Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Artist Call-out: Storymoja Festival 2015

Storymoja is accepting applications from artists for the 7th Edition of the Storymoja Festival. The festival is billed to hold from 16th to 20th of September 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya.

You can also apply for the Premier of the Storymoja Festival – Careerpedia Edition in Nakuru, Kenya. This will hold on 28th and 29th of May 2015.

The deadline for submissions is 15th January 2015.

Submit your application here.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Author Speaks with Gbolahan Badmus

This is the second in a series of interviews featuring the seven OAU alumni who put together Sandstorms in June. You can download the anthology here.

Gbolahan Badmus’ short stories and poems have appeared in Kalahari Review, African Writers, Brittle Paper and the Guardian Newspaper. He studied law at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile- Ife. He has been selected to participate in a 2015 Writivism workshop. 

Gbolahan Badmus

AA: ‘Fist of Unity’ is about the events that took place on OAU campus on July 10, 1999. Where were you at that time? 
G.B: On July 10, 1999, I was still in primary school. On that particular night, I must have been asleep in my room, trying to put a tight rein on my bladder. 

AA: When did you learn about the attack?

G.B: One of my uncles told me that he almost ran into the cultists that night. He was on campus to read and shortly after he passed through a particular route, the cultists went through the same route.  Later, as an undergraduate in OAU, I heard different accounts of the events and got to know the full implications of what happened that day. Every year, the student union shows a film about the events to mark the anniversary, so it is almost impossible to graduate from OAU without taking your own version of the incident with you.

AA: Did you ever live in Fajuyi Hall? Was there any consciousness on days other than July 10 about students who were killed there?
G.B: Yes I did. In fact, my first four years in OAU were spent in Faj, until I had to move to town, I’m proudly Fajuyan. The awareness was everywhere, not just in Faj. Sometimes it was subtle, at other times it was not. July 10 found its way into the discussions at new buka and arguments in the halls of residence. The memory of that day was even invoked during the continuous alutas that lengthened our years in school.

A.A: Prisoner's wreath made me laugh. It is really an OAU love poem. From Geology GPs to ODLT and Awo Boys. How long did it take you to write it? Did Ms Abacus (imagined or real) study in OAU?

G.B: Haha. Well, well. After writing my final exams, I wanted to write a collection of poems using the notable buildings of OAU as metaphors for several emotions and experiences. When I had the opportunity to contribute to Sandstorms in June, I decided to use that idea, but I had to make some adjustments and squeeze the concepts into a single poem. I incorporated the love theme and some humour to ease the reading.  I cannot really specify the length of time it took to put it down. It was something I kept on editing and editing, till I finally submitted it for Sandstorms in June. If I am to guess, it probably took a month or so. And as for Ms Abacus, she was a crush at the time I wrote the poem. The thing is, she doesn't even know she is the one!

A.A:  Are you still working on the poetry collection you mentioned?
G.B: For now, it's on hold. I'm trying to deal with several things including my bar finals. But who knows, Lady Inspiration may decide to pay a visit soon.

A.A: What is OAU to you?
G.B: O.A.U, to me, is as it is called, an Institution of Learning. Not just academics but so much more. 
Gbolahan Badmus tweets via @badmusace and blogs here.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

African Romance Novels

Ankara Press, an Imprint of Cassava Republic press recently launched six  novels. The under-listed titles are now available on their website.

Love's Persuasion by Ola Awonubi
A Tailormade Romance by Oyindamola Afinnih
A Taste of Love by Sifa Asani Gowon
A Black Sparkle Romance by Amara Nicole Okolo
Finding Love Again by Chioma Iwunze-Ibiam
The Elevator's Kiss by Amina Thula

The novels are currently going for just N500, so hurry and grab your copy now!If you are interested in writing for Ankara Press, get in touch with the team via Submissions@ankarapress.com.
Read the submission guidelines here. 
Buy the novels here.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Author Speaks with Damilola Yakubu

This is the first in a series of interviews featuring the seven OAU alumni who put together Sandstorms in June. You can download the anthology here.

Damilola Yakubu‎ is a lover of stories and art who takes pleasure in creating them. In 2013, he was a participant at the Farafina Creative Writing Workshop. His work has been published under Kachifo's imprint on Okadabooks.com and in Reflections of Sunshine: An Anthology of Short stories. He came third in Naijastories' 'Give Us Your Best Short' contest in 2013.
Damilola Yakubu performing a poem from Sanddstorms in June at TEDx Ife 2014

AA: I understand that you put Sandstorms in June together. How did you decide on this structure and subtitles for each section?
DY: Yes, I put the pieces together and arranged them. We, Dapo Babatunde and I, tried to find 'real' images that were created with words in each poem. ‎ So, each poem has an image, or two, portraying the thematic preoccupation of the poem. I broke down the collection into parts signifying the parts a student goes through in Obafemi Awolowo University; the contributors each spent 5 years - Part 1 - 5. ‎The chapbook opens with the 'Debut' which is an image of an old man walking away from a terminal and closes with 'Fin' - an image of a young boy on a beach looking across the ocean into the horizon. This was to signify the antithesis of  'leaving school' - at the beginning of the work we are old men with our school years behind us, and by the end of the work we are young boys with our dreams ahead of us.‎ The title of the chapbook was decided on through a consensus vote. Each contributor suggested a title(s) and we voted for the most appropriate one. Sandstorms in June was suggested by Tomiwa Ilori.‎

AA: I have to ask, why isn't any woman featured in this anthology?
DY: We wanted to have a woman's work in the anthology, but this work started as an idea pursued by a camaraderie of writers. And by the time we realized that we were all men, it was too late - the work was ready for publication. It was a big oversight and I wish we had realised earlier.

AA: ‘Maximum Shishi’ focuses on the extra judicial beatings that are such an integral part of OAU's student culture. Did a particular incident inspire this poem?
DY: Yes, a particular incident inspired the poem; I have once, in a little way, been at the receiving end of its lash.

AA: What was your reaction the first time you witnessed a shishi session in progress?  Did it change over time?
DY:  I first witnessed it in my first year. To be honest, I remember feeling excited, then nauseated by the sight of the victim's' gashes.  Over the years, I also felt pity and anger. I even remember crying once.  Eventually, I became indifferent. I think most students ‎found it easier to look away because they never got close to the victims - were never in their shoes, or close friends with them.

AA:  Do you think ‘shishi’ it is a manifestation of deep mistrust in the system?
DY: Yes, perhaps a mistrust in the school's punitive system, in addition to the idea that it is better for the ‘guilty’ person to be beaten than to be expelled from school.

AA: Nevertheless, do you think this is ever the right response? Even if the culprits are caught 'red handed'?
DY: It is absolutely the wrong response. It is barbaric, inhumane and not a sign of intellectual reasoning that the university supposedly cultivates. Yes, they are given a 'fair trial' but it is absolutely wrong to equate every crime to a crude penalty like inflicting injury. I believe in punishment as a mechanism for reform not torture or blind revenge. Maximum shishi does not seek to reform; there are several offenders who just commit the same crime, over and over again.‎

AA: What is poetry to you?
DY:  Poetry is expression - putting into, and in between, words all that can, can't, must and mustn't be said. It is the journey to and from the comprehensible and incomprehensible.

AA: What is OAU to you?
DY: OAU is the crucible in which I lost myself and found myself, the cave in which I shed my skin.

 Damilola Yakubu tweets via @DamiYakubu and blogs  here