Book title: Love Like A Woman and Other Stories
Author: Razinat T Mohammed
Publisher: Kraft Books Limited
Reviewer: Adeniyi Taiwo Kunnu
he human heart is as deep as complex, and when it comes to matters of the woman heart, the discourse takes a unique turn in need of careful attention. Razinat Mohammed in this work, “Love Like a Woman and other stories”, examines the multifarious fictional realities in the lives of different women, deftly navigating the planes of marriage, religion, culture and the vicissitudes that affect other lives.
Eleven stories in 120 gripping pages; and the reader could never be left the same way because the pieces contained in one piece gets one acquainted with the not-too-often examined daily or lifetime experiences of people. If only we knew the much we should, as someone once said, we would have done more to make the world better than we have it now. From the first story, Razinat simply conveys delicious incidences and at times unsavoury glitches in ‘fine’ vocabulary.
“Something to Live For” gives needed premonition which later comes to fore in the other stories. Afi, hungry and tired descended into another realm which reveals her experiences as a woman married off against her will. Failing in her bid to commit suicide and having been rescued by a stranger, her life continues for a brief moment in lonely forest. Razinat employs the stream of consciousness technique, demonstrating how often times we keep our fears at the subconscious, but present to the world the side which fits men’s acceptance.
Importantly, Afi chooses the real world where her torrid relationship with her spouse could not prevent her from getting back to the one person in her family where her only love still remains. She could leave every other thing and move on with her life, but in this instance; the propelling force of love keeps her in. Her memories of Efida can wait, while the painful face-off with Uduma must be shrugged off.
Sterile Water takes the reader on another fictional journey in realistic representation. Kulu’s life depicts one whose existence is enmeshed in destructive poverty. In a family of five children, jobless husband and offensive cultural practice which are obviously unfavourable to the plight of the mother who toils but gets incommensurate returns. This is a creative output which addresses, not only an area of general concern, but specific cultural distastes.
The third story, which also doubles as the title of the collection is “Love Like A Woman’s”, takes this narrative a notch higher. Dije bears the burden of love by giving her life to a man whose mental state defies immediate or remote remedy. The story describes the height of one’s love characterised by ‘ultimate sacrifice’, and in this wise it is a woman giving her life, having first lost the life of the unborn to the violence of a mentally unstable man.
In “Laila”, Razinat gives new perspective to the weighty concerns of an erstwhile divorcee. Overwhelmed by the stigma associated with being unmarried on the one side and the fear of being out of a second marriage of three months on the other, Laila contends with the disrespectful gateman in her new home, the pressured facilities, step-children rivalry, perceptions by the older wife and ultimately her sexual preferences.
The author keeps readers’ taste buds watered with “The U-Turn”. Here, a woman also finds herself on the receiving end of the pugilist. A husband-to-be; a beautiful prospect in a daughter in-law; a dotting mother-in-law and the Achilles Heels of being overweight all come together causing flurry of emotions. So, when England came to Nigeria in the hope of a damsel, Sam got a shocker in eve’s daughter who has indulged beyond measure in ‘fatteners’. In summary, Mary Rose does not have the Knight in any shining armour as hers. He, back to England, while the consolatory words of her mother in-law does nothing to change Sam’s mind.
“Beasts on Rampage” is another delicious read which queries the sanity of allowing the wild dwell amongst the urbane. There are circuses where wild animals are on display for fun, but having these carnivorous mammals in neighbourhoods gets a thumb down here. Mohammed weaves her words around the humanity in people, touching on the unjust treatment of the average in society and arrives its zenith with the distaste that under-lie her fictive presentation. She sure makes the reader wonder but in a maze of reading experiences.
One Good Turn is one of morality…, of a home gone apart…. of a child turned out and left on the streets…, of a father bereft of needful values and love and subsequent degeneration but eventual redemption of a dear life. This story x-rays parents and parenting, while also exploring peer influences and workings around it.
“Official Touts” rounds off this collection, and this story picks holes in the often mentioned fake police experiences. This piece regales readers with the stop and search on the roads by police and the check point experiences. A travelling family that parts with cash and kind; and then in turn receives some ‘change’ from the money stolen from them gets the reader’s needful attention. This is an eye opener to stepping up the game in terms of security so as to keep men of the underworld on their toes.
A Love Like A Woman and Other Stories is truly a fascinating collection. It is a work recommended for its unique perspectives and indeed a deserving applause as a beautiful piece of literature.
A call to action against anti-female culture
Title: Killing Them Softly
Author: Martins Agbonlahor
Publisher: i2i Publishing, Manchester, United Kingdom
Year of Publication: 2019
Reviewer: Andrew Iro Okungbowa
illing Them Softly, written by Martins Agbonlahor, a Nigerian-born, United Kingdom-based lawyer and professional journalist, is not just seminal book on the struggle for women’s rights in Nigeria but also of the exhibition of the oppression and injustice visited on the women based on cultural beliefs and practices.
It is obviously an x-ray, in a very moving manner, of happenings in Nigeria, his country of birth, where bad governance has given root to endemic problems of injustice, abuse of human rights, bribery and corruption, religious bigotry and all sorts of social vices. It is also a reflection on other Africa countries where such practices are elevated to an act.
Interestingly, the writer has shown through his proper situation of the story that he may have left his country of birth, but he is fully abreast of developments in the country, as he draws essentially from his background and experience to lay bare the endemic problems plaguing his fatherland.
He will surely earn the recommendation of anyone reading the 318 pages novel for telling his story from the stand point of a feminist. Agbonlahor succeeded in sustaining interest in his socio-fictional cum factual novel by choosing to adopt the story telling technique rather than use mere polemics and socio-jingoism employed by many of the feminists or promoters of feminism.
Agbonlahor from the prologue left no one in doubt of what he sets out to achieve with his work. Detonate African’s oppressive culture as laid bare in a patriarchy setting and beliefs that at every point undermines the rights of the women, putting a hold on them as second class, if not third class citizens, who are only fit to fan the embers of man’s ego, doing his biddings and satisfy his erotic and bestial desires most times.
Although not a feminist himself, but for obvious reasons and using his poetic license as a writer, he has decided to bring to the fore the disadvantaged position society has put the women. And so, at every point in the novel, while unfolding happenings across the socio-cultural, economic, religious and political planes, to bad governance, he does so highlighting how all of these are skewed against the women.
The entire 28 chapters are devoted to how Martha Clifford challenged the status quo, trying to break the glass ceil and act not only as a conscience of the society but a voice for the oppressed women and others in the society.
Agbonlahor takes his readers into the inner recess of the cultural practices and beliefs of his Benin background, giving us a benefit of his experience and apt understanding of the cultural practices of his forebears while growing up in the city of Benin.
Martha Clifford is raised in a polygamous home where the father calls the shot and turns his wives and children to mere furniture or appendages to his person as none of them had any say in the running of the home or dare go against the autocratic decree of his father, who is seen as ‘The Lord of the Manor.’
Growing up, she agonises over these accepted ways of life and whenever she raises questions, she is silenced by her father and mother as well as others around her, who have acquiesced with the oppressive and degrading cultural practices, to simply do as she is told and not go against the societal code as the consequences are grievous.
Her fate was defined from the first day of her life. And this, she knew too well as she lived in perpetual fear of being denied education and given out early in marriage. Perhaps her first practical experience of the brutality of the skewed cultural practice was the mutilation of her genital at a very tender age by her parents. This single experience was like a wake – up call to the reality of her situation as a girl-child growing up in a patriarchy environment and under stultifying cultural beliefs.
But somehow, fate smiled on her as at the point of being given out in marriage, her prospective husband, who happens to be a creditor to the father, and the manager of the pool betting outfit in her community, brought the good news of her father becoming an instant millionaire following his winning.
However, before handling the cheque to her father, he succeeded in eliciting a promise from the father to educate Martha Clifford from secondary school level to university level.
It was this singular happening that changed her life as she gradually became more exposed to the realities of the injustices around her.
Reflecting on the road destiny has taken her through, she says of the transformation of her life from a local village girl to an internationally recognised feminist and human rights crusader thus: “I had set out to be a Microbiologist, sweating it out in the labs and fondling with all familiar and unknown test tubes and syringes, but events and call of conscience were to steer me in another direction. And here I am.”
With five of her university friends, she formed a group known as ‘Women Incorporated,’ which was later corrupted by the government and the society to, ‘Woeman6.’ Imprisoned for over two years alongside her five other feminists, she fought every injustice against the women and children.
Despite her fight, she was not able to reach the ‘mountaintop of her desire’ due to the deep-seated nature of the cultural beliefs and endemic corrupt practices in her country, as she voiced out her frustration on pages 314/315 thus: “Our country, Nigeria, has deep-seated, stone-age anti-feminine culture coupled with her two main religions, Christianity and Islam, as well as the unofficial ‘traditional religion.’ All of these place the woman in an inferior position, their adherents quoting verses and spitting venom in support of the debasement, our slavish existence.
“Therefore, so long as there are still these stark inequalities, there will always be toes to be stepped on, and we shall courageously continue to step, and in fact, thump on them, until these toes develop gangrene or feminine rights are respected in Nigeria.”
Martha Clifford may not have reached the mountaintop of her desire, however, she succeeded in breaking many grounds and drawing attention of the international community and her people to the oppression of the women and the less privileged in the society and other issues that she set out to addressed.
This, she clearly reflected on in the epilogue, page 318, where she also expressed optimism following the recent developments in the political landscape of her country, with some women now being elected and appointed into political offices, and one of her members, Ifueko, made a minister of women affairs, predicting that in less than two decades a woman president may just emerged in her country.
The author has carefully penciled the novel in a lucid and simple language, with symmetric flow and diction while he has also spiced it with anecdotes and drawing examples from other parts of the world to drive home his story.
This is a book every Nigerian, especially the women and human rights activists should read.
In a recent interview on his work, Agbonlahor tries to let the reader into his world view and the thought process, which gave birth to the story: “Martha represents every African woman who has been a victim of fierce oppression, as well as every other woman in the world.
“She personifies their collective strength, courage, tenacity and that stop-at-nothing spirit for true equality and recognition. Yes, it’s a fictional novel, but the narrative could have been plucked from any woman’s life.”
ENOF hosts ‘Family Day’ concert to promote asthma awareness
amily Day In the Park” concert, organised by Elias Nelson Oyedokun Foundation (ENOF) in conjunction with the entertainment industry to create awareness is set to take place on Sunday 17th November, at the Muri Okunola Park, Victoria Island.
Asthma is an ailment suffered by many. It is a chronic disease characterized by breathlessness and wheezing. Fortunately Asthma has a low fatality rate compared to other chronic diseases. However 300 million people are affected by Asthma globally and more than 1000 die per day.
World Asthma Day is an annual event held on the first Tuesday of May, organised by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) to improve Asthma awareness and care around the world
According to the founder of ENOF, Mrs Lola Ilaka, Asthma is one of the health issues in Nigeria that needs to be managed. “There are a lot of triggers that cause an Asthma attack including pollution. It is vital to know the triggers. Mrs Ilaka lost her son to Asthma, hence her desire to ensure no other family has to endure what her family went through. “Award winning ENOF, works with medical experts to educate those with the ailment to manage and control their Asthma and how to spot the symptoms. It also serves as a source of information.
It is with great pleasure to team up with the entertainment industry as they have not been spared the loss of their own through Asthma including the late Ogbonna Amadi and Tosyn Bucknor and others. We would like to bring the discussion on Asthma to the forefront; it has no bias as to gender, class or tribe. “Our long term plan is to set up an Asthma medical centre that would cater for patients,” says Mrs Ilaka.
“I thank the entertainment sector for their support, as well as the media for supporting our noble course. We also thank our sponsors who have been instrumental in making the event a reality.”
According to the project consultant, Mr. Michael Odiong, though a serious matter it is going to be a fun day. The event will feature games, competitions, food, drinks, music and stalls where families can do some early Christmas shopping and taste some of the delights available . “It will be a family day where families can bond and artistes will entertain the crowd. There will be talks on Asthma prevention and management,” Odiong said.
Breaking boundaries of knowledge through curiosity
Book Title: In the Curious City
Author: Stephen Erutor-Pat
Publisher: CoachInFocus Resource Planet
Year of publication: 2016
Reviewer: Tony Okuyeme
he greatest invention in the world”, notes American inventor and businessman, Thomas Edison, “is the mind of a child and every mind is born with the instinct of curiosity.”
Also, renowned German-born theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein, notes that “Curiosity has its own reason for existing. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”
This is the focus of book written by Stephen Erutor-Pat and curiously titled In the Curious City. This 72-page book published under the Motivated & Driven Series, the author notes, “is a summer when every young mind should explore the world”, stressing that …“In the Curious City… wisdom begins in Wonder.”
He however added that “Answers only change the world when the right questions are asked.” Divided into six chapters with an introduction, this ‘larger than its frame’ work is a must read for anyone eager to explore or question everything for the advancement of knowledge and discovery.
In the introduction, the author presents his thoughts, and tells of the inspiring power of a girl who is trapped in her father’s house, situated in the middle of a thick forest and was firmly secured every night with a heavy stone, such that no one could neither come in nor go out. But curious leads her to know new things, to meet great people, and opened her to exciting world of opportunities.
Chapter one titled “The Curious Cat”, the author provides different definitions of ‘Curiosity. Quoting from Wikipedia, he states: “Curiosity is a quality related to inquisitive thinking such as exploration, investigation, and learning, evident by observation in human and many animal species…”
On his part, he defines curiosity as “the quest for new ideas and information, a strong desire to question things until understood. It is a hunger to explore and delight in discovery.” According to him, “when we are curious, we approach the world with a child-like habit of poking and prodding and asking questions. We are attracted to new experiences. Rather than pursuing an agenda or a desired set of answers, we follow our question where they lead.
“And the exciting thing is that you do not need all the answers at once, you just need to get one answer after another, satisfy one curiosity after another and you are well on your way to fascinating discoveries.”
In this 21st century…, Africa, he says, is in dire need of deep thinkers, people who will go after knowledge with a club, stressing that “power goes to the continent or country that has greater knowledge. This is also true of individuals. This is why countries like America, Japan, China, India, the UK, and so many others are powerful.”
Chapter two, as the title suggests, focuses on “What Curiosity Does To You”. According to the author, curiosity promotes intelligence, awakens the mind to new ideas, perspectives, as well as makes one more positive among other things.
In Chapter three, the author urges the reader “Explore: Question Everything”, and never quit until you have satisfied your curiosity. In this chapter, the author also writes on the power of observation, highlighting the contributions the contributions of the Wright Brothers, Isaac Newton to science and knowledge.
Chapter four is titled “Discovering Your Spark; Burn Up Some Curiosity”. Here he opens with a quotes by James Stephens and Dorothy Parker, which states respectively that: “Curiosity will conquer far more than bravery will”; and that “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”
He however notes that you must believe in yourself, stressing that “until you are successful inside, you cannot be successful on the outside. And that is why wealth is not defined by what a man has physically but by the quality of his thoughts. This is why this book is written, to help you see yourself and the world differently.
In this chapter, the author also offers insight into how to develop a questioning mind. These include acknowledge that you don’t know; seek to clarify thoughts; learn how to listen; and mingle with those who know more than you.
“The Lead of Curiosity: What Education Really Is” is the title of chapter five, while the “Epilogue: Impression is never the goal is the focus of chapter six. How to develop your curiosity; replace fear of the unknown with curiosity; write, put your thoughts and ideas on paper; be tolerant and admit when you are wrong; become an expert in something; learn to learn and do; and don’t take things for granted are some the areas the ways to develop your curiosity, according to the author.
How the author has managed to say so much in this small book is no doubt, ‘curious’. This is a compelling and inspiring book.
Stephen Erutor-Pat is the founder and president of SoarSTARS Club, an NGO with a mission to bring out the best in every young star.
He is a passionate motivational speaker, a writer and a strong believer in the Great New Nigeria. He strongly believes in change and that Nigeria will lead the world if her youths (her future) can but rise up, sharpen their skills, develop their talents and pursue knowledge with a club.
Culture, creativity as Janggu Drums workshop ends in Ajegunle
t was an entertaining and inspiring showcase of culture and creativity, particularly how traditional drums as a musical instrument can celebrate and unify cultures, as Janggu Drum Training Graduation Ceremony took centre stage at the Ajeromi-Ifelodun Local Government Secretariat, Lagos.
The Janggu drum is the most representative drum in traditional Korean music. It consists of an hourglass-shaped body with two heads made from animal skin.
The atmosphere was convivial, as guests, including parents and guardians of graduating drummers, artistes and students waited anxiously for the performances.
And when the performances started, the audience was literally transported to South Korea and back to Nigeria in a potpourri of drums ensemble and colourful costumes depicting both cultures – South Korea and Nigeria.
The event is culmination of the Ajegunle axis of the Janngu drums training workshop series initiated and facilitated by notable Nigerian drummer and choreographer, Mr. Isioma Williams, in collaboration with South Korean Cultural Centre in Nigeria.
The workshop was earlier held in Orile Iganmu and Barija areas of Lagos, respectively.
In his opening remark, Mr. Williams explained the idea behind the workshop and how Janggu drums are taught.
According to him, he was inspired by his encounter with this traditional Korean hourglass-shaped drum, in 2013 when he participated in the cultural exchange initiative at the National Museum of Korea in Seoul, and upon his return to Nigeria, he decided to share the knowledge with others, giving cultural values both ways.
“This is not just to promote another culture but to understand some of the values attached to some of these traditional drums,’’ he said.
He added, “Drums are therapeutic and you benefit both ways either as the one drumming or the one listening to it.”
The graduation ceremony provided the platform for the Janggu workshop participants – among them, professional dancers – to showcase their skills after weeks-long rigorous training during the workshop. They showed, characteristic finesse, how the Janngu drum can also be adapted to various Nigerian music, including Afro-pop, rap, Fuji, and folksongs.
The children performance featured six boys namely Taiye Oyeleke, Daniel Adesuyi, Goodluck Atela, Emmanuel Sobemi, Jamiu Adio and Mohammed Ganiu.
Highlights of the event was the presentation of special awards to some of the participants for their outstanding performances and in recognition of the efforts during the Janggu drum training workshop. The commendation award was given to Mabel Chuks Okonkwo while the Excellence Award was presented to Nwaneri Barnabas.
Soyinka salutes Keith Richards for writing Never Quite The Insider
obel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka has commended the candour, courage and confidence displayed by Chief Keith Richards in his latest book, Never Quite the Insider: A Nigerian Memoir”.
Soyinka who reviewed the book at its public presentation at the Terra Kulture in Lagos on Thursday, described the book as a “Memoir of a Ghetto Blaster”, noting that the book remains a big insight on profiling the psychology of corporate Nigeria.
“Nothing surprises me in the book, but what surprises me is candour and courage of the author, in putting together what look like a manual for both expatriates and locals, on how to navigate the testy waters of managing business,” Soyinka told an appreciative audience made of business, media and literary/arts community.
Kadaria Ahmed, Nigerian journalist, media entrepreneur, and television host who anchored the programme, maintained that the book is a thriller as the author gave a frank, unprecedented, look into corporate Nigeria and the world of expatriates.
In his remarks, the author affirmed that the 287 page book “explains a little of my coming here, my love affairs with Nigeria”, and management practice in corporate Nigeria.
Two stars and twinkles of love
Book title: Boom Boom
Author: Jude Idada
Publisher: Winepress Publishing
Year of publication: 2019
Reviewer: Adeniyi Taiwo Kunnu
he reality of being a channel for lives transcends the two who primarily account for their birth. This role calls for a deeper-than-the surface consideration as that is the zenith of such arduous task. Through the eyes of an eight year old, and the significant representation by his five year old sibling, not forgetting an animal, the author brings to life what appears as child’s play, then an enthralling tale and later an immersion, typical of unconscious literary baptism that has an allusion to the Jordan River documentation.
The clear indication of how ‘personal’ this work turns emanates from the narrative person in which it is communicated. Osaik, also known as Osasunwen Ikpowonsa Osagie unveils an ordeal, depicting a topsy-turvy situation as it affects the health of two members of his family – the first person being his mother and the second, his younger sister – Eghe Boom Boom, whose full name is Aiguobamsimwim Osagie. The author goes inches further, by establishing the element of the super-sensible when Kompa, a dog, serves as clairvoyant, and at other times a source of succor and the very definition of true, yet rare friendship.
How relevant this book is hinges to what is often not dwelt upon by many writers of Children’s Literature. It is understood that children love fables and moonlight tales, but the age of knowledge attests to the wide-spread access to learning tools, which must take cognizance of the familiarity that many need to have, with what truly bedevils a non-negligible percentage of Nigerians – Sickle Cell Anaemia.
The author, by dwelling on an adjudged pressing concern has shown that nothing should be too knotty for a child, as far as it is matter of life and the after-life. Osaik’s gift in this fiction becomes the useful thread which connects the entire story. An eight year old who understands the language of animals is the apt representation of the fantasy experiences that children revel in. Children in their purity often display ‘larger than life’ capacities, occasioned by what they watch, and in this work, it is evidently impressed.
Notably, the acculturation of the kids in the Osagie home comes up for a deliberate consideration, being an important sub-theme in this work. When parents nurture their children rightly, the same becomes their anthem in public engagements.
‘Boom Boom’ is Onomatopoeic as the title of a work, reminding one of such sound made when there is a blast from an explosion, but here, another kind of sound is being made. It is a shift from denotative to a connotative deployment. In this wise, ‘sound’ of pains and accompanying losses to about 20% of 200 million strong population of Nigeria; a ‘sound’ that resonates into spaces and vales where love choices and lack of knowledge plunge countless numbers into making more lives miserable. It is indeed a sound made to evangelize those whose inclination refuses the fact of what obtains in comprehensible term.
In Osaik’s words: “I was eight years old small, my sister was five years old tiny, my mum was thirty years old frail, my daddy was thirty three years old strong and the Border Collie, Kompa, who my mother had given me for my sixth birthday, was a year and three months old feisty”
Every picture painted of his family succinctly describes the experience of the child-narrator.
Mrs Osagie dies from Sickle Cell crisis, her daughter Eghe Boom Boom suffers from the same ailment. Osaik is the privileged one and no carrier of genes that will result in similar crisis as his mother and sister. Through his impressive world view, he shares the sincerity of a child’s challenges, whose shoulders bear too much weight than can be carried, especially the task of giving care to his only siblings (a sister and a dog) and extending same to his father.
In thirteen chapters, readers are taken on journey of life lessons. It is the unveiling of a family’s experiences, where courage fuses with hope, although the baggage of despair and disappointment gnaw at the hearts of the characters in this work, the joy of a life transformed brings eventual reprieve. Pain is splattered across the phases of the lives of the Osagie family; the battle for the life of Eghe Boom Boom is better imagined than experienced. Through it all, it is the knowledge about Sickle Cell Anaemia and challenges the sufferer/s endured as well the efforts made to prevent losing a daughter to the ailment that had taken her mother.
The underlying message is to make new lives from informed choices, so as to prevent catalogues of losses, which include loved ones and resources. This beautiful work of fiction carries with it the sustained excitement of a dog-sibling, whose understanding of the super-sensible combines the use of same to aid human interaction as well as bring reprieve. No mistake made, the dog never spoke in human language, however, the capacity of a kid to understand and interpret the dog’s communication makes for proper representation of a world, where kids love to be and feel unbridled in all they want to do.
The humanity in the work is established at the juncture where help comes for the little child, an achievement aided through a mother who is physically absent but remains a shining light that guides the actions of her living lovelies even from the sky where she abides. It is about sacrifice by the families of a donor for a greater cause, a clarion call for many to do more and a glimmer of hope for those who suffer from same or those who cater to the needs of anyone who is undergoing same.
Jude Idada informs children through adult intervention, what the ailment is all about, and equally relates with adults, about the need to guide, guard and unreservedly care for the living as well the unborn child. He allows children be who they are, but does not subtract from the importance of what must be known by all and sundry. It is a work where both kids and adults can conveniently draw from and unarguably, a book for all seasons.
‘Boom Boom’ is on the final shortlist of three for the Nigeria Prize for Literature 2019, being Idada’s second children’s fiction. It definitely needs no further argument that this current work is worth its weight in Platinum. The judges for the award of this year’s prize will not be expected to miss their chance of a lifetime to announce the right winner for the prize, being the first children’s book ever to carve such an unrivalled niche for itself on such an important national and global health concern.
Eghe Boom Boom eventually becomes a Star, and as diamond, the Star shines having been smoothened by several challenges. She is a living Star, occupying a portion of the universe, causing two Stars to be astride the cosmic and earth’s sphere. The Star carries a message that must not be despised, a lesson better learned by being guided rather than experientially, a Star that can keep shining because it’s a warrior.
A Star’s re-birth elicits the words, “Love is beautiful and it should always be celebrated, but the love that enables this disease is a selfish kind of love. The love that is selfish is not worthy of being called love. So if you are in a relationship where you know there is a chance of bringing a child with Sickle Cell Anaemia into this world, please think twice about it…. and may the love that gives life instead of death reign forever”.
Jude Idada wins $100,000 NLNG Literature Prize
The Advisory Board for The Nigeria Prize for Literature, sponsored by Nigeria LNG Limited, has announced “Boom Boom”, written by Jude Idada, as the winner of the $100,000 prize for 2019.
The book edged out Dunni Olatunde’s “Mystery at Ebenezer Lodge” and O.T. Begho’s “The Great Walls of Benin”, which are the other two books in the Shortlist of Three, to clinch the prize out of 173 books submitted for the competition in March this year.
The announcement was made on Saturday at NLNG’s 20-30 Anniversary Ball and Award Night in Abuja by the Chairman of the Advisory Board, Professor Emeritus Ayo Banjo.
The event commemorates NLNG’s 30 years anniversary of incorporation, 20 years of safe and reliable production and delivery of LNG from its six-train plant on Bonny Island and 15 years of sponsoring the Nigeria Prize for Literature.
Dignitaries at the event included the Senate President, Ahmed Lawal; the Amanyanabo of Bonny Kingdom, His Majesty, King Edward Asimini William Dappa Pepple III, Perekule XI; NLNG’s Board of Directors, led by Chief Osobonye R. Long John, the Board’s Chairman; NLNG’s past Managing Directors and Deputy Managing Directors of NLNG; NLNG’s Management Team led by Tony Attah, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer and Sadeeq Mai-Bornu, Deputy Managing Director; as well as other dignitaries.
Also at the event, Professor Meihong Wang and Dr. Mathew Aneke were also awarded $100,000 as joint-winners of The Nigeria Prize for Science for Year 2019. Wang and Aneke were announced as winners in September 2019 by the prize’s Advisory Board for their work on Carbon Capture, Carbon Utilization, and Biomass Gasification and Energy Storage for Power Generation.
Speaking during his welcome address, NLNG’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Tony Attah, said the management and staff of NLNG, inspired by the company’s vision of being a global LNG company, maintained international best practices in operations and safely and reliably delivered LNG cargoes around the world without harm to humans or the environment to earn a prominent place in the global market.
“We are here to celebrate the successes of this unique Nigerian brand which has recorded notable global recognitions, first, as the fastest growing LNG company in the world, in 2008 when we grew from a two-train plant complex in 1999 to a six-train plant just within nine years after start-up. At that time, we were also the fourth major supplier of LNG, contributing 4% of the nation’s GDP, until recently when our contribution was estimated at 1% following the rebasing of the nation’s GDP.
“Only last year, we were ranked first worldwide in plant reliability and we currently hold the fifth place in global market share, a position that we risk losing soon if we do not expand our capacity with the addition of more volumes. We are Africa’s leading supplier of LNG and the single largest industrial complex in the continent, third largest in the world, doing global business with a workforce that is more than 95% indigenous and a wholly Nigerian Senior Management Team,” he stated.
On the prizes, Attah remarked that the company was also celebrating 15 years of successful administration of the Science and Literature prizes, saying: “These past years has been an arduous journey but most definitely very fulfilling for us and I believe for the country as well. I say so unequivocally because thanks to the prizes, our nation now boasts of scientific breakthroughs and famous works on poetry, prose, drama and children’s literature that have earned the prizes a reputation as the most prestigious prizes in sub-Saharan Africa.”
The Deputy Managing Director, Sadeeq Mai-Bornu, in his remarks, expressed appreciation to all the company’s stakeholders for the successes recorded over the years, adding that through partnership with all the levels of government, NLNG has been able to progress towards achieving Train 7, as well as the advancement of Corporate Social Responsibility goals.
While delivering the judges’ report, Professor Banjo said: “Based on standard criteria such as literary merit, appeal of content to the target audience, social relevance of the subject matter explored, and a unique capacity to communicate pain and its relief as a human social and natural experience in a way that children can understand and relate with, Boom Boom, was declared as the winning entry.”
The Nigerian Prize for Literature rotates yearly amongst four literary genres: prose fiction, poetry, drama and children’s literature. 2020’s competition will focus on prose fiction.
Preserve dying culture for generations to come
Book title: Tongues of the Forecourt: A Collection of Yoruba Proverbs and Aphorisms
Author: Olawale Obadeyi
Editor: Leke Akinrowo
Book reviewer: Dr. Tunji Azeez
ongues of the Forecourt is Wale Obadeyi’s offering to a people whose rich cultural values and mores are being fast eroded in the face of Euro-American and Asian dominated world. Based entirely on the cosmological and epistemological fount of the Yoruba people, the book is an ambitious and daunting attempt by a culture activist to draw attention to two of the vehicles of self-preservation, growth and development – proverb and aphorism.
The book contains 250 carefully selected proverbs and aphorisms that cover diverse aspects of the life and cosmology of the Yoruba people. While this number may seem meager as mentioned by the writer of the foreword, Professor Adeoti, they open vistas into the rich and unique culture and mind of the Yoruba people across time and space.
The editor, too, is a true friend also added something fundamental to the book; he edited the work for grammatical and typographical mistakes, ensured that all the proverbs are properly tonal marked to prevent ambiguity and also arranged the proverbs and aphorisms into thematic sections. All of these efforts make the collection a good read as readers can turn to sections for appropriate proverbs and aphorisms to suit specific occasions. Therefore, we have five sections or chapters namely; Destiny and Inevitability, Human Relations, Conflict and Dialectics, Morality, Community and Human Relations, Profundity, Nature and Wildlife and Miscellany. Each of the sections contains 50 proverbs and aphorisms. This seems very balanced. However, one noticed that a few of the proverbs appear in more than one section.
Another major strength of the book is that the author went to great pains to let non-speakers of the Yoruba language benefit maximally from each proverb or aphorism by making additions to some of them in translation. For instance, ‘Eni a ngbe iyawo bo wa ba, kii garun’ is translated as, “the man for whom we’re bringing a bride does not crane his neck forward in excessive anxiety and childish anticipation’. Here we observe that ‘Excessive anxiety and childish anticipation’ are clearly not in the original proverb. This is because the expression or word “garun’ was expected to communicate anxiety clearly to the Yoruba speaker. However, in an age where parents can hardly speak the language, it becomes imperative to explain the essence of ‘garun’ or ‘craning the neck’ to the reader in a language that they will understand. While this is good for ease of understanding by someone who is not familiar with the culture, it clearly takes away from the brevity of the proverb. As the Yoruba will say, ‘soki l’obe oge’ or abo oro laa so fun omoluabi, to ba de inu e, a di odidi or ‘brief is what is said to a well-trained child, the full import will be felt when he digests it’.
This confirms the fact as stated by a scholar that ‘when two languages meet, they kiss and quarrel’. This is particularly true of proverbs and aphorisms, verbal resources that thrive on sound and pun. This was noted by Professor Adeoti in his foreword. To make up for this, however, the author attempted a sort of poetic translation.
The author also took the liberty to put several Yoruba oral traditions like ayajo, ogede, ofo, orin, owe, and isure into the broad heading of proverbs and aphorisms. For instance, Ayunlo, ayunbo lowo nyenu’ (back and forth does the hand visit the mouth} is neither proverb nor aphorism in the strict sense of the words; it isan affirmation or ayajo. The same can be said of ‘Adun ni gbehin ewuro, (sweetness is the aftermath of the bitter leaf plant), ‘Abere a lo, ki ona okun to di, (The needle must pass through before the path becomes impassable for the thread}. All these can be classified as ayajo or affirmation. They are used to affirm or bring to reality a desired state of mind.
Also in another section, we have “Yokolu yokoluko a tan bi, iyawo gboko sanle, oko yoke, (Aha! Aha! Is it not over, the wife floors the husband in a fight and he has developed a hunch back’). Like the previously mentioned ones, this is neither a proverb nor an aphorism. This is merely a Yoruba song of mockery of a husband who was floored in a fight by his wife. It is used to mock the defeat of an expected stronger opponent in a fight who unexpectedly is defeated by the underdog. Also on page 39, Wale documents a popular saying that, ‘Ibere ko lonise, eni to ba se dopin la o gbala’, (Beginning a task is not the true test of a good worker, he who completes his work is the one who is truly saved). This popular saying is a Christianity-influenced translation of the original which is ‘Ibere kolo nise, eni to ba se dopin la o yin’ or (Beginning a task is not a good test of a true worker, he who completes his work it is that is truly praised).
Like most intellectuals who have attempted to translate Yoruba epistemological modes into English and other languages, he is confronted with the reality that the Yoruba, over the ages have made clear that, ‘Ede elede ko le salaye asa alasa’ or (No foreign tongue can satisfactorily capture another’s culture). It is therefore, interesting that on page 178, we have “Oun to se igunnugun to fi pa lori, oun lo se akalamagbo to fi yogege l’orun’ (The fate which befell the vulture and made him bald, is the same that befell the phoenix that gave him a goiter hanging down his neck). Here, while the effort in translation is commendable, one notices that Akala or ground hornbill is translated as the phoenix, a bird in Greek mythology. The same is repeated on page 84. Also, we have instances where two proverbs are merged into one to achieve emphasis. For example, ‘ Omo eni kii se idi bebere, ka fi ileke si idi omo elomiran, teni nteni,” (that a man’s daughter has a broad behind is not enough reason to go and adorn the backside of another’s daughter with waist beads; what we have is what is ours). This is a combination of two proverbs. The proverb that has been added to the original is (Teni nteni, akisa ni taatan (One’s property is one’s property, a rag naturally belongs to the dumpsite). (page 94)
Despite some of these observations, we must commend Wale for several brilliant translations and improvement on original proverbs and aphorisms to bring their essence closer to the people. One particular one deserves mention; on page 94, his translation gives a more vivid description of the nature of the cat than the original. The proverb here is ‘Ologbo to sun bi ole, oun to ma je lo nwa’ is translated as (A cat that lies lazily around, merely awaits its next prey). This gives a vivid description of the cat as a predator and not as an animal that waits to be fed as the original proverb suggests.
In conclusion, Tongues of the Forecourt is a brilliant work of genius and an effort to preserve a dying culture for generations to come. The book couldn’t have come at a better time when parents, even those without Western education are making efforts to ensure that their children don’t speak their mother tongue. The book is a great contribution to the large body of work on Yoruba culture and values. Its simplicity and profundity will endear it to readers of all ages, cultures and class. It is a rare gift from a true public intellectual.
Nigerian poet, Ipadeola, bags International Writing Programme in US
Award-winning poet and author of short stories, Tade Ipadeola, has been selected alongside 28 other accomplished writers from across the globe to participate in the International Writing Programme (IWP) Fall Residency at the University of Iowa, courtesy of the United States Department of State.
Ipadeola, who was the 2013 winner of the Nigeria Prize for Literature, left on September 1 to participate at the world’s oldest and largest multinational writing residency. The programme ends on to November 16.
Before Ipadeola’s selection, 34 Nigerian literary figures had participated in the IWP Fall Residency. Notable among them are Elechi Amadi (1973), Cyprian Ekwensi (1974), Ola Rotimi (1980), Femi Osofisan (1986), Niyi Osundare (1988), Festus Iyayi (1990), Lola Shoneyin (1999), Obari Gomba (2016).
Over the course of 11 weeks, Ipadeola and the other participants will give readings and lectures that share their work and cultures, collaborate with artists from other genres and art forms, and travel to interact with audiences and literary communities across the United States.
In addition, the residency will provide the writers a one-of-a-kind inter-cultural opportunity to forge productive relationships with colleagues and translators, and take part in the vibrant social and academic life of the University of Iowa as well as the larger American literary scene.
United States Consulate Public Affairs Officer, Russell Brooks congratulated the Nigerian writer on his acceptance into the residency program.
According to him, the goal of the IWP Fall Residency is to provide outstanding writers with a platform for cultural exchange and collaboration.
Ipadeola, an essayist and translator, has three published works, including The Sahara Testament, a poetry collection, which won the Nigeria Prize for Literature in 2013 and has been translated into Dutch, French, Spanish and Xhosa.
In 2009, he won the Delphic Laurel in Poetry for his Yoruba poem Songbird at the Delphic Games in Jeju, South Korea. In 2012, he translated Paid on Both Sides, the first dramatic work of renowned Anglo-American poet, W.H. Auden, into Yoruba as Lamilami.
Nigeria Prize for Literature announces shortlist
The Nigeria Prize for Literature has announced shortlist of three for the 2019 edition of the Prize.
They are Boom, Boom by Jude Idada, Mystery at Ebenezer’s Lodge by Dunni Olatunde, and The Great Walls of Benin, O. T. Begho.
The shortlist, which was drawn from initial shortlist of 11 books, was announced today in Lagos by the Chairman of the Advisory Board for the prize, Emeritus Prof. Ayo Banjo.
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