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

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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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The Thing About Tusabi 2

It was a drizzle then the gates broke and a flood beat you from every side. You watched, helpless, as your name was dragged in the mire of convoluted minds and warped imaginations. You want to scream at them, your attackers, to tell them you were fighting for the cause of Improved Sponsorship For Unpublished Writers. No one paid you mind.

As the downpour worsened, betrayals followed. Some swift and painful, some slow and insidious, all, thrusts of a dagger under your scapula. You were bewildered with all the venom.

What was going on?

Hadn’t these people read the terms and conditions?

The prize was announced four months ago, why hadn’t anyone raised these concerns?

Wasn’t better sponsorship what we had all be asking for?

And wasn’t it true that the more writing contests, the merrier? Afterall what were judged contests but the votes of a few. And why can’t vote driven contests exist with judged?

The questions swirled in your head and the pain pummelled your heart.

You took many deep breaths, and counted back and forth from ten, then fifty, then a hundred, yet the anger boiled in your belly like oil in a cauldron.

Until you remembered, Tusabi was getting all the kicks she wanted. Already she had a spike in her blog traffic and contacts with top officials in the sponsoring body.

Her entry was still up by the way, and should this rather ugly gambit work and voting is discontinued, it could very well be declared the winner.

Or it could be aided by the internet technology skills of her geek admirers.
With the secret ballot the sponsors adopted it could very well be a ploy to get folks distracted and discouraged.

Guerilla warfare. Neutralise threats, confuse and sabotage the competition. Give them a false trail to follow. Make gains and votes elsewhere.

Fresh chills raced up your arms and you slump into the nearest armchair. The sunk chances of so many blind followers and their squandered opportunities cackle at you, goading you, spitting at your feet.

You bury your head in your cold hands mourning all that has been lost–aborted, never given a chance.

The platforms many writers would have built.

The healthy discussions and critique that would have flourished.

The impact of 480 ambassadors of Literature: sharing, convincing, assisting and advocating for reading.

New fans and readers that now remain unknown and unreached.

When you rise from there, you pick up your keypad and begin a letter to Mufutua.

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A sequel: Dear Mufutua, A Most Robust Response will here on or before Saturday. Let us know if you’d like to be notified when it is up.

Dear Japh, A Robust Response

Dear Japh,

Compliments of the day. I trust that all is well with you and yours. Congratulations on your recent job appointment and for your ProMaCon ambassador award. Nigeria is richer with people like you on her. I wish you more appointments, more recognition, more awards and more influence.

I happened upon your article ‘WalterGate: More Seamy Questions For Pastor Biodun.’ [ omojuwa.com/2013/09/walter ] this morning.

The article was well written. I applaud your diction, punctuation and style. Despite its considerable length, it keeps readers glued to the end.

Permit me, however to respond to some issues you raise there (and perhaps, to others that have lurked in the shadows over time).

A. It is bad form to boast about offerings. Christ taught that we should give in secret. Declaring you give offerings in ‘hard currency’ was not a virtuous action. Defending yourself by saying you’ve given in dollars since you were in school is adding audacity to iniquity.

B. If you decide to give to a church, of your own freewill, in any currency, hard or soft, that does not make you a member. It doesn’t make you a church leader. It doesn’t make you an International Pastoral Conduct Arbiter (IPCA). Every church has structures for handling allegations of pastoral indiscipline. We will do well to honour them.

C. Calling fellow christians zombies is uncouth. If you profess Christ, you should know this.

D. If you love COZA as much as you claim to, drumming up sentiments would be far from you. You would assemble your Waltergate claimants and pass their claims to the right authorities. Quickly.

E. Threatening to ‘expose other pastors’ is childish and comes with consequences. Do what you think best and stop courting applause.

F. As long as the earth remains there will be issues, allegations, disagreements and counter claims. It will be such a waste, if you decide to use your position and influence against the Gospel, rather than for it.

Thank you for your time.

St Naija.

Open Letter To Pa Ikhide

Pa,

I trust this meets you well, and happy. Permit me to send my love to Ma, Omi,Fefe and other members of your constituency. Ke du? How is the white-man’s land? I hear it is Autumn there: the season of shedding, harvests, falling leaves and rebirth. Here it is rainy season 2. The august break is over and the rains have resumed in earnest: waking us with the sweet petrichor of drenched clay, lulling us with rhythmic beats on the rooftop….

In other words we are fine. (Fine is such a lifeless word. Maybe I should say we are alive. But are we? The way many of us drift through the day? Hmm. I trust that you will understand though, you are an elder. Elders know these things.)

I am tempted to meander. It is easier, to beat around the bush, than confront a spitting cobra face first. This is different though, I am writing to you in faith. Faith that you will understand. Faith that you will sift my chaff for seeds. I am a soul that needs an ear, not a belly dance. So I will be straightforward– Pa,I need your help.

I can’t pinpoint the time and place, of this problem’s birth. Maybe it has always been there. Maybe I have always harboured a thirst for writing that lifts. Maybe it is something that was just waiting for the right conditions. Maybe not.

But from the minute I heard about blogging the Caine Prize, something in me changed. For the first time I read a creative piece with the frown of a sceptic not a reader’s smile of bliss. It didn’t stop there. I found myself writing about it, in two blogposts over two days. I thought I was free then. Alas, the torture had just begun.

After that, everything I have read has been with the critic’s stance: pen in hand, frown on face, and a resolve to kiss or kick.

Reading for fun is hard now. In the first sentence or two I am thrown off never to be seen again. I mope over things other people can’t see. People rave about Americanah’s realness, I count the -nesses and the -ilys.

Friends have become foes. My amateur attempts at trying to kick their work into shape is seen as a mini assassination attempt. I feel lonely Pa, and alone.

Worse still, the books and stories that leave people giddy with glee, make me scratch my head and squint. People enthuse about a story’s perfection, I wonder about its loose ends. I am worried Pa, I am, I don’t want to look ninety when I am twenty-nine.

I love words. I love Literature. I have loved her my whole life. Drama,poetry, fiction or non-fiction, I love them all. This metamorphosis of mine is something I don’t understand. If I become a critic, won’t that take all the joy out of my life?

I want my innocence back, that, and the feeling of naivete. I want to read through work without looking for rapture and find the little bright spots within. I want to be insulated from bad writing with the soft safe cushion that Ignorance is. I want to be happy again, to read freely again, to believe the best of everything and be blind to mistakes.

Besides, I am also a writer. I want my work to be appreciated, doing hatchet jobs is dreadful Karma. A peep at Michiko Kakutani’s GoodReads page confirmed my suspicions: critics get no love. Despite having worked in the ‘Industry’ for twenty-five years and winning a Pulitzer, Ms Kakutani had just seven GoodReads fans. Ouch.

It is probably late for me to restore my critique virginity. But, I still hope something can be done: tightening jellies, soap, anything. There has to be a way. There has to be a balance. There has to be a way to read, write and critique without becoming a killjoy or a charlatan.

So, Pa, please tell me what I must do. I want to read with reckless abandon, write with courage and passion, critique with the impartiality of the surgeon’s scalpel: keeping the good and carving up the bad. I want to tell the truth and keep my friends. I want good Karma, for when my own imperfect work hits shelves or mailboxes or blog’s pages. I want to make an important difference, in a good way, for my readers.

Show me how Pa, I know you can. Thank you for reading this far.

Eagerly waiting,
Nta Bassey