The Stress Test – excerpt


Here is an excerpt from The Stress Test by Mojisola Aboyade-Cole.



He took a seat beside Taramade and their thighs made contact. He noticed how swiftly Taramade moved hers away. Felix glanced at her and, for a brief moment, fought to control the uncomfortable tightness in his groin.

“You will sign my stuff, Oyinbo, before you take off,” he said.

Taramade sighed. “What do you want me to sign now, Felix?”

“Do you know what happened to your sister-in-law?” Dr. Johnson asked.

Felix listened half-heartedly as Dr. Johnson gleefully repeated the fiasco with the market women, making Taramade feel like a fool. Uninterested, Felix cut in at the first chance.

“Mummie, see what your only son has done for the bank,” he said. “This deal is from Yinusa Ahmed.” He signalled to one of the young interns who had taken a position by the door. She approached with a file and handed it over to Dr. Johnson. She went through it, clapping her hands in delight.

“Oh my son, this is a very good one. We are finally sponsoring a polo tournament. No bank has done this!” she said, signing her approval.

“Yes we are, Mummie,” he said, beaming. “Your son Felix snatched the deal away from that telecoms company. They call themselves giants, when we,the Johnsons, are colossal. I need the draft today. Yinusa will not wait.”

Felix passed the file to Taramade and collected another from his intern.

“How much are we throwing to the wind, Felix?” Taramade asked him with caution.

Felix let out a loud yawn. Taramade had become Miss Righteous. He wanted them both to work together to wrest the bank from Dr. Johnson; it was time for her to hand over the baton.

One of his own contemporaries had just been appointed MD of a bank. That guy was set for a financial transformation! And yet here he was, being queried by his brother’s wife and playing the gigolo to his stepmother for mere handouts from a bank that was rightfully his.

“Oyinbo,” he said to Taramade, “it is not about what we are giving, but what we are getting in return. When will you ever get what banking is all about?”

He had told her many times that her extreme loyalty to Dr. Johnson would backfire. Did she not know that Dr. Johnson had just purchased a private jet for her prophet, and yet he, Felix, did not have one? Dr. Johnson had enough money to create a royal kingdom. Meanwhile, he had to seek her approval to settle his hotel bills.

Felix was loyal only to himself. In his twenties, absorbed in a decadent lifestyle financed by his mother, he’d shuttled from one foreign country to another. He’d never visited Nigeria, not even for his father’s funeral. Guilt and regret were unfamiliar emotions for Felix, but they surfaced when his brother, Frank, became incapacitated.

Only then had he returned to Nigeria. It still hurt to see his brother in his current condition.

Felix had never had that much time for his mother. At first he had ignored his stepmother, not understanding her strong desire for his approval.

When he mismanaged what was left of his father’s estate, he succumbed to her entreaties for a closer relationship and she was eager to pay for it. Only later did he learn that whatever she gave him she took back a hundred times more.

But things were about to change now, leveraging on the current financial crisis was his key. Dr. Johnson had to be removed, and with Yinusa’s help and direct link to Aso Rock it was going to happen soon.

It would not be easy getting rid of his stepmother, but Felix prided himself on being a risk-taker – the bigger the transaction, the more desperate he was to corner it at any cost. Taking ownership of the bank was a transaction that would definitely turn out to be a thrilling ride.

“If only I had more EDs like Felix,” Dr. Johnson said with a proud smile. “He chases whoever money chases.”

Typical, Taramade thought. She was always on his side.

“Yes, Mummie, I do,” Felix said, his tone smug. “Now we have to sign two of these offer letters. I promised Yinusa; one is personal, one is for the company.”

“This man, Yinusa,is owing us so much, it’s as if he owns this bank,” Taramade said. “With the outstanding principal and interest, we are already looking at fifty-nine million dollars from his company. Why are we talking about more money? He should pay what he owes us.”

“What is this about, Felix?” Dr. Johnson asked, now suspicious. She recalled the meeting with the TBN governor accusing her of lacking financial discipline and integrity. All of Felix’s society friends had taken one form of loan or the other, and they were not repaying. It was always billions for gambling on shares, property or for oil and gas transactions with worthless and overvalued assets as collateral.

She had to stop trying to please him all the time.

The obsessive behaviour had to end.


 The author of The Stress Test will be at the FarafinaReads event this March. 



 A Pelican of the Wilderness – excerpt

Here is an excerpt from A Pelican of the Wilderness by Jacqueline U. Agweh.



“Tonpre Isaac-Kogbara, the second,” he continued, “lives at Plot 8B, Duncan crescent, Afikpo Quarters, G.R.A., Port Harcourt. Born in 1978, on the 27th day of September at the Healing Cross hospital, Port Harcourt, his parents are Justice Tonpre Isaac Kogbara and Monica Isaac Kogbara who died May 20, 1992. One sibling: a younger sister, Edith Tari Kogbara, a second year accountancy undergraduate of The University of Port Harcourt…”

At that point, Tonpre’s mouth fell open. What was happening here? They were stripping him naked psychologically as their leader’s eyes danced merrily, not for once shifting off his face as he absorbed the shock.

“…Primary education: Hopeday Preparatory School, passed out in 1988. Secondary school: Hopeday College graduated in 1994; nominated to give class valedictory speech. Tertiary education: The University of Lagos, 1995 to 1999; best graduating student in Marine Engineering and vice president of the Rhodes Club. Youth Corp Service in Adamawa State with Barrel Oil and Gas Services Limited…”

Tonpre admired their thoroughness. Spitfire was not even reading from any document; he had memorised it!

“…A Masters degree in Industrial Chemistry from Leeds University, United Kingdom. Tonpre Isaac-Kogbara junior returned to the country in September 2004. He worked for two years with The Southern Hemisphere Corporation as a senior marine engineer.

Thereafter, he incorporated Global Clime Marine Works Limited in partnership with a former colleague, an American named Marlon Richardson who oversees the office in New York. So far, The Global Clime Marine Works Limited has been modestly profitable.”

Tonpre was shaking. He longed to run far away from these dangerous men who were picking his past, his present, and maybe even his future apart.

As though from a distance, he heard Spitfire’s voice droning on. “Girlfriend: Doyin Smith, 26 years old. Upscale events planner, runs the ‘Total Woman’ talk show on HIP TV and is editor of ‘Style and Home’ magazine…”

A smile stole across Tonpre’s lips, Doyin would love this resume.

With that, Spitfire concluded the citation, bowed slightly and took his seat. None of the men were looking at him, but Tonpre still felt uneasy and exposed. It was eerie listening to someone talk about him like he was not there.


His head was reeling in confusion. How had they collected so much information about him? And it was all accurate too. Nobody spoke. The leader was not staring at him anymore; he seemed more interested in the wall to the right. Suddenly it was lit up by a projector. Slowly, it projected photographs, leaving him gasping as his baby photographs zoomed past in slow motion: that was his first birthday; and that one, the trip with his parents to Yankari Games Reserve when he was eleven.

The next one was his convocation ceremony at The University of Lagos auditorium. Reel after reel of family history glided past, each one bringing back mixed feelings of days long gone. Then, Doyin’s smiling face slid by.


Nobody, apart from him, Doyin and Udeme, his housekeeper, knew about this photograph. His head felt light, he cast a quick glance at the hanging door and noticed the two guards were still stationed there.


The leader was watching him closely again and there was no sign of the earlier broad smile on his lips. “We are thorough,” he said, “We can’t afford not to be. Our men have paid with their lives in the past because of carelessness.”


Tonpre swallowed and nodded, his legs were beginning to grow numb from standing for so long.

“Brother, you are worthy of the Signet Brotherhood,” the leader said, getting to his feet. His men did likewise. “You will obey all orders, respect all rules and swear to our oath. Nothing of our activities must ever leak from you to non-brethren.”

He began to reel out the dos and don’ts of the brotherhood until Tonpre lost track.

Finally, Tonpre heard him say, “Tombra Brown found you. Therefore, he will be your guardian brother. We call him The Shark. He will give you a signet ring now. It will be your identity.” Then, looking at Tombra, he barked, “Comrade Shark, welcome your brother!”

Tombra marched briskly up to Tonpre. There was no reassuring expression on his face as he raised Tonpre’s right hand. He folded it into a fist and jabbed his own clenched right fist onto Tonpre’s as he began speaking.

“Tonpre Isaac-Kogbara,” Tombra said slowly, staring right into Tonpre’s eyes, “you will from today be known to us, the Signet Brotherhood, as The Pelican.” No applause followed the declaration. Tombra pulled a small black case from his pocket, opened it, and exposed a signet ring. It had the image of a pelican bird engraved on it.

“Take it and wear it on the little finger of your left hand.” Tonpre obeyed. “A pelican symbolises selfless sacrifice. We expect nothing less from you.” Tombra gave him a stiff embrace and led him to the only unoccupied seat. Thereafter, it would be his permanent seat at Brethren gatherings. Tombra then marched back to his own seat.

“Si ye o fo ri! The bond is unbroken!” the men roared headily in one voice. They were one man stronger. The leader sat down, signalled the men to sit, and only then did he introduce himself.

“I am the Boar,” he said. “Here, we are known and called by the names given to us by our Brothers.”

No one else was introduced.


The author of this novel will be at the FarafinaReads event on Sunday, 18th of March, 2018.

Non-Fiction Is What You Need. We Can Prove It.

Non-fiction isn’t boring.

Perhaps you found it difficult to read before now, but the problem is not exactly with the genre itself.

A simple solution for you would be to seek out non-fiction with themes you already enjoy in fiction, such as crime, race, human rights, feminism etc.

Fiction and non-fiction are not as different as you think when you look closely. The latter can be narrated just as creatively as the former.

We also imagine that you are, perhaps, a big fiction reader who simply wants to switch up her reading preferences.

Wherever you fall, this blogpost is for you!

We curated a list of non-fiction essays, all with varying and intriguing themes, to start you off on your non-fiction-reading journey.

1. My Secondhand Lonely by Zoe Gadegbeku


In this baring article, Gadegbeku reveals the thin, and sometimes transparent, line between having it all together and social isolation. First published in Slice , and later in LongreadsMy Secondhand Lonely leaves you with the knowledge of a phenomenon we may have never considered before now.

Read the full essay here.

2. Home by Ope Adedeji

Where is home? What is home?
In her riveting three-part essay, Ope Adedeji leaves no emotion undescribed. She reveals where, to her, home is —  and where it isn’t.
Read the full essay here.

3. Finding Binyavanga by Sada Malumfashi

Binyavanga Wainana is set to attend a literary evening in Kaduna.
Sada Malumfashi, a Kaduna-based writer looks forward to this, but he knows little of  how his life will change because of this event.
An enchanting essay about falling further in love with Northern Nigeria’s history and, of course, of finding what makes Binyavanga tick.

Read it here.

4. Nigeria: The Trouble of Nigerian Culture Writing by Oris Aigbokhaevbolo

In this didactic article, Oris Aigbokhaevbolo draws attention to the declining quality in journalistic writing by popular ‘culture curators’.
This article draws lessons from the drama which ensued after an article published on The Pulse website about rapper, M.I. Abaga, escalated into a full-blown shouting match on the website’s Loose Talk podcast.
Read the full story here.

5. The Shea Prince by Frankie Edozien

Journalist and author of Lives of Great Men, Frankie Edozien, dazzles in this piece about a journey to Ghana that marks the start of an unclear and intense friendship.

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Published in adda stories, this essay revolves about the author’s friendship with Will, a native of dry, dusty Tamale in Ghana.

Will is old-school, married with children, easygoing. But one thing he  struggles to accept, however, is the strong chemistry between him and the writer.

Read the full essay here.

6. Who Will Claim You by Akwaeke Emezi.


Published by Commonwealth Writers, this essay confronts the realities of being a product of different cultures.

Emezi asks questions in this essay: ‘Is [belonging] a birthplace, a passport, a childhood? and ‘Can you claim a people with enough force that they claim you back?’ She explores questions on belonging that we may never have answers to.

Here’s an excerpt:

Read the full story here


5 Books to Kick Off Your 2018 Reading Resolutions

2018 is the year to read more, isn’t it?

This tweet by Wale Lawal proves this much, with its many retweets and likes.


However, it can also be overwhelming to decide which books to start with. Especially books that will keep you asking for more.

So, here are 4 books to start your New Year book resolutions with, especially if you are looking to read more African literature.

1. Yewande Omotoso: The Woman Next Door

In her novel, Yewande writes about two prickly old women, one black and one white, who discover, after 20 years of exchanging digs and insults, that they might help each other.

Hortensia and Marion are anything but friends and would like it to remain that way. But then a repair project leaves Hortensia with a broken leg and Marion in need of temporary housing.

Published by Kachifo Limited under its Farafina imprint, this is one book to start the new year with. Buy it here.

2. Chimamanda Adichie: Half of a Yellow Sun

Olanna is a beautiful London-educated woman who abandons her life of privilege in Lagos for a dusty university town and the charisma of her new lover, Odenigbo.

Soon after their new life begins, the Nigerian Civil War starts. As Nigerian troops advance and they and their loved ones run for their lives, their ideals are severely tested, as are their loyalties to one another.

Get it on Amazon here.

3. Leye Adenle: Easy Motion Tourist

Adenle’s novel entertains from beginning to end.

This compelling crime novel is set in contemporary Lagos and features Guy Collins, a British journalist, who is found close to a mutilated body, discarded by the side of a club in Victoria Island, and is picked up by the police as a potential suspect.

Collins soon finds out there is more to Lagos than just its bustling traffic.

Buy it here.
4. Adewale Maja-Pearce: The House My Father Built

The House My Father Built is a memoir of a ten-year struggle between the author and his “inherited” tenants. After inheriting a house in Surulere from his late father and waiting ten years for the terms of the inheritance to be fulfilled, Maja-Pearce is eager to take possession of his house. So he offers his tenants a one-year rent-free break, after which they are to vacate his property. Little does he know that, when the time comes to leave, his tenants would put him through one of the fiercest, and probably the most ridiculous, battles to stay put.

Get it here.

Photos from #FarafinaReads with Lesley Arimah

The much anticipated #FarafinaReads events with Lesley Nneka Arimah, author of What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky took place in Abuja and Lagos, on 18th and 20th January 2018. Following the excitement many readers expressed on social media after reading the collection, it was a thing for joy for many to finally meet the author and interact with her. Both book reading events were well attended.
Ileri lawal, an attendee described the event on Instagram as a ‘beautiful book reading’. Olaide Wangai Akin, said the reading was one with a ‘lovely atmosphere and lovely people’.
The Q&A session with the author, moderated by Adebola Rayo also proved to be insightful. When asked about her obvious emphasis on mother-daughter relationships in her collection, Arimah replied that she had “wanted to explore all the ways that such relationships could turn out.”
She also spoke on the use of magical realism in her work and its benefits. “[With it,] we are able to take social conventions in our world and put it in another dimension and see them take on another form.” One of her responses at the book reading that made the audience laugh for a while was when she admitted that she found it very easy to write about unlikeable characters.
The book reading in Lagos was held at Herbert Macaulay Library, Yaba and in collaboration with the You Read initiative of GTBank.
See pictures from the Lagos event below.

Lesley Nneka Arimah: Book Readings in Abuja and Lagos

Farafina Reads_Lesley Nneka Arimah_Lagos and Abuja

This January, we’re happy to invite you to #FarafinaReads with Lesley Nneka Arimah in Abuja and Lagos. The author will be reading from her debut collection What It Means When A Man Falls From the Sky . The events will also include discussions and book signings.

What It Means When A Man Falls From the Sky has been described as ‘a rare combination of daring and nuance’ by The Guardian UK, and her writing style as ‘a blast of fresh air’ by Igoni Barrett, author of Blackass. The book won the Kirkus Prize in 2017 and is on the 2018 9mobile Literature Prize longlist.

Details for the reading in Abuja are below:

Date: 18th January 2018

Time: 3 p.m.

Venue: The Booksellers, Ground Floor, City Plaza, 7 Rubuka Close, off Ahmadu Bello Way, Garki II, Abuja

Moderator: Salamatu Sule

Host: Orpheus Literary Foundation


For Lagos click HERE to register.

Date: 20th January 2018

Time: 2 p.m

Venue: Herbert Macaulay Library, 233 Herbert Macaulay way, Sabo, Yaba

Moderator: Adebola Rayo

Supported by: GTBank YouRead


You can order the book on Jumia here, or at Terra Kulture, V.I. and Patabah Bookstore, Shoprite, Surulere.

6 Spoken Word Artists We Absolutely Love

There were poets long before there were printing presses, poetry is primarily oral utterance, to be said aloud, to be heard. – Knight Etheridge

A poetry performance is an experience like no other. You get to travel through the world of the poet on words that  are rich with imagery, so much that you can see, smell, feel and maybe even taste what you’re being told.

We compiled this list of those who make these magical experiences happen, and with lyrical voices too!

Here they are:

Thuli Zuma
Thuli Zuma is an actor by training and poet by passion, Thuli, who is from South Africa, has shared her work and heart on stage and screen alike both nationally and internationally, from Johannesburg to Paris, the glowing city of lights.

Thuli was placed second at the 2012 Individual World Poetry Slam, represented New York at the 2013 National Poetry Slam, and represented the United States of America at the 2013 World Cup of Poetry Slam in Paris. She is the 2013 Urbana New York Grand Slam Champion.

Lebobang Mashile
Lebogang Mashile is a South African actor, writer and performance poet. Lebo Mashile has won the 2006 Pan African book prize, the Noma Award, for her first published collection of poems. Mashile regards  poetry’s expressive powers as the most effective tool to bring about those changes that are needed in the aftermath of socio-political changes in South Africa.

Her lyrical and gutsy poems in the collection “A Ribbon of Rhythm” (2005) also speak about life in the new South Africa. Issues such as the diversity and unity of the “Rainbow Nation”, the status of women, violence and the fragility of individuals are all treated with a sense of urgency, humour and at times with melancholy and a certain rawness.

Mashile has performed in Bern, Switzerland at the Schlacthaus Festival of South African Contemporary Art and attended Yarri Yarri Phambari Writers Conference in New York City with African American writers such as Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, Maryse Conde, Nawal el Saadawi and Patricia McFadden.

Shailja Patel

Shailja Patel is an internationally acclaimed Kenyan poet, playwright, theatre artist, and political activist. CNN has characterized Patel as an artist “who exemplifies globalization as a people-centered phenomenon of migration and exchange.”

Patel is best known for her book Migritude, based on the 90-minute spoken-word theatre show with the same name. The name of the play is a term Patel coined herself. Derived from the words “migrant,” “attitude” and “negritude,” it refers to, in Patel’s words, “a generation of migrants who don’t feel the need to be silent to protect themselves.”

Titilope Sonuga

Titilope Sonuga has, no doubt, won many hearts with her lyrical dance with words. It is therefore no surprise to find her listed in many articles on top African Spoken Word performers.

She has won awards such as the Canadian Authors Association Emerging Writer Award in 2011, as well as the 2012 Maya Mangelou Poetry Contest. In May 2015 she became the first poet to appear at a Nigerian presidential inauguration, after which she published a poetry collection in 2016. Sonuga has performed regularly at the Lagos International Poetry Festival and is a brand ambassador for Intel Nigeria.

Probably the most indelible of her recent achievements is Open, a 3-part spoken word performance series she organised at 3 different locations in Lagos this year.

Koleka Putuma

Maybe the most memorable thing about Koleka is her record of selling 2000 copies of her debut collection of poems, Collective Amnesia, in less than 5 months. Her poetry collection has been prescribed for study at tertiary level in South African Universities.

Her awards include: Winner of the 2014 National Poetry Slam Championship and the 2016 PEN South Africa Student Writing Prize. She has also been named One of Africa’s top 10 poets by Badilisha, and named one of the young pioneers who took South Africa by storm in 2015 by The Sunday Times and one of 12 future shapers by Marie Claire SA.

Dike Chukwumerije

Dike Chukwumerije is a writer, author, and Performance Poet. He is the Creative Director of the Night of the Spoken Word (NSW)Performance Poetry Show. He is also the host of the Abuja Literary Society (ALS) Book Jam and Poetry Slam, as well as an event anchor for the Enugu Literary Society (EnLS) Open Mic. His videos can be seen on YouTube.

Truth be told, 2017 was a good year for these artists, and we can’t wait to see what 2018 holds for them.

Or is it just us?