Saturday, 7 November 2015

Femi Owolabi, the police and the rest of us


The man, truly, must be dead in him who keeps silence in the face of violence. But what happens when you are continually suppressed, strangled and crushed, to the point there is no voice left in you; and the press, whose major obligation includes adequate surveillance on the society, time and again thinks your stories trivial, and scrambles for ‘juicy’ political stories? And then you are, pathetically abandoned, in your vulnerability, to the mercy of a government that sees a man with money or power before you. What happens when the police, an institution that ridicule itself as your friend turns its back to hunt you? You must be a pawn of fate.

All over the world today, the protest is mounting against perceived and glaring government injustice against her people. And the people must unite to defend herself against the government she voted to protect her. “If we do not have the right to speak freely, we will turn into a society that suffers from intellectual malnutrition, a nation of fools” writes Arundhati Roy, the award-winning author of God of Small Things after joining an intellectual group in India protesting the murder of Malleshappa Kalburgi, the famous writer author killed earlier in August for writing against superstition and false beliefs.

In Nigeria, there are people, innocent citizens who fall victims to police recklessness and extrajudicial killings; people in whom, for no fault of theirs, the man in them continues to die, for their voice is so often stifled and muffled. If a young man in the village sees a police man, it is fear that first grips him, not because he is a suspect but because a man in police uniform would almost always get you into trouble. He does not believe the policeman is there to protect him. An average Nigerian does not trust the police. It is an unfortunate truth; the police have succeeded in building a rusty and almost irredeemable reputation. But these are impressions built over time by everyday experiences of the people.
In the past few days, I followed, with keen interest, the poignant story of police brutality, or is it rascality on unsuspecting Nigerian citizens in Lagos including a journalist, Femi Owolabi. I grew up hearing the trite term “the police is your friend,” but everyday experience provide ample evidence that the Police, an institution saddled with the primary responsibility to protect the people, in many instance, turns the people’s number one enemy.

The gruesome story of Mr. Owolabi’s experience with the police is a veritable instance. The publicity that the story enjoyed, without doubt is attributable to the fact that Mr. Owolabi is a journalist.  And the press, rallied around him; and with the social media, the journalist ensured every bit of the story went viral. Gimba Kakanda, a social critic and columnist lent his voice to the disturbing incident, and wrote on his timeline: “…I just read about my friend, Femi Owolabi's heart-wrenching experience; how, for stepping out of a night club, he was bundled into a bus, slapped repeatedly and then tear-gassed. For no reason other than his oppressors' liberty to dehumanise the innocent and still go Scot-free. Owolabi was set free only having underwent the procedures of tortures for which the Nigerian policemen are notorious, on being identified as a journalist, one likely to blow the "covert operations" of the cheap extortionist…”

So far, Mr. Owolabi seem to have had the last laugh, as newspaper report claims the affected police officers may face suspension  and appropriate charge. But would the story have ended this way if it involved a common man in the street? My worries abound, for I know that Femi Owolabi was a fortunate victim. Now, Femi Owolabi, a journalist, has the luxury of lawyers. And so his case in the hands of these unscrupulous policemen was different. My concern is for the “ordinary” man in the street, who, most likely, may not enjoy the support of voices from the media; who certainly would never dream of accessing the services of a lawyer to stand for him, and who, for the fault of the same government (by way of poor education system) whose police force is now pitched against him do not even know he has any right. Life can be hell for the living!
According to the bits of information which Mr. Owolabi dropped on his facebook timeline as the story unfolded, the matter by means of some obscure connections got to the notice of the Inspector General of police, and other highly placed police authorities.  But one must not know the I G, commissioner of any person power to be treated with dignity.
In the end, even as we urge government to take urgent steps to ensure total overhaul and reorientation of police personnel, with particular regard for human dignity and respect, writers must know that silence is a lethal conspiracy against the weak and can be more deadly than the bullets from a gun.  The media must pay critical attention to human stories for thereof lies the hallmark of their profession.


Monday, 7 September 2015

UZOAMAKA DORIS ANIUNOH AND HER “BALCONY” STORY


Intelligence is a unique feature in every human, the variation, however, is in the conscious, accurate or otherwise application of it. One is not just intelligent because of his physical attributes, not even the size of his brain; it is, in the most realistic sense, because of the quality which that intelligence displays. I consider Uzoamaka Doris Aniunoh intelligent for the incisiveness in her Balcony story. You may not have heard about Doris, probably you may not even think she is capable of anything. But I tell you of truth, Doris is likely another Nigerian literary topnotch on the rise.

Through art man is able to imitate, supplement, and in some cases even counteract the course and works of nature. And that underscores his incontestable brilliance and wittiness. One of the benefits and beauties of literature is that through it we are able see ourselves, our world, as in a mirror, and review our lives. And “Balcony” a succinctly brilliant story by Doris - a sure literary comer - is an honest testimony of literary beauty. I invite you to read Balcony. Does it not evoke a sense of candid coherence and simplicity, which in turn makes it easier for you to see, in vivid pictures, the character’s own world? I know you cannot agree any less.

And the lessons of the story? The tending consequences of Talatu and UCs’ actions are lucid testimonies. But do Anambara women generally seek to subdue their husbands? Or is the author’s idea, by even imagining that her mother may have thought of “buying stool” for her father just another stereotype? Whatever the truth may be, another truth is just that Doris Aniunoh has succeeded in giving us something to chew and ponder about, and hopefully, the society will be kind enough to look into her lives and change for the better.

The “Balcony” is a remarkable story of our everyday lives, a mirror hugely reflective of the Onitsha society and its people.


Saturday, 18 July 2015

Senator Shehu Sani and his politics of camels

The cat enjoys both cooked and uncooked fish. But there is wisdom in the man who makes his cat endure hunger for a while in other to make a whole and nutritious meal for the cat.
Senator Shehu Sani representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District last Thursday reportedly distributed twelve camels, eight cows and other food stuffs worth over N15 million. The senator who also is the president Civil Right Congress of Nigeria claimed his office was involved throughout the month of Ramadan in programme of feeding the poor in seven local governments in his zone.
However, Senator Shehu ought to be ashamed of his misplaced, illogical philanthropic gestures to the people whose governor is working hard to redefine their lives through functional government policies and institutions. But he cannot be more ashamed than I am, finding that this charade actually came from a man of his repute; that this is what he thinks is expedient for his people at a time of dwindling economic fortunes of the nation. It is even more saddening to see how he took to his twitter handle and bragged about it: “some shared chickens, some shared rams, some shared goats, some shared pigs, some shared nothing, I choose to share camels!!!”
When I told my friend about the story and my dismay that Senator Sani could stoop so low, he simply made a direct poignant remark: “…all politicians are the same.” But I do not share this.
I am an advocate of real democracy; a government whose primary objectives are the welfare and security of the electorates. But not one who in their political and administrative shallowness and venality impoverish the people only to returns with his pitiable handouts to the same people who voted him and claim messiah. I am happy that the people of Kaduna Central enjoyed the Eid El Fitr with the freebies from their senator. But am dispirited at their common complacency and impressionable, or is it ignorant status. Still, my sadness grows with Senator Shehu’s witless generousity if not sycophancy. Will there be more camels and food stuffs before the next Ramadan? I doubt.

The saying “do not give me fish rather teach me how to fish” is a timeless dictum; and it is a maxim common to most of us. But it’s not so much of what you know. It is what you do with what you know. Senator Shehu told his people: “…for now, my very important focus is to see how I can use the opportunity of my senatorial seat to serve my people in conformity with the pledges and promises I made to them before 2015 election.” He should have known that this is not how best to serve the people, especially considering the economic situation of the country.

Kaduna state, like most states in Nigeria is a river of opportunities. I expected Senator Shehu not to shower his people with fishes so they don’t forget to learn how to fish themselves, and endlessly wait on him to drop fishes at their doorsteps every now and then; I expect him to make the river more conducive for the fishes to live and grow, and then empower the people with fishing net and irresistible baits. It is a simple economic principle.


Wednesday, 15 July 2015

New Service Chiefs: Probing Saraki’s witles claims


By appointing the Service Chiefs, President Mohammadu Buhari exercised his constitutional prerogative. But failure of the National Assembly to screen and consequently approve or disapprove such appointments, as the case may be, is a monumental legislative blunder.

President Mohammadu Buhari earlier this week relieved the Service Chiefs of their duties and almost immediately appointed new ones. This shake-up in the nation’s security department has been anticipated since Mr. President’s assumption of office. The absence of which many claim is responsible for the dawdling in the nation’s military assault on the belligerent, infamous sect called Boko Haram.

Following Mr. President’s recent actions, it was expected that the National Assembly would return from their recess to screen the candidates nominated by the president. But the senate leadership did not consider it expedient. What we got rather was a shocking claim by the senate president, Senator Bukola Saraki.

Mr. Buhari understands that screening of political appointees by the National Assembly is a constitutional process. Thus he had reportedly told the new Service Chiefs shortly after their appointment on Monday that their nomination would be sent to the National Assembly for approval. “Legally you are in acting capacity, until the National Assembly accepts you…” Mr. Buhari told them. But this long-standing legislative process was unabashedly brushed aside by the senate.

The senate president, Senator Bukola Saraki took to the twitter and delivered a stunning charade that unveiled his ineptitude as the senate president. “Appointment of Service Chiefs is an exclusive function of Mr. President. Senate can only approve ministerial, parastatals etc,” he claimed. But in this claim I see the height of ignorance.

In July 2013, Justice Adamu Bello of the Federal High Court in Abuja ruled as “illegal and unconstitutional any appointment of Service Chiefs by the president without approval of the National Assembly.” And till date, this judgment has not been appealed. It was on the  heels of this judgment that former president Goodluck Jonathan sought the approval of the National Assembly in January 2014 when he appointed Kenneth Minimah, Usman Jibrin, Alex Bade, Adesola Nunayon Amosu  as Chiefs of Army Staff, Naval Staff, Defence Staff and Air Staff respectively. Incidentally, Senator Saraki was already a senator during this period. So am I really right to say he is ignorant of the legislative processes? Or is it a deliberate ruse to incubate President Burari’s dream Service Chiefs? Or are their other political calculations to this?

Whatever it is, Senator Bukola Saraki, and of course the senate leadership has failed in a simple legislative task. One of the secrets, or is it attributes, of success is to be brilliant in basic, ordinary things. This is not the kind of system Nigerians want to see. Senator Saraki must sit up and be seen to be ready to anchor every legislative proceedings and not trivialise any of it.


However, it will be in the interest of the public for the senate president to explain why he claims the National Assembly has no role in the appointment of service chiefs.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Abuja Writers Forum: Celebrating talents, honing skills

You have heard that readers are leaders. How about readers being writers? You heard that too. Now, AWF is a convergence of writers…and thinkers. And writers, for the most part, is the clan of a people you call “intellectuals”. Seen a nation without intellectuals? It must be a doomed one. Hmmm!

The June edition of Abuja Writers Forums’ guest writers’ session saw the duo of Paul Sawa and Asma’u Baikie read to an enthusiastic literary audience while guitarists Tokumbo Edward and Blessing Tangban spiced the event with live soothing cadences. It was pure bliss. My only surprise, as I rejoined the literary family, was the level creativity and immense intellectual spectacles produced by the guest writers, and the artistes. This edition of AWF’s guest writer’s session is something to rave about. I do not lie.

The AWF is more than just a meeting of people. By design, it is intended to encourage creative writing potential of Nigerians and of course Africans. But more interestingly, I found, it is home to radically creative thinkers. So if you are a writer of any sort, or even more particularly, a budding one, Abuja Writers Forum is your place: Ideas. Inspiration. Motivation. Plus the commensurate verve needed to carry on in your literary odyssey. Is it not said that iron sharpens iron? I didn’t learn to write until I was close to books, and consequently, my interest grew the closer I got with writers and people of like minds.

And still, today my creative appetite, to a great measure is whetted. God is alright.

Whoever thinks Paul Sawa is just an environmentalist needs to think again. But then there is no twisting it, professionally he is, just  that there is something phenomenal about this enigmatic young fellow; a man whose dreams and vision extends far beyond the peripherals of environmental issues. Paul Sawa is such an eccentric muse, a powerful thinker and writer whose brilliance defies all shades of naivety. He read few pages of his “soon coming” book (to be called) Green musings. It is amazing how Paul cautiously draws from his background to compares Nigeria to “a poorly tended garden.” He makes deliberate collocation of his profession and the socio-political realities in Nigeria. So, it is understandably not surprising that his writings appear, more or less, as parables, and then broken down into bits and pieces for easy assimilation. The desire to hold the Green Musings in my hands has since enveloped me, and kept me musing…until that day…

Asma’u Baikie, the dark, chatty, elegantly tall lady is author of four novels: Kabira, Kabira’s Friends, The Father’s Love and Father’s Sunbeam. Baikie is a story teller, I make boast to say. There is more to a writer than mere ability to scribble words on plain papers. A writer is a creator, a little god; he looks around his environment, observes something, forms it into meaningful ideas and translates them into relevant story. And he does this in a manner that raises questions or even proffers solutions to the issues. M. K. Asante, the award-winning author, filmmaker and professor was right when he said: “if you make an observation, you have an obligation.” Asmau Baikie, reading from the last of her books, Kabira’s Friends x-rayed the vulnerable female gender in northern Nigeria and captures the ordeal of young helpless girls who in their ignorance suffer pains of the dreaded obstetric fistula. Asmau’s exposition as seen in the book raises doubt of government commitment to girl child education in the north and the extent of local health campaigns to ensure that young women don’t go through avoidable health challenges.

The June guest writers’ session wasn’t just all readings and readings. It was adequately flavored with a touch of live music performance, and this time, like I told you, Tokumbo Edwards was handy to water the raining words down our literary bowels, with Blessing Tangban, the American based guitarist treating the audience to several quiet numbers of soul searching songs. It was just like heavens.

This piece is not just about Paul Sawa, Asmau Baikie, Tokumbo or Blessing; however, discussing the guests, these busy mind and hands, I believe is a necessary distraction. The idea however, is to bring you up to speed with what AWF represents.

By every measure, it is clear that AWF is particular about appropriately redirecting energy, encouraging creativity, and of course celebrating achievements. If you are a good writer, it is time to get better. And if you think you just have the potential, it’s time to take a leap. After all, as Paul Sawa would say, “what use is potential which perpetually lingers…?”


Wednesday, 24 June 2015

THE FIDELITY EXPERIENCE: Memories of the past

                                (For my friends, the "privileged twenty")

The 2010 Fidelity Bank Creative Writing Workshop has come and gone. Our expectations were not cut off.  “You made it to this workshop not because your stories are in themselves artistically perfect and flawless but because we find great potential in them,” Helon Habila, moderator of the event told us. I do not say we were lucky. No, we were privileged - the privileged twenty. Today, I am like a farmer; the ground is fresh and soft. I sow my seeds.  They will germinate. They will grow and blossom, because the soil is rich.

Invitation to the workshop was a big surprise and indeed my first literary outing. Even after I printed the invitation, I was still like a man that dreamed, and so it was, until the cab pulled up in front of Grace Point Hotel, venue of the workshop.

“Check the hall downstairs for your registration.” The silky voice of the receptionist fell on me.

I am inside Ajanwachukwu Hall, a theater of dream for me, and for many of us whose literary dreams, aspirations and appetite would in a short while be whetted. There is a near tendency that I develop some sort of eerie feeling or emotions. I hold firm. There are few strange and plain faces. I can only measure the anticipation in them. I made for acquaintance with each of them: Stanley, Esther, Ebele, Seun…. We shook hands and managed a faint smile.

At Brick Land Residence (our new home for one week) we met the gentle man called James. He congratulated us and unveiled the program schedule to us, telling us what to expect. But I already had great expectations. I watched him speak with utmost prudence and clarity, producing his words with little effort. His broad chest divided into two halves by an orange tie, exactly the way an opening divided his upper teeth. His address was simple and precise, like a news lead. This is the beginning of the journey, I said to myself when everyone dispersed. I have a room to myself. Tomorrow the workshop begins. God is kind.

April 16th, 2010. Today we return to the theater of dreams, to be tried, burned and beaten, like gold; to be molded and straightened, to be formed and informed. I longed for this day. I pined for it. I am full of hope. My state - I suppose - is appropriate for the occasion.
I recall these days with sheer reminiscence.  Remarkable memories of friends and events, of places and people I do not want to forget. I write this, that if you love it, like I do, you keep and guard it with joyous abandon. This memory of meeting with great mind and busy hands; we started as individual participants and facilitators and ended up as friends. Now I remember them with a huge sense of pride.

I know I had met Helon Habila before, but that was on the pages of a book and over the cyber wavelength. This morning, I am the privileged one. The hall is quite simple and modest, befitting a conference room. Helon is already seated at the far side of the table, patiently waiting as we arrive periodically. He is not overdressed - simple and plain in that green collar T-shirt and black jeans, I still remember. I walk up to him, bold and proud. “Christian is my name.” He pulls a charming smile and extends a handshake. There is something about this moment of handshake. You do not understand.  I am sure. It is a special occasion when I surrendered my head and hand and say:
Take, master, I submit to you
Like a piece of clay in the hands of a potter
I avail myself
Like paint and brush in the hands of a painter
I obey
Like a piece of gold
I offer myself to be burnt
I belong to you, oh master
I surrender.

It is a landmark. Perhaps because it reminds me of my literary dream and ambitions to be like him. Now my hope is coming alive, the night is giving way to the day. I see the sun rising in its beauty and splendour. The radiance is breathtaking and the world is wrapped in great hope and anticipation. I follow the sun, like the wise men followed the stars, stardom my destination. Holding my breath I gaze at his hand, his busy hand; this hand that write so beautifully and creatively, as if with no effort. I pause and ponder. I want to run off with it. But no, I should have my own hands, my busy hands. Now the trick is here – to listen to my master, to obey, and learn.

So it was that Fidelity Bank did not let us down, not with such moments when Helon would stand before us, our heads tilted towards him like curious children listening to moonlit tales. He made us think like him.  Hunched over our computers, we listened to him. We believed him. We obeyed him. Sometimes we forgot our real selves – as starters, and felt as though we had arrived, like him. But that’s just him; always creeping subtly into your subconscious and making you see and be what you dream. This is what we have become: our dream selves or at least on a sure path to our dream selves.

I do not forget other busy hands as well. They were co-facilitators with Helon. I find it extremely difficult to talk about Tsi Tsi Dangaremgba, the one whom I love so much to call her name even though it made my tongue twist in my mouth. It is hard not because she is not worth to be spoken of but because her personality, as I perceived, in that one-second-week is so unique that I  am at war finding words fit for her description. But there are remarkable things that I cannot forget about her: she took me to Zimbabwe. I saw it in her appearance – calm, true and original. She was always different; her hair, intricately plaited in long, fairly brown ropes, grazing her backside. I love this originality in her person, I do not lie.

In front of us she stood, African, traditional. Now I miss her subtle smile. When she talked about the middle of stories and the mid-point reversal she opened up the dormant part of our heads. Tsi Tsi had her ways, though a little fast, she always made her point. At other times we sat close to her as if in heart to heart talk, and like a mother she attended to our individual literary difficulties. She could tell a story with a chat. “Your story should have this…; you must be able to show when the beginning of a story ends and when the middle begins…”

There are just no memories without those of the memorable Maddie. Over here, the night is cold. I bow my head, my lips kiss the table. I close my eyes in prayer – God please keep Maddie; a friend so simple, graceful and true, a rare gem.  Madeleine Thien, was (and still is) to us - and perhaps more particularly to me – a great friend and companion. So doting, she made us feel like little children.
 Her face ever without smile, she stood in our front, confident, and read in that tiny voice that permeated our hearts. She was patient with us. Elias, can bear me witness and Stanley wouldn’t disagree. When the time for an exercise elapsed and we were yet unfinished, she asked us in that filtering tone, “Does anybody need more time please?” Then we chuckled. Oh, Maddie.

There are just no memories without that of my friends, great friends. Twenty is not a small number to mention, but I will talk about Elias Chukwuemeka, the one I call “Emmy Hills”. I have this sentimental attachment towards him, maybe because we hail from the same place and perhaps more because we share the same surname. My brother from a different mother; I love his eloquence and activism. His visual imagery and originality in ‘The pot of life’ amazes me. I also love to think about High Chief’s gratified grammar pattern and how we laughed our heart out during his presentations. Good as his works were, he had a comic touch to his presentations, and it was fun. Beautiful moments.  Stanley Azuakola got himself stock on my heart, like a piece of metal on a magnetic object. Please don’t ask me how; I don’t even have an answer, a friend whose departure that hazy morning left me broken. Cold and forlorn, I gathered myself, dried my tears and counted my steps down the street, the rain behind my back.

There are more stories about us – memories. Although I am constrained by strength and capacity, I have been able to make out one simple and unbeatable truth: that we are all wonderful people; the privileged twenty, my people, and my friends.

There are other moments of pleasure and of course pain and sometimes mixed feelings. These are memories of time, now our past – one whole week gone in a second. One week that made us one people and gave us a common identity. In hours we measured our length and breath, our strength and weaknesses. Then, gradually we learned to live and accommodate ourselves. We had begun to live like a family, hatching the egg of our dreams, so often gathering to talk in groups, sometimes round the table, talking and chatting over clattering spoons.

I think about the tours. I close my eyes. I hold my head, calling memories back: the beautiful art pieces at the craft villages; the serene lush green park. I still have pictures of them.

Swept by the fun and undeniable emotions of hope, we thought less of an end coming, creeping slowly but steady and sure. It did. Now, like pages of a blank book, everything is bare. We have walked away, so sure of where we are headed but unwilling. We have set off, everyone to his way. I saw tears. The back of our hands did the job– wiping rolling-salt-water off our heavy faces; faces once wreathed in smiles and glorious laughter, now trails with wrinkles from the root of the emptiness that has befallen us. Such was the pain inflicted on us by time and widening distance.

Together as friends, we dread the swiftness of time, this time that we prayed and pined for when we received our invitation to the grand occasion. It has come and gone, leaving us pale and frail, like orphaned children. This is the scar. I can show you if you can touch my heart, the scars of friendship and love.

There are more pictures that I can paint of those moments with Fidelity. But like I said, I am constrained. I will write again if you need to refresh your memory of this fabulous experience.

One big hug to the literary family.


Yours, always.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

This is not "change"

It has been said that the only reason someone or people are voted out of power is because people found better person or persons. Have Nigerians made mistake? If the 8th National Assembly members in the hallowed chambers receive N8.64b as wardrobe allowance, then the change we seek must be at best imaginary.

Few months ago, when we (some of us, who believe that Nigerians have been victims of mercenary politicians for long) defied the odds, endured “name callings” to cause and vote for a change of government, it was because we believed that change was due, not necessarily because the All Progressives Congress came with it as a campaign slogan. It has been a long way coming, many Nigerians have hoped for it. Nigerians did not just want a change of government. Not just, as some critiques called it, a “change of baton” between political parties. No, it was something more: government with a human face; one that recorgnises and identifies with the people and their many challenges. In a sense, we asked for a total departure from the old ways of corruption and impunity, polarised governance, and political, religious/ethnic bigotry. We wanted a government run by altruistic humans and not some materialistic and overzealous politicians. And so we joined, and made popular the change mantra. And it happened.

Thankfully, or is it fortunately, the people (not Buhari or APC) won and saw a former opposition party take charge of government. The new and traditional media have been agog ever since, celebrating our victory and congratulating the new governments. The new president, governors and legislators have since been sworn in and swung into action. And following the growing level of hope, anticipation and expectations, as raised by the APC during the campaign period, organisations and individuals have warned that the anticipated change may not come so easily and called for patience and prayer. President Buhari himself has said that he does not possess a magic wand to perform any magic. The crux of the matter is that time is needed if we must experience significant changes in the system. But president Burahi and the APC government would have to show us that they are willing to give us the change they promised. A body language, even, will suffice.

But the drama in the National Assembly that produced Senator Bukola Saraki and Hon. Yakubu Dogara as Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives respectively served a great concern as to the possibility of APC producing the expected change we expect. In any case, the fight for the soul of Senate and House of Representatives has been fought, won and lost. Senator Saraki is the senate president and Hon. Dogara is the speaker of the House of Representatives. The rest is history. But can we expect a credible representation in the 8th National Assembly?

The 8th Assembly is to receive N8.64b as wardrobe allowance. And this is where my hope is beginning to wane and my fears on acceleration mode. What kind of shoes, clothes … are they going to have? I actually thought it’s time to be show empathy with Nigerians, for the many years of hardship they have endured under our past leaders. But this development is practically disapproving. How can a government allocate nearly N9n as clothing allowance to a senator in a country where many states owe workers for months? And considering the fall in oil prices, our major earner, one would naturally think that the ideal thing is to cut down on government expenditure and save money for developmental projects. The National Assembly must reconsider and review their stand on this and many other issues if they must retain the confidence of the people. This, certainly, is not the change we asked for!



Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Honourable Ugwuanyi must listen

I read this article by Duke Chidi Nwafor. He wrote all the way from London. I am convinced that Mr. Duke understands the plight of Enugu people well enough. This story am about to share, I believe, is more of an admonition, particularly to the incoming governor of the state.
Mr. Duke bared his mind, and I share in this wise counsel. Truly, Enugu people "deserve better romance". My understanding is that this story should serve to awaken, sharpen or even inspire the already widely acknowledged active spirit of the coming governor.

Thank you Mr. Duke. I pray and hope Hon. Ugwuanyi pays attention to the issues raised and justify the faith and confidence reposed on him by the people.

In few says to come, Hon. Ugwuayi will ascend the governorship throne in Enugu state. And we are watching, waiting, hopefully for better days.


ENUGU: In the face of democratic renaissance - 
By Duke Chidi Nwafor
(Curled from Saturday Sun)

In the build up to the recently concluded 2015 general elections, a revolutionary gust tore through the Nigerian political space and swerved the country into an era – now believed by many – to be that of hope and redemption. And the harbinger of this long awaited moment of reclamation is believed to be none but Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, APC. Since his triumph at the polls, a blanket of hope hovers around us like a cloudy sky just before the rain. At every turn the discussion is the same: Buhari and his message of change. In Enugu state, the atmosphere is different in that it is not APC that runs the show, but similar because the people have keyed in to the “change” epistle. Change – not necessarily of person or party – but attitude towards governance. I expect to see and experience a positive change, this aura of hope in Enugu state. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP) is no small masquerade and the people know why they chose him
The burden of rebuilding a broken nation is a monstrous job that a single individual cannot confront. And Buhari is only but a lone tree. He can never make a forest, thus the need for a government of collaboration. The tons of advice from both government and public quarters to Buhari since his emergence is to surround himself with a crop of competent, confident, honest but also altruistic technocrats to help reposition the nation. By extension, it means that the incoming president must guarantee a smooth relationship with governors of the constituting states irrespective of party affiliation.

Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is the governor-elect in Enugu state, and of course my soon-coming governor. It is no surprise. The former National Assembly member knew where he was going and had worked hard to win for himself an intimidating mass of teeming supporters, to the extent one almost thought the election would be a “one horse race”, until that historic feat of Mr. Buhari at the polls. And then, the challenger, Barrister Okey Ezeah of the APC saw it as a green light. But that light was not to shine. PDP, once more had its way back to the Lion Building of the coal city state. Hon. Ugwuanyi, our incoming governor must understand the enormity of work ahead of him, coming at an era of democratic redefinition.

There are foul cries in some quarters, especially from the camp of the challenging party, the APC. Many believe and allege that a number of things went amiss with the election processes, that given a level playing ground the APC would, by now, be on its way to the Lion Building, concluding plans to deliver on its “change” message. They believe that with the PDP returning to the Government House, it is going to be just “business as usual”. But how true can that be? My understanding is that the People’s Democratic Party suffered severe blow during the presidential polls and as such must have learnt their lessons, bitter as it were; that they have experienced the ravaging power of angry, discontented and disgruntled people. I believe that they cannot and shall never again put the people behind. Hon.Ugwuanyi knows, I believe, better than to provoke the people’s ire. Someone joked that “to whom brain is given, common sense is expected.” The coming governor, I know, possesses the not-so-common “common sense” plus something more. Hon. Ugwuanyi, in his acceptance speech reaffirmed his commitment to the four-point agenda of Governor Chime, and to all his campaign promises in the 17 Local Government Areas of the state. He must not be told that the people are waiting, watching, with bright eyes.
Enugu state, despite the controversial “sublime performance” in infrastructural development by the Chime administration has not, the people argue, benefited majority of the people in the state especially the ordinary man; and so, it is believed that whatever happened was at best misplaced priorities. The dividends of democracy obviously, may not have trickled down to the “common man” in the rural areas. And this is where I blame successive governments: this negligence of the common people. One cannot praise a government based on centered infrastructural provisions meant to serve the elite in established cities. Governments have paid specific attention to metropolitan development. If this continues to happen, what moral ground does the government stand to lament rural-urban drift? The incoming administration should, therefore, work to ensure an equitable decentralization of development down to the rural communities.
What is democracy if the “ordinary man” in the hinterland can only dream of drinking clean water or eating even twice a day as a huge luxury; when his languishing and pathetically impoverished children are not even privileged to screech, like others, at the erratic lighting of the bulb; when his people continue to die of common curable diseases; when he cannot afford basic education for his children; when the road to his village is long covered in refuse and towering grasses. This man has many problems, basic needs. And he’s angry. This man belongs to Enugu too, and deserves better romance, something more than a few cups of rice, salt, a piece of wrapper or campaign T-shits. We’ve got to move on.
I am confident that the incoming governor understands the concept of modern democracy; the fact that the people are the heart of modern democratic governance, and as such should endeavor to create a cordial relationship with the proverbial “leaders of tomorrow”, the youth. This is important. “We all benefit by having young people exposed to ‘the way things are done’ things are done in a democratic society” says Hans Bernard. Yet he asks, “isn’t it time…’to tap the power of youth?” The time, I guess, is long overdue. But it’s never too late. We can still get it right. The incoming administration should be proactive in creating or supporting existing programmes that can gainfully engage the teeming youth, to distract them from restiveness and other vices. The administration must pay committed attention to sports and many vocational activities that has the capacity of empowering the youth.  It must learn from Mary MacLeod Bethune who says, “we have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power towards good ends.”

The incoming administration must listen and pay duteous attention to issues of the people. The health sector is so important that any serious government cannot ignore. As the saying goes, a healthy nation invariably is a wealthy nation. The administration must do well to revitalize the health sector. The state, obviously do not just want a mighty building as hospitals, no, our hospitals should be adequately equipped with innovative medical equipment and of course must maintain relevant international best practices through recruitment of competent medical professionals. Above all, medical services should not just be made accessible, they should also be affordable such that the ordinary people in the state can benefit. Democracy does not, and cannot exempt people from their own government. It involves them.

 The late Nelson Mandela perfectly understands the importance of education. No wonder he says, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. But how many understand or appreciate the potency of this “weapon”, or even care to use it? We cannot turn our back on education or pay lip service to it and dream of a healthy economy? The onus therefore, is on the incoming administration. They must be willing, and be seen to value functional education as that “powerful weapon” of transforming the state. The Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board, ENSUBEB, henceforth must do a lot more than “building and renovating” few blocks of classrooms. Our schools need to be equipped with best learning materials. What about the teachers and lecturers? There has to be great motivation, so they can be more creative and productive. This government cannot afford to shy away from the responsibility of raising good citizens through good education.

Moreover, the Local Government Areas must be seen as an indispensible means of delivering dividends of democracy to the grassroots. The third tier of government is purposely created for this. It is an extension, a presence as well as representation of state government in the localities. Of truth, there are scores of remote villagers who have never seen the governor, not even on television, for television too is an imaginary luxury. But clean water, good road, basic healthcare, education and of course jobs for their children can bring the governor to live in their hearts. These people do not even ask for too much, they just want to be able to live their lives in the modest way possible. This incoming government must listen to them. It must provide enabling environment such that the people can vote council chairmen of their choice to ensure the actualization of the promised rural development – in line with the four-point agenda. The commissioners and local government chairmen and council members are the eyes and ears of the governor. So, he must, as a matter of accountability, demand open stewardship from every member of his cabinet. The council chairmen must, not tell or write but, show clear evidence of performance in their various local governments.

If Hon. Ugwuanyi must succeed, considering the huge task that awaits him, there are few options available for him, alternatives he must not forgo: he must ensure that his commissioners are just as competent, creative, proactive and selfless; he must consider integrity, credibility and merit; he must eschew favoritism. The exigency of ensuring a robust working economy for the state cannot, and should not be sacrificed at the altar of compensating party supporters. This, unarguably, will be his sure recipe for becoming a man of the people.

The incoming governor cannot afford to fail. My conviction is that he will not; that he will prove to his opposition that “change” is not resident with APC; that there are other sweeping agents better than the broom. He need to show that change is one invariable index in democracy; and that PDP too, is capable of activating it, even more generously.  

The political trend is rapidly changing. There are people who were not involved deeply in active local politics even when they have both requisite abilities and spirit to serve the people. Now, seeing that it is no longer business as usual, they are now ready to serve their people. My position is that where such people are certified as credible candidates, both by the people and the relevant party, they should be given chance.

“Bad governance is worse than diabetes. A perfectly healthy man can contact a lot of ailments if he starts suffering from diabetes” says Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister. But I am confident, and hopeful too, that the coming administration, under the leadership of Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi will take Enugu state to an enviable height by engendering a peoples-government.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Diary of a Lover II

Prisoner of Love

It took just one day to fall in love with Osarome; little moment of closeness, of eye contacts – sizing ourselves, measuring love as with a cup. We couldn’t even express ourselves, our desires. We were so shy like that, afraid, of what would happen, of what would not happen. It was difficult to hold hands or even cuddle. I was scared of many things I didn’t know; of things I needed to be certain about - Infatuation. Crush. Love. Which? It wasn’t easy.
That day, she told me how Ben used to abandon her for days, weeks, even months running after other girls. “I don’t like being away from my boyfriend. But he did not understand. He never cared, yet I loved her.” Now she wonders if she could love again. I understand everything, and that is the trouble with what I feel now - time and distance would be our enemy.

My affection for Osarome grew by the day. I tried to tame it, despite what I felt, to make it understand that Osa lived far from me; that she hates to be away from her boyfriend. I tried my best but my effort was all but vain. I was perpetually condemned to what I felt for her. The only option was to continue to love her, near or far. And so, little by little I found myself gradually dissolving into a passive lovebird, bird without wings else I would have flown to Maiduguri, wherever she was just to be with her. Poor lover boy! I was fast becoming a prisoner – prisoner of love.
Oh Osarome! Did she even know how much I loved her? Obviously drowned in love - after she departed - and unable to cope with the disturbing sting of her absence, I called her every day. I sent mails on yahoo and facebook, mails most times unreturned. But it was never enough. Now I can only dream. I recall with nostalgia those moments with her at the park, the only opportunity I had to touch her velvet skin, to brush the hairs on her ebony arms. I imagine the beauty that grace her tender face, the clarity and precision with which she produced every word. I try to imagine what she would say if I touched her: push me away and call me names? Or look at me with a renewed, rejuvenated passion and hold my hand to her skin and whisper sweet words in my ears? I imagine so many things now. I will always remember her; the look, the smile, the laughter…and then the unwillingness to go: memories of an angel.

Two weeks later, I got a text on my cell phone. I was on my way back to school, Osa sent me a message. It was her first text to me, a confirmation text I called it: “Every finish line is the beginning of a new race. When I looked into your eyes, you got me hooked with your love controller…I am tripping, but ian’t falling over. I am not the one easy to get to. But all that changed when I met you. Tell me what you like because what you tell me is what I like.”
I pressed my little phone against my chest and closed my eyes. I was on cloud number 9. “Truly, I am in love, once again,” I said to myself. My fears started to disappear. But there were still questions in my heart. Didn’t she mind about having boyfriend far away from her anymore? The answer was handy: things change. Love change things. Looking out the window the trees waved endlessly. Satisfied, I drifted into a reverie: and there she was, right in my arms, cuddled, at peace. I looked at her, an angelic figure. She smelt of fine fragrance, not of fashion cologne, something in the semblance of nectar; I could feel her breath, gently rising and falling. I brushed her hair and made a trace between her apples, tot the lower parts. And she moaned pleasurably.
It was the sharp galloping of the car that jolted me. No problems, we will not be far from each other as we thought after all. Love conquers all barriers.

I returned to school drenched in her thought. It wasn’t difficult to see. I spent more time with her on the phone than ever: morning, afternoon and night. But all these were never enough. And that worried me much. Gradually, as if washed by persistent rain, Osa became an abstract figure, someone that only lived in my dreams. She doesn’t call anymore. No text messages. And she hardly picks my calls. I couldn’t understand it.  I think of the day she wrote to say, “I won’t leave you”. I think of the day we met. I think of Fred and his casual philosophy on love. I am mad. I want to curse. But no. I do not curse the one I love. I remember a mail I sent her once, this one:

My Osarome,
It has been ages since I watched you slip into that cab. It wasn’t easy for you. I saw it. You wished you could stay a little longer. But you had to go. You did. Today, I write to remind you of everything; of the promises I made to you. Remember? I made you a promise. A promise I knew I would keep; to keep you close to my heart, all the time. I promised to tell you everything that happens to me and around me. I promised to call you as much as I can. I have done my best, you know.
It is cold and dry here. It makes me miss a whole lot of you. There aren’t so many beautiful parks and gardens here like the place where we met. But I still see you. You told me that it was not going to be long, no matter how long. I believed you.

I want to tell you about this one - keeping my promises; there are many girls here in school, as you know. They appear at every turn. It is not easy to say no, with the girls flipping and pestering all around you. But I have been faithful to my promises. It is a difficult task, I am at war. But I hope to win. It is another promise I made, to myself – to keep myself firm and dry as the day I met you; that no water will drop off me till I meet you again. It is a tougher decision. See!
There are other friends around me. Good friends I like to say. Lillian, Patience, Kenneth… I used to tell you about them. They have been good. They have helped me love you more. The sad news is some of them would graduate when the semester ends. I miss them already. Lilian told me that love is patient when I told them how I miss you; she told me that love means loving the imperfect person perfectly when I complained about the calls you did not return. But there is a question I want to ask you before I go: do you still love me?

 Waiting to hear from you, soon.

Truly yours
Donald

No reply ever came. Where did I go wrong? “Those who truly loved never lose everything,” my father told me once. But Osa seem to have gone with everything. “Life must go on” was the most courageous thing I said. But just how far without Osarome?



Wednesday, 1 April 2015

As we await change

Hello IUB readers,
the political environment in Nigeria got a little more than saturated in the past few weeks. And after the election last Saturday it was all foggy and unpredictable, the whole country enveloped in that pendant, palpable anxiety, apprehension, excitement as the votes were counted at the ICC Abuja. Some said the experience was a little more than "who wants to be a millionaire".
Finally, and thankfully, at about 5:15 pm yesterday it rained. President Goodluck Jonathan, conceding defeat, had called and congratulated General Buhari. It was such a huge relief. It was more than water showering from the high sky, no, it was wild excitement, unprecedented celebration, victory for Nigeria; there was love in the air. The social media went agog with congratulatory "love" messages. The world had their eyes on us. A new government was born. I like the way Pa Ikhide.R Ikheloa put it, "the change of baton between the PDP and the APC, that breakaway faction of the PDP." hmmm!
Truly, that exchange of baton is long overdue. Come may 29 it will happen.
Change is what nearly everybody says now. But what about those credible policies and projects by the out-going government? Should the APC really jettison them? We would like to hear from you, in few sentences perhaps, the key areas you would like the incoming government effect CHANGE.
Remember, democracy is about the people. Be part of the process. Share your thought. You could get a mention in our upcoming post.
Thanks for stopping by.As

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Literary Opportunity: Write your way to stardom

FT/OppenheimerFunds Emerging Voices Awards
Ok, here is the big moment you've been waiting for. If you are an unpublished writer and you reside in any African countries, here is a big opportunity to step into the limelight.

Emerging Voices 2015: The Financial Times in association with Oppenheimer Funds has set a big stage to recorgnise and of course reward creativity  and extraordinary artistic talent in fiction literature, film-making and other forms of art.

We wish you best of luck!

Read more info about the prize here

Thursday, 19 March 2015

My President Should Kiss Me Right


It is few days before the 2015 general election, and as we count down, the PDP and APC and their candidates must consider the wise admonition by Simon Sinek, that “leadership is not about the next election, it is about the next generation.” The big contenders are making last-minute effort, casting their nets. By finding a way to postpone the election earlier scheduled for February 14, President Jonathan and his PDP, no doubt made significant inroads catching more fish in this big river called Nigeria, at least more than they ordinarily would have in their net if the election were not shifted. The postponement also served well to defuse the palpable fear that hovered around us. It loosened the gripping claws of fears of war and death caused by the camps threatening fire and brimstone.  But the story has not ended. General Muhammadu Buhari, the seemingly popular choice of the people now has had more than enough to chew. They have tried, in many mysterious ways, to pull him down. But the retired General seem to be the “anointed” one. And you know what the Bible says: “touch not my anointed…”  Buhari has never been my choice man as a President. But he must be happy to enjoy the result of this distrust, suspicion and chariness that I now feel, not for President Jonathan as a person, but his consistent inconsistency in proving to be the man, in proving me right when I asked him with my one vote, to be my President. I have been appalled by his lack of courage to weed his cabinet of endangering, parasitic elements sucking Nigeria dry. No. my President should be my friend and must learn to kiss me right.

Late Chinua Achebe, in his little book, The Trouble With Nigeria, published around 1983, x-rayed the depth of corruption in Nigeria at the time. The late literary giant acknowledged Nigeria’s “helpless integrity to solve the problem of rampant corruption…”However, he admits that “...to initiate change, the President of this country must take, and be seen to take, a decisive step of ridding his administration of all persons on whom the slightest wind of corruption and scandal has blown. When he can summon the courage to do that, he will find himself grown overnight to such a stature and authority that he will become Nigeria’s leader, not just its president. Only then can he take on and conquer corruption in the nation.” And this is where the bigger problem lies, that President Jonathan does not have that courage. A large percentage of people who now clamour for Buhari do so, I believe, not because they are so in love with his personality, but because the docility and inactivity of the one whom they loved threatens their very existence and the hope of their future. And so they ask for change.  

The evidence is becoming increasingly clear; Gen. Buhari, ironically, has become the biblical “fisher of men”. While President Jonathan makes apparent struggle to win people to his camp, Gen.Buhari is busy enjoying unalloyed support, voluntary cross-carpeting into his camp, and soon his tent, if not already full, will be nearing a burst.

One had hoped that President Jonathan would not puff and sweat for his re-election the way he is doing now. That is if the people are actually pleased with him. The evidence of his stewardship would ordinarily speak for him, and there would have been no need for TAN and other pro Jonathan groups. But Mr. President did not understand what it meant to be “a man of the people”, what it means to win peoples’ heart. And worse still, he was not incisive enough to see that the tide is changing, that Nigerians are waking up to defend her democracy. The recent presentation of job offers and other forms of compensation for the victims and relations of victims of the Immigration recruitment tragedy refreshes the wound of that sour incident in my mind. They say it is a fulfillment of the promise made. It is just that bad; someone has to die before someone gets a job. I am not sure how many eligible Nigerians are yet undecided as to who to vote, but these campaign and advert frays might just be needless. Leo Burnett, speaking on the essence of political advertising was right to say that “good ads does not just circulate information. It penetrates the public minds with desire and belief”. And the popular opinion and belief of Nigerians is that PDP is synonymous with corruption. And so they desire a change.

My problem with President Jonathan’s administration and more especially, the PDP is not that Nigeria has not turned America overnight. No. my anger is legitimate, verifiable and justifiable. It is the parallel social and economic cleavage between the insignificant few and an intimidating yet vulnerable millions. It is the ease with which impunity prevails; the wanton, bold, brazen and galloping posture of corruption. I am not the man who judges a government on the basis of centered infrastructural provisions meant to serve the elite in established cities. And so if any president must impress me, his developmental effort must be seen practically evident in the rural areas, such that even if the dwellers cannot afford any luxury, basic necessities of life would not be luxuries.

On the wake of dwindling oil price and federal government’s pronouncement that the year 2015 shall witness a great deal of ‘belt tightening’, there have been perceived misgivings with regards to the measures adopted by the federal government in carrying out the planned austerity measures. But the measures so far adopted do not reflect the real meaning of austerity. My pain will be my silence in the face of this deception not the fact that the measures were intended to deceive. It is not difficult to see, that the “belt tightening” campaign is even a bigger deception. You cannot ask a man who has no belt to tighten his belt. I want Mr. President to know that my brothers and sisters in the village, the ones you call “ordinary Nigerians” have no belt. I want him to know that his cabinet members and coterie of aids have belts that are three times longer than their real sizes; that they are capable of stuffing materials around their waist to claim that the belt is even too tight for them only to turn behind the chamber to off-load and live bigger than Nigeria.

The Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has told us how government plans to curtail international travels in the public service in other to reduce expenditure. The minister also said that the austerity measures would not affect “critical infrastructure projects… because they are key to economic growth, development and job creation.” And this is where I find another big lie. The federal ministry of works and housing has said it might not be able to deliver on various infrastructural projects since government has slashed its budget from over N100bn to a meager N11bn. But we know that the road infrastructure, for instance, is one important way the “ordinary” Nigerians benefit from the government. The big-man and the money-bag politicians do not travel by road. And perhaps that is why the austerity, strangely, targets those capital expenditure frames. This is deception and Nigerians deserve a better kiss from the government.
Instead of asking government officials to tighten up, the president should rather provide them with shorter belts, and ensure they always wear it as a measure of assessment. This way, the President would be seen to be averse to corruption.

If President Jonathan survives this revolutionary heat being mounted by APC and maintains his seat in Aso Rock, it is expected that the APC scare would serve as a wakeup call. The PDP government must know that Nigeria’s wealth is our “common wealth” and nobody or group must claim it. And if perchance Gen. Buhari finds his way into the coveted power enclave, then he must remember, and pay meticulous attention to the issues, those concerns of the “ordinary” Nigerians. He must remember their cry for the natural luxury of peaceful sleep, especially for his brothers in the north-east; that the welder man in my village needs electricity to be productive; that many countries of the world do not have oil deposits but have maintained a robust economy; that our children must no longer die of avoidable diseases and health conditions. He must remember that Boko Haram and other form of insurgencies and restiveness in the country are backlashes of a failed education system. Above all, he must not forget the many issues that must have led his predecessor out of power, and to know too, that Aso Rock is no man’s home. Come March 28, I pledge peace!



Thursday, 5 March 2015

HAPPY WORLD BOOK DAY!

"Reading makes a full man;confidence a ready man; writing an exact man" - Anonymous 

…my musings on Mamo – Helon Habila’s introspective character



Today is World Book Day - 5th March 5, 2015 - a day set aside by UNESCO to celebrate authors, books and reading every year. This celebration is observed by over hundreds of nations across the world. How are you celebrating? I hope you are not left out. For me, I didn't buy myself a new book this week, and couldn't go for any book event or reading sessions happening around town: just recuperating from a bout of malaria. However, I am here doing it my little way.

So today, since I couldn't get myself a new book - and no one surprised me with a book gift – I turned to my modest library. I wanted something original, captivating and absorbing. I followed my fingers, carefully rummaging through the shelf. It is Helon Habila’s Measuring Time that called me. I answered.



Recently, Helon Habila, Teju Cole and Vladislavic won the 2015 WindhamCampbell Prize alongside 7 other writers, a Prize I tagged as African affair, with the 3 Africans scooping the 3 slots allocated for fiction. Helon is my man any day, such a fecund writer.
Earlier today, on Sabi News, an online news and entertainment site, I read from Toni Kan, reminiscing on a conversation with Helon onWhat Helon Habila Told Me Before He Wrote Measuring Time”. And in that piece, Kan did a near-perfect review of the book Measuring Time, and of course what Helon, the author represents.

For me, the only word I have for the book is Adventure. I chose to write about this as my way of celebrating the World Book Day. Mamo’s experience in the story reminds me of what I thought he could find in his characterized solitude that he did not. “After the closure of the school Mamo found himself with time on his hands and without much means of using it apart from taking long walks in the afternoon.” But I expected Mamo to find a book, papers, anything just to read. But he didn’t and his woes pressed heavily on him. I didn’t like him for that. “He took long walks only to kill time…” and I love the way Helon, this busy hand, weaved this woeful man called Mamo. “He waited for something, anything to happen, and as he waited he measured time in the shadows cast by trees and walls, in the silence between one footfall and the next….” But Mamo! Why didn’t you find a book, just read something? You would have, I believe, found something interesting, something exhilarating, liberating, invigorating; something lifting you from this blistering, or is it icy abyss of clinical solitude.

Ok, Mamo thinks am hash and critical of him. In some occasions his books and radio was actually his only companion. But his world didn’t get better; because he read wrong stuffs or perhaps with a bias mind. I understand because the wait of loneliness had pressed heavily on his shoulders: “At moments like this he could actually feel loneliness curled up like a ball somewhere low in his abdomen. In his room he brought out from under the bed a carton in which he and his brother had always kept their stuff since childhood. It was full of tattered books…” But Mamo had no love for the books; he chose the hankie, on which he touches and drowned in lustful reverie about a passing woman.

That, as painted by Helon, was the early life of Mamo, the rather introspective character in Measuring Time.  You need to find out what happened to Mamo later on and who he turned out to be. So you need to read Measuring Time, a novel praised to be “courageous and poise”.

Reading books – right books – makes you better. But what you read is as important as reading. And that’s why I read good books.  Right?
As we celebrate World Book Day today, I hope your love for books and literary materials grows and that you read always. Having you here is a testimony. Please call again.