Thursday, January 12, 2012

Swale Life Poetry Competition (January 2012)

Closing Date: 31 January 2012


Details: #5 in the quarterly poetry competition in aid of Diversity House, a charity based in Sittingbourne, Kent, publishers of Swale Life magazine. This competition is for previously unpublished poems in English Language, on any subject, in any style, up to 50 lines long (excluding title). Poems entered must not have been posted to any website or blog, and must not be under consideration for publication, or accepted for publication elsewhere.


First Prize: £100.00, Second Prize: £50.00, Third Prize: £30.00, High Commendation Prizes: 2 x £10.00


First Publication: All prize winners will receive first publication in Swale Life Magazine at on 28th February 2012, and will be included in the second Swale Life Anthology to be published in January 2013.


Entry Fees: £3 per poem, £12 for 5 poems. £16 for 7 poems and £22 for 10 poems.


Donations to Charity: A third of net entry fees and all profits from the sale of the anthology will go to Diversity House.


The Judge: Mandy Pannett - author of Frost Hollow.


Competition Administration: Eastern Light EPM International -organisers of Excel for Charity writing competitions series.


Enter online and pay securely by PayPal or print off Entry Form at

Cheques/Postal Orders in GB£ payable to:


Unit 136, 113 -115 George Lane, South Woodford, London E18 1AB

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pieces of Fragile Peace

There are questions that continue to prick at my mind. If it is indeed true that the fight against the removal of fuel subsidy has provided a platform for unity for the majority of Nigerians because the effects of the action would be felt by all; Muslim, Christian, Atheist, Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, Itshekiri, Efik etc. what happens then when and if the fuel issues are resolved?

Shall we all go back to sleeping with enemies? The Hausa Muslim marching in the streets of Maiduguri today against fuel subsidy removal, will he turn around one fine Friday and slaughter the Igbo Christian he has marched with?

It is touching to see Muslims & Christians guarding one another at mosques and churches. I must apologise for my pessimistic thoughts, but Muslims guarding Christians is not new, but I have lived in the north and many Christians who believed in humanity and employed Muslim guards at their homes paid with their lives when the uprisings began. We know what happens to the yams guarded by a goat.

I still think that it is possible to achieve peace in Nigeria, but the current climate only encourages a ceramic one. My whole being says that the Igbo people especially in the North must make haste to relocate elsewhere.

I have received several letters of disapproval from many people calling me all sorts of names that describe me as an Igbo tribalist. I have never pretended not to be Igbocentric. I am open-minded enough to embrace people from every part of the world, but right now, my thoughts are with my Igbo brothers and sisters in the North, and I want them to be safe. I don't want them to harm anyone and I don't want anyone to harm them. If we cannot live together in peace, let us go our separate ways.

Sentinel Literary Quarterly Competitions

For previously unpublished poems in English Language on any subject, in any style, up to 50 lines long (excluding title). Poems submitted must not have been accepted, or currently be under consideration for publication elsewhere and must not be simultaneously entered into another competition. Judge: Derek Adams.
PRIZES: £150 (First), £75 (Second), £50 (Third), £10 x 3 (High Commendation). All winning and commended poems will receive first publication in Sentinel Champions magazine. The authors will each receive 1 free contributor's copy. All entrants to this competition will also be automatically entered into a draw to win 1 year's subscription to Sentinel Champions. 1 poet and 1 short story writer must win the subscription this quarter.
Results will be announced at on 20-Feb-2012
ENTRY FEES: £3/1 poem, £6/2 poems, £9/3 poems, £11/4 poems, £12/5 poems. Cheques/Postal Orders in GB£ to SENTINEL POETRY MOVEMENT, Unit 136, 113-115 George Lane, South Woodford, London E18 1AB
Enter online and pay securely by PayPal or print off Entry Form from website at

For previously unpublished short stories in English Language on any subject, in any style, up to 1,500 words long (excluding title). Stories submitted must not have been accepted, or currently be under consideration for publication elsewhere and must not be simultaneously entered into another competition. Judge: David Caddy.
PRIZES: £150 (First), £75 (Second), £50 (Third), £10 x 3 (High Commendation). All winning and commended stories will receive first publication in Sentinel Champions magazine. The authors will each receive 1 free contributor's copy. All entrants to this competition will also be automatically entered into a draw to win 1 year's subscription to Sentinel Champions. 1 poet and 1 short story writer must win the subscription this quarter.
Results will be announced at on 20-Feb-2012
ENTRY FEES: £4/1 story, £8/2 stories, £10/3 stories, £12/4 stories. Cheques/Postal Orders in GB£ to SENTINEL POETRY MOVEMENT, Unit 136, 113-115 George Lane, South Woodford, London E18 1AB
Enter online and pay securely by PayPal or print off Entry Form from website at

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Don’t Fuel Panic, Toni Kan urges BBM Broadcasters


On Monday, January 9th, 2012 I received this BBM message from poet Toni Kan:


“People, pls, pls don’t send out broadcast messages until you verify them. Things are tense. Let’s not make them worse. Msgs about fighting, shooting, killings. Pls don’t broadcast until you make a few calls.”


It was very welcome to receive this message and I have forwarded it to most of my BBM contacts, especially those in Nigeria, who need to remain calm to be able to think clearly in these turbulent times.


It is not always clear where the intel that feeds these BBM broadcasts come from, or how authentic they are, but they can be quite disturbing. Here are some recent ones:

“Boko haram claimed responsibility of the Christmas day bombing,and promised more bombings on new year eve & new year  day in strategic locations in Nigeria to press down their grievances, a representative of the dreaded sect said on BBC  Hausa service. Nigerians are warned to avoid gathering like joints,clubs,cinemas,churches etc. cos those are likely targets of the next series of bombings which they call "the mother of all bombings in Nigeria" .please re-broadcast to. Family,friends and loved ones to save innocent lives,may we never be victims...... Jst got dat frm a friend now.”


The SSS Just announced d seizure of 10 containers of Bangers & Fireworks. Upon examination, Iτ
̅ was discovered
1. They av d initial BH..meaning Boko Haram.
2. They are laced with Nitrate used for making Bombs.
3. When lighted Iτ
can blow up 10 x 10 sq metres
... 4. The containers were heading for d south western part of Nigeria.
5. Iτ
is believed some have already pass through
SSS warns Nigerians to be careful of d use of bangers & fireworks or if possible do away with them. Boko Haram means business.
Please re broadcast. We shall all live to see 2012



For those who stay in Abuja or  who have relatives there.The  American embassy have contacted all Americans to tell them to stay indoors, they said there are 3 cars in Abuja loaded with explosives planted @ different areas. They are yet to know their exact  targets.  Pass the message please.


The thought behind these BBM broadcasts are laudable as they appear to reflect a genuine concern for the welfare of fellow citizens. There is also a feeling that these are creative products of terror rumour merchants and that there is no basis for them at all. I have spoken to some friends and family in Northern Nigeria and they say that after reading some of these messages, not knowing which one is true or false, they err on the side of caution and worship God in their own homes rather than become sitting ducks in churches.


It breaks my heart to see just how helpless my Christian brothers seem to have become, and how this Boko Haram thing is wearing down the faith of some Christians. Yesterday, I got into an argument with a church deacon who said that Christians who stay away from churches out of fear of being killed by Boko Haram while they worship God are not Christians at all, because a true Christian should be prepared to die for God.


You see, I personally don’t think that if a Christian’s gut feeling is that there is truth behind a message of caution and stays out of harm’s way, that this is one of the things that can annoy God.


Like brother Toni Kan has urged, let BBM, Facebook or Twitter broadcasters verify their messages before sending them out. Recipients of these messages of caution, please pray for the grace to be directed by the Spirit on whether the intelligence behind these messages are credible. If in doubt, stay in your house and worship God there. If you must pay your tithe and offering in the church, you could always mail a cheque to your pastor. You can only worship God if there is breath in your lungs. TB


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Monday, January 09, 2012

State Of The Nation: Soyinka, Achebe, Clark Warn Against Another Civil War

The trio of Nigrian literary icons; Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe and J.P. Clark have called for a stop to the spread of violence across the country, warning that the country cannot afford another civil war at this time in history.

A statement jointly signed by the trio and entitled “LET NOT THIS FIRE SPREAD!!! An Appeal to the Nigerian Nation Community”, reads in full:

“The fears we have all secretly nursed are coming to realisation. The nightmare we have hugged to our individual breasts, voicing them only in family privacy, or within trusted caucuses of friends and colleagues – lest they become instances of materialising evil thoughts – has finally burst through into our social, physical environment. Rumblings and veiled threats have given way to eruption, and the first cracks in the wall of patience and forbearance can no longer be wished away. BOKO HARAM is very likely celebrating its first tactical victory: provoking retaliation in some parts of the nation.

We insist however that this need not be, and should not be so. And as long as any part, however minuscule, opts for the more difficult path of envisioned forbearance, we are convinced that its responses will find neighbour emulation between homesteads, between towns and villages, between communities on all levels and indeed – states. This hard, demanding, but profoundly moral and heroic option will be recognised and embraced as the only option for the survival, and integrity of the whole. All who claim to be leaders must lead – but in the right direction!

We urge a proactive resolve in all such claimants to leadership. It is not sufficient to make pious pronouncements. All who possess any iota of influence or authority, who aspire to moral leadership must act now to douse the first flickers of ‘responses in kind’ even before they are manifested, and become contagious. We urge that, beginning from now, leaders become true leaders in all communities, utilise the platforms of their associations, professions, clubs, places of instruction and places of worship, NGOs and other civic orgnisations, that they relentlessly spread the manifesto of Community – capital letters! – as an all-embracing human bond, and refuse to be sucked into the cauldron of mutual attrition that is the purpose of the religious warmongers among us.

What is proposed here is not any doctrine of submission, of ‘turning the other cheek’, or supine supplication to divine intervention etc. etc. Very much the contrary! Self-defence is a fundamental human right and responsibility. However, we caution that we must place the total humanity of our nation above the methods and intent of a mindless, though programmed minority that are resolved to set religion against religion, community against community, destroy the internal cohesion of homes, render meaningless the very concept and imperatives of guest, strangers, the extended human family, and the universalist obligations of hosts as practiced under the finest traditions of human encounters. Our duty is to denounce the killers among us, to deny them, right from source, the sump of blood that is their nourishment, the chaos that is their ambition, and the hatred that has poisoned their collective psyche. Our mission is to prove ourselves superior to them in understanding, to leap ahead of their perverse scheming and preserve our own humanity even as they jettison theirs – if ever they even were aware of its existence.

Calls have been made in the past – sometimes in response to a crisis within the nation, other times as an objective necessity even in the most tranquil of times – for the convening of a National conference to debate just how the nation should proceed in reinforcing civic and political life, and decide, in full freedom, the terms of her integrated existence. The government is urged to stop shying away from this project, pretending that those who happen to have been elected into the nation’s legislatures are best qualified to undertake the exercise, largely through piecemeal tinkering. This surely begs the question, since the very system and terms under which these – often dubiously – elected, serve, including the intolerable strain these institutions place upon the nation’s resources – are all at issue. That last indeed, the very inordinate exaction of running a presidential system, forms part of the impatience of the public, as new avenues for economic hardship are opened in a people’s struggle for survival, such as the recent crisis of the removal of petroleum subsidy. We call upon the government to re-think this measure. We warn the Security forces to recall that their primary duty is to protect all citizens, and most especially those in opposition to government policies, in the exercise of their democratic rights. We cannot turn a blind eye to the killing of our fellow citizens even before the earliest manifestation of popular discontent gets under way. The first single Security notch on the gun is always the signal for a countdown towards two, then three, moving to four figure statistics in the struggle for human dignity. Syria is our current cautionary instance. We know how Libya ended.

The Security arms of government should recognise where their urgent and immediate capabilities and competence are needed, where the greatest threat to nationhood since the Nigerian Civil War has been gloatingly launched, and with a daily toll of casualties of the innocent. We call upon the Nigerian government to intensify its obligations to protect the citizenry it claims to govern. The basic professional strategy of preventive policing, which appears no longer in fashion, must be re-activated. Security may appear less glamorous than the moral imposition that is articulated in appeals such as this, but it is nonetheless a crucial partner in the very existence of civil existence and the preservation of civic dignity. Necessary measures to curb the activities of a homicidal few, no matter under what name, faceless or disguised, whose minds have been warped beyond recovery, must be taken, and without flinching. Public evidence of the effectiveness of such measures makes our call for restraint meaningful. It reduces the stress placed daily on a people’s aspirations to a visionary fortitude, and reinforces the resolve for an engagement under forbearance in the ultimate pursuit of social justice as the foundation of peaceful co-existence.

This Appeal comes from Three Survivors of the Pioneering Writer/Teacher Generation of a half-century, post-Independence Nigeria, in her continuous struggle for a viable Nation-Being:

Chinua Achebe
J.P. Bekederemo-Clark
Wole Soyinka

This article was shared from
State Of The Nation: Soyinka, Achebe, Clark Warn Against Another Civil War

Saturday, January 07, 2012

King Jonathan’s Desperation and a Few Words of Courage for the People

And so King Goodluck “Rehoboam” Jonathan of Nigeria, having got a foretaste of the anger of the people over his decision to sell their blood for more money to service the insatiable greed of his government, has procured a black market order from an inferior court to stop the full fury of the people on Monday, 9 January, in the year of the Great Phantom Subsidy Withdrawal.
How the tricks of the oppressor never change! Remember a similar order, suitably obtained at or near midnight by General Babangida, to stop the announcement of the 12 June 1993 elections? But that failed and so too will this.
Since when, anyway, did Jonathan, whose PDP routinely ignores court orders; since when did Jonathan who has presided over the destruction of the judiciary by literally sacking Justice Salami, President of the Court of Appeal while his suit against Justice Katsina-Alu, then the retiring Chief Justice of the Federation and Jonathan’s chief legal enabler, become a knight of justice and the rule of law? Oh, he is a desperate man all right, if he will stoop to such low heights in the vain hope of stopping the tidal wave of anger about to be unleashed.
Today, I have no better words of solidarity with the people of Nigeria, now awakening to reclaim their country from the strangle-hold of its rulers, than these which I commend to all at home, at work or in the streets:

“The future will have no pity for those men [and women] who, possessing the exceptional privilege of being able to speak words of truth to their oppressors, have taken refuge in an attitude of passivity, of mute indifference, and sometimes of cold complicity."
— Frantz Fanon, in “Letter to the Youth of Africa”
“Here then is an adequate revolution for me to espouse—to help my society regain belief in itself and put away the complexes of the years of denigration and self-abasement.”
— Chinua Achebe, in “The Novelist as Teacher.”
“Justice is the first condition of humanity.”
— Wole Soyinka, in The Man Died
“Hereditary bondsmen! know ye not
Who would be free themselves must strike the blow?”
— Lord Byron

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Friday, January 06, 2012

Okonjo Iweala, Architect of Fuel Subsidy Removal

Ngozi Okonjo Iweala threatens to resign if the president makes a detour on subsidy removal. Let her resign. The oil subsidy removal is her idea. She has brought world Bank and IMF mentality into the Nigerian economic system that does not comply with any known economic theory.
All existing economic theories are meanwhile failing in Europe where consumerism and a conflict between economics and politics have led to the occupy movement and sovereign debt crisis.
Jonathan did everything in his power to get her out of the world bank to join his cabinet as if out of over one hundred and sixty million Nigerians nobody could be a finance minister. What she failed to reason out while advising the president is that there is no social security in place in Nigeria. There is no unemployment benefit, no benefit for the elderly, no benefit for incapacitated people who can no longer earn any income, no benefit for unemployed single mothers and their children, no benefit for the blind and physically challenged and no compensation policy for victims of crime and negligence by the government. In effect, the oil subsidy was the only benefit enjoyed by Nigerians and now it has been denied them. This is the unkindest cut of all. If we are to vote in a referendum today to choose between Boko Haram and Jonathan's cabinet. Boko Haram will win by a landslide.
I had injury on both legs during the election and I went out with the injuries and drove over 10km to vote for Jonathan. I regret that with no apologies whatsoever.
The gains of the subsidy removal will not be felt overnight and certainly not in the next one year and will be jettisoned as we approach the next election. Why on earth did all the brains and advisers in the cabinet not think about a graded removal, 20% removal per year over five years? 20% removal in the first year, 40% in the second year, 60% in the third year, 80% in the 4th year and 100% in the fifth year? That would have given Nigerians a chance to adjust to inflationary trends over five years while the promised infrastructure will have enough time to flourish.
They want it now because they want to share the money now. If Okonjo Iweala resigns today, she has already done the damage and the blood of anybody that dies as a result of this will rest on her head. TB

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Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Now President Jonathan is terrorising Nigerians


It is really depressing to read about and see all the pictures of widespread demonstrations in Nigeria against the removal of fuel subsidy which has now put the minimum price of petrol at N141.00 with the price in the neighbourhood of N175.00 in some areas.

It is good that Nigerians are marching the streets and shouting on top of their voices in an attempt to get the Jonathan administration to rescind this action. I am not very hopeful that these demonstrations will achieve anything anyway, I am sorry for being a pessimist here, but the truth is that President Goodluck Jonathan is proving to have a talent for ignoring the plight of Nigerians, or perhaps he has supped with the devil and is therefore incapacitated and unable to do what is right for the people he is supposed to be leading.

The timing of the actualisation of the removal of fuel subsidy is nothing short of terrorism by the state against the people of Nigeria.

Every Nigerian is worried about the terrorist and religious attacks in the country at the moment, especially in the Northern parts of Nigeria. Kidnappings are still rife in most parts of the South and South-east. Armed robbery is a growth industry nationwide. There is nothing in place to attempt securing the lives and properties of the average Nigerian.

The removal of fuel subsidy at this time will have far-reaching knock-on effects; people who drive their own vehicles will pay much more to run them. Public transport fares will rise astronomically, making it hard for people to get to work, to go out and seek work (for the unemployed), or simply to have any kind of social life. Prices of goods and services will invariably rise as the costs of delivering them rise. There is also the problem with electric power. With irregular power supply in most parts of the country, the people of Nigeria, who could afford it, have been providing alternative sources of power with generators. Now, it will cost a lot of money to fuel these generators.

It is not rocket science to work out that the results of the problems caused by the removal of oil subsidy will be widespread suffering, disillusionment and an exponential increase of crime. It is too difficult to fathom why the Nigerian leadership could so brazenly contrive to plunge the nation into such deep suffering.

There has been a report, I don’t know how credible it is, that a protester has been shot dead by the Nigerian police in Ilorin. Is Jonathan also turning Gaddafi and Assad on Nigerians? It will be very unfortunate if he resorts to violence and the terror of guns as a way of clamping down on demonstrators. At this time we can only watch and encourage those who are able to march in Nigeria. It is a brave thing, and we hope that they will be safe in the face of a possible brute force that may be turned on the.  TB

Sunday, January 01, 2012

My eyes have seen the year of our Lord 2012.



My cluttered table bustles like a tech carnival; laptops,

BlackBerries upon a Clarks shoebox stuffed with receipts,

cables, i-gizmos and a screwdriver. No shoes. No red socks.

My daughter has left a sieve entangled with a USB cable

beside a batteryless digital camera atop my wife’s books.


I scan this mess with tired eyes, my back to the lit, over-

decorated Christmas tree we bought from Tesco last year.

The air is filled with sleep sounds of my family carried

in here by the gentle morning breeze of the new year.

Happy New Year, my loves, sleep well, sleep sweet.


O, what a marvellous Christmastime this week has been;

Ugbagha with showboy and stockfish has been eaten,

turkey and chicken, broccoli and sprouts, ‘eddoes’,

pounded yam, bitter-leaf soup and peppersoup too

led home with wines and beers, malts and juices, and water.


This time, our children - four and three - have learnt jingles,

so we have daily been sing-along-ing and dance-along-ing;

‘Must be Santa’, ‘Father Christmas, he got stuck, coming

down the chimney’ and ‘We wish you a Merry Christmas’.

We have had ourselves a wonderful Christmastime.


We rode on choo choo trains and the London Eye

and the kids touched a starfish at the London Aquarium.

O yes, we have created so many memories this Christmas

and for every beautiful second I have praised Him with joy.

Especially now my eyes have seen the year of our Lord 2012.


Nnorom Azuonye

Plumstead, 01 January 2012


An everyman poem © 2012 Nnorom Azuonye