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Month: October 2013

Writing in the Field…

Fiction writing comes alive with a lot of creativity. Be it prose or poetry, the creativity which a writer weaves into it, is often sparked or ignited. One of the triggers for creative writing I know is travelling. I am not talking of the act of being an imaginary foreigner. When you physically travel a lot, I suppose you will many times find lots of things you will want to share. Travel is expensive, but if you are lucky to have a career that encourages travelling, you are thus blessed with many inspirations.
Working in the Social Development sector is interesting. Over the years, it has garnered for its self and its practitioners, an identity. As people identify with their occupations like being a social worker, I can proudly say I am a development worker. Such identity is nourished by the many travels we ought to do considering the different issues and people you will have to work for and with.typewriter-field1-300x200
With travelling comes reflection. Few days ago,while on a trip, I reflected on the impact travelling and working on different development issues has made on my life. I notice there is an unconscious act of surrounding your space mostly with people of like mind; who think and aspire to reshape the world. This produces what I call living in a cosmopolitan bubble. This bubble has been strengthened with so much knowledge and confrontations, which many times are greater than us. We are provoked to anger and passion, sometimes misjudgement of people who cannot see the urgency in the change we want to institute. We forget that unlike us, they have not travelled the many routes, seen hills of different shades, and seen people of different colours, culture and landscape.
There are more advantages we gain working in development. A rising number of development workers are taking to creative avocations; taking advantage of their insights and travels to produce creative piece evoked by reflections on the breathtaking landscapes, transformations, people, issues and perhaps nature. I have friends like Anne Chia, Carrie Ann amongst others on wordpress. Most of the others are inspired to do travel writing but are either too busy or too 943789_10151368990506701_1099235516_n (2)shy to publish.
I went reading from development workers who are doing some creative work and are perhaps too shy or too busy to publish. I found the work of my friend Victoria Nwogu. Vicky is a brilliant Nigerian lady who works for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)  as a Gender Advisor. On her working visit to Somalia, she was inspired to do the creative piece which she titled ‘Blow me Jeje’ below.

Blow me jeje!

My dear dear friend
Your cool caress on my face as I descend
Ah! I realize you’ve come along
And I have been away too long
How nippy and sprightly you feel
The jolt back there, when I felt the craft keel
I’ll never tire of your playfulness
Hey! I squeal as you ruffle my skirts

I can see you’ve come by in the night
Everything covered in dust so light
Naughty thing that you are
I almost thought you a burglar
When you stubbornly shook my window
I peered out in fear, but not even a shadow
Then I knew it was you
Sneaking up to command my view

You sound angry this fretful morn
Your wail, like a woman facing scorn
Boisterous and passionate in your ire
We cower as you unleash your temper
I wouldn’t want to be your rival
A clash with your power would be fatal
With what shall we assuage your fury?
Perhaps a roof or a sapling, but not a baby!

I feel like dancing
In tune to your infectious prancing
But you race past me as I reach with yearning
I see your other lovers persisting
Your attention leaves a twinge of pain
But oh joy, when you turn to me again
Virile men can’t face your great might
As you consume everything in sight

Now my sojourn is at its end
Till we meet again dear friend
Blow me jeje!


No, it’s not what you think. Its not an ode to a lover; its a poem written in honour of the Southwest Moonsoon Wind.  According to Vicky, the Moonsoon wind comes every year from late May until late August, blowing over the Gulf of Aden from the western Arabian Sea onto the Eastern coasts of Africa. While the winds rarely reach gale force scale, there are a few days in the months of July or August when the speeds could reach a maximum high of 34 to 40 knots. She was privileged to experience the fury and the fun of this wind in Puntland in Somalia. This experience did merit an ode or ‘amateur poetry’ as she called it.  For me, this poem has a good composition, verses and depth of expression, I cannot be asking for too much from a spontaneous writer.


Picture of sea waves from the  Southwest Moonson Wind as Captured by Vicky.

On a lighter side, we can exhale while on the job in a creative way. It could be doing a poem, it could be taking a picture or sharing a story that makes our world Richer. Perhaps we would never know about some places or things if someone doesn’t write about it. Thank you Vicky for this windy ode. As the poem says, blow me jeje, blow me gently; may the wind of development blow us gently.

There Was A Country by Chinua Achebe: My Review!

Why would I review an Author’s personal account of the realities of his time on a page that deals with fiction and development issues? Drawing from a background of literature and history, I believe that  the book ‘There was a Achebe_review1Country’ by Chinua Achebe gives deeper insight into the development of the country Nigeria. It gives relevance to the past and the future of our world perhaps projecting the need of a better perspective for younger generation trying to understand their root.
This book comes littered with thought provoking poems that gives the right ambience to the issues discussed. It speaks of an era when renowned authors responded to development issues using fiction writing that produced satiric works like ‘Before the Black out’ by Wole Soyinka and Man of the People by Chinua Achebe amongst others. It tells of the role of a writer in social and national development. Chinua Achebe emphasizes that ‘if a society is ill, the writer has a responsibility to point it out’. It highlights the political position of creative writing in the advancement of development in any era.
Beyond this, the book indeed has placed a moral lens on how we as young people view our history and our past leaders (villains and heroes alike). It helps one position the intentions of the many giant nations, especially the western nation in the development of Nigeria. It is here to help us look through our national pathologies and indeed unlearn things that will stop ugly history from repeating.
The Biafran war remains a very political issue; it is not spoken of without raising a tribal dust. Its realities are barelyBLM-Biafra-Flag-Waving-Large known to people like me who were born three or four decades ago. For most of us, Biafra was that war that failed to divide Nigeria; it’s when the people of Ibo descents wanted a country of their own. Not many of us have strived to understand clearly the roots of this desired separation. Perhaps it has been politically hidden in our education. As the Author clearly asked, ‘why has the war not been discussed, or taught to the young, fourty years after its end?’
Reading this book, momentarily estranged me from my generation and I kindled to the life and truth of the Author’s generation, it gave my life more depth, meaning and resonance. I understand the war began not just as a result of belligerency raised by some primitive Ibo tribe. It was not a war between progressive nationalist and retrogressive tribal bigots. By Achebe’s projections, it started with a military coup that was misconstrued and given a tribal colour, it was stirred by a pogrom committed severally against a group. It was fuelled by manifold rivalry allowed by a complacent government.
When you read of the Asaba and Calabar Massacre, amongst others followed by the many pogroms that preceded it in Nigeria, you may like myself be tempted to ask if an apology by the incumbent leaders at the time was enough? Did this belated apology change the fact that there was genocide in Biafra? Will it change the alterations their acts had done to the present day people and their families who as the children of yesterday watched their father and brother’s Chinua-Achebe10--AFP-bloods splashing on their faces and settling in violation on the earth?
I am not trying to raise a settled dust, No! The dusts are not settled! Again and again they rise with the tornadoes of many injustice and cycles of inter-ethnic and inter-religious killings littered all over Nigeria. They are there in the life and family of the many Ibo fathers, who were Biafran casualties, who wake up spontaneously angry, violent and abusive to wives and children for reasons they do not know. Perhaps they still duck under cover, hear the howls of pain, picture Biafran babies with washed out ribs and blown out bellies starved into submission in a landscape where the air is heavy with odours of blood. Hmmnn…to the children of yesterday, there is a cry for justice. To the children of today, there is a hunger for peace. But there will be no peace without justice.
Achebe’s personal accounts, gave an insight into the genesis of election rigging (another national cancer) as an eclectic seed of the West. The manipulations of the embittered British Colonists aided the transfer of power to the then most conservative elements in the country hence inspiring the perpetual death of faith in genuine democracy. The character of the independence given to the country Nigeria came with so much ease that one would wonder if it were not a Greek gift.
13201_biafrapound1_1_jpg52d5260fbadee7189d2c5a2cc71cdbe7This book showcased landmark events that could have catalyzed development in Africa. But rather our leaders compromised or altered them with mediocre thinking which enshrined our government. Perhaps we may need to ask what our acclaimed altruistic leaders had done with the ingenuity of the Biafran scientist and think-tanks who fourty decades ago, could pilot planes and generate technologies they used to fight their cause. These people survived for years refining their own oil and maintaining their vehicle with no western aid or resources. What happened to the indigenous skills of this group of people who did what the Europeans may have tagged impossible for Africa in that time? In three years of the war, necessity gave birth to great inventions which if integrated into national development could advance a nation and perhaps a continent. But alas, we buried them all, we buried true African independence with the memories of men and women en-masse that died for theirbook1 faith.
The late writer paid his last due by putting in our hands the gift of a little history book and now I can confidently say that ‘There was a Country’! I am always of the opinion that our African fathers failed us by their choices and decisions in a revolutionary era. Now I am tempted to say that my generation may be on the verge of failing our children by being complacent and not questioning many past and present conventions, for fear that we will raise another dust! But must Biafra come again?

By Adaobi Nkeokelonye

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