuff... Also known as Sisi-Oge, she's written some fashion pieces and will soon be taking charge of the styling, for one designer's fashion show... with Fusion.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

new reads

.An excerpt from Autumn in Zimbabwe, a short story by Wadzanai Mhute, published in the current issue of Per Contra.

"What's going on? Do you like Simon?" Musa, Simadi's friend who was also black, asked her.

"No way!" Simadi said, partly because he was white and in post-independent, still racist Zimbabwe, whites and blacks didn't like each other that way... Each was accepted individually; together they represented a side to Zimbabwe that was not to be encouraged.

--Read the whole story here.


And here's another story, this time by blog regular Afam Akeh. Titled Legend of the Speaking Ass, it is published in Position Magazine.

The people of Ise still tell their children about the time when all things, including the animals, spoke one language and understood each other. It is a tale they tell to teach their young but even the adults are much entertained by it. In those days, in Ise, voices grew out of everything. Everyone was gifted with one language. The goat spoke that language and the hen understood it. Every animal also had its opinion, its peculiar view of things. There were well-known wags among the parrots and gifted orators crowing daily among the cockerels. But it was not only the animals that could speak in that way. The things you sat or walked on, the place you lived in, even the things you wore on your body, all could speak. A loincloth had once been heard complaining from the waist of an Ise elder, “I stink. Wash me!”

-- Read the story here... You can also read a note on Akeh in the same issue.

spinning odialetics 2

Chiedu Ezeanah's poem, The Spinner of Dialetics, inspired the original 'Spinning Odialetics' post on this blog. Now comes Odia Ofeimun's poem, Anarch of Hubris...

(for Chiedu Ezeanah)


If you want to know
the sex of lagoons, jump
jump into their wombs

You will suffer
The swollen silence of rebirth
Never ask me why

* * *

Never ask why
The mad poet of beer parlours
goes on the rampage

He drags his deities into gutters
to launder them in faeces
He swaggers in purulence, chest-beater
At upturned chairs and tables. He’s at war
with himself, running for cover
in a brood of his own demons
Neither love nor charity can save him
from the night that takes his mind
When frothing malady spirits him
To the vomitorium. He pukes
Upon his own totems, to curry grace
At the shrine of his self-dissolution.

His mind’s misadventures regress
to quotatious trading of metaphors
ill-grasped in a mist, self-insufficient
wishing for Orphic lyres that he has gift for
but lacks the spine to hold. He rises,
fiend-like, to trip those who savage evil.
Not for love of evil. He lacks spunk
for the drudgery evil demands
He lusts to be part of a happening
before he knows the score. O he dances
with the wolves ’till, landing in frying saucer,
he’s sweet morsel in the Devil’s Dinner

Poet of hubris, fallen angel of clap-trap!
Not for nothing is he the self-flagellator
who, to blind the sun overhead, throws werepe
up the skies unready for his stem’s collection
of body-scratches until, squirming naked,
he break-dances into market-squares.
So now he pukes upon his totems, pukes!
Afraid of reprieve from sloth that reaps his heart
He builds solidarity in beer parlour soirees
where humankind melts into a hazy flow,
self-forgetting, and the heart that says "I love"
earns conviction for slogan-mongering.

His heart runs from the embrace of his kind
Misanthropic, as camp-follower to his
Ever-ready irresolution, his thriving
Enthusiasm withdrawn from honest living,
A drunkard in need of serfs, too frail to try
The handgun folly of Area Boys and touts
He lacks the spine to stand by a treatise
He shuns the love that spawns real dialectics
Why not, he envies the wind its whistles
And wishes he were crown prince of Ogun
Without daring to seek truth’s mandate
or dirty his hands in a struggle to affirm.

How affirm who has no sense of limits
No sense of a hit to bear the ambition
To say No to service in rites of betrayal,
disloyalty to friendship, family and poetry!
Once the claims of the ‘instant high’
Contest the golden rule of the night before
he ‘must affirm’, scorning what he owes
To mother, child and a roof over them
And what he has mortgaged to parlour queens
Who empower sneers at ‘dusty manuscripts’ -
pages he would love to rip and set to smoke
High in flippant envy of assassins

In shabby empathy, lacking a chest to beat,
He takes refuge in the lost cause of those
Who wish poetry quiescent and drunk
Unable to stand up to marauders on the prowl
Who, so glibly, in divine sail and savvy
exult what makes nothing happen,
he turns love of poetry, so often betrayed,
into a licence to kill, sell a little daughter
to jungle alleys, dance to nation-wrecking,
taste blood with wolves in comradely toast
yet rise, with a drunkard’s hoop and halo
as angel of art, inventor of fellow-feeling

Surely, to know the sex of lagoons, you jump
at peril into water with the anarch of hubris
who stabs poetry and matrimony alike
in the back, sneaky, never a bold challenge,
brewing bile to poison the communal well
to rout spouse, offspring, and the counselor
who, for love of love, seek to save the knots,
all-tied in folly, from falling apart
until the swollen silence of rebirth wakes
the hour to expel from one more doorstep
the mad poet for whom the knowers divined:
it is better To Burn Than To Marry Ill.


I was a poet before politics
set the women at the pump
to braid my hair with dialectics
faith and fellow-feeling-
truth-abiding beyond metaphors
- they steeled my muse
to temper time and ward off hogs
muddying the healing waters

They taught me indifference
to friendships that rip
Truth’s common morality:
to let love of my kind fixate me
Against the sass of moral squatters
whose ‘drinkard’s anthem’
Takes crass dismemberment
and spoils to healing waters

I remain the poet who stood
with the women at the pump,
in feisty and harpy crafting
of the means good ends justify,
unfazed by learned ignorance,
fearing neither scorn nor evil
in verse that baits no excuses
for poets ratting from healing waters

unharried, my solidarity endures
with the women at the pump
who taught me to see
poetry without the fillip of politics
and politics unleavened by poetry
as bane of the anarchs who turn
work, truth and estates
into a river of frothing beer.


I plead, Ogun,
forgive the wastrels

and drowning
in hubris and
frothing beer

who see not why
it’s better to burn
than to marry ill

Forgive me, too,
seeking to tame
the house fly

doomed to drown
in a palmwine retch
at the market place.

(those whom
the gods must try
get drunken siblings!)

I swear in calm
and stormy weather:
Tis better to burn

than to marry ill

© Odia Ofeimun

Poem: first published in the National Mirror, Nigeria; reproduced with permission.
Image: 3 Colours Odia by mw - taken in the poet's front courtyard, 6 September 2005

new book: children of a retired god

Published this month and available to order on Amazon is a new book of essays, Children of a Retired God, by Rudolf Okonkwo.

The publishers, Iroko Productions, describe the book as "an observation of [the] life of black people across the globe." Author Okonkwo uses contemporary stories of Nigeria, Africa and the Black World as published in his prolific newspaper columns to illustrate and consider the question: Are We Worshipping a Retired God?

"It is a tragicomic observation of the Black life at home and in the Diaspora by an African exile," the publishers said. "Okonkwo succeeded in bringing to life the story behind the news in a succinct and funny way that demystify the often beleaguering stories emerging from Africa and the rest of the Black World."

Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo hails from Nnobi in Anambra State, Nigeria. He writes from the perspective of an exile who has lived in Europe and now America - for some 20 years. A syndicated newspaper columnist, he also writes fiction and is working on a Nollywood movie. Okonkwo is also the founder of the Olaudah Equiano Prize for Fiction. He lives with his family in Bay Shore, New York.

event... lapofest

Not to be missed if you're in Lagos on Friday/Saturday 7 & 8 July is the 3rd annual LAPOFEST. Keynote Speaker Niyi Osundare heads an impressive list of participants. The programme starts at 10am on both days at these venues:
  • Day 1 (Friday, July 7): the main Campus of Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo;
  • Day 2 (Saturday, July 8, 2006): National Gallery of Art (Aina Onabolu Complex), National Theatre, Iganmu

murder she wrote - kemi adeyoola

The first many heard of this, was from a report in The Punch newspaper about Kemi Adeyoola, an 18-year-old Nigerian girl charged with the gruesome murder of an 84-year-old woman. Anne Mendel was stabbed 14 times, in a crime commited when Kemi was only 17 and fresh out of a young offenders' institution.

Kemi had a passion for literature and had written whilst in custody an 18-page manual detailing her plans to lose 4 stones in weight and make 3 million in order to live a happy life. The neatly-written notes were entitled, Prison and After: Making life Count.

The 3m target would be made possible by the murder of a woman who had to be "rich, elderly and defenceless." The prosecution made a case that Mrs Mendel was killed in a 'dry run', as practice, ahead of another suitable would-be victim. Kemi's manual had been found in a routine search of her cell while in custody. The girl maintained that they were the notes for a book she was planning on writing, and that they should be returned to her. The notes, according to her, were a work of fiction inspired by her readings of the works of James Patterson & Martina Cole. A psychiatric report said there was nothing to suggest Kemi could commit such a crime. A few months after the teenager left the institution, Mrs Mendel, a former neighbour, was killed.

Now, life will count for Kemi Adeyoola in a way she hadn't planned. Last week at the Old Bailey in London, she was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a minimum incarceration of 20 years. Her father, millionaire Bola Adeyoola denounced his daughter as "evil... I don't even like her." It turns out he last had any real contact with Kemi and her sisters when the girl was eleven years old. Her mother had received 3 or 4 million in a divorce settlement, which doesn't quite explain why the privately educated girls seem to have fallen on hard times, working as escorts and shoplifting - a trajectory that set Kemi in collision with the law.

Mr Adeyoola blames everyone else for Kemi's fall, failing to acknowledge any negative effect his decision to stop paying his daughters' school fees might have had on the girls. But he doesn't get away that easy. As news of Kemi's sentence broke, the London Evening Standard did an expose on Bola Adeyoola's own 'criminal' past.