Saturday, 29 November 2014

Independent Publishing and the Nigerian Writer.

Hello, good morning or good afternoon or goodnight. Welcome! Remember how I said, over a year ago, that I was, at that moment, working on my debut novel? Well, yes! I still am and right now, there are a few things I can tell your about it.

Who will publish the book?
Well, I've tried to find good trads, and trads means 'traditional publishers' but I've failed. There were a few who were willing though, but these few just weren't good enough. I'd rather do self publishing than use a trad who's.publishing principles I disagree completely with. So my book, DEAR ELLA, will be self published.

When Will It Be Out? 
Earlier this year, I was confident that the book would come out before this year, 2014 runs out, right now, I am not sure. It could still make December 2014, but that is quite unlikely. I think it may be early 2015, but who knows? So fingers crossed for that.

What's The Book About?
Everyone I've told about this book, save for one or two, have asked this question. I will not say what exactly it's about here, but I'd say a few things.
i. There's a good guy who happens to be a medical doctor, and happens to be in dire need of money because his wife has been abducted and he needs to pay the ransom.
ii. There's a bad guy who just wants to be happy like everyone else. He happens to be the richest bastard in town, and he also happens to be friends with the doctor. He also happens to know that the child his wife is about to deliver will be born with a terminal condition. He happens to not want to raise this child.
iii. There's another man who happens to be poor who's wife also happens to be in labour at that same time.
Enough said. A lot happens on Fiction Street. Keep your fingers crossed.

Does/Can Self Publishing Work in Nigeria?
Of course it can, Nigeria is just like any other country but with Boko-haram and a lot of thieves that wear suits and Agbadas and drive Citroens. Self publishing can work here just as it can work anywhere else. One just needs to be hardworking and try to market properly so that the book will be everywhere the trads are and so that it becomes the readers responsibility to make a choice. Frankly, a Nigerian reader doesn't give a care who publishes a book or who has reviewed it or stuff like that, he just wants to read a good book. And that's the main reason self publishing can work and work well. A well self published book can stand on the same shelf as a trad and look more inviting. The problem is that a lot of Nigerian and even world writers who self publish do it because they are in a hurry to let their cat (book) out of the bag and so they end up doing a disgraceful job of it and the book ends up lacking quality, in and out. The covers are crap, the stories are crap. There are typos on every page and all those kinds of ridiculousness.

So there you have it. Fingers crossed.
Till next time,, Keep dreaming!!

Monday, 17 November 2014

Residues of Kubwa Camp — Six

It's been over three months since I left camp and while I say all the time how fantastic an experience it was, I am not sure if giving the opportunity, I would choose to go through it again.
I've learnt, over the years, that there are mostly two kinds of experiences: Happy and Sad. The Happy experiences can be further divided into two: 1. Enjoyed during, Enjoyed after and 2. Endured during, Enjoyed after. Camp, for me, fell under the category where you Endure during and Enjoy after, mostly because I understood how enjoyable the whole ridiculousness of the place was only after I left there. And I think it works the same way for most people. We can only speak of the Orientation Camp's awesomeness after we get out of there. Trust me, nobody says 'This is the funnest place I've been in my entire life' while still in camp, after camp however, story changes. 
Today, I intend to discuss a little further about why I think the NYSC is still essential. This past week, for reasons unknown, a lot of people on Twitter and Facebook and even in real life (colleagues) went on and on and on about NYSC's uselessness. Here, I wrote about it's usefulness but I only wrote of it's immense unification purposes, nothing else and so now I feel it's incomplete.
There are millions of people that become graduates in Nigeria every year. The number is scary. One of the NYSC's purpose is providing a source of living, even just for one year, for these graduates. The monthly allowances paid into their accounts go a very long way. I cannot even imagine what their lives will be like without it, especially considering that without the scheme they'd probably be languishing in educated idleness anyway because it is more difficult to get a job in present Nigeria than for an elephant to walk through the eye of a needle. Yes they are going to be paid for just the one year, but that one year is enough for anyone to get a plan and know what happens next.
Another importance of the NYSC is that most graduates are posted to schools for their primary assignments, these are Nigerian schools and we know what Nigerian schools are like. There, teachers are not teachers, they are just people that read and give notes from textbooks or the internet to students who possibly know more than them. There is no longer a minimum requirement for teachers, in fact, I went to a school sometime ago where I met a teacher who couldn't even construct a simple sentence. It is that bad and a little worse. And we wonder why our students can no longer pass their Cert Exams. Sending graduates to teach in such schools greatly improve the prospects of these students. Yes there are also a few graduates that have difficulties in constructing simple sentences but these are the unserious ones and it's likely that even if they're posted to schools, they'd never show up there. 
Another advantage of the Youth Service Scheme is the work experience. Every employer in this century wants to hire an employee with experience, no matter how little and many times, no matter how insignificant. This year gives young people with aspirations of becoming employed by these employers the much needed experience, no matter how insignificant.
Finally, freedom. Now, for me, I see the concept of freedom like putting cheese inside a transparent glass container and allowing a rat try to collect it. It will try desperately no matter how many times it bangs it's head against the glass, it will try to collect the cheese. Freedom, in the real sense of the word, is a height that is never achievable, it's that thing that we look forward to so much, but it never comes. That said, there are several variations to pure freedom and one of those variations is offered to young people during their youth service. Young people experience this variation of freedom and see what life is and what it can be without the monitoring and even prying eyes of their parents. They make their own mistakes and learn to learn from it. This is why I don't understand people who opt to serve in their states of origin.

There are many, many more advantages to the Youth Service Scheme, but I'm too tired to continue, perhaps I'd talk about this again. Thanks for reading.

Till next time,, Keep dreaming!! 

Saturday, 8 November 2014


She was so full of life. Her hands were stretched apart as if she was about to takeoff, as if she was a plane, a plane that you know would never crash no matter what kind of storm came against it. Her smile was magnificent, buoyant; more of a laugh paused at the middle, at the stage of laughter where it is impossible to just abruptly stop, than a smile. Her bare feet pressed against the sharp, brown sand of a beach, making its imprint, the sand, slightly swallowing her toenails. Her dark skin, so consistent, so beautiful, her haunting eyes, brown, like no other you have ever seen, its sheen, a well of hope.

He sat on a plastic chair and rested his arms on a squeaky plastic table, one leg shorter than the remaining three, in front of him. His left hand held the photograph of her – the one where she was so full of life. The room was almost completely dark except that there was a candle stick on top of an empty can of skimmed milk which sat on the table, its wax gushing away wastefully, forming moulds of white semi-solid rocks. He was holding in tears, trying to be a man, he was trying to convince himself that he did not love her enough to cry over her – he did.

They had met at a mutual friend’s birthday party and they had both been unlucky (or lucky) enough to show up at the exact time fixed for the party, meaning they were the first to get to the venue, not even the celebrant had shown up. They sat down opposite each other and stole glances, since he was shy, or introverted, as he would rather be referred; he prayed that she would break the ice. She did. She was not like him; she was neither shy nor introverted. The first thing she said however was unintelligible, jargon. At that point, the only thing he could think to say was, ‘yes. You are right.’
She smiled, ‘what?’
‘What did you say?’ He asked.
‘I was in my head.’
‘Oh okay. How does your head feel this evening?’ He asked.
She smiled and shook her head.
‘My name is Abdul. Hi.’ He said and stretched his palm.
‘Hello. I am Mirabel.’ She took his hand. Her palms were small and soft but still had a way of completely clutching his.

They did not stay for the party; they went to have lunch and from there took a long walk, taking in each other’s company and wondering how they had never met even though they had so much in common. He fell in love with her company first, then her.

The candlestick was dying away, the wax was still gushing out wastefully without a care, could it not see that he needed help? That he was broken? Breaking?
He found out that she was doing drugs one night, they had dinner planned and she did not show up, it was very unlike her. He started getting worried after, at his fifth attempt; she still did not pick up her phone and his call. He went to her place. Her door was locked from the inside, the lights were on and the fan was rolling and there was loud metal music playing in the background. Someone was inside.
He forced the door open, pried it with his shoulder – all the energy he could muster, inside the room, he found her. She was lying down on the green and yellow nylon carpet next to her bed. His first thought was that she fell into a deep sleep, a strange sleep, one where she could not move five centimeters left to her bed. Inching closer to her however, he found that she was not asleep; she was fully awake but stoned. Her eyes were wide open and glassy; there were heavy black bags of sleeplessness and inebriation just underneath them. Her face was heavy, stiff, and unmovable; he had never seen her like that. He was afraid. She smiled a smile that, as far as he was concerned, was more of a call for help. She wanted to stretch her hands towards him but she hardly had enough strength to keep breathing. That night marked the beginning of the end of their relationship.

‘Why drugs?’ He asked her photograph in the company of the dying candlestick. As if the photograph could answer such a question, as if the photograph was not just a useless piece of polaroid paper that exuberated in its immense fakery. She was a great sport when she was clean. She was a lady so full of life; she wanted to, she needed to give some of it out to the world. His eyes were fixed on her face, her smile that was the most contagious he had ever known. Where was this version of Mirabel? He thought to himself. Maybe she only existed in photographs; a mechanism that so easily aided pretence, it was scary. One’s life could be up in smokes but a photograph could capture that one having the time of his life; could there be a bigger hoax? He thought.

They broke up last night; she got knocked up on some crazy syrup and came around to his place. She said that their relationship had been a bad idea from the beginning. That she was a wild child and he was an angel. She used words like ‘eternally incompatible’ and ‘unfortunately unworkable’ to describe their relationship, she went on and on and when she was done, she left without letting him say a single word. She strode away and left a sour taste in his mouth and tears in his eyes.
The candlestick finally died leaving heaps of wax on the milk tin, but that was not all that died, he was sure, a part of him died, too, that part that fell in love with Mirabel.