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Enjoy this pre-release review of my novel “My Mind Is No Longer Here” by the great people behind Waridi Book Blog.

Waridi Book Blog

my-mind-is-no-longer-here-book-image-final1

by Sylva Nze Ifedigbo
Expected Publication 29th March, 2017 by Bahati Books
Crime/Thriller
4 Stars

‘Be Warned, No Yahoo Yahoo Here’

If you have been following me long enough then you must know how I have been desperately looking for Contemporary African Literature especially Kenyan ones. Well, I cannot say I have fully succeeded in my search but when Bahati Books contacted me about My Mind Is No Longer Here I was so excited. Why? Because everything they stated on their website spoke to me:

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A lil over a year ago, I informed you  that i had signed a deal with Bahati Books to publish my novel ‘My Mind Is No Longer Here’ on digital platforms. Read all about it here. So today they unveiled the cover design  and released a snippet about the book. Yaaaaaay!

cover

See screenshot below of the announcement by Bahati Books earlier today:

bahati-msg

So what do you think about the cover design?

Tweet me at @nzesylva or drop a comment on my Instagram page @nzesylva and tell me what you think. You may just win some goodies.

Details on the release date and platforms where the ebook will be available will be released soon. Watch this space.

Print version in the pipeline…

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nze

Since 7 December, The Pigeonhole has been serialising Mother Never Sleeps, an anthology of new african writing put together by Bahati Books in  daily digital instalments delivered straight readers’ devices via the Pigeonhole iOS app, Android app or web reader.

My Story The Confession ,one of the stories in the anthology and is up today.

Hurry now and download The Pigeonhole app on iOS and Andriod to read for free. You can also read on the Web reader here. Its free to sign up.

Do drop a comment to let me know what you thought.

 

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pdpThe call by the national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) Senator Bola Tinubu demanding the resignation of the party chairman, Chief John Oyegun, is no doubt one of the biggest political news in a long while. In case this is the first time you are learning of this, the veteran politician and former governor of Lagos state, who undoubtedly led the process for the formation of the party and was critical to its victory in the 2015 elections, in a statement released on Sunday, accused Oyegun of sabotaging the will of democracy in Ondo state by overriding the decision of the appeal panel that asked for a fresh governorship primary following investigations that showed that the delegates’ list used had been tampered with. And having done the ‘irredeemable’, Senator Tinubu called on Oyegun to resign.

This development did not come as a surprise to many close political watchers who had long observed that all was not well with the party which has had a series of internal wrangling since it took over power from the PDP in May 2015. A few others had predicted this even before the electoral victory, when the merger to form APC was still on-going given how the party opened its arms wide to accept (and is still accepting) into its fold, persons of all character including political renegades seeking a new platform to remain relevant.

No doubt, the very foundations of the house had serious issues. It was going to take quite a miracle to marry politicians of all kinds of backgrounds viz the now defunct CPC, ANPP, AC and what was called newPDP, into a new fold without cracks, given the sharp differences in their ideologies, histories, ambitions and makeup. It was clear that the oneness of purpose (at least of the majority) which is critical to the success of national political parties was lacking. What we had was a union of forces all opposed to the continued reign of Goodluck Jonathan as President and after he was ousted, there didn’t seem to be any clue how to manage the victory. Certainly, this was not the time to start cultivating a party ideology and having the different blocks within the party align with it. The next mission was a scramble for the spoils of victory, with an eye on the next elections.

This situation raises once again the question around ideology politics in Nigeria. Ideally, political parties are founded on certain ideologies which guide their manifesto and informs their approach to governance. It also defines the goals and aspirations of the party which the members can key into. Ideology represents a crucial element of political parties and their activities.

The closest we have come to having parties with defined ideologies remains the First Republic, with parties like the NPC, NCNC and AG which though were largely ethnic-based, showed certain ideological uniqueness. Ideologically, the NPC was an essentially conservative and elitist party, while the AG and NCNC appeared to be progressive and welfarist, predicated upon socialist ideology. Since then, the parties we’ve had have just been aggregations of persons for the purpose of capturing power. In the 3rd republic, there was an effort by the government to experiment with a 2 party system (which like you have in the US) represents 2 varying ideological camps. However, the SDP and the NRC, as we had then, besides being described as ‘a little to the left’ and ‘a little to the right’ respectively, had nothing much to differentiate them in terms of ideological dispositions.

The story continues today. Perhaps the APC presented the best opportunity for the founding of a party deeply rooted in progressive thinking but the hurry to win power and enjoy the spoils of same derailed such lofty ambitions. It must be stated (and as we have seen) that ideologies are not about what is written on paper or the slogans voiced at campaign rallies. They are shaped and refined over time and it helps if such a party spends some time in the opposition during which such ideology becomes rooted and through some kind of ‘natural selection’ the genuine members of such a party are defined.

The dearth of ideology party politics manifests in governance. Parties claim one thing in their manifestos and once they are in power, they are doing something else. From Lagos to Borno, Sokoto, to Bayelsa, there is no difference in the policies of state governments despite the fact that there are up to 3 parties in power across these states. These governments seem to be drifting about (with their subjects in tow) like a rudderless ship simply because there is no principle guiding their movement. This is one of the reasons why we are where we are as a country.

Today more than ever before there is a need for us to go back to the basics. Young people of like minds must begin to converge and define ideologies that can shape the makeup of new political groups. This should be done not with the view to capturing power in 2019 — which is not realistic — but for building a solid group strong enough ideologically to challenge for power and make a difference in governance in the future. We must now free ourselves from the failures of the past and the present and define for ourselves, the future we want to see. The time to begin congregating is now.

@nzesylva

First published Here on 29 September, 2016

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nheNotting Hill Editions is the publishing imprint devoted to the best in non- fiction essay writing. NHE runs a biennial Essay Prize, in 2017  for the best unpublished essay of between 2,000 and 8,000 words on any subject.

The 2017 Essay Prize is open for entries from 16th June 2016, closing at midnight on January 9th 2017.

The 2017 awards will be presented on 28th June 2017 along with the publication of the prize winning entries in the treasured Notting Hill Editions hardback format. It is a condition of entry that prize winners should be available to attend the ceremony. (See terms and conditions)

The 2015 winner was David Bradley jnr for his hard hitting essay A Eulogy for Nigger, widely acclaimed in the British Press.
The five runners up were Kate McLoughlin, Jennifer Kabat, Josh Cohen, Johanna Mohring and Garry Cooper.
The 2017 prize money is £20,000 to the winner and £1000 each to five runners up.
Entry fee is £20.00 to include a copy of the 2015 Winners book (in hard back for UK residents and e-book for non-UK residents).

The inaugural 2013 award was named in honour of William Hazlitt (1778-1830), great master of the miscellaneous essay.

The ongoing Notting Hill Editions Essay Prize aims to keep that mastery alive.
For further information email: contact@nottinghilleditions.com

To enter click here

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rioThe Rio Olympics is near at hand. Notwithstanding the Zika virus and all the other issues that threatens the games, we all know that once it begins, once the nations march out and that torch is lit, the attention of the whole world will turn to Rio and the excitement will be fever pitch. Nigerians, both home and abroad, will not be left out. It is amazing the way we support our national teams during competitions, the enthusiasm, the faith, the patriotism, feelings that eliciting from Nigerians on a normal day would be akin to trying to squeeze water from a rock.

Over the years, we have endured as our fortunes in sports dwindled. We are now used to failing, such that many no longer lose sleep over it. Take, for instance, our national football team, the Super Eagles, who some have rechristened Super Chickens. It would have been akin to a national tragedy not to qualify for the African nation’s cup in time past.  These days, we do not even expect them to qualify and when they live up to the billing by failing as they did just recently, we just move on as if nothing happened.

As used to disappointing outings as we may be, the Rio Olympics will be at a different level entirely. If the saying “if you fail to prepare, you should prepare to fail” is anything to go by, then, our failure at the Rio games will be spectacular. After the last Olympics in London, where we failed to win a single medal, there was the usual talk in government cycles of going back to the drawing board, — a proverbial board to which our administrators always claim they are returning to, each time they mess up. I wrote a piece about the damn board here. Four years since London, it is as though we’ve not just been marking time, we have been speeding with the reverse gear engaged.

One would have expected that between then and now, there will be some conscious effort, an expression of our national determination to have our anthem played at the medal podium in Rio by putting in place a programme (like other serious countries do) that will focus on raising athletes that will win laurels in the sports we have comparative advantage in. Clearly, that is expecting too much. The current state of things, made worse by the very poor preparation and almost anonymous leadership of the beret-wearing minister of sport (who seems to fancy himself more as a freedom fighter than a sports administrator), announces like a bell wielding white garment preacher at dawn, that we should expect national disgrace.

Perhaps so that we the fans do not come heavily down on them when they eventually fail, some of the athletes are already crying out, issuing caveat emptors, if you like. The latest is Efe Ajagba, Nigeria’s only, I need to repeat this for emphasis, ONLY, boxer at the Rio games. Ajagba and his coach Tony Konyegwachi told the media last week that all is not well at all, comparing their preparations and training at the National Stadium Boxing complex Lagos, to a farmer doing his chores without a cutlass.

To quote Ajagba directly: “We don’t have facilities. We are just training with our own minds. There are no punching gloves, and modern punching bags, the one we have right now, if you punch it, it slips and you bump your shoulders on it.”

First of all, boxing used to be one of our strong points. How we got to the point where we can only feature one boxer at the games is a study in mediocrity. It is a mystery in itself – a nation of nearly 200 million people? That we cannot now prepare this lone boxer well for the games is nothing short of a national embarrassment and, I dare say, simply unacceptable.

There are certain things that should not be said loud for others to hear, like how we cannot provide things as basic as boxing gloves and punching bags. What else then, can we provide? How do you realistically expect a medal of any colour, from a boxer who received no training with modern techniques (as those he will be facing are doing) but also prepared with gloves that should be in the museum?

You might want to ask, where is the Nigeria Boxing Federation, the National sports commission, the Ministry of Sports? Your guess is as good as mine.

Only last month, at the 20th Africa Athletics Championship in Durban, South Africa, the Nigerian contingent, the bulk of who are Rio hopefuls, gave a shambolic performance, coming third behind South Africa and Kenya and managing only four gold medals.  Just a little earlier, the Dream Team, the national under-23 male football team that will play in Rio played in a preparatory four-nation tournament in Korea, finishing third, winning only one match and conceding eight goals.

What can one realistically expect from these teams at Rio but failure?

Clearly, our problem is not the availability of talent. Harnessing it through good developmental programmes, well thought out policies, adequate funding and clear headed administration is the issue. You would have thought the change government would have come with a new lease of life in that sector but current evidence suggests otherwise. What should be done is not farfetched. Simply put round pegs in round holes, repackage sports to make it attractive for sponsors, sit down and chart a course for the future.

While we wait for that to be done, It will be wise that we all manage our expectations as regards this year’s summer games as Rio will be one big embarrassment.

Happy Sallah Holidays!

@nzesylva.

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IMG_1293There are simply no words to capture what you meant to me or convey the full weight of my grief over your passing. When I met you over six years ago I knew at once, that I had struck gold and I know many men have a wonderful wife but no one has ever had a better one than I. For Miebi you were simply amazing – beautiful, witty, highly intelligent, quirky, stubborn and always immense fun to be with. I am grateful for every minute we had together.

We shared a friendship, a bond that no one else can understand and together we tore down barriers of creed, tribe and culture that threatened to keep us apart and at once turned all of it into love and laughter and oneness. You always said family mattered most and you embraced mine so intimately that you easily passed for a daughter to my parents and a big sister to my siblings. You were humble, faithful, efficient, and true and in your unassuming way, made everything around you beautiful.

As cliché as it may sound, Mimi, you were my everything.  My happiest years were those spent with you. You gave me the experience of being clearly understood, truly supported and completely and utterly loved. You inspired me in ways I cannot explain. You were my number one fan, blowing my trumpet the loudest. When I was worried, you said it would be ok. When I wasn’t sure what to do, you figured it out. When things were difficult you were a pillar. And even there on your sick bed when I neared my wits end, you would hold my hand and reassure me that everything would be okay.

I remember fondly those long hours spent on skype calls while you completed you studies in Brazil, those blackberry voice notes every morning, the joy of welcoming you at the airport when you came home and the tears when you had to leave. I shall never forget the dance, the laughter, the promises and the plans. I miss your presence, your companionship, the notification on my phone of a new ping from you, the joy of watching Manchester United play, together…your love.

You see, love is at once this cruel and uplifting. We are dead without it, and yet made so much more vulnerable to pain for experiencing it.  However if the day I walked down that aisle with you someone had told me that this would happen, I would still have walked down that aisle. For the beautiful flowers you have planted in my memory will be treasured for the rest of my lifetime.

Alas, my love could not save you. We fought long and hard though. You did not want to die. I did not want to let go either. We were confident this would end in praise. In my spare hours, I planned the thanksgiving Mass that would follow your recovery in my head. It was also going to be our baby’s dedication. But the creator thought your work here was done and decided to call you to Himself, to swell the number of the Saints triumphant. Camera 360

I am consoled however by the fact that we’ve buried only your body. Your spirit, your beautiful soul, your uncommon ability to calm the storm is still with us. You live on in the stories those who knew you are sharing of how you touched their lives, in the memories of our families who you touched most closely, in the love that is so visible in the eyes of our daughters. Things will never be the same for us yes, but we all have been made better because you were in our lives.

The words of Alan D. Wolfelt  in The Wilderness of Grief, aptly captures my feelings on this day. “My grief journey has no destination. I will not ‘get over it.’ The understanding that I don’t have to be done is liberating. I will mourn this death for the rest of my life.”  But I will not stay drained by grief. I assure you that I will be strong for the girls, and that together, we shall make you proud.

With all my heart,

Your Husband

Nze

First published here on Thursday May 5, 2016

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