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Press Release: Irawo Poetry Anthology

PRESS RELEASE – Ibadan, November 21, 2016

Irawo Poetry Anthology:

48 poems celebrating 48 years of Irawo University Centre, Ibadan

We are glad to announce that 48 poems have been accepted for publication in the 2017 Irawo Poetry Anthology.


Irawo University Centre is a private hall of residence for male students, principally of the University of Ibadan. This Centre is one of the numerous educational and social welfare projects promoted by the Educational Co-operation Society, a non-profit oriented body. Irawo was established in 1969, admitted her first residents in 1972 and moved to its definitive site in 1990. That same year, the University of Ibadan recognized Irawo University Centre as “a private hall of residence associated with the university” – the first to be thus acknowledged in the Nigeria University System. The key aim of Irawo is to contribute to the academic, professional, human, cultural and spiritual formation of the student. To do this, emphasis is placed on creating in Irawo an atmosphere conducive to serious academic work.

It will be recalled that earlier this year we made a call for submissions for the Irawo Poetry Anthology as part of activities to commemorate the 48th Anniversary of Irawo University Centre. The proceeds from the sale of the anthology will be ploughed into the Irawo Development Fund. The themes for the call for submissions were poems reflecting the following: justice, unity, strength, perseverance, progress, love and diversity. The call for entry closed at 12 midnight of August 31, 2016.

We received a total of 107 submissions from 54 Nigerian poets. The poems went through a blind review process by three renowned Nigerian writers. The three distinguished judges are: Tádé Ìpàdéọlá (lawyer, author of Sahara Testaments which won the 2013 NLNG Prize for Poetry and winner of the 2009 Delphic Laurel in Poetry), Mark Nwagwu (Professor of Molecular & Cell Biology and author of the poetry trilogy – Helen not of Troy, Cat Man Dew and HelenaVenus) and Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún (Fulbright scholar, writer, linguist, Editor of The Sail Literary Anthology and irawo-poetry-anthology-posterFounder of YorubaName.com).

The 48 considered suitable by the judges for the Irawo Poetry Anthology are listed below.

S/No Title Poet
1 Crux Lawrence Aniawana
2 Timi Uchenna J. Obi-Ibeh
3 The Voice Ogunlaye Olatunde
4 A Letter to the Future Chidiebere G. Udeokechukwu
5 The Key Stanley Aduaka
6 Broken Boluwatife Afolabi
7 A Song of Colours Boluwatife Afolabi
8 Can Two Be One? Oluwatoyosi Agbaaikin
9 Is Love? Oluwatoyosi Agbaaikin
10 Ifunaya…. Ololade Akinlabi
11 The Scales, the Blindfold and the Sword Obinna Amaji
12 Bed of Stone Amamchukwu Chinonoso
13 Ife Mi Amamchukwu Chinonoso
14 Friendly Foes Amamchukwu Chinonoso
15 Awaken Sandra Arukwe
16 Tomorrow Sandra Arukwe
17 Herald Bukoye Emmanuel
18 One Bukoye Emmanuel
19 Vigor and Vapor Kelvin Enumah
20 Quake; the Future at Stake Kelvin Enumah
21 A Fu Gi Anaya Norbert Gora
22 The Broken Last Straw Ikeobi Samuel Chukwubuokem
23 Sapele Water Emuobome Jemikalajah
24 Ikenike Emuobome Jemikalajah
25 Lost Ones Fumbi Ajumobi
26 Dear Dunni Mofoluwawo O Mojolaoluwa
27 The Sun Will Smile Chuks Obi
28 Behind Bars Chuks Obi
29 The Sun Shall Soon Shine Ojo Oreluwa
30 Let’s Stay Together… Segun Onaade
31 Abiku Teleola Onifade
32 Kafanchan Ayomide Owoyemi
33 Kiniun Onibudo Ayomide Owoyemi
34 Palm Tree Oluwatobi Moses Sotanmide
35 One Day Oluwatobi Moses Sotanmide
36 Innocent Till Proven Guilty Chidi Joe Umechukwu
37 Virtual Reality Olufemi Abidogun
38 My Memorabilia Tumilara Adesina
39 Story of our Toppled Storey Tumilara Adesina
40 Moving Clouds Ebisike Chinedum
41 Unity Mofoluwawo Favour Ona-Ara
42 Dawn Taiwo Olawehinmi
43 The Housewife Luke Ogar
44 The Ghost Town Luke Ogar
45 Island of Ice Emmanuel Nwobi
46 Rumble in the Jungle Emmanuel Nwobi
47 The Repose of an Anthill Emmanuel Nwobi
48 Back to our Roots Mahuemolen Odibo

Nwachukwu Egbunike and Emmanuel Nwobi


Irawo Poetry Anthology

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Befriending Lagos: A Benin Story

By Stephanie Ohumu

It is October, in the year of Donald Trump, 2016. I have recently moved to Lagos.  On the first day of work, I start to live. I walk in, breasts uncased and participate in surprising normalcy. Wild and free breasts do not bother the people here.  This is how I know that I will be fine in this Lagos. Just fine.

img_20161026_162122My name is Stephanie and I am 20. Inside of my heart is mourning for Benin, where I have lived all my life. This isn’t a story you have not read before. If you can believe census figures,  Lagos is home to 18 million. Many of whom were  not born here.

Everybody comes to Lagos with stifled love for their birthplace and hungry yearning for the city that will make them. Yawn. This is about, well, fuck if I know.

I am living in Yaba. Alágoméjì, if you’re big on details. In a serviced apartment with flatmates on the same evolutionary level as me. There are no fights. Every day, I walk to work. It is just by the corner on Herbert Macaulay. At night, I walk back home. And sleep. This is my routine until, one morning inside of Slack, I sort of cease to be employed.

img_20161002_214230Now I have to move out of the apartment where the generator comes on at 9 and dies at 6. I move to Kétu. In truth, this is when I truly move to Lagos. To the yellow of marwas, renaming of bole (appaz it is called bọ̀lì here) and boarding calls to Ọbáléndé, repeated until you are certain that that Tekno song you can’t get out of your head was low key produced by a conductor at Toll Gate.

So far,  this is what Lagos means to me:

That if you are mentally ill, the people in your head will relocate with you to new cities. Go to the doctor and start your treatment. Migration is not a treatment plan for bipolar.

An uncurled palm.
This is a space to trace lines of uninhibited passage. If you can walk it, walk it. Be, but only if you dare. Proclaim your batch number and run with it. Stop. Change your style. Be like that until the next stop.

Evidence of life.
screenshot-205In the very many heads of tired bodies awaiting the arrival of BRT buses. In the secondary school student occupying a world in Yorùbá to which my illiteracy bars me entry. The same one I will teach to check her Gmail as an assignment in a dingy café. Life is happening in this city of multiples, in multiples, daily.

And I am here. Existing in the pace of this place. One hurried foot and then the next. Power walking to catch a bus that will be replaced by another in a moment not because haste is required but because it is expected. I have just moved to Lagos and life is happening. So this is me, atop the uncurled palm, paying tribute to the city by living alongside it.

One month in mind.

On the anniversary of your migration, we remember the Benin girl you once were.

Phoenix, for the Tenants in Her Head.


Stephanie Ohumu is a writer who doesn’t understand why bios have to be written in third person. She currently lives on Twitter: @SI_Ohumu.

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Top African Destinations for the Romantic in You

Africa has it all: epic landscapes, iconic wildlife, natural wonders and an incredible variety of cultures. This beautifully diverse continent also has a romantic side and offers a host of destinations where hopeless romantics can celebrate their love in the lap of luxury.


Zanzibar, the white sand archipelago located off the coast of Tanzania, is the jewel of the African coastline. The soft sand beaches, deep blue waters, mouthwatering cuisine and quaint little streets make you feel like this island was built on romance. Take a stroll through historic Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of East Africa’s last ancient cities. Zanzibar is home to a number of hotels and resorts. Most interestingly it home to a number of private islands perfect for couples to get away from it all and relax on sun kissed beaches. Try Mnemba Island Lodge, which is a private getaway located on Mnemba Island. This private beach getaway accommodates only 20 guests and is the pinnacle in barefoot relaxation and luxury. Mnemba offers a range of activities for the more adventurous couples such as snorkeling, scuba diving or kayaking trips. If you just want to spend some quiet time with your partner then you can head to your own little private beach, which is yours for the duration of your stay.


The island paradise of Madagascar is surrounding by crystal clear waters and offers an alternative experience for those of you looking for a less popular island destination. It is home to some weird and wonderful creatures and perfect for those of you looking to mix a little more adventure with your romance. Mythological creatures, endangered lemurs, unspoilt beaches and rainforests ensures that Madagascar has a little something to bring out the adventurer in you. Belo Sur Mer is the perfect romantic introduction to the island. This tiny fishing village offers peace and tranquility. It serves as a beautiful home base as you take day trips to the numerous national parks and attractions around the area. If you’d like to take experience the color drenched Baobabs at sunset or the thriving wildlife then stay at Mandrare River Camp. Alternatively you could explore forest-lined coves and secluded beaches at Manafiafy Beach and Rainforest Lodge.


South Africa

South Africa is filled with a wealth of opportunities for the romantic at heart. Blessed with beautiful beaches, picturesque mountain ranges, endless vineyards and sprawling semi-desert regions makes South Africa a one-stop destination for honeymooners and romantics alike. Start your trip in Cape Town. Experience the glorious Cape Town sunsets from the shores of one of its idyllic beaches or from the top of the legendary Table Mountain. The Twelve Apostles Hotel, situated along one of the most beautiful shorelines in the world is the ideal spot to cater to all your romantic needs. Those of you looking for something a little different can head inland to the world famous Kruger National Park. This is the true jewel in the South African crown. Home to a multitude of plants and animals, the main attraction is undoubtedly the Big Five. Local Safari Game Lodges offer you unrivaled luxury and a unique safari experiences. It is here that there are so many fantastic places for you and your partner to experience the lives of its many wonderful creatures.


About the Author

Mark Norman grew up on a farm in South Africa and continues to find joy in immersing himself in the great outdoors. Passionate about animals and conservation, Mark is a capable outdoorsman and works at Pondoro Game Lodges where is able to make a living doing the things he loves most. 

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Across the West African Coast: Gambia

by Yẹmí Adésànyà


Gambia started on quite a happy note: a small serene country with clean beaches and monkeyed trees. I went to bed to the sloshing sound of the moiling Atlantic Ocean, drowning the indistinct chatter from drinkers at the outdoor pool-side bar. I loved Gambia at first sight.


Work too started on a good note, and I quickly made my way to Timbooktoo Bookshop, aiming only to deliver a few copies of Musings of a Tangled Tongue as pre-arranged, but leaving the store with ten new books for my bibliophilic babies.

The despair that found me comfortably ensconced in Brufut was not brewed in Banjul. A part of me perished in Gambia; a part I had hitherto taken for granted, but nevertheless nurtured and savoured, since a time I have no surviving memory of.

My younger sister was due to have a surgery in Lagos, and my last communication with her the day before my trip was hope-laden: I would come see her and her new baby as soon as I returned. It was not to be. I returned to Lagos to the new baby only. My sister had died during the elective cesarean section. Nigeria had taken a huge chuck of my heart, and I was in Gambia suffocating. My howls were drowned by the obstreperous sea outside my window, with every wave of the tide washing away my dream of enjoying the city’s understated beauty. The waves, only the night before reminiscent of an alluring melody, had turned irreversibly to an immutable threnody. Olaitan’s death is a loss that cannot be licked by the lapse of time.

I was only counting down to departure after I was notified of this tragedy, life would never be the same.

gambia1Time went by quickly in Banjul, work took the day, while evenings sought comfort curled up in bed, taking depressing walks by the beach and eating only fresh mangoes; the surrounding beauty recessed to the background of a solemn promise that I would be back.gambia5gambia4

I ate the Gambian equivalent of Jollof rice too, on my first day at work; a disappointing presentation, and befitting mediocre taste. But I’m glad I got that out of the way, and quickly filed that experience away beside its Accra compadre.
When it dawned on me by Friday afternoon that my time was up in the city, I inquired of my colleagues about Gambia and if there was anywhere one could see in town. I was not in a good frame of mind, and needed a distraction, something else to remember the peaceful country by other than my muffled yowls.


The Kachikally Crocodile Pool was the place everyone suggested, it wasn’t too far from the office and the incredible tales sounded exhilarating: harmless crocodiles living peacefully with locals! Some of them were said to have filed out of the pool once to pay homage to the deceased founder. And visitors could touch the harmless reptiles. This sounded insuperably menacing to me, but tickled my bereavement-sedated sense of adventure.

The crocodile pool was only about five minutes’ drive from the office; in the heart of Bakau village, an otherwise unremarkable residential settlement next to Banjul–Gambia’s capital city. The pool is owned by the Bojangs, a friendly family representative on sight to welcome us. Everyone in sight looked unperturbed, including the sun-bathing crocodiles. The pool is encircled with wire mesh; this was to keep humans out of the pool really, as there was sufficient allowance for the crocs to come outside unto the open dry land. Park attendants too were on hand, encouraging us not to run or panic.

gambia10True to the legend, the crocodiles appeared harmless, as least they were not hunting us; I touched one of them, eventually, after I was able to overcome my morbid fear of being eaten alive.

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How To Look Crazy in Kigali

by Laila Le Guen

There’s nothing wrong with looking a little crazy on a trip. In fact, it can be a fun way to make friends. I know, I know, crazy is probably not what you’re going for. You’ve researched the weather and fashion trends, packed adequately and learnt three words of Kinyarwanda. You’ll totally blend in. Except…

Take it from me, looking crazy doesn’t happen on purpose and preparedness has little to do with it. There’s just a sort of disinhibition that happens when you smell the air of a new place that makes you giddy and you may sometimes act in ways locals consider eccentric, whether they let it on or not.

There’s plenty of places online where you can find tips on where to stay, what to do, what to eat in Kigali. This is a different – though equally thorough –  type of guide on quirky things to do and say in Kigali.

<center>Photographer: Gwendolyn Stansbury/ IFPRI</center>

Photographer: Gwendolyn Stansbury/ IFPRI

Enquire about safety

It only takes a year or two of living in Nairobi (or Lagos, I’m sure) for safety concerns to become second nature. I’ve learnt to never ride in a car without first checking if the doors are locked and I would not dream of walking around by myself after nightfall in an unknown neighbourhood, nor would I board a random taxi if I could help it. These habits die hard, even when you know that Kigali is generally very safe.

So here I am, on a weekday night at Sundowner in Kimihurura, enjoying a lasagna dish and pretending to read while in fact I’m distracted by the lights, the music and the hum of conversations coming from every corner of the pub. I had strolled to Sundowner before nightfall and found myself in a bind: should I walk back in the dark or take a cab to cover just 500m?

After requesting the bill, I debated whether to ask the waiter. I didn’t want to cede to fear but I also wasn’t going to take unnecessary risks in a city where I knew nobody. I figured there was no harm in asking, only the threat of awkwardness.

Awkwardness did occur when the waiter gently laughed at my incongruous question and assured me it was safe. So I walked back feeling tense the whole way, even though the most threatening presence was a bunch of barking dogs behind a closed gate.

When in Kigali, you can afford to chill. And that’s great, if you actually manage to put aside old habits and actually chill. I’m not saying muggings don’t happen, but your guard doesn’t need to be up all the time. Feel free to take a holiday from your high alert default mode, was the message Kigali residents kept reiterating.

Get on the bus

2-kigali-moto-dylanwaltersThanks to consistent signage and well-organised bus terminals, public transport routes are really easy to navigate in Kigali and I tried to use them as much as possible. I find the slow rhythm of the ride an occasion to breathe, to wander, to observe the movement of the city.

A visitor to Kigali, much like Kampala, won’t really need to use buses, as motorcycle taxis (moto) are inexpensive and so numerous that you’ll never wait long before catching one. So when I asked for information about bus routes to strangers at the bus stop and to my host, they inevitably looked bewildered. Why would I choose to take the bus and “waste” half an hour, when I could just hail a moto and have virtually no chance of getting lost?

I could see how it sounded weird and irrational. For me, the joy of riding the bus is in the figuring out of the paths through the city, in the conversations you strike up with strangers, in the languages you overhear. And how else would I have experienced the prepaid “Tap&Go” card system used on many routes in the Rwandan capital?

Pavement passion

For three days, I explored parts of the hilly capital on foot and I did so with my eyes to my feet. Not to avoid potholes or puddles but because I couldn’t stop staring at the beautiful Kigali pavements. Just the fact of their existence in every part of the city filled me with joy.

I might have raved about them to every person who would humour me…

Pedestrians in Nairobi get the short end of the stick since pavements – where they even exist – are seen as a space open for dumping stones and rubble when they are not used as a parking lot extension. Most of the time, you’re walking on the roadside.

Kigali residents, I’ll say it again: your pavements are wonderful.

How much hadi la gare?

3-kigali-tapngo-laila-cc0-licenseSince I could never guess which language someone would prefer speaking and Kinyarwanda was not an option for me, I tried English, Kiswahili and French successively (not necessarily in this order). While this linguistic trio makes for strange multilingual introductions, it proved to be a winning strategy in everyday communication.

For moto rides, knowing basic round numbers in French is very helpful (you’ll be counting in hundreds, potentially up to a thousand). Even when we initially spoke English, the driver would often quote a price in French.

Kiswahili is also a good language to have in your toolkit. Many Kigali residents speak it and you’re likely to come across swahiliphone Congolese people as well, so do try it: reactions were always very warm and I found it quite easy to engage with strangers in Kiswahili.

Most of the time, the situation called for a mix of English, French and Swahili because things like ‘sauce provençale’ don’t really translate. Not to worry though: even if your only available option in this context is English, you’ll still be able to get by just fine.


It took me all of two days to be able to pronounce the name of the nearest landmark to my guesthouse.

I had one of those retrospectively hilarious moments where it’s late at night and you’re trying to explain to the moto driver where you stay but, this time of all times, you have no language in common and the words that come out of your mouth don’t seem to find any resonance.

I kept repeating different versions of the name ‘Rojugire’ but the look of recognition never came. On top of that, we were both getting soaked under the pouring rain!

I ended up walking back with a kind stranger from the pub who happened to know the neighbourhood like the back of his hand because he had grown up there. While we huddled under his umbrella, he told me about the time he got mugged in Nairobi. It sounded like a variation on the universal East African travel story: I went to Nairobi and I got my phone stolen. We made nervous jokes about how unwise it would be to have a stranger walk you home at 11pm in Nairobi.

This trip was about contrast and wonder. Three days in Kigali is enough time to be charmed by perfect pavements and enjoy views over hill after hill, but not enough to to start noticing the flaws that would likely drive one mad after a year.

Do you feel like unleashing your own brand of crazy on Kigali yet? I sure hope so.


Laila Le Guen is a 2016 aKoma Amplify fellow based in Nairobi. Growing up in France, her dreams of getting to know the world outside her small town were nourished by books from the public library. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Brainstorm, Aerodrome, Afrolivresque and Saraba.

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