30 days to the unveiling.

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No mission is ever cut and dried; just like real life there are twists and turns. The trick is to unravel enough to make a whole.

What twists and what turns in this new book?

#Day 30 #BookRelease

#Thriller #Teasers

#Elsiewrite, #watchthisspace

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A literary evening.

So great to hang out with book lovers

There is something very refreshing about spending time with people who speak your language – in this case, “book speak”

We had a great time connecting with book lovers, writers and readers alike on Saturday evening in Abuja. The occasion was the 24th Guest Writer session of the Abuja Writers Forum, AWF. AWF was started by media maverick, Dr. Emman Shehu. The forum has produced, encouraged and nurtured writers in all genres since inception in 2008.

This month’s session featured Prof. May Ifeoma Nwoye, prolific writer and novelist with several publications to her credit.

She read from her latest work, Oil Cemetery, an award winning novel about the troubled Niger Delta region.

Budding novelist and writer, Ladi Opaoluwa who just returned from a residency at the McDowell writers residency in the US.

Music was provided by the very talented Seth Ogahi.

The trio spoke about their works and future plans. The very interesting evening was rounded off with a book raffle.

That speech

 

The President is back. And he has spoken.

“So what?’’ you say.

So, everything.

The President of Nigeria spends 103 days outside of the Country on medical leave and he returns and delivers a speech that leaves us wondering if someone is not trying to make a fool of us all.

The speech is at best weak, lacklustre and ineffective. At worst, it is downright annoying and possibly insulting. Let me explain.

The president has been away for longer than normal. In his absence, a lot of issues were raised and concerns expressed about various aspects of our national life. In fact, our very existence as a nation has been called to question, and there is a threat of a break up hanging over the nation.

In all of his time away, there was not one national broadcast to assure the people that all was well, or not. Naturally, expectations were high that upon his return he would deal with the plethora of issues on the ground. Unfortunately, not so.

President Buhari merely mentioned the issues we face as a Nation. There was nothing decisive, tangible or actionable in the entire 15 paragraph speech. The speech was like something hurriedly put together to fulfill the proverbial “all righteousness.” But one wonders why this is so.

The President arrived on Saturday and we were told he would address the nation on Monday. He had two clear days at the very least to prepare to deliver the speech. But then we know that no President prepares his own speech; surely, there is a team of speechwriters at the President’s beck and call?

Speechwriting is a serious endeavor; speechwriters conduct research, analyze issues and situations and then write speeches that speak directly to the occasion. This has not been done. We would have been better served if the address had been put on hold for a few more days to allow for greater input.

What the nation needs right now is a speech that will inspire confidence in the President’s ability to function, pull us closer together as a people and chart a clear course out of the present quagmire. And while we do not expect a complete economic blueprint, it would not have been out of place to say something that would ‘breathe’ some life into the economic landscape. Economies can, and do rise and fall based on a President’s words.

Sadly, the President has managed to speak without saying anything.

Theatre becometh the city as Her Majesty Visits.

Abuja used to be a ghost Town at weekends. There was so little nightlife or entertainment in the city. There was literarily nothing to do by way of leisure and so people would work Monday to Friday and at weekends they would travel to Lagos or Kaduna or anywhere else they had family or friends. There were two nightclubs,IMG-20170802-WA0000 at The Hilton and Sheraton hotels. Other than that there was not much else.

But not anymore.

Gradually, the city has developed into a vibrant entertainment hub and can now rival many cities in the leisure sector.

And it is set to overtake many older cities -at least in one sector – live Theatre.

Eagleview productions is gradually setting Abuja apart as a city where live theatre is a constant part of the entertainment landscape.

This weekend sees the return of its award winning play “Her Majesty’s Visit.” This play staring ace actress, Joke Silva, and  stage play maestro, Patrick Otoro, made it’s debut two years ago. It played to packed audiences in the city. And it is back!

Patrick Otoro, the brain behind Eagleview theatre is known nationally for his exceptional stage performances,and this weekend promises to be a rewarding one.

The play will run for two days, Saturday and Sunday, at the Merit House in the highbrow Maitama district of the city. We promise to bring you reviews but…

Wouldn’t you rather be there?

Dancing to the drumbeats of war.2

 

In 1993, the war drums were rolled out for rehearsals. The staccato rhythms beat across the land in the wake of the June 12 riots. And the people fled from their homes across the country in search of a safety that had become elusive. And they died in large numbers. Very few, if any died from gunshot wounds though. Most died from motor accidents, highway robberies and in some cases, from stampede.

There is a pathetic story of a family who hid their wad of cash in their baby’s diapers as they ran away from the Northern part of the country. When they got to the Lokoja bridge, they ran into highway robbers who demanded for their money. They insisted they had no money and the robbers began a meticulous search. Unfortunately, they found the money in the child’s diapers; they took the money, and threw the innocent baby over the bridge into River Niger. Father and mother turned back to where they were running away from, distraught, inconsolable. They had danced to the drumbeats of war, and it was not pleasant. This is just one out of the many horrible experiences that people went through in 1993 and 1994.

There was no actual war but the drummers drummed and the people danced. Rumours led to more rumors and panic bred pandemonium across the land as we all danced to the drumbeats of a war that existed in the hearts and imaginations of warmongers. Because you see, a war is not just a fight between two armies; a war is an attempt at destruction of everything your enemy represents. When a war happens, the lines are often blurred and the enemy becomes faceless. Fear and insecurity are the twin commodities that go on sale, and everyone is forced to buy. The reason I felt safe in 1970 was not because I was a child; it was more because the theatre of war too was far away for the drumbeats to be heard in my neighbourhood. But not anymore. This time, the sound is loud enough for the deaf to hear and the crippled to dance to its ugly beat.

 

Dancing to the drumbeats of war. 1

There was a song they used to sing in those days; it goes something like this:

Ojukwu wanted to scatter Nigeria!

Gowoni say Nigeria must be one!

We are fighting together with Gowon!

To keep Nigeria one!

It was a song about the Nigerian civil war and kids marched to it during and immediately after the war. But I don’t remember singing it, or any other song during the war. Because I was a baby. I didn’t know what war was, nor what it meant for people to fight and kill one another.

But I do have a clear memory of the war. At least, I recall one period that had a direct, lasting impact on me. The memory is of us-my Mum and siblings- in my maternal village; everyone seemed to be there, although I don’t quite recall seeing my father. He may have been in his own village, a few kilometres up the road, or maybe he had remained in town, working in his office, where he had some strange machines, including one that made squawking noises all day, with people shouting, “something, something over!” which I would later realize was the equivalent of a telephone system.

Anyway, I don’t know if my Dad was there or not, but I know my numerous uncles were there, as well as a lot of other people. Baba was there, as was Nene, the matriarch of the Ojo clan. And though it was wartime, the emotions I recall clearly were happiness and a deep sense of peace and security. Strange that I would feel a sense of peace and security in the midst of war, right? But honestly, that was what I felt.

And I remember a day during that period that I cannot forget. It was the day Apapa was bombed. Apapa was the name of a neighbourhood in my hometown where Mobil, the oil company, had its Tank Farm, or whatever name it was known by. They had these huge silo-like things that were used for storing petroleum products, and till this day, I do not know who did the bombing, Biafra or Nigeria. But I remember seeing a huge column of black smoke rising into the sky from the relative safety of my village, several kilometres away. I remember the shouts of “abombu Apapa, abombu Apapa!” (meaning: “Apapa has been bombed” we like to repeat things for emphasis where I come from!)

I don’t know why that incident stands out of all the wartime experiences, but somewhow I remember it clearly. When I recounted it to my Mum many years later, she was surprised at my ability to remember, but I honestly don’t think it has anything to do with my memory; it’s just one of those things that the brain of a child holds on to. So I remember that one incident, clearly. But there was no fear. And I think I know why.

You see, fear and insecurity are twin brothers. Siamese twins to be precise. One does not go without the other. No matter how much we deny it, our deepest fears are fueled by a sense of insecurity. And that period of my life was as secure as could be. I knew I was loved, deeply and totally, by the people around me. There was my Mum, first child of a doting father and a fierce but equally loving mother. There was my grandmother, who was a lioness, a tigress and a mother hen rolled into one. And there was my grandfather: tall, light-skinned, handsome, with a deep baritone and a confident gait. He was ruler of all he surveyed and there was such an aura of peace around him that it spread to all and sundry. The food was plentiful, play was undisturbed, school was an unknown in the future and I had never been flogged or severely scolded. I was safe. And I knew it. So I didn’t care that whether or not Apapa was bombed. War held no meaning for me. I was safe as could be.

to be continued…

Happy Mothers Day! 

Today is Mother’s Day  in the US and since I’m in the US right now, I want to celebrate some amazing women that have mothered me here.

Top on the list is my beautiful sister, Francisca Ehikhuemen. From the moment I arrived in the US, I knew I was home. She has loved me and welcomed me with open arms. I have eaten what I want and done what I wish without feeling even a twinge of apprehension. Who does that?

Happy Mother’s Day Ma’am. I want you to know that your love and warmth has not gone unnoticed by Heaven. Your proper day of celebration is coming. The Lord will perfect all that concerns you. Nations will rise and call you blessed and you will reap the fruits of your labour.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Other women here have loved me too. Hannah Ezekiel went out of her to take me out and pamper me for a whole day! Warri sister like no other, African Mama with no apologies. I celebrate you and pray that God will wipe away every tear and restore everything the enemy has taken from you!

My high school sister, May Olusola has always been a blessing and we spent a beautiful evening together  catching up on old times. The Chinese dinner we shared will not be forgotten in a hurry. May all your motherhood dreams come true my dear sister.

Maureen Erere Ibe had never met me in real life and what she did shocked me to my roots. She drove forty five minutes with her kids to come see me and spent a lot of time with me which  I found most heartwarming. I would have been grateful if she had left it at that but she didn’t; she picked me up on a different occasion and took me to her home. I was not prepared for a sleep over but she would have none of it. She took me shopping, for lunch, breakfast the following day, and generally all over the place. Maureen, thank you for giving me that look into the typical life of a Texas mother. Your lovely kids and beautiful dog added so much colour to my stay and the sacrifice of your husband driving over an hour out of his way to take me home will not be forgotten in a hurry. Happy Mother’s Day beautiful sister.

My trip to Illinois was the icing on my cake. A woman who had never met me, married to a school mate, did so much to make me feel welcome that my heart is still pumping from the experience. I choose to write about her separately.

My sister of many years, Helen Black has been nothing but a blessing and I celebrate you. God bless you good.

Happy Mother’s Day to all these lovely women and many more who have brought me to where I am today. Our day of celebration is coming, but for today we are grateful for the joy of motherhood.