Friday, 31 October 2014

Etisalat's Prize for Literature in the Flash Fiction Category to close entry on 4th November 2014

Top innovative telecommunication company, Etisalat Nigeria is now receiving entries for its prize for Literature writers competition of the Flash Fiction Category, in the ongoing second edition of the Prize presentation created in 2013. This writers competition, is the first ever pan-African prize celebration for first-time African writers, of published fiction books and novels.
The competition aims to serve as a platform for the discovery of new creative talents across the African continent which invariably will help restore the vast declining reading culture and revive the publishing industry in Africa.

Entries for the flash fiction category is now open to the public and will end on the 4th of November 2014.

The prize will be awarded to the top three writers in this category and the winning author will receive a cash prize of £1,000, a high-end device, and his/her published e-book promoted online. While the two runners up will each receive a cash sum of £500 and a smart device for their literary efforts.

Interested writers are encouraged to enter their works of not more than 300 words at the Etisalat Prize for Literature Flash Fiction webpage: before the closing date. The top 20 entries would be announced after moderation on December 7, 2014 followed by a shortlist which will be announced in January 2015.
Good luck!

Monday, 27 October 2014



Rekiya’s Tale – Episode 1

It doesn’t actually take as much as most people think it takes to fall in love. I was twenty seven and not so fresh out of school. I graduated at twenty from a Babcock University and was through with NYSC by twenty one. And as if I was walking on some gilded star, I landed a lucrative job as the assistant to the senior assistant to the directors of a major oil and gas firm (yes, assistants have their own assistants. Over time, I have grown in the business, and three years ago, one of the directors decided to venture out on his own when the firm refused to take a risk and pursue a certain deal. As a sharp Lagos girl, I had rightly guessed that the deal was gold and so I moved with him when he set up. It wasn’t easy in that first year, moving from the comfort and certainty of my first office but now, we are a thriving oil and gas firm, and I am the senior assistant to him, the sole owner. I am more or less the next most powerful person in the company after him. And I am just twenty seven with my own house in Lekki Phase 1, a state of the art SUV and an official salon car with my own driver. And yes, I now have my own assistants. I was a bigz girlz, and I enjoyed life to the fullest, like Wizkid sang London today, Lagos tomorrow, Reks baybay lokeloke, omo jaiye jaiye *pauses to play the song and do an Azonto to it.

Back to the story; now, as with any girl in my shoes, I had dreams of the kind of man I wanted to be with all up in my head. And my dream of a man wasn’t unrealistic. I in fact had a man in my life who met virtually of the criteria I wanted in a man, – my father. So I know that my dream does not have to be a spirit being or a green man from Mars; he can be a flesh and blood human being, born of woman, nine months after she had sex with a man.

See, first, my father is pretty cerebral. You can talk about everything from space travel to bra sizes with him, and he’ll be able to keep up. I always look forward to having conversations with him, he’s such an intelligent man, and marshals his points with suave effectiveness that leaves you admiring him even when your views are opposing his.

Next, he is a perfect gentleman. He stands up when a lady joins him at a table, opens the doors for my mum, walks on the correct side of the road when they are strolling and so on and so forth. Third, my father taught me how to expect a man to dress. He knows what suits his tall, lanky frame and wears it with such effortless elegance. Nothing delights my mum more that watching him leave the house looking all dapper, his graying hair giving him a distinguished look. And he never stopped telling her how much he loved her, in word and in deed. In little gestures that held special meaning for them both, like when he had that copy of her first glasses made and then placed it beside her bedside on their anniversary. Little, thoughtful things like that.

So it was, that the men came. The proud ones who assumed that buying expensive gifts, driving impressive cars and living in expansive apartments would sweep me off my feet. The high talking ones, dreamers who assumed that I should be grateful for being given the opportunity for ordinary human me to be a part of superhuman them. And who assumed that my money and resources were to be automatically channeled to fulfilling their dreams once they came into my life. There were the ones who came with proposals of marriage from day one, assuming that I would be glad they wanted to rescue me from the gulag of my spinsterhood and deliver me into the bliss of marriage to them and the joy of having my surname transformed to their own. There were my boss’ friends. There were my brothers’ friends. There were guys that my friends had planned hookups with, whether overtly or covertly. But none of them held a candle to my ideal of a man, daddy. They all fell short and were shallow in their own ways, and I didn’t hesitate to make it known to them each time they came. There were whispers of me in the office, whispers of me at home, whispers amongst my friends and whispers amongst friends who had all tried and failed.

All that changed when I met Ochuko. He wasn’t fine in the conventional sense like say a Chris Attoh kinda way. No, I had seen eye candy in my time, he certainly wasn’t one. But he had this rugged self assured air about him and when he entered the meeting room that day, every eye (there were eight male eyes and ten female eyes) turned and fixated on him. He had that kind of effect that first time and every time we went out together. And when he talked, he became animated and handsome in my eyes. I was supposed to be taking notes for my boss in that meeting but I found my mind wandering to him in the room and imagining us together in a beach house in Malta. You can bet that I formed migraine for my boss when he asked for my notes to compare to his. He let me go early and as I returned to my desk, I saw a handwritten note. “Pardon my intrusion into your privacy, but I couldn’t quite shake you out of my consciousness. There’s a stage play on Saturday and I’d like us to watch it together. I’m critiquing it for The Times and I suspect that your input will add perspective and give a good dimension to my critique. I’ve taken the liberty to drop one of the VIP IVs on your desk. I do hope I can reach you on the number on your card. Ochuko (the latecomer at the meeting)” and then he drew a smiley face beside his name. I smiled as wide as the smiley as I read the message a second time.

I was almost exploding with excitement. One, that he had noticed me at all (I’m not drop dead gorgeous) and two, his proposal was so eloquent and required my mind first, not some silly nonsense about how great I looked or how he would like to take care of me. I waited for his call all through the day but it didn’t come. I was a bit disappointed when I packed up and had the driver take me home at 5PM. My number one rule when I’m alone in the house, remove every item of clothing except the one that keeps my boobs firm, le bra and le panties. As soon as I had kicked off my shoes, followed my number one rule and flopped on the couch, my phone rang. Unknown number it was, and my heart skipped a beat. When I picked up, the voice that said “Hello” was unmistakably his own. I rushed my hello in excitement but if he noticed, he certainly didn’t act like he did. The conversation was beautiful. As soon as we eased into each other, we teased each other to no end and played on words, intelligently twisting here and there in conversation without having to explain a thing to the other party. We had talked for ninety minutes before we inevitably ran out of things to say and bade each other goodnight. We agreed to see on Saturday at noon.

Thus began my beautiful romance with Ochuko. Everyone was mega-happy for me. I had waited patiently and found a man that made me tick after all. The only person who didn’t dig Ochuko was the one person whose approval of him I craved the most – my father. The conversations about him went something like this “Rekiya, I’m happy you found a man, but this man, there’s something about him I can’t place a name to, but I’m just uncomfortable about him.”

“Daddy,” I would respond making the most pouty face I could muster “I know you’re afraid for me as your only daughter, but it’s okay. I believe he’s right for me, I feel it in my bones.” Then I would add playfully “don’t be jealous someone is finally coming to take me away from you dear dad” and he would laugh uneasily. It boiled down to a feeling on his part and a feeling on mine. My father let me have my way, I was too happy and he didn’t want to be the reason I became unhappy.

Our first time together was amazing. We had agreed to keep sex off the plate for the first six months of the relationship, and he had agreed without batting an eyelid. Of course I watched to see if his interest in me would wane because of that, but it didn’t even cause the slightest scratch to it. He spent weekends at mine and I at his. We had exotic getaways to Gambia, Ghana and even Madagascar. And yes, we did do the Malta beach house thingy I imagined the first time I saw him. He made it happen for my birthday after I had mentioned that fantasy to him in passing one day. See what I’m saying – he is so so thoughtful (fans self). The first time we had sex was on that trip, in the beach house, with the sounds of the ocean forming the background soundtrack, melding into my soft moans as he gently made love to me while my nails dug into his back. I thought I would die from pleasure and I shuddered when I eventually reached the height of my ecstasy. Above all, there was no law of diminishing returns in motion here. I had feared his passion for me would diminish when we finally had sex, but on the contrary, he became even more attached to me. This was the life. *plays verse of wizkid’s jaiye jaiye – I’m balling, I’m balling, I’m balling for two :

The first person that asked if I was pregnant was my boss. I initially thought he was just teasing, until I realized he was asking seriously. And no, I wasn’t doing the Nollywood vomit things at work. I asked him why he said so, and he explained that it was a gift he had, he was always the first in his house to know if anyone in the family was pregnant. I laughed it off, and told him I’d be his first failed preggy prophecy. Until I missed my period. Now, at twenty eight, making my own money and being independent, getting pregnant wasn’t so alarming, plus I knew who was responsible anyway. Still there was some panic I could not wish away and I went to my doctor. They took all the samples and it was confirmed, I was officially pregnant. I was supposed to see Ochuko that night and had planned a dinner to surprise him at Radisson Blu. I thought it would be a great time to tell him, with the ambience and all. Excitedly, I went home and wore my sexy red gown for the dinner. Preggy sexy mama!

Ochuko arrived looking all yummy and my heart skipped a beat. A few women turned from their men and followed him with their eyes until he sat opposite me and my heart swelled with unabashed pride. We had seafood with rice and peppered chicken wings. The food was beautiful and conversation splendid. “Ochuko, I’ve got some news for you,” I began. He had been leaning forward on the table and now he sat upright, eyebrows arched in question “News, you say?” he inquired.

I placed my hands over his hands and smiled into his eyes “Yes. Ochuko, I was at my doctor’s today, and he ran tests. I am pregnant for you. We are going to have a baby!”

“Wow,” he said smiling. I was glad, he was smiling. I didn’t look closely enough at the smile, which in retrospect now, I saw for what it was, a cynic one. He withdrew his hands from mine and dipped his hands into his jacket pocket. Out came a white gold wedding band and he slipped in on. It fit perfectly. And then he stood up and walked away from a dumbfounded me.
Hope you enjoyed episode 1 of Rekiya's Tale by Story Writer, Tunde Leye! Then join us next week Monday as we bring you episode 2.
Thanks for reading!


Thursday, 23 October 2014

Arts, Books Light Up Port Harcourt

Article Source: Guardian

PREPARATIONS are in top gear for the seventh edition of the Port Harcourt Book Festival holding from October 20 to 25 at the Hotel Presidential, GRA, Port Harcourt. This edition is unique because it's holding in the year the city is UNESCO World Book Capital.

Sponsored by the Rivers State government and organised by the Rainbow Book Club, the book feast is one of Governor Rotimi Amaechi's enduring contributions to the development of book and reading culture in the country. It was first held in 2008, as a way to empower the youths of Rivers State and equally take them away from the streets. It was also conceived as an avenue to stem the growing trend of kidnapping in the state.

According to organisers, "it's going be another opportunity to raise the flag for readers, book enthusiasts, booksellers, publishers and other stakeholders in the book industry."

The theme for this year's book festival is, Possibilities for Nigeria at 100, and its primary focus is the youth.

At the event, the city will once again host astute, intelligent, proactive and game changing Nigerians who have been invited to speak and engage the youth in several discussions at the six-day festival.

Over the years, the festival has featured writers such as the Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, the late Kofi Awoonor, Ama Atta Aidoo, J P Clark, Elechi Amadi, Gabriel Okara and their younger counterparts like Sefi Atta, Helon Habila, Adaobi Nwaubani, Zainab Jallo, Igoni Barrett, Kaine Agary and Chimeka Garricks. On this historic occasion those of them present will join us in the symbolic unveiling of our beloved city of Port Harcourt as UNESCO World Book Capital 2014.

It has also had the privilege of hosting two important world figures as guests of honour - Chief Emeka Anyaoku, the former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth and the Rev. Jesse Jackson the American civil rights activist.

However, for every big name, there have been several others, not so well known, but very important young writers being groomed on this platform, who are set to take the literary world by storm.

"It is our desire that the festival will continue to be a platform for expression and exposure of writers as well as a place where all players in the book chain industry -- from readers to writers to publishers -- will be able to meet, network, exchange ideas and do business," said Festival Director, Koko Kalango.

She added, "the vision that I hope we all share for Port Harcourt is of a city where literary talent is nurtured and where reading and writing is the norm. A city where aspiring writers are encouraged to soar to new heights. A city where the writer is free."

Writers In Residence

AS part of the programmes of the Port Harcourt World book Capital project, 12 writers shortlisted from the earlier call by the Port Harcourt World Book Capital have started their residency in the serene Songhai Farms in the outskirts of the city.

The programme, which is meant to breed a new generation of creative writers, who will take the world by waves is well under way under the tutelage of seasoned writers and poets led by the international and renowned journalist, Lindsay Barrett, Adiele Onyediba (playwright and producer), Dr. Obari Gomba (poet), Dr. Eghosa Imasuen (Managing Director, Kachifo and Author), Molara Wood (Special Adviser to the President on Research and Documentation) and Garricks.

They are expected to draw inspiration and ideas for new works based on the theme of the Port Harcourt World Book Capital 2014, Books- Windows to our World of Possibilities. The result of the writers in residency would be published in an anthology.

The residency is expected to foster cooperation, unity and friendship among the writers thereby encouraging national integration, enhancing exchange of ideas, skills and experience. The residence programme rounds off at the festival.

As usual, there would be writing workshops with no less an impressive collection of facilitators such as Segun Adeniyi (former Special Adviser on Communication to President YarAdua), Ibiai Ani (CEO, The Daisy Management Centre) and Promise Ogochukwu (CEO Lumina Foundation and Author).

The celebration of books

THE Port Harcourt Book Fair, one of the events of the festival, is gearing up to surpass previous editions: in scope, content and appeal. The fair is poised to present more opportunities and bigger publicity to authors, publishers and book aficionados alike.

Exhibitors can look forward to well-lit stalls with amiable ambience, a participatory crowd, networking opportunities, as numerous stakeholders from the book chain industry will be there.

Also, the festival organisers are offering exhibitors public address systems, refreshments, video, photography and branding so that they can be focused on developing activities for their event.

When motivators gather to mentor

LINED up to speak is Fela Durotoye, popularly known as FD. He is the CEO of Gem Stone Group, a motivational speaker and author of the popular book, 17 secrets of High Flying Students.

One of Nigeria's most sought after business strategists; he is widely regarded as a nation builder and corporate policy maker. In 2012, Fela broke a world record by signing 10,000 copies of his book in 8 hours 49 minutes in Lagos

Also, Ndidi Nwuneli, founder of Leap Africa, an NGO that provides leadership training for youth and small business owners and the co-founder of AACE Foods, which processes fruits and vegetables in West Africa, will speak.

With an MBA from the prestigious Harvard Business School, Ndidi has over 19 years of experience in SME development, agriculture, consulting and public policy. She serves as a director in Sahel Capital Partners, a leading advisory firm.

Chude Jideonwo, the author of, Are We the Turning Point Generation? and editor of the online magazine, Y Naija, Chude is an award winning journalist, lawyer and media entrepreneur.

The co-owner of RED media, which is responsible for 'The Future Awards, is a steadfast believer in the potential of the youth. Chude and his business partner, Adebola Williams, were named in Forbes 30 under 30: Africa's Best Young Entrepreneurs.

Japhet Omojuwa, blogger, socio-economic and political commentator, will be speaking to the young ones at the festival. He has also spoken in several universities around the world. He has also been described as a Force of Nature notably for his ability to create viral debates and campaigns on social media. Omojuwa was ranked 29th on a list of the 100 Most Influential Black People on digital/social media in April 2014 alongside Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey.

The author, musician and a prolific public speaker, Christie Bature Ogbeifun, is among the motivators gathered for the festival. Rev. Christie, as she is popularly called, is the president of Sine Qua Non Ministries in Port Harcourt. Through her numerous outreaches and programmes, she has brought healing to several broken homes and has helped inspire people to achieve their purpose and calling. Her TV programme, Everyday People, is currently aired in 53 nations.

Nekabari Tigidam Perez, the convener of the OpenCity Africa Ideas & Innovation Conference, with its first edition headlined by Dr Oby Ezekwesili (Former VP World Bank Africa), Tonye Cole (CEO Sahara Energy) and a host of other high profile speakers.

The creative Director of Arden & Newton Ltd, an ideas and brand strategy consultancy, Perez has about five years experience in destination branding in a digital space. His company is known to have developed Nigeria's first social engagement and digital destination marketing project.

Celebrating fresh and innovative writings in Africa

IN celebration of Port Harcourt as the UNESCO World Book Capital 2014, Hay Festival in conjunction with the Rainbow Book Club, rolled out the Africa 39 project, that aimed to celebrate 39 of the best African authors under the age of 40, who have the potential and talent to define the trends that will mark the future development in Africa.

Hay Festival is an international non-profit organisation based in Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales. They create international festivals and promote literature, education and literacy.

The '39 Project', which was first held in Bogota, the 2007 UNESCO World Book Capital, and Beirut, UNESCO World Book Capital 2010 will be gracing book festival.

The African 39 writers are: Rotimi Babatunde, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Mohamed Yunus Rafiq, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, Chibundu Onuzo, Chika Unigwe, Budesta Jackee Batanda, Linda Musita, Lola Shoneyin, Monica Arac de Nyeko, Carla Namwali Serpell, Nana Brew-Hammond, Nii Parkes, Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, Okwiri Oduor, Ondjaki, Sifiso Mzobe, Stanley Onjezani Kenani, Tope Folarin, Recaredo Silebo Boturu, Stanley Alfred Gazemba, Ukamaka Olisakwe, Zukiswa Wanner, Shadreck Stephen Chikoti, Hawa Jande Golakai, Richard Ali Mutu, Shafinaaz Hassim, Igonibo Barrett, Dinaw Mamush Mengestu, Glaydah Namukasa, Clifton Antony Gachagua. Edwige Dro, Eileen Almeida Barbosa, Kioko Ndinda, Mehul Gohil, Nadifa Mohamed, Nthikeng Mohlele, Taiye Selasi, Mary Watson, have been invited and are expected to be at the festival.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Chimamanda's Americanah recommended among 13 contemporary novels feminists should read

Author and literary critics will agree that most best-seller novels or movies are re-counts or taken from the perspective of a woman. Take the popular Titanic for instance; a movie about a woman who falls in love with a total stranger aboard the same ship.

Over the years, women have chosen to entertain readers and movie watchers through heartwarming stories of different genres, both factual and fictional tales that keep us clued to the novel or TV screen.

So, are you a literary feminists or a lover of books looking to broaden your literary horizon? Then, these 13 contemporary novels recommended by are a must read for your reading pleasure!
  1. The Handmaid's Tale is a dystopian novel written by Canadian author Margaret Atwood and narrated  from the point of view of a woman called Offred. The character is one of a class of individuals kept as concubines ("handmaids") for reproductive purposes by the ruling class in an era of declining births due to sterility from pollution and sexually transmitted diseases.
  2. The Round House is a political novel by Louise Erdrich. It won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2012. This book narrates a great ordeal of a North Dakota reservation female resident who was attacked. As the crime comes under investigation, the victim, Geraldine Coutts, descends into silence, unable to relive her traumatic experience and thereby causing the details of the crime to remain unknown not only to the police, but also to her husband Bazil and her son Joe. 
  3. Americanah is a novel by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This book tells the story of a young Nigerian woman who emigrates to America for a university education. Centered around a story of love, race and difficult choices and challenges in a country she has came to call home. Click to buy now!
  4. Speak is a young adult novel by Laurie Halse Anderson that tells the story of high school student who accidentally busting an end-of-summer party due to an unnamed incident, she is ostracized by her peers because she will not say why she called the police. It's a story about a teenage girl who was sexually assaulted and feels like there isn't anyone she can reach out to for help.
  5. The Awakening, originally titled A Solitary Soul, is a novel by Kate Chopin, It follows a New Orleans wife and mother who begins questioning her narrowly defined role in life after experiencing attraction to another man.
  6. An Untamed State by Roxane Gay delivers an emotion tale about a woman kidnapped for ransom, her captivity, and as her father refuses to pay and her husband fights for her release over thirteen days, and her struggle to come to terms with the ordeal in its aftermath. Click to buy now!
  7. The Golden Notebook a novel by Doris Lessing is the story of writer Anna Wulf, the four notebooks in which she records her life, and her attempt to tie them together in a fifth, gold-coloured, notebook.
  8. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini is a book that spans a period of over 50 years, from the 1960s to 2003, and focuses on the tumultuous lives and relationship of two Afghan women. One of them who was an illegitimate child, suffers from the stigma surrounding her birth and the abuse she faces throughout her marriage.
  9. The Color Purple is an epistolary novel by American author Alice Walker. Set in the rural parts of Georgia, the story focuses on the life of women of color in the southern United States in the 1930s, addressing numerous issues including their exceedingly low position in American social culture.
  10. Paradise is a 1997 novel by Toni Morrison, which is said to complete a "trilogy" that begins with Beloved and includes Jazz. It focuses on the struggles and solidarity of women living in a small community just outside the all-black town of Ruby, Oklahoma.
  11. Wide Sargasso Sea is a post-colonial novel by Dominica-born British author Jean Rhys. The novel narrates the life of a white heiress, from the time of her youth in the Caribbean to her unhappy arranged marriage to a certain English gentleman. 
  12. The Flamethrowers is a novel by American author Rachel Kushner that follows the character of Reno, a young artist in the 1970's who arrives in New York with the intent of creating art themed around motorcycles and speed, a act that was said to be too macho for her.
  13. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is the 1969 autobiography about the early years of African-American writer and poet Maya Angelou. This book is the first in a seven-volume series, it is a coming-of-age story that illustrates how strength of character and a love of literature can help overcome racism and trauma.
So, there you have it! 

For all you literary feminists searching for novels and books of empowerment, get reading!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Nigeria's Literary Jackpot

Article Source: ThisDay

Sometime last year, there was a conversation on the sideline of Ake Book and Arts Festival in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

It was a conversation between two men - participants of the festival - who turned out to be writers. The conversation was centered on the 2014 Nigeria Prize for Literature sponsored by Nigeria LNG Limited. One of the men noted that he was going to enter for the competition and was sure of winning the top prize. Puzzled, the other man asked him where his confidence emanated from. The first man laughed before proudly stating: "I have studied the prize for decades. There is a winning formula. It is that formula I am going to use."

Recently, after an initial shortlist of eleven was released in July, the final shortlist of three writers was approved by the Advisory Board of the prize, for the 2014 edition.

The shortlisted writers included: John Abba, with the play 'Alekwu Night Dance', Jude Idada with 'Oduduwa: King of the Edos', and Sam Ukala with 'Iredi War'.

This year's prize was dedicated to drama. Every year, the prize is rotated among four literary genres - prose fiction, poetry, drama and children's literature. And yes, the winner goes home with a monetary award of $100,000 (about N17,000,000).

According to the NLNG website, the prize has lofty objectives which include "rewarding the authors of the best current writing . . . making known to readers, publishers, booksellers and distributors, literary critics and reviewers, the latest achievements of the best writers in Nigeria . . . (contributing) in a practical way to sustaining the tradition of excellence in Nigerian literature, discovering new authors and keeping older ones in focus."

Except in 2009, when no winner emerged, the prize has since 2004 continued to reward writers, in line with one of its major objectives. Poet and lawyer, Tade Ipadeola, who lives in Ibadan, clinched the 2013 edition for his collection of poetry 'Sahara Testaments'.

Just last week, Iredi War, a drama by Sam Ukala was adjudged winner of the prestigious prize by the panel of judges led by Prof. Charity Angya.

In arriving at Ukala's Iredi War, the Judges specifically commended "the masterly handling of vast historical material through the narrative and action method."

Prof. Angya said: "The language captures indigenous sensibilities, preserves the profundity of the original, and yet entertains."

However, despite the prize's validation of the financial worth of literary works, not everyone is happy with the manner in which the entire operation is being run. One of Nigeria's foremost literary and social critics, Ikhide Ikheloa believes the financial investment in the prize, contrasted with the state of literature in the country, is simply a waste of money.

He told THISDAY: "This year, the NLNG Prize continues its offensive tradition of being a perverse lottery for allegedly starving Nigeria writers. The sponsors are going to spend $I,000,000 to award $100,000 to an obscure 'playwright' who has published a 'play' that only his two relatives have read. Imagine what $1,000,000 well spent would do the arts in Nigeria. It is a shame, but then art mimics the society. Nonsense."

In a country without a defined, proper distribution for books, Ikhide couldn't understand why so much money would be expended on awarding prizes. "If you are in Nigeria, go to as many bookshops as your energy can muster and look for the books (shortlisted titles) and come back to tell me how many you can find. I know the answer, but I am trying hard to make a point, that we have to find a way to use the NLNG funds wisely. The NLNG folks are wasting money that could be better utilised to help our ailing publishing industry for instance.

"Do not get me wrong, I have said this ad nauseam, many of these writers deserve to be honoured and rewarded for a lifetime of work in the service of our literature, but that is not what the NLNG Prize is currently doing. It is honouring books that are remarkable mostly by their absence from the market. That is absurd. There has to be a structural way to ensure that our writers are not hurriedly stapling things together just to meet the deadline of a jackpot er literary prize."

Ikhide is not alone in criticizing the Prize's structure. Most of the literary enthusiasts interviewed for this piece shared similar views. Writer and blogger, Pearl Osibu told THISDAY: "NLNG? After the long-list, I lose interest. The short-list is very political and looks set up to be non-competitive. You have a very robust long list, then all of a sudden, you have a short-list with two clear losers, and you know the winner has already been decided.

"And no, don't ask me about this year's. I have lost interest and only know Jude Idada is on the list because he is a dear friend. And of course, I am rooting for him and hope he is not one of the weaker links. I don't know the two he's up against and how many people read plays anyway? Oh, that's one of the reasons the NLNG Prize is distasteful: giving all that money to a writing form that really makes less than a ripple. But it's none of my business."

Co-founder of Saraba Magazine, one of Nigeria's leading digital literary magazines, Dami Ajayi also believes the Prize has to be re-designed to be able to meet its objectives. He noted: "The idea of literary prizes is to reward good writing and prescribe books for reading. It is a noble initiative but it is a winner-take-all prize, and that is more like lottery. There is need for a more rounded panel of judges, not just academics, old professors who are the gatekeepers of conservatism. We need actors, journalists, culture critics, film makers. A more robust conservation around the long-listed and shortlisted books is important and currently lacking."

The chairman of the panel of judges for the prize is Charity Angya, Professor of Theatre Arts and Vice Chancellor at Benue State University. Other members of the panel are Professor Ahmed Yerima, a past winner of the Prize and Professor of Theatre Arts, Redeemer's University, and Professor Akanji Nasiru, a well- respected scholar and professor of Performing Arts at Bowen University. Also, the Chairman of the Prize's Advisory Board is Professor Emeritus Ayo Banjo. Others include: former President of the Association of Nigerian Authors, Jerry Agada, and former President of the Nigerian Academy of Letters, Professor Ben Elugbe.

One of Nigeria's top publishing consultants and publisher, Gbenro Adegbola, also told THISDAY he is "not following the prize at all. I saw the headline the other day but didn't read it. I am not particularly hot about prizes either. What they should be doing is instituting grants to support writers."

Meanwhile, in a phone chat with THISDAY, the 2013 winner of the NLNG Prize and nationally revered poet, Tade Ipadeola, has defended organisers of the prize, noting that the problem of distribution is a national one. He said: "whose fault is it that the distribution network for books in Nigeria is bad? Is it the fault of the prize's organisers, the NLNG? Or is it the fault of all of us, including newspapers who never actually review books. I used to do periodic reviews in newspapers, but they don't pay. And also, what about the bookstores? Let us put the blame where it squarely belongs. It is not the fault of the organizers that book distribution in Nigeria is poor. What is the Ministry of Culture doing? What is the Ministry of Education doing?

"I am not saying this because I am a past winner of the prize. And by the way, I don't know about other books, but I have seen Jude Idada's book in the bookstore, and I know it is available electronically as well. The good thing is that the digital distributors - Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo - are reducing some of these problems. But the problem is really more about the Nigerian state, and not about the NLNG."

However, he agreed that the prize should not be rotated among four genres but pointed out that it would take additional financial responsibility from the organisers for that to happen. He remarked: "There are cost implications for the prize organizers, because in any given year there are about 200 entries. This year, because it is drama, the entries were about 150. But last year's was over 200. And the judges, in order to be conscientious have to do a thorough job. So imagine a situation where the judges have to read 800 books? The load will be too much. So, one of the ways that can be done is to actually increase the number of judges. But again, the logistics involved are much."

Although he praised NLNG for its contributions to the literary scene, he observed that more could still be done. "I think that the prize is actually doing very well now. I am more concerned about the availability of the books after it has been declared the best for the year. I think that more can be done by making books on the shortlist widely available. In other countries, it is not only the book that wins that gets all the attention. Once your book is on the shortlist, it should have better circulation and presence in the market. Then of course, the universities are not doing what they should do. In the last 10 years, only one university - the University of Ibadan - has actually held a colloquium on a prize-winning book. And we have about 50 universities in the country. So, it is clear that the problem is systemic. And I think NLNG has carried more weight than it is supposed to. But I believe more can be done."

Now, it is really up to NLNG to think through it, whether to consider the circulation of the books on its shortlist in addition to suggestions for a review of the prize for more meaning impact.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Google Nigeria Host Africa's First Google House Event

…as they introduce cutting edge technology that will make your living experience easier

For those of you who heard about the Google house event that held earlier this week and were wondering what it was all about? Well, here’s a sneak peek into what actually event went down.

Google Nigeria showcased many of its amazing products in a bid to enlighten Nigerians about how to make their day-to-day life’s much easier. 

Let’s start with the Teens/Student room: This room showcased how tools such as Google drive and Google doc can help enhance your study life.

Living Room: This room shows how Google services such as Google Play, Voice search; YouTube and Chromecast can make your living room involvement more entertaining.

Kitchen: Celebrity chef Tolu Eros illustrates how products, such as Search, YouTube G+ and Google Play can enhance your cooking experience.

Travel: The two different areas (bagging area and restaurant abroad) highlighted the importance of products like Google Now, Translate and Voice Search while traveling.

On the go: Outdoor space setting (e.g. bus stop) showed how Google can help users navigate their own local area, with sign-in benefits like Google Now and products offline mode like Maps were the core of this space.
Future Room: This room consist of products such as Chrome cast, Map maker and Google earth.

See below more photo's of faces at the Google House Event

Marian Balogun  (AKA Mya)

Effiong Osuchukwu, Kelechi Amadi-Obi 
& Chef Tolu Eros
Commissioner Biyi Mabadeje trying
 on the Google Glass 

Monday, 13 October 2014

Nobel literature prize for 2014 goes to Patrick Modiano

Source: CNN

A French author whose tales center on memory and guilt has won this year's Nobel Prize in literature, the Nobel committee in Sweden said Thursday.

Patrick Modiano, 69, is the 11th Nobel literature prize winner born in France.

He is being honored "for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation," the committee said.

Peter Englund, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, said Modiano was "well known in France, but pretty well not anywhere else."

Born in 1945, Modiano has published some 30 books, mainly novels -- for which he is chiefly known -- but also some children's books and movie scripts.

His novels tend to be short, often 130 to 150 pages in length, and written in simple language, Englund said, but they are refined and elegant in nature.

"They are always versions of the same theme -- about memory, about loss, about identity, about seeking," he said.

Modiano, who published his first novel in 1968, has previously been recognized with some of the most prestigious prizes in French literature, including the Prix Goncourt in 1978.

Englund's own recommendation? The novel "Missing Person," which plays with the detective genre as its protagonist, who has lost his memory, seeks to find out who he really is.

The Swedish committee has not yet been able to reach Modiano to tell him of his win, he added.

Troubled past

In a 2011 interview with the cultural journal France Today, Modiano said of writing, "Actually, I never thought of doing anything else."

The child of a Belgian mother and an Italian Jewish father, his was a difficult, fragmented childhood, the journal says. His experiences are recounted in his memoir, "Un Pedigree," published in 2005.

His works are infused with questions of identity, often tied in with France's troubled past during the Nazi Occupation.

"After each novel, I have the impression that I have cleared it all away," he told France Today. "But I know I'll come back over and over again to tiny details, little things that are part of what I am. In the end, we are all determined by the place and the time in which we were born."

Sticking with familiar themes, he also made the 1974 movie "Lacombe, Lucien" with director Louis Malle, which was set during the Occupation.

His latest work is the novel "Pour que tu ne te perdes pas dans le quartier," published this month.

The Nobel Prize in literature has been awarded 107 times since 1901. It is almost always awarded to one author and has been shared only four times, which stands in contrast to the science Nobels, which two or three scientists often share.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Google Nigeria fights Plagiarism

Sequel to the recent shutting down of the popular, it is paramount for bloggers, websites administrators and users of online content to make a conscious effort to avoid Plagiarism.

In a response to Punch newspapers inquiry into the matter, Google’s Manager for Communications and Public Affairs, Anglo-Phone West Africa, Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade, explains how Google clearly spells out how users of its products and services can get permission to use someone else’s intellectual property such as text, songs, images and footages.

He explains further “Google as an organisation takes issues of copyright seriously and belongs to a group of digital companies that respect copyrights.

“Copyright is a big deal and this is why you can’t just go and pick up another person’s intellectual property or content and lay claim to its ownership.

“People should also understand that copyrights does not only apply to text, but also extends to literary works, images and photographs, music files and MP3s, movies, movie trailers and videos as well as software,” Kola-Ogunlade added.

While updating myself about copyright infringement laws, I came across 7 steps by WikiHow on How to Avoid Plagiarism. 

Here is how you can make sure you don't plagiarize on purpose or by accident.

1. Understand what plagiarism is. The American Heritage dictionary defines plagiarism as: "the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work."Thus plagiarism not only includes the word-for-word copying of another piece of work, but close imitation of it also. Using synonyms and other word choices is not an excuse to justify plagiarism. You should write a piece of text strictly in your own words and then cite your sources.

· Original source: "The law of the land prohibited slaves from seeking remuneration from their masters for even the most heinous crimes." 

· Plagiarizing: "The law of the land forbade slaves from seeking damages from their masters for even the most vile crimes." 

· Not plagiarizing: "Even injured, tortured, or taunted slaves could not press for remuneration from their masters according to United States law at the time. (Jefferson, 157) 

2. Be familiar in the area that you are talking about. By understanding the subject, you are more likely to write in your own words, rather than restate someone else's definition of this subject. Look for information on the topic you want to write about. This can be on the Internet or in books, although books are almost always more authoritative than the Internet.

· The trick here is to grab several different sources of information. If you're relying on just one source — a book about slavery — the chances are higher you'll inadvertently copy or plagiarize. If you rely on three books about slavery, one documentary, and two original sources, the chances are much lower that you'll inadvertently plagiarize. 

3. Restate the subject to yourself a couple of times. The key is to understand the material and be able to express its meaning in your own words. Try to avoid reading from another author's material too much, as you will be more inclined to restate that author's exact statement.

· Original source: "Slaves worked grueling 12-hour days, from sun-up to sun-down, surviving on little more than 1,200 calories of starches and their own blood, sweat, and tears." 

· Reworked: "Surviving on about half of what we today consider the suggested caloric intake, slaves in the 19th century worked bitter, back-breaking hours. (Jefferson, 88)" 

· Reworked: "In the 19th century, slaves worked for as long as there was light, receiving little in the way of nutrition. (Jefferson, 88)" 

4. Reference your quotes and sources. You should include a bibliography or works cited in your paper. If you use a direct quote from another author's work, then you should quote it and cite it properly. Many teachers accept the standard MLA format, unless otherwise specified.

5. When in doubt, give credit. There are a lot of ways to do this in order to avoid plagiarism. Here are a few:

· Mention the source inside your paraphrase: "According to Richard Feynman, quantum electrodynamics can be described using path integral formulations."

· Put quotation marks around unique phrases you think could be interpreted as being copied: "A 'paradigm shift' happens when one scientific revolution forces the community to think of the world in a fundamentally different way."

6. Understand some basics about copyright. Plagiarism can be more than a bad academic practice, it can be a violation of the law if you break copyright. Here is what you need to understand to stay legal:

· As a general rule, facts cannot be copyrighted. This means that you are able to use any facts you find to support your writing.

· Although facts are not subject to copyright, the words used to express them are, particularly if the wording is original or unique (copyright covers original expression). You are free to use information from other materials in your articles, but you must use your own words to express it. To avoid this, you can take the existing facts and put them into your own words. There is a grace on how different the phrase can be; adding a comma is not enough. However, changing the grammar around is.

7. Understand what doesn't need to be cited. Not every single thing in academic research needs to be cited, or else research would be too painful for people to undertake. The following things don't need to be cited in your research and final papers:

· Common sense observations, folklore, urban legends, and well known historical events, such as the date of the Pearl Harbor Attacks.

· Your own experiences, insights, creations, and musings.

· Your own videos, presentations, music, and other media created and originated by you.

· The scientific evidence you gathered after performing your own tests, polls, etc.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

WATCH: Inspiring talk on the danger of a single story by writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Stories make us who we are. In this inspiring talk, writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie beautifully conveys the importance of seeking out many stories from different points of view to form our understanding of the world. TED Weekends has brought you more than 100 stories since it began in 2012. This is their final edition, but it's not the ending; discover more stories, and share your own, at


Friday, 3 October 2014

Writers Gist: Bridgett M. Davis' New Book

Filmmaker, journalist, professor and author Bridgett M. Davis ranks among the most influential culture workers living in Brooklyn. One of  "10 New York Authors to Read Right Now" according to Time Out, Davis crosses cultures with Into The Go-Slow (The Feminist Press, September 2014), a beautiful novel that explores themes of loss and recovery.
Her female protagonist flies from Detroit to Lagos to retrace the last steps of her activist sister, who died under mysterious circumstances, her body crushed somewhere within the profusion of humanity that daily surges through Africa's most populous city. Chris Abani praised Into the Go-Slow as "a beautiful allegory at the heart of a realist novel." But praise for work produced by Davis began long before she even began writing this, her second book.
Director of the 1996 award-winning independent film Naked Acts, Davis caused a stir among the poets, painters, dancers and DJs who populated Brooklyn's Fort Greene neighborhood in its pre-gentrification heyday. She met her future husband, marketing whiz Rob Fields, at East Village landmark Nuyorican Poets CafĂ© when he was repping for the Black Rock Coalition and he buzzed all over the borough to build support among artists, thinkers and regular folk. On opening night, 600 people stood in line to see Davis' woman-centered film, and she delivered. Naked Acts was not only the first American film to be written, produced, directed and self-distributed theatrically by a black woman, it also broke box office records for a single-screen, "exclusive" release without name actors, thanks to word-of-mouth and Rob's guerilla-style marketing.
After winning awards from Berlin to Burkina Faso for Naked Acts, Davis earned accolades for her work as a journalism professor at Baruch College. And she and Rob started their family. And she continued to write.
In 2005, Davis published her debut novel, Shifting Through Neutral, a finalist for the Hurston / Wright Legacy Award. As a freelance journalist, she has contributed to The Washington Post, Essence, O, The Oprah Magazine, Writers Digest and But she does more than write.

The term "go-slow" is a Nigerian patois for traffic jams; and so the title speaks to the dichotomy between the stasis of stalled traffic and the kinetic streets of Nigeria

In the tradition of black women writers through the generations, Davis has formed institutions to recognize the work of other ambitious black writers. She is a founding member of ringShout, A Place for Black Literature; Books Editor at Bold as Love Magazine, a site devoted to black culture; and curator for the Brooklyn reading series Sundays @ . . . 
She manages all this while managing her busy family of four. And she is a friend, my friend.
I was thrilled to talk with her exclusively for Truthout.
Eisa Nefertari Ulen: I want to start by saying how excited I am about this book! I have seen the narrative develop over the years in our writers group, where you shared your work-in-progress with me and other women writers. In what way(s) did an all-female writing group support you as Into the Go-Slow started to come together?
 Bridgett M. Davis: Having a women's writing group to support me through process has been absolutely vital. Especially in the early, tentative years, I knew you and the other women in the group would immediately value the story, see its relevance and its big themes without relegating it to the category of "women's fiction." And yet, as women, you each were able to connect with the female characters' struggles and ambitions in ways men simply couldn't. Plus, the all-female group members understood my struggle to balance life demands and writing - all of that nurturing kept me buoyed, sustained me through the years.
So, I have to ask, why the change from the original working title, Lagos, to the one the novel has now, Into the Go-Slow? What is it about this title that worked for you?
In all my creative work, I always give the project a working title, a place holder that speaks to the literal content of the work. But eventually, as the story's themes become more resonant, and I see what the work is ultimately saying, I try to find a title that speaks to that. I did that with my film, Naked Acts, as well as with Shifting Through Neutral.
With Into The Go-Slow, the term "go-slow" is a Nigerian patois for traffic jams; and so the title speaks to the dichotomy between the stasis of stalled traffic and the kinetic streets of Nigeria - where traffic may not be moving, but life is happening around it, with horns blowing, and scooters weaving in and out, with people selling goods at car windows. I wanted to convey Angie's "stalled" life juxtaposed against her brave plunge into a metaphorical kinetic space.
Of course, the new title does in some ways reference the title of your debut novel, Shifting Through Neutral, which was published by Amistad in 2004. Both books examine themes of mobility and access to fresh new spaces for your black female protagonists. Why do you think these themes resonate so deeply with you?
Believe it or not, I hadn't even seen the parallel between the two titles until someone pointed it out to me. I also hadn't consciously made vehicles and traffic so prevalent a presence in both books. But what can I say? I'm from the Motor City. So much of my coming of age in Detroit was around car culture - going every year to the big Auto Show, passing by car dealerships dotted all over town, hearing relatives talk about work in the auto plants. I got my first car at 17 - a Pontiac Sunbird, and it's the first memory I have of unadulterated joy. And later, that car was the site of some pain.
Cars have always represented both freedom and potential danger to me, and I see those as the two key sides of human experience. And so, it makes sense to me to use them as metaphors for how we "drive" through life.
Detroit figures as prominently as Lagos in your novel, so that both cities become characters in the narrative. With its current water crisis and status as the nation's largest municipal bankruptcy, Detroit circa 2014 isn't too different from the Lagos of the 1980s. What do the problems we associate with these two different cities say about the shared condition of black people around the world?
I always saw similarities between Lagos and Detroit, and now that comparison is more acute. Isn't it ironic that I wrote about Nigerians' being shut off from access to water, only to see Detroiters suffering from a similar fate today? Both are places where black people live in a kind of isolation, ostracized and even penalized by an unforgiving power structure that finds them expendable. Africans have faced this condition since colonization, and of course black folks in this country have faced it since our ancestors were brought here. Britain abandoned Nigeria to its own devices after independence, and chaos ensued. White Detroiters abandoned the city to get away from black residents - no other reason - and chaos ensued. Same exploitative story, different locale.
You examine many provocative themes in your work, and we readers are lucky indeed that the book publishing industry has made Into the Go-Slow available to us. Let's talk about availability and access a bit. What has been different about the publishing process this second time around? In what way or ways has the books publishing industry changed in the past 10 years?
The biggest change of course is e-books. Ten years ago, the idea of reading a book on a screen would've sounded like science fiction. That, coupled with the role of social media, has changed the way books are promoted and how they're purchased and read. That has, obviously, reverberating consequences. So, 10 years ago, we hoped for good reviews in the major media, I created a website; my publisher sent me to a few cities and I signed books at indie bookstores and the chain stores, and hoped for the best. There was no Facebook or YouTube or Twitter or online media. There were gatekeepers and long-lead press and wishful thinking.

If I were to curate a panel of black women writers today, I'd focus on how we might capitalize on the fact that the most likely person to read a book in any format is a college-educated black woman.

Now? Because people can find out about you and buy your book via their smart phones, the traditional approaches aren't enough (unless you're already a best-selling author). Book tours and events still matter, because as human beings we want that face-to-face experience with the author, but it's the online sites and social media that truly amplify your book. The New York Times Book Review can still do wonders, but in fact there are also several key online review sites that can do wondrous things for your book. I don't know how well publishers have made the switch, to become nimble enough to penetrate that social-media space in a way that's truly impactful.
And so, it's left up to the author to do that.
The biggest missed opportunity I think is that publishers didn't align themselves financially and philosophically with brick-and-mortar bookstores to ensure their survival, so as to offset Amazon's dominance.
How has publishing for a smaller, woman-centered publishing company, The Feminist Press, been? Has the political component of this nonprofit impacted your personal experience as a writer in some way?
I really am in a love affair with Feminist Press right now. The fact that its mission is to publish literary work with a feminist thrust by diverse women across the globe means that my profile matches their agenda! FP is a small press that publishes very few books a year, so each one is an all-hands-on-deck labor of love by the entire staff. They're invested in my book and know it intimately, so they share in a very personal way in its success. The whole staff showed up to my book party - from the publisher to the interns!
In 2006, you and I shared a panel at New York's McNally Jackson Bookstore with author Martha Southgate, who published Third Girl From the Left that same year. We focused our discussion on the experiences we were having as black women writers in particular and talked about everything from street lit to cover art to honoring the tradition of black women writers in the United States. What would be the important topics for a group of black women writers to discuss today? Have things changed for contemporary women writers of African descent, or have things pretty much stayed the same?
Great question! Eight years since that panel, I think there's a lot to feel good about: Just think of the women writers we've featured at ringShout events in recent years whose books were published by established presses and received acclaim: Tayari Jones, Emily Raboteau, Catherine McKinley, Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, Sheri Booker and Danielle Evans; Dolen Perkins-Valdez' book, WENCH, was a New York Times bestseller, and Attica Locke's mystery novel did very well. This year, Tiphanie Yanique is enjoying a wonderful, well-deserved reception for her new book.

The black community is far too familiar with loss - the premature, tragic and violent kind.

So the issues that seemed so resonant back then - street lit usurping popular and literary work, cynical covers on our books - seem less resonant. If I were to curate a panel of black women writers today, I'd focus on how we might capitalize on the fact that the most likely person to read a book in any format is a college-educated black woman.
What can we do with that power? What should we do? Seems to me we need structures in place similar to what Ava Duverney has done with AFFRM, which provides a distribution and viewing network for indie films by black directors.
Both Shifting Through Neutral and Into the Go-Slow are set in Detroit, though your latest novel takes the reader to Ikeja, Surulere and Kano - all communities in and around Lagos. Your female protagonist, Angie, makes a reverse migration. What pulled you over the Atlantic, back to the West Coast of Africa, both as a student in the 1980s and as an author today, and why did you decide to take your main character there, too? 
I initially went to West Africa on a fellowship awarded after graduation. I'd taken a Contemporary West African Lit course in college and was so riveted by the writers I read that I knew when I had the chance I'd choose to travel to the Continent. Later, I got to see a few more African countries as a filmmaker. Looking back, I harbored a desire to write my own Africa novel for all those years. But from the start I was interested both in capturing African life the way I'd seen it portrayed in literature by African authors AND through the eyes of an expat. So, this novel allowed me to do both.
In your book, Angie's sister is a true activist. Her work as a journalist in Nigeria allows her to research several injustices that directly affect Nigerian women and children, including the sale of tainted formula to pregnant and nursing mothers. What was the overall situation for Nigerian women and children in the mid-1980s, when Into the Go-Slowwas set?
That particular storyline comes directly from real life. I was studying African media women as part of my fellowship when I traveled to Nigeria in the '80s and became friends with a woman journalist who wrote about that issue. Overall, Nigerian women were just starting to amplify "women's issues" and broaden the definition of what that meant in the '80s. Their concerns and voices were just starting to be heard in progressive media. Of course, these fearless women had been fighting on behalf of their sisters for many years. And there were all the issues you'd imagine: high infant mortality, high maternal death rates, harsh living and working conditions, disease, poor access to water. But there were some great strides too by women, like the first female publisher of a daily newspaper, Doyan Abiola, and more women entering the work force doing "traditional men's jobs."
Nigeria has been prominent in the minds of Americans this summer because of the April 2014 kidnapping of about 300 schoolgirls by Boko Haram and the #BringBackOurGirls social media campaign to raise awareness about their plight. Help us understand what is going on in the country today. What is the situation for Nigerian women and children now? How is it possible that hundreds of girls, girls who were studying to take their exams in physics, could be just - taken? How is it possible that five months later these girls have not been recovered? Can you give us some insight based on your personal connection to Nigeria?
I have not been to Nigeria since the '80s, so I can't speak to the current climate in the country that created an environment for such a horrendous act. I see Boko Haram's acts as more so part of a larger, frightening trend of attacks on women and girls in the name of religious extremism - whether it's Afghanistan or India, Pakistan or Nigeria. What does sadly feel indicative of Nigeria is President Goodluck Jonathan's woefully inadequate and shameful response to the kidnapping. He is unfortunately part of a long line of despots and incompetent leaders running Nigeria since its brief flirtation with democracy in the '80s.
Though your novel was written long before the Boko Haram kidnapping that sparked the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, Into the Go-Slow does examine themes of loss and recovery. Angie goes looking for the true tale of her sister's adventures in Nigeria. Along with the level of ambitious, elegant prose you've achieved, and other elements that render your work literary, this theme of loss and recovery really does place your work in the tradition of talented black women writers. Why does this desire, this quest for the recovery of the black female narrative, still resonate today?
The black community is far too familiar with loss - the premature, tragic and violent kind. And who bears the brunt of that loss more so than the community's mothers and aunties and sisters? Black women understand loss. So I'm not surprised that so many black women writers explore the theme of loss in their work; nor is it surprising that recovery is equally resonant in our work. Writing allows us to make sense of the senseless, to give order to what seems like the universe's randomness, the world's cruelties; the writing itself is a healing act, its own kind of recovery. I like the idea of writing as reclamation - getting back some of what we lost.
One other important aspect of your novel is the way you center the sacrifices of countless, nameless revolutionaries who were active toward the end of the 20th century in the post-civil rights / post-black power period of the anti-apartheid '80s. Angie's sister literally gives everything she has to the global struggle to free black people. A pan-African womanist, Angie's sister is certainly no anomaly. Why did you choose to shed light on the women and men who travel the globe, crossing borders, seeking to free black people? 
My own sister was tangentially involved in nationalist politics; I wanted to explore the way she chose an unorthodox life, how she rejected a system that had rejected her, and how it ultimately cost her. That led me to think of all the nameless foot soldiers that gave their lives to the struggle. I wanted to acknowledge them and acknowledge that collective post-traumatic stress syndrome so many suffered from in the wake of the Movement; I wanted to honor their sacrifice.
While Angie's sister is a political activist, she is also a young woman, seeking as much to fulfill her own desire for romance and a personal purpose as she is seeking to liberate The People. Angie cannot fully come into her own as a woman until she can bear witness to her sister's experiences. Do you think we all need our sisters, and our sistahs, in order to come of age as black women?
The bond between sisters, and between sistahs, is a unique relationship - something rare and unto itself. And I feel it's too seldom represented in literature. Sisterhood - blood or otherwise - can be a passionate experience, even as it can be fraught with complications and misunderstandings, and hurt feelings. But it's so fundamental to who we are as black women, that who would we be without them? That was the fundamental question I wanted to explore in this novel: Who are you when the person you've defined yourself against is gone?
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