A Show Fit For A King

In Kundeve, there was a King called Wazobiadi. King Wazobiadi loved his people, and his people loved him. Every year, King Wazobiadi would throw a party for his entire kingdom. At the party, people would perform. The best performance would win a bag of gold, a mansion and a royal blessing.

Every one wanted to win! So, before the party the town was a beehive of preparation. Singers sang. Dancers danced, spinning round till they fell, in dizzy heaps. Jugglers, threw balls into the air till they were rainbows of colour. Everywhere, people practised hard to give a show fit for a king.

Except, in Sade’s house. Sade’s house was at the outskirts of the kingdom. It was small, with mud walls and a leaky roof. In rain, it dripped buckets of water, in Hammartan, it blew in bellows of dust. Sade lived there with Grandmother Akon.

One day Grandma Akon gave Sade a surprise– a flute. “Play it, Sade. May your music bring healing, and happiness everywhere you go.” She said.

Sade loved playing the flute. He played it in the morning on the way to the bush. He played it on his way to the stream. He played the flute everywhere he went.

Everyday, they would wake up early to gather sticks for sale and fruits for food. They would walk many miles through the forest. In the evening they would return to their hut, sweaty tired and hungry.

One day, Sade saw a Canary looking sad. “Canary, why are you so sad?”

“Because I can’t find red berries for my chicks,” said Canary.

” I know were you can get juicy delicious red berries,” Sade said, and he led Canary to berries Grandma had seen earlier.

“Thank you very much!” The Canary said, plucking them for her chicks.

Another day, Sade saw Monkey trying to scratch his back. “Hello, Mr Monkey, can I help?”

“Please!” Monkey said, “I am itching like I hugged a bag of fleas, and I can’t reach the spot!”

Sade got a stick and helped scratch Monkey’s back.

“Thank you Sade,” Monkey said with a smile of relief.

On his way home, Sade saw squirrels sulking by the stream.

” Sade, look! The wind blew our blue beach ball across the stream. We can’t swim. Can you help us? Please.”

Sade swam across the stream and got the ball, for the squirrels. The squirrels were overjoyed. They danced and cheered, wriggling their bushy tails and somersaulting in the air.

“Thank you Sade!” They chorused.

“You are welcome. Have a great day,” Sade said.

On his way, he saw Elephant thrashing about with a coconut covering his face.

“Wait!” Sade said.”Let me help you.”

“Please, my eyes are on fire. I can’t see.” Elephant said, sobbing.

“Calm down. I am leading you to the stream where we can wash this off.”

Sade led Elephant to the stream and rinsed the coconut pulp off his eyes.

“Thank you. This is so kind of you,” Elephant said.

“You are welcome,” Sade replied.

*

* *

A week to the King’s party, Grandma Akon and Sade were formally invited to the ball.

“Grandma Akon,”said Sade ,”Can I present something before the king?”

Grandma Akon laughed. “My darling, what would ‘you’ present before the king?”

“I’ll play my flute.” Sade replied. His eyes were closing and his voice floated in the dark hut.”If I win, I would take you away from here Grandma. We will have a mansion and a bag of gold. Imagine that, Grandma. We would never sleep hungry again.”

“Indeed, but you need to do something very special to win. You need to do something the king has never seen before,” said Grandma Akon.

Sade lay on his mat on the cold, hard floor thinking about what Grandma Akon said. There has to be a way, he thought. He fell asleep thinking about this.

The next morning, He woke smiling.
“Grandma! I have an idea! I will get my friends to join me. My show will be colourful and different.” He said.

“Good idea,”Grandma Akon said patting his head. “Who will be members your team?”

“I will ask the canary to sing, the monkey to drum, the squirrels to dance and the elephant to carry us there.”

“Very well.” Grandma Akon said. “You should go at once.” So, he dashed off.

Sade went to the forest and talked to his friends: Canary,Monkey,Elephant and the squirrels. He told them about the King’s party and asked them to be a part of his team.

“Canary, you will sing. Monkey, you will drum. Elephant, you’ll carry us there. Squirrels, you will dance,juggle and somersault.”

Everyone agreed. So Sade taught them a forgotten Kundeve song his Grandma “We Are Better Together”. He played his flute and they practised. They practised everyday until the big day.

On the big day, the town was festooned with gold and silver ballons and colourful ribbons. Many wonderful dances and songs were performed singly. Sade and his friends were the only group performance. With smiles on their faces, they sang, danced and drummed before King Wazobiadi with their whole hearts. When they finished, the king stood up and clapped saying “Bravo! Bravo! Do it again!”

So they did. They won that year’s show. Sade was given a bag of gold and the king’s blessing. When they asked him where he wanted his mansion, guess what he said?

He said, “I want it near Grandma’s hut, close to my friends, in case they ever need my help again.”

“You are a very wise boy,” the King said. “It will be done at once.”

And it was. The king built a sprawling mansion for Sade and Grandma Akon. His friends Canary, Monkey, Elephant and the squirrels had special spots in its gardens. In the evenings the melody of their music would fill the air. And anyone that listened hard would hear :

We are better together,
We are stronger together,
One for all, all for one,
We are one!

 

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Ten Times To Totally Write For Free (& A Million Not To)

Everyone knows I am a #NoFreeWriting Ambassador. I believe you should get paid for your work, your intellectual property, your blood and tears. It took a while for me to navigate the literary landscape and arrive at my current position. I don’t regret the days I wrote for free or was swindled of work but I like where I am now and I am not going back.

So why in the world am I still considering writing for free? It is wrong. It is exploitative. It is thoroughly discouraging the emergence of talent and the development of the craft. Yes it is, but sometimes writing for free can be a good thing. Here are ten occasions you should write for free and feel absolutely no guilt.

1. Your Private Diary/ Journal/Blog

Everything seems to be documented in the public domain these days with social media being the preferred means of sharing experiences, thoughts and feelings. Some things are however too controversial, painful, raw or private for the whole world to see. Writing in a journal or diary can help you:

gather your thoughts without any performance pressure

experiment with style and form

leave a record for yourself and posterity

dabble and brainstorm.

Whatever your reasons, this is one time where you should not feel guilty about time spent versus money-made. Who knows? Your journal could even be optioned and published someday.

2. Your Public Blog/Website/Project

It can be hard to churn out content data after day without any compensation or remuneration. All the hard work that goes into creating work just ignored like a kitten fart. But don’t despair. Writing for your personal blog might not pay immediately but it can be immensely rewarding. It can grow your readership and fans; help you understand your work better; serve as clips for future jobs; be a 24-hour advert to head hunters, agents, editors and publishers; and if you are lucky, advertisers who like what you do can support you. Then Boom! You are the next Linda Ikeji

3. For The Blogs Of Friends/Family

Good writing is hard. It is valuable: made from blood, sweat and tears. It can be frustrating to create without any tangible value received in return but writing for family and friends is different. Just the way you would share your food, home or money with them you can also gladly and proudly lend your words to boost their site or blog without any guilt. Think of it as having each other’s back. Hopefully, it will be a mutually beneficial experience where you get more readers, they get more traffic and everyone gains. Even if it doesn’t work that way, it will be another deposit in your love bank and writers need all the love they get.

4. For a Cause You Care About

Some of the most needy causes are some of the most overlooked. Editors will often commission features that have been flogged to death while important topics languish from neglect. That is where you come in. You can ride in on your white horse (or pink or green or black) and save the day. With your words you can help create awareness for important neglected topics like: mental health, autism, poverty, child’s rights, the environment, wild life and more. With your pen/pad/laptop you can save the world one piece/poem at a time. No one might pay you but that is what heroes love for. And writers are heroes. Yup, that is what you are.

5.For Church/Mosque/Shrine/Temple

If you have been saved, then the least you can do is to save someone else. If you belong to any place that provides nourishment and salvation, eternal life and peace then you shouldn’t let worldly things like money stop you from being a blessing. Many religious publications struggle to find good content. That content can be difference between who is reached and who is unreached. So the next time you come across a tweet asking for help that you give in this domain please give it a thought.

6. For a Fun Free Project You Believe in

Many people charge writers to submit; sell their work and don’t give them a penny back; rogues and robbers. That isn’t what I am talking about. I am talking about projects that collate writing by people you believe in, charities you support, topics that fascinate you or all three for that matter. Like the anthology call for writers of your demographic by that passionate broke editor that will edit you till you shine or that mad call for stories with sex in the air. Anything, quirky, genuine and fun that matters to you? Write for yourself, no one can afford you anyway.

7. For a Byline

A byline is a place that has published your work in the past. Now, you don’t need to have written for over a day to know that non-paying places outnumber the paying about 1000 to 1, and it gets worse if you write fiction, or poetry, or write from sub-Saharan Africa or are a new, unknown writer.The problem is, when a writing job — that scarce precious resource– does come, the first thing they will look at is your byline. Where have you been published before? Who else has liked your work? And believe it or not, something is (mostly) better than nothing. So when you have an offer to write for a place that will improve your writing credentials, consider it.

Side note: do this with an eye on the clock. Besides, you only need to do it once for it to count.

8. For Growth & Opportunity 

Every 1000 years (just kidding) there comes a chance to work with a talented editor, a gifted translator, a revered mentor, a dream team that will make you more than you could be on your own; but they have no money. They however value your work and want to make it the best it can be. Take it. Think of it as trade by batter or training or ‘getting your work out in the world’. Such opportunities are few in today’s world, recognize that and act accordingly.

9. When You Want To

You are a writer, a creator, a god. And it is the right of every god to do as they please (within limits).  So, if the fancy strikes you, to share your divinity with mortality, then by all means do so. Grace this world with your light and love and language. Bequeath it your goodness. Gift it your unique, inimitable voice. After all, time is running out and you only get one chance on this orb.

10. For eXpOSuRe

I don’t know where this word came from but I know exposure can make you fall ill and catch a cold (Saint face).

Anyway, this means writing for a publication/site/company/blog/individual that solicited your magic for a paying concern but somehow managed to ‘have no budget for writers’. Really? (Yes, dem pleeeeenty) I have said a lot about how I feel about this. In summary: giving your blood and sweat over to a merchant to hawk, profit and not pay you is a no; the promise that you will get eXpOSuRe is a scam. A gamble, that your name on their site will magically pay your rent or school fees or grocery bill. We all know that (almost) never happens. But if the spirit has spoken to you, the burning bush has called your name, you have seen the fleece and you think it is the right thing to do,or you believe the hype will be worth it, your gut says go, your head doesn’t say no; then flourish.

 

So there it is folks. All the reasons to sit over a blank page bleeding without a dime in sight. The one million reasons not to? Ah. You have to like this and share it and follow the blog so you don’t miss it when it is out. That is the currency here, beloved, you can call it SaintCoin.

*****
Thank you for reading this. Do you ever write for free? Did I miss anything? You are welcome to comment.

This blog is kept alive by your generous donations and tireless support.

Please do not hesitate to share this, reblog, part-post, excerpt and pass it along on Telegram/WhatsApp etc.

We value your input and presence. All this is wasted without you.

 

Lessons From Bitcoin, Tulip Mania & The Nigerian Stock Market

 

Everyone wants more money: beggars, students, thieves, workers, billionaires—everyone. Money determines the choices available to you, the places you can live and the things you can or cannot do. So humans are always trying to get more money, more resources. Economists call it the law of unlimited wants. Humans always want more and our want is insatiable.

To get more money, we do a variety of things: we work, we steal, we beg. But more honourably, and sometimes more successfully, we invest. Investments have the ability to change people’s financial futures and lift them out of poverty. Businesses providing goods and services have done this for the longest time, but the paradigm has shifted to show that that the most important investments are those that require your time or supervision, the ones where your money works for you.

Enter real estate, commodities, the stock market, forex trading and most recently, cryptocurrencies. These investment avenues offer a return that does not depend on your time or effort, but invest in the right one at the right time and you will be rich—or at least richer—than you would have been without the investment. Great idea, except when such investments fail: when the real estate market crashes, when the forex trade does not yield, when the price of a commodity (e.g. crude oil) plummets, and when a cryptocurrency’s value crashes.


Read the full article on Global Voices, here

https://globalvoices.org/2018/03/09/what-bitcoin-tulip-mania-and-the-nigerian-stock-market-have-in-common/

The Obama Portraits: Amazing or Atrocious?

Let’s begin with some disclosure: I love Barak and Mitchelle Obama. Not with the glassy-eyed awe of a worshipper but with the silent humming pride you feel when someone in the family makes the entire tribe proud.

I watched their initial campaign with equal parts of hope, fear and a pinch-me-wow-this-is-real amazement that lingers to this day. I followed their tenure in office with the same amazement and I wish them and theirs well in all they do.

So when, I heard they were unveiling their Presidential portraits at Smithsonian, I was elated. The feeling didn’t last long.

Full disclosure: I am not a trained art critic and I won’t pretend to be one. But even to my amateur eyes, the portraits failed to render what one would expect from a presidential painting: elegance, gravitas and an artistic depth that conveyed without words how important, how historic, how novel their tenure was.
The paintings presented do none of this.

Close scrutiny of the works done by both artists look like a devious defence pre-arranged by the best Devil’s Advocate. Kehinde Wiley, the painter of Mr Obama’s portrait, has a gallery full of work that is done in similar style. He also has work depicting the beheading of white women and often paints sperm on the portraits of his subjects.

Amy Sherald, who painted Mrs Obama, has a gallery of work with pastel colours and abstract themes and appears to be much less controversial. Her portrait of Mrs Obama was largely praised with Mr Obama being the first to commend her ability to bring his wife’s ‘hotness’ alive in the work. Others have fallen over themselves to praise her work as well but a small group of people have noted that the portrait doesn’t look much like Mitchelle Obama but appears to be a re-imagining (of her).

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Final disclosure: I do not like the portraits.
But that is not important, both of them seem to love their portraits very much. Mrs Obama said she was honoured and humbled to be the first person in her family to sit for one. Mr Obama had only good words for his as well.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to shake the feeling of anger and mild shame I feel especially about Mr Obama’s picture.

Every time I look at it I feel a deep sense of loss. And this was before more problematic issues emerged about his portrait: the sperm cell on his face, the repetitive pattern of the leaves, the ‘sixth finger’ on his right hand.

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I think the leaves and flowers might have been well intentioned but they were overdone. I think the sperm cell is atrocious. I think that Mr Obama should have another portrait, a do-over.

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But we know that won’t happen.

Critics and foes of Mr Obama were vitriolic in their expressions of disgust about the portraits. Calling it a befitting semblance of a man they loathed. And that is what annoys me most of all.
Mr Obama maybe many things but one thing he is not is ugly, if anything, the portrait should have highlighted his handsomeness. It failed woefully.

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The hullabaloo seems to have died. The good news is that the gallery housing both portraits have witness a huge boost in patronage. Sources say they are almost unable to cope with the throng of people coming to see the portraits. It is good to know something good has come of these singularly polarising portraits.

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The bets are on about the historical verdict these portraits will receive. Will they be hailed as brave masterpieces ahead of their time? Or mocked as fledgling peasant art that couldn’t hold its own?

We wait, and hope one day, to see.

“This Table You Are Shaking” Origin, Usage & Influencer Chat

If you have been on Twitter for a week or two, one thing you must have noticed is the thirst to trend. Everyone wants to be relevant and in a global, viral, unforgettable way. Many brands and businesses even go as far as paying for people to make their ideas trend. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

So when an innocuous phrase seems to capture the attention of the entire TwitterNg overnight, without any big name endorsement, grand budget or media team, people are curious.

‘Shaking the table’ is no great poetic marvel. It is a simple idiom that describes disruption, interference, meddling with the norm. It is odd that its documentation in the Urban Dictionary is as early as October 2017, but that would not be enough to make it viral.

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For the phrase to capture the collective attention of thousands (millions) of people it needed a unique use, some synergy, an ability to deliver more than mere expression; it found this in the quote tweet.

Specifically the quote tweet used to comment on a subtweet.

Subtweets are as old as Twitter. They provide a subtle way of voicing ideas that are potentially embarrassing or controversial with little of the backlash. Without mentioning names or triggering anyone’s mentions one can effectively deliver barbs, abuse, shade or any combination of the three.

But most subtweets lack context and are not as effective as they could be.

Enter the quote tweet where added context can be provided.

But how to provide this context in a witty/satirical way? Cue ‘This table you are shaking” and in an instant the subtweet is united with it’s target in a witty/silly/more memorable manner.

The first use of the phrase, as a quoted tweet to give more context is credited to @MallamSawyerr. The origin tweet is not entirely ‘safe for work’ but it captured the imagination of a small set of users, one of them was @Olumuyiwa__ .

Olumuyiwa started using the phrase to add some context of his own. The first time, he used it in quotation marks as attribution to an unknown source. When the phrases popped up on @Olumuyiwa__ feed it was barely noticed. The phrase remained largely unnoticed the next time Olumuyiwa used it but he stayed with the phrase until it broke through.

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With that the phrase took wing and within days, there was an epidemic on the TL. It wasn’t only food on the table. There were babes, guys, activists-turned-government-spokesmen, On Air Personalities, BellaNaija, even the users of the phrase it self.

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In a chat with @Olumuyiwa__ he was quick to say he wasn’t the inventor of the phrase but someone who saw its potential and stayed with it till it caught on. Our chat went:

Me: It looks like you invented a trend..

Olumuyiwa: I didn’t invent it. I saw it somewhere and it stuck, ‘this table you are shaking has food on it’ it seemed really apt at the time.

Me: But you stayed with it till it caught on…

Olumuyiwa: Yes, I did, using it persistently till it racked up 200RTs, that I can take credit for 😂

Me: Absolutely. So what next? What do you think will happen after this?

Olumuyiwa: Nothing else. Just one of the many definitive but passing fads of social media.

Me: I quite agree.

Already, many people are fed up with the phrase. But I think it still has some more miles to go before joining the history books especially as some people are just falling in love with it.

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What better way to mock the next losers of a Champions League match, National election or Tweetfight than to remind them, they are pawns on a shaking table, in the next avalanche of subtweets?

***
Chats have been modified for clarity

Is This How We Learn Your Names?

 

For Dapchi

Is this how we learn your names?
Soaked in blood and tears
drenched in the stench of a nation’s fears.
Would I ever know
Buni Yadi, Chibok, Dapchi
places so pretty
stained by tragedy
bent by the weight of wails ?
My feet have not kissed your dust
but my heart beats for your loss
I long to gather you in my arms
kiss away this pain that keeps growing
a gluttonous cavern, an abyss
which never goes away. Will you
ever get past this to become what you could have been before the war?
what can we call it when our daughters are stolen sons slaughtered
homes set ablaze mercy lost.
Innocents made casualties in a matter
they know nothing about. My arms are too small, my feet feeble but my voice will scream your pain to the heavens
my pen will record your groans, my books will carry your grief, my lens will collect your tears And one day
when pain and war are no more
we will lift an altar to your sacrifice
And at its base will be inscribed
No more death, no more pain, no more loss.

Black Panther: Black Empowerment Beacon, Catalyst For Change Or Just A Movie?

 

Whether you live under a rock in the Dead Sea or on Kilimanjaro’s peak, you must have heard that this weekend is the Black Panther Premier. Anticipation for this day has been building for close to a year. Black and brown people the world over have voiced their glee about being represented, feeling empowered, and feeling seen.

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Along with that excitement, positivity, pomp, has come an opposing school of thought who have criticised the hype around Black Panther and decried the sheer fanatical fevor it has attracted.

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The critics of the black response have endeavoured to remind everyone that Black Panther is fiction. They have argued that it is just a dream world, far removed from the everyday struggles of people of colour; unable to create change.

But that is where they are wrong.

Black Panther maybe an Afro-futurist science fiction movie set in the mythical land of Wakanda but it is the kind of fiction that inspires humans to dream and change.

Humans are notoriously resistant to anything that alters their habits and threatens their status quo. To create a change, one must do a few things that Black Panther does excellently.

Interest
With the range and scale of entertainment, both free and paid, one of the challenges of anyone with a message is getting and audience. How can I get people to spend scarce consumer minutes and engage with my art?

That is an important question for many artists but for Black Panther, that was a freebie. Riding on a market rife with underrepresentation for people of colour and stereotypical stunted stories, Black Panther enjoyed instant interest. Without knowing much about the story or plot, Black people identified Black Panther as something they had wanted for ages. Excellent advertisements including multiple demographically sensitive and stunningly beautiful posters kept the anticipation building. Now Black Panther has the interest of the entire world. People all over the world are a gains with the story, the characters, the fashion and the message. Interest has been secured.

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Entertain
As of today, it is still difficult to get a chance to watch the movie. People who weren’t a part of the avalanche of pre sales are finding it difficult to secure seats. The privileged ones who have watched the movie already are nearly unanimous in there praise. Summary: this movie delivers in its promise to entertain.

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When people are entertained, they are open to new ideas. A famous writer said entertain people and you can get away with anything. Entertaining art is engaging. It makes people look beyond their past and present, it makes people think, it makes people feel.

Inspire
When people are able to think and feel differently, they can change but one thing makes that easier, that is inspiration. Black Panther inspires. The collective mood of all the black people that watched it one of gladness, hope and possibilities. Children are dressing like the characters, young adults are practicing Wakanda handshakes, but more importantly, black people are asking themselves important questions: What if Africa can chart a new course? What if black people can unite to create a better nation? Can the African Union be more? Do more?

Naysayers have scoffed at the venerated tones in which the movie has been described reductively string that it is “just a movie” “a white man’s construct”
“a waste of time.” I disagree.

I believe that any art: book, movie, poem or song that is able to capture the people’s imagination in this way is more than just a movie. I think that most of the great things man has ever accomplished came from thinking, feeling inspired people. Once, the car, phone, aeroplane and computer were just dreams. Once Holland did it exist and neither did Israel. A movie like Black Panther, a place like Wakanda might just be make believe today, but it is planting seeds for change in the hearts of millions that will fruit in thousands of ways.

Some where, a little boy has decided to be a great, passionate leader of his people. Some where, a little girl has made up her mind to be a brilliant military tactician. Somewhere, an intersex kid is dreaming of a model for a strong prosperous developed Africa.

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And right here, right now we have the gift to be alive while the most advanced Afro-futurist movie of all time premiers. Ignore Black Panther if you can, but do not look down on those who see beyond its imperfection to its possibilities, because that is the only way things have changed from what they were to what they could be.

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So, is Black Panther a beacon of black empowerment, a catalyst for change or just a movie? The answer is, it can be any of these things or even all three, you get to decide.