Imagine that you had Wole Soyinka, Okey Ndibe, Chimamanda Adichie, Yemisi Aribisala, Ikhide Ikheloa, Petina Gappah, Funmi Iyanda and Chika Unigwe all in one room.
Talking. Laughing. Sharing.
Well, no need to run wild, we had all that imagination come to life with our Farafina Magazine.
Before we stopped printing in September 2009, 16 issues of the magazine were published. These issues featured works of the likes of Wole Soyinka, Segun Afolabi, Uche James Iroha, Funmi Iyanda, Dinaw Mengestu, Barbara Murray, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Jackee Budesta Batanda, Helon Habila, Tosin Oshinowo, Patrice Nganang, Jide Alakija, and a plethora of other writers and graphical artists.
Here are excerpts from 5 of the 16 issues:
Issue 1: “Men of God as Superstars”, with its cover story written by Yemisi Aribisala, author of Longthroat Memoirs.
An excerpt –
It seemed that for as long as Nigerians remain chronically superstitious,
and as long as the economy totters, and as long as Church is ‘good business’, we would have our superstars, our big men, embodying the essence of our desires not only to thrive, but to live the good life, not through merit, but through spiritual favour. For as long as superstar men of God can promise us the ability to master our environment, live well, marry well, and afford good health, then they would have satisfied all the parameters for our belief in them. Who then needs the God of the bible with his high standards, his promises of trials and tribulations, crosses and paths of repentance? Who would want him?
Issue 3: “Mothers are Not Threatening”. Featuring the protest by mothers across Nigeria, following the tragic event of the Sosoliso plane crash, this issue also contains an interview with Uzodinma Iweala, author of Beasts of No Nation.
An excerpt –
I got back to Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way which was heavily congested with traffic and slowed down to call my husband, “you can’t believe it. They are tear-gassing us, The police are tear-gassing us!” I kept screaming. I heard shots ring out. I started running again. I could hear my husband yelling, “get out of there!” I turned and saw the police shooting rounds of tear-gas in the sky. Now the police were chasing us down the road. I ran through the traffic, trying to cross over to the opposite side of the street. i saw people in their cars staring in horror and disbelief. An artist friend of mine was running next to me, gasping for air. She was asthmatic.
I ran, waved down an Okada and jumped on. All I can remember is holding on to the driver’s shirt screaming, “Chineke! Chineke! Oh God.
Issue 9: “The Woman Issue”. Guest-edited by Toni Kan, this issue boasts of poetry by Nike Adesuyi, a memoir piece by Funmi Iyanda and a short story by Tolu Ogunlesi.
An excerpt –
“When I start to dey come this market, I be small girl. Na my mama I dey follow come and e don pass thirty-four years since wey I start to dey come here.”she says in lilting pidgin, her weathered face beaming,
The women here want to talk. They are eager to draw close to the recorder the way Nigerians long-starved of access to telephones were eager to obtain cell phones at the dawn of GSM.
The main commodities on sale at this market are gin and crayfish. Most of the women sell crayfish to pass the time. The commodity of choice is actually the transluscent spirit that goes by as many monikers as there are drinkers.
Issue 13: “America” (Special Edition). Guest-edited by Chimamanda Adichie, this issue is a trove of literary pieces with a general theme of America. Its contributors include Victor Ehikhamenor, E.C. Osondu, Ndidi Nwuneli, Ogaga Ifowodo, Funmi Iyanda and many other interesting personalities.
An excerpt –
It is my last night in the city, and here I am, as promised, struggling to capture the moments of this journey for you, or for me, or whoever will read this in the future to get their bearings. You are right, I have learned, not only from books and minds, but with my heart and my eyes. I have learned that those friends who came to England and returned home, having shed all traces of Igbo warmth for British haughtiness and Queen’s English, were just as lost at home as I feel leaving here. When I get home, you will tell me whether I have become like them. Whether I now speak of Oxford and Summer Eights, whether my sentences will be doomed to begin with “Actually, in Britain…” and my exclamation always “Bollocks!” I am afraid.
Issue 16: “On Jadum”. Guest-edited by Ike Anya, this issue holds an interview of the late Dr Ameyo Adadevoh, and another with poet, Chris Abani. It also features a travel piece by Zadie Smith and another politics piece by author of One Day For the Thief, Teju Cole.
An excerpt –
I was born with the map of Britain stamped on the inside of my left leg. A birthmark.
A light brown patch on my coffee- coloured coating that has grown with me. I am
glad it’s on the inside of my leg, hidden, to be discovered only by a curious child or
exploring lover. The birthmark tells me I am who I am, and have always been so, at
least physically. No one else has this mark. Its shape, that of the British Isles, is
entirely coincidental, despite the poetic connotations. We were taught in geography
that Uganda is about the size of Britain, our former colonizer. It is not coincidental
that my name is Doreen, and I am writing this in English, not in Runyankore. The
effects of history, like deep scars, are permanent.
And that’s all of the issues.
One hell of a throwback, right?
Maybe Farafina Magazine will come back, maybe it won’t. You decide.