Thoughts on Things

Always

Mother's Day

By Abubakar Adam Ibrahim
(For Hauwa Adam)
I wonder how I,
so tall now, grew in the warmth of your womb,
how you nursed and loved, cleaned and scrubbed
and made me safe, made us safe.

How I love you, I have not said enough,
cannot say enough,
because you give without reserve,
love without restraint.

We laugh, sometimes, taste our tears, sometimes.
We fall out sometimes.
But always, we loved. Always we will love.
Always. Always.

And because your love spreads like infinite nightsky
speckled with galaxies of adoration,
whenever I’m lost, I know you will be there.
Always. Always.

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‘Africa is the real roots of magical realism’

 

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Molara Wood

Molara Wood is the author of ‘Indigo’, a collection of short stories recently published by Parresia. Also a journalist, essayist and critic, she has won awards for her short stories. A former arts columnist for the Sunday Guardian, and later Arts and Culture editor of the now defunct NEXT newspaper, she is currently Special Assistant to the President on Documentation. ‘Indigo’ is her first book.

 

Your short story collection Indigo is finally out. It was a long journey to publication. What exactly happened?

I guess it was the usual story of trying to find publishers whose ideas for the book tallied with my own. I had some glitches along the way which aren’t really worth going into now. Every book has its own story, its own journey and it’s the long run that matters. I have found that as a writer, it’s important to exercise patience and to not rush into print.

 

How long was Indigo in the making?

The bulk of the stories were written over several years up to 2008. The last was added in 2010. Many of the stories went through a long process of editing and adjustments, as I tinkered with them every now and then until I could tinker no more. It was important to get the stories right first, and to have some of them curated by other literary editors for publication in journals and anthologies.

 

I like the blend of immigrant experience in some of the stories and the strong cultural nuances in others. Was this a blend you deliberately worked at or was it something that just came off in the end?

I’m glad you like the blend. I just wrote as the muse moved me and without any particular design. Eventually I had twenty-something stories and figured I had more than enough for a collection. The seventeen in Indigo are the ones we felt could co-exist thematically in one book.

Some of the stories like the title story and ‘Night Market’ have mystical themes or concerns without being out-rightly magical realist. Do you think Magical Realism still has a future in literature?

Magical Realism has a past, a present and a future in literature. The great Latin American authors, especially Alejo Carpentier who first articulated the concept of “lo real maravilloso” (the marvellous real), saw Magical Realism as an expression of the reality of their world, where life was and remains magically real. They were writing about New World societies that had a lot of African influences through slavery for example, in their language, myths, ways of seeing, religious beliefs and so on. So I’m saying of course that Africa is the original “lo real maravilloso”. Look at newspaper pages and tell me whether some things reported even in this day and age are not magically real. You have news items that ask you to believe that a thief turned into a goat; goats get arrested as do masquerades; or that some woman gave birth to a horse. I find it interesting that many people recount these with straight faces and listeners often take them as so. You can dismiss it all as absurd, or you can recognise that conceding to the magical element, or the fantastical, is one of the ways in which people add layers of meaning to their lives. It’s another way of making sense of the outlandishness of their world. For as long as there are societies where the magical exists side-by-side with the supposedly real world, Magical Realism has a place in literature. And as long as there are artists whose imaginative universe allows them to see wonder and magic in everyday life, Magical Realism has a future.

Seventeen stories in your collection. Why did you think it was necessary to have that huge a number in your collection?

I don’t find 17 short stories to be such a huge number in a collection, especially when you consider that about five stories in ‘Indigo’ are very short pieces of flash fiction that take up no more than two pages at a time.

Indeed some of them are incredibly short, like ‘Free Rice’ a deeply disturbing story, which is interconnected with ‘The Scarcity of Common Goods’. How did it occur to you to link up the two?

Let me share something about the creative process pertaining to these two stories. You see, ‘The Scarcity of Common Goods’ is one of those stories that did not start in my head as any one specific idea. It began with the title, which I liked when it dropped into my head – the paradox of “common” goods conflated with “scarcity” in one line, fascinated me; and I decided to write a story around the antithetical notion. I started with a sentence, not knowing where it would lead – it’s an approach I recommend. Then I added another sentence, and another; and soon I had the beginnings of a story about a widow grieving for her husband. Then I suffered writer’s block and the story got stuck. So, I abandoned it for a while and decided to write a separate story about this husband she was grieving for, and that’s how ‘Free Rice’ came into being. It’s based on a true story I heard when I was young, by the way. When I was done with ‘Free Rice’, I returned, reenergised, to ‘The Scarcity of Common Goods’ and churned it out.

A number of the stories address the immigrant experience, some of them were set in London where you lived for a while. How much of your personal experiences are in these stories?

Well, I have now lived a greater part of my life in Nigeria than in Britain. Yet I don’t get people asking if the larger number of my stories set in Nigeria are based on personal experience. Why is that? And when I’m asked if the London portraits are based on myself, I am tempted to ask, “which one?” – since they are such wildly divergent characters with different backgrounds, personalities, experiences and fates. They are many and, complex though I like to think I am, I am not legion. Every day I spent in the UK was legally accounted for; I would never have anything to do with a fake passport; arranged marriages for visa purposes were astonishing to me; and I most certainly never wished to move from London to America. As I told you, most of these stories were forged over a long period of time in the furnace of my imagination. I took time to make these people as real as possible, to get every nuance of character: background, appearance, quirks, insecurities and so on. They are based on life in London as seen around me. I am a student of human nature, I observe and psychoanalyse people, I see more than they intend me to see. I thought it was important in these stories to explore the reality of the immigrant condition as experienced by our people in the UK, rather than the fable of ‘life abroad’ that drives Nigerians to seek greener pastures that often don’t exist. It was also important to attempt to write these lives with empathy, without judgement – but that should not be taken to mean I lived these specific scenarios. I think it is what these stories say about Nigerian life in London that should concern people, rather than whether or not the author experienced such-and-such. My characters are me only to the extent that I created them. I like to say that they are children of my brain.

Indeed, it is clear that the characters are quite different from Molara Wood as a person, and I suppose readers always want to know how much of the writer’s experiences are invested in the story. But why do you think stories of displacement and identity have remained relevant decades after ‘The Lonely Londoners’?

Before ever reading ‘The Lonely Londoners’, I had watched a film titled ‘Black Joy’. It was a West Indian ‘hard-knock-life’ kind of story, showing Caribbean immigrants suffering and smiling in the UK. The film remains indelible, though I’ve not viewed it again since the late 80s – so that probably says something about the power of immigrant stories. Many years later I watched ‘Dirty Pretty Things’; I was a Londoner, but the film showed me an underbelly of immigrant London that was unknown to me. So, maybe one answer to your question is that immigrant stories are a window to hidden lives – often hidden from the new world they’re in as well as the old one from which they came. New lands raise new questions about identity, while redefining and renegotiating the individual’s dreams, aspirations and ways of being in the world. An exploration of that existential struggle will throw up new insights into the human condition.

Some of the stories deal with typical women issues, like questions about fertility such as in Indigo, or the challenges of living with a co-wife such as in Gani’s Fall among others. What are your thoughts on women’s literature as a subgenre of literature?

The first thing I would say is that women’s writing is in no way a sub-genre of literature. From George Elliot and Jane Austen to Zora Neale Hurston and Zulu Sofola to my sisters making strides in this generation – women’s writing is part of the literature of humankind in all its richness. It’s just that the canon is patriarchal, and has privileged the male gaze and narratives about the exploits of men. Female writers therefore help to open up the spaces, to bring women’s voices and experiences to the fore.

In broad terms I was referring to the classification of women-centred stories or books, which has been termed “women’s fiction”. The gender of the author is immaterial in this instance. Khaled Hosseini’s  ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ will qualify as such whereas Adaobi Nwaubani’s ‘I Do Not Come To You By Chance’, though written by a woman, doesn’t. It is quite distinct from “women’s writing”.

I’ve not read Hosseini’s book, but I gather it’s a novel about women, much like ‘Madame Bovary’ or ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’ – female characters visualised through the psychology of male authors. If they are to be categorised as ‘women’s writing’, then what on earth was Virginia Woolf talking about? Nwaubani’s Cash Daddy, on the other hand, is a male character in a piece of writing by a woman. Some of my protagonists or narrators in ‘Indigo’ are male – do those stories not qualify as ‘women’s writing’? It would seem to me therefore that the author’s gender does matter. Here’s a simple test: would Hosseini’s book qualify for entry into the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction? I should think not.

Why do you think the short story is always looked at as inferior to the novel such that when someone like Alice Munro, a notable short story writer, wins the Nobel it is considered a departure from the norm?

I think the short story has always enjoyed a solid reputation, and is the closest to the old idea of a skilled storyteller with enough tales to keep you coming back. What the short story may lack is the glamour of the novel, which is seen as more ambitious in scope – it says: ‘I’ll give you a whole world, complete, in a big volume’. And publishers find that irresistible. Even now it’s difficult to get a literary agent on the strength of your short stories alone, unless you have a big prize under your belt. We look forward to the day a short story writer winning the Nobel would not be seen as remarkable.

And of course we know that short stories are quite a challenge to pull off successfully, not many writers are adept at it. How does one succeed as a short story writer?

If by success you mean how well it is written, then I suppose it’s a matter of just honing the craft, ensuring that all the elements of the story are there. Beginnings are crucial, endings are important and the middle must not sag.

How do you conceive your stories? Do they occur to you as flashes of inspiration or do you set out deliberately to write about a particular theme or concern?

Mostly as flashes of inspiration to which I then supply a backbone and flesh out as I work to connect the dots. I very rarely set out to write about a particular theme or concern, but my preoccupations find their way into the story as I go along.

How did you fall in love with literature? What made you decide to become a writer?

It’s like the ‘Goodfellas’ syndrome of Ray Liotta who always knew he wanted to be a gangster. I always knew in some way that I wanted to be a writer. It was about making the meandering journey to a point in one’s life when the realisation dawns that enough time has been wasted, you might as well just knuckle down and write.

I understand you are working on a novel now. What is about? When should we expect this novel to hit the shelf?

It’s too early to go into it. Ask me again in about a year’s time.

Well, I will. It is always a pleasure to talk to you, Molara. And good luck with the novel.

Thank you. I enjoy your work and I appreciate all you’re doing to promote writers.

Thank you.

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Pen International seeks entries for New Voice Awards

Congolese writer Alain Mabanckou presenting the award to last year's winner, South African  Masande Ntshanga (South African PEN)

Congolese writer Alain Mabanckou presenting the award to last year’s winner, South African Masande Ntshanga (South African PEN)

The Pen Nigeria Centre has issued a call for entries for its PEN International 2nd annual New Voices Award which seeks to encourage new writing in the countries in which it operates and to provide a much needed space for young and unpublished writers to submit their work. The award will actively encourage entries from diverse linguistic regions and communities.
The New Voices awards, according to the organisers, aims to encourage new writing from writer between ages 18-30 in the categories of short stories, creative non-fiction, journalism, and poetry as well as to promote freedom of expression, literature, and the tenets of the PEN Charter.

It also aims to promote translations and into ‘bridge languages’ such as English, French, and Spanish among other objectives.

The jury for this year’s prize consist of prominent writers Xi Chuan, poet and professor of Chinese Literature as well as renowned Indian novelist Kiran Desai, Canadian novelist, essayist and critic Alberto Manguel and debut French novelist Alexandre Postel. The jury is rounded up by Pakistani novelist Kamila Shamsie.

The structure of the prize, details of entry are listed below

1) TERMS OF ENTRY
– all candidates must be over 17 & still under the age of 30 at the time of the closing date;
– writers who have published books may not enter, but those who have existing contracts with publishers for forthcoming books may enter. A nominee must not have had any book published during the entire duration of the award;
– writers who have published pamphlets, or work in magazines and journals are allowed to enter;
– all manuscripts entered must be the work of one author only;
– prose entries must be between 2,000-4,000 words;
– poetry entries may take the form of individual poems, a sequence, or one long poem of no more than 2,500 words in total;
– writers may only submit one prose work;
– all texts nominated must remain unpublished during the entire duration of the award;
– the winning writer will represent Nigeria and stands the chance of winning the star prize of $1,000 USD;
– the shortlist of three writers may be asked to participate in later events through PEN International;
– the winning writer will be announced during Congress;
– all translators will receive full accreditation and recognition;
– there will be no entry fee

2) PRE-JUDGING THE AWARD IN NIGERIA
– the submission window will close on 12 midnight of March 30th 2014 and no late entries will be considered;
– the National Secretariat, will draw up an initial longlist with input from the panel of judges
– PEN Nigeria’s judging panel of experts, aims to reflect and be representative of
PEN’s global remit and aims;
– There would be no less than three judges evaluating each of the genres;
– Each of the judges, working independently, would come up with a list of three, scored over a hundred;
– Two successful entrants in each genre would be provided official entry form for the international grand finale

– The two shortlisted candidates would be eligible for a one year online mentorship programme starting from 2015

3) GUIDELINES
– amendments cannot be made to entries after they have been submitted, nor
substitutions made;
– it is not possible to confirm receipt of entries by phone or email;
– poems to be single-spaced and a line count noted at the top of the first page;
– short stories to be double-spaced and a word count noted at the top of the first page;
– the filename of online entries must be the title of the entry and it must be either a .doc, .docx, .rtf file: we cannot accept PDFs
– all entries are judged anonymously: do not include the entrant’s name on the
document, only on the covering mail;
– the judges’ decision is final and no individual correspondence can be entered into.

Entries and enquiries should be emailed to the Secretary General, PEN Nigeria, Ropo Ewenla: firo_po@yahoo.co.uk. Entries must bear the subject: NV 2014 ( Title of work)

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Caine Prize returns to Zimbabwe for workshop

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The Caine Prize for African Writing will return to Zimbabwe in its 15th year to hold its annual workshop this month. The inaugural Caine Prize was awarded to Leila Aboulela in 2000 at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair in Harare.

Thirteen writers from seven African countries will convene at the Leopard Rock Hotel for twelve days (21 March – 2 April) to write, read and discuss work in progress and to learn from two experienced writers, Nii Parkes and Henrietta Rose-Innes who will act as tutors and animateurs.

This year’s participants include four 2013 shortlisted writers; Abubakar Ibrahim (Nigeria), Elnathan John (Nigeria), Chinelo Okparanta (Nigeria) and Pede Hollist (Sierra Leone) and nine other promising writers; Martin Egblewogbe (Ghana), Abdul Adan (Somalia), Clifton Gachagua (Kenya), Nkiacha Atemnkeng (Cameroon) and Barbara Mhangami-Ruwende, Philani Nyoni, Bella Matambanadzo, Lawrence Hoba and Bryony Rheam from Zimbabwe.

During the workshop, the writers will be expected to write a short story for inclusion in the 2014 Caine Prize anthology, which will be published by New Internationalist on 1 July 2014 and subsequently by seven co-publishers in Africa. Each year the stories conceived at the workshops are automatically entered for the following year’s Prize.

The primary supporter of this year’s workshop is the Beit Trust with supplementary funding by the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust, Exotix, Cambria and the British Council.

Director of the Caine Prize Dr. Lizzy Attree said: “The Caine Prize is delighted to be back in Zimbabwe for its 12th workshop.  The success of NoViolet Bulawayo has inspired so many writers and we are keen to nurture talent both at the workshop and by visiting local schools.”

The programme will include a visit to local senior schools, giving students the opportunity to interact with the writers.

The workshop will also incorporate two public events in Harare; the first in collaboration with the British Council will be held at Harare City Library on 1st April. It will include a discussion about contemporary African literature after which there will be opportunities to meet the writers and purchase signed copies of the anthology from AmaBooks, over a complimentary glass of wine.

The second event, sponsored by Meikles Mega Market and Meikles Foundation, will  be held the following day at 10am at Tambira hub in the new Meikles Mega Market.  The open forum entitled “Caine Prize Writers in the Supermarket” will be chaired by Tinashe Mushakavanhu, and is free for the public to attend. The writers will also be treated to a surprise tour of Meikles Hotel.

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Stop the killings now!

 

 

Following the incessant killings by Boko Haram , I asked Nigerian writers home and abroad for their reactions and here they are. Eloquent, moving and they are unequivocal about their demand for an end to the horror.

First published in Sunday Trust

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Helon Habila

“I think it is past time every Nigerian of conscience begins to speak out about what is going on not only in the North East but also in Plateau and Kaduna States. We are witnessing an unprecedented spate of violence perpetrated by a sick and lunatic group, all in the name of religion. There is another motive for this, but it is certainly not religion. No religion will sanction the killing of innocent children in their beds.  

So far the government has failed to realize the magnitude of this threat to the future of the country as a whole. It has been fighting a half-hearted war, in the process many of our military personnel have been killed needlessly. We need to know the full number and names of the military casualties, and the full number and names of every victim.  

Politicians keep pointing fingers at one another, trying to score cheap points. Some of them see the chaos as an opportunity to continue their looting and misgovernment, since all eyes are focused on the North-East. Meanwhile, a whole generation is being wiped out, in front of our eyes. The government needs to do more than it is doing. The Nigerian people need to stop acting as if all is well, it is not. We must speak out and force the government to take this seriously. You do not fight terror with kid gloves.”

Habila is the author of ‘Measuring Time’

 

 

Remi Raji

“There is no other better way to imagine the affairs of our state than to admit that we are gradually slipping into the crucible of darkness where intrigues rule above reason, and where the spillage of civil and military blood is almost equal to the spillage of oil on a daily basis in our country. The latest disaster of massacre where students were gunned down by religious or political Boko Haram fundamentalists must not only be condemned in strong terms; it must be met with the adequate and intelligent force that the federal government can muster. We should not make any mistake about it. We should desist from waxing political and politically correct in the face of these organised irresponsibilities all over the country. The impunity of disorder and banditry must be stopped in its track, and quickly too. No one will gain from this bloodletting except those who are too self-centred and fixated on the spoils of office, and those who want to hang onto power by all means necessary.

The federal government of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan will do better to stamp out these obscenities, once and for all.”

 

Raji is a poet  and professor of English and African Studies, University of Ibadan

 

 

Eghosa Imasuen

“I admit with shame that I had almost become inured to the daily news of killings in the North-east, but this one struck me particularly hard. Coming so soon after the kidnap of 20+ girls, it spoke to someone’s utter incompetence. For hours afterwards, I kept asking, how do you leave a Federal Government College, a symbol of our commitment to unity, to education, how do you leave one unguarded in a region where you are at war with a group who thinks that education is haram? What was that about a checkpoint near the school? What was that? The school should have been garrisoned! My outrage has since become tempered and is herein replaced with pleading. Please end this. End it, my government. You can not be allowed to be stupid about this. You cannot be anything but brave and resolute. Just end the killings.”

—    Imasuen is the author of the novel Fine Boys

 

Chika Unigwe

“As a young girl, I was a boarder at a Federal Government College for six years. Before going to FGGC Bwari, Abuja, I had never been to the northern part of the country. I had hardly met any Non-Igbo Nigerian. The only Muslim I knew was a man who was considered eccentric because he was Igbo and Muslim. I remember being so excited I could not wait to leave. I remember that when the day finally came, I cried for a long time in the car that my mother threatened to have the driver turn back. She’d register me at one of the state schools near our house and I’d be a day student, she said. I thought of the biscuits and powdered milk and milo packed in my suitcase. I thought of the pocket money in my purse which I would have to return, and I stopped crying. However, even though I cried at the beginning of every term from missing home, I always looked forward to going back to school. Those six years at FGGC Bwari, Abuja, were some of the most glorious years of my childhood. Living with fellow students drawn from all over the country and across religious divides, I learned tolerance and open-mindedness. Before meals, we said both Christian and Muslim prayers. Whatever our parents believed in, at school we were one. And as one, we obeyed the bedtime bell at 9 PM daily. Whatever happened during the day, whatever petty squabbles we had,  we never feared for our safety. It would never have occurred to us that we could wake up to men in our hostels butchering us in the name of religion. When I heard of the Yobe attack on students ( and students in a school designed specifically to foster unity) , I could not imagine the horror. Boko Haram seems intent on ruining Nigeria. Sadly, the Nigerian government seems to be doing precious little to halt them.”

Unigwe is the author of the novel ‘On Black Sister’s Street’

 

Ismail Bala Garba

“For a long time in our country now blood has been flowing almost ceaselessly. We have become disillusioned and can’t seem to avert the cycle of death that has so blithely marked our country. It is time this madness should stop. Enough is enough”

Dr Garba is a poet and lecturer at the Bayero University, Kano

 

Wale Okediran

“With the recent revelation that at least 136 students have been killed in separate attacks on schools in Yobe State in less than a year, it is now very obvious that the Boko Haram issue has reached very worrisome dimensions.

The development has also confirmed that rather than an all-out military exercise, a combination of dialogue, intelligence gathering and provision of poverty alleviation measures in the affected areas should be undertaken.

If need be, Nigeria should also not shy away from requesting for foreign assistance especially in the area of intelligence gathering, border patrol and surveillance including the use of drones.

In view of the observations by some of the residents of the recent Yobe attack that Military checkpoints in the area were removed a day before the attack, it is very important that a thorough shake up of the military officials in the area be undertaken. This is to discover and remove possible moles in the military who may be working hand in hand with the insurgents.

Finally, it is important to heed the recent advice given by the Borno State Government for the Federal Government to improve the current morale and fire power of the military which in the governor’s opinion are far lower than that of the insurgents.”

Dr. Okediran, author of ‘Tenants of the House’, is a former national president, Association Of Nigerian Authors.

 

Chinyere Obi-Obasi

“It is very unfortunate that this is happening. Never in this country have we witnessed anything of this magnitude. We appeal to government to bring this under control. We also entreat the members of this sect to desist forthwith from further attacks.”

Mrs Obi Obasi was shortlisted for the NLNG prize for her children story ‘The Great Fall’

 

BM Dzukogi

“This Boko Haram thing is becoming a known mystery in the sense that what used appear like a bad joke with a short lifespan has now turned into a general death fertilized by ineffective, inefficient military operations supported dutifully by an unwilling government that is ineptly unserious securing the citizens. The totality of these suggests what Governor Nyako said that the whole thing may not be unconnected with the Nigerian army, Federal Government and some Western countries to have a grip on national resources. Don’t be surprised if the bloodletting stops immediately after the 2015 elections.”

Dzukogi is the DG, Niger State Book Development Agency

 

Ahmed Maiwada

“There was a time in the past when human life was said to be brutish and short. It was the time when only the fittest survived. Then man witnessed the evolution of government, which is an individual or a group of individuals vested with legitimacy to control the conducts of the strong and weak, etc, with society. And, government has come a very long way since then; the best of them rising up against any individual or group that threatens the lives or limbs of other members of society, and the worst of it being one that raises no finger against such wickedness in its area of jurisdiction. Nigerian government, in exhibiting nonchalance regarding the consistent massacre of defenceless Nigerians clearly mirrors to us the horrific fact that the worst government ever known to man is the one that currently sits at the helm of affairs of this country, Nigeria.”

Maiwada is a lawyer, poet and author of the novel ‘Musdoki’

Gimba Kakanda

“I have been emotionally defeated by the activities of the Boko Haram. The killings of innocent school kids in Yobe, just a few days after 20 school girls were reportedly abducted in Borno, is a reason for every thinking Nigerian to understand that this country is a disaster. Yet our policians are playing politics  with the security of the nation. More heartbreaking is the vulnerability of Nigerians to political polarisation, such that no citizen is even willing to stand up to demand explanations, and also ask the government to account for how such a huge security vote was used and yet the war against terrorism is obviously only being prosecuted in propagandas.

I listened to the President’s responses to the happenings in northeast during that stage-managed show called “presidential media chat”, and his indirect concession of defeat in another of his promises to “prosecute (the) war against terror.” It dampened my spirit. His ‘threat’ to withdraw soldiers stationed in Borno to prove a point to Shettima was an extraordinarily dumb wisecrack, because I don’t think Shettima was actually being ungrateful; I think he was only crying, that the soldiers are exposed to undermined danger, yet ill-prepared.

Of course, I’d be similarly devastated and even suspicious, aware of how trillions of naira were obviously cornered in Abuja without me. The Borno issues were badly handled in that chat. They gave away Mr President’s wicked sense of humour. For that, he shouldn’t make any more effort to be funny outside his bedroom. There’s no honour in chuckling at a funeral!

Yet Nigerians remain in their bedrooms and offices tweeting at perceived injustice and incompetence, and expecting such cyber-venting to change the system.  This is how we’ll keep watching the ruins of a section of the country from the sidelines until bombs begin to land in our backwards. We don’t learn. We really need to study the middle-east to see how some of the most beautiful countries and cities in the world are now dominated by the apparitions of terrorism.  It’s either we begin to prepare for many funerals in our towns and cities as soon as the insurgents are done with our brothers and sisters at the remote towns and villages of the northeast, or we must come together, with our demands harmonised in the quest to reclaim the country even if by crying for foreign interventions. There’s no excuse to be political or bigoted in times of such national tragedies.”

Kakanda is the author of the poetry collection ‘Safari Pants

Toni Kan

“For about one week now, scores of lives have been lost daily to marauding Boko Haram terrorists. The time to say enough is now!

The brutal killings have assumed a whole new frightening accent; the murder of children, school children sent to school and thus in contravention of what these blood thirsty terrorists refer to as ‘haram.’

But is it not ‘haram’ for these monsters who operate under the cover of darkness to spill the blood of the young, the innocent and the defenceless?

These modern day worshipers of Moloch are committing crimes that even the most hardened Sicilian Mafioso would baulk at because it is a time honoured truth that combatants sheathe their swords when women and children and even the infirm are involved.

But not these ones, men whose blood thirst can only be sated with the blood of innocents. We say no more!

President Jonathan as Commander-in-chief must rise up to the challenge. Nigeria is under siege. Today, the theater of war may be Borno and Yobe states but what happens if and when this madness is exported down South? And must we wait that long to act?

And this is for the elders and Statesmen from the north; we cannot play politics with human lives. Speak up! Condemn this bloodletting in the strongest terms.

And the military; why do you run when Boko Haram approaches? Are you well armed and equipped and motivated or are the funds allocated to fight Boko Haram ending up elsewhere?

The time to say enough is now. It is time to rise up with one voice and condemn this madness for what it really is. Boko Haram is an affront, a misnomer, a blood thirsty dance that must not be allowed to continue.

As a father, a Nigerian and a writer who values human life and dignity, I lend my voice to this campaign; Boko Haram must be condemned by Muslims and Christians alike because who is this GOD THAT DELIGHTS IN THE BLOOD OF INNOCENTS?”

Kan is the author of ‘Nights of the Creaking Beds’

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