It Is Not Writer’s Block or Something Like That

My deep and sincere apologies for abandoning this little writing project of mine. Trust me, it is not writer’s block or anything close to it that is responsible for it. It is just the the demands of my 8 t0 5 job seven days a week. Okay, don’t let me come here and cry out my woes, a man has got to pay bills abi. All the same I am sorry for keeping my few followers waiting for fresh shares of my reading experience.

So, since I last punched in letters and words onto this blog I have read the following books and I have been dying to write a proper review or say personal reader’s experience about them. Here they are –

  1. Love Is Power Or Something Like That – A. Igoni Barrett
  2. Smithereens Of Death – Olubunmi Familoni
  3. The Fishermen – Chigozie Obioma
  4. Walking Shadows – Jude Dibia
  5. Season of Crimson Blossom – Abubakar Adam Ibrahim
  6. Blackass – A. Igoni Barrett

These books gave me new experiences and perspective into Nigerian Literature. From a debut like Smithereens of Death by Olubunmi Familoni to double doses from A. Igoni Barrett whose books show how a writer evolves in style and trend to Abubakar’s Season of Crimson Blossom where love is explored between two unlikely people and in an unlikely place, with dire issues of culture and social perspective tied around the plot and theme. No doubt these books gave me a roller coaster ride and my reviews of them are coming up shortly, one for each day of this week. Watch out.

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Breaking Silence: A Reading of Elnathan John’s ‘Born on A Tuesday’

Northern Nigeria googled, cannot come up without a tag of violence, the BokoHaram Sect in particular. for Nigerians and many foreigners, the lives and stories of the people who come from the northern part of Nigeria are mostly nothing but the ‘pieces’ of news that we gather from the media. Just a very few have had first hand experiences of how life is in the area, and many of the few have not had the opportunity or are not ready to tell of their experiences.

I am not sure about calling BOAT a Northern Nigerian Literature, but I am sure that in the Nigerian Literature Scene, literature from the North are not many, and even the available ones are not of much interest of study or are not available or known. So, what Elnathan John has done with BOAT is to bridge this void to a  great extent.

boat

BOAT like ‘Season of Crimson Blossom’ by Abubakar Adam Ibrahim delivers current and vivid stories of the north into the mainstream of the Nigerian Literature. Other than steady news of violence, we are able to see, read and feel though in fiction, some close to real experiences of life in the north, that there are people living there excluded from the violence, survivors or victims who still have the capacity to live, love, bear pain, make decision and interact with the outside world, a normal process of life with ‘normal’ people.

BOAT transcends and projects beyond violence. The story is told in the voice of Dantala, the protagonist in the story, of how he lives on the streets, blends into a gang that gets employed by a small political party to fight its opposition. The attack on the opposition’s headquarters office turns ugly and Dantala escapes to another city where he finds solace (food, shelter, education, mentor-ship, love, betrayal, loyalty) in the hands of the Sheikh of the Mosque. He maneuvers through the story with the background of his sick mother and his brothers who have joined a rival sect considered extreme and dangerous, a point where his loyalty and quest for self finds expression.

Elnathan writes this story in a mixed tone, sometimes humorous, sometimes sad, sometimes funny and sometimes tragic. His writing is very vivid, it describes to the letters, takes us to the scene of events and ropes us into the live of the characters and their environment which is of particular concern and interest. The language of Dantala is Nigerian, and many other instances there are code mixing and switching without any foot note or hyphenated explanation. This in some way project an inquisition into the cultural essence of the book, it draws the reader to find out, to explore and get into the language, cultural setting and experience in the book. A plus,I think, for the editor for the careful abandonment of trying to spoon the reader.

Elnathan story telling skill is superb. He writes in a linear way, the events roll into each other with a careful commitment to memory by the use of Dantala’s journal (a journal which also helps focus on his evolving process and integration). This style I think is close or similar to Achebe’s, in a more particular way of holding cultural essence in African Literature. BOAT offers a front row exposition into the burning issues of violence in the northern part of Nigerian, as a way to present the everyday lives of the people who live and base there, along religion, politics and culture. It presents them as a people not as victims only. For example, a reader can have a close imagination of what an Almajiri passes through and how they survive.The narrative is clean and a good debut for the two-time Caine Prize finalist.

BOAT breaks the silence and mono view that surrounds the Northern story.

 

 

April Bloom, Book Cases and Music

Okay, cheers of the new month. Since the last update for March, between you and I, I have not finished reading James Marlon’s ‘The Brief History of Seven Killings’. It has not been easy, keeping my day job which I have had no break from everyday since March. I am now on Page 150. Please clap for me jare. Sure, I am still reading it.

I found and joined The Port Harcourt Book Club. It has been very exciting. The book club had been existing under my nose for a while and I never knew. As usual, I stumbled upon its existence on twitter. They read a book every month and meet for the book discussion and some kind of review every last Sunday of that month by 4pm at a venue of choice in Port Harcourt. For the month of April, they, or should I say we are reading ‘Love is Power or Something Like That‘ by A. Igoni Barrett, the book is available at Bookville Bookshop, Mummy B road, Port Harcourt. It is an open book club, so if you are in Port Harcourt or passing by you can join. Find them on twitter, @ThePHCBookClub

Between March and now, I have knocked down two books, and both are short stories collections. The one for The Port Harcourt Book Club, ‘Love is Power or Something Like That’ by A. Igoni Barrett, a Port Harcourt boy himself and ‘Smithereens of Death’ by Olubunmi Familoni an Ibadan base writer. I am unto the third book, ‘We Need New Names‘ by NoViolet Bulawayo, the 2014 Etisalat Prize for fiction winner. It is a good progress on my reading habit if you ask me. And of course, their reviews are coming right up, maybe this month too.

Next on the blog should be my short review of Elnathan John’s ‘Born On A Tuesday‘. I have managed to finish the last two chapters which the pity that flushed me up for Ahmed did not allow me to read. Watch this space.

THE OTHER THINGS…

Nigeria in suffering from fuel scarcity. I know it is no news. But guys, it is not easy, the money I have spent on fueling my car since this brouhaha started is already double my monthly usual and mounting. It is not funny anymore.  I just hope that this week shall be the end of it, if not maybe what happened in 199somthing will happen again.

Among other things, I love music and of all kinds, so far it sounds good to me and fits my mood per time. There is this beautiful Nigeria  female sensation Aramide. She sings Afro Soul, and I came across her last year. She has a new music video out for her single Love Me, in which she featured Adekunle Gold, another Afro Soul sensation I will say.

Aramide-Adekunle-Gold-New-Video-Bella-Naija-7-600x400

A shot from the video – Aramide & Adekule Gold                     Courtesy : BellaNija

I love the feel of the song, its mixture of Yourba and English Lyrics, the flush of the African feel in the instrumentals and the lush video shoot and quality. It has been on replay on my music player for a while. Enjoy the new video here.

Catch you later guys.

 

 

African Literature is More – Oluwaseyi G. Abidoye

FROM reading my first African Literature piece to now, I have subconsciously developed the love for any writing that comes out of Africa, especially Nigeria.

Thinking about this, I have for some time now, devoted my free time to being a connoisseur of African Literature. African Stories, Poetry and Art move me. From the novel genre to short stories and flash fiction, I feel a part of me in every story.

So I have tried to collect the experiences and feelings that I have with reading these stories from back in time and reading them now. I have seen that at each point, a particular story speaks in essence of time and understanding to the reader.

africa

What I read as meaning and contexts to Things Fall Apart, for example, when I was younger is not what I read as meaning to it now that I am older and more learned than I used to be. The reading experience gets better with time and understanding. So are the discourses that Things Fall Apart generates from 1958 till date, they have become more, and seen in new perspectives.

I want to believe that this particular experience is happening to writing in Africa. African Literature has grown from its early stage as it was to something more phenomenon. It has gone beyond stories, protests, definition and its struggles for recognition and documentation both in written and oral form to become a platform that takes these earlier stages of development as tools for projection, not as form, type or definition

African Literature is now a platform that is open to different voices, across genres. Africans alike, writers, artistes, painters, photographers, spoken word performers (in oral) have all taken to this platform to display, discourse, present and churn out issues, that as much as peculiar they are to Africa, have positioned Africa in a global discourse and recognition.

Not that African Literature is assuming a new role in this ‘platform’ nomenclature or form, it has only become grandiose. It is bigger. African Writers are now all over the place, Publishing African Writers now is big business, writing is more, readers are more, dissemination is more, so is the discourse, so is the aesthetics and literariness.

Beyond the traditional and formal single view or perspective of discourses in African Literature about the social commentaries, there is more attention to the level of aesthetics and the literary characteristics that African Literature now presents. African Literature is now finding inter-textual relations and cross continental juxtapositions both in style, structures and the level content development. Detailed attention is now being placed on canonizing African Literature not only in the social and political contexts but on style, structures, beauty and deployments as works of art.

So, African Literature has evolved, It is not just stories of cultural, political, anthropological documentation of Africa anymore, it has become more, defining its writers also, their styles, their experiences and their capabilities to deliver all these in beautiful stories that span time and holds relevance for discourses on equal grounds in global Literature discourse anywhere anytime. African Literature has come to stay.

Book Review : Julius Bokoru’s ‘The Angel That Was Always There’

Memory is powerful; it is a very heavy burden that is not so easy to put down. Thanks to Literature, despite the painful remembrance, and occurrences that cloud Julius Bokoru’s mind, he was able to carefully paint a story of himself, his village and growing up, his losses and how he seeks identity even in the midst of family members, all these are featured in his faction novel ‘The Angel That Was Always There’.

The book reads like a bedtime story, it carries along the reader in an unwavering manner that completely wraps up in undivided attention. This book purges pity and mild feelings among others for the protagonist of the book Julius. And for people who grew up, lived or still live in Port Harcourt and Bayelsa State of Nigeria, the book is civil history at good notch, they should read it.

Love triangle between a fierce village belle Hetty, the author’s mother, and Trust Bokoru and Jonah Donghahbeyi, Trust’s distant cousin. Hetty loves Trust, ends up with Jonah and his American charisma, but gets pregnant for Trust and Julius was born. With this plot, Julius narrates how his sets forth to find his father and gain acceptance among his half siblings, and the most sweet rendition of how he loves his mother and how her love for him is like that of an angel that watches over one. The sad and pity feeling sets in when Julius lost his mother and his quest for his father became more of a necessity than just familiarization.

This book paints romance in its local flavour, no hidden shadows. It employs journals as a means of memory and poetry as a tool of love. And I must say the book is bearing an Ijaw placard and it is completely Nigerian.

Books For March and The Others That Amuse Me – Oluwaseyi G. Abidoye

First I apologize for the lateness on publishing the reviews of the books I read in February. My day job became a big baby that needed more tending than what the sunlight does for the earth. I was crushed in between writing, reading and working, since the later pays the bills for now, it took the larger part of me.

I am still reading Marlon James’s The Brief History of Seven Killings, contrary to the title, the book is not brief, it is bulky, and I am yet to pass the 100th page. I find myself grappling with the language and that, is slowing down my reading process, also, the book requires a very retentive memory from the reader and that demands paying keen attention, so I put a page divider somewhere in the book. So ‘ama’ continue reading Marlon’s TBHOSK for the month of march.

About Okey Ndibe’s Foreign Gods, Inc. I really enjoyed the book, find my short review here.

Elnathan John’s Born on a Tuesday is an eye opener to me, as it should be for many. It recounts the story of Northern Nigeria in a manner which no one has attempted before. I can say the book is a handbook for understanding the typical life of an almajiri, their vulnerability, hopes and how they are neglected to sheer destiny, unguarded and weary. My review of it will come up in a few days from now.

THE OTHER THINGS

Rivers State of Nigeria is bubbling with political killings and threats of more killings among election campaign and other political activities. Indeed power has changed hands and like karma, what went around is about to come around. I am not reporting news, this is just a mental note to self, to be careful this weekend and mind my own steps, words and actions. The rerun election is coming up the 19th of March, 2016. I hope it will not be re-killings, re-ringings and re-contesting the results of the election.

I MADE A FRIEND

For the kind of job i do, making friends solely for business reasons is the only thing that comes to mind when the phrase ‘making friends’ is mentioned. Outside work, the friends I keep are my childhood friends, asides them, I have virtual friends too, on social media.  I guess everyone knows how that kind of friendship works, stalking, likes, tweets and re-tweets and the likes. nothing really personal. But this week, I made a formal attempt to turn one of my virtual friends into a buddy friends. Let us see how that works out.

MICROPOETRY

So, while surfing the web as usual, I stumbled on the term ‘micro-poetry’. It is a kind of poetry that favors short words and concise thoughts, I do not know how formal or acceptable this kind of poetry is yet, I am still reading up about it. But I can say that this poetry favors the lazy writer, who have problems with words and too many verbose expression. Micropoetry is spontaneous in formation and dissemination and it is being made popular by tweets and twitter’s 140 character attribute. So, I decided to try men hands at it, I formed two and here they are:

TINGLING EARS

My ears want to hear good news,

Only that the windy evil men do

Clouds the sound wave,

Still, I hear whispers of love and conquest.

BURNER

No, don’t touch me,

I am not fire, so you feel you can toy with me,

I am the ice that burns from the crown to the sole,

Tips and curves all round

I hope I tired, who will score me now. Chao!

Between ‘God-Napping’ and Other Things : Reading Okey Ndibe’s ‘Foreign Gods, Inc.’ – Oluwaseyi G.Abidoye

The book has certain curiosities to it, first the title, Foreign Gods, Inc. it sends a signal and a cascade of questions down one’s mind. In Okey Ndibe’s hands we come across Ike’s story. Ike is a Nigerian New Yorker, a graduate cabby who holds an Amherst cum laud degree in Economics. Ike just waddled out of a divorce, he is broke and he is an alcohol addict. he loves the American dream, and he has had his own episode, a cut of the pie, in his bid to acquire the green card and secure a job on wall street, pursuits that left him broke, and emotionally wrecked.As a means to an end, Ike sets out to go his village in Nigeria and god-nap his village ancestral deity statue, sell it to an American god collector and make enough money to put his misery to sleep. It seems such a task-less quest until things turn into a water fall of events where culture, race,immigration and diaspora influences, African tradition and even domestic abuse are explored in the chase of Ngene the African god in a post modern context. I mean who steals a god these days?

gods inc

Foreign Gods, Inc is a page turner, one is immersed in Ike’s story and like seeking an intervention for him. His characterization is very linear, he is small willed, selfish, weak and battered man whose choices make him, not the authors. Foreign Gods, Inc is a moral tale embedded with stiff comic and light humor. Okey Ndibe projects the influence of the American dream on African immigrants, and how this influence offers them a fake sense of superiority over Africans who have not set foot in America. Ike showed this when he stumbled on the kids watching reruns of Micheal Jordan’s rerun  games, and he refused to see himself in the shoes of those boys. they really want the same thing.

Ike refuse to see that stealing his village god and selling it to an American god collector is an extension of the grip the American life has indirectly on him, Africa exports farm produce, oil diamonds and other solid minerals that have created economic channels and chaos alike, Ike just added exporting local deities to the list. so what can America not get from you, even your gods. At a point one looses feelings for Ike, and allows emotions towards his character turn cold.

Okey-Ndibe

OKEY NDIBE

The story is grounded in religion and cultural tussles as Ike’s mother and sister are victims of a fake pastor, who works on their fears  and manages to scheme them out of their little money, by pitching Ike’s Uncle and grandmother against his mother and sister as their core enemies and the killers of Ike’s father. The plots is magnified as Ike finds himself in between the love of his mother and the appearances he has to keep with his Uncle, who is the custodian of Ngene, the god he plans on god-napping. Magic realism surfaces as Ike has a recurring dream that points him as the next custodian of Ngene, corroborated by his mothers insinuations.

The authors story telling is quite simple and concise, no wasted words or lost and carried away descriptions, he seems to know where is going with the story and he is in a rush to reach there, as such there are story line distortions, as such the story is compelling  to read. After a dip into Ike’s background and personal life, the author turns one back to his ambition. he used Ike to tell of the continuous disappointment many have faced in the pursuit of the American dream an a immigrant.

I recommend this book. It is a good read. But wait, who am I to do that.