Imagine This


I have just finished reading a book recommended by a good? friend. The author is Sade Adeniran (never heard of her) and it’s about the story of Lola Ogunwole’s difficult youth.

Anyways, the story is written in diary style and the first few entries didn’t quite catch my attention, but soon I could not put the book down!

The story covers mostly the first 20 or so years of the subject’s life (about 1967 to 1987) with some quick trips to earlier years concerning her parents. While there are several April entries, there was none that fell on my birthday until 1987 (hooray!) when I was (mind your business 🙂 years old.

I guess I am of the real old-school because I was rooting for the subject “keeping her legs closed” (in her own words)  all these while so I was sort of disappointed by the entries of 12th September 1987 (uncertain?) and 13th September 1987 (well, …). That probably makes me a prude by current standards I guess – and the reason given makes no sense – but who knows the mind of a woman, etc, etc, eh?

The story flows too much like it’s true or at least based on someone’s true story. I will be surprised if it is not. I guess if I see something of similar quality from the same author, I can maybe put a tentative question mark on my conclusion, otherwise it stands. (I will most definitely check out the author’s bio, probably on Wikipedia or the wild wide Internet – it’s what I do)

You are

I woke up this morning with Lionel Ritchie’s “You are” playing in my head (actually, I might have dreamt it as well). And as I usually have once in a long while, I had that dream where I was actually able to fly (with people just a few feet below looking on in wonder). It usually feels so real. And no, I am not an Ogbanje (why do I think of “Koku Baboni”?). I think it’s just my desire deep down in real life that’s filtering into my subconcious state. Flying has always been at the top list of my things-i-wish-i-could-do (not in Heaven or the hereafter – now!). Most def, once I get behind those pearly gates (hopefully!) and I recieve “that” magnificient welcome, greet the Great One and The Son, pay obeisance to those who were there before me such as my Dad, Uncles, Aunts, family, friends, etc, the first thing I would probably ask for is “gimme those wings!” (actually, I would prefer to be able to fly without actual wings on my back – it’s just another encumbrance – unless of course I can wish it away at whim – I am one of those people that if I could get away without wearing even a watch, I had do it – and I frequently do now since I can always tell the time from my phone)

After I got up, I found that at intervals I suddenly burst into singing just the part “… you are … I don’t mind, I don’t mind …”. Well, after a few of these singing bursts, I decided I might as well play the song and hear it from the horse’s mouth. So I am playing it currently. May be I will repeat it a few times 🙂

The Great Bird

Disclaimer: I wrote the story below for submission to the commonwealth writer’s competition for some prize (I believe a short story of between 2000-5000 words – the story below weighs in at about 2,382 words).
Was looking for “something” and I came across reference to the competition on Farafina’s
Wordpress blog. As usual, I didn’t really make any effort until almost the last minute
– and even after finishing the draft, I didn’t clean it up in time – only to find out that I had missed the deadline by about a week 🙂 I didn’t pay close attention to the submission deadline – my bad.
As to the story below, I checked my bare portfolio and didn’t find anything that I thought
would qualify (“Conversations with the Devil” and “Once upon a journey …” seemed to
have too much of a religious slant to them). So I basically let it go, but it was at the back of my mind to write a story for the competition.
Fast-forward some days, and it’s almost daylight, and the generator had stopped, and as usual, there was a single mosquito in the room (I don’t mind the things taking a “drink”,
but why in all that’s holy must they announce their intentions by buzzing in my ears?)
And I never can sleep once I hear that buzz. Usually my re-action is to get up, “spray” the
room, stand outside for say about 20minutes then go back in. On this occasion, having turned in late, with the generator off, I just laid there in the dark awake.
Which was when the story below started playing out in my head – totally from scratch – don’t take that to mean it’s any good – I am just saying it as it was 🙂 I think the initial draft took maybe less than an hour – with me typing feverishly on my BB in the dark 🙂
For the real writers, check out people such as Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Sefi Atta, etc.
One thing you may notice quickly is these people’s command of the English language – I couldn’t speak English to save my life (OK, I exaggerate :-)!

Well, if a few people think it’s passable, I may just submit it next year (God willing, we are all still alive, and JC hasn’t yet returned)

Title: The Great Bird

The elders tell of a time, recorded only in the oral history of our people, long before the coming of the Whiteman. A time of wide grasslands and lush virgin valleys; a time of abundance; a time of peace.
The same elders tell of a great bird which dwelt deep within a forbidden forest, which if found and caught, brought great wealth, beyond imagining. In fact, it is said, that one of the ancestors of the current village chief caught such a bird, and his line has always been great and rich ever since.
The same elders tell of an evil forest, filled with fearsome giants with stone clubs the size of grown men; little wicked spirits who tear babes from women’s breasts and grind them in little wooden bowls to make foul gruels.
Myself, I think they had partaken too much of the sap of the tree of forgetfulness.
* * * * * * * * * *
The elders say that poverty is a play best watched from afar; a dish best served to strangers of indeterminate linage. I grew up in a time of deep, desperate lack. When hunger drove men to strange things, and the tales of plenty told by toothless old men sounded like that garden of heaven from the Whiteman’s religion.
There were few times I could remember truly sleeping on a full belly. The forests no longer had big games; the rivers gave up fish so small only the finest net could catch.
The jobs were faraway in the cities. And stories of slavery and despair by the few who have made the journey and came back. Yet, some of those tell fantastic stories of great houses built of stone that had 10 floors one on top of the other, that the man on the 10th floor descended and ascended by rope. The village chief’s house had only one floor. It was said the Whiteman built it long ago. But the floor was wooden, and the termites unwavering: no one goes up there now, except young boys who knew no better than to risk broken necks on an afternoon jaunt.
* * * * * * *
Very few practiced the Whiteman’s religion. Even fewer practiced the other religion brought back long ago by traders who had ventured north to a land said to be ruled by white men, who nevertheless did not practice the religion. This led to much confusion. Our deities were many, but ultimately accept the same things: a goat for prosperity; a cow to ward off ancestral evil spirits. Other little  things such as chicken, dogs and bush rat and oil to wash it all down. If both these religion came from the place of the Whiteman, why were they so different? When they both claim to worship one god? The village’s chief priests and herbalist claim our suffering came from allowing these strange religions in our midst.
I do not know, for the practitioners often share what little they themselves have to eat with complete strangers: they can’t be as evil as the medicine men would have us believe. No matter, the village chief has decreed they must not be touched (there is a rumor that he worships one of these gods in secret)
* * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * ** * * * * ** * * * * ** * * * * *
In a village like mine, your friends are your peers and growing up, you form even smaller bands that are terrors to the women and children. And so it was that I grew being fast friends with 5 of my peers.
We had nothing to discuss except food and riches during the long hot afternoons once the seasonal harvest is done. I do not remember who brought up the story of the great bird first. But soon amidst jeers, taunts and dares, with secret fears and bold faces, we soon decided to go in search of this bird, if indeed it exists. Dreams of riches and young nubile women whose fathers would beg to foster on us helped reinforce our otherwise wavering decision. With a bush rat in hand, we approached the village madman who it is claimed sees visions and speaks to the ancestors, for no one else knows the place of the great bird.
Snatching the rat, he staggered back and forth, and then sat on the ground mumbling to himself. After about an hour, we were ready to depart, thinking of the rat we could have eaten ourselves but instead gave to the madman. That was when he spoke: “you must leave the village facing east. Your journey will be long. When you think you have gone far enough, then you have just started.”
He wouldn’t answer any more questions, and as we made our way towards the village center, almost out of earshot, he added: “I see twelve young bucks drinking from a sparkling pool. No, half are reflections. But only half made it from the water’s edge”
Not sure if he was addressing us or himself, we made up our mind, that if indeed we come across those young bucks, at least one will not get away from us.
* * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * ** * * * * ** * * * * ** * * * * *
There was little preparation to be made. And with the harvest done, parents were glad to be rid of troublesome youths. All we said, was we were going on a great hunting journey and none was to expect us back for several days.
As the madman said, we made our way due east of the village. The vegetation changed a little but we saw nothing of the forbidden forest of the village tales.
But hunger soon became our travelling companion. We feasted on what little roots we found and small animals we caught while keeping a lookout for the young bucks mentioned by the madman. Indeed he must have been mad, no animals bigger than grass-cutters have been seen in ages and even reports of wild pigs have never been confirmed. Nevertheless, we chose our camps carefully and ensured there was always a look out.
Nothing out of the ordinary happened for the first several days, and then misfortune descended rapidly like a mid-summer shower.
We came to a slightly denser forest where we soon spied a burrow by the foot of a small hill. There were some marks at the entrance that were still fresh. We decided whatever was inside couldn’t be very big, and the marks meant it wasn’t a snake either. As we had no easy means of making a fire at hand to smoke out the burrow’s occupants, we cast lots to see who would crawl into the burrow.
Soon the other five were position in such a way that if the sixth, who crawled on his chest, head-first should back out in a hurry, we would be able to kill any animals that follow him out. For several minutes, he made careful progress while we waited in expectant silence. Then suddenly, with what remained of his legs outside the borrow thrashing violently and an unearthly scream shattering the stillness of the afternoon, I am ashamed to say, that the other five took to the winds. Realizing what we had done, we made it back as carefully and as quickly as we could. We barely saw the hind part of what must have been a wild boar recede into the undergrowth. On the ground in front of the burrow laid our friend, and his injuries showed the ancestors were beckoning to him already. He tried to talk, but nothing we could make sense of. Soon, he was at peace. We laid him to rest the best we could. The grave was shallow as we had no tools to dig with, but we piled stones on top to prevent forest animals from getting at him.
We continued the journey, speaking little, for the death of our friend and our shameful behavior weighed heavily upon us.
A few nights later, we made camp near a river. We huddled together around a small fire, retelling some of the stories from our youth to encourage ourselves. Soon, one of our little group wanted to relieve himself. Stepping back away from the fire a little into the bush so that the rest of us do not partake in the abundance of odours emanating from him, he continued to contribute to the discussion. Suddenly, there was a loud thump as if a massive rock had fallen from a great height. Then there was rustling in the grass and it all came from the direction where our friend had been on his haunches. Building up the fire as quickly as possible, while some rushed towards the bush with burning sticks from the fire, there was nothing to be found. We searched for several hours in the dark, calling out his name while fearful of our own safety. None of us could sleep that night, and in the morning, we found an impression in the grass and some shed skin of what must have been a great snake.
That day, we slept fitfully and thanked the gods the snake did not come back as none of us was awake enough to stand as a lookout. We debated going back, but remembered the madman’s words, thinking we must be at the point where we think we have gone far enough, then must continue. The terrain seems to be rising gradually and we were soon gradually skirting the side of a great mountain: going round it would have taken several days and who knew what we will find on the other side? The ground was fairly stable and the going steady. We spoke little so as to concentrate on the task at hand. But that didn’t help the person at the front of the line, for he stepped on what appeared to be shrubbery, but which hid a gap in the path and sent him tumbling down the side of the mountain. There was nothing we could do for the fellow. We peered down the side of the mountain and saw his broken and twisted form far below: it was evident he was no longer with us. We made camp at the place and remembered our three friends in the ways of our forefathers. It was impossible to sleep, lest we join our fallen friend. In the morning, we were careful not to look down as we proceeded, for he was now to be remembered in stories and dreams.
It was just as well we did not attempt to go round the mountain, for on getting to the top, we found the land was at the same level with other hills as far as we could see.

* * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * ** * * * * ** * * * * ** * * * * *
The hills were full of caves and we wandered from one to the other. It was obvious that no living thing of any considerable size had been on those hills in a long time. But in one such cave, where there was nothing but dry bones on the floor, was a strange spectacle on the wall. There in the picture, was one of my people, kneeling down, presenting a great bird to a man painted white like our warriors. But he was different, for on his head sat a strange looking cap, and in his hand was the stick from heaven that thunders and sent men to meet their ancestors. This must have been before the “great war”, for no Whiteman has set foot in our lands since the time before the old men were little babes on their mothers backs. The Whiteman (for surely, he must be) gave many strange things back to the man of my people in the picture on the wall.
Some of the bones on the floor looked like it belonged to hens as big as the little men spoken of by the elders, but what do we do with them? Besides, we still had the journey back to make on empty angry stomachs.
We left that place in sorrow and des pair, but with care made it back to the village with little incidence.
The three of our original party of six made a pact at the village entrance, beneath the great grandfather tree: nothing was to be said of what we found, except that wild animals ate our friends.
* * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * ** * * * * ** * * * * ** * * * * *
Many years have passed. I am an old man now, with missing teeth and a walking stick, just like those old men of my youth. We eat a little better now. They say the Whiteman has brought great knowledge on how to grow food in abundance. I do not know if this is true: I haven’t seen the abundant food, and I haven’t seen the Whiteman. But my great grandson who lives in the city and comes to visit once every year assures me that it is so. He is small but knowledgeable beyond his years, and shows me pictures in what he calls books, so maybe I should believe him. The last time he came, he brought one such book filled with pictures of many strange animals. He said most of them live in distant lands and that some cannot be found again. He showed me one picture that has been on my mind these past moons. It was of a great bird in lush grasslands. It brought back memories I have long forgotten, of a time of strength, youth and friendship; of six young men, of whom I am the last that will soon make the great journey. The last thing he said was that men hunted the birds and ate it and its big eggs until it could no longer be found anymore. I asked if it brought great riches to those men. He said he thought not, for they were men that lived as I have often told in my stories, and there were none of those strange machines (he calls them) that carry people around the cities now and make little children run screaming to their mothers and even elders of my years step slightly back when once in a while they pay august visits to our village.
“What does the Whiteman call the great bird?” I asked.

Sefi Atta’s “Not My Affair”

Sefi Atta’s “Not My Affair”

I was at the reading of Sefi Atta’s “Not My Affair” this evening at the Terra Kulture in Victoria Island.
In order not to offend our Nigerian Sensibilities, the play started about 40mins late (which Sefi apologized for – I engaged myself playing Solitaire on my phone 🙂 and the background music for the play was being played in a loop (and it was quite nice)
The reading was opened by Sefi Atta who spoke for about 10 minutes. Though she said she was a little nervous (possibly), the 10 minutes passed so quickly because she made it
interesting and fun in a serious way – I don’t think anyone could have done it any better.

The reading itself was very interesting and funny – and it lasted about an hour.
The four other readers (apart from Kate Henshaw) were supposedly not actors – but I suspect they are not new to reading as the parts were very well done.
I had pitty on “Tosin” though, for her part called for a display of emotion/anger/etc – a state in which she basically was throughout the reading 🙂
It must take a lot of effort – especially for a none-professional actress!

Well done to all.

There was refreshments after the reading (which as Sefi said in the beginning was hidden so people don’t wander off randomly during the reading 🙂

Since I am not a writer, the above is not a criticism of the reading or the play itself (unless  in a positive way), otherwise I would have to be classified amongst “those who can’t do …” which hopefully I am not!

Go Atta Girl!

NOTE: All proceeds go to an NGO for kids. I put my name/mail down on the contact list, so I hope I will be “invited” for future shows/readings.
NOTE: Looked up her bio on the Internet, and wouldn’t have thought she was a day older than myself and that is saying something!

Mean Girls 2: the letter

I am one of those people who, when watching a film, if shown a letter/note on the screen, will pause, rewind, zoom (if necessary) to read its content – especially if I am watching the film alone. Not for any particular reason, just the fact that if I think the note/letter is legible enough to be read, then I am going to read it. If you don’t want me to read it, then don’t show a legible copy on the screen.

Now to the typo in the screen grab below from Mean Girls 2 (I will watch almost any film I can get my hands on, I weed out the completely useless ones afore-hand by checking out the reviews on first)

I have underlined (in red) the parts that are “incomplete”. As far as I know, for a production to display the name of a well-known organization in this way, they must have obtained the permission of the organization involved. Of course, it’s very likely the school didn’t actually see/approve the letter, just gave the permission – with some suitable
contribution/donation or possibly “free” advert (Have that, you other schools! We are in with the Hollywood crew, suckers!)?

Anyways, while I am not a language buff myself (my English both spoken and written leaves a lot to be desired), I think this is too obvious to have been missed.