Like the youthful consistency of a Swange dancer,
On this parallel line of life’s inconsistencies;
I see black and white. Pain and peace
All to a journey to self-discovery
I reclined in my thoughts and ask these questions
Upon this temple of liberation:
How do I skanky-leg my way to the truth
How do I dance uncontrollably towards peaceful protest?
How do I sway from side-to-side, smiling at the emergence of false reality?
Will this unsuspecting audience applaud my false bravery?
I reclined further, then I asked again
Why is the world a monotonous cacophony?
Why are seeds planted upon the earth, and not in our minds?
Why do babies announce their arrival with a loud cry and not a lullaby?
What is natural when natural is as natural as can be; organic?
Why do cows eat blades of grass and not spears of metals, guns or grenades?
Why does fire start on this dry land ravaging all in its path?
Why does biology determine the sex of an individual; male or female?
Why does social media teach our girls to be Medea against our boys;
boys who never cared if love is freeborn
Why does rain drown itself in its tears, flooding the earth?
Why is depression an option that blinds the feeble
pushing to sue men in death’s court?
Why do we spend years arranging alphabets only to spread them as suicide notes?
Are these men of letters the perfect voice for these lost boys who sojourned?
Why do the sun and the moon avoid each other before the strike of six?
Are their words like clubs and sticks by day and by night?
Why do children prefer moonlight but not the stories of old?
Why do they forget the history told at the footstool of our ancestors?
Why are the old too strong for giving up their weakness?
Why are the young now too weak giving up their strength?
What is this world without you and me?
Why does the world seek you and I daily?
How often should we fight the universe and the universe pretend to not exist?
Do monkeys go to hell for their selfishness?
Do snakes eventually have hands to keep the heart warm?
These questions are the meaninglessness of life
This life is engraved in meaningless questions
If you ask me why I asked these questions
I would tell you about the river drowning itself
I would tell you how the ocean came to its rescue;
Their bond is a challenge that is deeper than the eyes can see
This bond is a challenger deep not many can reach
Picture credit: http://www.pixels.com
I was the one created out of you from the creator
Remember, you were made with the finest of clay;
God’s ultimate achievement on the sixth day
You were packed with wisdom, strength, love, and care
Before time, you expressed creativity
You knew how to name things; and how to till the land
until the harvest came swiftly
You were friends with beasts; knowing no fear
Your boisterous resilience made you number one;
waltzing creation to your command
You spoke and things changed for the best, moving mountains
Birds sang at your beck and call all day
You were joyful, reigned in your kingdom; Eden
A hidden life clothed in the finest of gold
You frolicked with the expanse of the ocean; no flood knew you
and never run dry of option; fruitfully multiplying out of the
the abundance of a grateful heart
You created the perfect life you were made for;
King, ruler, Commander, General, CEO; employing all of the creation
to work in your stead
Nothing stood in your way, NOTHING
Somehow, you lost yourself
Don’t blame me. I wasn’t the spoiler alert to end your game
I won’t blame you for the crawling lies that lurked around me like a ghost
Maybe you got too excited
Maybe you compared ‘cos I looked like you
I guess you forgot to teach me how to be your true self; royalty
I guess you hid a part of you until death did nudge you apart
I guess you assumed I knew all that you knew as one flesh
I guess you guessed wrong of my take over plans
I will not play the blame game. Not to our creator.
Not even on the slithering one
But to the entrance of your churned out thoughts
The one that stayed deeply rooted in your mind
Remember I was taken out of you, inherited your fruitful faithfulness
And your fiery fears. I became YOU!
Never hesitated to bite that fruit that’s been stuck in your throat
Our action was forbidden before bidding with the enemy
We were naked and garbed in the false truth
We gave in to the lies, the hardship
the crime and travails of new good things
you gave in to the hurt and the pain
letting yourself go and strained;
we gave in to the death and forgetting how to replenish
Society gave you a tag; upper superior
Dragging me along, I was tagged lesser inferior
I was created out of you, remember?
Dear boy child
Retrace your root to God’s plan for you; to reign
His plans for you to be like him; creating your world
You are worth more than pleasant and precious riches
You are the boisterous wind clearing all negative forces
Being one with the tree of life; deeply rooted
You are strong, a king, add am to your present state
So, conceive, agree, speak, create and
manifest for this is good on the sixth day of life’s journey
and on the seventh day, have dominion, enjoy fruitfulness
multiply, subdue time in your favor, replenish all lost
rest boy child, REST!
Food is one thing that is very essential to human life. It is the one thing that if it’s ignored can cause a lot wahala to your body, and can also cause damage when overeaten.
Let me tell you a short story.
When I was much younger, as far as I can remember, I wasn’t the foodie type of child. I was that kind of child that loved to nibble on sweets and snacks and wasn’t up for too much-cooked food. But somewhere along my growing up years, I discovered I loved to eat, and this came as a result of teaching myself to cook, learning a few cooking tips from my restauranteur aunt and my super mom. It was quite an experiential journey.
Throughout my university days, I only became addicted to cooking in my 200 Level, and I enjoyed every bit of it, especially when some of my neighbors in Fejiro Lodge (where I lived in school) requested to keep tasting my sumptuous cooking. It was like a set of winning jackpot numbers for me. I was always “scentifying” my neighborhood (according to my mum).
Back in 2002 or so, I was living with some of my aunts, and we had the whole family house to ourselves. One of them started a restaurant business, and it gave me reasons to always be around her. She had two girls then who shared in the duties, but I decided to join the train, even though I wasn’t paid in cash, I was sort of paid with an assured daily three square meals. Lol.
One day, she had to travel to the village, and one of her girls had quit, and it was just I and I the other girl left. I wasn’t supposed to do anything the next day after she had traveled, but I took up the challenge; went to the market to meet her meat customer, then bought other ingredients that were needed for the day’s business. I started out not really believing I could cook the same way my aunt cooked or let alone convince her customers of the food taste. I went ahead and gave it a try; steamed and cooked everything that needs to be done.
By the next morning (5:00am) I was up to check on the overnight cooked white beans with firewood, which had already turned brown, then prepared the stew, boiled the rice, fried the plantains, fried the fish, boiled the eggs, cooked the spaghetti, etc. Before I knew what was happening, customers had started coming with their bowls, one after another, by then the other girl helped with arranging and setting up the tables and chairs. Some customers were curious. They noticed my aunt’s absence. They asked, and I told them she traveled. They were amazed, but then again complimented my cooking.
Did I cook exactly like my aunt? I sure didn’t, but I applied her cooking techniques. Since then, I haven’t gone back, but then, I kind of hid my cooking skills, until…
I gave this short story for a reason. There are many people who’d read this and say “I want a woman that can cook, blah blah blah…” and they go ahead to focus their attention on just the cooked food and not the person. Cooking is good, but when you make it a point of duty to punish someone because you can’t eat a day old soup, then I believe you are being inconsiderate. Although most ladies don’t mind or enjoy that, I believe there has to be some form of balance. For example, once my pot of soup is four or five days old (in the deep freezer o), I become really tired.
I love to cook, but I can’t bear to cook fresh soup every day. That is very exhausting.
Picture credit: http://www.africacheck.org
This might just be the encouragement a budding writer needs.
Here I am very concerned for many who call themselves writers and are also clueless of the spirit of antagonism that drives them into feeling less of themselves as writers…
“This is for the last ones left; recipients of the torture, pouring sentences to keep the flame burning
Those who do this for something more than prizes, who write past rejection letters
As long as the universe moves there will be stories to tell, and this is for the tellers…” – EFE AZINO
Dear Young writer, I have had you in my thought for a few days now, and I want you to know that you are not alone in this ‘writing’ struggle. As you have decided to drag your writing to the fore, be sure that there are those who will come for your head because they feel you are just a joke when you scribble down your thoughts into these genres of literature. There is an unseen war going on, and I just thought to let you know or remind you in case you forgot. Daily you will be confronted by more cynics than critics. They will either come for your head directly or indirectly on all platforms, even in your dream state and most quiet time. But one thing I need you to know is that you have all the inner power to fight this battle by saying NOTHING! Just WRITE! Just keep expressing yourself.
One major truth you have to keep telling yourself is that you may not always get it right at first or at all, but your power lies in your ability to keep learning, reading and ‘finding your authorial voice’ in your works that someday the world would adjust to and eventually learn to accept. Don’t try to sound like any other writer. I will not cite any examples, but there are many who are not noisemakers and are doing great things on a global level. Remember, they do not have time for irrelevant bants/rants/wars.
Someone once said to me “Edwina, your mind can go as far as you stretch it. Your mind is limitless; make good use of it.” I have never let those words go. I want you to explore the possibilities of what your mind can churn out.
Do you know one truth about this war? Many who are with the sickle are only digging out their fears and throwing them at you. Don’t be afraid when they project their fears of them not being better writers. Don’t join that trend of trying to compare yourself with others. Just write and respect other writers, and be a better critic than a cynic. Show them that you are different and cannot be influenced by the tantrums that they share like bitter tasting candy bars.
Be encouraged and trust God to guide your thoughts aright. You are worth more than a billion words written as literary works.
I will leave you with these words ” No one knows everything. Even your so-called right answers are wrong. Be fair with your words after all…”
Testimony time… Story time… History studies…
As a family, they gather together to share a word of exhortation or two. One thing leads to another and a long storytelling spree breaks out.
It is a hazy late Christmas morning. The harmattan weather is rather harsh on everyone. Father is coughing. Mother lets out a sneeze and a “Jesus is Lord!” outcry. The two siblings giggle at the sight of the dry and cold weather challenge their parents are facing.
“Somebody praise the Lord…!” Mother’s voice breaks into a ululating chant. She wipes of a spec of dried catarrh on the side of her right nostril with a ply of tissue paper.
“Halleluyah!” everyone choruses. Father is checking for a bible passage on his tablet device. He finds one, smiles, and asks in a sing song manner
“Does anyone have a testimony to the glory of God?”
“Yes. I have one…” the younger sibling retorts
“Me too…” Mother says smiling
“Okay, let us hear it. One minute each.” He says
“ONE MINUTE EACH!” the older sibling emphasizes. Mother shoots her an unreceptive look.
The older sibling casts a long wry look at both parents. She sits facing her younger sibling, as though to say “I hope this doesn’t turn into a long boring story o!” the younger sibling smirks her lips, sits pretty, adjusts her sitting position, and lets out a “Praise the Lord somebody!” in a soft feigned British accent.
Three minutes later, the older sibling is frowning at everyone. Father is typing away at his tablet device. The pings from social media notifications fill the sitting room. Mother on the other hand is constantly interrupting the storytelling testimony session with her own version of the past incidents told. Father is nodding his head, but not concentrating on the tell-tale session.
It is mother’s turn to tell her testimony of the “goodness of the Lord’. The older sibling begins to get oversensitive. She looks at the clock beside her. “Oh God! This is going to take FOREVER” She mumbles under breath. Mother likes to tell stories in a rather fascinating way. She is detailed and every scenario comes with a vivid description of past incidents and how “the good Lord never fails those who put their trust in Him.”
Five minutes later, the older sibling cannot contain herself enough to join in the morning prayers. Father is still typing away on his device. Younger sibling relaxes herself into the chair. She is sleeping. Mother picks up her phone as it rings out loudly. She answers in a low tone.
“Hello, please can you call me back in the next five minutes? We are having our family devotion.”
Father places the tablet device beside him on the side stool. He stands up and begins pacing around the sitting room singing praises to the savior of all mankind. He starts to pray in an unknown tongue. Mother joins in. Younger sibling is still sleeping, her mouth agape.
“Let us pray!” father says. He notices his younger daughter sleeping. He walks up to her, pinches her knee cap. She jerks back from her sleep.
“Pray. Thank God for giving us His son for this season… Pray. Pray!” He continues fervently
Older sibling opens one eye to look at her Father who is by this time deep in praying fervently. She takes another look at the clock. It says “9:55am”
“Dear Father God, I know this is not right, but help my parents understand that I have to go out before 10:30am. Amen!”
Photo credit: http://www.123rf.com
It wasn’t so humorous
When all I see is your silhouette
Taking careful steps towards my reach
Each stride reminded me of pauses
Like that of an unfinished note, the ellipsis;
You came into my fastidious life
Like the congregating soft rain in August
On a quest to soothe my towering pain
You vowed and strained all the way
To bring the distant sunshine to my face
How can I forget you?
How can I not remember you who ploughed my garden?
You who planted seeds in me that never sprouted
How can I forget the hands that closed my doors?
How can I not remember that stormy day too?
For sure, we fought well
We loved hard, we did, but
The cracks in our hearts gave way…
No such memory would go away…
Photo credit: “modern love” http://www.nytimes.com
OCD (Clean Jane)
This is how it started
This is how it all started
I am not startled
I am here
I am there
I am walking forward
All this is in my head
This is ALL IN MY HEAD
This is how it started
All these must me p-e-r-f-e-c-t
I am not sorry
I have to check again. Please
Table mats; colors match!
Oh dear, I see a patch
I am walking forward
I have to walk backward
I am looking at my shoe rack
They need me back…
PORT HARCOURT HOSTS NIGERIA’S BIGGEST SLAM
As part of its ongoing literary engagements, the Port Harcourt Literary Society will host, arguably, Nigeria’s biggest Poetry Slam this month.
And the Society has unveiled four award-winning and distinguished Nigerian poets as judges for the Slam, scheduled to hold in Port Harcourt on May 25.
They are Efe Paul Azino, curator of the highly successful Lagos International Poetry Festival whose recent project was the brilliant Heritage Bank advertisement, and Andrew Patience, spoken word Amazon and one of the founders of the impressive Custodians of African Literature, based in Jos, Plateau State.
Others are Obii Ifejika, winner of Nigeria’s first ever slam, and multi award winner and slam poetry master, Graciano Enwerem.
Chairman of the Slam committee, Edwina Aleme, says the Slam is already receiving entries from around Nigeria, promising to bring some if the best of Nigerian spoken word poets to the Garden City.
The PHLS Poetry Slam, the first major poetry competition in the Niger Delta region, promises it’s winner a whopping N100,000.00. The runner-up will take home N75,000.00, while the second runner-up will receive N50,000.00. A fourth prize, the first of its kind in Nigeria, worth N25,000.00, will go to a winner among secondary school entrants who have benefited from the Society’s PHLS-LIFT (Literature for Teens) programme.
“This is in line with our objective with PHLS-LIFT to nurture a new generation of spoken word poets in Port Harcourt and the Niger Delta,” Aleme says, “so that we help create a new narrative that our youths are not militants. We are a society of brilliant young people and the world needs to hear our voices.”
EFE PAUL AZINO, is a Nigerian writer, performance artist and poet. He is the founder and director of the Lagos International Poetry Festival, and the director of poetry at the annual Lagos Book and Art Festival. Azino has featured in a number of local and international poetry events and is a fellow of the Osiwa Poetry Residency…
ANDREW PATIENCE FINYE, known as AP, is one of the leading voices in creative spoken word poetry in Nigeria, with a debut spoken word album ‘I Am’ to her credit. She is the founder of Custodians of African Literature (COAL), a platform that promotes African writers and their writings. AP is also a broadcaster and media personality based in Jos, Nigeria…
GRACIANO ENWEREM (Sir Grrraciano) is a poet, writer, teacher and media consultant. A graduate of English and Literary Studies. He’s the winner of War of Words (Season 3), YOUPoetry Slam, War of Words Online Slam 1 and other prizes. Cofounder, Figures of Speech movement (FOS), the first online creative group on Whatsapp…
OBII IFEJIKA is a story-teller who made her debut in Spoken word at the maiden edition of Bassey Ikpi’s National Poetry Slam, where she was crowned Slam Champion in October 2012. She has performed in several poetry events such as the maiden edition of the NIBRA Awards, Wole Soyinka’s 80th birthday celebration and at the Theater Expedition Metropolis, Germany.
*How to enter:
Just send a 1 or 2 mins video of you performing a poem to email@example.com . Entry closes on the 20th of May by 12 noon. Send the mini version on Instagram, then follow and tag @phls_openmic with hashtag #phlsslampoetry. All chosen 15 finalists will be contacted via email before 12 midnight on same day.