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LET’S TALK BOOKS, GIFTS, AND HOLIDAY SEASON

The romance of this year is slowly coming to an end and we are beginning to look with dewy eyes at the charms of two-faced Janus.
That is the way I feel these days. I ask myself what has been the experience. As a writer, I keep asking myself that question. I have spent most of this year doing something I enjoyed.
February saw the concluding trilogy of my Numen series. It has been an enduring love story for me. When Numen! finally came home to Nigeria, I was at the peak of an excitement that was difficult to put into words.
Then Gerry gave me something that I have been hard-pressed to put properly into words, my books could be printed in my own country under a special arrangement and friends could buy my books here in Nigeria. That was something.
Blood contract my first cut as a writer with an international imprint. A story about the Niger Delta and my impressions

Numen yeye my first contemporary African fantasy series, and book one of the Numen series. The book helped me to identify myself as African and gave me serious thoughts on my traditional beliefs and concepts.

Rose of Numen, I enjoyed writing because it made me see my gods and goddesses as humans who could go through the emotions of love, confusion and even the garden jealousy that besets us as human beings. Goddesses can fall in love, worry about their future too. It went well with my African concept that we were monotheists with several gods and goddesses as messengers to one Creator.
Then there was the last of the trilogy, Numen! which was more like a political commentary about traditional roles in a fast-evolving modern Nigeria, their relevance and the symbiosis of ritual, tradition and governance.

I have spent the last three months in a school that has brought me out of my rosy-eyed expectation of smiling to the bank, to the brutal and harsh reality of getting book retailers, making them see the necessity of helping a poor author get recognition. I have learnt to smile when I get to a bookseller and find my books have been dropped at the back of the shop. I smile when he hurriedly dusts it and makes the pretence of bringing it to the front of the shop.

I have been awed and humbled when I see a pharmacist, tell me his favourite chapters of the book he has taken time to read and had even bought one for his shop clerk. That made me humble, and feel I have not wasted my time.
I know the problem, we are a nation that only reads to pass an examination and I am not a popular detective writer, nor a romance writer so I am a hard sell. But I know that Blood contract is very popular. Those who have read it tell me so and there have been enquiries on how to render it in another medium

This is November, time to make ready for Christmas and the festivities are picking up.
It is the season to relax, review the year and look for gifts for family, loved ones, those you will like to say hello, thanks, and I love you.
Buy one or more of these collections from the following places:
The Kidz Castle (TKC) opposite Film house, Akure Mall (Shoprite) Akure
Sunshine booksellers.com
GTbank sme market hub
Or visit the website https://biolaephesus.com
Look forward to meeting your enquiries.

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Rose of Numen… a love story

There was silence as they stared at each other. They were half-brothers but had remained friends because Babatunde acknowledged he was six months younger in age and that had pleased Tope. When Babatunde graduated, there had been slight tension as Tope had expected that his younger sibling might put on some airs as the educated one, but both their mothers had genuinely acted like he was the senior and congratulated him on becoming a graduate in the family.
Papa had been nice too, always recognizing Tope as the older and head of the house after him. Any rising jealousy had thus been nipped in the bud. Babatunde asked him if he would like a beer and Tope shook his head negatively saying he had taken care to drink some really nice palm wine at the local canteen.
Babatunde took the items to the kitchen and returned to find Tope staring in awe at the full life-size photograph of Ife. The photograph took a whole side of the east wall of Babatunde’s living room. It was obviously taken as she stood by the hill amongst flowers and stream. Babatunde watched his brother and had a small smile on his face as Tope turned round. However, there was real alarm in Tope’s eyes as he pointed to the photo and looked at Babatunde. “Why do you have that here?”
“Why not here? It is mine and I happen to live here.” Tope stared for some long seconds, shook his head and went back to the couch. He seemed irritated all of a sudden and that puzzled Babatunde.
He knew the issue of Ife had always bothered his brother and Babatunde was at a loss how to handle it. In a quiet voice, he spoke to his brother. “Look it is my problem and not yours, so why don’t you simply accept it?”
“Papa wants to know if you have any plans of marrying. Even Joseph got married.”
“Is that why he sent you or has he chosen another bride again?” Babatunde asked, searching his brother’s eyes. His hands were clenched at his sides but his voice was even and steady.
Babatunde saw a strange look come into the eyes of his half-brother. He tried to make light of the almost heavy silence.
“Why are you worrying about me? I have been busy with school but you are even older and should have been married by now anyway so what is holding you back?”
“Papa says that you are wanted back in the town as Ifa is to decide the new king and you are to report to the elders,” Tope announced abruptly.
He gave his brother a look that Babatunde recognized as reluctant respect.
Babatunde had a small frown conveyed in his eyes. ”I hope I can get time off from work, my boss is not around now and the one acting on his behalf could be tricky about giving permission.”
Tope shrugged and announced he would like to turn in for the night as he had had a long drive, was tired and gave a big yawn to prove his point. He said his goodnight and hurried off to the guest bedroom.
Babatunde sat back in the living room contemplating his impossible dream. Would Ife ever love him like he loved her? He wondered how he was going to learn to live with it if she did not.
He did not know what he was going to tell his father who was getting on in years. He had tried to shake himself into the reality of his impossible longing and go on with his life.
Now a pharmacist and employed, he still had been unable to date. Not for lack of offers he reminded himself.
He threw himself fully into his work and that was some relief.
The hair on the back of his head prickled and he knew Sasa was around. He sighed and invited his friend in. Sasa now moved closer to him in the physical plane. He could almost always see Sasa in the misty form.
Sasa had identifiable features—a tall, distinguished but youthful old. He still teased him by calling him Fancy Pants particularly if they were having an argument.
Sasa was looking at the Blue Mountains. No, there were no mountains near his home but each time Sasa visited, he showed him things.
Babatunde learned that it was Sasa’s inner thoughts that beamed to him and when they connected he could experience and see one of Sasa’s homes.
Sasa gave him a wry smile and a look from deep blue eyes. “When you have finished, maybe we can have a decent conversation.”
Babatunde smiled. “Has a king being decided?”
“You tell me, young Lion.”

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Numen Yeye..a story of reincarnation

The holiday season is drawing near. Take a look at Numen yeye and buy a copy for a friend if you already have one yourself.

How did it all start? It might be a good question if we all check why we are here on earth, on terra firma, and see if we had a beginning. The classic argument about what came first, the chicken or the egg. We all have a story to tell and I want to tell you about a lot of things. I have wondered if I should just start from the middle of the story but how do I make you understand who I really am?

How can I penetrate the mists of confusion and the bandages that cloud the inner understanding of our journeys into gross matter?

I could tell you about me when I ventured here, about nights wide awake wondering where the help and understanding were going to come from. I could tell you about being black, being proud and being hungry. I could tell you so much about the times I walked the stairs, my heart in my mouth as I got called all kinds of names and had problems identifying my own name. I could tell you how I had to learn to keep my own counsel. I could also tell you so many other things about me. But where do I start?

Let us begin with my earthly mother, for I knew her before I was born in climes of golden rain and blue sunsets, where the water spoke to you of the journeys it had made from the green-sided mountains when silence and the winds were songs that caressed her heart. But my present earthly mother swayed to a different music and came through bands of light so bright into this realm that we still wonder and are mystified at the speed with which she forgot why she came. We called her Jasmine but she needed lessons and traveled down to earth and got the name Fehintola, which in their language meant ‘she leans on honor’.
visit biolaephesus.com for more details

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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 Clem Olaniyi


1. May we know you?

. A poet. Philosopher. Novelist. Orator. Farmer.

  1. When did you develop a love of poetry?
    As long as I can remember. Perhaps the age of 14.

  2. What has been the reception from your contemporaries on your poems?
    . Encouraging. They love and cheer for my style of writing. Some have my poems hung as mnemonics on their walls. That’s quite impressive and humbling for me

  3. What type of poetry do you favor?
    . All types. I write about anything. Everything. All things.

  4. Please share with us a bit about what you write about and why?
    . I write about life in general, even death. Talk about love, music, just anything. I’m always inspired to write at all times. Even at moments of grief and times of wild cheers I’m game on

  5. Have you had any of your poems published formally?
    . No. Not yet. Working on it definitely. I’ve had few suggestions and some offers to present my work for UNICEF in helping African children

  6. Do you think poetry can be used to change an attitude?
    . Surely, yes! Poetry is a way of life. Even every breath we take is hewn in poetry. Poetry is life. With poetry, a dirge can turn into a wild happy ballad. I just can’t be imaging life and nature without beautiful, orchestrated pieces of poetry in it. But to know what it is, you must feel it. If you’re not swinging in, you can’t mediate it.

  7. How often do you write?
    . Very often. It could be anywhere at anytime. Several times I’d wake up in the middle of the night to write. It could come by things I observe on the roadside, market, children, even the flowers. Just think of anything I’m there
  8. Share your dreams.
    Just a little I’d share. To see my name etched on the pillars of history. To create an awareness and help people realize their dreams. To help people know that poetry is not an odious thought or activity. Without poetry all forms of endeavors in life become vegetative
  9. When you look at your environment, do you see poetry gaining some level of recognition or popularity?
    We are a bit short on that right now in Nigeria of today, but we are getting “relocated” into feeding those who are bereft of it. So I believe someday, it will hold ground again. Those of old were taught with poetry. That’s why they still edge above newer guys of now. That’s why nothing exceptional has been well noticed because we are sold to a life of mundane activity devoid of creativity.

  10. What do you think of young poets liking the spoken word as a form of protest or expression
    .They yearn for fulfillment. They know that’s the only language the core of all hearts feeds on. They know a drop of water can suddenly become an ocean with poetry.

  11. Please tell us about your favorite poets, old and young
    William Shakespeare. Prof. Wole Soyinka. Those are ones still touching the strings and stirrings of my heart

  12. Which poet has had the most influence on you?
    William Shakespeare
  13. How do want to be evaluated by your peers and society?
    A phlegmatic Astute Observer. I am a clinical realist…I am evermore an alchemist of positivity, an adherent of an austere life. A man blessed with so much to offer but few of interests to be shared, who, when others don’t, does see promises in your eyes, the spark smoldering in your breasts, giving it tinder to see your soul ignites to passion
  14. Thank you coming on Centre stage
    It’s a great pleasure ma’am.

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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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Miranda on Centre stage

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
THE PASSAGE
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.

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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