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An Interview about Blood Contract

Hello everyone,
Today, I am talking to Biola Olatunde, author of the book Blood Contract. I was thrilled when I met Biola on a social networking site because she is a writer and a Yoruba writer at that. Because I researched Nigeria and especially the Yoruba culture for my Fahdamin-Ra series, I could tell immediately that she was Yoruba by her name. When we started corresponding back and forth, I found that she is an extremely talented woman with a long list of accomplishments, such as being the producer of a small independent production company, a writer many scripts and a producer for radio and television programs, as well as writing and producing plays, and a published author. She also runs a small concierge service that takes tourists around to interesting places in Nigeria. I don’t think that she ever sleeps!

I was fascinated by her book, Blood Contract, so I quickly acquired it and dove in right away. It is about a man named Kenawari, who lives in Port Harcourt, a city in Nigeria, but not at the Izon village where he came from. He has married a white American woman, started a family, and for fifteen years, he thought that he left his old life far behind. However, Ken ends up being sent home to the Niger Delta to investigate a kidnapping at his home village. The story is an unfolding mystery as the reader learns more about the present day case that Kenawari is involved with, as well as uncovering the secrets of Ken’s past and why he left the Izon, never intending to return. He meets new people in the tribe as well as people from his past, in a mysterious area that is shadowed with old secrets.

Before I read the book, I was unfamiliar with the Izon tribe and life in the Niger Delta swamps, but Biola tells the story so skillfully that I was soon there with Ken, thoroughly absorbed in the plot and characters. I love how she tells a thoughtful story of the turmoil in a man’s life while showing us a people who struggle to survive.
Now, let’s hear from Biola:

What inspired you to write Blood Contract?
That is an interesting question Chaz, I wanted to correct an impression amongst my people that everyone who lived in the Niger Delta was a militant. I had met quite a number of them and found them fiercely devoted to their watery seascape. They are generally hardworking, stoic and taciturn. I had a chance to live amongst a particular tribe of the Niger Delta and learned to respect them. I wanted to present them as the same as every other Nigerian with more reasons to question the rationale of being part of an entity that does not recognize them as equal partners
Your main character, Kenawari, is from one of the 250+ tribes in Nigeria, a different one from your own. How did you become familiar with the Izon tribe of the Niger Delta?
I worked with one of them as a broadcaster. Being of a curious nature I wanted to know his people and at first, he was suspicious but gradually saw I was sincere so he would tell me about his tribe. The Izon makes for the fourth largest tribe in my country and the richest in its resources of oil and gas. It is, however, the most neglected part of the country until recently.
What message in Blood Contract do you want your readers to grasp?

Essentially, the message of Blood Contract is a social commentary of humanity’s failure to recognize fundamental rights of everyone, to dream, and work towards having that dream actualized. The human society is the same everywhere. Being a member of a part of the world that has been stereotyped as backward, it was ironic that we also discriminate against ourselves. I thought it was dumb to do that, human beings have a right to be rational and the demands of the izon and tribes of the Niger Delta was genuine. I also did not want to write a romantic story of the bad guy and the good guy but wanted to show that the society we live in accommodates all. The good, the bad and the ugly.
The difficulties that Ken goes up against – the poverty, the robber barons, and kidnappings that happen in his village – are those problems present in the Izon tribe today?
Of course, those problems still exist not only in my country and in the Niger Delta but in every part of the world I imagine. We have not found Utopia yet anywhere I reckon. Kidnappings have gone on even in other tribes and armed robbers have become really daring, but not as a result of being Izon but as a consequence of the imbalance in the world generally.
You can purchase Blood Contract from my publishers IFWG PUBLISHING.COM

These books of Biola Olatunde are now available in Nigeria.
Blood Contract
Numen Yeye
Rose of Numen
Numen!
You can also buy them from the following places
KTC @Akure shopping mall Akure.
Sunshine booksellers.com University of Ibadan
Leading bookshops in Akure
biolaephesus.com

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Centre Stage with Feyisayo Anjorin

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.

  1. 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.

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Numen!

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.
And then….

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The Path we refused to take continued

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.

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THE PATH WE REFUSED TO TAKE

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

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Our Bookshop list

Hello, would like to share with you our current bookshop list. Come over and see our books and then make your choices.
1. Lola Babalola takes you through marriage in her book Helpmeet

You would be inspired by her insights

2. Blood Contract by Biola Olatunde is an adventure into the hostage business in the Niger Delta area of Nigeria, it is an interesting adventure that will tell you about those things you hardly hear about

You can buy online or check our shop

3.Pedal by Louis Lowy is a book you will not want to drop. It is touching story ofa woman who still beleives enough in herself to give herself a second chance at dreams and fulfillment

The book is available online

4. Numen Yeye by Biola Olatunde is book one of a trilogy. A Nigerian fantasy around the myths, tradition culture and politics that defines us and the challenges we face in a rapidly changing and evolving world


It is available at ifwgpublishing.com as well at all good online shops. For our Nigerian readers efforts are in being put in place to make it available in Nigeria at affordable prices.

We will update you regularly. Visit our bookshop or go to the shop to make your purchases.