Imaginary Conversations @ Ake by Chuma Nwokolo

Chuma Nwoloko, author of Diaries of a Dead African, and brilliant humorist, was at the Ake Arts and Book Festival. HE went with his camera, and he did not leave his wit behind. See below for a series of photos depicting the festival from another angle.

Warning: These pictures are real enough, but the conversations only occurred within the precincts of a writerly imagination.

Lola Shoneyin, Molara Wood, Lewis?, and a "CIA Agent".

Lola Shoneyin, Molara Wood, Lewis?, and a “CIA Agent”.

Richard Ali, Lola Shoneyin, Pius Adesanmi, Remi Raji.

Richard Ali, Lola Shoneyin, Pius Adesanmi, Remi Raji.

Toads for Supper!

Toads for Supper!

Presidential Plot!

“Oh come on, President Rem Raj, Your fellow writers will never sign up to a Third-Term-Agenda!”
“True, I don’t know what’s got into me. Must be this Abeokuta wine…”

Seriously. One Day I Will Also Write About This Airline ~ Binyavanga Wainaina

Seriously. One Day I Will Also Write About This Airline ~ Binyavanga Wainaina

"So I said to her: my name is Eghosa Imasuen, I am a Warripolitan, and she said to me: which kain Waripolitan? You dey drink red wine? Dem born you for New York Siri?"

“So I said to her: my name is Eghosa Imasuen, I am a Warripolitan, and she said to me: which kain Waripolitan? You dey drink red wine? Dem born you for New York Siri?”

Efe Paul Azino

Efe Paul Azino

Chuma Nwokolo & Ikhide Ikheloa.

Chuma Nwokolo & Ikhide Ikheloa.

Teju Cole & Tolu Ogunlesi

Teju Cole & Tolu Ogunlesi

Lolo Shoneyin, The Secret Lives of African Writers.

Lola Shoneyin, The Secret Lives of African Writers.

More #ShugaArtist Judges

And the unveiling continues. Meet two more of our fabulous #ShugaArtist judges.


Julie Allen

Julie Allen

Julie Allen

Julie Allen is Creative Director for Social Responsibility at MTV Networks International (MTVNI). In this role she is responsible for the strategic and creative development of pro-social media campaigns across all platforms for MTVNI – this includes long and short form on-air programming, events and digital content.

In addition to campaign-creation, Julie also spends time working on the Staying Alive Foundation – MTV’s global HIV prevention charity and one of the driving forces behind the Shuga series. She has created valuable fundraising initiatives for the charity – most notably MTV RE:DEFINE – an art auction, exhibition and gala held in Dallas, Texas, in partnership with The Goss-Michael Foundation. Julie was responsible for conceiving the original concept, developing it with curators and GMF, establishing the team and seeing it through from ideation to execution. Since 2011, two auctions have raised over $1.7m and seen work on show from over 50 artists including Damien Hirst, Marc Quinn, Tracey Emin and Shepard Fairey.

Some of Julie’s other notable highlights include being the Co-creator and Executive Producer of award winning MTV documentary Me, Myself and HIV as well as being the Co-creator of MTV Voices, MTV’s global pro-social platform for the millennial generation.

Tim Horwood

Tim Horwood

Tim Horwood


Tim Horwood is an award-winning Creative Director at Viacom International Media Networks where he currently heads up the Production and Creative departments of MTV, MTV Base, Comedy Central, VH1 and Nickelodeon in Africa. Tim’s portfolio recently expanded to include the role of Channel Director for MTV Base, MTV’s flagship, 24 hour Pan African Music and Lifestyle feed.

Tim started his TV career in front of the camera as an actor / TV presenter at the age of 10, and swiftly found his feet behind the camera as a director and producer. He has gone on to produce and oversee a vast number of Television shows and campaigns across Africa.

Leading by example, Tim heads up a team of young and passionate production, programming, marketing, talent & music personnel.

In 2012 Tim was a guest speaker at the prestigious PromaxBDA conferences in Africa, Australia and France and was invited to speak at the PromaxBDA conference in India and Singapore in 2013. He has been a South African Music Awards Judge for the last 8 years and was a part of the judging panel  for the International Emmy Awards 2013.

Tim officially resides in Johannesburg but spends his time working and travelling between South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.


We’ve got together a veritable powerhouse of judges. There’s no doubt that we’ll be selecting the very best of the best as #ShugaArtist.

The countdown begins…


Abraham Oshoko, #ShugaArtist judge and author of June 12 graphic novel series on the #ShugaArtist search

Abraham Oshoko, #ShugaArtist judge

Abraham Oshoko, #ShugaArtist judge

Earlier we profiled Adeniran Adeniji, a #ShugaArtist judge. Learn more about Abraham Oshoko one of the other judges and see what he has to say about Nigerian artistic talent and the origins of his own passion for comic art.

Abraham Oshoko is a writer, illustrator and graphic designer. His cartoons have featured in NEXT newspaper, amongst others. Passionate about African art, he believes there is untapped creative inspiration in ancient and contemporary African history. He hopes to share as much of this as possible in his graphic novels.


Excerpt: Abraham Oshoko's June 12 1993:Annulment

Excerpt: Abraham Oshoko’s June 12 1993:Annulment

June 12: The Struggle for Power in Nigeria his first full-length graphic novel, about political upheaval in Nigeria during the mid-1990s, was published in 2007 under Kachifo Limited’s Farafina imprint. In 2013 a second instalment, June 12 1993: Annulment followed also by Farafina.

Abraham currently runs the Prolifix School of Cartoon and Graphic Arts, where he hopes to prove that everyone can learn to draw. He lives in Lagos with his wife and children.

Farafina Books hooked up with Abraham to get his take on #ShugaArtist and Nigerian talent.

FB: What was your first encounter with comic books?

AO: My first encounter with comic books was when I was in Primary 5 and I came across the then ‘Battle Picture Library’ and ‘War Picture Library’’ then later ‘Commando Comics’. These were comic books based on the Second World War. I later came across Fantasy comics like Conan and other superheroes comics much later.

FB: What was your inspiration for becoming a comic artist?

AO: I think the  ability to ‘create something’ is really fascinating and it’s a real encouragement. But it all really started from an illustration of cowboys and Indians on the wrapping on a pack of bubble gum when I was much younger.

FB: Do you have any images that inspired your passion?

AO: Yes… I’m fascinated with illustrations of armoured tanks, soldiers and classic architectural pieces. I particularly appreciate artwork that shows all the small details.

FB: When you started out, comic art wasn’t so popular in Nigeria, how would you describe the comic art industry in Nigeria today?

AO: That’s not completely correct. We had Papa Ajasco and Super Story and they were very popular comic stories in those days. Presently, I’ll say it’s quite young. Though I think with time it will gain ground. Think about it, with the release of Thor, Iron Man, Spider man, Avengers, Captain America and so on, the best selling movies in Hollywood are actually comic book stories.

FB: So, do we have the local talent to transform #ShugaNaija into a comic book?

AO: Obviously, we do. There are a lot of talented and aspiring artists out there. All they need is encouragement and perhaps a more conducive working environment.

FB: What level of quality do you expect to see from a potential #ShugaArtist? Do you have any images that depict the level of talent we can expect to see?

AO: Oh, I expect the same quality and attention paid to details as we see in American and Japanese comics.

FB: Why should Nigerian comic artists be entering the #ShugaArtist selection process?

AO: It would give them the exposure needed in order to compete with other artists internationally.


#ShugaArtist Judge, Adeniran Adeniji of UHURU comics on the Artist Open Call

Adeniran Adeniji Jr.

#ShugaArtist Judge, Adeniran Adeniji Jr.

Adeniran Adeniji Jr. is the chief executive of PMG Multimedia, a subsidiary of Phalanx Media Group, a Lagos-based Media company and creators of Uhuru: Legend of the Windriders.

He was born in Lagos, Nigeria and started reading comics at a very early age. Greatly inspired by titles such as Spiderman, X-men and Superman, he started creating and drawing his own characters in elementary school and had over a hundred original characters by the time he was twelve. Adeniran still avidly reads comics and insists that they are not just for kids as many in Nigeria believe. There are comics for people of all ages and they are a vital part of any society’s popular and literary culture because they entertain as well as educate.

Uhuru: Legend of the Windriders, an African adventure set in the future, was first published in August of 2012 under CB Press. A four-part digital animated series of Uhuru is being developed for release in 2015 by PMG Multimedia.

Adeniran enjoys working with young people and has been involved in a number of youth workshops and events including “Heroes Are Us”, a comic creation workshop for teenagers, and the Lagos Junior Carnival, organised by the Lagos State Government.

Today, he shuttles between Lagos, where he works, and his home in Charlotte, NC, USA where his wife and three children are based.

Farafina Books, asked Adeniran a few questions about his own history in the comic book world and what he thinks of #ShugaArtist, here’s what he said.

FB: What was your first encounter with comic books?

AA: Don’t remember my first encounter to be honest. My mum got me hooked on comics. Thanks mum!

FB: What was your inspiration for becoming a comic artist?

AA: I fell in love with Marvel comics. I loved drawing already but started drawing comic books in elementary school. My cousin, Folayemi Awojobi, was the best artist in school at the time and I wanted to be better than him. So he was my inspiration.

My focus has moved from being an illustrator to developing solid production, marketing and distribution platforms for our very talented creatives to get their work out to their target markets.

FB: Do you have any images that inspired your passion?

AA: Yes, there are many. Primarily images in Avengers, Spiderman and Superman comics. There are many other genres that have fueled my passion, too many to enumerate here.

FB: When you started out, comic art wasn’t so popular in Nigeria, how would you describe the comic art industry in Nigeria today?

AA: The terrain is much better than when I started out. Artists today have access to a wide range of software and then there’s the internet. Consequently, their work has a more professional look and they benefit from the extensity the internet affords them. They have greater access to learning tools, markets and the creative community (indigenous and global). There is still a lot of ground to cover but I’m happy with the progress made so far.

FB: So, do we have the local talent to transform #ShugaNaija into a comic book?

AA: Absolutely! The talent is on par with anywhere is the world. They just need support and exposure. An ecosystem needs to exist that enables many of our creatives to earn a living doing what they love. It will come. It’s inevitable.

FB: What level of quality do you expect to see? Do you have any images that depict the level of talent we can expect to see from a potential #ShugaArtist?

AA: I expect to see a high level of quality. Yes, I do have images that depict the level of talent we expect to see.

BoomSquad (pencilled, inked and colored by Stanley "Stanch" Obende)

BoomSquad (pencilled, inked and colored by Stanley “Stanch” Obende)

Exodus (pencilled and inked by Nnamdi Nwoha; colored by Harriet Ekwueme)

Exodus (pencilled and inked by Nnamdi Nwoha; colored by Harriet Ekwueme)

Superwind (pencilled, inked and colored by Jide Daniel Olusanya)

Superwind (pencilled, inked and colored by Jide Daniel Olusanya)

FB: Why should Nigerian comic artists be entering the #ShugaArtist selection process?

AA: They should enter the Shuga Artist selection process because of the affiliation with top brands like MTV Base and Kachifo and for the exposure it will give them personally and professionally.

Key relationships are integral to a sustainable career…..whatever you do.

So, all you comic artists out there, you heard it from a #ShugaArtist judge!

Abraham Oshoko: Since I knew how to draw, I wanted to create my own stories just for the fun of being a ‘creator’!

Abraham Oshoko is a writer and an illustrator; Farafina finds out if either art has his greater attention…

Abraham Oshoko1. When and how did you start writing and drawing?

I started drawing very early. There was this bubble gum when I was little [5 or 6 years old?] it has a wrapper with illustrations of cowboys and Indians. I think that was the first thing that fascinated me. Writing came afterwards, when I came across Battle Picture Library, Commando comics, Marvel comics and so on.

Since I knew how to draw, I wanted to create my own stories just for the fun of being a ‘creator’! It’s funny but I love being alone, creating things.

2. What training, if any, did you receive? 

I am self-trained although I did take some distant learning courses in cartooning.

3. Where do you draw your inspiration from?

“There is a spirit in man, the inspiration of the ALMIGHTY gives them understanding.”
4. Which creative process do you prefer, writing or drawing? 

It’s quite difficult to have a preference among two different but equally enjoyable creative processes. Writing is unique as you flesh out characters and create scenarios that never existed before [particularly if you are writing fiction]; but drawing is very unique in its own way also.

 5. What else have you published besides the June 12 graphic novel series e.g. comics? 

I was with Pandora comics for a couple of years and also Kalabash magazine. My works featured in several newspapers and I also illustrate and design children books like Speaking DonkeyOh! Poor Scorpion, Animal Naming Ceremony etc.

 6. How do you go about realising your ideas?

I begin by writing a synopsis [if I am writing fiction, but I read and do research work first if I am writing non-fiction] after which I write the plot and work out the characterization; then I script. It is after scripting that the processes of illustration [like thumb nailing, character design, penciling, inking etc.] takes place.

 7. Do you write everyday?

No, I don’t. if I write everyday, I won’t have the time to draw. What I do is writing for a period of time  then drawing for a period of time.

 8. Do you hole up in a study?


Yes, I do. Creative works requires a high level of concentration and seclusion [at least for me].

 9. Do you exercise before writing or drawing?

No, I don’t.

 10. Do you write and draw full time?

Apart from teaching the Bible or teaching people how to draw, yes. I write and draw full time.

 11. Would you tell us about the Profilix school of cartoon and graphic art?

The Prolifix School of Cartoon and Graphic Art is an art school that covers that aspect of art and creativity that traditional art schools are not offering. Aspects like how to draw, cartooning, characterization, digital painting, animation, illustrating different genres, creative writing and so on.

12. How did it start?

When I located the need and thought of how many years I had to learn on my own and how some of the existing traditional art schools are rigid and place too much emphasis on marks such that students tend to view art from a merely academic exercise instead of it being an expression of life.

Also, when I realized a very powerful fact: EVERY ONE CAN LEARN HOW TO DRAW. THEY JUST NEED THE RIGHT TEACHER.

 13. Where is it based?

In my Art studio. 235A Idimu Road, Egbeda-Idimu.

 14. Who can apply?

Everyone. Whether a student, a nursing mother, a banker, a career person etc. The only requirement you need is a serious desire to learn how to draw and the willingness to work hard at it.

Abraham Oshoko: “It was the first time in Nigerian history as a nation that an election was held that was free and fair and free of electoral violence and malpractice.”

Abraham Oshoko, author and illustrator of the June 12 graphic novels talks about his newest addition to the June 12 series – June 12, 1993: Annulment and also what it means to be a graphic novelist.


1. What did you find most challenging in writing June 12: Annulment?

The research…piecing together all the details from numerous sources.

2. Was June 12: Annulment easier to write than the first June 12?

Yes and No. Yes because I have researched and done something like this before (even though there were differences in conceptualisation) and no because the style of this new volume is different from the initial one.

Let me explain.  The first book (being the first one), shifted between prose and reportage. It was like that because it was my first time and the amount of information gathered during the research work was so staggering that it was difficult to decide how much information should come in and how it should be presented. Should it be prose, documentary, poetry, comedy or tragicomedy?

However, for this new book, I settled for prose. I thought; why not tell the story from the perspective of each of the players? Also, why not turn the players themselves into actual characters so that even though the story is non-fiction, it could be told in a way that will be appealing and yet intriguing to the reader without compromising the truth?

So you have a story that takes us into the reasoning of Sani Abacha on why he really believed it was his ‘turn’ to be head of state; or why IBB felt he had no choice but to go along with the annulment or why MKO stood his ground that he won an election and therefore he has to rule etc.

3. How did you conduct your research?

By gathering books, journals and articles written by all sides of the controversy. So there were books written by people close to Babangida, MKO, reports of eyewitness meetings with Abacha, Shonekan and so on. There were also personal interviews from most of the leading figures of that era.

After this, the facts have to be cross checked with other research materials.

It was records from news magazines like Tell, The News, Newswatch, African Concord etc. that strengthened the chronological order in the graphic novel.

4. Why did the June 12 elections stand out for you, after all there were other elections that were sabotaged in one way or the other?

It was the first time in Nigerian history as a nation that an election was held that was free and fair and free of electoral violence and malpractice. This is also the view of all the members of the Nigerian Electoral Monitoring Group and all the international observers from several foreign countries. So it was a monumental event that should be recorded properly.

 5. Did you feel that you were objective when writing June 12?

Yes. The goal was to avoid writing propaganda and faithfully chronicle the Nigerian history so that posterity would have an accurate history as much as possible. MKO Abiola was not spared in the book. People who were close to him spoke freely of his shortcomings as a person and as a leader; events surrounding him were depicted the way they actually happened. Babangida was not spared either but he wasn’t also unduly victimized. The truth was told according to what really happened by piecing together all parts of the puzzle and fitting them together to give us the whole picture.

6. What message would you like your readers to take from June 12: Annulment?

We need to be highly informed about our past and soberly draw lessons from it as we decide where we intend to go as a nation and as individuals from henceforth.

7. Do you write the story first and then draw the graphics or do the graphics come first for you?

Of course I have to write first. After researching different materials, collation is done and then plot is built after which I write the script. It is after this that the process of illustrating begins.

8. What would you say were the differences between a graphic novel and a comic?

Apart from the volume (comics are regularly 22 to 25 pages; in other words, a single graphic novel chapter), graphic novels are more mature. Comics may be for children but graphic novels (being actually novels but in illustrated format) definitely have a wider appeal.

9. Your portrayal of Babangida and the complexities of his position is really in-depth. Would you say he is the main character of June 12?

I wouldn’t say he is the main character as there are three main characters – Abiola, Babangida and Abacha and there are several supporting characters like Shehu Yar’Adua, General Obasanjo, Ernest Shonekan, Omo Omoruyi, Beko Ransome Kuti on the side of the activists and so on.

Abraham Oshoko

10. What would your advice to other writers and graphic designers be?

Keep at it. You learn to write or draw by actually doing it. Also, take some time off to study and enjoy the works of other gifted minds!

Finally, “There is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty gives them understanding.” 

JUNE 12 1993: ANNULMENT is the second in this multi-volume series by Abraham Oshoko. The book can be pre-ordered by emailing, calling +2348077364217 or tweeting at us: @farafinabooks

Upon release, JUNE 12, 1993: THE ANNULMENT will be available in all major bookstores across the country.


The Library on the Road

by Amatesiro Dore

I met Zaccheus Onumba Dibiaezue in 2009 and I struggled with his name at first sight. He had died in 1975, I knew he was dead but didn’t know he had died before my birth. I had imagined he lived in 196 Awolowo Road Ikoyi. I was wrong. I thought his memorial library was a conscious legacy, like Alfred Nobel, I was wrong. Then I met Ifeoma, she spoke about Zaccheus and I thought it impolite to ask about her father’s height.

The white storey building, with its tree-shaded parking lot and grey gate, was easy to miss. I was driving through Awolowo Road when I sighted “Public Library” in white paint on a square and black sign post. I had passed before the letters registered meaning and I made a mental note to check it out. I had been searching for books listed on the All-TIME 100 best English-language novels. Finding them in Nigeria was like discovering a well in the Sahara. I had searched the bookshops of Ikoyi, Lagos and Victoria Islands, the booksellers under Cele and Ojuelegba bridges, libraries of friends and families, and had found five in a space of four years. Before I met Zaccheus, I had read twenty-five novels on the TIME 100 list, most of which came from London or American bookshops.

Weeks passed before I drove inside the grey gate of the Zaccheus Onumba Dibiaezue Memorial Library (ZODML). The building looked residential and it had tinted windows covering the balcony. It had an arch at the front door; twice, it hit my head when I tried entering from the side. I walked in and felt silence in the air-conditioned atmosphere. I saw rows and rows of shelves of books, and reading furniture surrounded by white walls. I sniffed the pages of desired novels, caressed their spines and prayed heaven delayed until I read them all. I saw Anna Karenina and the monstrosity of its pages shocked me, I didn’t know Ben Hur was a book, and they had Atonement, the novel. A House for Mr Biswas was in Section N and 1984 in Section O. Lord of the Rings, complete series and unabridged, stared at me. And I saw Love in the Time of Cholera. I opened Catch-22 and I read her famous first words: “It was love at first sight.”

At the time the shelves didn’t carry most of the novels on the TIME 100. Still, I saw lots of books to read before death —  they felt like a thousand and one books and I needed one hundred years of solitude to read them all. I began to notice other things: the computers with free internet, the movie rental section filled with the best of Hollywood, reference and academic materials, non-fiction classics and poetry collections; adults studying for professional exams, kids reading children literature, teens returning books, and a world separated from the busy Awolowo Road. I forgot about Zaccheus, my attention was focused on the books in his library.

After three years of borrowing books, I met Ifeoma, Zaccheus’ daughter. The library was recommending a list of 100 novels. I was attracted. Bespectacled eyes like her father’s, slim body frame that reduced her age by two decades, a soft spoken voice laced with authority acquired from three decades of legal practise, dainty fingers with a wedding band, eager smiles without makeup, and a gentle gaze studied me; Mrs Ifeoma Lillian Esiri. I had booked an appointment with her to discuss Zaccheus and why 196 Awolowo Road hosted a library when it could yield millions of naira from commercial activities.

Zaccheus was born in the year of the amalgamation, in Ifite-Dunu farming and trading community, on Tuesday 7th of July. His mother had ten mouths to feed and his father’s death stopped his education after St. Stevens Primary School. According to Ifeoma, he worked as a police officer under the British colonial administration and studied in the evenings; he enrolled for the United Kingdom Universities Matriculation Examinations and got admitted into the London School of Economics and Political Science. I pondered about the untold stories of his early years that followed Zaccheus to the grave. He lived in an age where memoirs were not fashionable, in a time where the past was an unspoken secret and bits of academic success were shared with children and nothing more.

In a brief chat with Ifeoma about the ZODML, Zaccheus’ sixty one years of living were distilled striking headlines which came together like one of those novels everyone accepts is great but which few people ever read. Zaccheus studied Economics at the LSE and was admitted into the English Bar before he returned to Nigeria. He was the first Company Secretary of Nnamdi Azikiwe’s Bank, African Continental. He was the Chairman of the Eastern Nigeria Development Corporation, a government conglomerate, before the Nigerian Civil War. He was the first Commissioner of Finance, East Central State under the administration of Ukpabi Asika, after which he was appointed Commissioner of Agriculture. In 1975, a brain tumour appeared and the book lover was survived by his wife, two daughters and two sons.

On the twentieth anniversary of Zaccheus’ death, his surviving women decided to do something for Papa’s remembrance. I imagined Mama and Zaccheus’ girls, Dorothy Ngozi and Ifeoma Lillian, discussing a legacy for their father; I was right. Ifeoma had copied Zaccheus: she read law at the LSE, Bachelors and Masters Degrees, and sits on the board of Stanbic-IBTC Bank. Mrs. Dorothy Ngozi Oyekwe opted for Medicine and trained as a Doctor at the Universities of Lagos and London. The troika of Zaccheus women agreed on a library — Papa had loved books. The library was registered in 1998 and began operating in 2000.

Over the years, ZODML has become known in five local government primary schools in Ikoyi, where it funds and operates libraries for pupils from low income families. It began a mobile library of about two thousand books in Ikoyi Prisons in 2012. An online library has been launched, few books have been uploaded and more open materials are been sourced for online readers. The library has provided twenty computers for Ireti Junior High School, Lagos, and Ifeoma spoke of plans for other government secondary schools.

I asked why? Why dream away cash on books and libraries? She smiled and confessed to a satisfaction beyond charity; a mission to recruit new readers and the joy of pursuing her passion. I’m certain Ifeoma is no Mother Theresa, she has an obvious agenda to turn people into bookworms. I saw it in her eyes — that selfishness of readers, that desire to groom literary appreciation in others — and I imagined Zaccheus doing the same.

The ZODML Must-Read-Novels were selected from thirty international lists of acclaimed novels. The ranking system was based on number of appearances on lists such as the 2005 All-TIME 100 English-language Novels, the 2009 UK Guardian 1000 Novels, the 2003 Observer 100 Greatest Novels of All Time, and the 2004 Penguin bucket list of 100 Classics. 1984 by George Orwell topped the ZODML Must-Read-Novels list. Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Anthills of the Savannah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun (both published in Nigeria under the Farafina imprint) and Ben Okri’s Famished Road were among the novels on the special shelf. The ZODML 100 Novels are displayed on a separate cabinet and available to members of the library on the road.

To see the full list of ZODML’s Must-Read-Novels, visit their website here.