Archive for January, 2013

My Next Big Thing

mnbtA few days ago my friend Chiagozie Fred Nwonwu who will rather be referred to as Mazi, told me about the “My Next Big Thing” project, sharing with me earlier posts by Yewande Omotoso and Gbenga Awomodu and informing me of his intention to bring me into the loop. Not like he gave me much of an option to decline but even if he did, I doubt I would have passed on this window of sharing with the world my plans and being a part of an idea I believe is simply fantastic. So I said yes. 🙂

I am not now sure how and where I first met Mazi, in person that is. But as is common for most people of my generation, I first met his name and his works online long before we actually met. My moving down to Lagos in late 2010 presented the opportunity for the real meeting which must have taken place in one of the countless literary events and book programmes we happen to be regulars at. The release of my collection of stories, The Funeral Did Not End in 2012 (Copies available HERE for purchase ) will bring us even closer. Mazi was the first to review the book (Read his review HERE) and has since played a great role in promoting the book alongside the team at DADA Books.

Last week Mazi answered questions about his ‘Next Big Thing’ HERE. The working title is Death is a woman, a crime fiction which he started writing in 2009 and which he hopes will be in the hands and shelves of book lovers by 2014. In the same post, he handed the baton over to me and Emmanuel Iduma. So, enough of the stories already let’s flip to my page of this beautiful book. I am so itching to share.

What is the working title of your book?

Memories of my Epiphany– well like they say, it’s a working title. Let’s see if it survives all the surgeries ahead.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I am a little obsessed with the idea of ‘death’ and have always wondered what happens to the dying person at that junction (sometimes a few seconds, sometimes many hours of unconsciousness) between being alive and becoming dead. Call me crazy but I hold that death is not a moment, but a decision and I am trying to explore that in this book. Of course, the story is weaved around life in contemporary Lagos and is told in retrospect by a narrator.

What genre does your book fall under?

Genre? Hmmm. Guess that should be Adult Fiction perhaps with some sprinkling of magical realism if you like.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

There is one main character Kingsley, a young Nigerian in his twenties…I guess a Mike Ezuronye, properly made up to look younger or a David Nnaji will do well in that role. As for the other characters, well…some of them are still being developed so I really cannot say for sure what role fits who.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Memories of My Epiphany is a compassionate story of how a country kills the dreams of its youths, leaving them naked, in the hands of preying vultures. The story hardly follows the traditional structure with an anticlimax, and then a climax…Kingsley’s life is a series of anticlimaxes, one that dips further and reveals more at each turn leading ultimately to his discovery that death is decision.

Sorry I didn’t quite stick with the ‘One-sentence’ rule. Couldn’t help it 🙂

When will your book be published?

Perhaps if I was clairvoyant or if I had TB Joshua as my paddy, I might have been able to say precisely when. But unfortunately, I am neither, so I cannot say. If it all depended on me though…as in, it was all in my power to decide, I will love to see it out in shelves by 2014.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

First draft took surprisingly 4 weeks. There is this programme called the National Novel writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in which writers are encouraged to start and finish writing a book form the 1st to 30th November. It was November 2011 and I had just taken my annual 4 week leave which coincided with the start of NaNowriMo for that year. I decided to take part and the first draft was birthed. But as you can imagine…it was some very rough draft. 😀

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I am experimenting. I love to do that a lot and I will be offering a rather unusual form of the novel, structured rather interestingly with a plot that is almost non-existent  I will either get a lot of bashing for this or a lot of thumbs up. Either way, I believe that will interest readers a great deal.

We are done here.

I am happy to now pass the baton to two wonderful people; my big friend Kabura Zakama and Binyerem Ukonu.

Binyerem Ukonu is an architect, real estate manager, and writer. He’s also a co-founder of Yagazie Media Limited, the parent company of the publishing firm, Griots Lounge. His collection of shorts stories titled The Water was Hot was released in 2010 by Serene Woods India, and was widely read and accepted by readers in India and Nigeria. A member of Royal African Society UK, Binyerem Ukonu also serves as the Managing Editor of Griots Lounge. He would  be giving us a peek on his Next Big Thing Here.

Kabura Zakama, also known as the Fulani Poet is a multi award winning poet and Literary enthusiast.  He is the 1999 winner of the ANA Poetry Prize and author of the acclaimed poetry collection The Man Lived. He is currently working on the publication of two collections of poems (Chant of the Angry and Every Rambler Knows) and a collection of short stories (Dreamer’s Paradise). He blogs here

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A contest of words and ideas among young Nigerian writers across 24 states of the Federation.


1. The Contest is open to Nigerian Citizens normally resident in Nigeria between the ages of 18 and 35
across the 36 states of the Federation.
2. Must have written at least a book (either published or unpublished)
3. Interested participant(s) are to forward their Name(s), Profile(s), Location(s), State(s), Telephone
Number(s) where they heard about the contest and a personal photograph totope.apoola@litcafnigeria.com
4. Entry closes Feb 13, 2013. Late application will not be accepted.
5. One application per person.
6. Shortlisted participants will be notified by Feb. 14, 2013.

The show, which is to be broadcast through means to be soon determined, is to span 11 weeks. Proposed start date is Monday, February 18, 2013. Representatives from 24 states are projected to participate in this contest structured into three stages.

Stage one is to feature a speech contest in which writers are to choose a topic relevant to the theme of their manuscript. Successful contestants are to proceed to the stage two which includes another round of speech-making. Final stage is to feature the making of video documentaries to be supported with speech.
For more information about this contest contact:

Mr. Apoola Temitope                                                           Mr. Wole Adedoyin
Chief Executive                                                                       National President
Litcaf Nigeria                                                                            SYNW
+23408166906999                                                               +2348072673852

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Will Twitter kill off African literature?.

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Lagos-20130110-00343Broadband and businesses

The 2009, World Bank Information and Communications for Development report showed that access to broadband boosts economic growth in all countries, but most especially in developing ones. The study showed that in developing countries, for every ten-percentage points of broadband penetration, their economies grew by 1.38 per cent. The report, conducted in 120 countries between 1980 and 2006, showed that developed countries’ economies grew by 1.21 per cent.  The figures confirm that broadband access is key for economic growth and even more vital in developing countries. Many Africans are seizing the opportunity that it offers to move their economies forward.

In the same way that the construction of electricity grids and transport links spurred innovation far beyond the dreams of their builders, high-speed broadband networks stimulate greater efficiency and the advancement of businesses.

The 2010 U.S. National Broadband policy document captures it even better when it states: “Broadband is the great infrastructure challenge of the early 21st century. Like electricity a century ago, broadband is a foundation for economic growth, job creation, global competitiveness and a better way of life. It is enabling entire new industries and unlocking vast new possibilities for existing ones. It is changing how we educate children, deliver health care, manage energy, ensure public safety, engage government, and access, organize and disseminate knowledge.”

It is a known fact that one of the key requirements for any successful business is the ability to communicate effectively and efficiently especially in this digital age. Anything that can speed up the rate at which communication takes place improves radically the output from any business endeavour and enhances the efficiency with which business processes are carried out. This is the whole new vista of opportunity that broadband technology offers us.

Broadband gives you a high-speed, ‘always-on’ connection to the Internet, which is typically at least 10 times faster than regular Internet connections. Besides being fast, it is highly cost-effective and provides consistency and reliability. It can save you time when using email and the web, thereby helping your staff to become more productive. In addition, it allows you to build online links with customers and suppliers, as well as with off-site and remote workers.

The term ‘broadband’ is used to describe any high-speed connection to the Internet with speeds starting from at least 1mbps.

More than just speed

While it is generally thought that the principal advantage of broadband is increased speed of access to the Internet when it comes to business and small businesses in particular, it is not simply speed that offers the advantage, but more the way in which greater speed allows companies the flexibility to change existing practices. The real value of broadband is the way it enables SMEs to make use of new services and applications that are available via high-speed Internet. Such services include e-commerce, remote working, cloud sourcing, real-time video conferencing, social media marketing and Internet telephony amongst others.

In addition to increased business efficiency and competitiveness, broadband is allowing individual workers much more flexibility in how and where they work. People are now able to work remotely from home or anywhere there is a high-speed Internet connection, which leads to a better work-life balance and a happier, more productive workforce.

In specific terms, SME’s can benefit from broadband in the following ways: Increasing efficiency as seen in the ability to streamline business processes, automate various tasks such as transaction processing, ordering, delivery and the monitoring of same. For example you could link your online shop with your accounting and stock control system to cut cost and improve efficiency.

Broadband can help your business become more flexible and more able to adapt to your staff, customer and supplier needs.     For example, you can use broadband to set up VPNs (virtual private networks) that allow off-site and remote workers access to your network. Greater collaborative working and video conferencing may be possible, which could reduce courier and travel costs.

Broadband brings business owners closer to their customers and suppliers. It allows businesses offer customers round-the-clock access to accounting information, order status, project details and also offers them prompt response in case of complaints that may arise.

High speed broadband connections would enable SMEs to connect to ‘cloud computing’ services. These are applications or tools that are stored on an Internet server and can be accessed as and when a business needs them; a far cheaper option for SMEs.

However, businesses need the guaranteed higher bandwidth, speed, reliability and security of next generation connectivity, to fully exploit the possibilities of cloud computing.

Social media has irrevocably changed the way brands interact with consumers online. The open, egalitarian nature of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter has given customers a voice and has made companies more accessible than ever. With over a billion people active on various social media sites regularly, the term ‘target market’ takes on an entirely new meaning. Social media helps your brand reach millions of people, it also helps you monitor what your clients are saying and responding to them real time. Online channels also allow for immediate call to action and with online payments becoming the order of the day, it allows businesses to make sales.

Broadband development in Nigeria

In Nigeria, broadband has the potential to help diversify the economy through the growth of online services in industries including retail, financial services, healthcare, education and agriculture.

A recent report by Analysys Mason for GSMA indicated that mobile broadband could potentially contribute over one per cent of GDP (and 1.7 per cent of non-oil GDP) in 2015, and could support the much sought after diversification of the economy.

The report also highlighted the country’s current low broadband penetration rate, which indicated that only six per cent of Nigerians have access to broadband services, and 74 per cent of those do so through their mobile phones.

However there has been some increased activity in the broadband space with the arrival of marine cables such as Mainone, and Glo1 and the change in focus by many operators from voice to data. Also, new operators are deploying all IP WiMAX networks across the country with some other already muting their desires to roll out the advanced 4G Technology, LTE.

All these activities are sure to increase the broadband penetration rate and by 2015 it is expected that broadband alone will contribute at least five billion dollars to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.

For example, the country’s online retail industry could grow by 55 per cent a year to reach N44.9 billion in 2015, from N4.5 billion in 2010. On the other hand, the financial services sector could be expected to grow by 95 per cent CAGR to N16.8 billion in 2015, up from N0.6 billion in 2010, as a result of mobile access to bank accounts and money transfer services, according to the report. The use of the Internet and mobile devices to deliver social services, including healthcare and education, would generate growth of 70 per cent CAGR, to reach N30.3 billion in 2015.

As exciting as these figures are, such economic gains, however, depend on a positive environment created by all stakeholders that addresses the challenges to broadband development in the country chief among which is the availability of infrastructure especially in the rural and underserved areas, a positive improvement in the power situation as well as the provision of grants to broadband companies to aid their operations.

It is hoped that with the recent pronouncements of the leadership of the Nigeria Communications Commission and the Ministry of Communications Technology, as well as the recent inauguration of a Presidential Committee on Broadband, Nigerians should expect a more rapid development of broadband infrastructure in the country so as to increase access and enable more small businesses benefit from the world of opportunities which broadband offers.

Rise Network #YouthSpeak Column on The Guardian back page, Friday 10th January 2013. Also available here

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Why You Should Stay Away From Poets.

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