“Slowly slowly the streams gather
Little by little a sea formed
Then the shoreline recedes further
And soon your home becomes a pond

“Yet if faith bid you leave that glen
For the hilltop, to seek a home
Perhaps you shall find among men
Another glen, to call your own.”

–The Journey of the Soul

There are times when the prospects of change confront a man. The raging waves rise their ugly heads and the tempest rocks the little boat of faith, of hope, of life, and at that moment a man must decide whether to continue with the status quo – on the clearly defined route, upon that well charted course, or whether to depart from the familiar into the deep unexplored blue of the sea.

My time at Lyriversity had been one of learning and teaching, trials and errors, mistakes and corrections, but all in all I acquired the very fundamental effect of knowledge which is that of power, the power to choose wisely, to be better, to influence, to stand out against the tempest and the raging sea with a clear head, head free from illusion and say in an unshakeable voice: “QUIET”, and then to proceed so to speak like in the time of Christ as if the noise, the confusion and controversy are no more.

I started out on this platform with many a comrades, and we have managed to do amazing things together, to carve out a microscopic niche (but a niche all the same) for ourselves. But often times I had found myself on the crossroad, like I did these last few weeks and like Kwesi Brew wrote in his poem (The Mesh):

“I must either leave or come with [Lyriversity].
I [have] lingered over the choice
But in darkness of my doubts
[Knowledge which I’ve acquired here] lifted the lamp of [Clarity]
And I saw in [her] face
The road that I must take.”

And unfortunately the road leads no longer to Lyriversity (for now). This has not been an easy decision for me. I have tarried upon this choice, dragged my feet along the outlines of its frame, prayed and fasted, before I decided upon it. Lyriversity will always have a special place in my heart, she is my first love, the one upon whose guidance I learnt to crawl, to stand and to run.

The reason/s for leaving Lyriversity are a bit personal, and some who are quite in sync with the development of this group know much about it. I shall not spill it upon this page, it is far from my intention really. I feel that it is better to row straight on to the deep beyond than to row head on to a sure and approaching hurricane…yes a hurricane that has been brewing and will surely blow its fury upon us all in the future.

I have now opened with the help of some literary friends a new group which we call: INK FIFTEEN (INK15). We now have a blog: Ink15 and we intend to improve upon ourselves and the lofty objectives of Lyriversity.

Ink15 Logo

Ink15 Logo

I do not write out of bitterness, I do not write to slander and to savage, no no I write to inform and to appeal to our ardent followers that the dream we all share still lives on but alas not on Lyriversity. It is now very much alive on INK15 – Imagine the Impossible. Perhaps like Rudyard Kipling wrote in his poem (IF):

“If. . .
You can watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings. . .
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man…”

We shall be all men…INK15

Okoye Chukwudi Ezeamalukwuo

Liberty of Creativity

Gallery  —  Posted: March 14, 2015 in NEWS, ORIENT NEWS
Tags:

This is a Creativity University that encompasses all genres of music, art, fashion, photography, painting, Literature etc.

Lyriversity is more than a name, it is a brand. Lyriversity is much more than a group, it is a family. it is much more than a gathering of great minds, it is an institution.

We here at Lyriversity are committed to the arts, the learning, the nurturing of raw talents into world class professionals.

Lyriversity is divided into schools, what some Universities will call Faculties.

*School of Literary Writing (Articles, Literary Reviews etc)
*School of Poetry
*School of Prose
*School of Music
*School of Visual Art (Drawings, Painting & Photography)

We are currently active in the School of Literary Writing, Poetry and Prose. soon we will activate the School of Visual Art and Music. As time goes on and this institution grows, we intend to add more schools and discipline.

Enrol in our school. Join the faculty that is best suited to your talent. Like our blog and register your courses (your writings, music tracks, and videos) for the semester and graduate into a professional.

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

Image  —  Posted: June 23, 2013 in Uncategorized

time_trap_by_nairafee-d2o3a9r_thumb.jpg

by Okoye Chukwudi Ezeamalukwuo

I woke up this morning thinking of Nkem –that beautiful ebony girl with sleepy eyes and seductive smile. I woke up this morning thinking of her –the way she laughed, the softness of her voice when she said OK, and the awkward manner in which we ended our conversation last night. It is not just the silence that hovers annoyingly in our chat these days that worries me. It is not just the occasional “How are you” repeated over again to make up for the lack of something concrete to say. No, not that. It is this nagging feeling that our relationship has entered into that phase where conversations become clichéd –filled with the same hollow vowels and consonants and very little passion that are insufficient to justify two hundred, a hundred, fifty or ten naira credit spent in making the telephone conversation possible.

I woke up this morning arguing with myself whether I should call her or not. Perhaps, this is what idleness does to people, having been in this state for over a year, I must confess that I am a slow learner, because I’m still figuring it out.

The time was 9: 23 am and I was just waking up, though still rolling and turning on my bed wrapped in my bedspread. The sun rays were pouring into the room like columns of hungry ant in search of food. My shirt was soaked through with sweat –there have been no electricity for two days now. I staggered to my feet and reached for my blackberry. It was off. I had switched it off last night to conserve the battery. What can a poor man in Nigeria do? I forgot about Nkem, and my thought went to my Mom. I saw her in my mind sitting under the rain with an open umbrella in her hand, selling okpa on the street. “What would she have said about situations like this?” I thought to myself. “When the desirable becomes unavailable, the available becomes the desirable.” Yes, that was what Mother usually said whenever she found herself in an unpleasant situation that she could not change –like when my father took a second wife and stopped taking care of his kids, or when she fed me and my siblings only pap for breakfast, lunch and dinner due to lack of money to make a decent meal, or when she withdrew us from private school and put us in public school. Mother was a typical Nigerian –resigned to her fate, irredeemably optimistic, always religiously hopeful that I wouldn’t be surprised if she found a way to crack a joke if faced by a firing squad. I smiled dryly at this thought, and switched on my phone. I had 35 new emails, most of them facebook notifications. I skimmed through them, and finally went to the ones with job adverts.

An hour later, and with 3 job applications sent, I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth. My thought went back to Nkem, and every emotion, every fear and feeling gradually returned accompanied by the argument –should I just call her or should I not. It was now becoming a tug-of-war –a fight between my ego and that little gentle voice. I took some water and rinsed my mouth with it. Then I spitted out the water, and I looked long at the broken mirror on the bathroom wall. “When did it come to this –debating and looking for a reason to call her?” I asked the reflection on the mirror. “This is Nkem.” I thought to myself. I could still remember the time when we had something interesting to say, when our love burnt bright, and our chats were long and intimate, full of longing and love for each other. “What happened to us?” I thought out loudly to myself as I stood there at the mirror, looking at my reflection. My eyes were still pale from sleep, and two stretch marks ran through my face. My beard was bushy and needed shaving. I ran my hand on my hair and sighed. “I need to call her. I have to call her.” I said wearily to myself.

A knock on the door just then interrupted my thought. I came out of the bathroom, and opened the door. It was my landlord’s youngest son –a boy of nine. He was standing there at my door half asleep, completely unaware of the battle going on in my mind. He must have just woken up then. His hair was untidy and so was his clothe. He was also barefooted. He always has this disarming smile, and a hopelessly naïve outlook on life even for a 9 year old. I smiled when I opened the door.
“Arinze, how are you? How may I help you?” I said to him.
“Good morning Uncle Val.” He muttered with a forced smile hanging conspicuously on his face. “My daddy wants to know if we can borrow sugar from you.”

I scratched my head. My six day old St Louis sugar was almost finished from overuse. I bought it initially for my personal consumption, but it had since become a public property, serving me and a family of six. I just couldn’t refuse to share something as cheap as a packet of sugar, or salt, or my only belt, or the occasional two hundred to one thousand naira I borrow to them which are never paid back. I left the door, went into the kitchen and brought out the packet of sugar and handed it over to him. He smiled, thanked me and ran off to their side of the house.

I went back into the kitchen, washed the dishes from yesterday, warmed the leftover foods, and put the kettle with water in it on the stove. Tea and bread –that would be my breakfast. The water boiled and I poured some into a cup with Lipton in it. I searched for the sugar and remembered after few minutes of ransacking my cupboard that I had just given it out. So I ran over to my landlord’s place to retrieve whatever was left of it.

11: 07 am. I was sitting on my bed slowly sipping my tea, and going through my phone at the same time. I noticed a status on facebook that read: “How can something so sweet, suddenly becomes stale.” It was from Nkem. The time stamp said that it was posted about 11 hours ago, which was less than an hour after our last phone conversation. Guilt and anger both swept through me.
“I should have called immediately I woke up. I should call her.” I said loudly to myself. Still I made no effort to dial her number. Instead I sat there sipping my tea. “If the relationship was becoming stale, it was also her fault.” I thought, almost smiling to myself then like I just discovered a cure for Aids, “yes she should have called me this morning too instead of posting trash on facebook.”

I finished breakfast and tidied the room. Then I made use of the toilet, showered and dressed up. I checked the time after I put on my clothes, it was 12:52 pm. NEPA as Nigerians prefer to call electricity was still unavailable. I picked up a book to read but it was hot inside the room. I opened a window, the sun rays that flooded the room were so irritating to my skin that I quickly closed it and drew the curtain. The room — stuffy — sat in uncomfortable dullness. I decided to sit outside. I picked up my phone; the battery was already almost down. “I should at least text her and see how she was doing.” I thought to myself as I paced the room, searching for the right words, and the right way to put them in order not to sound too needy and less in charge. After about ten minutes of soul searching, or to put it more aptly vocabulary searching, I typed: “Hey babe, how is your day going? Hope all is well? Do have a nice day. Love you.”
I erased the last two words, then typed them back, then erased them again. I typed “missed you” in their place. I scratched my head and thought about it. “Love you. Miss you. Love you. Miss you.” I repeated the words to myself as if saying them over and over would deliver me from the sick feeling in my mind. I looked up at the ceiling. Besides the dilapidated and worn out plywood which leaked water during the rainy season, there was nothing there for me. “Just call her.” The little voice in my mind whispered gently to me, “Just call her.” I shook my head, switched off the phone without sending the message, and stepped out for a walk.

More than three hours later, I still haven’t called or sent the text. My phone had been switched off since then, so I didn’t know if anyone tried reaching me through it or not. I had initially intended to walk around my street and back, but on stepping out, I’d bumped into an old friend. We both had a lot of catching up to do, a little more strolling, and two bottles of beer to help water the garden of our friendship. I came home at around 4:22 pm. NEPA was still unavailable. I took a shower, changed my clothes and lay down on the bed. I switched on the phone, nine emails and one text message. The text message was from Nkem, and it read, “Hey Val, how are you? Hope all is well. We seriously need to talk about everything. Hear from you soon.”

Something jacked off in my brain. The stubbornness — those walls that I built — which had prevented me from calling her all day gave way and in its place; fear. “What exactly does she mean in the text message?” I thought to myself. I stood up and started pacing the room. My mind was racing and I was also biting my tongue. I dialled her number immediately. She didn’t pick up the first time. On the second try, she answered.
“Hey My love, how are you baby.” I said as gently and as lovingly as I could.
That was when my phone battery died.

THE END

Okoye Chukwudi Ezeamalukwuo, photo by Emmanuel Ezeh

Okoye Chukwudi Ezeamalukwuo, photo by Emmanuel Ezeh

by Chimezie Chika

I
Finding Q-dance Centre was what drove me onto the streets of Lagos
that morning. I felt something leap in me when I saw throngs of people
milling into the streets from the thousand avenues and nooks like
ants, saw yellow buses hop by, and their conductors howling in Yoruba
for people going to Mile 2, Mazamaza, Festac. Maruas trotting like
hungry dogs. Hawkers screaming. On the pavement, a bend-down-select
book vendor. I bought a book.
II
The bus left me at Tejusho market, at the corner of the modern
shopping complex. A kind tall mallam in a white skull cap directed me
to the rail line where I had to wait, with other people, for a snaky
rickety train pooh-ing in agony to pass by. The Okada I entered there
dropped me off at 194 Herbert Macaulay—a tall edifice with a blue
façade.

I was the first to arrive that day but, ironically, I would become the
prize-winning latecomer for the rest of the workshop. I was not really
looking at the young boys and girls who were cleaning up; I was
thinking about my not having had a bath that morning. Chidimma came.
She is a colleague at IMSU. We talked a little and then Basit came.
Basit—the smiling talker. He was silent that morning. The rest came.

III
I was struck by how young we all were. How our eagerness was moon in
our eyes. Eagerness is a character that has resonated with writers for
generations. We write it into our blood. Did I hear Dami?—everything I
say is subject to your personal acceptance; I mean, you mustn’t take
me seriously.
Dami: white-smiling all over the place, talking: medical doctor at
day; writer at night. Did I—or did I not—imagine him bending over
writhing patients—(psychosis, neurosis, Freud)—at day; sitting quietly
in a room and clanking away at his small laptop, the screen lighting a
limited vicinity in the dark. I think of Chekov, Ekwensi, Imasuen, and
all clinical people who find time for literature. There is something
about writing that erases professions.
My muse had long become this gathering of twin souls. I had not
thought of those ancient Greek scions of the imagination. My Aphrodite
is that amber-lit room; my Bacchus, that water bottle.

IV
Ukamaka, in all her resplendent beauty, was, to my surprise, down to
earth. Qudus was passionate about inspiration. Mazi was so engaging. I
did not think these people had any drab illusions about what they do.
They were proud of it. Loved it. We were quiet and they talked. We
were quiet and drank in their wisdom. Some people are not talking
here.

V
I wonder if I mentioned Socrates, the Kenyan brought-up who somewhat
acted like his Greek namesake. Socrates, adupe!

VI
Lagos is so big. The maze of roads is confusing; snaking over each
other; bigger roads eating up the smaller ones. Brigdes. Too many
bridges. Under Bridge. The conductors gabble their words; so you might
miss your way.
I found myself in Ebutte-Meta, the railway headquarters. I walked
through that gigantic railway establishment, the industries associated
with it—they were in forlorn shambles.
Everyone was already seated when I arrived at the Centre for
Contemporary Arts. Punctuation. Dami reads his story to illustrate.
Tricky story. I think of John Barth, William Gaddis, and Pynchon.
Ukamaka reduced every literary equation to the simplest understandable
unit. She was so eager. You could see it in the way she talked, the
way she tried to build upon every point made. Marlon James—Point of
View: technique. Exercises: wonderful. Tolu (always smiling) wrote: I
am sitting here, hungry. I doubt if I will remember everything Dami
said in the next 24 hours.
I walked home with Chidimma.

VII
There are some people you know only on Facebook. Uzoma was so quiet,
his chubby cheeks hardly moving. His eyes changed shades. Something
was going on in that head; you could tell.
Memories of the third day are muddled up. Maybe because I am writing
three days after the workshop, or perhaps, because I scooped some,
raw, and ate right there and went to toilet.
It was a Sunday and, on the way, I bought five books from a roadside
vendor. Winesburg, Ohio; VS Naipaul; Michael Cunningham; Junichiro
Tanizaki; others. The talk progressed seamlessly. Ukamaka, Mazi, the
charming Bola.
It did not end with any elaborate fanfare. But—but then we were all
happy. Something had happened to us: writing. For people to meet,
actually, in conducive Art-mosphere, to talk about writing is
uplifting. So we can now go home and sit at the desk and bleed? The
personal thing is that a picture—a horizon—has been enlarged.
I snapped a ‘wefie’ with Ukamaka, Dami autographed Clinical Blues for
me; I held a short discourse with Mazi. One thing about these people
is their lack of airs. They are so humble and helpful. I think of
Dami. Thank you. I thank all of them.

VIII
After everything, did we not sit down and talk? Did we not discuss
literature; our interests? Uzoma, Gbolahan, Basit and I. We shared
files, movies in the fore-room, talked about our work, of continuing
the Writivism ’15 spirit. Talked about Chimee, Olisa—Basit wants to
meet him. I said to Basit, You are so exuberant. Suddenly, we all
laughed. We started talking of how we saw each other at the Workshop.
Evening was descending, we would go. Downstairs, Uzoma and Gbolahan
climbed a bus to Ojota. I walked down Macaulay street with Basit. Then
he crossed the road. Goodbye, Chimezie. Goodbye, Basit. Buenos. We
shall meet again in the place where there is no darkness; someday,
somewhere, someplace, in this vast city of bridges.
Writivism2015.

Chimezie Chika

Chimezie Chika

by Soonest Nathaniel Iheanyi

Brother
I now wear rags,
But these rags once passed for regals of royalty.
I pay now in empty bags,
The prize of making a case for infidelity;
Perhaps I should plead for prayers and psalms,
Other than ask annoyingly for arms,
Though I doubt
I’m still too young to kneel.

A Nebuchadnezzar
I, thought myself a god,
But here gods die
So here I am
dying at your feet.
Flowers feed on flesh;
They now grow teeth,
But I on the leaves of grass now feast.
Lost sabers,
Lost claws,
Lost canines;
I chew the cud
And tread on cloven feet.

Please treat me as unclean,
Follow your Leviticus order;
To touch my carcass is sin,
I doubt my prize was paid at Golgotha.
I long though be redeemed,
On Rudolph’s philosophy weaned,
But ungodliness roams the holy night.
Lead me friend,
Lead me to the waters.
A bathe in Jordan,
A taste of Bethseda;
Its ironic,
But John’s baptize in gutters.

Unworthy,
I say to you,
prophet please don’t touch
The strap of my sandals,
But you say church
Is a courthouse for radicals.
I see them all,
I see them now,
Court whores and camp jesters;
We are all sinners,
Righteousness is a crime.

I’ve done my time
Life a nasty mix
Of lemon and lime;
Find me a quick fix,
These junkie moments are sublime.
Perhaps tomorrow I’ll rise
A Naaman made unwhole,
And beyond poetry
A crow descend upon head;
And a loud voice say,
These is my rejected son
In whom I am displeased.
O! Let Gehazi bear no more
the curse of my leprosy.

Liberty of Creativity

Liberty of Creativity

Gallery  —  Posted: January 31, 2015 in Poetry
Tags: ,

charlie hedbo

by Okoye Chukwudi Ezeamalukwuo

“The Death of an innocent man is the death of humanity.” — Cf. Qur’an 5:32

On 7th of January 2015, two masked gunmen armed with assault rifles and other weapons forced their way into the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris. They shouted “Allahu Akbar” (Arabic for “God is [the] greatest”), fired many shots, and killed twelve people including a French National Police Officer and injured eleven others. The gunmen identified themselves as belonging to Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen. Five more persons were to be killed later and another eleven were wounded in related shootings that followed in the Île-de-France region.
The same day information started trickling of a much bigger massacre in Baga, Nigeria, by the Islamic sect known as Boko Haram. The official number of the dead and missing is still yet controversial, with local sources and international media reporting that it was in the region of two thousand, while the Nigerian Military gave a more meagre (though still very high) number of around one hundred and fifty people.

Map of Nigeria

Map of Nigeria  

While outrage for the much bigger death toll in Baga was very minimal and in some quaters non-existent even in Nigeria where the incident took place, that for Charlie Hedbo was far more extensive and widely expressed.

Victims of Charlie Hebdo Shooting, photo courtesy of Wikkipedia

Victims of Charlie Hebdo Shooting, photo courtesy of Wikkipedia

Procession and protest was held in Paris for the victims of Charlie Hedbo and for free speech, while in Nigeria, the victims of Baga were send gently into the good night without so much as a whimpher.
The publishers of Charlie Hedbo has since cashed-on on this publicity. The magazine now has about seven millions subscription for its latest issue, which has on its front page cover the cartoon image of a weeping Prophet Muhameed holding a banner which reads; I am Charlie.

Vigil for the Victims of Charlie Hedbo

Vigil for the Victims of Charlie Hedbo, photo courtesy of Wikkipedia

This has generated serious outrage and condemnation from the muslim world which the massacre in Baga did not generate, which the massacre of innocent people in Nigeria and Cameroon by Boko Haram did not generate. Now this is both an abnormal and contrasting reactions to two incidents.

Boko Haram have been kidnapping and killing innocent Nigerians, many of whom are muslims. ISIS have been kidnapping and killing innocent people in Iraq and Syria, mostly muslims. Al-Qaeda has been kidnapping and killing people in Yemen, majority of who are muslims.
All these they do in the name of Islam.

There have been some condemnation against these actions from some prominent muslims leaders, scholars and imams. That is the truth, but what was not seen is a protest in Niger Republic condemning the actions of Bokoharam, or a solidarity vigil in Turkey in memory of the victims, or a procession in Pakistan demanding the elimination of Boko Haram or ISIS, or a huge banner in front of a mosque in Nigeria denouncing the sect and their violence.
In Nigeria these are what you mostly hear:
-A fight against Boko Haram is a fight against Northern Nigeria.
-Boko Haram should be given amnesty like the Niger-Delta militants.
-Boko Haram members are not from Northern Nigeria, in fact they are not even muslims.
-Boko Haram is the military wing of CAN, Christian Association of Nigeria.
-Boko Haram is working for President Goodluck Jonathan, they are Igbos trying to destroy Northern Nigeria.
-Boko Haram is a conspirasy by France, by Usa, by the west and their media to discredit Islam and divide Nigeria.

In all of these, Islam is never part of the Equation. Muslims are never the aggressor, it is someone else, it has to be someone else. Yet when a mediocre magazine in France published a cartoon of Muhameed, there was widespread condemnation from the Muslims. There was violent protest in Niger Republic, there was a vigil for the terrorists in Turkey, there was a procession in Pakistan, there are banners now in some Nigerian Mosques condemning France and the cartoon.

Violent Protest in Niger Republic against Charlie Hebdo, photo courtesy of ABC News

Violent Protest in Niger Republic against Charlie Hebdo, photo courtesy of ABC News

Protest against Charlie Hebdo, photo courtesy of CNN

Protest against Charlie Hebdo, photo courtesy of CNN

As an independent observer, I am compeled to ask if the sanctity of human life, the sacredness and preciousness of this one and only life that we all have got, if it is worth less to some people than how others percieve their religion?
The Death of an innocent man is the death of humanity, does this no longer apply?
How can someone claim to love a God, whom he/she has not seen, who might not even exist, when he/she does not love (by love I mean appreciate the sanctity, the sacredness of) the life of his fellow human being that he can see?
How does one justify publicly and privately the murder of 11 cartoonist, the burning of churches, the pains of an opponent, the death and destruction of an enemy and yet bows his/her head in prayer to a God who is all merciful?
What happened to love for an enemies and prayers for those who persecuete us. What happened to turning the other cheek, to forgiveness, to tolerance, to patience, to moderation?
Is it that the actions of those two men at Charlie Hedbo is not murder –a mortal sin? Is it that the actions of Boko Haram, ISIS, Al-Qaeda and other islam sects who go around killing innocent people all in the name of a God who is all Merciful and his holy Prophet, cannot be classified as blasphemy, as a terrible insult and as a major threat to Islam?

The world is becoming a more dangerous place. Good men are behaving more cowardly and evil men are becoming bolder and bolder, but in the words of Edmund Burke: all that evil needs to triumph is for people of good conscience to remain silent. So I ask; Is it so difficult for some of us to put aside our biases, our religious inclinations and to look solely on our humanity and choose that which is right between our creed and conscience?

Okoye Ezeamalukwuo writes from Lagos, Nigeria. You may reach him @mr_charlze

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this write up is solely those of the writer, and does not necessarily represent those of Lyriversity.

Liberty of Creativity

by Okoye Chukwudi Ezeamalukwuo

I love to take a walk in the evening
On the old asphalt road
With an abandoned well at its end
There I would pause to rest my feet
Bend me down to pick wild flowers
And look deep down to the black beneath
Scream to the dead and say;
Tell if you know, what is on the other side?

I am a being plagued by an alien doctrine
Politics, metaphysics and religion are my terms
My tongue is laden with conspiracies,
I do question my being
My shirt is of silk and not of raffia,
My necklace is gold, not coweries
I keep rediscovering myself.

Indeed I have charted the courses of many rivers,
The Pison and the Gihon, the Eurphrates and the Tigris
Yet I still don’t know where I came from
Or where I am inevitably going.
At night I dream that I hover among the stars,
And in the day, I put my hands in my pocket
And drift like the clouds.
I am one with the wind, either here or there,
Stretch out your hand, you can never tell me from the crowd.
I am whatever you call me;
I am a soul, a human, a god.

Liberty of Creativity

Gallery  —  Posted: January 20, 2015 in EZEAMALUKWUO SPEAKS 2, Poetry

by Tim Nwaobilo

I woke up, for the 2nd time that day, one cold Saturday afternoon feeling lazy. It’s those kind of Saturdays that you don’t feel like doing anything. Well, maybe not like doing anything exactly, but you don’t feel like doing anything that will stress you or make you leave your bed. Actually, I had hardly left my bed all morning. The cold was a bit numbing here. The cold always started from 7:00 pm on an average day and lasted till around 12:00pm the next day. That’s the Nigerian harmattan season. My uncle who I chatted with by 9:00 am that morning while still lying on my bed informed me that it was just 23^C there in “The State of Osun”, that was the way the APC governor of “State of Osun” instructed everyone to called it; State of Osun, and not “Osun state”. Just like he preferred his name being prefixed with “Ogbeni” instead of just “Gomino Rauf Aregbesola”. Ogbeni means “Mr” in yoruba language. One could be jailed for failing to properly address His Excellency.

Why this was the first thought to cross my mind immediately after waking up, I still wonder. Ok…honestly it must have been the 2nd or 3rd thing that crossed my mind post-sleep, after the Football Manager 14 game I was playing on my smart phone before I dozed off; and definitely after the fact that I had possessed intentions to go and pray to my God somewhere quiet earlier in the day. Maybe it was because everywhere I looked all I saw was Jonathan and Buhari posters and billboards, telling me why I should vote for Jonathan or why I should vote for Buhari, Or that everywhere I listened, all that people were discussing was how evil Buhari used to be, or how Jonathan could have been a “nicer” president, or how Buhari was the better of the two evils or how Jonathan …and so on and so forth (you see what I mean already?) I woke up thinking WHERE IS THE GEJA I USED TO HEAR ABOUT?

You must be wondering what GEJA means and what it has to do with anything. In 2011, during the Presidential campaigns in Nigeria, some people came up with the acronym GEJA—Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Azikiwe. Adding Azikiwe to Goodluck Jonathan’s name was to sort of idolise him, and to portray him with this saviour-like personae that was normally attributed to the Great Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria’s first president. I do not know if they realized that reconstructing GEJA could also give JEGA. Professor Attahiru Jega was the chairman of the INEC, the electoral body. If GEJA=JEGA, I think the deeper interpretation is best left to your imagination.

So, where is the GEJA I used to hear about? After years of military rule, 8 years of a controversially democratic Obasanjo aka OBJ rule, and 4 years of an OBJ proxy-rule, Nigerians sought for some deliverance, someone who would wipe away their tears. They wanted change. They craved for a leader who would feel their shoe-pinch and live on their heart-beat. It’s no wonder then that the “shoeless” Jonathan fitted this mental picture and Nigerians were all too willing to fit him into the physical frame. The people I used to hear then promoting this, kept preaching at every available opportunity how poor he had been in his early life and how much of a commoner like us he was. If he didn’t have shoes in his childhood days, we surely could give him a chance to rule us, right? I don’t think many people asked how many pairs of shoes he now had.

Jonathan was from a much maligned tribe, so he might have been the voice to raise up a people that had potentials for greatness, but had remained buried. It’s apparent that in the past 4 years (make that 5), Jonathan has been the president of not-the-Ijaws but of Nigeria. After all, wasn’t that what he was elected to be? Southern Nigerians who were feeding on the fantasies of a president who would turn the South-South into a heaven must be chewing their fingers (or whatever is left of it) in regret and disappointment.

Where is the GEJA I used to hear about? Yes, the GEJA I used to “hear” about. I repeat for emphasis: HEAR about. What sweet tales did we not hear! Nigeria would become America if you waited for a meagre 4 years, we can wait right? After all, we have Patience as our first name…scratch that…first lady. We were told that Power supply would be so stable that it would be visible and tangible. GEJA, where are you? They said corruption was devilish and since we were electing an angel, corruption would naturally (I reckon supernaturally is more appropriate) die off. If you are a Nigerian or based in Nigeria, I suppose you know where we are on that. It is now obvious we were fed fat French-baked pies in the skies…hmmm, yummy! The name Boko Haram is now synonymous with Jonathan’s incompetency and lack of quality leadership. That is one of the most shameful blemishes of the Jonathan presidency.

I am not disappointed. No, I am not. I am not disappointed in GEJA. This is because I didn’t expect anything better from him, other than what OBJ or the OBJ-proxy had previously offered. I, for one, was of the notion that Jonathan was simply an appendage of the OBJ dynasty, and therefore of the conclusion that he wouldn’t offer more than OBJ had stuffed down our polluted throats for some years, except he was offering more in the negative order, which he actually seems to have contrived to achieve, arguably. If puppets were held on strings, Jonathan was probably held on bridge draw-strings, the kind used on the River Thames. It’s interesting to note however that he seems to have outgrown his master’s ropes and has imbibed a similar trait from him—stubbornness. I ensured I didn’t raise my expectations of his government so that in the case he couldn’t fully rise to the challenge, I wouldn’t be chewing my nails, like most of my compatriots are doing now.

I was on the election queue that day in April, 2011 when some people awaiting their turn to vote produced a newspaper. The paper was a complete derision of Jonathan’s main opponent. It had many people confused that day. I could see and hear from conversations that many people who hadn’t given Jonathan a thought previously were now doing so. If his main opponent was such a devil as seen in that particular paper, then Jonathan might as well be the lesser of two devils. In fact, some well enlightened members of my family who were with me that day advised me not to waste my vote by not voting for Jonathan. I was not moved, as I am up till now. Jonathan ended up winning that election and Nigerians have been reaping the dividends, haven’t we? However good or badly his government has performed is a matter for critical discourse and dissection, but the fact that Nigerians are now seeking for another change, the kind of change which they thought the Jonathan era was to introduce in 2011, says a whole lot about the present administration. If indeed Nigerians have found their saviour, would there be all the on-going tremor and anxiety? Wouldn’t the majority of Nigerians be clamouring for a continuity? Would they be willing to consider another “change” so soon? I doubt that.

GEJA no longer inspires the downtrodden like he used to do. GEJA no longer means god. GEJA is after all a human, not an angel. The GEJA camp no longer adds the ‘A’ to his acronym lest they be lynched in the burnt and deserted streets of Chibok! Where is the GEJA I used to hear about?

I calmly closed my laptop which I had been working with while lying on the bed, got up and prepared to step out to watch an English Premier League match with my guys. I think Chelsea was playing. I would rather give my support to and raise my expectations of Chelsea (like winning the UEFA Champions League this season) than expect anything good to come out of Nazareth-Otuoke. At least Chelsea is on top of the League.

Tim Nwaobilo is a Mechanical Engineer, writer, poet and programmer. He writes from Port Harcourt.

Liberty of Creativity

Gallery  —  Posted: January 13, 2015 in PROSE, TIM'S PODIUM
Tags: , , ,

nigerian-map.jpg

by Okoye Chukwudi Ezeamalukwuo

This useless man everywhere, this useless man again –that must had been her thought as she ripped another poster off the wall, -that or something more sinister, something more derogatory. Who could read the thoughts in her mind, or exorcise the demon that assailed her that morning. I found her action to be somewhat intriguing, somewhat amusing though I did not know what her story was, or the reason why she was standing by the side of the main road, ripping off only the campaign posters of Mr President from the wall.

Perhaps it was the heat. The temperature that morning was over thirty-five degrees centigrade, and was enough to drive anyone off the edge. Perhaps it wasn’t something physical or something that could be easily quantified. It should take more than an increase in temperature for a person to engage in such act of public spectacle -I thought to myself as I sat on a wooden chair of a decrepit bus at Ikeja bus-stop, staring at her. She neither stopped to acknowledge the increasing crowd of onlookers that had gathered around her, watching her work, nor did she pause to wipe off the rivers of sweat that ran across her face and met at her jaw. The posters was all she cared about and she was determined to rip them all off.

Indeed it must be something serious, something much deeper, something indelible like a crack on a mirror or the breaking of a camel’s back that had endured fifty-four rigorous years of marsh and misrule.

Perhaps she was a mother of one of the Chibok girls. Perhaps she had lost someone dear to her in Baga, or in Mubi, or in Gwoza, or to the rising wave of insecurity that had engulfed the nation in recent times. She looked exasperated like someone tormented by an unseen demon. They say: a hungry man is an angry man –perhaps it was just plain hunger, or poverty or the burden of two months unpaid salaries which had been attributed to fall in global oil prices.

The face of Mr President on those posters was wearing a smile that was somehow queer, somehow mischievous, like he was smiling only at her, taunting her, daring her to rage, daring her to rip him off, to vote him out if she can. It must have been so frustrating for her.

A part of me felt sorry for her as she stood there all alone in the sun like a lone soldier staring straight at the nozzles of a thousand enemy rifles. I felt like calling out to her from where I was sitting in the bus. I felt like walking up to her, to ask if all was well, to tell her that it was going to get better, but I didn’t, I couldn’t. The look in her eyes was enough to stop anyone from coming close to her. It was filled with pain and bitterness. It was clear to me that she was ready to fight anyone who tried to stop her. In fact she would have killed Mr President if he was there in person, but since he wasn’t there, she was contented to destroy all his posters, as if doing so would hurt him physically in some unexplainable way.

Nigeria is really a crazy place and it does get to people sometimes, and make them do crazy things. I have seen a well dressed man in suit and tie; fight a bus conductor over ten naira change. I have seen federal legislators jump gate on national television amidst fanfare and solidarity songs. I have seen policemen change their uniforms into civilian clothes in the face of armed robbery attack. Ours is a crazy country, and the people living in it are crazier. It can only take a full-fledged Nigerian to appreciate the force acting on that woman -a wife, a mother, at that very moment.

Sometimes I wish that solutions to Nigerian problems can be as easy as ripping a poster off the wall, so that I can go about tearing down the posters of corruption, tribalism, nepotism and religious intolerance from our land. Alas! This is far from the case. In fact, in our society, the act of ripping campaign posters from walls can constitute both liberal and criminal offences.

I do not condone her action. I think it was crude and barbaric, and to be carried out in such a public manner without fear or shame, set a negative precinct that might have disastrous consequences for us all. Ours is a young democracy, which has witnessed many rapids and cataracts in its 16 years of existence. We do not need this kind of occurrence especially at this time when the nation is tinkering on a knife edge. It is worrying to read on paper about the shooting of APC supporters during a rally in Port-Harcourt, or the burning of PDP campaign buses in Jos. What is more worrying is the huge number of educated Nigerians on both sides of the divide, who cheer at this kind of news, urging the perpetrators to carry on.
Indeed I do not support her action at all, even though I can relate with whatever it was that she was passing through.

Still she continued her work, ripping the posters with one hand and squeezing it with the other hand. The crowds continued to swell. There were nods of approval from some sections, and in other sections there were angry murmurs of discontent. Someone raised a voice to applaud her, another shouted angrily at her to stop. There was a suggestion that she should be forcefully stopped, someone even said that she deserved a beating. The atmosphere was already charged with accusations and counter-accusations, suspense and suspicion. Just then the driver of the bus I was in, started the engine and drove the bus away taking me with him.

Several days have passed since that day but I can’t get the incident off my mind. Right now as I sit at my writing desk, staring at the map of Nigeria on the wall, I still hear clearly the shouting of that day. I still feel the heat, see clearly the woman rip the posters off the wall, and somewhere in my mind, hope for this country is gradually being ripped off as well.

Ezeamalukwuo writes from Lagos, Nigeria. You can reach him on Twitter via @Mr_Charlze

Liberty of Creativity

Gallery  —  Posted: January 12, 2015 in Articles, INSIDE NIGERIA
Tags: , , ,

By Chris TILEWA

We go great lengths for satisfaction and realisation, and after the basic needs of food, emotion and, perhaps, sex is met we seek luxury, beauty. But when real life is not making this happen, it becomes our aspiration and life goal. We create new realities, in our hearts, in our arts. Between our reality and our dreams are a yawning space and a great, optimistic ocular faculty that curiously observes the reconciliation of our artful dreams and our exacting realities. In spite of our outrageous realities we are all patrons of beauty.

Aesthetics is a universal objective; though what we see as beautiful and artistic is determined by culture and perception, and hence we say beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, still, art cuts through the barriers of culture and times. Whatever our culture and civilisation we want to hear a song; write, listen or read a piece of poetry out loud to a friend; see beautiful paintings; watch breathtaking movies and take photographs of happy little moments. We are at awe of nature’s order and the things around us- the hills, valleys, plantations and space, – that may seem chaotic still have about them the awesomeness of impressive creation.

There is a piece of art in everything, in everyone. And the ultimate end of art is not merely in the beauty it expresses; the scenic portrayal of striking reality and phenomenal concepts, but also in the feelings it arouses. For that is what we remember of it all, of people in our lives, of moments, of memories that shape our lives: did they make us weep, frightened, irritated, angry, and secured, or did they enchant us. Every experience, like the ornate and subtle features and element of art, does their part in us to ensure those enduring gestures.

And that is how we approach everything else in life. We naturally give the first hearing to our feelings. It is most real to us. What we feel, we feel and there is no talking us out of it. Except of, course, if there is an alternate feeling purveyed. We seek things that make us comfortable, happy and loved. Our desires and dreams are made real to us by the prospect of what they make us feel about the world and ourselves, and in the pursuit of these things we are advised to ‘follow our heart’. Because no matter how we try to evaluate things by reasoning, by data and facts, (which nevertheless are of immense importance in maintaining a balance perspective) our sincerest judgements lie in the ultimate question of art; what we felt about it rather than how nice it appeared.

We are all in a way artists; always in the business of making ourselves look good and come out better, there is a picture of our perfect self upheld in our hearts- we are our own most venerated masterpiece imaginable. Like in clean canvass we wish we can make ourselves whatever we desire, make amends for our imperfections by the flick of a brush, erasing and dabbing again till we reach what exactly pleases us. We have the idea how we want our stories told; whether for the record, expressive, didactic or aesthetic end. But our canvasses are not so clean after all, and things, some things, had gone out of our control. The world had messed with it for quite a while before we took charge- this canvass, our minds- and had set the backgrounds it will advance in. And when we should take charge of it, we have in our hands tasks, either to correct and re-pattern, or make final touches and finishing strokes. But every inclination towards change in our lives, towards creation, begins with a ‘wash of black’, an inertia void, because all things in nature, according to Leonardo da Vinci, are dark except where they are revealed by light.

Chris Tilewa

Chris Tilewa

Chris TILEWA is a young Nigerian who writes. He has written a number of short stories, essays and poems. While he writes prose; fictions and non fictions, he also nurses a mild love for poetry. He holds an anaemic faith that he will soon contract the demon required to write a book.

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

Gallery  —  Posted: January 7, 2015 in Articles, STREAKS, SROKES and SHADES
Tags: , , , ,

by David Coxson

1st Jan, 2015.

He remembers Kate. He gets his old diary, looks at the dates, and smiles. It had been rough, he thought to himself; quite rough. The new year will be different, he assures himself with the same sad smile upon his face.

2014.
April 15th.

He met Kate. It wasn’t the most romantic of ways. . .or perhaps it was. Kunfe had gone to Sweet Sensations to dig himself into some quick lunch, and Kate had been the girl at the counter. He’d thrown a jibes about phones hung around the breast region not ever having a good network reception afterwards. She had laughed coyly and somehow, he had got her number. It wasn’t a hard thing.

5th, May.

After a couple of dates and some breath-taking moments together with Kate, he had confided in Jane. Jane has been a very wonderful friend. She had told him to take it slow, and not to get hurt.
In her words; ”Guy meets girl. They overwhelm each other. Chat about everything and late into the night too. Gradually, chats become boring. Everything talk-able has been poured into the first few weeks. Then comes the late replies. Sometimes, there would be no replies. And the love starts, or appears to start dying. And someone gets hurt. So, Kunfe, don’t get hurt.”
He had promised he would not, and that Kate was different.

9th, July.

The first sign. Un-replied whatsapp messages. Last seen proved she kept coming online for two days. There should be no excuse for not replying him.

11th, July.

She replied. She had been very busy, and whenever she logged in; it was to check incoming messages. There was no time or chance to reply them. He had told her he understood.

20th, July.

Another un-replied message. She kept coming online but would not reply. Was he over-reacting or too sensitive? He had to calm down, he told himself. Message was replied 9hours later. A ”busy now” would have sufficed, he thought.

1st, August.

He intentionally didn’t send a happy new month message. By text, call or whatsapp. Why does she expect him to be the first to always do that? Disappointedly, she was too busy to do that too.

2nd, August.

”Happy new month, dear. Sorry it came late.” He had to do it.
She replied ‘Kk.’
It was unlike her. Until now, she had never abbreviated. He loathed it. The ‘ks’ and ‘kks.’ He sighed. It was coming.

4th, September.

For two months now, he had been the one calling her. She’d earlier beeped or sent a ”call me back”, and now, those have stopped. He was beginning to go crazy. He loved her. God knows he did.

22nd, September.

He had promised to never call or text her until she does. And he would stick to it. Good radiance to bad rubbish. Why is Kate never like Jane. Sweet Mary-jane; always understanding. Even the taunts and teases were soft on her. She could handle any joke in the world. But Kate? The slightest innocent word would be twisted to make him look like the devil. To allay his welled up anger and frustration, he whatsapped Mary-jane. As usual, they ended the chat with a laughing Kunfe.

October. . . November. . .

She’d simply whatsapped him for the important holidays, and family or friends’ events. He’d answered casually. End of chat. The love was gone. He was sure.

25th, December.

He waited till evening to wish her merry christmas. He knew she’d be waiting for him to do it first. That was always the problem. She always wanted him to do everything first. He hated it. He realised they haven’t seen or gone on a date with each other for two months now. She had been too busy.
She replied: ”Very early for you to do that. Merry Christmas anyway.”
They had a little chat. She had to do something.

1st January, 2015

Enough is enough. Never unearth what wishes to remain buried. He looks at his watch. It is 3:15pm and she still has not called or texted to wish him a happy new year. She will always claim she loves him. It is evident she doesn’t.
He tears out a sheet of paper. And begins to write:

1. Find a new love.

2. Take it slow with her.
Will not overwhelm her too soon.
Be mysterious as it fuels the love longer.

3. Would not open…

Phone rings. Hidden caller Id.
”Happy new year, Sweetheart. You mean the world to me and I’d never lose you for anything. I want you to know I really love you. I’ll be coming to see you tomorrow…”

He tears the paper before he realises it. He bit his lips tightly as he volleys the paper into the bin. He could never stop loving her, come what may.

Coxson David is an aspiring writer and a student of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta. A member of Talesmen literature, and Da’Sacred Poetry.

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

Gallery  —  Posted: January 5, 2015 in PROSE, TalesMen
Tags: , ,