Sunday, 29 December 2013

The Eyimofe Story

Let this be our dance
Let this be our life
Let this be our forever
Waking up to your eyes
Falling only into your arms
And when I don’t win, you are my trophy
The rain is our blessing
Like a forever story
Twirling like a maiden in the moonlight
Motherhood made you stronger
Age made you sweeter
Time made you hotter
With you I confirm forever better

I’m enchanted, spurred and stuck
I’m growing old beside you
But I’ll be 17 forever
I’ll be madly in love
I’ll be shy when we lay together
But bolder as I feel you
This, eminado, once more making history
As the setting sun enchants love and body

Like a classic eyimofe story

(Inspired by 'Eminado' by Tiwa Savage and Don Jazzy)

Eyimofe: The one I love
Eminado: Good luck charm

The Nigerian Christmas

It is an unspoken custom here in Nigeria that the Christmas and New Year season spans from early December to early January.
Usually, it begins with boredom and anxiety as regards when the holidays will officially commence. Academic and Office work is usually at its lowest at this point. Everyone’s head is on zap-out-of-formality mode. ‘Fresh’ and expected. The Harmattan may or may not come- This year it was here for about two weeks in Port Harcourt and dashed away.
The next thing that follows is the official declaration in offices and schools that the vacation has begun. Yippy! The excitement. The thrill. Nostalgia and expectation clashing without minding. We now formally get into the holiday preparation mode.
Ok, at this point all roads leads to the ATM stands, open markets, malls, and online shops. Everyone is getting new stuff…building up our stash for the festivities. Mmmm, consequently, things get more expensive #law of demand and supply…more money pursuing less goods…Kapow! Inflation.

Following this, everyone hits the road and airways. While the urban areas get deserted, the rural areas with their clubs and joints suddenly get action packed. Festivities either, at this point, kick off officially or get more intense. Some more buying and selling take place. The women- and a few men- take the heat and stress of the market place. Most the bank accounts gradually slip from bullish to pink, and gradually headed for the red. Did I forget to mention that more people either get married, pregnant or both during this season?
On Christmas Day…Hmmmm. Oya commotion scatter. A good number of us sleep in, commit to the kitchen, or go to church. But one thing we all share is that by 6:00pm heaven receives the souls of over 700 chickens, without counting hens and chicks. Alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, flirting, adultery, sex…so many things go down for the celebration of the birth of the New Born Prince of Peace.
Boxing Day is usually a day of recreation and relaxation. All the major joints are hot and crowded. But we still go anyway- who won carry last? 27th, 28th…we remember to send out good will texts and emails. All is well… love you…Merry Christmas. So much for Christmas. The season is still on.
By 30th, sanity gradually returns as alcohol and festivities lose their hold on us. We get sober enough to look at our credit alert SMS on our phones and do the math. While this happens, the second batch of ‘flexers’ who missed out on the Christmas gyration head out to catch up with the New Year action.
The last days of the year suddenly draw closer and everyone is running around to make sure that their lives are in perfect shape for the New Year. Some people get engaged, others break up. Some of us sanitize our phones- or temporarily keep them ‘clean’. Some of us bear out our grievances to clear the air; begin another relationship; confess our sins; return stolen items…. Simply we try to purge ourselves of our ‘Christmas’ spirit so that we can face the New Year.  
On New Year’s Eve we all run to church to walk in to the Next Level with God. Amazing. Guess what? God loves this. He loves that we come.
But the funny aspect of this is that afterwards, I catch some of us seated in one corner writing a rather long list of unrealistic New Year resolutions. 20...30...40 bullet points. The chances are that over 75% of this long list’s content are repetitions of the previous year’s ‘New Year Resolutions.’ Abegi, I no go lie, me too I follow for this crowd.
By 3rd January, sanity and gist storms Nigerian classrooms, offices and markets. The circle is complete. Nonetheless, it so happens that for a select few, nothing happened. Nothing was added to our lives, nothing was taken away either. For some, all was lost with the season. For some, reception was in leaps and bounds.
My point is that, this season is a string of such magical and extra-ordinary moments all laced together in the course of which absolutely anything can happen.
For 2013, our holidays are almost over. But if you haven’t touched the Season’s flower yet, you still have a few days left. Reach out to someone. Let yourself be touched by the carols, gifts, company and warmth of the season.
For me, one thing I enjoyed about this season is that I got so many hugs and added some weight.
I am sure there is something beautiful about the season for everyone. If there were not, it would not drive us crazy year after year.
It is still safe and politically correct to say ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Compliments of the Season’. Hug someone soon, cheer and be happy. Christmas will not be complete until you smile. Do not forget, primarily, Christmas is about love, happiness and nothing more. So, I truly believe that a lot can still happen for us in this season. You never know, perhaps the best is being saved for last.
So c’mon get out there and have a Merry Christmas.
Happy Holidays,


Saturday, 21 December 2013

Today's Reality

 Ralph Waldo Emerson was most 

lucid in his thinking that, 'To the dull 

mind, all nature is leaden. To the 

illumined mind the whole world 

burns and sparkles with light.' I 

quite agree, even more so in 2013 

roughly two years after 

meeting this 25 years old stellar 

native of Oyo State  Kehinde Fawumi, . It was August 2011 and I was about signing off Facebook for 

the day when I got his message requesting that I make entries for his 2011 Essay Competition, Project 

Write2Win, and book project Tomorrow's Reality Today. I was thrilled. Little did I know that I was 

on to such a revolutionary young man who would lead my thoughts and inspire my efforts in so many 

phenomenal directions through his remarkable lifestyle. A couple of years later, he has grown in leaps 

and bounds with his tentacles spread beyond Africa. Fortunately, I have the gist first hand.


What is Kehinde Fawumi’s story and where is he coming from?
Just as I became conscious of myself, I battled typical purpose-inhibitors and childhood illusions. Daddy lost his job early in life, so I had to be schooled in the very public – public schools. I hail from Ibadan, Oyo State from an around-the-middle family. My life has outright been a product of victories over battles of mediocrity, status-quo and peer delimitations. I had no access to the luxuries of life. However, I saw my mild-plight as a reason for me to pay the price. I paid it...fully!
Today, Kehinde is a celebrated Nigerian social entrepreneur who has represented the country on various international platforms and won many honours and awards. He is currently reading for his Masters in Computer Science at Technical University-Munich, Germany. He also works with FUJITSU, Germany on Global Innovations and Business-Process Improvement. People say he is a polymath. He was recently listed among the top 30 young people Africans should look up to.
2    What is your academic background?
Basically, I hold a B Sc. in Computer Engineering from Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria. I am also certifies in a couple of Management and computing professional courses.
3   
  
What inspired your giant leap?
My determination to be great! I was not ready to settle for a low life. I once read that it takes about the same effort to be successful as it takes to be a failure. So, why not be very successful if I can! Greatness is not in places, it is in people!
4.      Please give a brief run down and description of the projects you have been involved in and coordinated?

As an undergraduate, I led a number of initiatives focused on making youths act collaboratively with great enthusiasm, hope, confidence and commitment to solve the problems of youth unemployment and poverty in Nigeria and beyond. In a space of four years, I was president of three students’ organizations where many of these projects were implemented.
I founded Total Youth Empowerment Scheme (TYES), in 2008 in OAU. Since 2005, TYES trains youths across the Nation every four months, and we've trained over 3,500 youths in 10 states in Nigeria.
I also have Trendsetter Technologies as a brain child. I lead a team of web designers and programmers that develop socially-responsible computer and mobile applications.

5      What challenges have you encountered so far and how did you overcome them?
Nothing ever triumphs without trials and there is no progress without process. I have been maligned and humiliated by friends who did not believe in me. Ultimately, God has always been strength at weakest times.  Success is not when you are approved or praised by others, rather, it is when you keep up your conviction and enthusiasm in the face of failure and rejection!
Other major challenges relate to implementing my Project - FeedOne. First was to convince myself about the need for the project. Many times I asked myself: Why should I keep doing this? What do I really gain from it?
A secondary effect of this is my inability to (initially) convince other people to join me in the project. So I had to talk to myself over and again, answering all questions that popped up and make resolute determination to give my passion to the vision. When the vision became clear to me it was easy to carry others along.
Secondly, it takes a lot to harness enough resources to reach my high-sounding goals. It is tasking to convince people to contribute their hard-earned resources to support some people they do not know. For me I simply told people how much I have given to my project by myself, told them compelling success stories of people who have been transformed from little projects and the rest was easy. People started believing me and gave to the project.
“If I will commit to charity, I must be the first to giveSince my undergraduate days, I gave a good percentage of all my earnings to charity”.
 How do you balance your projects with your academics?
Keeping up with time and schedules is quite challenging for me.
Essentially, I keep a daily schedule and try to stay strictly by it. I also use a lot of tools...and people to help with tasks I can delegate. Ultimately, discipline and a deep sense of responsibility will always help you triple your efficiency as they did mine.
Have you ever had one of those solo moments- when it’s just you against the rest of the world?
Yes I have. Whenever you are trying to do something remarkable, you will have lots of detractors. But for me these solo moments are also my reflecting moments; therein I build confidence, conviction and determination to follow through with my passion and vision.
8.      There is this buzz about your project in December. Can you please shed more light on it?
On 21st December, FeedOne Project will reach out to over 4,000 families in Lagos, Akure and Ile-Ife. This is in collaboration with Eleven32, Project Xtrude and Octolinks. It will be the biggest one-day event we ever did and we are currently open to donations and support of any kind. Over 500 less-privileged children will also receive educational scholarships and feeding allowances.
This event will also focus on solving social problems in each community we will visit. Some of these are: clearing refuse dumps causing environmental pollution; cleaning the streets; identifying some dirty houses and washing them; distributing detergents and toiletries to houses; gathering children and making/barbing their hair and cutting their nails; medical check-ups for the old and young; distributing food and materials to families etc.


What plans do you have for 2014, God giving us life?
I will write over 10 pages if I should start listing my plans. Just to mention, as regards Feedone project; my team and I will fully establish a social business in Lagos Nigeria to sustain the project. The overall vision of the project is to reach 1million less-privileged by the year 2020. As it stands, we are convinced we have the grace to achieve this.
Is Kehinde seeing someone?
I am seeing people...smiles. I am in a relationship with the most beautiful and well-behaved lady in the world!
Who do you read and what are you reading now?
I read mostly inspirational books and autobiographies of impactful leaders. I learn from the way these heroes perceived life and how they overcame their challenges. I am currently reading “How to get from where you are to where you want to be” by Jack Canfield.
Why are you so positive that things will get better in Nigeria?
I believe that Nigeria will rise. Sooner than we envisaged, Nigeria will become one of the most desirable countries in Africa, and in the world. I sense so much energy and grace coming-up from the teenagers and youth. I’ve been to many countries and continents but the passion in the Nigerian youth is incomparable to none else.
However, things will not get better by chance; but by incremental non-relenting positive changes! Everyone must think and act positive towards the uplifting of the Nation.
What is your advice for the youths of Africa?
You need no permission from anyone to perform. So start out now. Grasp the positive and be positive. Never sacrifice your conviction for addictions; don’t trade God for gold, don’t lose your commitments to convenience. Keep enviable values with unshaken enthusiasm. Shun negative emotions. Live a life that counts. Spend quality time to discover yourself.
Most definitely, discipline and self-knowledge will direct you to living the ‘right life’ that you deserve. The things you learn to do, you learn them by doing them. So start doing something. Start Acting! At the end of the day, all we have is who we are, all that matters is: those who lived because you cared.
 ***********
Today, Kehinde Fawumi amongst others made history in Lagos, Ife and Akure. They alongside several other African youths take the bull by the horn to make a difference in our world. Then again, there is only so much they can do in their number without the support of more individuals, organisations, the government and international community.
The future of the African dream lies in the audacious steps and efforts of today's reality. The reality that a child sleeps happily right now because she had a hearty dinner. The reality that a single mother has been empowered with a skill. The reality that our wonderful kids can go to school; that our people will have access to more love, health care and information. Someday, I hope. Someday, Social Entrepreneurship shall be taken more seriously by our community.
There are countless social courses to take up. So many tears to wipe away. Let us come alive in our being human and be more than just a number. Let us be audaciously humane in our being human. 
I am proud of Kenny. So proud of him. I do hope that more African youths see the need, just as Kenny, to be African Solutions to African Challenges.
In this season of giving, I urge that we put a smile on as many faces as possible as we bring more warmth to the lives of those around us. I do wish you all happy holidays and I hope that this phenomenal season shall have a mind-blowing impact. Merry Christmas.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

He Still Calls Her Elewe-Ukwu


Silver cymbals clinging in chime
 They grey together
Words and wise fade in time
They gracefully live out their forever
Might and fright shaking hands...
 Love stands taller
 After all these solid years
 He still calls her magic tower
elewe ukwu egbu ewu
and tickles the girl in her
 At midnight, he still calls her flower
'Ezinnem' to tease and admire
 As he burns in love and nuptial fire
 Books and tales of history's love
 Cannot compare to this bond blessed by Above...
'Nnem' his lover
'Nnam' her loved
I'm walking behind and wishing well
Please the secrets of love to me do tell
 Time from now when I'll stand with nkem
 And you'll both be my memories
'Elewe ukwu' your words will be my treasury
 I wont forget this time well spent
 And from this time of love I'll never repent
Perhaps, I'll call nkem elewe ukwu as well
Or something sweeter, something swell
But I will look on you and relish true
Your love is beauty and powerful

(inspired by mum and dad...25 years and still counting)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD

Like Two Spirits Walking Away


When light finds two broken pieces
And enraptures the raving wind
All is well seemingly
As peace once more finds it’s glee
 
When I’m bored of being alone
And sanity suddenly means something else
I’ll take my stand and head out true
All the while I’ll be looking for you
 
When life finds another flesh
And our silverness finds a different rest
Don’t cry, It will be a brand new day
We will be like two spirits walking away.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

'Spirited Dialogues'

'Your mama!!!'
'What?! How dare you call my mama. Your papa!! Your mama!! Your family!!!'
 
Hey!!! take it easy, kids are listening.
 
In a world where everyone has to make a statement, a point, and worse still, ensure that he/she is the most heard and most accepted, we can't help having spirited conversations. There are several other metaphors for them: Some call it 'heated argument', 'shouting out', 'making a point', 'setting him/her straight'; 'expressing myself'; 'airing my views'; 'setting myself free'; 'showing her who is boss'.... The list is indeed endless.
 
However, we see that this method ends up denting our relationships and the public perception of who we are and what we represent. More often than not we regret most of what is heard and said in the course of these out bursts. Does this then make them out of place. No!
 
To have a relationship with anyone or anything there has to be a growing level of communication and connection. And hey! words must not be screamed to heard or understood. And you must not also bottle u your feelings for too long. It's terrible. You cause more harm to yourself than and to relationship by doing this.
 
It's a relationship. It's a life. You need to communicate. You need to understand and be understood so as to communicate. I know I'm no Helen Keller. But I have learned one or two things about this. When our relationships throws us 'surprise parties'; 'warm coffee' or  'cold spaghetti' we should endeavour more often than not to respond and not to react.  Responding is more lucid and calculated than reacting than reactions which are more impulsive  and reflex.
 
'Look, I can't deal with now. ' should do the trick: buy you some time and save your relationship from verbal outburst and abuses.  
 
And besides when you must have those spirited conversations you can be both polite to each other, indirectly setting ground rules on how to handle the ups and downs. Know your limit as regards the words and issues you can pull out of your artillery. Respect is never out of place in anger. And maturity should guide you through this.
 
When I think of spirited or intense dialogues/conversations I think of the several sermons and parables of Jesus. I consider how he broke very complex ideas such as the foolishness and faith in being in love into the parable of the lost coin and the lost sheep. There are so many other words and means he could have used  but he chose to be calm, simple and mature in his story telling.
 
I also consider Omotola's character in Last Flight to Abuja. Her conversation with Ali Nuhu on discovering that he was cheating would have been more dramatic. Though we could still feel the tension, her character set a new standard in Nollywood for us: the intensity of the moment is a call for your calmness and maturity. Though I love you so much I don't have to be crazy as well. Also in her Amnesty video, her composure was wonderful and mature. You will most likely be heard and listened to better if you keep your cool and ensure that your pitch never hits the roof.
 
I agree that some people are incorrigible and  too spirited to be mature. In this case I advice you listen till they are out of breath and oxygen. Then you calmly dominate. *wink*
 
There will always be a need to make a point and to be heard. But if you must communicate or connect with someone, please do it right. Do not be a man/ladyzilla. Have a spirited conversation and handle the intense moments maturely. You are amazing Yes. And that relationship is a blessing. True. You are being watched. And above all, you have to protect your relationship and your mind even in moments like this.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

The Passionate Pursuit

When a man decides that he wants to be happy, he sets out against all odds to tickle himself. He pursues a degree; buys a new device- perhaps a car; gets into a relationship-or even gets married. Some times he may go the distance to engage in lethal alternatives such as drugs or even suicide. In very funny ways, he is headed in the happy direction- He is trying to be happy for peace sake!

Then again, the bulk of us never truly contend what exactly happiness would translate to at any given point in time. Would it mean more, less, absence or acquisition? Would is simply mean head out and do something or stay still and watch? Does it mean the same thing today as it did yesterday and would it mean the same thing tomorrow?

As confused as I am about this emotion that flames from my blood, I have resolved that there is no such thing as happy since there is not one objective and all encompassing word to define it. Similarly, there is no such thing as unhappy because the root word simply is baseless.

Under the sun, I have truly pursued the desires of my heart with speed, lust and vigor and truly found that everything is but the chasing of the wind. I can recall the emptiness I felt immediately I finished my degree exams. It was as though, I had done nothing. It suddenly felt like the past five years never happened.

Then again, I have learnt the blessing of this.

My happiness is not in my achieving but in my deliberate act of pursuing. It is in the anxiety that fills my heart; the sweat that lines my brow; the earth that bears my feet and the desire that is yet unsatisfied. It is in my working that my mind is most alive, enthralled and enraptured. It is in my dreaming and persevering that my being finds it true purpose and living.

Achievements are an end as empty as the interiors of a trophy with no actual purpose or place. The real happiness is the feeling that you can do this much and much more.

As we seek eagerly to tickle ourselves in today's world. Let us recall that nothing is as boring and stale as satisfaction. So do bask and relish the moments of excitement, process, training and motion. And do not just pursue love or happiness to get it, have an enthralling and passionate pursuit.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The Virginty of the African Vintage

As a writer my place is simply at the spot of mental stimulation. I can't operate effectively without it. Music, painting, letters, movies, conversations, testimonies, failure, victories....many things stimulate me. However, I still respect the place of my undying love for the African movie industry in their role as one of my greatest inspirations. I grew up in Nigeria falling in love over and over again with how films such as Evil Passion and Rattle Snake instructed me on what the society is and could be. And movies such as Taboo, True Confession and Violated opened up my heart to the possibility of loving right and loving true here on earth. Some times I would find myself asking, 'What would RMD do?'

My love for Nollywood and their production greatly influenced my orientation on my role in my society as brother, son, teacher, lover, scholar, activist, writer and thinker. There is only so much that is possible. Nollywood spurred me ever so intensely with the likes of Ann Njemanze; Hilda Dokubo; Syndey Dialla; Ndidi Obi; Ngozi Ezeonu....I still have the VCR tapes in my living room.

However, soon the market was flooded with so many titles and so many themes that were not at all mentally stimulating. I found myself watching so much costume, screen play and money wasted on silly cliché stories that were neither well defined or articulated. The themes of university romance and cultism were issues that were truly over flogged- alongside a string of others.

I abandoned the movies as they no longer soothed me and sought another heart throb in places that
didn't offer much.

However, only a few years ago I began to notice a new generation of Nollywood movies. They were mostly Nollywood and Hollywood collaborations, but they told African stories in the beautiful scenes and forms which people of all generations and  races could identify with. The class and likes of movies like Ije, Doctor Bello, Tango With Me, Mirror Boy, Sitanda ....the list in endless.

I have fallen in love with Nollywood afresh!

I have in this light been equally stimulated in my writing, leading and living as an African in my society. This is the role of information and media: To spread the best orientation to the people, telling their stories in terms of how they are, should and should not be.

There is nothing that can replace the role of Nollywood in our society. I still do respect Nollywood vintage movies which seemingly are too old to remain on the shelves; those ones with great sound tracks and timeless acting like Ijele and Igodo. I wish the next generation would truly see Africa's journey through her movies from a time of slavery to the time of great liberation and revolution. I wish they would see the various beautiful themes that Africa had and the values
pure as they were. The virginity of the African Vintage. The purity of our soul and our writing, acting and living, immortalizing the wisdom that was misunderstood and the journey that we are still on today.

Truly there are still other themes that make up Africa besides the fight against human trafficking,  poverty and the abuse of the girl child. There is the future which we can instruct through our movies.

For instance I would appreciate a movie that intellectually appraises politics as it should be in Africa. Or a film that indiscriminately handles the themes of homosexuality, human rights and spirituality in Africa. I would love greater and more realistic African stories to be told in preservation of a place such as this and a time such as now.

I also do urge the actors and actresses of Nollywood  to lead good and exemplary lives as they are role models to me and other
upcoming Nigerians.

A world without Nollywood is a world without Africa.

 I do believe in all of you who put in your best to make Nollywood outstanding. You are all doing an amazing work. I still pray for you and I trust that the King of Excellence inspires you afresh everyday.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

...Call it Hustling


The Hustler

Plato once said that at the touch of love everyone becomes a poet. And as such everything is wonderful to the one who has been so enchanted or inspired to come and stay alive. The world of African authors is one that admits the little and the large. And in Africa’s writing, only the best of the best can stand the storms and desire amongst other things to be heard, read and listened to. In the course of my work in Africa as a service unit leader on my campus fellowship and a blogger, only a few African youth authors have captured my focus like Akwa-Ibom state’s David Isaiah.
After his debut performance as Adam in the Fall of Man on the Carol Evening at Madonna University a few years ago, this native of Nsit-Ibom  has been one to watch. I am not shocked he came up with this cut-throat, mind-blowing, super refreshing book, The Hustler. When I discovered he was working on such a wonderful manuscript, I was more than convinced that this is indeed one of African’s finest who is on his way to becoming Africa’s own 21st Century Robert Kiyosaki.
The book, The Hustler, was published and launched a few months back. And I had the rare privilege of sharing a few thoughts with him:
What is David’s story and where is he coming from?
I was born and brought up in Uyo. I am the last in the family of five:I have a brother and three sisters. I did my primary and secondary education here in Akwa Ibom, and my university in Anambra.
Tell us more about your educational background?
I have a degree in Accounting from Madonna University, Okija. I had my junior secondary education at the prestigious Etinan Institute, Etinan, and then moved to Comprehensive Secondary School, |Edeobom 1 to complete my Senior Secondary- not forgetting Mfonabasi Nursery And Primary School where I learnt my ABCs.
When did you start writing?
Writing for me started when I finished my secondary school as I waited for university admission. I got so bored and I decided to put pen to paper. However, back then it was merely for the fun of it.
At what point did you decide to delve into the genre of self-improvement books?
I never planned to be an author or write a book that had anything to do with self-improvement. The book, The Hustler, came grew from an article I wrote for my school magazine about success. After writing the article I realised that the resources I gathered to write the article would waste if I didn’t do anything else with it. It also struck me that if at all I knew a lot about how to start and run a business successfully when I was a little younger I would have been a multi-millionaire by now. Judging from that, I didn’t want other young people to be in the dark. These thoughts, and a few others, pushed me into birthing my first book from a mere article.
What and when was your defining moment- that one moment when you had to tell yourself the hard truth in order to proceed?
That defining moment would be when I celebrated my 24th birthday early this year. I just realised that I was no longer a kid, and that if I fail to lay the right foundation at this point, I’ll never make it in life. In that moment I hard to tell myself the truth, ‘Boy, you need to sit up and hustle hard.’
 
When did you decide it was time to author The Hustler and what inspired it?
What really inspired me to keep writing was my own struggle to be financially independent as an undergraduate. I got my hands into a couple of business ventures and this afforded me first-hand experience on running a business successfully. I also wanted to share these experiences with youths so they can learn too.
What is the gist of The Hustler?
A HUSTLER is somebody that has decided to make a difference, to chart his own cause or run a business. They call it ENTREPRENUERSHIP but I call it HUSTLING. Some people do say that luck is involved in success but I think that’s a lie. The profile of any successful person involves three things which I have explained deeply in the book, they are; Hard work, Perseverance and Self-discipline. If you work hard, persevere and have self-discipline, there is no stopping you from being successful. So ‘The Hustler’ is a book that will guide you to making this a reality.
Of what relevance is it to the everyday Nigerian?
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the rate of unemployment in Nigeria went up to its all-time height of 23.90% in 2011. And the large number of individuals that made up this chunk figure was the youths. In other words, there are so many young Nigerians out there without jobs and probably with certificates. The book provides you with a step by step guide on how to start and run your own business without waiting for the white collar job. Its relevance can’t really be overemphasized.
Where can we find your book?
As for now it is sold mainly in bookshops in Uyo. I am also making arrangements to get it on online stores for easy access.
Do we expect another book soon?
Expect another book but not soon.
What else takes David’s time asides writing?
My baby company- it takes all of my time.
Who are your mentors and role models?
My elder brother Pastor Ety Isaiah is more than a mentor to me. I am so proud to have him as a brother. My role model is Steve Harris, a man with a vision and a great speaker.
Who do you read and what are you reading now?
I read a lot of Donald Trump but I am not reading any book currently.
What are you listening to?
Ro James – Coke EP
What is the next big thing for you?
Making my company a brand to reckon with in Nigeria and internationally.
What is advice do you have for the youths?
Be yourself because you’re God’s original product. Don’t try to be someone else.
 

Sunday, 27 October 2013

The Art of Writing Black


‘…art and community in Africa are clearly linked...I believe that it is impossible to write anything in Africa without some kind of message, some kind of protest.’
 

I have been consciously in the Arts for about 10 years now and Chinua, from the grave, seemed to have whispered Africa to my heart and hearing.

After having heard so much about him(and researching on his role as regards Pan-African Human Rights promotion and preservation), I decided to look into his work in August 2013. I also did get a download of Things Fall Apart.

I studied Things Fall Apart and There Was A Country closely. I was driven, however, and more attached to the latter than I was and am to the former. Perhaps this was as result of the clarity of his expression which was richly spread through-out his personal history of Biafra and the maturity and wisdom through he addressed the issue of the role of the African writer.

Before now, I gave just a few African authors more than the attention my academic pursuits demanded. I simply could not identify with their descriptions of the wars, society, friendship, history, dates, names, beauty, love, betrayal, passion, politics….

I understood that the knowledge of Africa was -and still is- salient but they seemed somewhat incomplete and burdensome to assimilate. As though to make matters worse, the subjects Government and History were not on my O’Level scheme of work so I just ran past it without much ado. Then again, with the gist of  Chimamanda of Purple Hibiscus; Chibundu of Spider King’s Daughter and Jude of Walking With Shadows, Africa suddenly leaped into light and became alluring to me. Tinapa and the Carnival spiced it up a whole lot. Ebony Life TV crowned it all.

Inspired by all these, I was determined to know Africa. I  now desperately needed to know her for myself.

My art needed to know her. My life, love, ethics, academics and style yearned impulsively. Yet the African story to me was as bleak as ever until I read Chinua in August.

His description and style of writing in his last book broke the ice for me. I do not pride myself in knowing the completely flawless truth now. But I feel richly blessed to know this much.

I am particularly thrilled by his articulation of the role of the African writer in the multiracial world with multifaceted issues. Given some deep thought to these lines, I become more convinced that never has this issue been addressed this eloquently and honestly. I have to share this with you. These are excerpts from his last book which has spun me in no little way. Especially the issue of whether or not the African writer should participate in African politics:

 ‘There are some who believe that the writer has no role in politics or the social upheavals of his or her day.....I believe that the African writer who steps side….will become like the contemporary intellectual of futility in many other places asking questions like: “Who am I? What is the meaning of my existence? Does this place belong to me or to someone else? Does my life belong to me or to some other person?...The question of involvement in politics is really a matter of definition....”’

The truth be told, this is no little task- African politics being all that it is today. I used to think that only spectators are in the better position to describe or criticize the dance. Then again, no one is the dance or knows the dance more than the dancers who dance the dance.

He further relayed the position as it was in early post-colonial Africa where ‘freedom’ being a state too hard to define or manage left everyone to his/her measure of uncertainty and hesitation, especially the writers and intellectuals.

‘What then do we do as writers? What was our role in our new country? How were we to think about the use of our talents? I can say that when a number of us decided that we would be writers, we had not thought through these questions very clearly. In fact, we did not have a clue what we were up against….A major objective was to challenge stereotypes, myths, and the image of ourselves and our continent, and to recast them through stories-prose, poetry, essays, and books for our children. That was my overall goal….I had no idea when I was writing Things Fall Apart whether it would even be accepted or published…,A major concern of the time was the absence of the African voice….Africa was bound sooner or later to respond….To do this effectively her spokesmen-the writers, intellectuals, and some politicians, including Azikiwe, Senghor, Nkrumah, Nyerere, Lumumba, and Mandela- engaged Africa’ s past, stepping back into what can be referred to as the ‘era of purity,’ before the coming of Europe….This was a special kind of inspiration. Some of us decided to tackle the big subjects of the day- imperialism, slavery, independence, gender, racism…. I borrowed proverbs from our culture and history, colloquialisms and African Expressive language from the ancient griots, the worldviews, perspectives, and customs from my Igbo tradition and cosmology, and the sensibilities of everyday people….by ‘writing back’ to the West we were attempting to reshape the dialogue between between the colonized and the colonizer. Our efforts we hoped would, would broaden the world’s understanding, appreciation, and conceptualization of what literature meant when including the African voice and perspective…. This is amother way of stating the fact of what I consider to be my mission in life.’

Learning about the Negritude –black intellectual and political liberation struggles/ independence movements, I have begun to appreciate the likes of Wole Soyinka; Steve Biko; Nnamdi Azikiwe; Kwame Nkurumah; Jomo Kenyatta; Julius Nyerere; Partrice Lumumba; Nelson Mandela; Walter Sisulu; Aime Cesaire,  and Leone Gontran Damas. To understand my place in my society as a writer, I appreciate that history is a wonderful place to begin even as I consider the ‘Great Story’.  Chinua further writes that…

‘If one didn't realize the world was complex, vast, and diverse, one would write as if the world were one little county, and this would make us poor, and we would have impoverished the novel and our stories …we must hear all stories. That would be the first thing. And by hearing all the stories we will find points of contact and communication, and the world story, the Great Story , will have a chance to develop....The  reality of today, different as it is from the reality of my society one hundred years ago, is and can be important if we have the energy and the inclination to challenge it, to go out and engage with the peculiarities, with the things that we do not understand.’

Without this we just churn out great material that serves no salient purpose. This is more so the case, I think, when certain themes are over flogged to the utter detriment and disregard of others. Africa, as it is in the 21st century, has so many great themes which we may consider.

I would love, for instance to read a novel about what the internet has done to Africa or the survival of our values and African languages in moments soon after now. I would love to read about Osuofia and the devasting culture shock he comes face to face with as he tours the world. I would love to read native African thoughts on inter-racial romance. I would love us to address adolescent relationships and sex education; the streaks of social networks and technology as it drives our world faster in varied directions; human rights campaigns….I would love this and much more. This is not just because such would  entice and
entertain me but because these are things that will make my

 parents understand this generation more. Also these are things

that the present age can identify with and propagate.


Today, I celebrate the contemporary Negritude as includes Helon Habila; Chimamanda Adiche; Jude Dibia and several others who have built new standards for the African literary picture. An Africa perhaps with not as many polygamous homes, kolanuts or witch doctors. An Africa with deeper themes, simpler diction and clearer thoughts. One which we should develop as the days go by.
 
‘…nobody is asking the new writer or intellectual to repeat stories, the literary agenda or struggles of yesteryear, it is very important for them to be aware of what our literature achieved, what it is has done for us, so that we can move forward.’
 
 It is a great thing that we have Book Festivals now and Literary Prizes. These are quite commendable steps. However, long-term mentorships would go a very long way in walking Africa to its literary future.

As an African writer I always should remember that…

‘… it should be the quality of the craft, not the audience that should be the greatest motivating factor….’

and that

‘The triumph of the written word is often attained when the writer achieves union and trust with the reader, who then becomes ready to be drawn deep into unfamiliar territory, walking in borrowed literary shoes so to speak, toward a deeper understanding of self or society, or of foreign peoples, cultures, and situations.’

 

I therefore ask that even as we script out the most exciting and sensational of what Africa is, should and will be, let us never forget the values that bind our art and the one voice whispering to us all, Africa.