Friday, 24 February 2017

An Interview with Nathalie Handal

I was interviewed in the brilliant The City and the Writer series by Nathalie Handal, and it was a beautiful experience.

Please read my interview here: Lagos is a phenomenon. 

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

A Poem by my Niece

Last month, my eldest brother shared a poem he found in his daughter's room with me. He was concerned.

I read the poem. Once, twice--slowly. My niece is 11 years old.

Not being one to take the words in a poem for granted, even if it is a reflection that is based on another person's experience. I made a quick phone call.

My first question after a few niceties was, 'Is there something you'd like to tell me?'

She soon explained that the poem was a reflection of how she felt as she wrote her final examinations. As a young girl moving to grammar school, listening to her parents here-and-now reproach inspired not just fear, but the poem in question.

I believe her fears were valid -- 'What if I fail?' 'Would sharing my fears make me appear lazy or dull?'

Here's the Poem, do enjoy.


The whole world is falling down on you,
Nobody knows what you’re going through
Worries control you, your thoughts, your actions, your life.
Questions and queries mess up your mind

They haunt you like night nightmares both day and night.
What will they think? How will I do it? I’ll never do it right.
Can I get through this? Who am I? Why am I here?
These questions are in your mind, and many more creep up your spine.

It kills you inside it murders the happiness in your soul and mind.
When you thought things were going on alright,
it comes, back-stabs you with the knife of depression and sorrow when you’re not looking.
People tell you you’re pessimistic and just too negative

But they don’t understand, they don’t know what it’s like when anxiety makes you low;
it’s like a great big blow and many more hits of sadness to come the flow.
It makes you tearful and you don’t know why.
You shout out for help to get out of this misery but no one hears your cries.

The future makes you fearful, all the worries that you might not breakthrough.
All your efforts of trying to be positive are overcome because anxiety spoils it.
It follows you, a big cloud of sorrow even when you try to move on with your life tomorrow.

When you try to look for peace in your mind, but anxiety makes it pieces.
Control is no longer part of the picture, it’s like anxiety is now in the permanent fixture.
All these things anxiety makes you do, but you must carry on because positivity is calling you
You must stay strong and not go with anxiety’s flow
You must not let anxiety make you low.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Interview on AfrikaJump

The very talented, Okwei Odili, who is a writer, fantastic composer and singer interviewed me on her blog. You can enjoy the interview on her blog, and enjoy her riveting music here on YouTube and here on Soundcloud.


Thursday, 26 January 2017

News From African Literature Association

Here's some news from African Literature Association:

Registration for the 2017 ALA conference at Yale University is now open. Please remember that all those who intend to participate in the conference must first pay ALA membership dues before proceeding to pay 2017 conference registration fees. Early bird payments and lower registration costs for the conference come to an end on March 15 2017. Participants in the 2017 conference will be able to use bank wire transfer and credit cards to pay for their conference registration.

In order to pay ALA membership dues, please go to the following ALA website.

The code you will need in order to receive the members rate for conference registration will be found in the "Members Area" of the ALA website. You must be logged in and your dues must be current to access your personalized code.In order to pay conference registration fees, please visit: ALA Website

Call for 2017 Travel Grant Applications
Yale University, New Haven, USA
14–17 June 2017

The African Literature Association invites applications for three ALA Travel Grant Awards worth $1,000 each, for members traveling to the association’s conference from Africa. Priority is given to early career applicants.

Eligible applicants must be based in Africa, and should demonstrate 1) scholarship; 2) financial need; and 3) ability to supplement grant award.

Travel Grant Applications must include the following documents:
A cover letter (not longer than 2 pages) including title and abstract of conference paper to be presented at ALA conference;
Acceptance letter from the convener;
A 2 page Curriculum Vitae or résumé (including ALA travel grant awards received within the past three [3] years , teaching and/or research experience and interests, professional meetings/conferences attended, with dates, place and titles of papers presented, current university affiliation, if applicable); and
Two letters of recommendation. Each letter should be 2 pages or less, and should include contact and brief biographical information of recommender. (Recommender’s CV or résumé is not needed).
Winners of the award are expected to meet with the Chair of the committee and members of the EC when they attend the conference.

Travel grants are awarded to successful applicants during the Awards Ceremony at the conference. Successful applicants will be required to be paid-up ALA members for the current year and to pay conference registration fees. Please be advised that the ALA Membership fee is different from the conference registration fees; and both are compulsory for all conference participants.

Please send your complete application in Word or PDF format by February 28th 2017 to both Grace A Musila ( and Joyce Ashuntantang ( ).

For more information about the conference, visit the Yale website.

Poetry Anthology on the Capital Cities of the World

Last year, I was featured along with some of the world's finest poets in the anthology: Capitals (published by Bloomsbury) and edited by the poet and diplomat, Abhay K.

The book focuses on capital cities through the eyes of some of the world’s finest poets. The idea which is in itself profound, is a ‘poetic-scape’ of the world in a book. Featuring poets like Derek Walcott, Kwame Dawes, Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva, Ruth Padel, Jekwu Ozoemene, George Szirtes, Mimi Khalvati, Luis Chavez, G Mend-Ooyo, Sudeep Sen, Claire Askew and several others.

Here's an excerpt from an article written by the Abhay K on what inspired the book:

"After joining the Indian Foreign Service, I worked in New Delhi, Moscow, St Petersburg and Kathmandu before moving to Brasilia. As part of my work, I often visit the capitals of different countries at very short notice. I look for poems on places I visit before setting out as I believe poems have the ability to render a deep and intimate experience of a place. Thus I set out on an impossible journey of finding a poem on each capital city of the world." READ MORE

CAPITALS would be launched in NY at Poets House on 5th Jan 2017, at Jaipur Literature Festival on 21st Jan 2017, at India International Centre on 27th Jan 2017 and SOAS, University of London on 1st Feb 2017.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Call for Submissions: Megacity Fictions

Photo From:

Here's a call for submission on Megacities, those cities with borders brimming with people, yet never spilling into neighbouring towns or cities. Cities like Lagos, Nigeria.


Here's the call for submissions:

Megacity Fictions invites submissions that explore particular megacities, or the concept of the megacity in general. Creative writing, creative non-fiction, criticism and images are all welcome. Please email your submissions to or use the form below.

Work will be published on the website Megacity Fictions. A selection of the best pieces will be published in an anthology of Megacity Fiction, due to be published by UEA’s Boiler House Press in early 2018.

For stories in French, Spanish or Mandarin please title your email SPANISH, FRENCH or MANDARIN. We are currently looking for translators and readers in other languages.

More on the anthology here

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Remembering Patrice Lumumba

Patrice Lumumba (center)in 1960, Image via Wikipedia Commons

The name Lumumba didn't come to me in a book. It came to me in the voice of the famous Nigerian Juju musician, IK Dairo, who was one of the regulars who crooned from my parents' Phillips stereo player. I used to enjoy singing 'Iku Lumumba' without understanding the significance of the event or the political personality involved. It was many years later, I would learn about the man Lumumba, his fight and his vision.

Here's a brilliant feature, in memory of the man, Patrice Lumumba (1925 - 1961) in

Let us remember.