Twice the Fun – See photos from #FarafinaReads in March

The authors of The Stress Test and A Pelican of The Wilderness, Mojisola Aboyade-Cole and Jacqueline Agweh, were the guests at the March edition of #FarafinaReads. The event was held in partnership with the GTBank YouRead Initiative and took place at the Herbert Macaulay Library, Yaba, which was packed to overflowing.

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Aboyade-Cole and Agweh read selected scenes from their books which led to a lively discussion with the moderator and a Q & A session with the audience. Both writers talked about their writing process and the themes of their novels.

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Aboyade-Cole shared how The Stress Test drew mostly from her 20-plus years experience in the banking industry; Agweh said her research for A Pelican of the Wilderness comprised of one-on-one interviews with people from the Niger Delta and reading informative articles on the region’s agitation

Spoken word poet, Chika Jones, and guitarist, Emmanuel Omoile, performed at the event.

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#FarafinaReads is a book reading/discussion event which showcases writers published by Kachifo Limited. Guests at previous editions include Igoni Barrett, Lesley Nneka Arimah, Adewale Maja-Pearce, among others. The next event will be announced on this blog (so, subscribe to this blog!) and our social media platforms.

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Read excerpts from the two books here and here.

 

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The Stress Test – excerpt

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

Enjoy.

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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.

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 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.

Enjoy.

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“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.

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