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. 

 

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 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.

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.

Jowhor Ile’s ‘And After Many Days’ Makes 2016 Etisalat Prize Shortlist

We’re extremely excited to announce that Jowhor Ile’s debut novel, And After Many Days, has been shortlisted for the 2016 Etisalat Prize for Literature.

According to this year’s Chair of Judges for the Prize, Helon Habila, “In addition to originality of voice and literary excellence, our purpose was to also select a work that portrays an ‘African sensibility'”.

The winner for the 2016 Etisalat Prize for Literature will be unveiled at the Grand Finale in Lagos, scheduled to take place in March 2017.

Praise for Jowhor Ile’s And After Many Days:

“One rarely finds ‘page-turner’ and ‘poetry’ in the same sentence, but And After Many Days is a rarity indeed. At once calm, collected, lyrical and heartbreaking, Ile’s debut is many things: an achingly tender portrait of family life, a brilliantly executed whodunnit, a searing critique of Nigerian politics, a meditation on love. I couldn’t put it down and was forever changed when I did. The Utu family will stay with me always.” —Taiye Selasi, author of Ghana Must Go

“Ile creates an atmosphere of ominous tension and renders the grief of the family in restrained and moving language. He has a particular talent for reflecting the perfect details that make even a passing moment come to life.” —Chigozie Obioma, The New York Times Book Review

And After Many Days is a brilliant novel that paints a vivid picture of a changing society, effortlessly shifting between moments and years, all while keeping us grounded in a growing boy’s understanding of himself and the surrounding world. It is a book that offers profound insight into a country that headlines can never capture. A wonderful debut.” —Uzodinma Iweala, author of Beasts of No Nation

“Jowhor Ile is rooted in the lush mindscape of the Niger delta. For here is a writer whose rare insight is evident not only through the voice he breathes into his characters but also in how deep he digs to tap the wellspring of their history. Bumps of pleasure and flashes of recognition lie in ambush on page after page of this smooth-singing, hard-hitting novel—a tender and lucid accomplishment by a distinctive talent.” —A. Igoni Barrett, author of Love Is Power, Or Something Like That
 
“Jowhor Ile is a rare talent. This rich book is ripe with mood and full of love, masterfully written with the perfect emotional pitch. Nigeria has a new star.” —Binyavanga Wainaina, author of One Day I Will Write About This Place

Buy copies of And After Many Days online, or call us on 0807 736 4217. 

Farafina Authors at Ake Festival 2016

In case you somehow missed it, the 2016 edition of Ake Festival will be taking place next week in Abeokuta, from Tuesday 15 November to Saturday 19 November 2016. Don’t miss a chance to meet our amazing lineup of authors at this year’s festival.

 

Jowhor Ile (And After Many Days) and Chinelo Okparanta (Under the Udala Trees)  – whose novels are fresh off the Farafina presses – will be at the festival. Tendai Huchu, whose novel, The Maestro, the Magistrate and the Mathematician, was published in 2015 by Kachifo Limited, will also be at the festival. Grab your very own copies of these books and get them signed!

Visit the Ake Festival website to view the programme of events, register and so on.

 

Lagos International Poetry Festival 2016

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The city of Lagos will play host to 35 poets from across the world at the sophomore edition of the Lagos Poetry Festival, scheduled to hold from the 26th of October to October 30th at Freedom Park and the Muson Center.

With an exciting array of events, including workshops, panel discussions and daily performances, the festival builds on its successful debut to further cement its place as one of Africa’s most important art and culture features.

The theme for this year’s festival, ‘Paging the Future’, will explore emerging trends in the global socio-political, economic and cultural landscape.

According to festival founder and director, Efe Paul Azino, this year’s festival brings an interesting mix of entertainment and intellectual engagement. “It’s four days of readings and performances, masterclasses and panel discussions. The idea is to bring poetry into engagement with society at every level without losing the aesthetic for which it is renowned.”

The program of events, recently released by the organizers, can be found here. Registration for the festival is now open. Click here to register.

This year’s guests include Titilope Sonuga, Dike Chukwumerije, Ladan Osman, Shailja Patel, Inua Ellams, Kwame Dawes, and many more.

The Lagos International Poetry Festival is proudly supported by Nigerian Breweries, Freedom Park, Muson Center and a host of media partners.

 

#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.