ktravula – a travelogue!

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My Grand Adventure Abroad

by Gospel Giwa

 

Hello readers, my name is Gospel Giwa and I am KTravula’s sister-in-law. I just returned from the greatest trip of my life, really the only trip of my life. I studied abroad in Rome for about 7 weeks, studying the Italian brand and working an internship doing social media and brand strategy for an up and coming language school. My weekends though were spent traveling all over Europe, here are my thoughts on the five most see cities, and one region in Europe.

Rome

Rome ForumRome AlleyWhat can I say; I fell in love with Rome. My trip was just perfect. I like to pretend to really be living in a city when visiting; I want to feel like a local. Walking on the cobbled streets, whilst eating the best gelato in town from Frigidarium, or visiting the outdoor market on a Saturday morning.  While I of course visited the major sites like the Coliseum, the Pantheon, and Vatican City; what I loved the most is discovering the hidden gems. The amazing art in some of the smaller churches are breathtaking, I almost got a kink in my neck from staring at the ceiling. Piazza Navona was a personal favorite and I preferred the lesser-known Fontana del Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune) to the overly crowded Trevi Fountain.

The so many things to discover and learn, I was there for 7 weeks and barely cracked the surface. It wasn’t till my last week that I solved the mystery behind the small paintings of Mary and Jesus scattered all around the city. They were placed there to decrease crime in the city, the theory was, the citizens would be less inclined to commit crime with mother Mary and baby Jesus watching you, and the plan was apparently effective.

 

Venice

VeniceVenice5Everyone has heard of Venice, so I don’t know what to say here except that, yes, it’s fabulous and a must-see for all! Venice is one of the most visited cities in the world, due to it being one of the world’s greatest and most beautiful cities for art. Museums abound! And really, the city is a museum in and of itself. I would also say that it’s one of the most romantic cities I’ve visited and for once, I was actually wishing I was not traveling solo, and that is rare for me to say.

Venice was, as expected, incredible and a must see. It is indeed a romantic city especially at night, it might even revile Paris, and that’s saying a lot of me. St. Mark’s Square was huge, awe-inspiring and filled with people. Watching all the tourists from so many parts of the world, seeing them sharing in my wonder and appreciation of the city was one of the highlights of my trip. Riding a gondola on the Grand Canal was incredible, I had imagined that moment so many times in my life and actually living it was an experience I will never forget.

 

Paris

The Lock Bridge, Paris

The Lock Bridge, Paris

Ahhhh Paris, the city of lights, romance and love. The Louvre, the home of the infamous Mona Lisa, as well as Hammurabi’s code, is a must. The admission to get in is free every first Sunday of the month and visitors under the age of 25 can visit on Friday nights without any cost.

A lot of people make the mistake of paying for the steep price of the view from the Eiffel Tower; luckily enough for me I was advised to choose the view from the Sacre Coeur (a church located in the Montmartre region of the city) as it is free of cost and you still get to see the Eiffel Tower. I recommend doing your exploring during the day and seeing the major landmarks at night, especially the Eiffel Tower.

I also had time to visit Versailles, which is about 20 minutes from the city by using the metro, which I would recommend in place of taxis. It takes the majority of the day to explore the entire palace, not including the gardens, or Marie Antoinette’s estate. Immaculate and over the top, Versailles is neck to neck with the Eiffel tower in my opinion, the gardens are vast and lush, so be prepared to set out a day for this trip and wear comfortable shoes.

 

London

London1I loved the Tower of London, learning about all the torture devices like the rack and the scavenger’s daughter was both gruesome and interesting, to think a human came up with that in mind for another. And of course the magpie in me loved the crown jewels. Seeing the Rosetta stone at the London Museum, and the view from the London Eye were my favorite parts of my trip.

Tower BridgeI was not expecting a lot from London besides Big Ben and royalty; and it turned out to be my favorite place I visited. While the sites and attractions were great, they were not as amazing as others I’d seen; Paris and Rome have spoilt me for life. The weather was gray in July and the city was incredibly expensive. Maybe it was that I could finally understand what people were saying on the metro, or maybe it was the attractive men with their even more so attractive accents, or maybe it was the first city where I could imagine myself in. I don’t know why it clicked, on paper I shouldn’t have loved this city, but I did, and I can’t wait to come back.

 

Naples

I had my own little Eat, Pray, Love moment, on our way to the Amalfi coast, we stopped by the pizzeria that Elizabeth Gilbert eat in the book, and it was also featured in the movie adaptation, there’s a picture of Julia Robert on the wall to prove it. I got the pizza margherita with double mozzarella, which is what they are famous for, it was delicious and worth the hype.

 

Amalfi Coast

Amalfi1The Amalfi coast is a group of small seaside town along the south side of the Sorrento Peninsula. We were mainly in the small town of Erchie, a town with a population of 80 people. I learned a lot about living the simple life. We eat fresh picked fruits for breakfast, experienced what it felt like and sounded like to eat at a traditional Italian dinner table, went hiking for the first time and saw some of the most amazing views.

Every site and view of this wonderful piece of nature was breathtaking. From the beaches, to the caves, to the mountains and yes even the hiking trails; around every corner you will discover a Kodak moment.

If you would like to learn more about the study abroad process and solo traveling visit my blog.

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Gospel Giwa, a recent graduate from the University of Minnesota, can also be found on twitter

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Save this Heart!

by Olayinka Egbokhare

 

I met Mufidat Boluwatife and her mother, Mrs. Akilapa, for the first time, at University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, in January 2014. Lase, my daughter, had just started attending the clinic at CHOP (Children’s Out Patient Clinic). Mrs Akilapa had the baby strapped to the back when she arrived. We exchanged pleasantries. After a few minutes, she brought the baby down. Before we parted ways that day, I already knew so much about her.

This was her first child, Mufidat. The baby had “holes in the heart” and would require surgery. She talked about their frequent hospital admissions and told me of one or two mothers whose babies had passed on. She spoke of how she no longer plied her trade and how she had stopped attending social functions because she could not keep up with the questions about how her baby was not developing well. She told me of the comment made by the woman whom she usually bought diapers from who asked how come her baby still used the same size of diapers she had been using since birth.

Little did I know that this would be the beginning of a friendship whose attraction will be tied to shared pain and hope.

scan0002I spoke with Mrs Akilapa this morning, July 10, 2014. It has been 10 days after Lase, my daughter, passed on and I was yet to receive my friend’s condolences. I knew she was aware my baby had gone to rest and today as I scrambled for some comfort and hope from those who could feel my pain, I called her. She apologised profusely for not calling. She said she could not bear to talk to me and did not know what to say to me. I have heard this line a lot these past few days, not only from some of my young students but also from some adults. “I don’t know what to say to you”.

Many of us really don’t know how to handle grief. What did I also ever say to people in this situation? Some trite cliché, I am sure. Now I fully understand what loss means and how it feels. It is an empty, strange, utterly sore, caged-in feeling.

Mrs Akilapa told me Mufidat is still receiving oxygen. We found her on oxygen when Lase was admitted on June 29th. She must have been on oxygen for about two weeks now. Her mum asked the doctors to take her off oxygen but they reminded her of how she passed out the last time her oxygen finished and there was no money to refill the cylinder. I now know the emptiness of not being able to hold your baby because she has ceased to be. My husband and I would have given all we have and even borrowed more if only Lase’s case had required corrective surgery.

But Mufidat’s case is redeemable. If we all give something, she will get the required corrective cardiac surgery and live. The operation will cost about 2.5 million naira (about $15,500). Is it something we can raise? I believe so. Rather than merely mourn a loss, I realize how important it is to also do something substantial to help those still holding on to hope and possibility. If we raise sufficient funds, Mufidat Boluwatife can heal and grow up to fulfill her life’s dreams.

Will you partner with us on this urgent fundraising bid? Do you have the heart to help? God will grant Mufidat a new heart and a new lease of life. Did I hear you say Amen? Then act now.

Information about how to send money to Mrs. Akilapa towards the surgery for her baby can be found on the photo above. More information is also available on this Facebook page created for this purpose. Donate generously. Save this heart!

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Olayinka Egbokhare (PhD) is a writer, and lecturer in the Department of Communications and Language Arts, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Her novel Dazzling Mirage, a story about sickle cell anemia, was recently adapted into a movie of the same name by Mainframe Productions.

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Editor’s note: Anyone willing to do anything to help from outside Nigeria can also contact the blogger at kt@ktravula.com

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PRESS RELEASE: Udenwe, Liam and Okokoh Arrive for Ebedi Residency

Three young and dynamic Nigerian Writers last week arrived at the Ebedi International Writer’s Residency, Iseyin, Oyo State for the July/August 2014 session of the Residency. The writers who have already commenced their six-week-residency are: Obina Udenwe, Paul Liam and Koko Okokoh.
Obinna Udenwe is a 26-year-old writer of conspiracy theories who was honoured by his native Ebonyi State for his outstanding literary activities on May 29, 2014. As the Ebonyi State Governor Martin Elechi put it during the award ceremony, ‘Obinna Udenwe’s impressively meticulous literary documentation places him ahead of his contemporaries.’  Udenwe’s first novel ‘The Dancing Bird’ was published in 2009 while  ‘Satans and Shaitans’ – a conspiracy theory on terrorism, love and occult, is scheduled to be released in the UK in October, 2014 by Jacaranda Books. Udenwe will use his time at the Ebedi Residency, to complete work on his new novel ‘Viaticum’ – a novel set against the backdrop of the civil war in Sudan, and the period of pre-democracy and democracy in Nigeria. In his reaction to Udenwa’s admission into Ebedi Residency, Mr Jazzmine Breary, the Acquisition manager of Jacaranda Books, UK, was full of praise for the management of Ebedi Residency for accepting the company’s author for the residency.
The second writer, Paul Liam, an indigene of Benue State, is the Assistant Secretary of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Niger State Chapter. He is also a columnist with Newsline Newspapers, Minna and has published several literary essays in national dailies. His debut poetry collection: ‘Indefinite Cravings’ was published in 2012. His second poetry collection: ‘Saint Sha’ Ade And Other Poems’ was recently released by Kraft Books. Paul will use his time at Ebedi, to complete a manuscript of poetry titled ‘Armageddon Blues’. According to Paul, ‘Armageddon is a collection of about sixty-something poems inspired by the chaos that have engulfed the nation, and I have been working on it since 2012. But, I have not been able to concentrate and finish it due to several distractions.’ Paul will also use his stay in Iseyin to conduct a creative writing workshop for school children and probably generate an anthology of poems from the workshop. As he puts it, ‘I have great passion in the development of the intellectual capacities of the younger ones for a productive society. It is because of this passion that I am a Mentor and the Public Relations Manager of the Hilltoparts Centre, Minna, Niger State.’
Karo Okokoh, the third author, is a published author with several titles in poetry and drama. He is an alumnus of the University of Ibadan where he bagged a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science.  He is based in Agbarho, Warri, Delta State. Okokoh hopes to use his time at Ebedi to complete work on his new novel titled “The Forgotten Tomorrow’’ a novel based on the well known problem of oil spillage in the Niger Delta Region. It is a problem which the author describes as ‘a brutally big and mournfully monotonous cycle of violence in the Niger Delta… a cycle of violence that is continually being re-cycled again and again… a familiar pattern of recurring violence and recurring sadness.’
 
 Apart from working on their manuscripts and mentoring Secondary Students in Iseyin, the residents will also use the period of their stay in Ebedi to edit and publish the maiden edition of THE EBEDI REVIEW. As the writers expressed, ‘The need for the Ebedi Reviewwas conceived out of the dire need to provide a comprehensive information resource on the Ebedi International Writers Residency, Iseyin. The primary objective is to provide a channel of communication between the residency and the outside world in order to accentuate its relevance. The Review, therefore, seeks to articulate the activities of the residency since its inception and provide an overview of its existence to those who may have not had the privilege of knowing about it or visiting it.’ The Ebedi International Residency Programme is a private initiative for the benefit of writers who want to complete their ongoing works in a secluded and comfortable environment. In its fourth year of existence, the residency which is managed by a Board of Directors has played host to about 40 international writers and is run at no cost to the writers.
 
                                                           
Signed:
 
Uche Peter Umez
F: Ebedi Board of Directors
 
                                             
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Anifowose

New song by Olamide. Video by Kemi Adetiba. A work of sublime beauty, combination of traditional idioms and proverbs with the realities of modernity.

 

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On The Game of Giants

Red_Front-161x300There are many ways to teach history, but the best and most effective way has nothing to do with the classroom. In any case, a couple of months ago, it was announced that (Nigerian) History would be dropped from the Nigerian secondary school syllabus for reason of inadequate enrollment. Many of us protested online and offline, and that was the end of it. We have come to reconcile ourselves as a nation that no longer cares enough to celebrate, document, and teach its past in order to prepare citizens for the future.

I came across this game a couple of months ago, during its invention, while working on The Giants of History book by Lateef Ibirogba. It was invented by Yemi Adesanya to teach history in a fun and interactive way. Called The Game of Giants, young citizens from the age of 6 to any age can challenge each other with knowledge of famous (and obscure) giants of history. On one side of each card in the pack is a picture of a famous person in history (living or dead), while on the other is a short blurb of his/her achievement. The rules of the game says that each player scores points by correctly guessing, without having looked at the back, what the famous person is known for.

Fullscreen capture 6242014 103239 AMAs a way to generate interest in the past and to introduce young people to a past generation, the game succeeds where textbooks might not. Being a game, it requires a time of leisure when the brain is most at east without any pressures of curriculum, and with maximum dopamin secretion. I have played it, many times with students (and won, if I might add), and what I’ve noticed is that the aim of the game’s invention is easily realized: students strive to remember the faces as well as what the person profiled is famous for. Over time, and over many losses and trials, they begin to remember. Those interested in learning more about the characters will – at other leisure times – go ahead and read some more. It is a good thing.

The best part of it, for me, is that the range of the characters in the game is wide and deep, from Aristotle to Soyinka, from Babatunde Jose to Marie Curie, and from Anthony Enahoro to Gregor Mendel. Gradually, young ones are introduced to history in a fun and non-threatening manner. (More about it here). According to the inventor, the aim is to make the game a household item not just for kids and youths, but for adults as well as a way to learn about the past while also having clean fun. This makes sense to me.

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