For My Favourite Artist(s)

My baby,

I know you are scared
to put your words on the page because how do you top your past laurels?
Forget that. Just know, I am here waiting for what you write next
and for me you are always everything.

No one is perfect, but do you know how much dies every time you shut up the wells of your soul?

Deserts are made of the dust that piles down the way waiting for you to write again.

So, please don’t close your spring, break your pen, kill your gift, muffle your voice and bury your words.

Bring them: boring and plain, imperfect and frayed, flawed and promising,
We are waiting.

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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.

My Dear Son, Gov Udom Emmanuel

 

My Son,
Or is it your excellency now? Hehe, how time flies. How is my daughter, your wife,(labels can be tricky), Martha and your beautiful children? Just kidding, I know they are great.(What else can they be? First family of an oil producing state?) still kidding.

Now to the meat of the matter, I have seen (with joy) the edifice you intend to erect in my honour. It is just a picture but I marvelled at its sheer size and sophistication, I nearly mistook it for a spaceship!

It is beautiful my son, and I am honoured that you thought to set up such a magnificent monument in my name. I am glad that you remember where I brought you from and all I have done for you. I am happy you don’t take my blessings for granted, but I don’t want the building.

I did like them once, temples, tabernacles and altars; grand, imposing things that kissed the skies and made the eyes of men to water, but not anymore. Now, all I want is to live in your heart, and the hearts of all who believe in me.

This is no longer the time when people shall worship buildings but a time when people should worship in spirit and truth. I desire more to see truth justice and mercy than a zillion gargantuan skyscraper churches built in my name.

So, my son, I would like to propose something else: use that money and make a difference in the lives of the millions of Akwa Ibom people in your state.

Pay your counterpart funding and access the grants for education that are available for educating children in your state.

Equip your ‘specialist’ hospital and make it a centre of hope for the sick and the hurting. Also equip all the other hospitals, health centres, and clinics in the state.

Address the street kid problem.

Fix the roof of the butchery shop in the Uyo main market and while you are there, equip it with standard amenities: water, toilets, waste disposal.

Repair the roads that need attention, especially the little known ones without politicians residing on them.

Pay pensioners and teachers that are being owed salaries, pensions and gratuities.

Create skill acquisition training and employment opportunities for the unemployed.

Provide adequate local and state security in both urban and rural areas.

Make the Ibaka seaport work.

Support agriculture and work to update methods.

Equip all the schools and institute proper supervision for them.

Sign the bills sitting on your desk.

But how will I be remembered? You ask, Akpabio has his stadium and hotel, Attah has Le Meridien, even Idongesit Nkanga has the secretariat.

To be remembered, you don’t need another empty hall, all you need to be remembered is to build a school. Build the best secondary school south of the Sahara and give scholarships to the brightest brains in the state to attend, then hire the best teachers in the world to coach them.

Do this and you will be remembered by the children that go there, the ones who benefit from their expertise and by history, as a man who focused on excellence. The best place to live is in one’s heart my son, that is what I know and now tell you.

Forget this church, or ‘interdenominational mega Christian Worship Centre’. Focus on the demands of your people and the needs of your state. And I will be honoured and you will be remembered, and Akwa Ibom State will continue to prosper.

Love,
Dad

The Anatomy of Bravery or The Brave Chimpanzee

A chimpanzee walked into the home of a family of seven, shot them all and called himself brave.

Horror struck the land. Newspapers lost their minds trying to unravel the monstrosity. Animal experts were called, professors of zoology summoned. No one could explain how this act of unrivalled evil could have happened. Security chiefs resigned. Vegans shook their heads in silent I-told-you-sos wile millions cried and wept and wailed.

The chimp was called a coward, a monster, a murderer.

A man killed a family of chimpanzees as they swung on boughs and passed food to each other. He murdered mother, father and all their children. Everyone.

The newspaprers covered it.

They called the man brave.

Bravery is killing babies with their mothers. Bravery is the annihilation of the helpless. Bravery is skating for sport and newspaprer headlines. Bravery could never be these.

My thoughts go to the lion cubs slain in a zoo in Sweden because they were ‘surplus’, to animals slain each year as trophies, my thoughts are not enough.

How can I expect humans to respect other life when they do not respect each other? Missiles fall from the sky as grown men swallow gravel in Yemen and in my backyard humans are killed by tribe.

There isn’t much I can do. But by all that is holy and true, I will not let a human murder a family of chimps and be called brave.

You sir, are a coward, a bloodthirsty monster.


Coward kills family of chimpanzees

 

Dear NaijaWriter Reader

Hi,
I hope you are doing well where ever you are. I hope you are safe from wars and strange diseases. I hope your family is fine too. And your bank accounts and your livelihood.

It just struck me that we hardly know each other. Understandably so, really, there’s only so much one can know about the other on the Internet.

Even so, I would like to know more about you. Where do you live? What do you do? What is your favourite book? What does your wish list look like?

I’ll go first.

I live in Nigeria.

I travel a lot but I am in Abuja right now.

I do many things, like writing, medical services, teaching, networking, and learning. Right now, I am a student.

My favourite book is the Bible. My favourite books in the Bible are Proverbs, Genesis, Ruth, Psalms, John, and Phillipians.
And my favourite version is the NLT.

I have a lot of other books I like: Half Of A Yellow Sun, All of Sidney Sheldon’s work, Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, The Concubine by Elechi Amadi and others.

My wish list is long, very long. Some things there are: ending world illiteracy, giving a million dollars for the gospel, owning a plane, swimming with dolphins, having some of my work made into film…

So, enough about me. Tell me about yourself. You can use the same format I did or do something different.
You can be anonymous if you want to. Just tell me about yourself and also what you enjoy about this blog (a little of what you don’t enjoy is fine too). If you have a question, you can ask too.

Finally, thank you, for reading, for subscribing, for commenting and for making this blog complete.

God bless you.

Dear One

Dear one,
I never planned to be away this long. Given my way I would write for you daily, or even many times a day. But Life happened. And somehow I found  that it was easier to be absent than to give you any less than my best or my attempt at my best.

Sometimes I would think about a post and see the sequence but feel no zeal to put a finger on the keypad. At others I would hear the gremlins whispering, “Who are you kidding? Do you call that writing?” But everyday I wrote for you in my mind. Sometimes I would flip the page of the daily agenda sheet while listening to some circuitous lecture,  and scribble a line like…

” No matter how she craned or cowered, she couldn’t escape the smell of his sweat or the whiff of stale coffee that assaulted her with each breath.”

And sometimes at dinner something silly would happen and I would tell you all about it in my mind. stories about a gentle giant called One-Men, an asp like lady called Vera, James, a rascally vet with a limp and a power-thirsty rogue called John.

But who knows? I found zeal to write this, tonight, maybe more will follow. Maybe I will find words to share with you what are some of the best experiences of my life. And maybe I will find the magic formula for mixing two passions without killing one and dousing the other. For that we must wait and see.

Tonight, I just want you to know that you mean the world to me and I am glad you read my work. I want to thank you for following my blog, for ignoring the cobwebs, for believing against unbelief. I want to thank you for putting me on your list of favourite writers, sending me DMs, mentions, prayers, the police. Thank you.

Here is to hope and friendship.
Here is to you and all the bsreautiful things you wish yourself.
I love you, God bless you.
Yours Always,
Nta

My Dear Mufutua, (A Most Robust Response)

1. #LongRead

2.This article contains Pidgin English, Broken English, Street English, Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, Ibibio and Urhobo.

3. To be read in your best Akpos voice, with your best Waffi accent.

My Dear Mufutua,

How you dey? How body? I know say you don enjoy sotay, hehe. No wahala, I happy for you. Make you dey enjoy beta tins wey dey dat side, in short, carry go!

As tins be, I for no bother to write dis long tori give you. After all, wetin self? Wetin dey for this earth? No be just to come, eat, work, die, go give account? Where me and you from sabi self? Wey I go come wan talk plenty for your matter? Abi na just dis yeye tin wey dem call Twitter? mbok, no be government work.

The tin be say dis tori don dey worry me tay. I don try hide am, try forget am, try sub-tweet am, still, the tori no gree me rest. Na im I say make I write am, at least, even if you no read am,

1. the thing go comot my mind.

2. Me go fit rest.

3. Other pipu dem, wey read fit get one or two tins for inside am, as our fathers talk, person no dey wey sabi every, na share and learn we all dey.

First of all, I wan yarn about the magic wey you do, as you Block and Unblock me so. Tuale. Congrats you hear? Just dey continue, your reward dey. Liver nor gree you make you block am keep am like that. Enjoy, just know say as bird fly for sky, im leg, dey look ground.

Second matter, I wan tell you say you no try. Me. And you. We dey for inside domot dey discuss matter, you talk say you no dey do, before I fit open my eye, you don submit your tori already.

Dat one never still do, as me self dey try tink wetin to write, you don start to campaign. Your babe dem don dey announce am for Facebook, cold and fear don dey catch me gididgba for heart. No be clear eye I take scramble submit. At least, make we see as e go be, na so I tell myself.

Next ting, your babe start to talk wetin me no fit understand. See ehn, dis world we dey, na just waka pass we be o! E no good make you dey take trouble follow people wey take beta mind follow you. Even Bible take am say : Person wey carry bad tin repay who gi’ am good tin, na so-so bad tin go dey follow am. And na true talk, if you carry bad tin pay back person wey do you good tin, na kasala you dey plant.

Finally, I wan make we talk about dis Etisalat Flash Fiction Prize matter. Onto say, the wahala don already reach international community dem. Pikin wey im mama born am for in front of CNN camera, na to open de mama leg well make camera man film am clearly as e dey commot.

Mufu, na me and you dey lament as nobody dey send writers. Airtel own na to dey throw Big Brother Africa party.

MTN own na to dey dash people private jet or do competition for pipu wey dey sing or dance.

Nobody send writers.

If dem mistakenly remember us, na so-so condition go follow the award.

If na Caine prize, you gat to dey published already. And no be all that sme-sme wey you dey do with Ani, na better publishing we dey talk, for obodo oyinbo magazine dem. Magazines like Granta, Guernica, Transitions etcetera.

If na LNG, you know na. First, as you go take find who go publish you na wahala. No be person tell Amu Nandi make she go self publish her poetry. On top say dey the top three for this year’s $100,000 (N16,500,000.00) short list, nobody fit give am book deal. A word is enough for a lagos bus driver. Owa!

if plenty condition no follow, then prize money go dey less than wetin de company dey share as free recharge card, dat kind $60 (N10,000.00), before VAT tins.

Otherwise, na state of origin sure pass. (I think I don tell you say I don see wife? Her name na Chimamara, she from Anambra. We go yarn later).

In short, for we ‘unpublished’ writers? Country no good.

Then Etisalat Flash Fiction Prize come show.

My own be say, make Baba God bless the Etisalat people wey tink about ‘unpublished’ writers.

Like say dem give this marketing job– sorry eh, competition, to another group of artists like ‘undiscovered’ artists, or ‘unrecorded’
Musicians, we for no cough.

No be say the prize dey perfect or wahala no full am. But at least, e don set leg for we side. If we no ki’ de Prize with our bad belle talk and paralogism dem.

First, first , dis go be the roughest £1000 wey the winner don ever make for im entire life, I tell you.

By the time e don comb 157 countries,

Communicate: Speak 1111+ languages,

Campaign : Beg, ask,solicit, bully, coerce pipu make dem vote.

Advertise: tweet, share to Facebbok, Whatsapp,BBM…

Mobilize: host rallies, do readings, do advocacy, do community literacy programs.

Invest: buy recharge card, buy phones for pipu wey wan vote no get phone, sponsor competitions dem to increase awareness, buy shacks for guys make their ear take clear first.

Pitch: explain the matter give Mama and Papa, say all this 24 hour waka na on top money wey no fit buy keke.

Connect: re-establish all the broken friendship and membership links with long lost cousins, exes, alumni, phone book contacts, unfriendly neighbours, snobbish cousins etcetera.

All, to find votes.

No be person go tell am, e go sabi for body.

Except if im hack am. For which I gats to pause say — Holy Ghost Fire!

Ehn-he, so no be say na pure water, indomie noodles or moi-moi to win this thing.

The competition no dey perfect. We no dey perfect. Life self no dey perfect.

Important tin be say, make we dey chop sugarcane, comot sugar, throwaway cane. Make we dey try look the beta tins wey we fit accomplish with the competition…

For where? You no gree.

You dey follow people wey no get literary destiny play with your life. You dey form elitist give people wey no sabi the difference between Munro and Morrison. You dey form hard man come dey carry last.

Mufu, I shame for you.

No be de tin wey me expect say you go do be dis o! I talk true. You wey at least you don win voting competition before, no be now wey you gon get followers small, dat time your followers no reach 200, yet you still win abi na hack you hack am?

Small pipu like us just dey warm up say we go dey dey dub your maps, at least at-all-at-all na im be winch. Na im you cross your entire answer sheet for the middle of exam, squeeze your paper, throway. Na wa! Mufu, why?

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