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Posts Tagged ‘Sylva Nze Ifedigbo’

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MOYMichael Afenfia’s The Mechanics of Yenagoa is an interesting feel-good read that grips the reader from the first page and keeps you flipping the pages like a compulsive disorder, as the narrator leads you deeper into the funny, disjointed and often troubled lives of the different characters it portrays.

From the title, one is wont to assume that it tells the story of different mechanics in Yenagoa, the capital of Bayelsa state. Not quite so. Instead, it is the story of one mechanic, his apprentices and how the choices they make impact on or is influenced by, the cocktail of characters in their lives.

At the center of it all is Ebinimi (who also goes by Brother Jacob), from whose narrative voice the story is told. He is a university graduate who opted to be a mechanic and runs his auto repair shop on Kalakala street. The irony of a graduate as a mechanic is made even more remarkable by the fact that he is also pursuing a second degree, an MBA, at the state university. With that somewhat unusual profile, he presents an image of one who had it all together but that seems to be all that is good about his life. The rest of it is a web of emotional entanglements, perpetual trouble baiting, fights, ambition, betrayals and their unintended consequences.

When we meet Ebinimi he also introduces us to his allegedly pregnant on-and-off girlfriend, Blessing (who will prove to be his undoing in many ways), his sister Ebiakpo whose marriage is perched on the precipice, his three apprentices, Biodun, Broderick and Saka who seem to have no cares in the world and Reverend Ebizimor, who is that behind-the-scene character instigating much of the conflict in the book and who smartly exits the scene, like he was never there, just when it is all about to unravel. We see how Ebinimi, in the course of his normal existence is drawn into situations which in his effort to solve, triggers other events that threaten to engulf his entire existence. Indeed, for most of the book, he is basically quenching fires, and sometimes igniting new ones himself but managing somehow to navigate through it all.

At its core though, The Mechanics of Yenagoa tells a much deeper story about the dysfunction of society, the everyday coping mechanisms of ordinary people, the breakdown of marriages and the games people play to get and retain power including the weaponizing of religion and the use of violence as a political tool.

Read the full review here in the Lagos Review

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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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abpplIt was American singer and songwriter Marilyn Manson who said that music is the strongest form of magic. If magic is the power to enchant, then there is no better word than magic for describing this music inspired collection of short stories, A Broken People’s Playlist by Chimeka Garricks

George Saunders, celebrated writer of short stories and essays in one of his popular quotes opined that when you read a short story, you come out a little more aware and a little more in love with the world around you. A Broken People’s Playlist does absolutely that.

This collection of twelve stories about life, death and everything in-between is a delight from cover to cover. One is first dazzled by the cover design, which whets the reader’s appetite and prepares your senses for the music in the pages. As the Igbos say, the eye first eats before the mouth does.

Some will argue though that a book should not be judged by its cover. Quite true but we are saved that argument in this instance. What is served in the following 248 pages, matches the artistry of the cover and combines to deliver a work of art that tickles your ribs as much as it does your tear ducts, making you question the essence of life and at the same time reinforcing your faith in it all the while, delighting you with all the rhyme and rhythm that the African storytelling tradition embodies.

Garricks does something unusual in this book. It is not very often that fiction writers avail their readers of their thought process, inspiration and influences within the covers of their work. That is the stuff for interviews, closer engagements during book readings and perhaps their memoir. But Garricks is a very generous writer. Perhaps to set the ground rules for any future interrogation of his work or as an appreciation to the composers who made the ‘track list’ of this album possible, he added a four page ‘Author Notes’ at the end of his collection

Read the full review here in the Lagos Review

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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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vcikeChukwuemeka Ike is one of my favourite Nigerian writer. I grew up reading everyone of his works I could find and my dad’s rich collection gifted me almost all of them. He gave us such gems like #ToadsForSupper, #TheChickenChasers, #Expo77, #OurChildrenAreComing amongst many others… News of his passing a few days ago really hit home. So I did an #obit in his honour for #Lagosreview…the writer lives on. Adieu.

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Obituary: Chukwuemeka Ike, Nigerian literary giant, dies at 88 – Sylva Nze Ifedigbo

Chukwuemeka Ike, Nigerian academic, administrator, monarch and prolific writer of international repute whose celebrated works influenced a generation of readers both in Nigeria and beyond and helped shape literary discourse and the reading culture on the continent, has died. He was aged 88.

Media reports indicate the respected writer died following some health challenges for which he had been admitted at the Nnamdi Azikwe University Teaching Hospital Nnewi in December 2019. He was until his death, the traditional ruler of Ndikelionwu in Orumba north local government area of Anambra state, a throne he ascended in 2008.

But the writer lives as he left a body of work, – twelve novels and as many non-fictional texts that the history of post-independence, post-colonial Nigeria will be incomplete without. It is for his fiction that many people outside of the academia would have known Ike for. A master storyteller who is probably not as celebrated as he ought to be by the current generation of readers, Ike belonged to that class of Government College Umuahia and the University College, Ibadan who in many ways started a revolution by telling the story of a continent long misrepresented through western voices and helped build a strong African literary culture that has gone on to produce many great works and accomplished writers.

Motivated by his friend the renowned Chinua Achebe who had published Things Fall Apart in 1958, Ike who had hitherto restricted his writing to short stories in the university journals, published his first novel Toads for Supper in 1965. After that….

Read the full essay here

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So i decided to gather my short stories published in various journals and sites over time..to put them together in a page. Some of the sites no longer exist and sadly those stories are gone…

Here are those i found. Those included in my 2012 collection The Funeral Did not End have been marked.

Confessions in AFREADA | February 2016

On the Hot Seat in African Writer | January 2010 (TFDNE)

Samia in Thrice Fiction & Parresia Blog | December 2018

Will you hug me again in Brittle Paper | March 2016

The Lunch on Good Friday in Maple Tree Literary Supplement | August 2010 (TFDNE)

The Lunch on Good Friday (Audio) in Pixelhose | September 2013

Dodan Barracks in Nigerians Talk Lit Mag | June 2012

JAMB in Nigerians Talk Lit Mag | November 2013

Epiphanies in ITCH Creative Journal | February 2016

Death on Gimbiya Street in Saraba | February 2010 (TFDNE)

Guilt Trip in Saraba | February 2013 (TFDNE)

The Assembly of the Former Heads in Kalahari Review | December 2014

Tunji’s Proposal in StoryTime | July 2009 (TFDNE)

My Ex in StoryTime | August 2009 (TFDNE)

Call Room in StoryTime | August 2011 (TFDNE)

Memories of Doctor Death in Prick of the Spindle | March 2013

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So I have some good news…My debut novel, My Mind Is No Longer Here is about to be released in print by Paressia Books.

FINALLY!!!

So that you, esteemed followers of my blog are among the first to cop this beauty, quickly Pre-order at the pre-release price until 7 September 2018.

They will deliver to just about everywhere…pre-order

Here is the link  http://www.parresia.com.ng/pre-order-my-mind-is-no-longer-here/

And when you are done reading, be kind to let me know what you think. Send me a private message, write a review, post a short comment on your platform, suggest it to your book club, make noise about it and buy more copies for friends and family 🙂

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samia1My story #Samia is published in the latest edition of Thrice Fiction magazine. The magazine is filled with stories, art, and a few surprises from a variety of talented contributors  and is published three times a year. Best part, its FREE.

#Samia is the story about Samia Yusuf Omar a Somali athlete who died in the Mediterranean trying to cross to Europe to find safety and coaching in Europe.

For more on Samia Yusuf Omar, click here

Read my story online or download a copy to enjoy  from the link below. See Pages 23- 36.

http://www.thricefiction.com/

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The report of African migrants trying to reach Europe is a daily news item. Many as we know and see frequently in the news meet their deaths in the Mediterranean. According to the International Organization for Migration, many others are being sold by traffickers into slavery in Libya, including for sex, for as little as $200, while others still are killed and their organs harvested for sale in the booming human organ trade.

Many young Africans find that after having paid human traffickers in the hope of finding a better life in Europe, they end up being held hostage by their traffickers who exploit them and their families, turning the dreams of a better life into a nightmare.

The International Organisation for Migration says slave markets and detentions are becoming increasingly common on the illegal migrant routes as criminal gangs cash in on what has become a very sad situation.

According to IOM’s chief of mission in Libya, Othman Belbeisi, selling human beings is becoming a trend among smugglers as the smuggling networks in Libya are becoming stronger. In his words, “Migrants are being sold in markets as a commodity” at a going rate of between $200 and $500” .

While some migrants sold this way managed to escape, many wallowed in captivity for months before being bought free or sold on. Others die and are unaccounted for and many among them are Nigerians fleeing harsh economic situation back at home or simply chasing the myth of greener grass on the other side.

The reality is that for many young people in Nigeria, the ultimate ambition in life is to go abroad. And the exodus has been on forever. There is hardly anyone who does not have a relative or someone who has “checked out.” In the late ‘80s and ‘90s there was a massive brain drain of Academics and professionals following the collapse of our educational institutions, and the persecution of perceived pro-democracy activists by the military dictators who held sway then.

The brain drain continues even today. You see it in the long queues of visa applicants in foreign embassies. I still have vivid memories of the crowd of rowdy, sweaty applicants in a zigzag queue, I saw on my first visit to the UK Visa application centre in Abuja close to a decade ago and how very willing they appeared to endure any kind of manhandling in their quest for a visa.

Such is the value placed on obtaining a visa that it is often a major prayer point in churches and a good course for testimonies. This obsession very easily turns into desperation. Many short-term visa applicants have absolutely no intention of returning. Some on student visas do not honour the terms. They live illegally in the shadows abroad, many getting deported, or jailed. These stories of the fate of their compatriots do not stop those who intend to seek the West’s presumed greener pastures, as the risk is considered one worth taking.

The denial of a visa or deportation does not stop the determined Nigerian immigrant nor does the fear of the dangers associated with migrating illegally. As long as there is a chance of success, no matter how slim, there will be willing people. This has resulted in the growth of what is today an industry of powerful people and their agents, feeding off the gullibility and desperation of young people in the guise of helping them reach their dreams of a better life abroad. These issues form the theme of my new e-book, ‘My Mind Is No Longer Here’ recently published by Bahati Books.

We have read of people who faked travel documents, of folks who braved life inside airtight containers sailing across the sea, of stowaways in the wheel compartment of international flights. We are also quite familiar with the malaise of human trafficking, of young ladies who either by coercion or by choice, are taken to European cities to work as prostitutes and the daredevil journey to Europe through the scorching heat of the Sahara desert and the stormy waves of the Mediterranean.

The UN’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in 2016 warned that the trafficking of Nigerian women to Italy by boat was reaching “crisis” levels, with traffickers using migrant reception centres as holding pens for women who are then collected and forced into prostitution across Europe. About 3,600 Nigerian women arrived by boat into Italy in the first six months of that year, and more than 80% of these women will be trafficked into prostitution in Italy and across Europe, the IOM said.

We need to stem this tide. Many of those who make this trip do not know any better. The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), the Nigerian government’s agency set up in response to the situation can only do as much. While we continue to clamour for a better deal from the government in terms of the state of the economy which is the ultimate solution to the crisis, we must also step up advocacy and public campaigns targeted at young people on the dangers of falling prey to criminal traffickers.

This is one issue where ideas are needed. It concerns us all because, in small instalments, our country’s future is disappearing…never to be recovered again.

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