Books and Food at #GrillandRead

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Calling all book (and food) lovers! There’s something in store for you this Saturday, August 27. Come join us at #BookandGrill for a delicious and insightful time. There will be:

– Games
– Spoken word performances
– Grilled food to eat
– Free drinks
– A book auction for charity
– Farafina titles available for sale

Date: Saturday, 27 August 2016
Time: 3 PM – 7 PM
Venue: The Rooftop, CC Hub, 294 Herbert Macaulay Road Yaba, Lagos
Tickets: N1,500 (individuals), N6,000 (group of five)

See you there!

Celebrate World Jollof Rice Day with Kitchen Butterfly

Monday, August 22, is World Jollof Rice Day! Come join Ozoz Sokoh (aka Kitchen Butterfly) at this mouthwatering event to celebrate all that is great about Nigeria’s favourite party food.

 

Kitchen Butterfly and Maggi

The event will feature:

– An exhibition of jollof rice photographs
– A session on the history of jollof rice
– A book meet: an exploration of ‘Jollof Rice in Literature’ (Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Without a Silver Spoon by Eddie Iroh). This session will feature Wana Udobang, Ozoz ‘Kitchen Butterfly’ Sokoh and Amanda Chukwudozie, and will be moderated by Eghosa Imasuen.
– Farafina titles for sale, at 10% off
Free jollof rice to eat

Date: Sunday, August 21, 2016
Time: 4 PM
Venue: A Whitespace Lagos, 58 Raymond Njoku Street, Ikoyi, Lagos

Entry is absolutely free, so come along and bring a friend!

10 Days of Unravelling: What the Farafina Trust Workshop Taught Me – Ama Asantewa Diaka

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Ama Asantewa Diaka

When Ghana-based Nigerian singer, Villy, told me that taxi drivers in Ghana are ready to cheat you the minute they detect foreignness in your voice, I didn’t believe him. I remember telling him Ghanaians and Nigerians are siblings, and all he needs to do is speak pidgin. He laughed at my naivety and told me that the only reason they couldn’t cheat him was because he knew his way around.

I didn’t know my way around. I landed at Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos, my ignorance obvious.

A woman in a grey suit and flats rushed to help me with my luggage before asking if I needed a cab. I told her I needed to make a phone call first. She whipped out an old Nokia and I read Okey Adichie’s number for her off my phone. After a few seconds of talking to Okey she announced that we were going to Lekki.

“You get naira?”she asked as she wheeled my bag behind her.

That was when I made my first mistake: I replied in fine fine English instead of pidgin. My second mistake was not converting my cedis to naira before getting on the plane. The woman told me it would cost 200 cedis to take me to Lekki. I told her it was too expensive.

“You’re lucky o!” she said. “Some people, we charge them plenty dollars.”

I knew I was being cheated but I also knew there was nothing I could do about it. I had to get to Lekki.

The drive to Lekki took almost two hours. After getting lost twice, the cab driver, who kept calling me aunty and apologizing for his bad cough, finally found Lekki Waterside Hotel.

I was here.

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I had applied for the Farafina Trust workshop last year. I didn’t get in, but I got an email informing me that I had made the shortlist of 70 from which the final 25 were chosen, and encouraging me to keep writing. It was the kind of confidence boost that gave me the right to admit to myself that I was a writer.

And so this year, when I got the email saying that I had been selected as a participant, I let out a loud shriek and did a 10-second dance.

And so even though Arik Air had stressed me out, even though I was overcharged for the cab ride, I was here.

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On the first day of the workshop we met Chimamanda, and I watched her with quiet wonder. We took turns introducing ourselves and it was beautiful listening to everybody gush over her. When it was my turn I had few words, not because I wasn’t blown away by her presence, but because I wanted the taste of her influence to linger in my mouth longer.

The next 10 days were an unravelling.

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Farafina Trust 2016 workshop participants, with facilitators Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Eghosa Imasuen

You can often taste the sweetness of alasa right from the first suck. But until you have eaten out the flesh and chewed it into gum, you cannot truthfully judge how good the fruit is. This is what the people I met at the workshop were like. In the first few days, I knew I had met people I could call nice; but by the time we left the workshop, I had bonded with people I wouldn’t mind being stuck on an island with. (I refuse it IJN by the way. Already struggling with dumsor, I don’t need to be stuck on an island to test my level of madness.)

Sometimes you idolize someone from a distance, and then when you meet them their humanness further confirms their godliness – not the distant memory of a god kind of godliness, but the kind that sits in your head and feels familiar – the kind you discover in yourself. Chimamanda rolled her eyes, laughed the most, loved the hardest, offered herself as a safe space and taught us what she knew with all the badassness her being could contain. She recognized bullshit and called it as it was.

We had three facilitators in addition to Chimamanda – Aslak, Binyavanga and Eghosa. What struck me most about Aslak was the passion with which he spoke of words. His love for literature was so evident in his speech and his clear blue eyes that at the end of the class I was fired up to write something so good that it would elicit a similar emotion from others.

There was something about the way Binyavanga appraised your work that made you want to give your very best. He didn’t need to dissect a story before you knew it was flawed; he let you know if a piece of writing made him fall in love or if it bored him to death.

I hope every writer has someone like Eghosa in their life: to critique, to jest, to gently insult, to praise, to encourage and to let you know how silly you look using a font an editor can barely read.

Halfway through the workshop I was overwhelmed by all I was learning and I wished there were more workshops like that of Farafina Trust, in Ghana and in Africa as a whole.

The workshop taught me to go where it hurts, because it is only then that it matters. It taught me that as a writer my responsibility is first to the story; not to society, not to friends, not to family, but to the story.

It taught me that my normal is enough.

That writing makes me god.

That detail gives my text credibility.

That there are no rules if I can get away with it.

That you can find safe spaces in people.

And that there are stories everywhere, all you have to do is look closely.

 

#FarafinaReads with A. Igoni Barrett and Efe Paul Azino

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Join us on Sunday, 31 July as #FarafinaReads with award-winning writers A. Igoni Barrett and Efe Paul Azino. The authors will be reading from and discussing their work, including their latest books, Blackass (by A. Igoni Barrett) and For Broken Men Who Cross Often (by Efe Paul Azino). There will be conversations, question-and-answer and spoken word performances.

Date: Sunday, 31 July 2016
Time: 3.00 PM
Venue: Bar Enclave, 1 Adeola Adeleye Street, off Coker Road, Ilupeju, Lagos

Entry is free, so bring a friend.

See you there!

 

To buy copies of Blackass or For Broken Men Who Cross Often, please visit our Konga page or call 0807 736 4217.

 

Yejide Kilanko’s ‘Daughters Who Walk This Path’ Shortlisted for 2016 NLNG Prize for Literature

 

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We are proud to announce that Yejide Kilanko’s novel, Daughters Who Walk This Path, published by Farafina, has been shortlisted, along with 10 others, for the 2016 Nigeria Prize for Literature.

Daughters Who Walk This Path tells the coming-of-age story of spirited and intelligent Morayo, who grows up surrounded by school friends and family in Ibadan. Morayo must learn to fiercely protect herself and her sister as young women growing up in a complex and politically charged country.

In this excerpt from the novel, young and idealistic Mr. Tiamiyu faces off with older, richer, more popular politician, Chief Omoniyi, in a local government election. Enjoy.

Two hours after the election was supposed to start, four electoral commission officials arrived with the ballot boxes and their other paraphernalia.

Shortly after their arrival, Chief Omoniyi marched majestically into the voting station surrounded by praise singers. I watched the electoral commission officials prostrate flat on the ground before Chief Omoniyi. Relinquishing their tables and chairs to him, they moved their ballot boxes and sat under a nearby tree. The praise singers accompanying Chief Omoniyi were beating their talking-drums with such intensity that the veins on the side of their heads stood up.

“Omoniyi,” the talking drums called. “He, who says that when you go out you will not come back, is whom you will not meet upon your return.”

Chief Omoniyi sat down while a steady stream of people paid homage to him. Even Mr. Tiamiyu’s elderly father went over and prostrated before Chief Omoniyi. “Shief, I am very grateful for all the business you have sent my way this month. May God continue to prosper you.”

When Chief Omoniyi saw his opponent’s elderly father flat on the sand before him, he turned and sent Mr. Tiamiyu a victorious look. Then he relaxed back in his chair and his wide mouth curved into a smile that did not reach his beady eyes. “Ha! Baba Vulcaniser, please get up. I am just a very young boy. I should be the one prostrating before you ke.” But he made no move to stand up from his chair.

Baba Mufu picked himself up from the ground and dusted the sand off his body. After he replaced his cap, he hobbled back to his son’s side of the compound.

His angry wife hissed at him. “Baba Mufu! Why would you go and prostrate in front of that man? On today of all days! Rubbishing your only son in front of everybody.”

“Must I join your son in biting the hand that fed him?” Baba Mufu snapped back. “When this madness of his is over, are we still not going to eat?”

The angry woman turned her back to her husband.

Mr. Tiamiyu looked at his parents and rubbed his hand over his head. Aunty Morenike placed a hand on his arm. I heard her whisper softly to him, “Your father meant no harm. He is just a product of his time.”

Mr. Tiamiyu stared back at her with eyes that were full of hurt.

Shortly after Chief Omoniyi’s arrival, one of his political thugs brought out a table from a school building and set up a food takeaway station right beside the electoral officials. Those lining up to cast their vote for Chief Omoniyi were each given a small loaf of bread, two akara balls, and a sachet of pure water. After casting their votes, they each received a numbered cardboard from Chief Omoniyi’s men. With the piece of cardboard, the voters were entitled to a hot meal of amala and ewedu soup in front of Chief Omoniyi’s home later in the evening. The political thugs soon ran out of the cardboard and started using ballot paper collected from the willing electoral officers.

As I watched men and women old enough to be my parents stand in line, I wondered if the food was a fair exchange for leaky primary schools, unsafe roads, and dry taps. Even we children knew that the money allocated for these programmes and services went towards maintaining Chief Omoniyi’s harem of women and sending his children to the top schools in the United Kingdom and the United States.

Despite the rising heat, Mr. Tiamiyu continued to smile, walking around to thank the few people who came out to vote for him. But it was obvious to all that it was Chief Omoniyi’s day.

Aunty Morenike had not given up. She continued to whisper to the women as they walked into the school compound. “My sisters and mothers, let us show that we are not children to be bought with food. Whatever we eat today, we will purge tomorrow. But our problems will remain the same. This is our chance to fight for our children’s future.” She put her arm around their shoulders. “Come, let us cast our ballot for a new beginning.”

By late morning, I was growing tired and hungry. Aunty Morenike had brought some food with her, but she was still talking to the women. Then something unexpected happened. An old blind man led by a young child walked into the school compound.

The little boy stopped in front of Chief Omoniyi’s table. “Open your ears and listen!” he said. Instantly, the whole compound fell silent as if it was under a spell.

The blind old man turned his face in Chief Omoniyi’s direction and began to speak.

“Omoniyi is the name your father gave you. Why do you live life as if your name is Shame? If truly your name is Omoniyi, you must know that your life comes with great worth and dreams. Why do you live as if it does not? If the name you were given was Strife, you could continue to live in conflict and blame it on the intense urgings of your name. But your name is Omoniyi. Your mother carried you gingerly on her back, danced around, and sang your name with pride. Why do you live your life as if your name is Greed? Living life recklessly as if you own tomorrow and snatching food from the mouths of innocent children. Feverishly building up wealth that brings no honour and only invites disgrace. Living life like the hunting dog who forgot his master’s call. Living without purpose as if your name is Lost. Will you remember that your name is Omoniyi? A child of great honour and hope. To the promises of your name, you must be true.”

The blind old man turned to the little boy. “Child, take me to Mufutau’s table.” Everybody in the compound watched in shock as the blind man pressed a shaking thumb into purple ink to cast his ballot for Mr. Tiamiyu. When he was done, the child quietly led him by the hand out of the compound.

The crowd continued to stare at Chief Omoniyi with their mouths wide open. What was he going to do? Who could have brought about this great insult to their benefactor?

Chief Omoniyi looked around like a cornered rat staring at the metallic gleam of a cutlass. Then he turned, looking in Mr. Tiamiyu’s direction with smouldering eyes. Everybody in the compound followed his gaze. But of course! This had to be the handiwork of that defiant boy Mufutau.

An angry murmur swelled up from the crowd. Some men from Chief Omoniyi’s camp moved purposefully towards Mr. Tiamiyu. Frightened, our little group moved back, huddling together. The crowd was grumbling: Did this young scallywag not go around shouting that he will bring running water to every household? Is that not foolish talk? How do you bring running water to streets with no water pipes?

To Chief Omoniyi’s credit, it was not as if he did not try to bring water to his people. Did everybody not see the shiny new water pipes dropped off at the local government headquarters? Who could have known that armed robbers would raid the warehouse just two weeks later? That poor night watchman—both his legs were broken.

But even babies knew that this was the handiwork of Chief Omoniyi’s political enemies. It was also mere coincidence that two months later, Chief Omoniyi’s brother-in-law, Agbabiaka, opened a shop where he sold brand-new water pipes at Ekotedo Market.

No one said he was a saint. Who was?

But who could send this young man, Tiamiyu, with such tender bones, to the pack of jackals at the state house? Tiamiyu would be torn to pieces in just a matter of months. Chief Omoniyi—despite all his flaws—was the man with the wisdom and stamina for the hard job of ruling the people.

Hearing the snarls, I looked around with concern. The only exit out was blocked by Chief Omoniyi’s thugs, who patted down the men walking into the compound.

Chief Omoniyi sat back in his chair. The smug look on his face told me he knew that the people whose stomachs were still full with akara and pure water would fight his battle for him.

As the Chief’s men moved closer, the men in our little group asked the women and young children to move to the back. My heart began beating very fast. The crowd was growing irate, calling out for Mr. Tiamiyu’s head.

Then Chief Omoniyi stood. “My people! Listen to me. This is not the time for violence. You all know that I am a man of peace.”

The crowd stopped.

“It is true that the house mouse that spares the sheath but eats the knife is bent on provoking one.” He laughed mirthlessly to himself. “But it is impossible for anyone to carry the wind. Mufutau is like all my other enemies—he cannot succeed.”

Flapping the arms of his stiff damask agbada as if he might take flight, Chief Omoniyi’s voice shook as he sprayed those standing around him with a shower of saliva. From the looks of adoration on their faces, it could have been sprinkles of holy water.

“My faithful followers, instead of fighting with our fists and clubs, we will destroy our enemies with our ballots.” He punched the air with a raised fist. “We will boldly stare down our enemies and we will WIN.”

The people began clapping their hands, thumping their feet on the ground, raising clouds of dust into the air.

Chief Omoniyi’s voice continued to rise. “We the great people of this local government will be a shining example to all others! We will show that right here in our great community, the dream of democracy that has eluded so many others is alive and thriving!”

The praise singers increased the tempo of their drumbeats, driving the crowd into a frenzied dance of victory.

 

Daughters Who Walk This Path is sold in major bookstores across Nigeria, and at our Lagos office at 253 Herbert Macaulay Road, Yaba. You can also buy copies online or call +234(0)807 736 4217.  

 

 

Selected Participants: 2016 Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop

The following applicants have been selected to participate in the 2016 Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop:

1. Chisom Sunny-Eduputa
2. Akintunde Aiki
3. Pamela Naaki Tetteh
4. Ige Abimbola
5. Chinaza Attama
6. Miracle Adebayo
7. Lesley Agams
8. Ama Diaka
9. Munachim Amah
10. Osayuware Obaigbo
11. Grace Saleh
12. Fatima Mohammed
13. Olakunle Ologunro
14. Chioma Okolo
15. Tobore Ovuorie
16. Amy Woluchem
17. Aishat Abiri
18. Funmi Unuajefe
19. Ifeoluwa Nihinlola
20. Onwuasoanya Chika
21. Nnamdi Anyadu
22. Umar Turaki
23. Nneoma Ike-Njoku
24. Chinaza Ezeoke

The workshop will run from June 21 to July 1, at the end of which there will be a Literary Evening open to the public.

Congratulations to the selected participants!

2016 Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop

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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.

The workshop will take the form of a class. Participants will be assigned a wide range of reading exercises, as well as daily writing exercises. The aim of the workshop is to improve the craft of writers and to encourage published and unpublished writers by bringing different perspective to the art of storytelling.

Participation is limited only to those who apply and are accepted.

To apply, send an e-mail to udonandu2016@gmail.com. Your e-mail subject should read ‘Workshop Application’. The body of the e-mail should contain the following:
1.Your Name
2. Your Address
3. A few sentences about yourself
4. A writing sample of between 200 and 800 words. The sample must be either fiction or non-fiction.

All material must be pasted or written in the body of the e-mail. Please DO NOT include any attachments in your e-mail. Applications with attachments will be automatically disqualified.

Deadline for submission is May 20, 2016. Only those accepted to the workshop will be notified by June 10, 2016. Accommodation in Lagos will be provided for all accepted applicants who are able to attend for the ten-day duration of the workshop. A literary evening of readings, open to the public, will be held at the end of the workshop on July 1, 2016.

Good luck!