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Afi Tekple and her mother are made homeless and driven to poverty following the untimely death of her civil servant father. Denied of any inheritance by the greedy and opportunistic Uncle Pious, they are rescued by Aunty Faustina, the matriarch of the Ganyo family who puts them up and gives Afi’s mother a job at her flour distribution depot.

Mother and daughter essentially owe their wellbeing to Aunty such that when she makes a proposal requesting that Afi marries her rich, business mogul son Elikem (Eli), it is both a gift that changes their realities and an opportunity to pay back Aunty for all she had done for them.

But it is not the usual arranged marriage which is not strange in African societies. Afi has a higher responsibility put on her shoulders. Her husband Elikem is entangled with his Liberian mistress, Muna who his family disapproves of and with whom he has a daughter. Afi’s marriage to him was to wrestle him away from the grips of Muna who they paint as a diabolic, ugly and uncultured woman who cannot take care of her own child and has cast a spell on their son.

From the outset, it is clear that the marriage was a strange arrangement. Eli, the groom is absent at his own traditional marriage ceremony. Afi, the naïve seamstress who has lived most of her life in rural Ghana is married off to an older more sophisticated man she hardly knew, and had barely met. She wonders about her future, this problem she has been selected to solve and worries about even meeting up to the requirements of being a wife to a Ganyo. Her doubts are mediated, for the most part, by the palpable joy of her mother, the reassurance of Aunty and the other Ganyos (Yaya and Richard) and the encouragement of her closest cousin, Mawusi.

After moving to Accra where her husband lives, she is esconced in a fancy apartment where she was to wait for her husband to come to her. It will be many weeks before he appears. During this time, Afi, leverages the Ganyo connections to begin attending a fashion design school to fulfil her dreams. When Eli finally shows up, appearing first at intervals and then more frequently, they fall into a fairytale romance which leads to her becoming pregnant. While Afi had succeeded in establishing herself as Elikem Ganyo’s wife, even bearing him a son, she never succeeded at the other mission of taking the Liberian mistress out of the picture. Indeed, Muna continued to live with him, in his main house.

Afi must take brave but decisive actions to force Elikem’s hand and change the situation, ensuirng she moves into the main house to take her position as his wife. For a period, after the birth of their son, it seemed she was living the fairy tale life, graduating from her design school, starting her own outlet while enjoying the love and care of her husband. An incident will however bring her to the sudden realisation that she was living a lie forcing her to make even braver decisions to assert herself and break free from the emotional entanglements and deceit that had left her living to fulfil the desires of others.

Peace Medie in this exciting debut delivers at once, an exciting and compelling story complete with humour, love and the many ramification of life in contemporary Ghana while also highlighting the many other challenges of life on the continent including sexism, classism and patriarchy.  It is also a story about the influence of our extended families, the idea of having a duty to family and how money can dramatically transform people’s lives.

The prose is easy and free flowing, delivered in simple but engaging language. The characters are exciting and the transition in Afi’s character from a naïve young lady to a confident woman, determined to live life on her own terms was well handled to Medie’s credit.

Described as the‘Crazy rich Asians for West Africa’, His Only Wife ticks all the right boxes and is a worthy addition to the collection of every keen lover of African stories.

Peace Adze Medie | Parresia Publishing, 2020 | 262 pages.

First published in The Lagos Review Here

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Read this detailed review of my novel, My Mind Is No Longer Here by Tọ́pẹ́ Salaudeen-Adégòkè in #AfricaInWords

Buy the book and give a copy to a friend.

AiW Guest: Tọ́pẹ́ Salaudeen-Adégòkè.

AiW note: Tọ́pẹ́, returning as a Guest Author with this review for AiW, has also given us his Words on the Times, a Q&A series initiated to connect up and share the experiences of life and work during the pandemic. You can find his responses, with further details of where to get hold of Sylva’s novel, at the foot of his review.

The epigraph to Ifedigbo Nze Sylva’s debut novel, My Mind is No Longer Here (Parrésia Publishers Ltd., 2018), is culled from Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five: ‘[…] life is just a collection of moments all strung together in beautiful random order […]’. Sylva borrows this to narrate the story of four young men — Donatus, Haruna, Osahon and Chidi —connected by their obsession to travel abroad in search of greener pastures. My Mind is No Longer Here capitalises on symbolism, further…

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IMG_20200715_192255_381 I recently had a chat with Chimee Adioha of #BlackBoyReview on writing #MyMindIsNoLongerHere, the desperation to leave and the reflection of this trend in literature.

Book Cover Design Concept

Cover design was by visual artist Fred Martins, the design interprets the book title. It’s a floating balloon of a head, pulling of from the rest of the body.

This conversation is really coming late, but it’s always better late than never. Reading MY MIND IS NO LONGER HERE was a form of reading about men, reading through, from the eyes of men and what men really feel they need. We would like to know your intentions towards writing a book that wanted to talk about men and the kind of lives that are mostly associated with men.

Yes, indeed this conversation has been a long time coming. I am glad we are finally able to do this and I must thank you for the time and the platform.

You’ve started off with a very interesting question. I will like to start by stating from the outset that the first inspiration to write this book was a newspaper headline. Sometime circa 2011 I read a story in the metro section of one of Nigeria’s top dailies about a so-called travel agency which had swindled a lot of people of their money, promising to help them migrate to Canada. At that time too, issues of human trafficking was also rife as it still is today. I thought to interrogate that desperation to leave at all cost, and the people who had made an industry out of that desperation.

Now, when you think human trafficking, you are likely to immediately think of the female gender. The prostitution rings across Europe fed by trafficked girls from Nigeria easily comes to mind. Chika Unigwe’s  On Black Sisters Street which told that story very well. But Boys are also trafficked for many other reasons. And indeed, in the whole desperation to leave and make it anywhere else at all cost community, men top the charts. So, I decided to make my work about men, to tell their own story and to explore it from the lives of four characters from different backgrounds whose interest converge on this project of leaving.

Did you in any way had to infuse your life experiences into the story generally. Was there a character amongst the four men that you felt was too close to your own reality.

The short answer will be no. None of the characters reflects my own lived experience personally. However, I infused the stories of other real people who I either knew or heard about. Not in an autobiographical way though. More like bits and pieces of it.  I like most people who grew up in these parts especially from low to middle income backgrounds under the influence of IBB’s stifling structural adjustment programme, know someone, a relative, friend, school mate or someone on their street who has left through some kind of runs, so it’s a very familiar experience.

Read the rest of the Interview here

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nancyI recently had a very insightful chat with Nancy Adimora, founding editor of AFREADA who recently joined HarperCollins as ‘Talent and Audience Development Manager’

We talked about many interesting literary and fun stuff including Chimamanda, Biafra, Harry Potter, Aminatta Forna and sleeping 8 hours every night.

Read all about it here in The Lagos Review. See excerpts below:

SNI: AFREADA which you founded is one of the more vibrant platforms publishing African stories from writers across the world. I have had my story published by you and have also read many interesting stories there as well. What was the vision behind AFREADA and what has the experience been like?

NA: We’re in a very interesting season with AFREADA where the vision is in the process of evolving. I started the platform with no experience in publishing, I had no formal editorial training. I was just a Nigerian girl in north London who was intrigued by an entire continent but couldn’t afford to travel around that entire continent so wanted to explore the possibilities of doing so through stories. I came across an Aminatta Forna quote that says “if you want to know a country, read its writers.” and that really resonated with me because, if you want to get to know the capital city of Botswana, you could open a text book, read scholarly articles, or Google some facts and figures – but if you *really* want to get to know Gaborone, you have to engage with the stories of people who live and work there, even if it’s fictional. This story by Siyanda Mohutsiwa is a beautiful example of that.  So, for a long time travelling through stories has been our vision and it’s been fun for me to get to know the continent through some of the best emerging writers, from Uganda to Guinea Bissau. But now, with a growing team and expansion into creative non-fiction, we’re in the process of re-evaluating our mission statement. We’re exploring a few new ideas, and we’ll be communicating our revised vision in the coming weeks.

SNI: Wow. That’s interesting to know and I guess this is a TLR exclusive. LOL. Tell me from your experience and the submission you receive, what’s your assessment of the state of creative writing by Africans? Alive & well, comatose or just there?

NA: I would say it is alive and well – without a shadow of a doubt. What I see in our submissions inbox is a lot of enthusiasm. Accessibility is key for us, so our submissions guidelines are intentionally more relaxed than some other journals and publications. We want to encourage everyone to feel like their stories are worth being read and reviewed, and the quality of our submissions is a reflection of that decision. So, whilst we get a lot of submissions from new writers who probably need more time to hone their skills, we also get a lot of exceptional submissions from writers who are a little further in their creative journeys as well. So I’d say our submissions inbox is broad, in terms of quality, but it definitely fills me with a lot of optimism.

SNI: Talking about our writing being alive and well, we recently lost one of our writing greats, Prof Chukwuemeka Ike who influenced a lot of book lovers of my generation. Did you encounter any of his works which you are happy to share briefly about?

NA: It feels crazy to say, but I didn’t know much about Prof Chukwuemeka Ike before his death. I had heard his name a couple of times, but the first time I really engaged with him wasn’t through his writing, but through a documentary called “In the Shadow of Biafra” that was screened in London last month. The film explored how creative writers grappled with the history of the Nigeria-Biafra war. In it, Prof Ike spoke about a number of things – but one part that stood out for me was when he recounted how Igbo people figured out how to refine crude oil during the war. The fact that we built oil refineries is interesting in itself, but I was particularly drawn to how he told the story. I made a note of some of his books when I got home later that evening so I’m definitely going to go back and read some of his work when I get the chance.

Read the the full interview here

 

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travellersFleeing violence and political crises in parts of the Middle East as well as poverty and economic challenges in Africa, millions of people have been risking the perilous journey of crossing the Mediterranean sea into Europe.

Many die trying.

In October 2013 for example, over 350 migrants died in a shipwreck off the island of Lampedusa. It was perhaps the worst tragedy of its kind and helped inflame a long-standing discussion among overwhelmed European Union countries on how to handle the surge of migrants.

As the political, diplomatic, economic and even security ramifications of the crisis continues to be a topical issue in the media and in European state capitals, the people at the center of it, their lives, drives, motivations and indeed their humanity is often relegated and rarely on the front burner.

This is what makes Travellers, the latest work from the brilliant Nigerian writer, Helon Habila a very important book as it takes the reader on that journey to Europe and helps us live the migrant experience – drownings at sea and families getting  separated, as they seek asylum, survive dangerous paths, endure anti-immigration protesters, and still manage to keep that very precious human attribute, hope, alive in spite of it all. Habila achieves this more than any journalism reports I have read on these issues could ever manage and perhaps in the process, he gives a peep into what the novel can do today, in advancing contemporary human experiences and expanding social commentary.

His fourth book and the first set outside of his native Nigeria, Habila tells the story of six European migrants and he….

Read the full review here

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So i was a guest at the 2018 Ake Art and Book Festival, one of the leading Book festivals on the continent. Learn all about Ake here.

My panel session discussed Lagos: The City of the Future. I had the privilege of sharing the stage with Chibundu Onuzo and Supo Shasore. The session was moderated by Andrew Kelly.

ake.jpg

You can click to watch a recording of the session here. 

Cheers

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Another interesting review of my novel: My Mind Is No Longer Here….

Not your normal lady

Book: MY MIND IS NO LONGER HERE
Author: Ifedigbo Nze Sylva
Number of Pages: 312
Publisher: Parresia Publishers

“Have you not heard the saying that the happiest place to be in this country is at the departure lounge of the International Airport?

The above statement, made by Osahon in the book, shows how desperate the average Nigerian youth is to leave the country.

The book is centred on the lives of five young men; Chidi, Haruna, Donatus, Osahon and Yinka, who is the herd of the pack.

Chidi, an undergraduate, meets an old classmate of his who is now wealthy and asks him to show him the way.

Haruna, a doctor in the non-functional health system in Nigeria, gets his hatred for the country triggered by the death of his mother which could have been avoided if things were working as it should.

Donatus, a human anatomy graduate, who is…

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Checkout this new review of my novel by thezyzah…

“The Zyzah”

MY MIND IS NO LONGER HERE

Title: My Mind Is No Longer Here

Author: Ifedigbo Nze Sylva

Publisher: Paressia Publishers Ltd

ISBN: 978-978-55583-2-6

Year: 2018

Genre: Fiction (Crime)

Format : Paperbook

BLURB

4 different young men have their chance to leave Nigeria for a greener pasture (Germany) tied to a man- Yinka. A corrupt, sexist and vain man who wanted to be richer and more powerful at all cost, including using desperate young men for his dirty works.

The four guys. Donatus- a human anatomy graduate working as a photojournalist had just tendered his resignation letter to the company he worked after being owed many months salary.

Haruna- a medical doctor frustrated by the medical practices problems in Nigeria-incessant strike, inadequate facilities and the blind eye of the Government to it all.

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Chidi- A final year student in a Nigeria University dreaming of a greener pasture.

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Osahon-Wanted for alleged murder in Benin, fled to…

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Here, I just came across this review of ‘My Mind Is No Longer Here’.
Left me beaming….

Go get your copy. 😀

The African Book Review

51yakqehhul-_sr6002c315_piwhitestrip2cbottomleft2c02c35_pistarratingfive2cbottomleft2c3602c-6_sr6002c315_sclzzzzzzz_1«  Each time he tried, he fell asleep after a few pages. He stared at it nowand what he saw was the small bookshelf in his childhood home in Enugu whichoverflowed with his father’s books. (…) Filled with this sudden flash of nostalgia, Donatus stretched his arm out and grabbed the book. In his younger years, he would have holed himself up in his room, missing meals and his favourite shows on television until he was done reading it. Tonight, he just wanted something to fill up the time until it was morning. »

In today’s Lagos, four characters are ready to take off to a better place. Donatus, Osahom, Haruna and Chidi prepare to embark for Europe where they will lead the life they daydream about, the life that the rich and influential Yinka promised and arranged for them.

In this four-voiced novel in which the same moment…

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