Saturday, January 16, 2010



Selected Poems from the Diversity House (Excel for Charity) Poetry Competition 2009

Edited by

Geoff Stevens and Nnorom Azuonye

ISBN 978-1-4452-5829-4

Eastern Light Publishers, London

£6.91 + P&P

Buy Now


Blue Hyacinths

- Roger Elkin


- Sian Clifford

Sky Searching

- Sophie Stephenson-Wright

Cryptic Desires

- Nancy Charley

Miscellaneous Body

- Stefan Bishop

Into Not From

- Noel Williams


- Roger James

The Square Mile

- Sophie Stephenson-Wright

Riboud in Leeds

- Caroune Price

Monsoon Rain

- Fehmida Zakeer

A Matter Of Degree

- Ellaraine Lockie

In Giza

- Jonathan Pinnock

The Generosity of a Stranger

- Mark Chaddock

Save The Earth

- Joel Isaac Barrow

There Will Come A Time

- Siddhanth Iyer Sequeira


- Charles Evans


- Ellaraine Lockie

Game Game

- Roger Elkin


- Roger Elkin


-Jeremy Langrish

How Come The Sea’s Grey?

- Christine Tennent

Swallowing Goldie

- Jane Williams


- Charles Evans

Feet of Clay

- Margaret Eddershaw

Memorial in Stone

- Stephen Loughlin


- Roger James

The Best Revenge

- Ellaraine Lockie

Second Hand Bookshop

- Laurie Spencer

Fashion Victim

- Mike Gwynne


- Caroune Price


- Barry Staff


- Jane Williams


- Adrian Shaw

Christmas Angel

- Jane Williams


- Roger James

Life & Death

- Kelly Van Nelson

Indelible Blue

- Sue Moules


- Sue Fletcher

My Never Sister

- James Neve

The Soundtrack of Dorian Gray

- Mike Gwynne

A Different Kind of Hero

- Jenny Duncan

The Valentine Who Broke My Heart

- Pamela Odunaiya

He Dog She Bitch

- Jeremy Langrish

It’s a 1950’s Dream

- Nancy Charley

Broad Thoughts From A Home

- Stephen Loughlin


- Julie Mellor


- Smart Favill

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Oguibe: Extreme Wisdom Rises Against Imbecility

"I hate to disappoint you guys, Nnorom, but if this hogwash is the best that this generation of Nigerian writers can offer in the face of a dire national crisis, then, that's a real pity. I am convinced that the Soyinka generation would have gone further. This verbiage, after nearly two months of national disgrace? This is what Achebe would dismiss as deodorized dogshit. No wonder everyone gets taken for granted. Pity, indeed." - Olu Oguibe
A few days ago, I received a call from Abdul Mahmud and a follow-up text and e-mail asking if I would be happy to append my signature to an Open Letter on the Nigerian situation he and Chuma Nwokolo had drafted. I read through the e-mail on my cellphone on the train journey to Sittingbourne. I agreed with most of what was written, but more, I agreed with the spirit and the purpose of the draft letter. I gave my assent to the letter. Perhaps, Abdul and Nwokolo should have asked for inputs into the letter to make it richer, stronger, and more uncompromising? Perhaps the Nigerian writers who put their names on the letter should have offered inputs? I am personally satisfied that as the first stone we have cast in the new challenge to bring change to Nigeria, this open letter starts us well.

In the past, as most of you know, I never bothered with or cared about these struggles. I tended to mind my own business and to be totally honest, at some point in my life, I wondered why people were throwing away their lives fighting a system that is intrinsically defective with pillars that could not be broken anytime soon, if even in our lifetime. But as I have got older and seen things differently, I have often in my quiet moments wondered if I had lent my voice to the struggle, might it have made a difference? This is why I felt a bit of shame when Gani Fawehinmi died. In a Facebook note on September 6, 2009 I wrote:
"OK, as you can imagine, plenty things by now don begin dey waka for my head. In life I never personally met or interacted with Gani. I was not one of the writers who were thorns in the flesh of the Nigerian government that Gani fought against. But I am one of those who carry a Nigerian passport that Gani Fawehinmi spent his life fighting for. I believe I would not be wrong to say today that if there are some basic liberties that have become tangible in Nigeria, Fawehinmi had a hand in wrestling it from the fangs of Nigeria's leaders. In a somewhat trespassing way, I feel pained that while I lived in Nigeria my life did not find expression in sufficient contrariness to position me in a path of war with various disgraceful elements Nigeria has had as leaders. Perhaps, if it had, my path and Fawehinmi's paths might have crossed.

It is a strange feeling I have when I read all the tributes being poured out for Chief Fawehinmi. The strange feeling is that I somehow think that all of us who have never pointedly challenged the evils and tyrannies of our country's leaderships have not only betrayed ourselves, but have left people like Fawehinmi out in the storm without appropriate protection. I feel that those of us who do not at one point, even at the risk of making propaganda of our own existences, do something, think something aloud, or say something firm against the evils at the helm of our country's leadership, we do more damage to the country than those so-called leaders."
I am satisfied that the spirit of the open letter by Nigerian writers reflects some of the sentiments I expressed back in September. What I find very irritating is Olu Oguibe using extremely unacceptable language to insult the Nigerian writers who have put their names on a letter to begin a process of change in Nigeria. Nobody ever pretended that the Open Letter was a literary or political masterpiece. That Open Letter is a weapon of war, and as a weapon of war it has a right to be ugly if ugliness would achieve its purpose.

Oguibe sometimes behaves like a child. For all his well advertised intelligence, it does not occur to him that he would serve his nation more and earn the respect of his peers by respecting them. He could have added his voice of wisdom to salvage his peers from collective imbecility. It has never stopped to amaze me why Olu Oguibe always defaults to insulting people and using the foulest language on people. Just at the end of 2009 Oguibe asked forgiveness from everyone he has wronged. But the man just cannot help himself.

In the past, Olu Oguibe may have been a symbol of protest, but he has since fallen silent and holed up in America collecting weird kettles and lamps while Nigeria degenerates. Whoever told Olu Oguibe that protest is something you do for a while, then abandon it, piss off to a foreign land, and fall deaf and dumb, but when somebody does something about that which he is doing absolutely nothing, he springs out of his slumber to fire a burst of abuses?

At this time I would ask Oguibe to join us and bring his powerful undeodorised Horseshit to replace our lame deodorised dogshit and knock sense into Nigeria. If he is not willing to do this, he may well contrive to keep his mouth well padlocked.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Here is the text of an open letter released by Nigerian Writers in reaction to the current political situation in Nigeria. Over thirty writers have currently signed up to the letter which has this morning been released to the media. You can add your own signature, and support, in a comment box beneath. You can also listen to and download an audio version by clicking on this link: Audio

We are no Longer at Ease.

An Open Letter from Nigerian Writers

Nigeria’s failure to make the progress commensurate with 50 years of nation-building is not just a failure of leadership. It is first and most catastrophically, a failure of followership.

As ordinary Nigerians, we have failed to create an environment where good leadership can thrive. By glamorising fraud and ineptitude, we have created a country hostile to probity. Our expectation from Government House is mediocrity, so that good government surprises us pleasantly and excellence continues to amaze us. Instead of an environment of accountability, we have fostered sycophancy. We have been content to follow every stripe of leader, from the thief to the buffoon. The consequence is that for months we have been happy to be ruled even in absentia.

Today, we say, no more.

Protest is not a dirty word. Even babies have a voice, long before they learn language or discernment. The child that is too docile to cry when it hungers or ails might die in the hands of the most benevolent mother. A leadership, however benevolent, requires an intelligent, demanding, and courageous followership to excel.

It is the responsibility of every Nigerian to voice the legitimate expectations of nation and to establish the standards to which our leaders must be held. We must expect great things from this country, so we must look for the leaders who can deliver. There is an acceptable standard of leadership, and then there is an unacceptable standard. We must honour leaders who excel, and censure leaders – at every level, and in every arm of government – who betray our trust.

If failure is not censured, there is no incentive in pursuing excellence. If sacrificial leadership is not recognised, then leaders of merit will not come forward, and the heroes in our cenotaphs will be the very architects of our failure as a nation. Although we are justly famous for our generosity of spirit, for our ability to forgive and forget the gravest transgressions, Nigerians must also now boldly condemn the errors of leadership, and end the complacency that has brought us so low as a country. The only reason for the existence of political leaders is to offer service to nation. Leadership is not an end in itself. It is a privilege to serve your country; leadership is not a right to be served by your country.

Today, Nigeria stands on a precipice. Behind us is a history that can push us, irrevocably, over the brink. Yet, we are writers. If we bring anything collectively to society, it must be the imagination and the inspiration to bridge impossible gulfs. Today, we must plumb our history, not to evoke despair, but to inspire resolve. Today, we call on Nigerians to hold hands across the trenches of our deep divisions and, somehow, find the resolution to dream again. Let us, as ordinary Nigerians, reject the ethnic fictions that local despots have used to colonise this country over the past five decades.

Let us dream a simple dream made fantastic by our present circumstances. Let us dream of a Nigeria that works, that evokes pride, and that inspires faith. Let us dream of a Nigeria of servant-leaders and sacrificial statesmen, a Nigeria which calls the best characteristics out of ordinary men and women. Let us call on that capacity for renewal to bring opportunity out of this crisis.

Let us recreate the excitement – and the possibilities – with which we approached the Independence Day of 1960. In 50 years, the resources and destiny of this great country have been hijacked by private carpetbaggers and adventurers. Let us take back the sanctity of our polls. Let us rejuvenate the recall process. Let us police our resources, our leadership. We must liberate Nigeria anew. Today, we must take back our country.

As writers, the past and the future are fertile fields for the work of our imagination. Today, in this love-letter to our nation, we call on all Nigerians to take authorship of our nation’s next 50 years. Our destiny is in our own hands. Shall we write into it a bigger civil war? Another half-century of mediocrity and international disgrace? Then we need do nothing.

But if we, the people of Nigeria, must write an inspirational epic of a humbled nation on her knees, who, breaking free of bondage, soars into the keep of eagles, we must begin by demanding only the best of our leaders. In the days and months to come, we the people must find our voice, our votes, and our true values. And we must make them count.

Thank you.

Chuma Nwokolo • Abdul Mahmud • Afam Akeh • Helon Habila • Paul Onovoh • Chika Unigwe • Jude Dibia • Okey Ndibe • Chilo Zona Eze • EC Osondu • Tade Ipadeola • Unoma Azuah • Shola Adenekan • Amatoritsero Ede • Lola Shoneyin • Uzor Maxim Uzoatu • Ikhide Ikheloa • Uche Peter Umez • Nnorom Azuonye • Richard Mammah • Chike Ofili • Obiwu • Uche Nduka • Ogaga Ifowodo • Richard Ugbede Ali • Maik Nwosu • Akin Adesokan • Obi Nwakanma • Kachi A. Ozumba • Odili Ujubuonu • Emman Shehu • Ibrahim Sheme • Tanure Ojaide • Emmanuel Iduma • Sylva Nze Ifedigbo •