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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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Lagos, Rain

IMG_1707 IMG_1709 IMG_1713 IMG_1716 IMG_1717 IMG_1719 IMG_1721 IMG_1725 IMG_1726 IMG_1728 IMG_1730 IMG_1732A few caveats, which may or may not be necessary:

1. This is not all of Lagos. This is a result of an indulgent ride from Ikoyi to Lekki are of the state (some would say the better side of the state).

2. This isn’t the only face of Lagos during rainfall. It’s not even close. But the success of the public-private partnership that gave us the Lekki-Epe Expressway ensures that as long as the passenger stays on this highway, he/she would never witness the ugliness that is the innards of the city gutters during rainfall.

3. This aims to be as much about the blogger’s photographic experiments as with the fascination with the city itself, although, as he has often admitted to himself, the city holds much more in treasure for the curious traveler than one can immediately tell from a cursory look.

Enjoy.

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DeSlumifying the New Lagos

I’ve heard it referred to as “the most expensive slum in the world”, usually, after a torrential rainfall that exposes the ugly underbelly of the city’s otherwise pleasant covering. The gutters overflow and the effluence spills onto the roads with smell and other ugly contents. It is the same sight as when riding on a speedboat on one of its waters and having to stop said boat a couple of times during the journey in order to rid the engine of plastic debris and other floating trash. The overwhelming feeling is that management of the city (as improved as it is now from over decades ago) still needs a lot of work.

Lekki, after rainfall

Lekki, after rainfall

Otherwise, it would not be that Lekki, Ajah, VGC, Victoria Island, Ikoyi, and other highbrow areas of the new Lagos (as opposed to the old mainland) would magically transform to the ugliest sights at the first instance of rain. Simple basic necessities as improved and efficient drainage systems would be in place and water would be properly channeled away from view. It is an island, after all. The last thing one would expect to see again on the little land area remaining would be water in abundance, and in unwanted places. We have the shorelines for that. In the age of threatened deluge from climate change, it’s hardly an encouraging feeling to wake up in the morning to a pond of water having taken over the road meant for motorists and pedestrians.

It “Island” scam isn’t limited to the havoc of rain, of course. In other parts of the world (one imagines places like Jamaica, Cuba, or Barbados), the very idea of an island is that of an exotic location with access to – in the very least – basic ocean amenities and food: shrimps, coconut, squid, fish, etc, at an unbelievably affordable rate. Not in Lagos. Here, to get seafood, one still has to drive for hours in search for one of the highbrow restaurants at Victoria Island. And to get shrimps, one has to get to an expensive supermarket. It begs the question, among others, what our numerous Ilaje fishermen do when they set out in the morning into the deep. They do catch something, right? Where is the crayfish? Catfish? Shrimps? Lobsters? It shouldn’t be that one who lives on the island pays just as expensively as one on the mainland (or in Ibadan, to give an example of a faraway town) for simple pleasures that should be a staple island diet, right? Right?

IMG_1285From my experience of the past week, riding by speedboat through some new parts of the city, I eventually realized the potential that has been talked about for so long, by everyone from local journalists to Forbes to local and international politicians. Lagos is the city of the future. Like Lisbon or Venice, the potential for inland water transportation for leisure or for business is huge. Think of gondolas, or kayaks, or just private luxury boats for upwardly-mobile middle class citizens. And like New York, its skyline is ripe for big top class investments in real estate and architecture. We already see traces of it everyday in new construction works (though one hopes that the cultural worldview of the land at least stamps itself, in some way, on the architectural landscape). And what of investments in ferries to move people around in order to clear the roads of so many cars that needn’t be there but serve only to pollute the environment even more (and of course serve the ostentatious needs of their owners).

Well, how do I end this? Friends who read previous posts have advised me to contact the Lagos State ministries in order to share with them my ideas and dreams of a new Lagos where all the possibilities are profitably and usefully exploited. No, I have replied. I don’t have dreams of governing. But I can blog, and detail the things I see. Maybe someone connected to those in charge might see this and begin to think in the right directions. From the history of the new government of the state, it is clear that there is already progress. As citizens, the best way to engage will continue to be giving feedback when necessary, and demanding for more, as the case demands.

Send me your observations at kt@ktravula.com

 

 

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