South African human rights activist Sibusiso (S’bu) Innocent Zikode is being awarded the 2021 Per Anger Prize. Zikode’s work centres on the right to home, land and survival for the most impoverished inhabitants of the country’s shack settlements, and he will receive the humanitarian award from The Living History Forum on April 21.
Established by the Swedish government in 2004 and managed by The Living History Forum, the award promotes initiatives supporting human rights and democracy across the world. The prize was named after Per Anger, a Swedish diplomat in Budapest who saved many Jews from persecution and death during the Second World War in Nazi-occupied Hungary.
Zidoke was the co-founder, 16 years ago of Abahlali baseMjondolo (Zulu phrase that roughly translates as “the people of the shacks”), a South African movement that has been working to resist “illegal evictions and campaign for the right to housing for all,” especially for shack dwellers. The movement grew from a protest organised from the Kennedy Road informal settlement in the eastern city of Durban in early 2005 and expanded to Pietermaritzburg and Cape Town.
South Africa has an insidious housing problem, aggravated by the lack of basic amenities like electricity and water supply in shantytowns that house the “poor and needy” in that country.
Zikode has said that “a shack without water, electricity, and sanitation is not worth calling a home,” according to a press statement from the Living History Forum. “On the contrary, it means life-threatening circumstances that are particularly harsh towards women, children, and minority groups,” says Zikode.
The housing problem and the attendant lack of sanitation have exacerbated the COVID-19 pandemic among the disadvantaged and vulnerable communities in South Africa.
Zikode’s tireless work has gained him public acclaim but the movement is also considered a threat to South Africa’s ruling class.
Zikode now shares the same space with previous winners, including in recent years: Elena Urlaeva (2010), Narges Mohammadi (2011), Sapiyat Magamedova (2012), Justine Ijeomah (2013), Rita Mahato (2014), Islena Rey Rodríguez (2015), Abdullah al-Khateeb (2016), Gégé Katana Bukuru (2017), Teodora del Carmen Vásquez (2018), Najwa Alimi (2019) and Intisar Al-Amyal (2020).
South Africans are still divided along the lines of those with homes and the homeless, the shack dwellers.
However, the 2004 “sequence of popular protest against local governments” across South Africa led to the emergence of Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM), “an autonomous shack dweller’s movement,” according to Richard Pithouse, scholar in political and international studies at the Rhodes University, South Africa. AbM “emerged from this grassroots ferment and has since issued a compelling demand for organisational autonomy, grassroots urban planning and the right to the city,” says Pithouse.
In May 2005, residents of six shack settlements and local municipal flats in Durban had organized a protest of over 5,000 people demanding access to land, adequate housing, toilet facilities, and the end of forced evictions.
Nigel C. Gibson, British activist and scholar states that the protesters “presented a memorandum of 10 demands that they had drawn up through a series of meetings and community discussions.” This led AbM, in early 2006, to “organize a boycott of the local government elections scheduled for March of that year,” says Gibson.
But AbM’s fight for the vulnerable did not go down well with many.
In September 2009, the AbM movement’s original home in the Kennedy Road settlement in Durban was attacked by armed men, in full view of the police. The attackers were searching for Zikode, whom they threatened to kill.
The attacks which were reportedly carried out by “people associated with the local branch of the ANC” (African National Congress, South Africa’s ruling party), left two people dead, many injured and 30 shacks destroyed.
In the aftermath, S’bu Zikode went into hiding, and the police arrested 13 AbM members.
Human rights group, Amnesty International described the attack as “apparently politically motivated violence.”
Nonetheless, violence directed at AbM has neither deterred its leaders nor the movement. Rather, they have strengthened their resolve to continue fighting for the rights of vulnerable South African shack dwellers to live a dignified life.
Came Upon Me and Other Poems (2019) is Mark Nwagwu’s fourth collection of poems
dedicated and devoted to his wife, Prof. Helen Onyemazuwa Nwagwu (1943 – 2018),
arguably a unique feat by any African poet; predictably, in its consistency, it
revolves around love and in ever more refreshing forms and perspectives that it
does not fall into tedious monotony, either as a volume or in relation to the
other collections before it. With Time
Came Upon Me and Other Poems, Nwagwu has bequeathed us with a tetralogy,
the others being Helen Not-of-Troy (2009), Cat Man Dew (2012), and HelenaVenus
In total, there are 94 poems on
various but interconnected subjects, of life and living, love and loving, of
aging, death and transcendence, friendships, anniversaries, family scenes and
reminiscences and, above all, the overarching and recurring subject of eternal
affection of the poet for his wife and life partner.
The collection is curiously
titled as “Time Came Upon Me and Other Poems”; in the tradition of collections
with “& other poems” notation, there is always a poem eponymously titled
after which the collection is named, so that it would seem that the other poems
take force, relation or connections from the flagship poem, as it were. In this
particular collection, there is no poem so titled as “Time came upon me”;
rather, there is a poem entitled “along the way time came upon me”, apparently
signifying on the poet’s journey of identity, relation, and encounters, his chronotope
of experience. The whole sequence of poems in the collection is a reflection
upon time, the daintiness and magnificence of it, that the collection might be
directly or unequivocally titled as “Time Came Upon Me.” Taken together, the
title points at the poet’s realisation of the depth and intensity of experience
which have attended his past and his present.
The entire strings of poems are
sprung as telegrams and as beads on the column of time. Lines follow lines of
joy and pain, of loss and memory, and of love and loving.
The sensitive reader moves stealthily in the booby trap of sensuous words, seeking images which survive the poet’s ballistic memory, and there the reader finds his mind in the embrace of what I shall call an helenospheric absorption, to which the poet himself has been captive over decades. Relief for Nwagwu is not easy; and in that helenospheric stratosphere, the discerning reader will find a poet in remembrance and devotion, in worship and wonder. Compared to the first three books of poetry devoted to Helen, this is the first posthumous collection, and it becomes significant that even in her mortal absence, or because of it, the poet’s remembrance is more intense and poignant.
The larger collective of poems is
an extended dialogic evocation of the spirit and personhood of the dear
departed wife of the poet. In “Where will I find you”, it is as though the
persona has asked a question. Although the statement does not carry a question
tag at the end, the voice that responds says “… you will find me in heaven
beatific” (6). One can infer that Mark Nwagwu is asking his late wife, Helen,
when/where he will find her, to which she responds “they have covered my
eyes… my face”, but when he finds her in heaven, the “mystery” will be
“Behind you” is both a
celebration and a vivid remembrance of his wife’s grace when she leads him and
takes the communion (significant to the body of Christ); at once, the poet is joyful
connecting the act of walking (with his wife) with the actual witnessing of her
taking communion as proof of celestial union with “all of heaven” (2).
There is a unity of expressive
vision between Mark the poet and Mark the man, and Helen is the integer of that
expression: she is the mermaid in magnificent armour, the constant presence,
the epiphany, the emerald eyes, the ofe
Owerre, the heavenly shadow, the sublime one, the timeless rainbow, love
magnified, the redemption, and the “jeweled dynasty”.
In Nwagwu’s devotional poems, the
expressive continuum of lines about love has become the stuff of legend.
In “you were not on the cards”, a
poem that reads like a poetic autobiography, the reader will find flashes of an
episodic life marked by his divine connection with Helen, the passion that
followed, the intellectual progression, the conjugal adventure that spanned
decades since 1961, and the eventual beatification of his dream woman and wife
of a lifetime. Listen to how the poet’s serenades his helicon love, the “object”
of his absolutist rapture:
you showed up, clothed rainbow, beauty overwhelming
I saw you. My world ran from your head to your toe to your eyes
I was lost, unforeseeable dreams undreamt capture me
transport me to heavens not yet built, awaiting my mettle
to give it life in a world mellifluous. Helen, my dream, my redemption. (29)
There are other significant poems
which are part celebratory and part reflective in Time Came Upon Me and Other Poems. There is the poem “Kpakpando”, a
praise song to a friend, apparently a reference to the accomplished playwright,
poet and scholar, Femi Osofisan: “I am Kpakpando the earth my theatre Ibadan
her home/orange invites indigo in dance, my mind their costume” (35). In the
other poems, Nwagwu’s keen sense of observation and re-memorying is all too
evident, as in “the Cambridge sisters (36); and in his overflowing love of St.
Theresa of Avila: “to catch the sun skies warm, don’t leave me/I live on the
air you breathe flowing all over me” (54). There is also the unforgettable
casting of the legendary prowess of the poet’s great grandfather as a dibia who
transformed himself into “nwankpi”, a goat in order to head-butt “his opponent
another dibia/who had challenged him” (20). And like his enigmatic forebear,
Mark Nwagwu is a firebrand magician of the word.
A close reading of Time Came Upon Me will reveal the poet’s
fastidious use of the sensory metaphor of sight which runs through a number of
the poems. The focal sense of sight, of seeing, of beholding and of
watchfulness, and of attention and attentiveness, is almost always reflected
throughout the collection. In “the joy you give me”, the poet is captive of the
joy and bliss that Helen radiates “in the priceless pearls of (her) eyes” (9).
Poem after poem, the reader will find the poet’s obsessive conscription of the
metaphor of eyes: “emerald fire” (5), “rendezvous eyes” (5), “where will I find
you” (6), “pride pierced” (6), “to look at You” (9), “the nerves came to their
senses” (10), “sleep on the valley” (13), and “the untold story of all that
meets the eye” (17), among others.
In this collection, the reader
will also encounter the poet’s love for cosmic significance of numbers: 7 and 9
especially; in celebrating Helen’s 74th birthday in the poem “it’s all sevens”,
the poet turns attention to the year as the double of 37, in addition to the
interesting fact that he was born in the 37th year of the twentieth century.
In writing these devotional and
evocative poems, Prof. Mark Nwagwu has achieved immortality even as he has
immortalised his wife of a lifetime, Prof. Helen Onyemazuwa; he seems to be
aware of his own mortal essence and admits of time coming upon him, but as the
middle name of his wife “Onyemazuwa” suggests, nobody, not even the scientist
of the word, knows tomorrow. He may just rise into the evening and add another
collection to extend the tetralogy into a pentalogy.
Let me conclude with a coda, that in Time Came
Upon Me and Other Poems, Mark Nwagwu teaches us how to love a woman eternally:
say it, write it, remember and write it again…
As the 2019 (presidential and legislative) elections draws to an end, a study by the Human Rights Law Services (HURILAWS) reveals that both access to and high cost of procuring relevant election documents are two major factors in the swift resolution of election petitions in Nigeria. This process can be ameliorated if the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) upon the announcement the result of an election — make available at no cost — certified copies of all relevant election documents to all the political parties to facilitate fair challenges against the election outcome.
Similarly Obra Foundation (dedicated to the formation and development of legal practitioners) reiterates the purifying effect of the electioneering system as lawyers employ their best skill with decorum and a sense of responsibility in prosecuting election cases.
What is a Petition?
A petition is a written request signed by many people demanding a specific action from an authority or government. It could also mean a pleading in a civil action by which the plaintiff sets down the cause of action and invokes the court’s jurisdiction. An election petition refers to the procedure for challenging the result of a federal, state or local government election. Section 133 (1) of the Nigerian Electoral Act 2010 underscores the imperative for election tribunals and the procedure for questioning the return of a candidate as duly elected after an election. This Section states as follows:
No election and return at an election under this Act shall be questioned in any manner other than by a petition complaining of an undue election or undue return (in this Act referred to as an “election petition”) presented to the competent tribunal or court in accordance with the provisions of the constitution of this Act…
Who can present a Petition?
An election petition may be presented by one or more of the following persons:
A candidate at an election
A political party which participated at the election. (See S. 137(1) of the Electoral Act).
The person whose election is complained of shall be the Respondent. Where the petition complains about the conduct of an election, the Electoral Officer, Presiding Officer, Returning Officer or such officer whose conduct is complained of shall be a Respondent and a necessary party to the petition. See Buhari v. Yusuf (2003) 14 NWLR (pt. 841) 446 at 504 where it was held that a candidate who contested the election and lost cannot be made respondent to a petition.
When a petition is raised against an election, there are 4 possible outcomes:
The election is declared void. The result is quashed and a fresh election is held.
The election is held to have been unduly conducted: the original election is quashed and another candidate is declared to have been elected.
The election is upheld and the member returned is found to have been duly elected.
The petition is withdrawn. This may occur when the petitioner fails to attend a hearing or withdraws his his/her petition.
A petition is presented when it is filed in the appropriate court or tribunal prescribed by law. That is, the papers are presented to the Court Registrar, payment of the prescribed fees made and receipts issued. This was as decided in the cases of Ogbolumani v. Okobi (1959) WNLR 11 and Ngoli v. Ndoka & Anor (1960) 5 FSC 90 at 92. The very laws that makes room for periodic elections into 1,695 elective public offices in Nigeria, which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is empowered to conduct, also gives room for Election Petition Tribunals (equivalent of the Nigerian High Courts) to handle judicial petitions arising from the conduct of such polls, with a view to determining the authenticity or otherwise of such polls.
“The importance of election tribunals in Nigeria’s democratic process cannot be overemphasized. This means that that these tribunals are not only legally functional but that the delivery of justice is unquestionable. It then means that lawyers should desist from bringing frivolous petitions, mischievous claims and counter claims. Judges must also be seen to uphold the law without fear or favor.”
Grounds of the Petition
The petition must state the grounds on which the election is being challenged and the facts relied on. An election can be challenged on the following grounds:
That the person whose election is questioned was, at the time of the election not qualified to be elected.
That the election was invalid by reason of corrupt practices or non-compliance with the provisions of the electoral law under which the election was held.
That the respondent was at the time of the election not duly elected by majority of lawful votes.
That the petitioner was validly nominated but was unlawfully excluded from the election. Section 138 of the Electoral Act 2010.
The Constitution provides in Section 285(1) that:
There shall be established for the Federation one or more election tribunals to be known as the National Assembly Election Tribunals which shall, to the exclusion of any court or tribunal, have original jurisdiction to hear and determine petitions as to whether, any person has been validly elected as a member of the National Assembly; the term of office of any person under this Constitution has ceased; the seat of a member of the Senate or a member of the House of Representatives has become vacant; and a question or petition brought before the election tribunal has been properly or improperly brought.
Sub section (2) also states:
There shall be established in each State of the Federation one or more Election Tribunals, which shall to the exclusion of any court or tribunal, have original jurisdiction to hear and determine petitions as to whether any person has been validly elected to the office of Governor or Deputy Governor or as a member of any legislative House.
For subsection (3) and (4), “The composition of the National Assembly Election Tribunals, Governorship and Legislative Houses Election Tribunals shall be as set out in the Sixth schedule to this Constitution. The quorum of an election tribunal established under this section shall be the Chairman and two other members.”
In each case, the Chairman of the tribunal shall be a Judge of a High Court and the four other members shall be appointed from among judges of the High Court, Kadis of a Sharia Court of Appeal, Judges of a Customary Court of Appeal or other members of the judiciary not below the rank of a Chief Magistrate. The various tribunals are to be set up pursuant to Section 285 of the 1999 Constitution, to deal with grievances arising from the Governorship, National Assembly and State Assembly Elections.
Time within which to present a Petition
Petitions ought to be filed within 21 days after elections and to this effect, Section 133 of 2010 Electoral Act, sheds more light on election petitions. It states that:
No election and return at an election under this Bill shall be questioned in any manner other than by a petition complaining of an undue election or undue return. The election tribunals shall be constituted not later than 14 days before the election; and when constituted, open their registries for business 7 days before the election. An election petition shall be filed within 21 days after the date of the declaration of results of the elections.
Presentation of petition must be done within the time prescribed by the electoral law (Section 143 of the Electoral Act). Note that most electoral laws do not normally allow extension of time within which to file a petition. This is because by way of public policy, complaints arising from elections are to be dealt with expeditiously. See the case of Kurrah v. Iyodo (1959) WNLR 20. The petition must state the grounds on which the election is being challenged and the facts relied on.
Section 134 of the 2010 Electoral Act provides the stipulated duration for election petitions. The Act states that:
An election tribunal shall deliver its judgment in writing within 180 days from the date of the filing of the petition. An appeal from a decision of an election tribunal or court shall be heard and disposed of within 90 days from the date of the delivery of judgment of the tribunal.
The importance of election tribunals in Nigeria’s democratic process cannot be overemphasized. Getting the workings and processes of tribunals is also extremely important. This means that all hands must be on deck to make sure that these tribunals are not only legally functional but that the delivery of justice is unquestionable. It then means that lawyers should desist from bringing frivolous petitions, mischievous claims and counter claims. Judges must also be seen to uphold the law without fear or favor. With every passing election, we can only hold our breaths and hope that the election tribunals are well equipped and able to handle the petitions that will inevitably come their way.
Title: Are you not a Nigerian? Thoughts on a Nation at Crossroads.
Author: Bayo Olupohunda
Publisher: Narrative Landscape Press, Lagos
Year of Publication: 2017
Page extent: 340 pages
The title “Are you not a Nigerian?” is jarring and emotional. One is forced to pause and make some deep reflections even before opening the book. The riotous imagery it invokes brings to mind the perennial search for the Nigerian identity. Scholars have confronted this question: what really defines our national identity? What is the role of ethnicity in defining national identity? Is our ethnic diversity a blessing or a curse? Hence, am I first an Igbo man before being a Nigerian or vice versa? Can I claim to be both? This is a question that will continue begging for answers.
Are you not a Nigerian is a worthy addition to literature in the subject area of national identity and memory. The author presents Nigeria’s recent political history in episodes, like a soap opera. This approach has the merit of not being interested in establishing causality. Rather it seeks to deepen the understanding of a phenomenon. This explains the author’s constancy in presenting the nuanced context of the stories he narrates. The reader is thus, aided to fully appreciate the Nigerian experience but equally given the liberty to draw his or her own conclusions.
Each post takes one back in to the past – a “once upon a time!” kind of feeling. In the first part, take the post “Encounter with a Blackberry Babe” for instance, now seems like an encounter with an extinct civilization. Who would have thought that a time will come when BB will be discussed with the awed curiosity of a relic? But this only jolts one back to the present, seeing how digital media has transformed our society. It is true that we still grapple with the binary bifurcation of media scholars – the digital enthusiasts and cynics. The author came out in this post as a digital cynic. It would be interesting to know if his stance has changed or has remained the same.
The stories in second section “the Nigerian Condition” evoke despair about our national reality. These excerpts accentuate the observation I made above:
They will converge at airports to welcome the leaders who had gone abroad to receive treatment… What a country? What a people?
A trip on the famished road called the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway presents a chilling scenario. My heart was in my mouth; my blood pressure was in an all time high. To underscore my fear, I had rejected many invitations from family and friends to attend social events that require one to use that road.
Also this section shows how Nigerian citizens have been perpetually brutalized by those paid to protect them – no bi today! This was captured in “Citizen Akpan and Lagos Task Force.” But from the ashes of stories like Akpan, hope has also grown. For instance, the #EndSARS campaign is a movement that was born on Twitter by one man – Segun Awosanya – who had the guts to say enough to the incessant and vicious harassment of citizens by the police. It soon grew into a movement that has gained considerable mileage in protecting Nigerians, especially the youth.
The third and forth parts of the book could be jointly renamed the more things changes, the more they remain the same. And since we are in an election season, it is pertinent to pay attention to these two parts the book. It reveals that Nigerians are the victims of the failed promises of Nigerian politicians and their government. All we get most often are empty slogans and nothing more. From a Breath of Fresh Air to Sai Baba and Change – all na scam!
The last part reveals an open secret, that there are no political parties in Nigeria. Rather we have a club of people who are only interested in having a direct and unlimited access to fame, power and our common wealth. Peter Ekeh’s seminal theoretical statement advances a reason for this intractable issue: the two publics. This disparity between the primordial and civic public; the private and public morality; the ‘our own syndrome’ versus the common good continues to plague Nigerian politics. The absence of ideological foundation in party politics was aptly captured by Aisha Osori: “there is not much to distinguish Nigeria’s two main political parties: the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressive Congress (APC), at least not in terms of ideology and core values.” Rather they both share in the godfather syndrome which Isaac Albert succinctly defined as gladiators who “use their influence to block the participation of others in Nigerian politics. They are political gatekeepers: they dictate who participates in politics and under what conditions.” Similarly, Adeniyi recorded the unprecedented rate of defections that was witnessed at the threshold of the 2015 elections. What has really changed; nothing, absolutely nothing!
The curation of memory is no easy task. Yet this is a task that has to be done because no nation has progressed without confronting its past and learning from it. This is what the Oluphunda achieved in Are You Not a Nigerian? We are invited to take a look at Nigeria’s contemporary past through the Olupohunda’s personal lens, the lived experience of what is now referred as ‘his truth’. As Achebe said, ““until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” And for this we should be very grateful to the author for doing this thankless job and hence saving us from being afflicted with mutilated versions of our own history.
 Ukiwo, U. 2015. The study of ethnicity in Nigeria. Oxford Development Studies, Volume 33, Issue 1, 2005, pp 7-23
 Osaghae, E. E. and Suberu, R. T. 2005. A history of identities, violence, and stability in Nigeria. CRISE Working Paper, No. 6, January 2005, pp 1-27
 Olupohunda, B. 2017. Are you not a Nigerian? Lagos: Narrative Landscape Press, page 41
Afonja, the Rise is a story of a revered warrior of Oyo but above all his-story of one of the greatest Empires of the Yoruba Civilization. Tunde Leye did not conceal his reason for writing this book:
Because our history must be told…
Around lanterns and around laptops…
So that we may know.
So that we may learn.
So that we may remember (p iii).
Leye’s work is an ambitious task to rendering memory from the perspective of a young man in love with his past. And he does this through a voracious employment of the past – the shared patrimony of his lineage, the recorded history of his people and the many oral traditions – but with the tools of the present. The opening verses which best captures both his intentions and actions – that runs from the first page of the book to the last – are these “around lanterns and around laptops”.
Leye book seems to re-echo the theoretical synthesis of tradition and modernity of Louis J. Munoz who maintained that tradition is simply “the past in the present.” And also of Jaroslav Pelikan who asserts that “tradition is the living faith of the dead.” Leye’s synthesis in Afonja, the rise tells a story that although focused on this great Kakanfo of Oyo Empire, yet is at the same time not really a story about the warrior. The book unwittingly paints a graphic picture of the intrigues of the absolute monarchy of the once invincible Oyo Empire. It takes one on a journey through the personal life of each character: sorrow, joys, victories and the blunders of war, the betrayals and the intrigues of a royal court.
It is through these firm brushes that the author inserts salient points about traditional rites of marriage, the profundity of proverbs or the supremacy of the Alaafin. Yet within this absolute monarchy, lie traditional checks and balances. One sees in the last chapter the wisdom of the past: if the king is too stubborn to take correction, his subjects must cover their heads in a basket and tell his some home truths. Yet if he remains obdurate then the same tradition that deified him will also be employed in granting him an express visa to meet his ancestors.
And so it was in Afonja the rise, the Oyo Mesi rejected their king. It fell on the chiefs to pronounce the solemn declaration that went thus: the “Alaafin Aole Arogangan, I have brought a message from Oyo and it is a message you must receive. The gods reject you, the people reject you, the earth rejects you” (p 345). The response of the Alaafin is instructive: “My curse be on you, for you disloyalty and disobedience, so let your children disobey you, if you send them on an errand, let the never return to bring you word again, to all the points I have shot my arrows, you will be carried as slaves, my curse will carry you to the sea and beyond the seas” (p 346).
Although the book maintains a loud silence as regards the fulfillment or otherwise of this royal curse, it worth emphasizing that Alaafin Aole Arogangan ‘obeyed’ his subjects and committed suicide. This is why Munoz insists on using the term “Yoruba Civilisation” rather than ethnic group, nation or even nationality in the describing the socio-political governance of the people of south-western Nigeria. It is only a civilisation that has an inherent memory and institutional measures of state that can enforce the rule of law. Thus, no one is above the law and not even an absolute monarch. These similar traits have characterised great civilizations of the West. Yet it begs the question, if the Yoruba civilization was this organised, is it not painful that Nigeria of the 21st century tethers under the weight of despotic leadership. A country where impunity is the norm and some people are not only above the law, but are now the law?
However, Afonja, the rise also is traumatic – albeit painful. This is because one has this feeling of despondency while reading the book. It seems that the only thing we learn from history is to repeat history. And thus it is that the unending intrigues by all the powerful characters within Leye’s story had one thing in common – selfish personal interest.
Afonja wanted to be Kakanfo at all cost. The lust for power blinded him to become a pawn in the hands of Alami whose only ambition was to “dip the Koran into the sea” and create a kingdom in Ilorin over which he will preside. Same goes for Bashorun Asamu – “the prime chief in the Oyo Empire, second only to Alaafin” (p 5) – who thwarted the young Aremo who defied tradition by not accompanying his late father Alaafin Adesina to the grave but rather wanted to succeed him. Asamu succeeded in preventing Aremo from ascending to the throne. However, he miscalculated by making Aole the Alaafin who he thought he could easily manipulate. This of course misfired. The obstinacy of Alaafin Aole became the price the Oyo Empire had to pay because the king wanted to assert that his nobody’s pawn and in the process went overboard.
Like Oyo – kingdoms either rise through the dint of hard work of people or fall due to the unmitigated vicious ambition and treachery of men. Unfortunately Toye Ogunyemi’s prayerful hope “that the mistakes of the past” are never again repeated seems unanswered. A messiah was sold to us, but sadly a hegemonic irredentist sits on the throne. Not heeding the lesson of history continues to haunt us.
Tunde Leye’s Afonja the Rise is a labour of memory, one that nudges us to never fail to remember. Although the opening chapter leaves the reader with a scathing feeling, trying to navigate the maze of a character too many – the book is well written. Leye employs lucid prose with a well constructed suspense and a splendid use of flash backs. Afonja the Rise is like a ferocious hurricane that sweeps you from the first page and only dumps you at a distant shore of the last page. I recommend you buy the book; it’s worth every second of your time.
 Louis J. Munoz (2007). The past in the present: towards a rehabilitation of tradition. Ibadan: Spectrum Books Ltd
 Jaroslav Pelikan (1984). The vindication of tradition. New Haven and London: Yale University Press
 Louis J. Munoz (2003). A living tradition: studies in Yoruba Civilisation. Ibadan: Bookcraft Ltd
 Toye Ogunyemi (2015). Ibadan Empire: Republicanism in a pre-colonial African Nation. Ibadan: Rasmed Publications Ltd
This is one of those times when words become meaningless. The senses are so attuned that silence seems the best response to riotous emotions. The deep sense of gratitude within many layers of grief are so palpable that only time can cure it. A year today, you breathed your last on this spatial and ephemeral space.
Ezenwa I know that you can see and hear the trudging of my heart as I try to write this…. The price of love is to be vulnerable for both the object and subject of love does not end here. Rather it lives in the memory of the lover.
Your transition was not sudden, yet it took the winds off our sails. For a year you battled the excruciating result of a failed state. You bore the marks of the many millions who our highways have swallowed into the void of nothingness. For a year we struggled to save you but it was not be as we had hoped.
Then it happened… That unforgettable day a year ago, when the doctor gave that damming report, “he’s gone!” The damn broke, I wept!
Time stood still. The pent up emotions tore with ferocious shamelessness. It had ended here under for you. The door down below has closed and that up above opened up in welcome.
It’s been a year that zoomed past in voracious haste. The ties are stronger, more delicate and refined. In life you shed the torch that we might find and keep to the way. In life that ends not, you kept faith with us, morphing into an intercessor of unimaginable fecundity.
It does not end here… It never will. Your life was indeed a libation poured out for us. You planted and watered the arid desert that now blooms with fragrance of fresh flowers. You never minded the thorns so long as we picked the roses. You were that seed planted in rocky field that grew to become a forest. If anyone were to ever deserve being named ‘sacrifice’ you personalized and lived it till the end.
Ezenwa Onicha, you’ll remain the man I hope to become.
Yes, there are substantial differences between creative writing and writing for research purposes but they are not so diametrically opposed to the point of being rivals. I am a writer – creative or research – all na writing!
Nwachukwu Egbunike is a Nigerian writer, Publisher, Author in Global Voices and Social Media Researcher. His book, Blazing Moon, was shortlisted for 2015 Association of Nigerian Authors’ Prize for poetry. In this interview, he talks about writing, life, politics and education.
Welcome to StraightTalkWithBenneth. Thank you for agreeing to this interview, it is a great honour to have you join me.
I got to know from the research I conducted that you are a social media researcher, blogger, essayist and writer. Tell me briefly when did you even know writing; especially was what you wanted to do?
Book Title: Blazing Moon Author: Nwachukwu Egbunike Year of Publication: 2015 Publisher: Feathers and Ink Pages: 110 Genre: Poetry
The world of Blazing Moon is perhaps can be best captured by the words of Kola Tubosun “The perceptive musings of a thinking man living in challenging times . Thoughtful, aware and introspective, Egbunike publicly invites the reader to share in his skeptical penetration of conventional patterns.”
Indeed the very first thing that draws the reader into the collection is its organic nature. The reader can see the poet persona like a child, maturing with every step taken further into the work. The poet draws the reader into his world, the world of the blazing moon as through the eyes of a child. First the world opens, with the poet persona’s awareness of himself (my Story is Mine), then he moves gradually to encompass a second person (Your…
In a world where very few are increasingly being looked upon to set the pace for the rest to follow, Blazing Moon jumps onto the stage with the intention of doing the very opposite. From the moment the curtains part and light comes up on stage, we are ushered into a strange world altogether. In this surreal world, imagination is unfettered. Nothing is impossible. One could rightly guess that the poet deliberately placed MY WORLD as the first poem in this collection in order to clear any misconception that the reader might be tempted to entertain. And as such, one only has oneself to blame if one comes out of Blazing Moon feeling disappointed in any way. The first two lines make that point as clear as day: “Let me take you to my world/ My own creation.” It is important to get one thing clear from the very beginning…