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.

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5 Books to Kick Off Your 2018 Reading Resolutions

2018 is the year to read more, isn’t it?

This tweet by Wale Lawal proves this much, with its many retweets and likes.

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However, it can also be overwhelming to decide which books to start with. Especially books that will keep you asking for more.

So, here are 4 books to start your New Year book resolutions with, especially if you are looking to read more African literature.

1. Yewande Omotoso: The Woman Next Door

In her novel, Yewande writes about two prickly old women, one black and one white, who discover, after 20 years of exchanging digs and insults, that they might help each other.

Hortensia and Marion are anything but friends and would like it to remain that way. But then a repair project leaves Hortensia with a broken leg and Marion in need of temporary housing.

Published by Kachifo Limited under its Farafina imprint, this is one book to start the new year with. Buy it here.

2. Chimamanda Adichie: Half of a Yellow Sun

Olanna is a beautiful London-educated woman who abandons her life of privilege in Lagos for a dusty university town and the charisma of her new lover, Odenigbo.

Soon after their new life begins, the Nigerian Civil War starts. As Nigerian troops advance and they and their loved ones run for their lives, their ideals are severely tested, as are their loyalties to one another.

Get it on Amazon here.

3. Leye Adenle: Easy Motion Tourist

Adenle’s novel entertains from beginning to end.

This compelling crime novel is set in contemporary Lagos and features Guy Collins, a British journalist, who is found close to a mutilated body, discarded by the side of a club in Victoria Island, and is picked up by the police as a potential suspect.

Collins soon finds out there is more to Lagos than just its bustling traffic.

Buy it here.
4. Adewale Maja-Pearce: The House My Father Built

The House My Father Built is a memoir of a ten-year struggle between the author and his “inherited” tenants. After inheriting a house in Surulere from his late father and waiting ten years for the terms of the inheritance to be fulfilled, Maja-Pearce is eager to take possession of his house. So he offers his tenants a one-year rent-free break, after which they are to vacate his property. Little does he know that, when the time comes to leave, his tenants would put him through one of the fiercest, and probably the most ridiculous, battles to stay put.

Get it here.

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. 

Call for Entries for the 2014 Etisalat Prize for Literature

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Etisalat Nigeria, today announced the call for entries for the 2014 Etisalat Prize for Literature, the second edition of the much celebrated innovative literature prize launched in 2013. The Etisalat Prize for Literature which is the first Pan African Literary Award to celebrate African fiction writers seeks to recognise, celebrate and reward debut fiction writers of African descent whose works are published in the last 24 months.

According to the Acting Chief Executive Officer at Etisalat Nigeria, Matthew Willsher, “the Etisalat Prize for Literature serves as a platform for the discovery of new creative writing talent out of the African continent and is the first prize with the novel concept of also promoting the growing publishing industry in Africa. The winner receives a cash prize of £15,000 in addition to a fellowship at the prestigious University of East Anglia. The winner and shortlisted writers receive a sponsored two-city tour promoting their books.”

The acting CEO highlighted that following the success of the maiden edition last year, the literary community is eagerly awaiting this second edition. NoViolet Bulawayo won the maiden edition of the Etisalat Prize for Literature with her highly celebrated debut novel “We Need New Names”. The Etisalat Prize accepts submitted works which must be a writer’s first work of fiction over 30,000 words, which has been published in the last 24 months. The Etisalat Prize will also launch the online based flash fiction prize later in the year to engage the rising stars of fiction.

A Press Conference will be held in Lagos, in June, to announce the panel of judges for this year’s competition. Rules and guidelines for entry are available on www.etisalatprize.com

Entries close 8th of August 2014.

Americanah Wins National Books Critics Circle Fiction Prize 2014

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie‘s first novel was longlisted for the Man Booker prize; her second, Half of a Yellow Sun, won the Orange prize. Now her third, the acclaimed Americanah, has beaten Donna Tartt‘s The Goldfinch to win the Nigerian author one of most prestigious literary prizes in the US, the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) award.

“Adichie’s story of a Nigerian blogger who returns to her home country from the US to meet the man who was her childhood sweetheart was much-praised in the UK; the Guardian called it “impressive [and] subtle, but not afraid to pull its punches”; the Telegraph said it was “a brilliant exploration of being African in America”. Now the NBCC awards – the only US prize judged by critics – has also chosen to honour the novel, on Thursday announcing the “love story, immigrant’s tale and acute snapshot of our times” as the winner of its best novel prize, ahead of The Goldfinch, Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being, Javiar Marías’s The Infatuations and Alice McDermott’s Someone.” Read More . . .Image 

Culled from The Guardian

The Etisalat Prize for Literature hosts a Creative Writing Workshop at the Bogobiri Festival

bogobiri etisalat workshop

We are very exited to announce The Etisalat Prize for Literature Week at the Bogobiri Festival this November. On the bill events is a four day  residential workshop on creative writing to be facilitated by Igoni Barrett, Eghosa Imasuen, and Binyavanga Wainaina of Farafina. The Workshop, which will focus on fictional prose writing, will hold from the 7th to the 10th of November 2013.

Bogobiri invites interested members of the public to send in applications. There are ten places up for grabs. All you have to do is email your application to bogobiriwriter@kachifo.com. Applications should include a short cover note, short biographical details, and a prose writing sample (it may be fiction or non-fiction) of between 200-800 words. All should be in the body of the email; sadly, applications with attachments will be deleted unread. Participation in the workshop is free and the organisers will provide accommodation and feeding for the duration.

In advance of the workshop writers who have made the final list will be asked to send in an original work of short fiction.  Participants will also be sent several stories and excerpts from longer works as reading material to be discussed at the workshop. During the workshop each participant’s work will be critiqued by the facilitators and developed using workshop exercises, readings from well-known authors and reading out loud. Throughout the duration, participants will be encouraged to share their writing and offer and receive feedback with fellow writers and facilitators.  There will also be daily assignments to hone creative writing skills.

Applications will close on the 29th of October and successful applicants will be notified by Saturday, the 2nd of November, 2013.

Update (4pm 06 Nov 2013): Binyavanga Wainaina will not be coming to the workshop due to other important engagements.

Invitation to Official Launch of Eghosa Imasuen’s Fine Boys

Farafina Books will be launching the print version of Eghosa Imasuen’s Fine Boys, which has been recently released. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie will be hosting the launch, and there will be readings by Eghosa, from Fine Boys. Binyavanga Wainaina will also be reading from his much-acclaimed memoir, One Day I Will Write About This Place.

There will be music and spoken word performances by Honey Adum and Efe Paul Azino, and freebies for some lucky guests. Guests will also get a chance to chat with the authors and get their books signed. Your favourite Farafina titles will be available for sale.

Date: Saturday, 25 August 2012
Time: 2 p.m.
Venue: Quintessence, Falomo Shopping Complex,  Falomo, Ikoyi, Lagos

Entry is absolutely free! Bring a friend!