Friday, May 20, 2016

Track One: Placenta Musing

The child’s foot is not yet aware it’s a foot,
And would like to be a butterfly or an apple
– Pablo Neruda, ‘To the Foot from its child’


This is how I came to be: a daytime dream:
Life begins as a hazy harmattan forenoon
It is trees wearing rusty leaves and twigs
It is a mother’s plea for nature to falter
But her desiccated desires are spurted
Into a citrus-sized head clambering out
Hollering to see what could hold it longer
Mother father midwife the bed or just stares?


I form fanciful prose in chiselled clouds
Birth gives one a worth of six feet of stories
And the foundation of many-storey issues
Built on many plots of gender narratives
And Feuds of p/referred myths passed down
As an Other narrative to own or disown
Or torture dreams into rainbow colours
Wherefore I sum time, become daybreak


How can I who do not know life know death?
To say one die when born is foolishness
I am a stranger wearing the sound of earth
I am a drifter, like plankton in salt water
Sometimes I will hear the wind say to me:
Child, welcome to the drama of the binary
I striate into the soul of rocks to be colours
Of rainbows and fauna and flora and being


Here is a child with the wisdom spoken in markets
Songs carried in the eyes of the places I call mother
This one is a child of stories that lift off sills like dust
I was a story inspired by solitude of dusk
Now I am a gallery of daylight-inferences
What is not to expect from the life of one like mine
A birth prevised by scan and then revised by schemes
Only now finding identity in the fluidity of pronouns

(excerpt from a current manuscript 'the sun is no fool')

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Friday, April 22, 2016

2016 Okot P’Bitek Prize for Poetry in Translation Guidelines

The Okot P’Bitek Prize for Poetry in Translation is a one-off award for emerging African poets administered by the Centre for African Cultural Excellence (CACE) to celebrate fifty years since the publication of Okot P’Bitek’s Song of Lawino.

The prize aims to award poets who write originally in an African indigenous language and translate their own poetry to English to celebrate the process of self-translation and bi-linguality in African poetry.

The prize seeks to highlight and celebrate the fact that Wer pa Lawino was conceived and first written in Acoli, P’Bitek’s mother-tongue and translated to English by the poet as Song of Lawino.

The Gerald Kraak Award and Anthology

Created in honour of the late activist Gerald Kraak’s extraordinary legacy of supporting human rights, this award will advance his contribution to building a South Africa that is safe and welcoming to all. The unique and vital anthology will feature English language writing and photography from and about Africa. Exceptional works which explore, interrogate and celebrate the topics of gender, sexuality and human rights will be short-listed, and given a voice through publication.

Closing date for submissions: 31 July 2016
Shortlist announced: 15 December 2016

• fiction
• non-fiction
• poetry
• photography / photographic essays
• journalism / magazine reporting
• scholarly articles in academic journals and book chapters / extracts
• social media / blog writings and contributions
• Materials must not exceed 15 000 words or 10 images. 
• We are looking for work which tells a story or illustrates an idea. If one photograph achieves this, then we welcome the submission of that single image. It is however more likely to be accomplished through a collection of photographs or a photographic essay.
• No handwritten or hard copy entries can be considered. Submissions must be made via the online entry form:

• The entry form calls for a short biography (100 words maximum) and contact details of the entrant. These should not be included on the work being submitted, as the award is judged blind and the entrant remains anonymous until the shortlist has been selected.
• Submissions are considered to implicitly indicate the entrant’s permission for their work to be published in the anthology, if shortlisted, for no payment or royalty.
Closing date: 31 July 2016
Shortlist announced: December 2016

Submit to Jacana Media by following this link:


Works which fall within one of the following categories are accepted:

Entries must have been created by a citizen of an African country, who primarily lives and works on the continent.

Written submissions must be in English.

• Up to three entries are permitted per author, across categories. Each entry must be submitted on a separate electronic entry form.

Enquiries can be directed to

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Short Story: Ferrying Alaba

No 1. Ojo Street stood like a sentry on the narrow lane, with several unfenced multi-room buildings belonging to the 1930s. The house faced a railway track which they say was built in the 18th century, and for seventy years it had resisted the vibrations of shuttling trains.

No. 1 was also known as Bewaji House after its former owner, Theophilus Bewaji who was also the first settler in the area. While the house did not die with its owner, it was close to the ground. It was listed to a side like a tipped cattle carriage driving into a bend, and still it found the space to tuck in two shops, one on the left and the other on the right, occupied by the wives of two tenants who sold food supplies to the neighbourhood. Between the shops was a wooden door made from three wide planks held together by a beam. It led to a stairway, which faced the room of Taiwo Bewaji and her grandmother, Mamake; the only surviving wife of Theophilus Bewaji who lived on rents collected from tenants. Mamake was formerly known as Mama Jumoke, until her granddaughter Taiwo, while learning to talk, mispronounced the name, and then it stuck.
This short story was first published in the AKE REVIEW. You can read the complete story on the website

Friday, April 15, 2016

2016 Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop

Farafina Trust will be holding a creative writing workshop in Lagos, organized by award-winning writer and creative director of Farafina Trust, Chimamanda Adichie, from June 21 to July 1, 2016. The workshop is sponsored by Nigerian Breweries Plc. The Caine Prize-winning Kenyan writer, Binyavanga Wainaina, Aslak Sira Myhre and others will co-teach the workshop alongside Adichie.

Get more information on the Farafina Blog

Thursday, April 14, 2016

It all happened in April

Photo Credit: Porterfields Finearts

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding         
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing   
Memory and desire, stirring 
Dull roots with spring rain.  – Waste Land T.S Eliot

Dawn, April 14, 2004, my cousin, Gbenga Rufai died watching his dream descend into darkness-infinitum as he was denied life by several rounds of gunshots from armed robbers. I never heard the sound, but every April, I imagine the sound that lodged you in a 6-feet home. Paaaaap…Paaaaap…..Paaaap.  It’s not a good departure tune.  It is not.

"I scavenge the details of an abrupt end
carve gutter on my brows
I hush pain in the noise of sorrow." – I am memory

April 14, 2014; as dusk hurries after dawn, 276 Nigerian girls lost their names to become Chibok girls, they descended into our national anxieties, and as we waited for a return, they became numbers, list of names mementoed across the media, and forever a horrific memorial of a town they once called home.

A mother is watching the road every day
Her eyes live by the door for a surprise…

In all this, between tears, a smile to swallow the loss—my parents are making an endless narrative with their marriage, they celebrate their 48 years wedding anniversary tomorrow – 15 April 2016.