COURT IS IN SESSION
A friend invited me once to attend a court session. He was trying to reassure me that there was nothing to be afraid about of our judicial system. I had nothing doing for that day and did not feel like the computer so I walked over from my office to the court which was some walking distance.
It was packed already. A young man was in the dock for killing his mum. His eyes were haunted and strained. You could tell he was under a great strain. His wife and members of his family were sitting huddled together and everyone stared at the judge.
One lady sat quietly. She was not agitated, nor was she crying. She was dressed simply and elegantly almost like the judge herself. She had gray hair and you could tell she was most likely to be in her sixties. I was intrigued by her self- restraint.
I’d seen a couple of white garment prophets outside the church assuring the relatives that they had nothing to worry about. I asked my friend why the boy or actually the young man was being charged with killing his mother. He whispered back that he had deliberately driven his mother over the edge of cliff with the car because he had accused her of witchcraft.
Hmm, who fingered her as a witch?’ I asked my friend amused
He indicated the white garment prophets outside the court premises
I groaned and craned my neck to get a better view of the court. I noticed a few of my journalist friends were intrigued by the story and had come to watch the proceedings. I wondered what the elegant lady was doing so I murmured an excuse to my friend and went over to sit beside her.
She gave me a cursory glance and I had a vision of a very beautiful, graceful old lady. She sat still, calmly watching.
I tried to start a quiet conversation.
You know the young man being charged? I enquired?
‘I think so, just before he was born actually’ she said with a smile at me.
‘I see, you must be feeling bad about this then’ I said
She turned and gave me a calm glance from clear brown eyes, then with a slight graceful nod of her head indicated the young man at the dock.
‘His relatives have been praying and asking that the Almighty come to their aid, but I wonder if He is listening’
I shrugged, ‘I am sorry but I…’
‘Not into religion, I know that’ she finished for me, with a slight smile.
‘Have you ever wondered though why God has never seen fit to kill the Devil? I mean that would save a lot of miseries. The misery of a religion and the bottomless stupidity, we inflict on ourselves’
We were silent as the judge walked in and started reading her judgment. She listened impassively.
The judge had declared the case a non-issue ordering a re-trial for manslaughter.
The court erupted into loud jubilation. My old lady stood up. She was not smiling or upset, just calm.
I commented that at least she would be relieved to know it had come out well for the young man. She simply inclined her head. I was now really interested in talking to her further so I asked if I might call on her sometime. She became really amused at my request.
‘That could be a problem as I have just retired from active duty and I am kind of resting now. Just pay the occasional visit you know’.
I remarked that she seemed to know me and so had the advantage.
She said she had often watched my programmes and thought I was doing okay. I pressed for her name and she smiled and gave me her hand
‘I used to be called justice Anike Williams’ she said and then smiling left.
I went over to my friend and started telling him about the old lady, he listened as we walked out the court but almost crashed the car at the fence when I mentioned the name of the lady I had been talking to.
‘You could have killed us’ I complained
He stared at me
‘Are you sure of the name of the lady you talked to?’ he asked me
‘Yes of course I just told you’. I snapped checking to see if I had any injuries. I went cold however with his next comment
‘Justice Anike Williams is the mother of the young man just acquitted and she died in that accident two years ago. I attended the funeral. Who exactly have you been talking to?’
You can read more short stories on Sunset Tales by Biola Olatunde at IFWGPUBLISHING.COM
PLEDGES OF LOVE
This is some kind of special post for me. I am celebrating. Not just a love affair that has lasted in spite of odds against its survival, but I learned the meaning of prayer in times of acute need.
Have I never prayed? I think I did since I was always thinking of improving my reaction to the challenges Life brings and since these thoughts impelled my poems. I have prayed for my children, I have prayed against hunger, we all do. I have found myself asking sadly if the Creator intended that in this incarnation I might have to be of want for most of the time. I have learned to be content with what I could have, based on my work and reluctantly I have assumed owning a plane might not make it into my bucket list. (Go ahead and laugh)
However,I learned in May this year, the meaning of wanting something so badly I could only mutter one word of prayer with an urgency and desperation that left me blinking. Just the name of the Lord.My prayer was answered in such a stupendous way that I have been awed silent since then. But I need to say thank you to friends who held me silently, virtually, and some of them I never met.
This is my thank you to everyone, for one week with effect from Friday 15th September subscribers, and anyone is free to download my collection of romantic poems. Creation swings on the axis of God’s LOVE.
All you need do is going to the products page and download PLEDGES OF LOVE for your reading pleasure.
I hope you enjoy it as I did at the various times I did.
It will have a sale price thereafter.
Thank you for being my friend, you will never know how much you contributed to being me, it is my way of awed appreciation that with all my shortcomings a wordless desperate prayer was answered by the Creator of all the worlds.
LIVING IS GIVING
It is only in giving
of your love
that you understand hate.
It is only in giving
of your understanding
that you comprehend envy
It is only in giving
of your compassion
that you know pain
It is only in giving
of your service
That you teach selflessness.
The book of life
teaches all that
care to look through
It’s sustaining pages
as one garners through
all our painful ages
that if we fain wish
to return to the lit
gardens of our beginnings
we must make our pinnings
rest on the crock of
these life-sustaining teachings
never to but learn
the greatest gift of light.
Gave to all its creatures
that gift that all creatures
stand as mirrors to our faults.
If we must thus understand
this as we experience
we will in truth
give gratitude to Him
in the weaving of the Loom
we stand against the boon
when we hesitate to return
in full measure received
the everlasting love
of the Father Almighty.
Now available inthe collection Chants in my dreams at biolaephesus.com
You can now purchase Chants in my dreams from my website biolaephesus.com
It is an ebook of my first publishedcollection in 1997. Most people who know me are aware of my love for poetry.
Let me share a few of the collections to see if I can interest you.
I WISH I CAN FLY
I wish I can fly
so that I might try
to learn to understand
from that height; my stand
I wish I can walk
so that all my talk
will thence be my progress
towards all I might profess
I wish I can pray
that I might not fall prey
to all that tries to trap
even as I evade their grab.
I wish I can trust
that all that are human,
actually carry gifts of man,
exercising all that is just.
I wish all these wishes
that even all the witches
have a hectic time fulfilling
all these impossible pinnings
THE LIBERIAN WAR
The war in Liberia
came one day to stay
at our breakfast table
father picked his gun
with shinning eyes we
heard mama tell of
father’s show of valour
to bring to brothers unknown
the gift of a doubtful peace.
The war in Liberia
blessed our hope with
the arrival of Lollita
the war-front soon changed
our shinning faces dimmed
for the cracking guns
and the cannon roar
of the ricocheting words
of the battle fierce
between Father and Mother
pitched us as losers all.
TRUE BEAUTY OF MAN
A man’s true beauty
is not outward alone,
may mask an ugly mien
that unveiled stuns and repels.
True beauty of the soul
lives and lingers
like a fragrant rose
Welcoming and satisfying.
A man’s first breath
is his first contract
with Good and Evil
to decide for himself
the exercise of which
he might use all his life.
Compassion of the spirit
is like a golden nugget
like a running brook
through the rivers of life
a kaleidoscope of his
fortunes and losses
gain or lose he
makes an investment on the
quality of his life.
A selfless man
is like a rare bird
that flits through life
touching everything with
his healing touch.
Sounds funny when I say that. But I am always awed when I read poetry. There is a trend in my country these days, the spoken word. But, I wonder why it took us such a long time. When I came down south from the North, one of the things I enjoyed was listening to my grandmother render poetry in her soft musical voice. It was a way of life for her, she was a priestess of the loving kind. She would greet the day, the morning and whatever issue she had could be resolved with poetry. Most times I didn’t understand the words,but always felt the rhythm.
When I gotto secondary school, myteachers almost took the love of poetry away from me with the constant attention to rhymes and such stuff. I found myself needing to look for words that ryhmed and I felt I lost the spontaneity of the words as they came to me. I enjoyed myself though by simply ignoring that and wrote from the heart. The words would bubble out of me and I would just write.
My first ever published work was a collection of poems I called CHANTS IN MY DREAMS. I have been taking a look at the book, that was some twenty years ago and I still found the poems spoke to me even now. I am making an ebook of it and would like to invite you to visit my website to read some of the poems and if you love them enough to order for the ebook. The ebook should be ready by the end of the month or earlier.
Would like to share with you and who knows might learn a thing or two from you if you post your thoughts back on the website.
Here are just two from the 130+ pages.
Wake up quickly
greet the dawn
in gratitude for
Wake up happy
see the sun
the gifts of love
to make hay
all your life
Wake up laughing
hear the birds
join the choir
of angels in heaven
with the industry
of your life
Wake up grateful
watch the earthworm
sow through all
you do, your expectations
of the gift of Eternity
for your spirit
STOKING MY STROKES
There are different strokes
so my mama said
when I tried to stoke
the fires of life.
listen son, she said
one stroke for each prayer
one stroke for each desire
mayhaps success will reach
So now I am stroking,
an angle tilted toward luck
the lady with the capricious smile
a prayer also,
that while thus stroking,
fate bored with his lady luck
will fling her smiling into my
has life ever been won
with so much strokes.?
Looking forward to you exploring anddropping your comments.
Welcome to Centre Stage. Do you listen to tales by moonlight when you were young? I have become nostalgic about that particular aspect of my growing years. Do we tell stories these days? What do we really enjoy? I interact with the younger folks and try to learn what page of our past they are reading from. What types of writers and actors do we have now in the village square, what stories do they listen to? My guest today on Centre Stage is interesting .He is a focused, aware and determined young man. He gave me a lot to admire
Please welcome Feyisayo Anjorin, actor and writer to Centre Stage
1.May we know you?
My name is Feyisayo Anjorin, from Ondo state, Nigeria; last child in a family of three children, a lover of stories, a husband of one wife, a bible student, a lover of Yoruba culture, and a 21st century explorer.
2.Which do you prefer? acting or writing?
I love writing more; because of the freedom a writer has over the world of the story.
3. Take a look at the Nigerian literary scene and comment
We still have a long way to go. In a nation of over a hundred and forty million people I believe we should have more impact in the English language world, and also we should have more stories told in our many languages. Most of our widely known writers are based in the US and Europe, so that tells of an environment that doesn’t support creative writing. Writers have it hard all over the world, no doubt about that. Except you are the J K Rowlings or G R R Martins of this world, writing is not exactly lucrative and we’ve had great writers that have died dirt poor; but there is a difference between places where people appreciate good writing and places where people read just to pass exams or just to see “the seven steps to riches”. The lack of vibrant reading culture and critical thinking is stifling the literary scene.
I see a lot of people that claim to be writers but are only attracted to the fame of popular writers; and then the distractions of social media. Critical thinking is becoming something rare because most people prefer to follow trends than ask questions. Great writers are the one who ask questions that cowards try to avoid.
At the same time, there are more writers- than in the past – who are not chained by the idea that a writer should write in a certain way, about certain things. That, for me, is freedom.
4.When I was young, I used to listen to tales by moonlight in its most literal sense. how much has the internet today taken that away from us
I think the internet is the full expression of the flaws of democracy. The feeling that if anything is popular or accepted by the masses, then it has to be super, great, or admirable. Truth is: if a million people support foolishness, it is still foolishness. What the internet has done is dumb down a lot of things to pretty pictures and likes and comments; a celebration of shallowness. The way anonymity allows for irresponsibility, such that people are more interested in getting their voices out (or should I say “noise” ) rather than listening to anyone. I think there needs to be a balance of rights and responsibility for the whole freedom of speech thing to work. What the internet has done is give room for a lot of irresponsible but appealing voices. What the internet has also done is give ample room for writers to bypass the gatekeepers who are stuck in their views of what African stories should read like. It’s about excellence. I don’t really think the popularity of any medium kills another medium. When the radio came it didn’t ‘kill’ the newspapers, when TV came it didn’t ‘kill’ the radio, and so on; so I believe tales by moonlight would still be successful now if it is well packaged for the audience.
- I learned you write flash fiction, sci-fi and such strange genres to the Nigerian reader, do you think there is hope for such a writer in Nigeria?
I don’t really think there is hope for any writer in Nigeria. Like I said, most of the popular Nigerian writers are beyond our shores; having said that, I think there is a market for flash fiction because it is easy to read at a sitting, for people who may not have time for over three hundred pages of the same stories. I listen to radio presenters like KoladeAlabi, Kola Olawuyi and others, so I think fantasy and stuff based on Yoruba spirituality would work; as for robots, time-travel and other science fiction stories, it’s all about the writer finding his or her audience and then telling the stories.
6,The writer is hardly celebrated but there is a special amnesia about modern Nigerian writers, particularly creative writers, what remedy would you prescribe?
Nigerian writers are celebrated in Nigeria when they are first celebrated in the US and Europe. I think our value system is faulty. I mean, who cares about a writer when a thug in agbada is in the national assembly, calling the shots? Who cares about a writer when the entire system tells you in many ways that your excellence counts for nothing? We need good governance; a complete overhaul of this parasitic political system. And then more funding for education. Then writers may have a chance.
7. Share your dream
I have a dream of Africa without nepotism; where excellence and integrity are embraced as norms.
8. In an interview I watched recently you talked about the modern Nigerian writer as distinct and separate from the icons like Soyinka and Achebe, care to share that here?
The Soyinkas and the Achebes were writers who were young in the days of many post-colonial African nations, hence their writings expressed the spirit of the times. Because African writings in English were not many at that time and the platforms were limited, there was a sort of narrow view of what an African should write about. For example, modern Nigerian writers now write crime fiction (LeyeAdenle’s ‘Easy Motion Tourist’), erotica fiction (ObinnaUdenwe’s ‘Holy Sex’). There are writers like Teju Cole, Chigozie Obioma and Sefi Atta who reminds one of the Soyinkas and the Achebes and the Clarks; but I believe writers have more freedom to write what they like without being seen as not writing ‘something serious’.
9.Are we likely to have a Nobel Laureate from the younger generation soon?
I believe so. Nobels are awarded for body of work, not just one or two books; so I believe if the younger generation continue to write excellent works (like the Adichies, Coles, Obioma’s Attas and Unigwes are doing); one day is one day.
10. Old writers were seen as the conscience and mirror of our socio-political growth, what is happening in the modern trend of writing?
There are more cowards in this generation than in the past ones. The love of fame, the love of money; some people are so fickle, there is no firm believe in anything except what is popular and lucrative. People are afraid to speak the truth. We are a generation of cowards.
11. What type of writing attracts the Nigerian today?
Writings by pastors who tell people that tithing will make them rich, writings by pastors who is ready to tell them the demon behind everything, writings about how someone became a billionaire, written by a hungry fellow. Those sorts.
12.Do you have any book published and where can we get them to buy?
My novel, “Kasali’s Africa”, is set to be published in the US. It would be available in Amazon US. I’m trying to get my publishers to make it available in online bookstores here and in Konga and Jumia.
Thank you for coming on Centre stage
Thanks for having me. Very much appreciated.
It started innocently enough, one of my girls insisted I love one of her sisters the most of my children and she really lashed out in pain. We always argued and I tended to keep asking her to get her act right. Then she told me I was trying to put her in a mould and very sharply told me she is different. ‘Do what grandma told you, have space in your stomach for me but not in the same space with my sister’
My mother had always said she had six stomachs, that is where the stomach talk came from.
I remember staring at her stomach often. How can you have six stomachs?
I did not understand for a long time until my understanding of my language made it clearer that what mum meant was that she had six different understanding of her six children r did she mean love or favour?
Can parents favour one child over the other? I really do not want to answer that question even for me. But I understand my mother after I had six children myself. Do I favour one child over the other? Please don’t ask me the question again. I am reluctant to ask myself and I refuse to answer because you see, I really don’t have an answer
In my race, we tend to check for the origin of an incarnation, so we might understand the manner of invitation or mission of the child thus invited. I remember I wondered about my first son and knew well ahead about the others some part of the manner of their incarnation. No I am not being fanciful.
How do you see your children? Could they really be friends?. I watch my friends sometimes when they try to impose a religion on their children and they generally support these impositions with plentiful quotes from the good books. So how did I become such a rebel?
I hate being pigeon-holed and generally leave an association once it begins to stifle me. Almost all my children have picked these traits.
Do I have six stomachs? Do I view my children differently?, rate them differently? Yes of course, because they are six, uniquely different from each other. Then I understood mum. Yes you can have six stomachs. Yes you love them differently. Equally? Ergh, can we compare love by volume? Quality? Love? That serves, nourishes, strengthen? I doubt. What is the measure?
Some nights I just lie awake agonising over a child who seemed to me to be so different from me that I wonder how we happen to have woven a thread that necessitated us sharing another incarnation together. I wonder, agonize and sometimes am at pains to understand. I am not the only mother who does that you know.
It was one of the reasons that helped me talk to my mother again. I could finally understand and empathize with her confusion over me. I think I gave her the most cause for headaches. I was so different that we hardly could have a meeting point.
Now as a parent and grandma, I remember and sometimes nod in silent acknowledgement of my mother’s comment over six stomachs. I probably have six stomachs too.
How do we navigate the parenting waters and be able to bring each child to shore safely and move on without leaving scars or scarring them too negatively?
I do seem to have a lot of questions right? And you must have assumed I have forgotten all about parenting.
The invitation is still open to visit the parenting forum on the site and do let me know what you think.
How many stomachs do you have?
I always thought that the fastest way to express yourself was through poetry. I grew up listening in awe to dirges, Ijala, and such. Half of it went over my head because of the language but I was always held spell bound by the rhythm and tone. I always love poetry so I had the distinct pleasure of wanting to put Miranda on Centre stage when I learned she had just published a book and it was poetry! Let’s meet her
Congratulations on your book, and welcome to Centre Stage
Thank you! It’s my pleasure to be here.
May we know you?
I am Miranda Ese Ogboru ( Née Omeben ). A Nigerian from Edo State.
I studied Applied Arts and Education though I never taught in a school.
My interest now lies in creative writing, composing songs and discovering the healing powers of Nature. I am blessed with four wonderful children and one grand daughter
Looks like your first foray is poetry, why is that?
I have always loved reading poetry however, I started writing in the 90’s. I never imagined that I would end up publishing my works. But that changed when family and friends kept urging me to share this gift with the world. I started featuring my poems on a couple of Poetry platforms, then gradually the “adventure” developed into a desire that led to the birth of MY LOOM OF MANY COLOURS.
How do you find the Nigerian literary scene?
The Nigerian literary scene is evolving. It’s been a long journey right from the days of Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, J.P. Clark and a host of others. We have seen the emergence of our indigenous literature and other forms of creative writing. It is so heart-warming to have the likes of Chimamanda who has become a force to reckon with internationally. We now have Poetry events that attract a fairly impressive turn-out in major Nigerian cities. A literary awareness seem to be spreading. More people are exploring their writing abilities under the umbrella of various literary societies and platforms. We may not have reached our desired goal … No, not yet! But I can safely say that we are forging ahead and gradually spreading a writing/ reading culture among the people especially the youths.
What motivates you in the things you write
My motivations are derived from what writing is to me. Writing for me is therapeutic. Sometimes it is purgative. Sometimes it is an escape route. Sometimes the motivation could just be a burning desire to share from deep within. Other times, the sheer ecstasy I derive from sweet moments with my muse is just enough motivation. Basically, my purpose I my motivation.
The spoken word as a form of interactive poetry is begining to trend in the country, how familiar are you with this?
Spoken word poetry! I love it. This type of poetry has been has with us for a long time … If you consider the fact that RAP is spoken word. I understand that RAP is an acronym for Rhythm And Poetry. These days, I hear of “grand slam” open mic competition etc. I must say it is challenging to commit poems to memory for me. I admire those who do so as long as they have a worthy message for their audience. Some just rant profane and degrading lines. Ideally, spoken word is a great way to reach out with noble messages. We certainly can do with all the spoken word we can get as long as the message is uplifting.
When did you start liking poetry?
I have always loved poetry … Right from the days of “Pussy cat, Pussy cat.” But truly I fell in love with Poetry when it dawned on me that it is a medium through which I can reach out.
What will you advise the younger generation about any form of literary appreciation?
There is the need for the younger generation to read as wide as possible. They should familiarize themselves with grammar as it should be, idiomatic expressions, figures of speech and the art of writing. They should be open to correction. Without these, one would be completely lost in the world of literature. Some people just write and call for a standing ovation, no critiquing, no correction. It is a wrong mind-set. They would always be out of touch with the rudiments of literature let alone it’s mastery or appreciation.
Share a normal day with us?
By nature I’m not a rigid person. So my normal day could be hectic or relaxing. I always start the day with prayers and meditation. Then my herbal tea or just warm water ritual follows. I am really lazy at exercising but then, I try to do a bit of stretching here and there then some tappings for energy flow, then clean up starts. I try to make my meals mostly Ketogenic to keep my weight and my sugar levels down. Thereafter I attend to whatever task I am scheduled for or whatever my hands find to do – writing, networking, attending to my grand daughter and a host of other things. My day has become very flexible since I disengaged from office work.
Where can we get copies of your book?
At the moment, MY LOOM OF MANY COLOURS is to be found on Amazon and can be downloaded on Kindle. In a short while, we are hoping to have hard copies which would be at bookshops.
Any comments or views you will like to share
In a world where a lot of music that is being churned out lacks educative or inspirational content, I honestly wish that more writers would write meaningful lyrics for songs or collaborate with singers. For instance, It was quite refreshing to hear Beyonce use lines of Chimamanda’s work in her song. Writers should be aware that whatever they write would outlive them and so must be very careful of the message they leave behind for future generations.
Thank you for coming on centre stage
Here is my take
A door closes
And another opens!
When at death the eyes close
Then at birth, they open
As sure as day follows night.
Indolently, they say ‘It all ends here.’
But No! Onwards further!
Death here, birth yonder.
We do live when we leave here
As sure as day follows night.
When the Intellect slumbers
In the world of dreams
When brain matter ceases to be
In the belly of the earth
Downwards or upwards you continue to journey
As sure as day follows night.
The old man, or rather first king, stepped out and there was such a thunderous salute from those who were witness, one could be forgiven for thinking that all the dead had risen to bid him homage. He raised his hands. “I have a story to tell you, but I will first give grace to the first Creator that created man and also to the first created One. When we overcame the wolf-men, close to the smoking islet, it was to find our own kingdom and be masters of our own destiny. The first Created gave us the divining beads and said we would never get lost nor be vanquished by the wolf-men if we listened to the divining beads of Ifa. You all carry within you the story so I will not bore you.
“Through perfidy, jealousy, lust and silliness, we lost a prince. I made a vow not to create a seat for me with the ancestors because I am the first ancestor and a prince was lost. I pleaded that I may be permitted to search for the lost prince until he returns to his rightful inheritance since I am responsible for bringing about what happened.
“Ifa told me of his journeys.
“That night the lion kept him warm with his body until Numen came and took care of him. She handed him over to a farmer and his wife with instructions never to ask how the boy came about. However the boy had a habit of following the lion everywhere and the lion allowed it. It learned to imitate the sounds of the lion and knew no fear. Numen explained to the farmer’s wife that he would always be identified by his ability to roar like a lion or growl like one. He was almost twelve, time to enter the grove and pick his spear in the initiation rites. Numen brought him to me and allowed me to know him. He was told nothing of his real nature. He learnt herb-lore and became a very good farmer.
“One day the farmer went to the next village and was captured by some strange men. I could not trace him again. I was inconsolable but had to take heart knowing that his line was still intact. Then came the drama of the wives and since I was not sure of how many wives were lying in wait I asked Numen to help me. She explained that the prince would not be king in my lifetime. When I asked why, she said he was to come when the village needed him to stand in protection. She assured me she would be around then too, so I might be given permission to close the cycle in whatever form Olodumare might decide.”
Babatunde poured more of the powdery substance into the flames and briefly the flames illuminated the old man’s face. He looked very tired except for his eyes, which glowed.
“I am not physically here, but in my wanderings I have been given permission to attend this invocation, and I do not have much time. I gave the lost prince the symbol of kingship. Let the one who has it now stand up and present it so all may know and greet him.”
There was dead silence as everyone looked round wondering who that could be. The old man growled deeply and Babatunde stood up slowly to his full height as he roared in response.
I promised to continue from where I left off last week. I am worried enough, concerned for my children and grandchildren to ask this question often. How come we are determined to be illiterates?
Let me share a couple of things here. Ask any Nigerian writer if he dares to live solely by the books he writes and he will look at you askance wondering if you had been out in the sun for too long. I asked Basorun Arogbofa that question years ago and he smiled gently at me. I scratched my head and sighed. I am a dreamer alright. Imagine wanting to live on my writings alone!. Like he said, I probably would be hungry for long periods.
How many best sellers do we have in Nigeria today? Are they celebrated, would a child recognize them? How many genres of writers do we have in the country? Do our publishers know them? Come to think of it, have you ever heard of the government making it easy for publishers printers to get good publishing paper so they can publish good attractive books? My publisher is not Nigerian, my stories are Nigerian stories. I thank him and his team for taking a chance on me and giving me a chance that the Nigerian publisher would not do because I did not have the money or connections, I wanted to be assessed right, get a good editor who will look through what I have written but will have the mentality of a good writer and not necessarily be a teacher of literature. I took my manuscript around for a long time. Yes you know why, the big Nigerian publishers asked me a few questions.
Let me state a few. One of them was if my story was political? Why?, they could be sure if it will raise enough ruckus to get the right kind of people to come to its presentation. They quickly yawned and looked the other way when I said No.
One publisher who really wanted to be helpful asked if I was sure I could get one or two state governments to have the book as a recommended school text. He looked at me hopefully asking me to check with one or two of my friends in government to tweak me as a good writer. Of course that didn’t fly anywhere because I simply didn’t have such friends who could tweak that for me.
We live in a country that simply is not interested in reading for pleasure. The writer is rarely recognized here in Nigeria. I used to be amused when I am introduced as a writer and the person simply pastes a smile, he is totally blank about what I am about. Sometimes though, the person doing the introduction gets a reaction when he /she casually says, ‘Have you ever watched I NEED TO KNOW?’, the person nods enthusiastically recalling favourite episodes, then he/she is told, Biola Olatunde wrote the series did you know that? There is shock, respect and suddenly a warm friendliness. I become amused, bored and wonder to myself. Will l ever get past being recognized as the writer of I NEED TO KNOW? It gets frustrating sometimes you know.
Reading for knowledge of other things not in our specified texts has been one of the paths we have refused to take. I think, we as a people have simply refused to take the path of seeing how reading can widen our knowledge, expands our vision and it is a sad commentary on us as a people.
I deliberately omitted the key word that Basorun put in his book. Properly Basorun stated, Nigeria: The path we refused to take. In the book per se, he talked about the politics, the missteps, restructuring and more. For me it was thus political, and my readers do know what I think of politics and politicians. Sehine Arogbofa is a writer amongst other things and thus I am more interested in the path we have refused to take as a country that do not read except we are sitting for an examination.
What we have refused to recognize however, is that we have taken a road that leads us to an ignorant understanding of the many shades and hues of thoughts that shapes our world and determines our future. So, in the sitting for the examination of life, we have refused to take the path of reading to gain knowledge or understanding of our different thoughts and shades
Until next time.
That is the title of a book presented by a literary lion recently in Akure at the Federal university of Technology Akure. The book was written by Basorun Sehinde Arogbofa. A well attended event with first firebrand governor of Osun State Chief Bisi Akande as chairman of the book presentation
No, I am not reviewing the book. It has been reviewed already by a greater personage than me. I am using the title of the book to ask myself and by extension I guess my reader a few questions. You could call this piece a lamentation and musing
Many years ago as a wide eyed secondary school student, my teachers taught me to expand my mind. We were allowed to read books. Good books, interesting books, adventure books. They moulded our minds and fired our imaginations. I cannot list all those books here now. I remember reading Enid Blyton’s FAMOUS FIVE series gave me an adventurous spirit. In a subtle way, I learnt to be very observant of the human nature, it helped me in so many ways. To this day, I panic if I don’t have anything to read. Remember that saying about the idle mind and the devil’s workshop?
Then, the government had this idea to participate in the moulding of our minds, and for some reason, reading took a downward dive, we lost interest in reading to improve our minds but to pass exams and get certificates so we can get jobs. We became educated illiterates. I have been asking that question for years. Maybe I should have titled this piece THE MURDER OF THE REAL NIGERIAN WRITER. For one it will get your attention, but I wonder if it will hold your mind.
Sehinde Arogbofa might not roar enough to make us shiver, because his brand of activism in writing is that of the mouse and the cheese. He eats away at our sleeping conscience asking us with an annoying persistence why the writer must go hungry in our beloved country. This time he tells us about the path we have refused to take. It is the third of his conversation with Nigeria.
I attended his book presentation, watched the quality of people that came and made announcements about so many copies for so much money and I sighed. Knowing the author within the limits of my assessment, I suspected he was more interested in people reading what he had to say in the book.
Later, when we asked him where we were to purchase the books, he gave a wry smile, gave me one of those looks that spoke volumes and in his usual soft voice he asked me what chances the book had of being read. He made a quiet survey of those of us seated and asked the question, ‘do Nigerians read’? The silence that followed was more than an answer
Maybe really, I should have titled the piece, HOW NIGERIAN WRITERS ARE MURDERED by the indifference of its people. I am at a loss to answer, because like Sehinde Arogbofa said, it is not always the money, but the cry deep from the heart that we may hear a response. I see a picture of a blind plodding mass determined to make money and reading only money.
The Path Nigeria refused to take could easily be changed to The books Nigerians refused to read. Remember we were told, that knowledge broadens the mind, how do we broaden a mind that reads only texts, lives 24/7 on the social media, and has very little knowledge of the world around him, even his neighbours next door? Unless of course it would bring him filthy lucre?
I am a writer and watching the presentation of the book only increased my despair about the fate of the Nigerian writer.
To be continued