October 29, 2008

Farafina Magazine- Latest Issue

Dear Readers,

The latest issue of Farafina Magazine will soon be out. For those of you who are not very familiar with Farafina Magazine , it was started in 2004 as an online magazine. It was in this original incarnation that the magazine established contact with contemporary writers based in Nigeria and overseas, publishing the early work of such writers as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Sefi Atta, Petina Gappah, Tolu Ogunlesi, Yemisi Ogbe and Victor Ehikhamenor.

The first issue of the print magazine was published in October of 2005. It is a bimonthly publication. The magazine is dedicated to the best in contemporary ideas; it is intelligent without being pompous, well researched without being academic and opinionated without being pedantic. The magazine publishes everything from photo essays to cartoons, art interviews to political exposes, narrative essays to short stories. You can purchase your own copy of this magazine at the following outlets -


Falomo Shopping Complex,

Awolowo Road, Ikoyi,



Adeola Odeku street,

Victoria Island,


Total Bonjour

Lekki-Epe Expressway

Beside The Palms Shopping Complex,


For more information about the magazine and the closest sales outlet to you, visit their website here.

October 28, 2008

Bad Day

       ‘Thank you.’
I shut the car door and waited until Ebenezer’s car reached the filling station and then I turned and walked into the University campus. I pass the Kwame Nkrumah hostel and the new Odili hostel. I can see the progress made by the site workers but I can’t admire it. Why is life so short? I’m not alive today because I’m more religious than any of the people who left this world last month or because I pray more regularly than they did when they were alive or because I’m a better husband or because I have used my life in a better way than they did or because my family loves me more and that love protects me from death. I’m alive today not by any design of mine. Every day millions of lives are extinguished. The life just goes. People just stop existing. I sigh heavily. How, how do I tell Gloria that Chinedu is dead? “Gloria…your brother is dead.”, “Gloria…someone died this afternoon…Who?...Chinedu.” Gloria will die.
       Ngozi’s call this afternoon left me stiff with shock. She was crying so much that I could not hear what she was saying. The only word I heard clearly was ‘dead’ and I knew immediately without hearing her say it, the one who was dead. I tried to calm her down by saying all the meaningless words my mind put in my mouth, while trying to pull myself together as a man must. Her sister took the phone from her and told me what had happened as told by the people who took Chinedu to the mortuary. His head had burst open after he fell down from the speeding Okada. When they got to the accident scene, the afternoon rain was rinsing his red blood from the black tar. I shut my eyes to remove the images that came to my mind but it was as if I shut the images inside. I opened my eyes quickly.
      On my left, in the field behind the Eni Njoku hostel, someone was learning to drive. The car went around the field once and then it stopped and the occupants discussed. Is life like that? A circle? Humans are born, they grow up and learn to bear the problems that come with life, they procreate and then they die leaving children who inevitably, go through the same process. In the other field some children were playing football in spite of the cold weather. Suddenly rain started falling even though the sun was still shining and then just as suddenly it stopped. I turned left into the road that leads to the University Junior Staff Quarters.
     Chinedu was Gloria’s only brother, only sibling, only blood relative. Their parents had died when they were young. He had struggled to put food on the table and to put her through nursing school. In her words “He put his life on hold, so I could go to school. During that time, nothing personal mattered. He broke his back so I could go to school.” She was always saying it, always. He’s someone she loves deeply. So how can he be dead? Chinedu? The one that is marrying Ngozi next month? The one that drank beer with me four nights ago at Jives? The one that Ngozi kept saying was ‘overdue’ for marriage? The one that told me four nights ago that Ngozi is carrying his baby? The smiling one. I was cold to the bone and the cold weather was not helping.
     I turn left, pass the quiet house of my neighbour and walk to my door. On the pavement my son Chike stands bare-chested, holding his hands out to catch the rain water running down the zinc roof. He greets me and I nod and begin to take off my shoes. He pinches one nostril shut and blows hard. A tiny glob of mucus shoots out his nostril and lands on the floor. It’s so clear; it could have been mistaken for a rain drop.
     'Why aren’t you wearing a shirt?’
     'The weather was hot before the rain started.’ He replies without looking at me. ‘I’m not feeling cold.’
    ‘Come on get inside the house and wear a shirt!’ He picks the clothes on the bench outside and goes behind the house. No one is in the sitting room. I sit heavily in the chair and put my feet on the low table in the centre of the small room. I shift my weight to one leg and bring out money from the back pocket of my trousers. One twenty, two fifties and a five naira note. I drop it on the table and sit staring at my toes. Kenechukwu, my four year old, comes into the parlour.
     ‘How are you?’
     ‘Fine.’ He says softly. I pick him up and lay him on my chest. His skin smells clean as if he has just been given a bath. I kiss his cheek and he inspects my face and then my throat. He fondles my Adam’s apple with tired fingers, and before I can complain he stops. He puts his head on my chest and pulls gently on the collar of my shirt. His twin sister, Chizoba breezes into the sitting room and makes a beeline for my newspaper. She opens it on the center table and begins flipping pages. Kenechukwu’s sleepy eyes flutter open whenever she squeals or turns the pages of the paper loudly. She calls my name, and points to a Bournvita advertisement. I nod. She eyes me, and continues turning pages. I close my eyes. Kenechukwu’s body is warming me. I stretch out a little so his full weight is on my chest. I shut my eyes for about ten minutes enjoying the warmth from his body and silently marveling at the way his heart beats. My younger sister comes in and carries Kene into the room. I want to tell her to leave him but I don’t. Now I’m cold. I turn to Chizoba and see she’s staring at me. I stare back, and she returns her attention to the newspaper. I’m still watching her when she reaches the Obituary notices. She stares silently, solemnly at the pictures of the deceased as though she understands. I beckon to her, and she comes to sit on my lap, playing with her fingers. I try to make her lie on my chest but she struggles to get away.
     ‘I’m not a baby.’ She says firmly, and then she enters the room.
     ‘Nneka.’ I call out. My sister comes to the parlour from the kitchen. ‘Kedu?’
     ‘I’m fine. I went to school this morning because I heard the admission list was out. My name is on the list.’
     ‘Oh…that’s good. Thank God.’ I manage a smile.
     ‘Thank you. Should I make garri for you?’ I shake my head and she leaves the sitting room. I have no appetite. Most of the money I bring home monthly comes from my shed in the market where I sell books. Since the University students went on break two months ago, business has been very poor. Gloria and I are Chinedu's only existing relatives. That means all the money for Chinedu's burial will come from my pocket. Since Nneka has gotten admission, and school will resume next month for my children, I need money badly. I’m tired and would like to sleep but I want to be awake when Gloria returns. I dread her return, I dread the moment she discovers her beloved brother is lying in the Nsukka Mortuary.
      I woke from troubled sleep with a start. Gloria is standing in front of me, straddling Chizoba on her left hip. It was her that woke me up. She looks at me with concern. I wipe my eyes and my hands become wet.
     ‘Dim.’She says softly.
     ‘Welcome. How was work?’ I ask her. She nods.
     ‘I have good news. You don’t look alright.’ I stand up, hug her tightly then pull her towards our bedroom. She stops at the door and puts Chizoba down. Chizoba begins to cry.
     ‘Go and collect sugarcane from Nneka.’ She pushes Chizo gently towards the kitchen and calls out to Nneka. “Biko wash the sugarcane and give Chizo half of one…ngwa go.’ She shuts the door and begins to change her clothes. I still don’t know how to tell her.
     ‘Ben, is something bothering you? You’re making me uncomfortable.’ She cocks her head to the left and starts to take off her earring.
    ‘What’s the good news?’ I ask to buy time.
    ‘When the new academic session resumes, Mrs. Eke won’t be with us at the University Medical Center anymore. She’s going to work at the new Primary Health Care Centre in Enugu-Ezike. You know what that means okwia?’ She asks. I nod. Eke is Head nurse and Gloria is under her. That would mean more money. She turns to face me after tying her wrapper above her breasts. ‘What is wrong? What is the problem?’
     ‘Gloria…I don’t know how to tell you…I have bad news.’ She stares at me nervously. ‘Nkem. Chinedu is dead. He died this afternoon. He was knocked down by a truck as he was trying to maneuver his machine at Opi Junction. I’m sorry...’ She is staring into my eyes. I go closer. She’s standing so still I’m scared. Her eyes begin to cloud. They leave my face and stare outside through the blinds.
     ‘It’s not possible…I’ve told him…who told you?’ She doesn’t look at me.
     ‘Ngozi. She called in the afternoon.’
     ‘It’s not true.’ She says. ‘It can’t be true.’ She shakes her head from left to right, causing tear drops to fall. ‘Ben…’ Her lips are trembling as she stares at me. I put my arms around her and she continues to stare out the window. ‘No!’ She screams all of a sudden. ‘No! God! God please! Please, please. Please not Chinedu, biko. Biko, Chi’m. Biko.’ She shudders violently. Someone knocks.
     ‘Go away!’
Gloria starts hitting her head on my chest repeatedly. I put my hand on her head. ‘Nkem, please…’ Her sobs are becoming louder. ‘Nkem’
     ‘Noooo! Noooo!’ She’s screaming. I hear voices and I look out the window and see that our neighbours outside. There’s a loud knock on our room door.
     ‘Brother, what is it? ‘ Nneka asks fearfully. Gloria slumps suddenly and her full weight is upon me. I move back and throw open the door. There are some neighbours in my living room.
     ‘Water! BRING WATER!’