Wednesday, June 17, 2009

'Mystery Girl'

A lot of my friends find hard to believe I ever suffered depression. If you meet me now, you’ll probably concur with them.

My main problem then was my self esteem. I looked at a lot of people with an eye of complexity and found it easy to feel inferior around people.

As a child I was never deprived of my basic needs but somehow I grew up to see every other person’s possession as a need. I had a serious war going on inside me as every part of me battled for acceptance.

Initially I thought introversion was a quick solution to this problem. I considered that if I kept to myself, people will get interested in me [that's one really stupid thought]. As much as the decision kept me out of trouble in school, it stole my entire school and early teenage experience from me. Like I never thought, people were afraid of me and a lot of people found me boring but it still didn’t keep me from playing the ‘mystery girl’ [favour usifo will understand this].

It was in keeping to myself that I started writing poems and like you would expect, every one of those poems were about things I didn’t have, feelings I very much wished to express and people I admired. My poems had this passion of anger and hatred coated with the words. I always felt deprived of something, yet I wasn’t sure of what it was.

One many occasions I planned to run away from home because I thought my parents loved me too much that even when they knew I was a jerk, they were ready to stand by me. I felt it was my job to save them the stress and get out of their lives for good. On days I felt a little in place I wrote letters to myself describing how much I hated myself and live itself.

One person kept me going and gave me a reason to live all through this period. It was God and even up till now it is God still. I don’t understand why he kept encouraging me when my problem was as a result of a decision I made myself but all the same He is the only person I was at peace with. I found rest whenever I prayed and an unexplainable happiness in his presence at all times. Everyday I read the bible it talked to me and referred to my situation like it was all that mattered.

Only very few Christians around me understood God well. Many of them went to church because there was no where else to be on Sunday morning. The few that knew what they were into had a certain beauty that radiated from them. They took life easy and bordered little about their problems and when I asked them why they took life very easy they simply said ‘cast your cares upon the lord and he will give you rest’ or ‘all things work together for the good of they that believe in God’. I also noticed that when I tried to annoy them a little, they never expressed the magnitude of anger I expected them to. There was something special about them and the experience I was having with God at that time confirmed his existence.

I realized that all that was written in the bible was true and I even experienced some the miracles it talked about in my life. As soon as I accepted to know God, everything about me changed. I started to love more and feel loved, I begun to have real friends, when I felt troubled I just told God about it and I felt better, depression left me, I started loving everyone in my family and life became worth living.

Knowing God has not erased all the challenges and problems in my life rather it has given me all that I need to get pass them. Trying to understand God is an endless task but if you let Him teach you about Himself, then you will be able to know Him better. No one knows you better than you know yourself. Even if your confused about yourself like I was [you may still think am confused if you know me now], no one knows how deep that confusion is better then you know.

I still don’t understand God perfectly yet but the little I know is so big I don’t even know how to explain it enough. We know God, not by our wisdom but by the so called foolishness we preach [first corinthians 1vs 21]

I rest my case…

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


The first time I saw this book Walking With Shadows, I made a nasty conclusion about the book. I imagined the book to be just another ‘heaven’ of a love story and a novel I should read for the benefit of getting a new author’s book into my system. Before I started reading the book I was very sure I was going to drop it at some point or generally regret buying it at all and guess what? I did.

Well I did drop the book but that was after I finished it. And as for regrets, I did have because I almost bit myself for misjudging the book and almost not buying it because I thought it was one of those stories about gay men again.

Walking with shadows is an extra ordinary piece that buttresses an angle of life that has long waited to be visited. You will surely read every chapter of this book at least twice.

Jude Dibia, the author, reports in ten chapters, an epilogue and a prologue the events that cloud the life of Adrian Ebele Njoko. Adrian, as he is referred to in most of the book, is a fine young man who realizes that after a deep experience that his lovely wife Ada, sweet daughter Ego and his fantastic job at Dial Plus telecommunications company could not suppress his past and true personality.

With most of it’s setting in Lagos Nigeria, the novel reveals how Adrian’s once perfect life begins to crumble after an ex- colleague at work who blames Adrian for loosing his job, threatens to destroy his life. A slip from a friend to the wrong ears, and a threatening phone call many years after evolve into some kind of ‘revelation period’ for everyone around Adrian with himself included.

Jude Dibia takes us through the troubled childhood of Adrian who suffers intense rejection by his parents who claim to have tried to harden him when they noticed he was weak. Adrian endures deep rejection and mistreatment from his family and as no one’s favorite child he gets no special treatment like his brothers. He spends most of his childhood alone with himself and devises means of feeling his parents love.

On another hand, we see how learning the truth about Adrian’s sexual orientation forces his wife Ada, his brothers Chinedu and Chika and his in-law Nkechi to notice little things they had once ignored. Ada realizes that the western culture she vehemently opposed in many areas was passionately upheld in certain others like her business. Nkechi on her own notices some traits in he son which she believes are the early signs of possible gayness and decides to do everything as a caring mother to curb the spirit in time. Chinedu opts for a spiritual solution to Adrian’s case and subjects him to an insane method of violent exorcism that leaves him with whip marks to remember. Chika finds out in the middle of the whole twist the loves his brother Adrian.

With Adrian’s family confused, he discovers that the only people who really understand him are his friends Abdul and Femi a gay couple he ignored when he decided to start off his normal life as a heterosexual man.

Adrian turns out to understand himself a lot better than Rotimi a junior staff at work who believes he is not gay even though he had slept with a man once. The urge to be accepted by the society sure makes a lot of people confused about who they are.

Dibia gives us an insight of how the society’s way of passing judgment hampers the lives of people it seeks to protect. He reveals how solutions and corrections made out of fear, ignorance and misinformation can many times betray some good intentions.

Although the entire story follows a monotonous path of heartbreak, betrayal, one episode of rejection or another and the events that unfold around Adrian after his true sexuality is discovered, the book ended beautifully and there is so much to learn from Walking With Shadows.

I found some parts of Walking With Shadows very emotional nevertheless, the book has helped me see a lot of things from a better perspective. Jude Dibia sure did a terrific job with this book. In all honesty I suggest that if you haven’t read this book, you should because you are missing out of life itself. This is no sweet talk.

-Chizitere Ojiaka.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Kambili you should learn to think of me.
I thought i loved you enough, but you shall
still learn to think of me.
I brought you to life, you should learn
to never forget me.
I killed you. Do you remember?
You should learn to never forget me.
Father anticipates your return
although he knows i took you away
Kele placed his curse on me and he
promised never to forget me.
Now they say they will kill me
ha! humm! I laugh! because,
just like the others before,
i shall escort you on your journey.
The entire ride i cant assure but,
i know you will never come back
once you leave me.
Let us begin....

The drum beats once heard
each drummer a drm held.
On the battle field of the south African veld,
each soldier's position the leader read.
For a son each mother wept
with sorrow all were swept.
In every heart only hope was left,
for truly no one knew what to expect.
back to the South African veld,
only gunshots could be heard.
On each palm a loved one's picture was held,
as the ground with blood was fed.
More grief as news begun to come.
Life became unbearable for many and some.
Everyone in sadness became dumb,
and no one bothered about an empty tum.
Alas the survivors return!
Families scramble, no one takes a turn.
People return ready to mourn,
the loss of a brother, father or son.


Jumoke, let me borrow your
Ajani a while.
Ajani your kiss has left me
with only memories that
the rot in my teeth can tell.
I enjoyed every touch
and to show for it, my skin mourns
as it dies in cancer.
I made you my source.
The source of my content.
Yet you still abused me.
Are you not content?
I still have your scratch.
Oh yes! i refused the scar
it's healing.
I hoarded my thoughts of you
and your rotten features very
passionately that when sanity
begged for its realese, i refused
to sell.
Obim, are you home yet?
Or do the streets still lure you
out to seek more unbroken hearts?
I enjoyed your lips Ajani each time
i sucked it while we kissed.
I am perplexed though that
all i have to show for that enjoyment
are cracked lips and rotten teeth.
Ah! another has just found it's
way out.
Soon i will have nothing to show
for my ability to chew, then all
i will be able to do is to suck and swallow.
Ajani, you took my bite with you
but i will never want it back.
I have not left you Ajani,
but i shall, soon i shall so i can die
in peace.
Of course i will die soon
yet you wo'nt be set free
because my bedsheets will bear
wittness to our affair
our love story is still written on it.
You forgot me, i will forget you.
After we forget together, your face
will still be imbeded in my eyes.


I am a Nigerian, proud to be a Nigerian, but not proud of Nigeria. Four years ago while I was still an ss2 student in secondary school, the thought of leaving secondary school in one year was beautiful, fantastic and overwhelming. My joy however always came to a point of dwindle when I remembered that the idea of the universities in Nigeria I had was a daily-mare.

I sat for the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board [JAMB] exam with great reluctance which was calmed by the fact that at that time, I was left with no choice but to take a first degree in a Nigerian university. Although the stories about the university system in Nigeria crippled my courage, I walked on the hope of an anticipated peaceful and happy experience.

Less than one year after the JAMB exam, I gained admission to study in one of the universities in Nigeria. From that moment, the stories changed and what I began to hear sounded a lot different from what I once heard. Everyone seemed to proclaim that I was in the best university and my choice to study in Nigeria was the best. From all indications everything I heard was true so my hope for a peaceful and happy experience glimmered in the presence of reality and I was sure the entire experience was going to be heavenly.

For most of the beginning of the experience, it was heavenly and now, two years into the four year race, fate and hope have made a twisted exchange. I have come to realize that cultism, drugs, sex seeking lecturers, aristoe hunters, dirty environment and its likes, are not the only challenges a university student is faced with because even their eradication still leaves a sea of other problems.

In many of our universities today, it is almost completely impossible for any student to work and learn as the system is so tight and inflexible. Only a few lecturers are student friendly thereby making the already rigid system ‘rigider’ as students engage in a war for the survival of the fittest. Lecturers most times see mass failure or generally poor grades as a means of showing themselves off as tough-no-non-sense people in order to arouse fear in the minds of the students.

Long hours of shabby and very boring lectures have become a trademark while students have very little time for themselves. Imagine if you have to study mathematics by 4pm or later than that after a long day of so many lectures, or stand in the laboratory from 1pm to 5pm [or longer] all in the name of practical classes. Practical classes where only a few get to see or perform these practices while the others literarily sit and mope as a result of insufficient equipments to practice with. The entire system is so crazy and sickening.

Many times a typical day in a student’s life is characterized by rushing off for lectures that most times will not hold, standing or sitting uncomfortably in overcrowded classes with a lot of heat, shouts, scolds or snobs from angry or depressed members of staff, annoying long processes and ambiguity that frustrate, stories of missing scripts, result mix-ups and others like that. Everyday adds a new member to the list of people who just want to ‘graduate peacefully’.

Christians and Muslims find solace in God, Atheists in themselves, while the others hold on to whatever help they can get. In the midst of all this, ‘we still survive’ and manage to wear our happy faces. We keep quiet and as usual nothing is done.

I am both tired of the situation and disappointed that nothing has been done to bring about any change at all. Something has to be done very soon or else at this rate of deterioration, if the education sector is not re-branded soon enough, then I wonder what future we leave to live in.

-Chizitere Ojiaka.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tuesday, 5 May 2009


In order to afford the voting public adequate time to vote for their favourite authors and books, Drumline Media has deemed it fit to extend the period of voting for the Drumline Media Book Awards (DMBA) to 21st May, 2009.
All votes received after this date will automatically be disqualified. Winners will be announced in the week following.
At the moment, there are some technical difficulties Drumline Media is experiencing with its website. For convenience and easy voting, the other voting options which are underlisted should be used.1. SMS - Send your vote in the format “Category Author Your Location” to 0703 122 8510. For example, to vote in Category 2: Drumline Media New Voice Award, type: “Category 2: DMNVA Helen Oyeyemi Abuja” and send to 0703 122 8510.2. Email: Send a mail to with the subject “Drumline Media Book Awards” clearly stating the category, your preferred author and your location.
All inconveniences are highly regretted.
For enquiries, call 0703 122 8510.
Yours in the same spirit of literature,
Eromo Egbejule
for: Drumline Media


I wrote this poem a few years ago when i just started reading Chimamamda's half of a yellow sun. The book engulfed me with it's passion


Soaked with the passion
that bit every part of my mind,
Overwhelmed by the strength
that appeared in every description
but betrayed by the inability to feel
the physical construction of my
mind's imagination.
Every word i read sounded so real
and familiar that i wondered if
i had begun to talk to every
I don't know but some how
i found myself in the midst
of the descriptions in my head
and it seemed as though i was
a part of the story.
I think i really was but the only thing
was that Auntie Mandy did not know
what to make out of my presence
because she did not understand my
character well enough to describe me


The story lingered so perfectly that
even while i slept each night, my
mind took me to a perfect scene of all
it had arranged with each description
in the story.
My mind took me to very real
This imagination was so real
that many times i died to reality
and awakened to vague thoughts
that seem more real than reality.
Little by little,the style with which
Auntie Mandy presented every character
engulfed my personality so perfectly
that i started to live with a pinch of
every character in the story.
Funny enough every character
had something "emulateable"
and from Auntie Mandy,even more
as she dared to make you feel more
than a mere reader.


Still less than half way through
the exciting tale of many parts
of every colour of life, my
heart is least hurried to suck the
last days of the story but is ready to pinch
every page with every bit of passion
it has for the story.
Many times i wonder what this book is doing
to me and how much more of me it will take
before it lets me be.


Though paniced by the thoughts of what
the end of the story will tell, the beauty
of the handwritten tale swallows my
curious spirit up and spits me into
a world of thoughtful imagination.
After i have felt each letter with my
eyes,each phase of the story finds
it's room in my mind's heart.
The emmense intensity of the
captivating power of the story has
drowned me deep in the heart of
it's truth.
I wait to see the full sun.




Nigerian writers recently embarked on an “evangelism” of sorts, on the 17th day of May 2009, to win more souls with their gospel. This search for souls, which held in Lagos at The Palms Shopping Centre, Lekki, had a lot of souls pay homage (although I don’t know how many were eventually caught). 9 Writers 4 Cities is a book tour organised by DADA Books, with the aim of bringing the people closer to their authors and the authors closer to their readers. The tour, which has been on since the 2nd day of May 2009, was first held in Lagos, moved to Ibadan, and then, came back to Lagos, and will have its next edition held in Benin City on the 7th day of June 2009.

The event kicked off at exactly 12pm with an autographing session where people had the chance to get the books they bought autographed by their authors. Although this session started the event, it continued all the way to the end of the entire event. The main book-reading event began at 2pm. Onyeka Nwelue, author of the Abyssinian Boy, opened the floor as he read a chapter from his book. A student from the Indian Language School, Parth, read a review of the book Abyssinian Boy done by one of his teachers, Mrs. Vani Nethiar.
The Abyssinian Boy was not the only book that was read or reviewed. Among the others were To St. Patrick’s by Eghosa Imasuen; I Am Memory by Jumoke Verissimo; Eko Dialogue by Joy Isi Bewaji; From Caves of Rotten Teeth by A. Igoni Barrett; Under the Brown Rusted Roof by Bimbola Adelokun; and Nights of the Creaking Bed by Toni Kan. Publishers were also not left out, as the organiser, DADA Books, and Farafina, a participating publishing company also had the chance to talk about what they do, and enlighten participants on various issues.
Odia Ofeimun, a poet and critic, took some time out of his allotment to talk about the need to get more Nigerians buying books, reading them and loving literature. He stressed the need to involve more “unconverted” people, by making other readings more accommodating, in terms of sound and sitting space, so that we won’t eventually end up only reading out to the same people we already have (that is, people who already have books). He recited one of his poems and concluded his speech with the story of how he grew from an ordinary factory worker to an ‘original’ poet.

The event was however, not only an afternoon of books and tales of books, as some other artistes like Kafayat Quadri, guitarist and publisher, Poetry Digest and S.A.G.E Hasson (a cousin of MI’s) a poetic rapper, entertained us with their magnificent performances. World-acclaimed Crown Troupe of Africa also “wowed” the audience with their songs, drama and other acts of art. Everyone who was present could not help but applaud and smile after their performances of Bewaji’s Eko Dialogue and the poem Ajani from Verissimo’s I Am Memory. They were simply out of this world.
The forum, which gave upcoming writers like me a chance to meet and fraternise with those who have made it to the big literary world, was a huge success. You really should not miss the next lap of the 9 Writers 4 Cities: The Book Tour in Ibadan, because it promises to be an even more explosive BOMB!



Unto every human being, a talent of some sort and worth is deposited some where inside. Now, that is the belief. Can it be possible that some people were created or natured with none? After you have read at least one of Jumoke's poems from her I am memory, you will agree with me that some people were cheated by nature or at creation for Jumoke to possess the extremely inspiring talent she possesses.
Jumoke verissimo is a bold poet whose courage is exposed with the letters that stand imbeded in the words that make-up the various lines of her poetry. Her lyrical ability dismantles your present state and builds your mind within the walls of her expression.
Her book I am memory which is made up fourteen poems torn apart under four classes; ["of intuition and emotions", "of an enchanted tale", "of places and poeple", "of falseness of being"] has touched the right spots and brought the dead, forgotten and the dead and forgotten [some are dead while others are dead and forgotten] back to eternal life and memory in our minds.
Jumoke's poems express deep emotions and feelings, [...memory of once intense affection/ the heat of my passion/ my waist pines for your searing/ my aftertaste of loin tussle...] as she bears them out completely in "Sequence [of desire]" where she expressed the pain, joy and memory of a heartbroken lover. Her words sure know how to get you into any feeling although for most of the time you will linger around sadness and pity.
Honestly, Jumoke is very bold and she dares to give voice to "The Silenced", bring back "The Disposed", and fight for the profit of "The Loss" and "The Abused". Her poems describe their titles so well that trapped in the web of their meaning, you somehow find a way to escape to the substance of her story.
Verissimo however, writes so much about poverty, [...the causatic memories of labourers whose inheritance is slummed fathers/ murmur hunger-sagged dreams/ i billow effortlesly into reggae of impoverishment...] pain,[...i know of wounds that dont heal, of scars and foes/ i am the welt of the world/ reflections of guilt and groans/ age-sown pain, that stays, that stains...] and so intense deprssion [...i am those places where death is an appraisal of hope...] without prescribing a remedy or any kind of relief.
For me, I am memory is one book i know will always freshen my staleness even in many years to come. No matter how often i read this book, my hunger will always yearn for more.
In Odia Ofeimun's [poet and critic] opinion, "this poet will travel" but in mine, i'll say "just like the birds whose images are drawn in the book, Jumoke's poems will make you soar, though how high you go is left to you. Truly, Jumoke Verissimo is memory.

- Chizitere.