Sunday, 31 December 2017

The making of a Literary Matriarch

Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo – Life and Literature (University Press Plc; Ibadan, 2017) by Ezechi Onyerionwu is an epitome of an intellectual biography that compels the interest of the avid reader, especially with a literary background. In Nigeria, of course, biographical writing culture is not novel given that over the years the literary landscape has been replete with interesting books on accomplished literary stars. In this regard, Ezenwa Ohaeto’s Chinua Achebe: A Biography is a detailed panoramic chronicle of Achebe’s literary and mundane accomplishments in diverse areas.

So also is the more recent Christopher Okigbo, 1930-67: Thirsting for Sunlight by Obi Nwakanma, a work of in-depth account of Africa’s foremost enthralling poet. There are many other works written in this vein. But Life and Literature (for short) has an uncommon ring not just because the subject of the biography is an accomplished female literary artist and scholar but also because the scintillating life of the protagonist, as it were, parallels with some intriguing exactitude the quality of the writing, a style that is describable as a strong, fetching prose that is unencumbered with infelicities of grammar or ideas.

A book of twelve interwoven chapters with salient ideas serving as the linchpin of the narrative, Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, Life and Literature makes its departure from earlier works in this genre by magisterially establishing biographical literature as an engaging, no-less intellectual, discipline. The author does not just chronicle the achievements of Prof. Akachi Ezeigbo as a versatile writer who has won laurels both in Nigeria and overseas but he concretizes these varied feats by laying everything bare, as it were, on the table. In a comparative streak, he admirably juxtaposes Akachi’s bold and intelligent postulations and those of her precursors in the literary vocation.

Through his adept strokes, Akachi comes across as a courageous and confident writer who is not so enamoured of the towering feats of the earlier writers that she cannot ventilate her disapproval of the seemingly prejudicial slant of their fiction. Thus in chapter 10, “The Muse Emancipist”, the rationale of Akachi’s first published novel The Last of the Strong Ones is underscored. The incursion of the white man into Africa where he maintained a strangle hold on the continent through colonialism is the main subject thematized by older writers like Achebe in some of his earlier novels like Things Fall Apart, No Longer at Ease and Arrow of God in fictive traditional Igbo society.

However, beyond Akachi’s manifest influence by Achebe in her narration as exemplified by the overlay of local texture, she detected a loophole – it is only male characters like Okonkwo, Obi Okonkwo, Ezeulu, etc. that are imbued with some degree of gallantry in the fight against colonialism and its negative concomitants in Africa. Female characters are barely hinted at as mere footnotes in the struggle, who at best act according to the caprices of their men folk. For Akachi, if Achebe drew from the pristine pool of history and mythology in his creative world so also will she extract from that inexhaustible repertoire from her own corner of the Igbo society, Uga, where none of the genders – men and women- was marginalized but both in a complementary streak fought the white man to finish, as it were. Interestingly, this is the major feature of most of Akachi’s works, ranging from some of her children’s fiction like The Buried Treasure, Rituals and Departures, and My Cousin Sammy to her riveting trilogy, The Last of the Strong Ones, Children of the Eagle and House of Symbols.

Onyerionwu, the author of Life and Literature displayed remarkable dexterity in pivoting the various strands of Akachi’s intellectual achievements- whether in scholarly essays, creative outputs given that she has published in virtually all the genres of literature- prose, drama, poetry, children’s literature, short story, etc.- or even journalistic articles as an editorial member of some significant newspapers and magazines- on her eyes for detail, especially in privileging the narrative favourable to women and the underdogs generally in her various literary endeavours. Her penchant for recovering part of the vital heirloom of the people occasioned by the traumatic aftermath of the Nigerian Civil War of 1967- 1970 accounts for her keen interest in working on Facts and Fiction in the Nigerian Civil War Literature as a doctoral dissertation which she obtained with accolades at the University of Ibadan. This was the impetus for her consistent scholarly interest as demonstrated in her journal articles beginning during her time as a young academic at the University of Lagos, dovetailing into her life-long academic preoccupation as seen in her books, conference and seminar papers and culminating in her earning a professorial position at the nation’s renowned citadel of learning, UNILAG.

The book is an unvarnished testament of a woman achiever on diverse fronts, much of which culminates in chapter 11“The Intellectual as Stateswoman.” Perhaps what the author of the book may not know is that through his honest account of the life of the subject captured in the tapestry of his taut narrative, he has unearthed the philosophy behind Akachi’s simple carriage and demeanour and peaceable disposition despite the towering heights she has attained in her pursuits. Through her poignant portraiture in the book and as evidenced by her numerous works, there is no disconnect between Akachi’s theories and her practical lifestyle. Most renowned critics of African literature such as Charles Nnolim, Simon Gikande, Chinyere Nwahunanya, Femi Osofisan, among others have validated this perspective in their different critical essays, a synthesis that is also reflected in this book. Her life coheres with the theory of Feminism that she invented- Snail-sense Feminism.

This is unlike some of the outrageous brands that are noticeable basically in the West. In this regard, Akachi leans more towards the innocuous sensibility that informed the ‘acommodationist’ (womanism) feminism as propounded by writers like Alice Walker. This is dexterously realized in her fiction where she deliberately forges positive binaries in the characterization of Obiatu and Ejimnkonye, in The Last of the Strong Ones, among other memorable characters, as good examples of complementary marriage partners. Also, in her latest novel Roses and Bullets, until Ginika became a pathetic victim of the lust and prodigality of the rampaging soldiers during the Civil War, her marriage to Eloka was a model of inspiration. From the illuminating backdrop in the earlier chapters which foregrounds the biography, much of Akachi’s distaste for subjugation of either partner in marriage is traceable to her own parents and grandparents.

Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo- Life and Literature has justifiably been creating positive ripples in different circles of the literati. This is perhaps because it is an unprecedented biography of a truly outstanding woman achiever to receive an unbiased assessment by an otherwise patriarchal system.

The Importance Of An Author Website

Maybe you’re just starting out on your writing path. Or maybe you’re a prolific writer that’s been around for years. No matter who you are or where you are on your publishing path, a website can benefit any writer. How can it help you?

Let People See You.
If your website is well organized and clean, it gives visitors a way to learn all about you and your writing quickly and painlessly. People like easy, so make it easy for your audience to find you and get to know you.

This is where most writers make mistake. If you aren’t a huge blogger / tweeter/ poster, then a website will still allow you to connect with your readers or anyone who is interested in you. It's important your website has features that allow people to comment about your book. It will help build buzz, and also attract more readers to the author. Your website should also give them a way to contact you directly, either by an online form or via an e-mail address.

You Are A Business. Act Like One.
Have you ever googled a business to discover it didn’t have a website? Did you wonder if the company was even legit? Did you reconsider giving them your business? Why should you be any different as a writer? Writing is your business. If you have a weak or absent presence on the web, how are your customers supposed to take you seriously? A website is just another strong way to create that presence. It sends the message that you are legit and you’re not going anywhere. And mostly importantly, your author website shouldn't be used for any other purpose. Some authors after seeing they are getting traffic to their websites, they try to make money of the website by placing ads on it. This move usually leads to drop in traffic, because the main purpose of the site has been replaced with ads that has nothing to do with the author or their writing.

Short On Time.
Ultimately, the most important thing for a writer to do is write. A website allows you to maintain a presence without sacrificing what little time you might have to dedicate to your art. How would you rather spend your time? Remember. Write, write, write. And if you’ve finished your novel, the best way to promote yourself is to write another one. Let your website speak for you.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Atogun explains the African folk narrative voice in his work

When the 9mobile Prize for African Literature longlist was recently released, Odafe Atogun was one of four Nigerian authors on it on account of his debut fiction work, Taduno’s Song and he expresses how exciting it felt to arrive at that junction: “It is like getting a present I have waited for all my life. I feel encouraged to write more and that in itself makes me feel fulfilled.”

With a new book already published in the United Kingdom and due out soon in Nigeria titled, Wake Me When I’m Gone, it seems Atogun is already living his dream as a published writer.
“Yes, these are exciting times,” he acknowledges. “When you are speaking to a global audience it does not matter where you are based. As long as your voice carries across oceans, the world is your home. Of course, when you dream you reach for the sky. You cannot fulfill your dream if you do not believe in it. And if you believe, then you will settle for nothing but the very best.”

Atogun’s style is allegory and fantasy with which he has masterfully woven his tales in the two books. Not by chance, he says, but a deliberate invention to carve a creative niche for himself.
Rather than a shift from the prevailing narrative form, Atogun asserts that his style is borne out of the need to be original and distinct as a writer.

He notes, “Deliberate invention, I must say. In the beginning, I noticed a consistency in my voice, which I felt comfortable with. So, it was a question of developing that voice over the years. Originality is the key word for any artist. The need to express myself in my own unique way has always been very important to me. So, it is not so much the desire to shift from the norm, as the tendency to be original as an artist.
“Artists are not bound by rigid styles. The beauty of creative works lies in the diverse ways in which they are presented. So, I wouldn’t say my style is different; I would prefer to say original.”

For the originality of Atogun’s style to manifest, he has had to stay close to his African roots from which he draws inspiration from the folk narrative form. He acknowledges the debt he owes African oral narratives in his works, noting, “Each time I write, I imagine that I’m telling a story to an audience gathered around a fire under a starlit sky and I naturally deploy the tone of a folklorist in presenting my story. So, I would say that African folklore has helped to develop my style in no small way.” 

Atogun’s work appropriates protest themes and he says readers should best determine how he should be read, saying, “Maybe it is just the way my mind works. We all have different approaches to dealing with issues or presenting them. As for protest, as a potent tool for social change, I think it is something that we have always deployed, but maybe not well enough. Most essential for me is to write timeless and universal stories.”

A discernable partern in Atogun’s work is his focus on the past even in an Internet age. He, however, cannot say for certain when he would write new media-compliant book, asserting, “Sometimes, some of the answers we seek are hidden in our past. When we visit our past, it helps us to understand our present and shape the future, to achieve a more promising perspective. Writing a book for the age is all about the inspiration I receive. I cannot flow counter to it. I drift with the flow of my creativity, and each work I produce will always reflect that.”

34 Writing Tips From 34 Writers

A couple of weeks ago we asked our readers to share their writing tips. The response was far beyond the initial expectations, and the quality of the tips included was amazing. Thanks for everyone who contributed.
Now, without further delay, the 34 writing tips that will make you a better writer!
Image result for writing tips 
1. Daniel
Pay attention to punctuation, especially to the correct use of commas and periods. These two punctuation marks regulate the flow of your thoughts, and they can make your text confusing even if the words are clear.

2. Thomas
Participate in NaNoWriMo, which challenges you to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. I noticed that my writing has definitely improved over the course of the book — and it’s not even finished yet.

3. Bill Harper
Try not to edit while you’re creating your first draft. Creating and editing are two separate processes using different sides of the brain, and if you try doing both at once you’ll lose. Make a deal with your internal editor that it will get the chance to rip your piece to shreds; it will just need to wait some time.
A really nice trick is to switch off your monitor when you’re typing. You can’t edit what you can’t see.

4. Jacinta
In a sentence: write daily for 30 minutes minimum! It’s easy to notice the difference in a short time. Suddenly, ideas come to you and you think of other things to write. You experiment with styles and voices and words and the language becomes more familiar…

5. Ane Mulligan
Learn the rules of good writing… then learn when and how to break them.

6. Pete Bollini
I sometimes write out 8 to 10 pages from the book of my favorite writer… in longhand. This helps me to get started and swing into the style I wish to write in.

7. Nilima Bhadbhade
Be a good reader first.

8. Douglas Davis
While spell-checking programs serve as a good tool, they should not be relied
upon to detect all mistakes. Regardless of the length of the article, always read and review what you have written.

9. Kukusha
Learn to take criticism and seek it out at every opportunity. Don’t get upset even if you think the criticism is harsh, don’t be offended even if you think it’s wrong, and always thank those who take the time to offer it.

10. John England
Right click on a word to use the thesaurus. Do it again on the new word and make the best use of your vocabulary.

11. Lillie Ammann
After editing the work on screen or in print, I like to read the text aloud. Awkward sentences and errors that slipped through earlier edits show up readily when reading out loud.

12. H Devaraja Rao
Avoid wordiness. Professor Strunk put it well: “a sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.”

13. David
Write as if you’re on deadline and have 500 words to make your point. Then do it again. And again.

14. Yvette
Sometimes I type in a large font to have the words and sentences bold before me.
Sometimes, in the middle of a document I will start a new topic on a fresh sheet to have that clean feeling. Then, I’ll cut and insert it into the larger document.
I wait until my paper is done before I examine my word usage and vocabulary choices. (And reading this column it has reminded me that no two words are ever exactly alike.) So at the end, I take time to examine my choice of words. I have a lot of fun selecting the exact words to pinpoint my thoughts or points.

15. Amit Goyal
To be a good writer is to start writing everyday. As Mark Twain said, “the secret of getting ahead is getting started.”
Try using new words. i.e avoid repeating words. this way we learn the usage of different words.
Do edit your previous articles.
Start with small paragraphs like writing an article for a Newspaper, and proceed from there.

16. John Dodds
Remove as many adjectives as possible. Read Jack Finney’s tale, Cousin Len’s Wonderful Adjective Cellar for a fantastical tale about how a hack becomes a successful author with the help of a magical salt cellar that removes adjectives from his work.

17. John Ireland
I set my writing aside and edit a day or two later with the aim of making it terse. It has trained me to be more conscious of brevity when writing for immediate distribution.

18. Jai
Try to write in simple way. Express your views with most appropriate words.

19. Mark
Read great writers for inspiration. If you read them enough, their excellent writing style will rub off onto your dazzling blog.
YOU ARE what you read (and write!).

20. Caroline
I watch my action tense and wordiness in sentences when I am writing my technical diddley.
For example, in a sentence where you say …”you will have to…” I replace it with “…you must…”, or “Click on the Go button to…” can be replaced with “Click Go to…”.
Think of words such as “enables”, instead of “allows you to” or “helps you to”.
If one word will work where three are, replace it! I always find these, where I slip into conversational as I am writing quickly, then go back and purge, purge, purge.

21. Akhil Tandulwadikar
Don’t shy away from adopting the good habits that other writers use.
Do not worry about the length of the article as long as it conveys the point. Of course, the fewer words you use, the better.

22. Julie Martinenza
Instead of adding tags (he said/she said) to every bit of dialogue, learn to identify the speaker by showing him/her in action. Example: “Pass that sweet-smelling turkey this way.” With knife in one hand and fork in the other, Sam looked eager to pounce.

23. Aaron Stroud
Write often and to completion by following a realistic writing schedule.

24. Joanna Young
One that works for me every time is to focus on the positive intention behind my writing. What is it that I want to communicate, express, convey? By focusing on that, by getting into the state that I’m trying to express, I find that I stop worrying about the words – just let them tumble out of their own accord.
It’s a great strategy for beating writer’s block, or overcoming anxiety about a particular piece of writing, whether that’s composing a formal business letter, writing a piece from the heart, or guest blogging somewhere ‘big’…

25. Shelley Rodrigo
Use others writer’s sentences and paragraphs as models and then emulate the syntactic structure with your own content. I’ve learned more about grammar and punctuation that way.

26. Sylvia
Avoid long sentences.

27. Mike Feeney
Learn the difference between me, myself and I. For example: “Contact Bob or myself if you have any questions.” I hear this very often!

28. Richard Scott
When doing a long project, a novel, for instance, shut off your internal editor and just write.
Think of your first draft as a complex outline waiting to be expanded upon, and let the words flow.

29. David
Careful with unnecessary expressions. “At this point in time” came along during the Nixon congressional hearings. Too bad it didn’t go out with him. What about “on a daily basis?”

30. E. I. Sanchez
For large documents, I use Word’s Speech feature to have the computer read the article back. This allows me to catch errors I have missed – especially missing words or words that ’sort of sound the same’ but are spelled differently (e.g. Front me instead of ‘From me’).

31. Cat
Either read the book, then join a writing group, or hire a writing coach.

32. Suemagoo
Write the first draft spontaneously. Switch off your internal editor until it is time to review your first draft.

33. Lydia
If you’re writing fiction, it’s a great idea to have a plot. It will coordinate your thoughts and add consistency to the text.

34. Pedro
Edit your older articles and pieces. You will notice that great part of it will be crap, and it will allow you to refine your style and avoid mistakes that you used to make.

Monday, 18 December 2017

How A Self-Published Author Sold 10,000 Books Online

Last year, I self-published my first science fiction novel, Where the Hell is Tesla?, and sold 10,000 copies in the first twelve months. How the heck did that happen? Was it luck? Because if it wasn’t, how on earth did that many people find out about it and buy it? Did I know something — or someone — special that could influence the outcome?
Nope. It wasn’t luck. And it wasn’t influence. I mean, a few unexpected things turned in my favor for sure, but I strongly believe that if you’ve got a good book inside you, and you do your homework, and you put that learning to work, that you can successfully self-publish your own book and sell thousands of copies.
Here are five things I learned how to do on the road to my first 10,000 copies:
Write your best book
It sounds obvious, I know. But there’s an entire world of badly-written, poorly-edited self-published work out there. Because the tools have become so easy to use, there’s a temptation to get anything out there, without going through the rigors of research and editing, in hopes of quick discovery and viral success. Don’t give in to that temptation. I spent over a year writing my first novel, and almost a year writing my second. If you don’t know someone who can competently edit your writing, hire someone. End readers will know the difference. Here’s a small example: I released the first two parts of my novel, Where the Hell is Tesla? as serial stories, like Hugh Howey originally did with the Wool series. And though the feedback I got was largely positive, I got ripped for little editing errors. So I learned a huge lesson before selling even one copy of the full novel – the product has to be bulletproof. Editing, spell-checking, formatting, consistency, characters’ motivations, plot holes, everything. I don’t think all the marketing in the world will help a product that’s not ready to launch.

Build your “platform”
Book marketing consultant Tim Grahl defines your platform as whatever plan and methods you use to connect with readers and sell books. In my case, considering the nature of my full-time job, I couldn’t consider touring, and frankly didn’t have the patience to find a publicist that would actually respond to me as a first-time author, so I chose the online-only path: website, social media, Amazon author pages, and an email list.

• Website: Yes, it’s common sense, but if you’re going to self-publish a book, you need a website to spread the word and keep the conversation going. It’s a place for fans to contact you and a way to build your email list. You’ll start with zero traffic, as I did, but after a while (be patient!), if you’ve got some engaging content and good keywords, you’ll see the clicks and the email signups start to come in.

• Social media: I’ve heard many people advise this and I’ll tell you the same thing: don’t overdo it. With a full-time job and writing and publishing on the side, this book promotion thing at times tests my productivity limits. So, I stick with just Facebook and Twitter, and I’d say go with the one or two that feel right for you. For example, if you’re creating a graphic novel — very visual — maybe Facebook and Pinterest would be your thing. Journalist writing non-fiction? Twitter. Try them all out and see what feels right for you.
One stand-out example for me is John Scalzi (@scalzi). He’s a very successful sci-fi writer with a huge Twitter following. He uses Twitter as a sort-of ever-present sounding board, every single day, many times a day, showcasing his wry sense of humor and insistence on being himself. It’s awesome.

• Amazon author and book pages: I could get very detailed, but here’s the quick rundown: If you self-publish on Amazon, use every space they give you. Don’t leave things blank. Put plenty of key phrases in your book description and keywords list on your book sales page on Amazon. Hook up your author page to show your latest blog posts and tweets. I’ve talked to many people who can’t seem to sell copies of their books, and after looking, I find that they’re simply not taking advantage of simple features that can help them get discovered.
• Email list: Okay, this one is an uphill battle, but worth the effort. As a new author, getting people interested enough to take the ride with you through emails is tough. But since I’ve started blogging, posting, tweeting and emailing, and my list is slowly growing. I use MailChimp to manage the email list and campaigns. It’s an excellent tool at an excellent price: free.

Relentlessly pursue book reviews and exposure
I think the single biggest thing that helped sell all those books, beyond the quality of the work itself, was reviews. And here’s what I did to get them:
• Prior to launch, I contacted 75 people who agreed to be advanced reviewers, keeping in touch with them over the next several weeks, ultimately launching with 25 reviews on my Amazon sales page on day one. Enough reviews will trigger Amazon to begin recommending it to others. Your book also gains quite a bit of credibility in readers’ minds when they see more than a handful of thoughtful reviews.
• At the end of the ebook, paperback, and audiobook, I have a prominent, clear call to action asking specifically for a review on Amazon or Audible, noting that it’s the best way for independent authors and authors with small publishers to gain exposure and help sales. More people than you’d think have told me that my simply asking them to leave a review led them to write their very first review ever. Ask clearly. Readers like to help!
• I looked up reviewers on Amazon, Goodreads and Audible on an ongoing basis, and actively reached out to these individuals to provide a review in exchange for a complimentary copy of the book. Many people took me up on this offer. This is tough, tedious work, but well worth the effort.
• I’ve also run free giveaways of book copies, and engaged members of Goodreads for free copies in exchange for honest reviews.
Regarding exposure: I could write a full article just on this topic, but in brief, spend time networking with whoever you can, and investigate genre websites, and reach out as much as possible to offer guest postings, interviews, book reviews, or whatever you think that site might find interesting, or live readings at physical locations like libraries. To date, for my first novel, I’ve probably landed ten of these opportunities, which aren’t a lot, but have certainly helped me sell books.

Promote your book
Here’s where a little bit of investment can go a long way. There are all kinds of ways to use paid promotion to spread the word about your book, but here’s one example that worked for me: if you’re publishing on Amazon, you’re offered KDP Select, an incentive to sell the digital version of your book exclusively through Amazon. In exchange for this exclusivity, you’re allowed to run something called Countdown Deals. I chose this route for my novel, and here’s how I made it work:
• KDP Select: Every three months, your agreement renews, allowing you one Countdown Deal during that term. So within this first year of my first novel, I was able to run four of them. Each time, I took my normal price, $3.99, and discounted it to $0.99. (Amazon puts a timer on your book page, thus the “countdown.”)
• Email promotions: Coinciding with these Countdown Deals, I ran paid ebook promotions through book promotion sites that list discount deals, and send out daily emails to their subscribers. (Some post to social media as well.)
• Online advertising: All the major online services offer paid advertising. At one point or another during these countdown promotions, I’ve tried all of them. Overall? I’d say if you’ve got the stomach to spend money that isn’t returning as high a value as the email blast promotions listed above, but want to boost your exposure temporarily, then go for it. For each of these, you can set a daily budget not to exceed, a start and end date, and live monitoring of response. I set my daily budgets at between $5 and $20 per day for a week. I’ve run Facebook/Instagram ads, Google ads, Amazon ads, Twitter ads, and more. (I’m constantly experimenting, with varying degrees of success).
• Social Media: As a matter of course, during each of these promotions, I got the word out as much as possible through Facebook and Twitter.
The result? The four promotion periods, unsurprisingly, showed the largest spikes in sales.
Record an audiobook
Okay, this one’s a little tougher. I happen to have lots of audio recording experience, so the process was straightforward for me. The reason I include this as one of the main five things to explore when self-publishing? Because audiobooks continue to be on the rise, in a big way, with148 per cent sales growth from 2010 to 2015, and audiobooks read by their authors are also on the rise. And personally, I can attest: audiobooks account for a significant percentage of my sales.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Ace Columnist, Alfred releases new book

THISDAY columnist, Lanre Alfred, has released a new book titled: ‘The Titans: Amazing Exploits of Nigeria’s Greatest Achievers.’
The book which is the fifth of Alfred’s publishing endeavours, chronicles the exploits and attainments of Nigeria’s finest brains and leaders in different fields of endeavour.
The Lagos State Commissioner for Information, Steve Ayorinde, graced the public presentation of the book in Lagos, on behalf of the state government, a major supporter of the author’s factual initiative.
Ayorinde commended the writer’s depth and the painstaking research that heralded the factual and inspiring narrative. Other dignitaries at the presentation enthused about the finesse and brilliant craft of the author.
According to Alfred, the book detailed the matchless and valuable contributions to the socio-economic development of Nigeria by individuals who have turned an idea into an industry and attained in the process, remarkable prosperity and renown.
“It is about the wunderkinds from the slums of Ajegunle, Bariga and Surulere, Agege, Amokoko, Ijora, among other places that have parlayed their creativity into a flourishing enterprise and are not only financially liberated but are accorded global respect,” he said.
The literature is dedicated to Capt. Idahosa Okunbo for profound reasons: chief among them is the rarity of his persona, according to the author. Alfred stressed that the Chairman of Ocean Marine Solutions flaunted the same fundamental psychology as the artist, inventor, or statesman.
“He has set himself at a certain work and the work absorbs and becomes him. It is the expression of his personality; he lives in its growth and perfection according to his plans,” he said.
According to him, Okunbo became worthy of the honour by account of his sterling industry, humanity and unpretentious modesty manifests positively on all of his acquaintances, the author inclusive.
Okunbo is a patriot whose commitment to national and economic stability are beyond doubt.
Alfred’s new book is widely commended as a product of meticulous research spanning the last decade.
“The book mirrors the outstanding resilience and perseverance of outstanding Nigerians in their ambitious dash for honour and progress and in the face of daunting political and socio-economic odds,” he said.
Some of the chapters in the book include: ‘The Forbears, Their Imperial Majesties, Like Burnished Stones, Thrill Merchants, Gods of Industry, among others.
“Essentially, I have documented in pristine prose and pictures, the inspiring exploits and attainments of Nigeria’s finest breed of magnates, politicians, scientists, academics, technocrats and entertainers who are transforming the world and inspiring others to do likewise,” said Alfred.

Thus, as he recalls his subjects’ storied trajectory and records it for posterity and historians, Alfred projects his book as an inspirational mini-biography of the exploits of Nigeria’s finest.
In commemoration of Lagos’ golden jubilee, Alfred noted that, “A section of the book has been devoted to the contributions and achievements of some Lagosians whose industry and initiatives have contributed to making Lagos the fifth largest economy in Africa and a primus inter pares in Nigeria. Their contributions to the growth of Lagos would be put into proper historical perspectives for the benefit of posterity and researchers.”

How Halimafactor Initiative illuminated Gombe Day of Literature

The Gombe Day of Literature started in 2014 under the Halimafactor Community Initiative in collaboration with the Gombe State University, and the National Orientation Agency (NOA). It has since become an annual event.
This year’s edition, which is the 4th in the series, was held at the College of Nursing and Midwifery, Gombe, and witnessed a large turnout of schools and individuals who participated in a poetry competition, poems recitation by Mohammed Adamu Baraya and Khadija Lawal Kwargana as well as drawing on the spot competition and many other scintillating activities.
Objective of the program, according to the organiser, Mrs Halima Usman, is helping the youth to find a sense of belonging and also by extension, a means of livelihood.
This, she said could be achieved through the discovery and effective use of their innate creative abilities, creating wealth for themselves and for the state and nation at large.
Mrs Usman, a renowned poet and public speaker, said the initiative would in the long run curtail violence and the menace of poverty and unemployment.
“The event is strategically designed to showcase the great literary and artistic potential of the Gombe and indeed Nigerian children and youths.
“It is a programme that seeks to discover and bring to limelight the northern child not as a lesser being but as an intelligent, resourceful, innovative and talented individual and expose them on the right platform,” she said.
Mrs Usman, who said the programme gives participants the chance to become great leaders, noted that the event was born out of “desperate need to save our children from violence, insurgency and all forms of crimes due to unemployment, poverty and despondency.”
At the programme, Governor of Gombe state, Alhaji Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, who hailed Mrs. Halima for the wonderful platform she has created for the youth.
The governor said the initiative was really showing to the world that Gombe state has a lot of talents that are untapped in the literary world and pledged his continued support to the program.
On his part, Director General, NOA, who was also represented by a director in the agency, spoke on support the agency was giving to the programmes from both the state and the national levels as well as the fruits the programme was yielding.
He said was a veritable platform that is helping them do some of the duties they were created for re-orientation of the people on the core values of the society.
Also speaking, the Yariman Gombe, who is also the Senior District Head of Gombe, commended Mrs Usman for showing concern to the state, adding that it is a good development despite the numerous challenges the northeast is faced with.
He said: “Halima is giving hope to the region and the state that there is much more hidden in the state that has not yet been seen and she is bringing them out to the world to see what Gombe has.”
The Head, Department of English at Gombe State University, Prof Neirus Taidi, who was the guest lecturer, spoke on the theme: ‘Truth, Politics And Nationhood: The Role Of Literary Art In National Integration.’
He emphasized on how literary works can go a long way in helping to create unity among the many ethnic groups in the country, and also help in making restless youth, who are used as vanguards in any unrest, self-reliant and through this peace is achieved.
Other dignitaries present include Permanent Secretary Special Duties, Government House, Hajiya Maryam Isa Mele; Special Adviser to the Governor/Focal Person on Social Investment; representative of the Commandant 301 Army Division; representative of the Gombe State Commissioner of Police; and Commandant, Nigerian Prison Services.
Others include: Gombe state, Commandant Nigerian Immigrations;n President, Association of Nigerian Authors, Gombe state; Provost, College of Nursing and Midwifery, Gombe state President, National Association of Students of English and Literary Studies (NASELS).
Others are: President of Jama’atur Nasir Islam, Gombe; President, CAN, Gombe state; ANA Chairmen and members from Bauchi state.
These dignitaries also gave their goodwill messages as a mark of support for the initiative as well as appreciating the initiator for a job well-done.
The media was also in attendance in their numbers.

Dami Ajayi profiles Lola Shoneyin: The cultural activist promoting African literature

Lola Shoneyin is a Nigerian poet, novelist and cultural activist. One of the most influential women of our time, she is the Director of Book Buzz Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organisation founded in 2012 dedicated to the promotion of Arts and Culture within local and global spaces.

Born Titilola Atinuke Alexandrah Shoneyin on February 26, 1974, in the ancient city of Ibadan, Lola Shoneyin, the only girl child, and last of six children of her parents, Chief Tinuoye Shoneyin and Mrs Yetunde Shoneyin, who hail from Remo in Ogun State.

She spent her formative years attending a boarding school from age six in Edinburgh. In 1984, following the unjust imprisonment of her government contractor father by the then military regime, she returned to Nigeria where she completed her secondary education at Abadina College. She then proceeded to Ogun State University where she obtained a B.A (Hons) in Literature.

Her poetry is defiant, playful and exuding sexual audacity. Her first book, So All This Time I was Sitting on an Egg, a volume of poems, was released by Ovalonian House in 1998. To borrow the words of scholar Tosin Gbogi, the collection was “a signature work for the gynocentric strategy that is to become the most popular in the 21st-century Nigerian literature”, in other words, a foretaste of what is now characteristic of Shoneyin’s writings.

Her second volume of poems, Songs of a Riverbird, published in 2002, was described by critics as “a conspicuous and conscious attempt by Shoneyin to return or validate her poetry with elements of oral tradition from her Yoruba worldview.”

Between publishing her first two volume of poems, Shoneyin attended the renowned International Writing Program at Iowa and was also a Distinguished Scholar of the University of St. Thomas, Minnesota. She obtained a postgraduate teaching degree in English, Drama and Media Studies at the Metropolitan University, United Kingdom in 2005.

Her third collection, For the Love of Flight, dispels any doubt about Shoneyin’s avian obsession. Published by Cassava Republic Press in 2010, fellow poet and novelist Toni Kan said (of the book) “Lola Shoneyin’s poetry evinces the makings of a sensitive and accomplished poet who tackles serious domestic and issues of the day with literary aplomb.”

Blessed with the ability to work in different disciplines, Lola Shoneyin also writes prose. A stickler for both artistic excellence and ambition, her first two novels have remained in manuscript form. However, her third novel, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, was critically and commercially acclaimed both locally and internationally; it has been translated into several languages and adapted for the stage.

Longlisted for the prestigious Orange Prize in 2011 and eventual winner of PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award, The Secret Lives tells the story of a polygamous household that falls apart when an educated and young new wife arrives. This novel has been praised for its multi-layered characters, the diversity of narratives, its effortless humour and graphic details.

In April 2014, Lola Shoneyin was named on the Hay Festival’s Africa39 list of 39 Sub-Saharan African writers aged under 40 with potential and talent to define trends in African literature. Her short story was also included in the anthology Africa39: New Writing from Africa South of the Sahara.

Shoneyin has always been interested in showcasing cultural and artistic production. While living in Ibadan at the turn of the millennium, she began a cultural gathering called Ibadan Arts Renaissance. When she relocated to Abuja, she co-founded Infusion, a popular monthly gathering for music, art and culture.
Lola Shoneyin took a quantum leap in 2013 and organised the hugely successful Ake Arts and Book Festival, an annual gathering of creatives in music, film, books and visual arts now in its fifth year. Currently, this festival ranks as one of the best book festivals in Africa, having celebrated notable writers like Marlon James, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Niyi Osundare, Ama Ata Aidoo and Wole Soyinka.

In 2017, Book Buzz Foundation in partnership with Kaduna State organised the inaugural Kaduna Book and Arts Festival (KABAFEST). The Foundation, in alliance with the European Union, is running The Right to Write initiative, a mentorship programme that equips writers from Northern Nigeria with facilities, know-how as well as opportunities to find their voices and become established.

In the light of her accomplishments, one would think Lola Shoneyin will take a breather, but her restless creative spirit has nudged her into starting a publishing imprint, Ouida Books, which has published titles by notable names like Nnedi Okorafor, Ayobami Adebayo, Odafe Atogun, Tade Thompson, Dami Ajayi and Hadiza El-Rufai. Lola Shoneyin insists on producing entirely in when most of the competition print abroad. Recently, Lola Shoneyin was announced as one of the 2018 Judges for the Caine Prize of African Writing.
It is important, at this point, to state that Lola Shoneyin is an incurable cynophilist who has also written and published children’s books. She has dabbled into journalism, having writing opinion pieces in the Guardian UK. She also ran a column in the now-rested NEXT Newspaper