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Kalahari Review Feature: Many Faced Gods

Hey buff folks! 

My short story ‘Many Faced Gods’ is on the Kalahari Review. Read and be blessed lol.

For this Sunday service, I know the exact number of people wearing red. I do not like the colour red because my Father says it represents witchcraft. My brother is sitting beside me, but is too busy typing instant messages on his phone. He is the only one who dares to do this in my family: use a phone in church.

I allow my eyes search the crowd for my mother, even though I know exactly where she is sitting. The small church is built in a semi-circle and there are many partitions and seating arrangements to allow everybody see the preacher well. From the angle where Ibinabo and I are sitting, we could see almost all the church clearly. I now see my mother sitting at the second row of the church where she always sits.

Even though she is a Pastor’s wife, she still isn’t allowed to sit at the front row. Father says front row seats are for the men. Her hands are clasped tightly between her laps and she looks like she is squinting at the preacher. I don’t know if she is listening to the message, because she is just sitting like a statue. Her skin is the colour of dark chocolate and the kernel oil she rubs every morning, gives her a clean glow— even though it gives her a weird smell. Her long, black hair is now thinning. I can clearly see the purplish bruising on her neck, even though she tries to cover it with her scarf. I heard her telling Mama Tobi, the busybody, earlier, that it is an allergic reaction to a fake gold necklace. I don’t think Mama Tobi believes her though. I think my mother doesn’t know how to lie.

I hate lies. Continue reading


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Featured: An Abundance of Yellow Paper by TJ Benson

Wherever the man came from he didn’t stop running.
He made a turn at the end of Maikano Street, ran into a men’s wear boutique in a white jalabiya and ran out through the back in an ash three-piece suit, a brown leather suitcase in his right hand, red tie flapping over his shoulders as he ran. Even at cross-roads he didn’t stop to catch his breath, he only slowed into a jog after crossing, up the sloping crescent that led to the River View hotel.
The receptionist didn’t know what to make of him, this dapper-dressed stranger with full beard that concealed most of his face and sharpened his eyes; she didn’t know what to make of him at all. She wished him a happy stay and gave him the chip-key for Room 101, the penthouse apartment he requested. How he knew it was available was beyond her and she stared at him, at his brown leather briefcase until he disappeared into the elevator at the far end of the lounge. She turned to her desk to answer a call.
In the roof-top apartment of the hotel he sat on the lush four-poster bed and sighed. Beside him on the bed was the brown leather briefcase. All his running, all his life-savings had come to this. He ran a hand over its creased surface and thought of her. He thought to open it now but knew it was foolishness; there would be surveillance cameras in the room. He picked up the briefcase and walked out to the open air of the roof top. At the edge a table and chair overlooked the sun-dappled Victoria Island skyline without any parapet wall to keep from falling. He dropped the briefcase on the table and sat on the chair before these monsters of concrete and glass, his only spectators for now.
He opened the briefcase knowing what he would find but this knowing didn’t quell his thrill. When he saw what was promised a sense of sanctity overwhelmed him. He knew what he had to do but when he whipped out his ink pen he hesitated. It was a dangerous time to write poetry. Digital poems were traced back to their author’s IP addresses and the discovered poets were stalked and raped to death at first by fans and eventually assassinated when poet-homicide increased and their poems turned to the authorities all over the world. Continue reading


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Akuko-Ifo: Episode II

NightSky_1A very, very long time ago, the land and the sky were friends. The sky even came down to visit the Land on most days.

The Land was the custodian of the rain and this made Land incredibly wealthy. The rains went upwards, and eventually downwards, so the earth was always green and beautiful. Land was very generous with her rain and so the earth flourished abundantly.

Of course, the Sky was very envious of the Land, because she hardly did anything. She was always dry and stagnant, and directly received the painful rays of the Sun.

The Sky’s envy increased when the Land and the Sun fell in love. Sky was outraged.

One day, Sun mysteriously disappeared.

Land looked high and low for her love, Sun, but did not find him. She was very sad. Because of this, she could not control the rain anymore, and the earth flooded a lot.

After searching all over the world for the Sun in vain, all the other elements decided to organize a burial for the Sun. They set a date and prepared the venue for the occasion.

Some days before the burial, the Sky came to visit Land to sympathize with her, and when she saw the flooded earth, she got an idea.

“It seems that you, Land, are not in the right frame of mind to be controlling the rains,” Sky began, “and you know that it is bad luck for it to rain during a burial…”

Land thought about this for a while before nodding her head sadly, “You are right my friend, I cannot control the rain in this state.” She told the Sky.

“Yes, so why don’t I hold the rains for you for a while, and after the burial, I will come and give it back to you.” Sky said.

Land clapped her hand happily as she said, “You are right!”

So, with grief blinding her, Land gave the rain to her friend, Sky, to hold for her briefly. Sky was overjoyed as she went back to her spot above, with the rains in her hand.

On the day of the burial, all the elements gathered to sympathize with the Land.

Everything ran smoothly until it began to rain heavily.

Everyone was confused, especially the Land.

She went to confront Sky, and soon realized that she had been betrayed by the Sky.

“Where is my rain, please give me back my rain!” the Land pleaded as she tried to grab the Sky.

All the elements, even the Wind, tried to reach the Sky, but none could reach.

The Sky shifted further and further away until she was so high that not even Land’s tallest trees could touch her.

“I will give you rain whenever I feel like it.” Sky said.

The Sky became very stingy with her rain and the Earth had to beg most times.

Sun kept disappearing for many days in a year, and whenever the elements tried to organize a burial, the Sky would wickedly release her rains.

On those days, it is said that all the elements join forces to help the Land retrieve her rain and even the leaves of the tall trees lunge forward towards the Sky.

If you doubt me, go and ask the Sky why she doesn’t visit the Land anymore.


This series is solely my intellectual work, unless otherwise stated. Unauthorized copying will be taken seriously. Of course, re-blogging is fine, but please message me if you plan on displaying them elsewhere. Thanks for understanding.

Don’t forget to leave a comment below, telling me what you think.  Don’t be a stranger!

Remain Buff!


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Akuko-Ifo: Episode I

Hey Buff people!

I am so happy to be announcing my series of African stories that i titled Akuko-Ifo. They are a set of discontinuous stories that would be told like folktales.

One of my earliest memories is sitting in our NEPA- deprived sitting room and listening to my mum tell me stories that opened up my imaginations and allowed me to dream.

Akuko-Ifo is an igbo word for story or fairy tale.

They will include songs, poems and comedy. Most of them will have moral lessons embedded in them, just like the ancient art, but some might just be for your entertainment alone.

I am really excited; i’ve written four already.

Here goes!


A long, long time ago, when dogs didn’t bark and men carried babies, there was a tortoise named Mbe.

turtle-black-white-vector-1726504

Mbe, the tortoise, was a very successful palm wine tapper. Not only was he a good tapper, he was also a great climber. He could climb the tallest palm trees in the world in order to get his sweet, sweet wine. The fame of his wines spread across all the kingdoms and even the dead yearned for a taste. His wines were so sweet and strong; they could bring down even the fattest elephant.

All of the animals were jealous of Mbe because no one could climb as high as he could without falling.

But there was something that they did not like about Mbe; he did not know how to keep his mouth shut.

Whenever he climbed a tree, he was able to see across the whole village and even tell what the animals were doing. Then, he would sing about the things he saw, from the top of the tree, so that all the villagers would hear. With a loud voice, he would sing:

Nzuzo o, Nzuzo

Nkita the dog is eating his own faeces o, Nzuzo

Agu the lion is feasting on grass o, Nzuzo

Ewu the goat has stolen some yams o, Nzuzo

I can see where Bussu the cat is keeping her faeces o, Nzuzo

Nzuzo o, Nzuzo.

None of the animals could tell Mbe to stop because no one wanted to get on his bad side; they all wanted his sweet palm wine. So they endured this for a long time.

One day, Mbe came across a very tall palm tree. The tree was so tall, its top was in the clouds and could not be seen.

“If I climb this tree, I will be able to see the secrets of the whole world and even heaven,” Mbe said to himself.

So, Mbe began to climb and climb and climb. It took him many days.

Finally, he reached the top.

He was right! He could see across the world!

Then, he began to sing with a very loud voice so the whole world could hear:

Nzuzo o, Nzuzo

I can see the world o, Nzuzo

The world is round o, Nzuzo

Nzuzo o, Nzuzo.

All the animals gathered at the foot of the tree in amazement and waited for Mbe to come down.

Then, Mbe poked his head into the clouds so that he could see the secrets of Heaven too.

All the strong majestic birds were present there, working with Chi to produce rain for the coming rainy season.

This was the biggest secret in the Animal kingdom because no one knew how the rains came.

Mbe observed them for a while before he started to sing:

Nzuzo o, Nzuzo

I know how rain is formed o, Nzuzo

Just before Mbe could finish his song, all the strong birds rushed to him and pushed him down the tree.

Mbe fell from the tall palm tree to the ground with a great thud.

EEEEEEEEGBOWAI!

All the other animals walked away, clucking their tongues and shaking their heads, because Mbe had finally gotten what was coming to him.

Besides, he did not bring down any palm wine.

Mbe, the tortoise, never climbed any tree again.

If you doubt me, go and ask the tortoise how he got his cracked shell.

This series is solely my intellectual work, unless otherwise stated. Unauthorized copying will taken seriously. Of course, reblogging is fine, but please message me if you plan on displaying them elsewhere. Thanks for understanding. 🙂


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A Roland For An Oliver

A sunny day in 1953, a woman and her six-year-old son strolled towards their house, after a long day’s trade at the Ekwulobia market. A loud audacious voice made a few people stop and turn, including the Woman. It was Timothy, the village’s fore spokesperson, who had only just gotten a scholarship to study Political Science at the University of Ibadan. He was the only son of Efuru, the late famous Wine tapper, and had been a favorite since he was a baby. His father did his best to send him to the primary education in their town but died before Timothy could finish. When the village saw the great feats he accomplished at primary school, they contributed some money to send him to secondary school in Lagos.

He had become their pride and joy, destined for great things. The woman was a good friend to Timothy’s mother; she recalled how his mother labored at the farm, day and night, for meager yams and measly corn she would trade for Timothy’s primary school fees. She also knew the joy that his mother felt when Timothy had gotten the university scholarship. Ever since he was a child, he always had strong opinions and spoke big grammar that nobody understood which was why no one was surprised when he came back to town and started organizing political rallies.

He was having one of his usual demonstrations at the market square and had a larger crowd than usual on this particular day. He stood comfortably on the wooden platform shouting some words that the Woman couldn’t care less about, but still she stood, listening from a distance. A few people in the crowd held placards of convicting but poorly written messages that read: NO MORE KWEEN, WE WANT INDEPENDENCE, and WHITE PIPUL MUST GO etc.

Some of the red-capped chiefs stood behind Timothy, with their yellowed singlets and threadbare wrappers, smiling proudly at the son of the soil. The eldest man in the village, Mazi Amadi, was also present with his wife, Ekutus, which made the Woman wonder how important the rally was. This old man was almost eighty years and he walked with a stick because of his bent back. Everyone in the village called him Npa, which meant Father. He was a wise man that everyone went to when they needed advice and he would always say the old Igbo proverb first before anything else, “What an old man can see sitting down, the young men cannot see from the tallest mountain.” His first wife died during childbirth many years back leaving behind no child. He married a second wife soon after and she had seven children who were all mostly grown. Mazi Amadi had been a catechist in his young age and knew a little English. Children came to him when they wanted to hear stories of his travels and English adventures. He was also somewhat wise when it came to English politics. The Woman realized that Mazi Amadi was at the gathering because the elders wanted the villagers to take the rallies more seriously.

The Woman moved closer, pulling her son along with her. Timothy’s voice reverberated through the crowd, “We want to live in an independent nation; where our sons and daughters can lead us. We were here before they came and claimed our soil as theirs. They have helped, yes, but they have overstayed their welcome. Let them go back to their civilized country and rule themselves. We are tired! Are you not tired?!” He shouted, shaking his hands vigorously as if to impart some of his exasperation on the crowd. “Yes, we are tired!” The crowd shouted back. The air was buzzing with a strange energy and the Woman couldn’t help but shout “We are tired,” with them when Timothy asked again. Goosebumps appeared all over her skin as she imagined the greatness that awaited Timothy. She hoped to God that her three sons would have such courage to voice their opinions.

Sweat trickled down her back and her face; she released the edge of her wrapper and wiped her face with it. Timothy continued with his speech, “Aren’t you tired of being robbed of your resources so that they can fund their businesses and industries while we suffer here? Are you not tired of being just an annex for them to exert their power on when they feel like?” Most of the villagers didn’t understand what he said but they still murmured, “We are tired” during the speech. The Woman had a feeling that Timothy found it hard to speak coherently in his native tongue so he spoke in English, but the kind of energy he talked with made the crowd to become more and more pepped. Soon, people were pumping their fists in the air, shouting “Independence!” Timothy spoke up again, “This has gone on for far too long and we can’t just keep quiet anymore.” He paused to wipe his face with a small material.

Just then, an engine revved behind them and Police officers stormed into the square shouting “God save the queen! Everybody lie dan!” The officers rounded the people up and soon, everyone was flat on their faces, quivering. The overzealous and enthusiastic officers in rumpled khaki shirt and shorts with dirty brown sandals, that waved their guns all over the place, were Nigerian; even Igbo.

Their inspector was a blond white man with neat, ironed khaki trousers and shiny black boots. He walked around for a while and then shouted, “Who is the chief speaker here?” He spoke Igbo, probably to impress the villagers, even though his British accent was still clear and he didn’t get the pronunciations right. The Woman heard murmurs but no one spoke up for a while. The sun was burning her back and the hot red sand was searing her face.

She wished the police hadn’t come. Timothy was still so young and the future of his generation; also, the future of their village. He could be charged with treason and be killed. She had warned Timothy’s family about the dangers of this his political interest, but no one listened. The Woman was now sure that all the money, labor and sweat of the whole village for Timothy would go to waste.

Someone finally stood up. “Is me sah!” The croaky voice said in shaky English. The Woman peered from beneath her arm and saw that it was Mazi Amadi. The fib was not nearly plausible but no one said a word wither ward. It seemed the Igbo Policemen knew the gist of the matter and decided to keep shut too because they quickly bundled the old man into the vehicle.

The rest of the villagers got up slowly while Ekutus screamed “Mba Mba, No, No!” and ran after the speeding rover. Timothy looked dumbfounded as his mother led him away. As everyone else departed in their various directions, they heaved their shoulders up and down in disapproval, hissed and sighed deeply, clucked their tongues or shouted, “Hei!” at intervals.

The Woman dusted the sand off her son’s body, retied her wrapper and continued her stroll towards her small family home.


Hope you enjoyed my story, thanks for reading!

Oh and before i forget…. Food for thought:

puff-puff-not-bombs

Art by Okechukwu Ofili from Ofilispeaks.com

Have a buff day! :*


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Book Review: Born On A Tuesday- Elnathan John

boat coverAuthor: Elnathan John

Pages: 261

Purchase: You can buy the paperback on amazon, abebooks, barnes and noble, half, book depository, indigo, etc.

you can also order the book from Konga

Or purchase it from any bookshop near you. Click here for my list of bookshops.

Synopsis: In far northwestern Nigeria, Dantala lives among a gang of street boys who sleep under a kuka tree. During the election, the boys are paid by the Small Party to cause trouble. When their attempt to burn down the opposition’s local headquarters ends in disaster, Dantala must run for his life, leaving his best friend behind. He makes his way to a mosque that provides him with food, shelter, and guidance. With his quick aptitude and modest nature, Dantala becomes a favored apprentice to the mosque’s sheikh. Before long, he is faced with a terrible conflict of loyalties, as one of the sheikh’s closest advisors begins to raise his own radical movement. When bloodshed erupts in the city around him, Dantala must decide what kind of Muslim—and what kind of man—he wants to be. Told in Dantala’s naïve, searching voice, this astonishing debut explores the ways in which young men are seduced by religious fundamentalism and violence.- Goodreads

My Review:
One word: Brilliant!
I should end this review with that alone. LOL

Born on a tuesday is centered around Dantala, whose name literally means to be Born On A Tuesday and is told on a backdrop of Sokoto; places such as Bayan Layi, Dogon Icce and main Sokoto itself. It sheds a numbing light on Northern Nigeria and the Islamic religion.
The book has five parts, each part pregnant with its own story.

Dantala, later Ahmad, starts out as an Almajiri (Quranic student) but quickly falls with the bad boys in Bayan Layi. After some political uproar, he escapes and ends up in the mosque of a Shiekh who takes care of him.
He tells of the world around him in a voice that makes you not only see what he sees but also, feel what he feels.
We see Dantala go through emotions as he sees and experiences events he doesn’t really understand: murder, sexuality, Religious sects, jihadist exteremism, love, and prison.
We see him as he grows in the ranks and is eventually a malam who calls out prayers (He seemed to enjoy this the most).
Because of the raw voice the story is told in, you realize, a bit too late, that you’re willing to forgive many things that you wouldn’t accept normally.
I noticed that the writer used a lot of Arabic and Hausa words and did not explain the meaning; i had to understand from context. I actually had fun marking down the words and questioning my friend about it later. It seemed the writer wanted to be as real as possible, being that Dantala’s narration (thoughts) are in the languages he knows and understands.
While reading the book, i also noticed that the tone used in the first chapter, Bayan Layi, was actually different from the rest of the chapters. I don’t know if the writer was trying to signify/emphasize Dantala’s growth or if it was, in fact, a construct error. I, for one, loved the first chapter.
The thing i appreciated the most was that, the writer included pages of “Dantala’s words” where he actually wrote down english words he encountered and wrote narratives with them as contextual examples. These pages were written in a different font from the rest of the book and there were cancellations that were meant to indicate that Dantala was indeed an “English Learner”.
As usual, my favorite character was Jibril who barely allowed me feel his pain. I could tell that he, like many other characters, had suffered a lot but he always seemed so jovial and optimistic that i didn’t know whether to pity him or be happy for him.
My worst character is Shuaibu because, in my opinion, he embodied the stereotypic Muslim husband. Many people would expect that it would be Malam Abdul- Nur but i feel that his character is very interesting and strategically placed (because he was a convert).
This is not a happily ever after story, neither is it a love story. I actually found it hard trying to classify it into a genre.

From what i observed, the writer tried to shed light on: young lives in the North, Islamic sects, Mujahedeen (loosely translated as Islamic military), Politics from the standpoint of the oppressed and Religious opinions.

A lot of people run away from books like this – i used to – but it’s not the conventional type, i bet you. This book left me thirsty for knowledge and i was shocked by how little i really know.
Good fiction writing is, to me, how best you can make your readers see your fiction as possible truth.The writer is not a muslim and i think he crushed this point. You can tell the amount of research that went into this.
Note to Elnathan John: I absolutely enjoyed your book and tweeted about it when i was on page six! Bayan Layi literally blew my mind, LOL. I really can’t wait for that Book signing!

I hope you enjoyed my review, be sure to tell me what you think 😉
I love hearing from you guys, so if you have questions or something you think i missed, drop a witty comment!

Note: For those my puff puffs that aren’t ardent readers, you could still read this book because it is not lengthy and honestly, you’d be captivated. If you’re the one-page-every-day type, you might even upgrade to four pages LOL.


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Book Review: Odufa- Othuke Ominiabohs

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Author: Othuke Ominiabohs (Ohmston Weth)

Pages: 394

Purchase: You can buy the ebook online at dookshop.com (also on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple ibooks, etc)

Order the paperback from Konga.com

You can also get the paperback at major bookshops or malls near. Click here to see my list of bookshops!

Synopsis: When Anthony Mukoro discovers he cannot father a child, his whole world comes crashing. In the arms of a new crush, Odufa, a beautiful girl with a past, he finds the strength to face his fears and live again despite the whirlwind that threatens to devour the union. But nothing is as it seems as they plunge into the bowels of this serpentine romance which alters their lives forever. – synopsis from goodreads.com

Odufa

My Review:

I initially read Odufa years back when it was barely a series on yimucentral. I had read the prologue, then an episode, and knew that it was going to be major. One thing i have always loved about Ohmston’s work is his ability to describe every single detail and his unique adeptness at word play.

The criminals were still at large. The long arm of the law hung limply around the waist of the cold statue of justice, tugging at her wrapper so the bureaucrats can once again, rape her blind. – The coleman massacre by Ohmston Weth

Odufa is an African romance literature based on two Nigerians from different backgrounds. First of all, the book is in three parts: Friends, Lovers and Strangers. The first chapter begins with a somber mood where a doctor diagnoses the protagonist, Anthony, as being impotent. Like any man who discovers such a thing, Anthony is thrown into a dark and dangerous depression. That is until he meets a lady who is willing to do absolutely anything for him, Odufa. Odufa is a mystery to Anthony which just makes their affair much more sizzling and desirable to him. Theirs is a love that is volatile, deep and explosive; confusing and incredulous to anyone else but overwhelming to those that know how it feels.

I say this because some parts in the book had to be taken with a pinch of salt. I cannot say i have ever felt love like this, so, I could not understand how love could make two people do things that should drive them apart but ends up pulling them much closer. I read in a recent interview that reviewers complained that the book is chauvinistic, but let’s be realistic, that’s really how many relationships are. Lets put political correctness aside and appreciate that he was being real.
I found it difficult to handle Anthony’s abuse on Odufa and the fact that she kept coming back to take him in her arms. Then, out of the blue, Odufa began her own kind of abuse on Anthony and that honestly surprised me.

The story itself scared me; especially the very toxic and dangerous relationship between Anthony and Odufa. I don’t have much experience with relationships in Nigeria but I remember asking a few friends from my book club if this kind of relationship was actually possible. The narcissism between the two lead characters was shocking, their inconsistency in personality worried me (especially Odufa’s) and at a point I began to wonder if this was really a relationship or a dependency. Also Odufa has some sordid past which affected nearly every choice she made in this book, so I was quite surprised that the past was not mentioned. However the writer clarified that a sequel will delve into this. –Franklyne Ikediasor

Odufa was a strange character that i couldn’t actually decipher. I would like to know more about her side of the story; if she really is an opportunist as it played out to be and the reason for her sudden change of character. Her mother also intrigued me. I hope the coming sequels will reveal both of their intentions.

The writing was exquisite, as i expected, but i thought that some parts of the romance were a bit too cheesy for my taste. Writing an anthology of poems for her is romantic but seeing her as your light, sunshine, diamond and laughter after she bit off your thumb was just too much for me. I particularly liked the Strangers section of the book, which was weird because that was where everything came apart. Odufa unfolded herself to be Anthony’s nightmare and it was interesting to see that he still didn’t see some of the things we, the readers, were seeing. It made me wonder, at some point,  if Juju (charm) was involved.
Another issue i had was the fear that it was going to be unnecessarily prolonged. I wasn’t even at the middle and the two were already hopelessly in love, i began to question what would come next. In retrospect, the length was necessary.

I ached for Anthony towards the end, when his son was taken from him. No one should feel that type of pain especially someone who saw their child as a miracle. Anthony’s father told him to forget the child, which would be a typical advice in that situation, but i knew that the decision would be difficult.

The writer took us to so many places in the book: Kano, Portharcourt, Warri, Lagos and Abuja.  I think that he tried to shed light on: violence in relationships like we’ve hardly seen, the unfolding of events that misdiagnosis of patients could cause, misconceptions about hypertension and the drama that sometimes follows inter-tribal relationships.

My favorite character has to be Anthony’s mother who seemed like a very wise, well-to-do and archaic woman; she blew out proverbs like a dragon spits fire.

You don’t spend the evening where you do not intend to spend the night…

It is the fear of what tomorrow may bring… that makes the tortoise to carry his house with him wherever he goes.

Many reviewers have complained about the use of the word ‘Ablution’. I found it strange for them to just assume that the word referred to Muslim cleansing because even at the first place i noticed it, the context referred to ‘Bathing’. I should also point out that Muslims don’t really have a whole room dedicated to washing up and prayers (I don’t think).

The book ended up as a tragedy (seemed so from the prologue) when Anthony’s life seemed to him like it had lost meaning and direction. I very much loved the way Othuke ended it, the whole of chapter 51 felt like a poem to me; absolutely brilliant and well paced.

All in all, i will say that the book tenders to the least common denominator, because it isn’t a concept that is too complex or filled with a lot of big and incomprehensible grammar. It’s very relatable and different and this makes it a very good book. This is his debut novel which makes it even better. Also, if you love poems, you’ll definitely love this book and the anthology attached to the back.

I tried as much as possible to not be so biased in this review being that Othuke is one of my favorite writers (Yes, i will famz). I have known about him for almost two years and have read a whole lot of his stories. His brother has a crush on me so… special treatment (He’ll kill me for this LOL). I was ecstatic when i heard that Odufa will be turned into a trilogy.

There will be a book reading of Odufa by Othuke himself coupled with a movie screening “Pitter Patter Goes My Heart” on Thursday, 16th June 2016 at Thought Pyramid Art Centre, No 18, Libreville Crescent wuse II Abuja. Time is 7:00 pm.

Note to Othuke: You are a brilliant poet, it seems you’re the only one oblivious to this. If Odufa was really based on personal experiences then, I cannot wait to see you again because you have a truck load of questions to answer! 🙂

bear hugThanks for reading and hope you enjoyed it!


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When Life Gives You Oranges

Extreme close-up image of an orange

There is a funny story I heard at the office about a colleague, Nnamdi.

Many years before Nnamdi began working at our company as the chief-technician, he worked as a houseboy for a German engineer, who had been invited to the country on a special assignment. At the time, Nnamdi had never seen a white man before, nor worked with one so things were a bit difficult at first. This man, Mr. Burk Ludwig, was the complete opposite of everything Nnamdi had ever heard about foreign people. He had previously thought they were very generous people but the man seldom gave any money to Nnamdi, except for when it was time to pay salary. Mr. Burk, himself, exhibited extreme distrust for Nigerians so much so that he never even allowed Nnamdi know where he worked.

This all changed the day Mr. Burk fell ill.

“Nam-dee,” Mr. Burk called out from his fetal position on his sick bed. “I’m going to die…”

Nnamdi resisted the urge to roll his eyes. “Sir, it’s just malaria.” Why do these white people have to be so dramatic? He said to himself. “You are not going to die… I’ll just go and buy some drugs from the chemist and you will be well again, you’ll see.”

“Ha-have you had malaria before Nam-dee?” Mr. Burk stuttered, his eyes wide with fear as he awaited Nnamdi’s answer.

Nnamdi almost laughed but quickly realized the man was being serious. He reviewed his options: If he admitted to Mr. Burk that he himself had survived malaria countless times, it was sure to alleviate the man’s fear. Then again, he knew it was possible for Mr. Burk to think malaria was contagious as the man had several stupid notions about Nigeria.

At last, Nnamdi replied, “No oh, sir. How can? In fact, none of my family members have ever had malaria. But I heard one man from my village survived it.”

Nnamdi didn’t miss the relief on Mr. Burk’s face as the man took a deep breath and closed his eyes. He, then, ran to the nearby pharmacy and asked for Coartem.

In less than a week, Mr. Burk was back on his feet with an instantaneous change of heart.

 

For the first time, one fateful day, Mr. Burk finally entrusted Nnamdi with the task of buying his precious South-African oranges from the biggest mall in Abuja at the time, Amigos, with the sum of Fifteen Thousand Naira.

Nnamdi wondered why the man would need so many oranges as he headed out for the mall. On getting to the aisle where the oranges were, he looked at the price tag and couldn’t help the “Jesus!” that rushed past his lips. He even confronted an attendant to confirm the price. His sum of Fifteen Thousand Naira could only buy fifteen oranges. He eventually took the oranges to the counter and, with a heavy heart, paid for them.

“I do love my oranges!” Mr. Burk would say in a sing-song voice, smiling as he sucked on the juices of a sliced orange. According to Nnamdi, his German accent became clearer whenever he was happy. Meanwhile, Nnamdi stood in the corner watching his oga with a scowl on his face. How can someone just throw away money like this, Nnamdi thought.

This task of buying oranges continued for some time until one day, Nnamdi arrived at Amigos and didn’t see South-African oranges. Apparently, Amigos was the only place in Abuja that sold the unique oranges and they were out of stock. Nnamdi took the bad news to Mr. Burk’s office and he swears he saw tears brimming in the old man’s eyes.

An idea came to Nnamdi and he decided to take the chance. “Sir, I know where I can get sweeter South-African oranges for you!”

Next thing, Nnamdi was racing towards the food-stuff section of Wuse Market where he located fifteen juicy and attractive oranges which he haggled down to “three for Hundred Naira.” He, then, bought a fine white nylon bag into which he put the oranges.

“Nam-dee my boy! These oranges are Vonderful!” Mr. Burk exclaimed as soon as the juice touched his buds. “Where did you get them?” He asked, looking at Nnamdi with renewed reverence.

“It’s a secret sir…” Nnamdi replied with a sly smile, enjoying the newly formed bond between them. “Sir, hide it under your table, you know they are very expensive.”

Some years later, after the tragic death of Mr. Burk, Nnamdi received a package with a note that read, “To Nnamdi my boy, who knew just where to find the best oranges, the sum of five thousand dollars.”

This is a true story told to me by a funny man in my office. Of course, I twisted it a bit.

Thanks for reading!giphy (1)

Afreada Feature: Nnenna

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I am eighty,sick and laying on the laps of death, its seductive hands slowly snatching me away from this world. I am ready to go but not without sharing her story.

The first day I saw her was like any other. I was playing tennis with my friend Kunle at the country club when she passed by with an infant in her arms. I had stopped and stared until she walked into the club restaurant. A ball whizzed past my head and I turned to find Kunle at the other side of the court with a quizzical look on his face. “Huh?” I asked absentmindedly and walked to retrieve the ball Kunle had carelessly thrown. “Who were you looking at, Mr Man?” I could hear the humour in his voice, “Don’t you have a girlfriend, Chibuzor?” I ignored him and took my stance, ready to serve the ball. “Besides, she’s married,” Kunle paused, trying to gauge my reaction to his news, “to that soldier guy… Uche.”

I had said to Kunle that day, in a bid to hide my disappointment, “That’s too bad, then.”

***

The second time I saw her was not like any other day. It was two years later, late 1966, on the last train to Onitsha. I had been on my way from Makurdi to Oturkpo on my bicycle, earlier that day, when the disaster broke out. A blue Ford roughly stopped in front of my bicycle while I was riding past the famous Market junction. Kunle had gotten out of the car and exclaimed, “Chi-boy what are you still doing here?! They are killing Igbos and throwing their bodies into The Benue! You need to get out of here now.” I let my bicycle fall to the ground as I absorbed the news.

“Godspeed my friend! See you soon.” Kunle said, once we were safely at the chaotic station. That was the last time I saw him. I dragged my feet towards the only train left at the station. It was a cream locomotive with a chain of four cars which didn’t look safe enough to travel in but people didn’t care. Injured Men, forlorn women and confused children scurried and squeezed themselves inside. No one wanted to die. I made my way towards the chaos but not before two men held onto my rumpled black shirt. “You be Igbo abi?” They attacked so fluidly in Pidgin English. Not dignifying their question with a response, I shrugged them off and continued to the train. One of the men hit my head with a large stick. I recovered quickly and kicked him in the groin. The other man came at me and I delivered a blow to his chin. I ignored the disconcerting sound of cracking bones as I used the stick, which had been used previously on me, to hit him on the head.

“Your head is bleeding.” She had said as soon as I stepped on the train.

Surprised, I turned to see her staring at my head, arm-in-arm with her two-year-old. I felt like I was watching the whole thing from the outside and none of it was real.

“Oh, I hadn’t noticed.” I said as she sighed in resignation.

The place smelt of thick sweat, stale urine and of course, blood.

“I know you,” I suddenly burst out, “From the club. Where’s your husband?” I immediately wished I hadn’t asked that particular question when her face suddenly fell.

“They killed him.” She said simply and turned back to stare through the window.

The silence that ensued was both conforming and uncomfortable and I racked my brain for something to say to this new widow. “Where are you going?” I asked, trying to swat away flies that were tired of perching on a man’s wounded leg and were now circling my head.

“I don’t know,” She said.

“You don’t know?”

“I don’t know.” She glanced at me, “I’m not from the East. I’m from Benue. I just can’t stay there anymore.”

“I see.” Her little girl looked at me with wide eyes and I smiled at her. The child returned my smile with a wide-toothed grin. “I’m Chibuzor.” I declared.

“Beatrice.” She said, looking up from her daughter to look me squarely in the eyes. There was just something about her eyes, that seemed like they could see through my cool demeanour and expose how scared I really was. We didn’t say much to each other, since the circumstances around us left us sombre enough.

I insisted on helping Beatrice with her accommodation problem, simply because I wanted to know more about the woman. We found our way from Onitsha to my family house at Ndiowu in Anambra state where my elder brother lived with his wife and children. I had no choice but to share a room with Beatrice and her daughter, Precious. It didn’t matter that we barely knew each other because we were already in desperate and unsettling times. In the middle of the night, Beatrice cried so hard I thought she was going to faint from fatigue. Unsure of what to do, I rolled over to her and placed unsteady arms around her. She immediately held on to me and sobbed some more. “Uche and I had a complicated marriage… I don’t know whether I’m happy or mourning.” She had whispered when her sobs quelled. I stared at the broken woman in my arms and before I could gather coherent words of comfort for her, she said, “I don’t know how to thank you.” We stayed that way till Precious yawned awake.

***

The first time I kissed Beatrice was in 1967 in new Biafra, when the disasters of war did nothing to quench our hopes. “Win the war!” was all we said those days. We built bunkers but had little use for it since our village was pretty much in the bush.

“I keep thinking about our soldiers…” She had said while we were idly plucking German mangoes from the front yard. I didn’t miss her use of ‘our’. “I wonder who’s taking care of them?” she asked, picking out the mangoes that had been eaten up by birds from the bowl.

“I guess there are people…” I trailed off and then tried to change the topic, “I think I should climb and get more mangoes.”

“I want to be a nurse… there’s a woman that says that the military are short on doctors and…”

“With what qualification?” I interrupt her, giving her an incredulous stare while I awaited her response.

Her lips turn up in a sad smile and she walks closer to me. “No one cares anymore, Chibuzor,” She paused, “I’ll learn.”

I looked at her stubborn beautiful eyes and knew I was in love with her. Then, I closed the distance between us with one quick move. It was one of those kisses that graduated into something more; slow and sensual at first, then hurriedly like we couldn’t get enough. My hands moved to her waist and backed her against the mango tree. Her trembling hands found their way to my neck and she pulled me harder against her. Soon we were tumbling and laughing our way into our small room and trying not to wake Precious from her nap.

 

The second time we made love was the very next day and it was when we first discussed our future. I had whispered to her, “I love you… and I love your daughter.”

She tilted her head to look at me. “Let’s get married,” she said slowly.

“We’re in the middle of a war, Beatrice.” The impact of her words hit me harder than I could imagine.

She giggled. “I love the way you say my name…” she said, her hands trailing down my stomach. I clenched my muscles as I felt blood rush south creating a delicious throbbing ache, yet again. “Let’s get married.” She repeated.

***

Our first big fight was two days after our wedding in 1968. The hunger was getting to us and the smell of death left us feeling weak and morose. The woman who had been teaching a few girls and Beatrice about nursing wounds and tending drugs arrived at our house to say that more nurses were needed at a camp in the new capital.

“I won’t let you go, Beatrice! We just got married for Christ’s sake. What if something happens to you? What will happen to Precious?” I said, as soon as the words escaped Beatrice’s lips.

“You’re being selfish Chibuzor. This is not about me or Precious. You are the one that doesn’t want me to go! You want all your loved ones to hide out in this…in this bush and be uninvolved! You won’t even let your brother’s son be recruited even though he is willing and capable. Where is your hope?! People are dying and our soldiers need help!” She said, yelling and crying at the same time.

“They are not your soldiers! You are not even Igbo!” I shouted back. We stared at each other, the tension was palpable and our heavy breathing was the only sound that could be heard in the small room. My heart broke when I saw new tears brimming in her eyes. I was just about to regret my words when little Precious rushed into the room, crying from a fall. Soon, the three of us were enclosed in a tight embrace, weeping profusely. We wept for the hope of a nation and the dearth of it that was soon to come.

We made love that night, like it would be the last time. Everything seemed different and I held her tight long after our breathing settled.

“You need to wash the condom… we don’t have any other one.” She had whispered to me while we snuggled against each other. When I shifted my head so I could look at her, she began to laugh. She had once been the wife of an esteemed soldier in the Nigerian army and I had once belonged to a country club. Now, we were rationing our salt and pouring powder in washed condoms to remove the stickiness. We laughed and laughed, like insane people, at the silliness of our poverty but with a strange contentment in our hearts.

“Don’t you think I should have an Igbo name, since I’m married to an Igbo man again.” She joked. I looked at her oval face and realized she could actually pass for Igbo. She had golden skin and a gap between her two top incisors that was hidden by gorgeous plump lips.

“Nnenna…” I said, my heart bursting with love for this woman. “It suits you.”

“I like it!” She laughed and asked, “What about for Precious?”

“Hmmm…” I thought about the daily deaths because of the meaningless war; painful to those who felt it but collateral damage to those far away from it. “Chimuanya. God is awake.” She began to laugh again at the length of it.

***

The last time I saw Beatrice was late November, 1969. Numbness had taken over our souls and when we said ‘Win the war’, it sounded like a mockery. I had taken Precious to the camp to see Beatrice where she was the head nurse.

Her eyes lit up when she saw me and she declared almost immediately, “I’m pregnant!”

I had mixed feelings about this news because I felt our world was not ready for new life but, joy overtook my uncertainty and I hugged the woman I loved. We lay in bed and talked about potential names and the house we would live in once the war was over. It was like a new hope was born in us that night.

Then, we heard a round of gunshots outside.

Next thing we knew, the Hausa soldiers were bundling us out and lining us up on our knees. There was no time to unravel the mystery of how they got in our camp because they were already shooting people in the head. They let the white reporters go, except for the ones they had identified as the mercenaries.

“What’s your name?” they would ask before shooting. I didn’t understand why they even bothered, since everyone present was supposedly an easterner; well, except Beatrice.

She was kneeling beside the nurses while I was a line away from her. All I wanted to do was hold her hand. I remember thinking; this is the day we die.

A woman pleaded with one of the soldiers, “You can kill me but please spare my child.” The soldier looking remorseful, asked in Pidgin, “Where your child dey?” the woman, despite her tears, pointed at where her two-year-old son was crouched. The man walked up to the child and shot him in the head before walking back to the line.

I thought my heart would stop when Beatrice shouted, “You monster!”

They all looked at her without emotion. “Wetin dey do this one? What is your name?” Their leader asked.

My heart was beating wildly in my chest. All the blood in my body had rushed down to my feet. Hot, painful tears pushed at my eyes and I closed them and held on to Precious who was beside me. I couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe. All I could do was shield Precious from watching.

Then, I heard her stubborn voice boldly say, “Nnenna.”

****

The loud gunshot still resonates in my head. Sometimes, I don’t even want to believe that I am still here, but sadly, I am.

 

Now a bear hug because you are amazing for reading this! bear hug

The story got featured on www.afreada.com in May and i got word that so many people loved it.

PS: Afreada has nothing to do with my name, it’s just a coincidence that ‘ada’ happens to be the last three words LOL.

PPS: This is a huge deal for me. I’m so grateful to those that have supported me, especially Nancy (Boss-Lane-Nanc *wink*) she was really helpful with the editing.

 

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