Have you heard about the Nigerian Writer Series (NWS)? No? It is a publishing imprint of the Association of Nigeria Authors (ANA) modelled after Heinemann’s African Writers Series. The Series was started with a N 10,000,000 grant given to the Association by Governor Aliyu Babangida Muazu of Niger state in 2012. Ten manuscripts were selected from a pool of fifty four by the Series Editors and published in 2014 by four publishing consultants to the NWS: Parresia, Krafts, Jemmie and The Book Company. Here are ten yummy servings from the NWS kitchen and I, am thrilled to be your guide.
Cat Eyes is the story of Pededoo, a country boy, who struggles to maintain a civil relationship with his father who had just returned home after many years abroad with a family of Cat Eyes (a white family). But Pededoo is however hardly able to resist and truly dislike Melissa-Jane, that charming and dashing cat-eyed blonde. Cat Eyes is a bildungsroman, a book of family, adventure, self-discovery and love that would take readers on a voyage they would hold dear. Pever X’s real name is Pever Martins Paul Aondofa Marie. He is a trained accountant, student member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and Managing Partner of PEA and Associates, a firm into everything in the book industry. In 2013, Pever emerged first runner up for the ANA Prize for Prose Fiction with his book, Cat Eyes. He lives in Makurdi. Cat Eyes is his first book.
Crimson Clouds is a rollercoaster ride into the world of deceit, power, crime, politics and relationships. It is the story of two people from extreme worlds who decide to fight for their right to love each other against all odds. In the process, they find themselves on a quest for justice and become the hope of a nation that wishes to bring evil-doers to justice. While written with a political nuance and a plot that progresses fast, ‘Crimson clouds’ is ultimately a love story that explores love as it rises above difficult circumstances and triumphs in a world, turned upside down by greed and injustice. Ayodele Arowosegbe is an essayist, literary blogger, and media professional. His works have appeared in SAGE, a lifestyle magazine, and Inscribed, an online literary magazine. In July 2011, he co-founded the Literary Café, now LitCaf Nigeria, an outfit that seeks to promote creative writing as a social consciousness in Nigeria. Ayodele completed a Masters degree in Media Enterprise at the School of Media and Communication, Pan Atlantic University, Lagos. He currently does freelance media consulting and blogs at Ideology’s Corner. Crimson Clouds is his first Novel.
Cupid’s Catapult is a collection of twelve short stories set in Nigeria, depicting how love relationships often begin and blossom. From Lawrence who comes to Amina’srescue in Baggage to Love, until we meet Kate in Subtle Changes, who after her stepfather’s death, moves to her benefactor’s house where she slowly loses her heart to Jude, Cupid keeps aiming and shooting, spinning this universal emotion as he pleases. The stories in this collection show us the many faces of love within life’s potpourri of laughter and pain. Above all, they urge us to keep believing in love despite all odds. Hannah Onoguwe spent most of her growing-up years in Jos where she discovered her love for writing. She studied at the Universities of Ibadan and Jos. Her work has appeared in various journals in print and online. She enjoys travelling and has a weakness for romantic comedies.
Patriotsts and Sinners
Patriots and Sinners x-rays a typical under developed country bedevilled by corruption and sundry ills. Siella, the stubborn and self-willed daughter of the president is in the centre of the story. Siella refuses to school abroad, choosing instead to confront the rot in her home country. She becomes a victim of a high profile kidnap saga that brings her face to face with the rampaging evils that hold sway in the country she loves unflinchingly. When she meets the patriots, a group of deadly, dare-devil men, she is forced to see the other side of crime and to assess patriotism from a different angle. It is a story of love, crime, betrayal, corruption and above all, hope. Nnenna Ihebom hails from Mbieri in Mbaitoli Local Government Area of Imo state. She is married into the Ihebom family of Umuomi Uzoagba in Ikeduru Local Government Area of Imo state. She wrote her first story book, The Rejected Stones in 2007. Her novel, The Web won the ANA/Chevron prize for environmental writing 2009. She has a passion for Igbo writing and also won the ANA/Ken Nnamani prize for Igbo literature 2007.
Souza Boy is a moving account of a motherless Nigerian boy who is born in Cameroon and grows up with his father to become inextricably involved with the foreign surroundings in which he is birthed. But a sudden relocation into a supposed ‘Land of Promise’ soon casts a terrible cloud upon him and the bliss he once experienced abruptly turned into nightmares, a shocking experience from which he never recovers. The result is a gripping work of art – a work of art committed to its artistic values. The author, with remarkable deftness, takes his readers on a gripping voyage from Cameroon to the West African nation of Nigeria to produce a literary piece which is unputdownable. Elias Ozikpu is a playwright, auto biographer, novelist, student, and a social commentator. He was born in Souza, the Littoral Region of Cameroon but hails from Obudu, Cross River, Nigeria.
The Angel That Was Always There
The Angel That Was Always There talks about single parenting in the Niger Delta. It is a true life account of the author who is himself a product of a single parent. Julius Bokoru is an essayist, historical-fiction writer and memoirist. His works have been featured on various local and international literary magazines. In 2012 the government of Bayelsa state named him among the 50 most influential people of the state for his literary contributions.
The Oath is about Ojeiva Jumbo, a poor school teacher, who realized he needed to get involved in partisan politics and secure power to save his people from the onslaught of poverty, violence and illiteracy in the fictional state of Azayi State. But this power did not come free as he required the assistance and connection of a powerful Godfather. Jumbo was made to take an oath to reward his Godfather financially when he becomes the governor but he will break this oath, drawing the ire of forces hell-bent on destroying him. Jumbo will however survive plots against him, including work hard to fulfil his mission in the government in this suspenseful political thriller. Habib Yakoob was born in Okene, Kogi State. He had his first degree in Mass Communications from Bayero University and second degree in Media Arts from University of Abuja. He has published several articles, and written many yet- to-be published short stories and poems. His play titled, The Ugly Ones Refuse to Die, published in 2004 has been on the reading list of secondary schools since 2006.
The Right Choice
The Right Choice is a novel about a group of young military officers, who under the leadership of Brigadier Saleem Sa’ada, strike and overthrow the regime of General Danjuma. The new military government designs a five year transition programme to shift power to a democratically elected government. As the elections approach, the UPP, a political party, lobbies Sameera, a radical writer and journalist, to accept its presidential ticket. After a heated race, Sameera emerges victorious. She will instantly become a world political figure and set about to actualise her vision of a united economically and politically vibrant African continent. Zaharaddeen Ibrahim Kallah is a Kano born writer. He holds a B.Sc. Sociology/Political Science, and Masters in Development Studies. He is a bilingual writer, writing in English and Hausa languages. He works with the Directorate of Academic Planning, Bayero University, Kano.
The Threshing Floor
The Threshing Floor is a collection of a dozen short stories that has just a bit of everything. From religious hypocrisy, marital infidelity and human deception and fraud, to spiritual mysteries, the limits of justice (in our land), the many and uncertain shades of love, and the redemptive value of suicide, Isaac Attah Ogezi skilfully and sensitively explores the human condition in its social, psychological and spiritual dimensions. The stories are both universal and uniquely individual as everyone can identify with one or another of the characters whose experiences are portrayed in The Threshing Floor. The author's mastery of language and power of narration will surely seduce any reader. Isaac Attah Ogezi is a legal practitioner and writer. His published works include: Waiting for Savon (2009), Casket of Her Dreams (2010), Under a Darkling Sky (2012), Embrace of a Leper (2013) and The Threshing Floor (2014). In 2014 he was nominated for both the Soyinka Prize for African Literature and NLNG Prize for Nigerian Literature for his Under a Darkling Sky.
In the heat of ethno-religious riot in Jos, Emeka and Hauwa are in love. Unknown to them, Hauwa is betrothed to Hassan, the head of the Shura of the Muslim Brotherhood sect. Meanwhile, Special Agent Sean Porter is on a mission to uncover a plot by the Muslim Brotherhood to deploy biological weapons. The weapons are traced to Jos. Things take an unexpected turn when Hassan stumbles upon Hauwa and Emeka in a compromising position.
The prognosis that Nigeria - the giant of Africa will fail or succeed in its race against 31 countries to win the 2014 FIFA World Cup has now been properly documented in the annals of history, but it does leave a few lessons for the Super Eagle, Nigeria Football Federation and Nigeria has a nation.
Before the World Cup, there have been concerns in every quarter has to the performance quotient of the Super Eagles coupled with series of calls for the inclusion of some players which include Ike Uche and Osaze Odemwingie. Though the latter eventually got invited, questions were raised on the quality of strikers the Super Eagles had paraded.
The super eagles ended their first match against Iran with a goalless draw, millions of Nigerians were left hearts broken, frustrated, disappointed, cursing players and demanding the retirement of Keshi. Following from his superlative performance at the Africa's Nations Cup, Nigerians had a lot of expectations based on his experience in his football career, with his success in taking Togo, Mali and Nigeria to the Africa Cup of Nations, and qualifying for the World Cup.
It was widely believed Iran would be a game changer for Nigeria after having a draw with Italy, Mexico and Scotland before qualifying for the World Cup 2014. Even if the country fails to defeat others, we have players internationally recognized who can compete at the highest level so what could have gone wrong? In all honesty, our players were a shadow of those who lead the Nigeria to victory at the Africa Nations Cup, our Eagles wings failed to flap even before it took off, having Iran digging in deep, frustrating our players in the last ten minutes of the game, our players lacked the skill and competence and seemed to have little idea on how to break down a resolute Persian wall, where is the excitement and skill that won the Olympics less than a decade ago?.
A major flaw in our first match is the act of indiscipline from our players, what is the essence of international recognized players when they play like amateurs in a serious tournament like the World Cup? The players did not stick to the plan and played as individuals rather than a team. Most of the players were left confused, not sure of what the next approach is, one could tell our lack of dexterity in our matches. Seasoned coaches understand that by substitutions the game changes, the Super Eagles are easily predictable, they lack speed, match stamina and clinical finishing.
The zeal and hunger for goals is lacking, we had many chances with our ball dominance but we let it fade away, our international players were bench warmers in respective clubs since this past league season, our players lack the creativity and ability for midfielders to string penetrative passes and it had a huge effect on the game. Our possession of the ball was not borne out of superiority, but for the opponent’s preference to soak pressure in the hope of hitting the Nigerians on the counter.
Our midfielders lacked the inventiveness on how to open the opposition defense, every counter attack played by Mikel went to a slow zone speed limit, no passion, There was little swagger and skill from the plodding African champions, as they lacked the ambition to win in the opening match, running up and down with no intention to score a goal. Even when the games got tough for the Super Eagles, there was no change in the striking department which makes the exclusion of Ike Uche a big mistake given his impressive performance for his Spanish club side.
The match against Bosnia played at Arena Pantanal was better, has it could be considered “an evenly poised game”, It was balanced, fair but still lacked an aggressive attack which enables the opposition to easily decode their intentions off.
Tactical dexterity was lacking in our second match against Bosnians, Keshi needs to devise tactics against opponents that best neutralizes strengths, identifies their weakness and exploits them. A good coach is the difference between victory and defeat and it can only be achieved by understanding the tactics of the game. Keshi should have made use of creative players instead of the less intelligent, clueless players in the match, Victor Moses and Osaze should have been more involved in the match.
Our players were no match for their counterparts in other countries, it was obvious that the teams that prepared very well performed well at the World Cup, Right from the beginning of the tournament, it was clear that Germany, Argentina, Holland and hosts, Brazil would go far in the tournament not because of their football pedigree in World Cup but because their preparation towards their qualifiers and friendly matches clearly demonstrated their serious quest to win the tournament, the two finalists, Germany and Argentina, showed that they had one thing in common. Firstly, both countries had players that have been playing together in the last six years at the national teams. Secondly, most of their players are playing in top clubs in Europe and another factor that worked for both countries is that they have developmental programmes and good football administration. These qualities really helped the countries to go far in the tournament.
Also with the fee payment row and bonuses saga before our second round match against France, which took the intervention of the Nigerian Sports Minister, Tamuno Danagogo, it was a classic case study of what off-field rows can it created unnecessary distraction to winning the World Cup, this was a classic scenario of what off-field rows can achieve in Team Management: it breeds disunity, and that was evident in our performance against France.
Amidst the inefficiencies noticed in the team, it is important to note that this team was only built under two years ago in comparison to every other team that participated in Brazil, lack of accountability and allocation of payment and bonuses to players contributed immensely to the crippling of the Super Eagles
One name which cannot be forgotten so soon in the World Cup is Vincent Enyeama, with his impressive exploit, and incredible saves especially in the last match against France, Enyeama has succeeded to engrave himself in our consciousness and those who were saving their legs for their clubs have also succeeded in making their history short lived.
Players should begin adequate preparation before any tournament kicks off, our football federation needs to engage regular developmental programmes to groom younger talents for the national teams ahead of every World Cup. We need a more effective, young players rather than the same set of faces which has become the routine for African countries.
Also, football administrators in Africa should find a way to be transparent with national players instead of insulting them in the media and pilfering their bonuses during a crucial tournament such as the World Cup.
Granting coach Keshi a new contract for another four years and keeping the group while injecting new blood can only make the team better, Let’s also not forget that Keshi has brought the Nations Cup for Nigeria after 19 years of waiting and he became the first indigenous African coach to qualify a country for the second round of the World Cup. One would say he has done enough to prepare the team for the next African Nations Cup qualifier which kicks off in two months’ time, we can still go back to our drawing board and create an effective tactical approach that will bring the cup home. Surely, together we can win!
Folashade Akintayo is studying Communications at Bowen University, Iwo. She is currently undergoing an internship at Caritas Communications, a foremost PR firm in Nigeria.
The Ink Salon takes its ideology from the bourgeoisie salons of 17th and 18th century France, where Intellectuals gather to discuss important intellectual issues outside government Influence.
The Nigerian Ink Salon is set up to mirror a public sphere that engages participants in interactive, intellectual discussions,with emphasis on the intellectual evolution of the Nigerian woman. Starting this February, the Ink salon will host monthly events in Salons across Lagos. Activities in these events will include book readings, music, spoken word poetry, social forums and health discussions.
The Ink Salon is organized by Ayodele Arowosegbe and Tosin Akingbulu, both masters students of the School of Media and Communication, Pan-Atlantic University.
The Ink Salon can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org, 08167758503, https://www.facebook.com/groups/732077290137915/
Follow on twitter #theinksalon
She was looking very beautiful and radiant, although she had her veil drawled over her head and across her shoulders. She smiled at me, her smile was comforting.
“What troubles your mind?” she asked softly. Then, she came and sat beside me before I could answer.
Today, it still seemed a sort of irony to me that the first contact I made with Miriam was a discussion on political matters. That day, I shared my feelings with her. To my surprise, I realized that Miriam was not only very intelligent; she was also versed in the political matters of our Nation. However, her views were in conflict with mine. Miriam believed the problem lies in the false unification of non similar entities. To her, Nigeria is like a combination of strange bedfellows that have been brought up to look at issues of life from different perspectives. They can never agree on issues. She believed the only answer lies in the complete dissolution of the country and breakup into its component parts or else, very soon, there would be cataclysmic consequences. At a time, she looked at me straight in the eye and said: “The elites and the upper middle class of this country are so far above the rest of the citizens that they have been disconnected from the reality of the futility of uniting this country.”
Eventhough, my discussion with Miriam that day ended up posing more questions to me about the future of my country; I had met someone who would become a soul mate to me. From that day, we became friends. Later, we became very close friends and soon, we became inseparable. Despite being a Muslim, Miriam was cool minded and liberal in thought and expression. This was against my perception of Muslims as conservative, violent, vengeful creatures who were enemies of change. Sometimes, when I confronted her with questions concerning Islamic violence, she would shake her pretty head and tell me it is not about the religion, it is about the people. She told me stories about her native town, in Northern Nigeria, about the extremities of using religion as a weapon. Of course, she always had her own version of the story every time we heard news of violence in the Muslim dominated Northern Nigeria. In her view, those acts of violence were just evil and selfish acts, perpetrated under the guise of religious fundamentalism. Unfortunately, the direct perpetrators are also victims of people who take advantage of their poverty and unemployment, to use them for political purpose. No matter how much drama we attached to it, these acts are political, rather than religious.
One day, I went to Miriam’s home. I had meant it to be a surprise, so I did not tell her I was coming. I reached the house and saw Miriam crying. Immediately she saw me, she wiped her tears and asked me to give her some money. That was the first time she had ever asked me for money. I gave her some money and did not ask any question. Later, she told me what had happened.
“My siblings had not eaten for two days. I needed to find something for them to eat and it seemed all hope was lost. Thank you very much Akin.”
I was surprised. Miriam could not be more than nineteen. Was she supposed to be responsible for taking care of the family?
“What about your parents?” I asked.
“My father died three years ago, fighting for ECOMOG in Liberia.”
“What about his entitlements?”
She smiled sarcastically and shook her head. “You ask as if there is justice in this country. The government told everybody that billions had been spent in promoting peace in Liberia, yet my father and thousand others perished without their families receiving any compensation. Where do you think the money went to?”
“At least your mother should be able to take up responsibility.”
She shook her head sadly. “My mother separated from my father a long time ago.”
At that time, I really felt sorry for her. At a tender age, she had been left alone to battle the storms of life.
“I had just come back from a futile attempt at getting a part time job when I found my siblings crying. They told me there was no food in house and they had tried in vain to get something to eat. Fortunately, I had bought some rice at the market on my way back. I decided to cook. Unsurprisingly, there was no kerosene in the stove.
There had been a total blackout for the past three days so I knew using electric stove was out of it. There was no money to buy kerosene, so I rushed to the sawmill to get some sawdust to use as fuel in cooking. However, to my surprise, there was no single grain of sawdust. One of the security men told me the sawmill had been dormant for four days.
‘N.E.P.A has refused to give us electricity.’ he told me.
‘What of your power generator?’
The man shook his head and smiled. ‘Haven’t you heard about the new fuel price hike? Deisel is so expensive now that our company will go bankrupt if we run on generator.’
Frustrated, I had returned home, trying to think of how to get something to eat. That was when the thought of the predicament of this country overcame me and I started crying. Akin! I was weeping for this country, not myself.”
The day the ultimate tragedy occurred, I was in my room, having an afternoon nap. Two days earlier, Miriam had told me she was traveling to her mother’s village in Eastern Nigeria. I was half-asleep when I my phone rang. Reluctantly, I picked it, angry at the fellow who had disturbed my peace. However, the first voice I heard was Miriam’s.
“Hello, Akin.” she said in a frail voice, and instantly, I had an inkling of danger.
“Miriam, what is happening? Tell me!” I asked desperately.
“Akin, there has been an accident. On the road, near Awka.”
Her voice was so weak that I was instantly overcome by a bout of terror. Inwardly; I prayed it wasn’t as terrible as it seemed.
“Miriam, where are you now?”
“I—am in the hospital, I am on the floor. They brought us here three hours ago.”
“Oh God!” I exclaimed softly. And they haven’t attended to her!
“Akin.” Miriam called; her voice was getting weaker now. “There isn’t enough bed space and the doctors are on strike. The nurses are only attending to the Ibo people amongst us. I---” she gave a loud gasp.
“Miriam!” I called. Inwardly, I was fuming at the hopelessness of the situation.
“Akin, I am losing blood. Tell my siblings about what has happened.”
At that point, the situation was becoming clearer to me. Miriam was dying and I could not do anything to save her. I bowed my head and cried, sobbing loudly as I heard the dying gasps of Miriam. Ten minutes later, she died.
When Miriam died, something also died in me. My belief in the problems of the Nation as mere challenges in Nation building vanished. I realized that there is something fundamentally wrong with my motherland. Yet, something new was born in me. The tragedy of Miriam’s death had aroused in me, a new quest for the institutionalization of justice in my country. I realized that if the fundamental identity of my Nation is not redefined, then we are merely postponing the evil day. I remember the parable of an old man, who gave three coins to his four sons before he died, telling them to share it equally. After his death, instead of trading with the coins, the children fought over the coins and destroyed one of them. Each of them gave birth to a son and the remaining two coins also passed to the second generation. Like their fathers, they also quarreled over the sharing of the coins and destroyed one. Now, the third generation has only one coin to spend. My generation is the third generation. We are in a critical point in history. If we fight over this coin and destroy it, there will be nothing left to give our children and history will not forgive us. But if we wisely trade with it and get more coins, then we will earn our place in history. The ultimate destiny of man on earth is making his world a better place.
hen I got to the University, my ideological basis was shaken. I saw students who were more miserable than I had ever imagined. I saw some of my friends like Chidi, struggling to pay our meager school fees. I couldn’t understand it anytime Government increased the fees and students cried out. Throughout my childhood I had never felt special or privileged. I thought my life was the life of the average Nigerian kid. I never considered my parents rich because everybody around me was like me or even living better than me. Perhaps my parents had deliberately sent me to a federal government university so that I could see the true face of Nigeria. For the first time, I had to drive through some of the densest parts of the Lagos mainland from my home on the island to get to school at the beginning of the semester. On those rare times, I had a glimpse of the degradation and hopelessness that pervaded the land. Often I got stuck in a traffic jam before getting to school. I drove through shanties and ghettoes; landscapes so horrible in their ugly state that you wanted to cry for the people who live there. Yet you remember that they are people; men and women like you who have dreams, hopes and aspirations. They are not animals. I drove past kids hawking water in sachets while they were supposed to be in school. I witnessed police brutality and corruption; a man slapped repeatedly for about twenty times just because he did not have money to bribe one officer with ugly tribal marks on his face. Yet it was always the poor that were being victimized. I felt ashamed when they allowed my car go, seeing that I looked like someone whose parents would be connected to some powerful people and then stopped the driver of the ragged car behind me just because he looked like someone that could not muster the connection or resources to fight back. The police extort and brutalize the weakest people in the society. These were glaring realities in a city where some people live in mansions behind high walls, separating themselves from the misery outside. The elite rich have insulated themselves from the hardships imposed by their own irresponsible leadership. Many poor, like Chidi’s father are suffering because the government is making them pay for the greediness of the elite.
That day, after Chidi’s outburst, I went to the classroom and sat down staring at my book, but my mind was in tumult. I was pondering over the issues troubling my mind when I heard a voice behind me.
“So the rich also feel sad.”