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Three Male Writers Selected for 2022 Ebedi International Writers Residency


The Ebedi International Writers Residency, Iseyin, has received three new male writers for the June residency program.

The three writers, Izunna Okafor, Isaiah Adepoju, and Hassan, arrived the Residency, in Iseyin, Oyo State early this week for a month-long residency stay, replacing the immediate-past fellows, who were all female.

Hosting the new writers to a reception party, alongside other stakeholders from the Iseyin community; the founder and patron of Ebedi International Writers Residency Hon. Dr. Wale Okediran explained that the Residency affords writers comfortable and calm environment to focus on their writing without distraction and also at no cost on the writers.

Hon. Okediran, a former House of Reps member and current Secretary-General of Pan-African Writers Association (PAWA), said while concentrating on their individual works the writers are expected to also interact with selected students of some secondary schools in Iseyin town for about four hours weekly, during which they can teach the students any form of creative arts or writing, as they so desire.

He also revealed that since its inception 12 years ago, the Ebedi Writers Residency has hosted over three hundred writers from different countries of the world.

Below are short biographies of the three new writers for the May 30 — June 30 2022 residency program:


Izunna Okafor

Izunna Okafor is a Nigerian novelist, poet, journalist, essayist, and Igbo language activist who hails from Ebenator in Nnewi South Local Government Area of Anambra State. He writes perfectly in Igbo and English languages, and has published widely in both languages, including some books — Ikem's Adventure, The Curse of a Widow, The Faithful Children, Ajọ Enyi, among others.

A Public Adminstration graduate of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka; Okafor's works have appeared in some print magazines, anthologies, journals, etc, both nationally and internationally; while he also has thousands of online published articles/essays, poems and short stories to his credit. He has also edited and co-edited over 25 books and anthologies (published nationally and internationally), as well as served as judge in some national and international literary contests.

Okafor has won and been nominated for some national and international awards which include: Nigerian Writers Award/Indigenous Writer of the Year 2015/2016; Pita Nwana Prize for Igbo Literature, 2015; Nigeria Heritage Icon Award/Young Writer of the Year, Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2016; Nigerian Writers Award/Young Writer of the Year 2015/2016; N.Y.S.C. Essay Competition, 2012; SLAM Hero Youth International Award/Innovative Youth of the Year 2016; First Prize Winner, NAPAS Essay Competition, 2016; The Future Award Africa, 2016; Anambra Exclusive Youth Choice Award/Youth Writer of the Year 2016; Award of Academic Excellence from National Association of Public Administration Students, 2016; Inspire Award/Outstanding Youth in Academics, 2017.

Others include: NAPAS Academic Icon of the Year, 2017; Anambra Campus Award/Campus Writer of the Year, 2017; Anambra Exclusive Youth Choice Award/Outstanding Youth of the Year, 2017; Starlett Entertainment Award/Creative Writer of the Year, 2016; Young Author Award, 2018; Creative Crew Africa/Young Talent of the Year, 2018; Campus Best Writer of the Year, 2018; Campus Best Journalist of the Year, 2018; Young Achievers Award/Best Young Writer of the Year 2019; National Light Newspaper Jounalist of the Year, 2019; Anambra Media Excellence Award/News Reporter of the Year, 2019; Anambra Through a Lens/Recognition Award, 2020; Amazon Publishing Masterclass Award/Most Resilient Male Student, 2021; Anambra Media Excellence Award/Best News Reporter of the Year, 2021; ACORA/Awka Diocese/Media Personality of the Week (November), 2021; among others.

He is a Fellow of the SprinNG Literary Movement/SprinNG Advancement Fellowship, 2020, and alumnus of some creative writing workshops, including the Naija Haiku Poetry Workshop, 2020, among others

In April, 2020, Okafor was appointed the Project Coordinator, Writers Against COVID-19 Movement. He also headed the editorial team of the first international anthology of poems and essays ever published on COVID-19 — Ripostes of Locked Down Voices. He also edited ‘The Malady and the Remedy’, an international essay anthology on human rights abuse in Africa.

A literary organizer, Okafor is the Coordinator of Society of Young Nigeria Writers (Anambra State Chapter), National Secretary of Society of Young Nigeria Writers, as well as the organizer of the Chinua Achebe Literary Festival (an annual international literary festival held in honour of Nigerian literary icon, Prof. Chinua Achebe). He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the Chinua Achebe Poetry/Essay Anthology.

Okafor said during his stay at the Ebedi Residency, he would be working on an Igbo novel and three others books, and would also be teaching the Ebedi students Igbo language, creative writing, poetry and others.


Isaiah Adepoju

Isaiah Adepoju, who hails from Osun State, studies Literature in English at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. He writes for Literature Voices Journal, Nigeria; reads for Adroit Journal, UK, and reads for the James Currey Prize for Literature, UK.

He has works in Aster Lit mag, Sterling Notes, Poetica Review, Institute of African Studies Journal Nsukka, and elsewhere. He's the recipient of the 2022 HIASFEST Star Prize, the 2021 Chima Ugokwe Prize for Essay, the 2021 Pengician Chapbook Prize for Poetry; and longlisted for the 2020 Africa Writers Award.

Isaiah said he'll be working on a fiction, and teaching the students poetry during his 4-week stay.


Hassan Muhammad:

Hassan Muhammad is a children’s author, short story writer, and poet. He has a degree in Estate Management from the Federal University of Technology, Minna where he co-founded the Arts Club. He was a two-term Secretary and Chairman of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Niger State chapter. An active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), he’s the recipient of multiple scholarships including Highlights Foundation, Authors Publish, SCBWI and GrubStreet. His children’s books are Biribiri Saves Us (2008) and The Empty Cage (2015) which was shortlisted for the ANA/Lantern Prize. 


His works have appeared in ANA Review, Kalahari Review, Authors Publish Magazine, The Writers and Readers’ Magazine, Weekly Trust Newspaper, New Nigerian Newspaper, and the anthologies: Pyramids, Fireflies, Shadows and Dance Steps at Dawn. Other credits include NYSC Merit Award, Northern Nigeria Writers’ Summit Merit Award, Corpers’ Welfare Association Billiri Merit Award, and shortlist for the ANA/Funtime Prize. 


He is an alumnus of British Council’s Writing Workshop, ANA/Atiku Abubakar National Workshop on Children’s Literature, The Writing Barn’s Poetry Class, among others. He enjoys reading picture books, chess, comedy, and combat sports for inspiration and leisure. He writes as NmaHassan Muhammad and resides in Minna.


He will be completing the revision of three children’s manuscripts which were workshopped recently during the GrubStreet’s Picture Book Revision course with Holly Thompson. He dedicates these stories and the residency to the memory of his son Abdullateef Hamood who died in a tragic fire accident on November 3, 2021.

To give back to the host community, he will be facilitating workshops on the craft and business of writing children’s books for the students in Iseyin community. In addition, he would love to form a chess club for the students in the community.



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Somtochukwu Ezeaniomenyi is the Chief Executive officer, CEO, Som-Tee Group, a multilateral cleaning company in Anambra state. He is a young and dynamic Nigerian entrepreneur currently making waves in industrial cleaning business. Born to Igbo parents of Neni extraction in Anambra state,  Somto, in this interview with LAWRENCE NWIMO x-rayed his experiences in the female dominated cleaning business and what triggered his passion to be an entrepreneur. He also spoke on the draw-backs hindering business and what government must do to help young entrepreneurs in the state and country. Excerpts:

 

May we meet you?

My name is Somtochukwu Ezeaniomenyi. I'm a native of Umuabani Village, Neni in Anaocha Local Government Area Anambra State. I am the Managing Director of Som-Tee Cleaning Services Ltd.

 

How was your childhood days and family experience?


My growing up was fun. Though I was not born with a silver spoon, it was not too tough because I am the sixth child out of seven and the second boy out of three so I had siblings that are older, though there were ups and down, you know. I didn't grow up in a first-class family and because of that, it was a tough fight, trying to make it through the primary, secondary and then tertiary institutions.

What was your childhood dream?

My childhood dream was to become an engineer but later switched my desire to becoming a lawyer.

Now, you are neither an engineer nor a lawyer, what happened to the both?

Well. Like I said, when I was growing up, actually, my first dream was to become an engineer because I loved constructing and repairing things. But that dream was shattered in my secondary school because I was bad in physics - so, I switched from Science to an Art class and my interest shifted from being and engineer to a lawyer because I felt I was very good in arguments. I never saw me becoming a professional cleaner or establishing a company for business, laughs.


What drove you into Professional Cleaning?

I started cleaning job immediately after my secondary education. Within the one year I stayed at home waiting for admission; I had a friend of my sister that was into industrial cleaning then. My sister linked me up to him and I was working for him as a laborer; that was in 2014 and I was being paid one thousand naira (N1,000) per day because I did more of the menial jobs. The nature of the job was tough for me at that time. Again, it needed strong hands but I devoted my time with him to learning the craft. I worked for him for ten days before he suddenly stopped calling me for works after he noticed that I was gradually learning the craft indirectly. As a result, each time I called my colleagues to know how far, they would say they went for work. Then when I ask my Oga, he would say ‘work no dey.’

What happened later?

In December 2014, a friend of mine whose uncle just finished building a house, convinced me to go and meet his uncle for the job. I had wanted to link the man to my boss because I was scared to take up the job myself. After much persuasion, I later took up the courage to do the job myself with the little knowledge I gathered while working with my former boss and the rest was history. That was the first contract I got in the cleaning industry and it happened to be the turning point of my life because from that day onwards, God made a way for me. As a matter of fact we have done over 600 cleaning Jobs and have worked for varieties of companies and individuals over the years.

Have you encountered any challenge along the line?

There were many challenges. One of our major challenges was Finance. There was no machine which made the work so hard for me and my Team. We were doing most of the jobs manually. it was so hard purchasing working equipments because I always rely on a job to purchase the materials needed. However, I don’t have a vehicle so I made use of the commercials; it was so hard to transport our working equipments to some locations. Due to some bad road networks in the state, some of our client’s locations are difficult to access. Again, most people in Anambra especially Onitsha where I started perceived cleaning as an ordinary work that can be done by anybody, this has resulted to many rejections from contractors and house owners, but so far we are trying to change the narrative. Also, after I gained admission to study at Federal College Of Education (Technical), Umunze in 2015, I was in constant battle, trying to combine work with Education. You know, my Education usually take all of January to September so, I usually face the heat period of ember months as cover-up for lost times.

Did you envisage continuing the work after school?

No. I wasn't serious with the job in any way because I didn’t see myself continuing with it after school. It was more of part time or casual work.

Were there other things you did to survive in school within the January to September months?

Yes. I could remember I sold face caps and shirts around 2016/17. That aside, I was into interior decorations. I decorate people's house; paintings and the rest. I was also doing some menial labours like job man, site work and even served masons. In 2018, I learnt how to do Sharwama and also ventured into doing that too. I did Hypeman job in clubs too. I was doing anything legal called work and I did all these to survive.

Why did you decide to go into cleaning having been exposed to these numerous jobs?

Well, when I finished my NCE program in 2018, I asked myself: what next? Because I realized I needed something to sustain myself. The works I do then had all been part time and among them all, it was cleaning that gives me the profit to believe in. I found out it is something I do with passion. Cleaning work doesn't come always but when it comes, I take it with love. So, after graduation, I continued with it and was only keen to develop it. At a point, I started surfing the web on industrial cleaning and noticed that it is one of the biggest industries in the world. I noticed it was not too conversant in Anambra state then, I decided to carve a niche for myself in the area.

At what point did you decide to have a Som-Tee as a brand?

In 2020 during the lockdown season, the vision was to build a standard company and not just a one man company in cleaning industry. That’s why I’m building it as a company; a brand in the industry that would be running even in my absence. I did not want the legacies I had set over the years to just die off. So, I had to set it up to a standard with vision of where we are going to.
 

Cleaning is a female-dominated field. How does it feel competing with women?

It has not been an easy task. In fact, you can count the number of men in this industry. Sometimes, you find out that site owners have sisters and female friends that do the cleanings for them. However, what has kept me going is excellence. Because it is usually my clients that recommend me to other clients and it is due to our job quality. Over the years, I have found refuge in recommendations. Most of the big jobs we have done so far were gotten from recommendations and referrals and it is due to the excellence in my work.
 

Are there times you felt like leaving the industry considering its competitiveness?

Of course! There were times I wanted to give up on the industry. It is very competitive and demanding. People outside might not really know these but it is we that are into it that know the level of competition here. You can see people that just started cleaning business yesterday and today, they have all the machines available and you’re still struggling. So sometimes, especially at the initial stage, when the needed finance was not there to acquire certain machines, I felt like dropping back.

Why do you refer your company as a conglomerate?

Som-Tee Group is a conglomerate because we are designed to deal in Everything Cleaning. Som-Tee specializes in all kinds of cleaning ranging from:

1. Domestic/Residential Cleaning which includes Regular Cleaning, Deep Cleaning, Janitorial Cleaning, Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning, Polishing of Tiles and Bricks.

2. Industrial/Commercial Cleaning which includes Post-Construction/Renovation Cleaning, Facility Management/Maintenance, Retainership Services, Training/Mentorship and General Consulting/Contracting.

3. Environmental Cleaning which includes Waste Management and Disposal, Estate/Street Cleaning, Drainage and Sewage cleaning, etc

4. We also have plans of Venturing into Production of Cleaning Substance and also Sales of Cleaning Equipments and Materials. Laundry Hubs, Car Wash are also in the pipeline.

So Som-Tee Group is a Specialized Conglomerate of Everything Cleaning, We are building a company that would be a sort out company when it comes to Cleaning.

What stands your brand out from others?

We offer credibility and excellence. Like I told you before, what has kept us so far over the years is excellence. Our staff works with passion because they see the passion in me. I didn't start cleaning because of the money I was making but the passion I have for it. So, excellence is the watchword and any house we are called to clean, we clean it like our life depends on it.

You established the company even before you graduated from the university, what was the secret behind the feat?

It was Grace from God. I wouldn't have been here as a fresh graduate and an owner of such a brand without His Grace. It was not an easy journey physically but it was His Grace that kept me going. I finished my NCE in 2018, and by 2019, God made this company even grew bigger. In the process of my Degree Education, being able to combine it was a very rough and risky journey but His Grace was there to see me through.

Would you consider going into other sectors if given the opportunity?

Well. Like I said earlier, Som-Tee Group is a conglomerate. We are working towards branching into so many things. We are working towards production of different cleaning materials, sales of cleaning equipments; importation of different kinds of machines for cleaning, procurement services and lots more. Our vision is to build a standout company that can handle anything cleaningIf any opportunity comes aside these; I can grab it as well.

So far, could you name your biggest achievement(s)?

My biggest achievement, so far, is being able to run this company for the past seven years.Som- Tee at seven, many things happened. Building this business up to this level and handling over five hundred jobs alongside going through school and acquiring Two Certificates in Education. That has been the biggest achievement of my life so far.

How many jobs have you been able to create through your conglomerate?

My company has been able to create no fewer than 50 jobs for youths in Anambra state. Both Fulltime and part time.

Where do you see your brand in the next five years?

We should be among the top class cleaning conglomerates in Nigeria because we would be all round in the cleaning industry including environmental, commercial, residential and domestic cleaning. We would also be all round in supplies of cleaning machines and products. So, in the next five years, expect Som-Tee Group to operate beyond the shores of Nigeria by the grace of God.

How well do you think Anambra government has done in creating business opportunities and what is interesting about Anambra man?

Anambra state has done well in all ramifications, such as natural resources, oil and gas, urbanization and structural planning, culture and tourism, religion, education, entertainment, business and politics. Anambra state has improved drastically in all of these sectors over the years. Anambra State has list of notable men and women both old and young in all sectors both in within and outside Nigeria. The people of Anambra are known for being Industrious, hard working and Smart. Despite some challenges they face when it comes to governmental structures and policies, People of Anambra are known for their resilience. They have shown great courage in striving to survive no matter the Economic Situation in the Country. Being Onye Anambra is something one should be very proud of. The people of Anambra are known for their resourcefulness and they are associated with Success and progress Regardless of the conditions surrounding their environment. I am proud of being Onye Anambra.

What triggered your passion to be an entrepreneur and how viable is doing business in Anambra?

To many youths in Nigeria, becoming an entrepreneur might seem like a scary and high risk taking journey, but to me, this unpredictable adventure seems like the perfect path that my life should take. There are many reasons that triggered my passion to be an entrepreneur. I have always admired great and Successful entrepreneurs. Seeing successful people inspire me a lot to become successful. This gives me the hope and makes me believe that becoming an entrepreneur will allow me to network with people who have already built great businesses. I believe that I have enough potential to find the next profitable idea and change the lives of millions of people.

Being an entrepreneur gives me the freedom to explore my creativity. There is a saying that goes thus “Different Strokes for Different Folks”. People have different callings in Life. Being a 9-5er doesn't feed my burning passion for creativity and innovation. I feel like I am simply doing what the society expects of me instead of making a difference in the world. It is through starting my own business that I get to freely express my creative ideas and fulfill my dreams. I became an entrepreneur because I see it as a mandatory journey to take. A strong fire in my heart makes me believe that I have a strong purpose in the world that surpasses the reality of being an employee. As an entrepreneur, I am driven with the need to succeed and control my own destiny. Owning a business gives me no limitations on the profit and opportunities that I can gain.

I look out to manage projects with high stakes because I have enough confidence to execute them. I love the act of betting on an idea and watching it develops, it makes me smile. I have always wanted to use my company to impact people’s lives and also improve the economy with new job opportunities. I am passionate about helping people more than the pursuit of material things, I derive priceless joy when I offer my service to people and see the happiness and joy it creates in them. That is even more than any reward I can get from a Job.

How viable is doing business in Anambra?

Anambra State is one of the fastest growing states in the country. Like many other states in the country, Anambra state is faced with its own unique challenges. However, due to its fast growing economy, doing business in Anambra is rewarding and Profitable. Doing business in Anambra is very promising and I believe that with persistence, perseverance and Consistency which entrepreneurship requires, I will definitely succeed in an economic driven state like Anambra.

Being someone that started from the scratch, would you say government is fair to the youths?

Well. I would say government has been fair to some extent but there are still rooms for improvement. Government still needs to empower the youths because if they are empowered, they would do more. We have lots of youths doing many things. We have youths with visions. If they are empowered with loans and grants, in the next few years, there would be powerful indigenous companies in Anambra state. Again, when youths are empowered, it would reduce the burden of employment on the government.

Aside loans and grants, do you think there are other things youths need to be successful entrepreneurs?

Yes. Youths need to plan. A youth will succeed when he plans himself very well. You must have a mapped out business plan consisting target audience and areas. When you plan yourself very well, work towards it. Have team members on the edge working and doing their specific duties from their own angles. Though there might be setbacks along the way but if you do your risk management very well, you would be able to cope. But you must plan first.


You are a man of diverse skills, you hold TRCN, NCE and B.Ed certificates, and do you see yourself becoming a teacher someday?

Well. I don't know what God has in stock for me but I always hope for the best. I wouldn't say I will not accept it if the opportunity to lecture or teach comes but it would all depends on the condition attached to it. I acquired the certificate quite alright and so if I am meant to practice it, it’s on God.


Would you consider using the skills you acquired as a teacher in training youths on industrial cleaning?

Sorry I didn't mention it earlier. Part of the conglomerate is Som-Tee Training Academy, where all our newly recruited staff is given sound training. Soon we would be organizing seminars to teach people who are ready to learn the craft so as to establish their own company in the future.


Are you single?

Yea! I'm still single.


How do you cope with female admirers?

It is a big challenge anyway but God remains God. I have been in series of relationship in the past but now I'm working on myself and my future. I want to develop myself before thinking anything about relationship again.

Do you have role model(s)?

Yea! My number one role model is Dr. Stanley Uzochukwu, the CEO of Stanel Group. He is my Boss, Father, Mentor and my overall Chairman. Ever since I met him, my vision has widened. I also have the likes of Arc. Chukky Ezenwa, CEO GSS Group, Tony Elumelu,CEO Heir Holdings, Dr Cosmas Maduka, CEO Coscharis Group, and lots more. They are the people I look up to and wish to become like someday.


What is your advice to the youths who may want to toe your path?

In as much as they go to formal schools, every youth should learn a skill no matter how small it is. Having a skill is more or less a second plan. There are skills in writing, producing and even in the tech world. There are many skills that can be acquired in the tech world. It is good to learn and practice a skill. We should also have a vision of growing the skill to make something out of it and above all, always pray to God.

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By Uchem Obi, Awka

The trending news that a faceless and unknown group calling itself, Concerned Lawyers In Anambra State, has threatened to report Honourable Justice Nwabunike to the Nigeria Judicial Council, NJC, for hearing a motion ex parte, is a poorly scripted comedy acted by charlatans, who are merely out to exploit the ignorance of desperate and frustrated politicians to make quick money.

Even a fresh law graduate knows, that in civil procedures, ex parte is used to refer to motions for orders that can be granted without waiting for response from the other party. These orders are only in place until further hearings can be held, such as in present matter, a temporary restraining order. It does not stop the other party from challenging the order in court or continuing a substantive matter, and it does not amount to a judgement. In the absence of mischief, no ethical legal practitioner would in the present circumstances question the hearing of a motion ex parte.

Ex parte proceedings are permitted in law when a party needs urgent relief that cannot wait until the other party is informed and given opportunity to respond.

In the instant case, a candidate's right to enjoy the benefits of a fairly won primary election was in danger of absolute infringement, if urgent legal reliefs were not granted. In simple language, Senator Ugochukwu Uba's hard won victory at the PDP's primary election on June 26, 2021 was in danger of being torpedoed  by premeditated efforts that were both illegal and unlawful, championed by unscrupulous individuals.

Given the urgency required to stop the illegal and unlawful attempts to sabotage the Senator's victory, the option of ex parte motion was the most germane legal step to follow.

Moreover,the right to hear an ex parte application is entirely at the discretion of the judge, who is trusted by law to make wise decisions.

How come that this exercise of lawful discretion has come under attack. Are these truly lawyers, "contractors" or outright renegades?

Their threat of dragging the Honourable Judge before the NJC is laughable, infantile and dubious. Sound lawyers do not exhibit such embarrassing ignorance of elementary legal procedure. Their empty threat is more like the Shakespearean tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury but signifying nothing.

Uchem Obi, a lawyer, writes from Awka

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Book Title: Verdict of the Gods

Playwright: Iwu Jeff

Publisher: Transconventional Publishers

Date Published: July, 2020

ISBN: 978-978-979-443-0

Number of Pages: 84

Reviewer: Nwokeabia, Ifeanyi John.



When gods choose not to let the rain drop, the effort of a rain maker is in vain. The birds of the air always feel betrayed and confused when a thunderous fart is released in the air by an unknown spirit. The land, water and the entire space of Achara which has experienced in the past, peace and transquility, turns into a mourning zone. Night visited Achara community in a broad daylight.Iwu Jeff's play, Verdict of the Gods is an epic tragedy. It exposes a land in turmoil. But the big question is: can sins of fathers be visited on their children?

Sleep has become a stranger to the eyes of the citizens of Achara. Eze Obioha, the traditional ruler of the community is disturbed;  his emotions restless. An elder cannot fold his arms and watch a goat suffer in parturition. He seeks measures to dispel the spell wreaking havoc in his land as a leader who has the well being of the people at heart, and consequently, his family suffers the same endemic,. He's traumatised and unrelentingly quests for answers and solutions to the plight of his people.

In page 9 of the play: 

EZE OBIOHA : My daughters are down, they can no longer speak...we have followed every smell our nose can perceive, yet we have not seen any rotten thing. Where is the smell of evil coming from? Oh! My ancestors, please give us another eye, another nose, another ear and mouth. The ones we are wearing have no use ... Our gods are silent my people. I am not spared from this calamity. The spell is everywhere...

Eze Obioha being a leader who feels the pain of his people, he continually summons his cabinet members to put heads together to find lasting solutions to their problems. The cry of his people has become a thorn on his fresh and he sometimes laments to the gods questioning them on the ways his community or himself has wronged them.

In pag 77, he has this to say:

EZE OBIOHA: ...my son died two nights ago; before he died, an extra hand came out through his chest. My daughter was suddenly struck with imbecility... Who did my fathers offend?

Countless questions are asked and ountless visitations, made to the shrine of different Dibias but all efforts prove abortive. The gods remain remain 'mute' and 'tongue-tied', refusing to draw humans to the closer view of their boiling angers. Drought and famine become two beautiful maid married without a bride price, gummed like bedbugs to their land and refusing to leave. Death toll keeps multiplying on daily basis. The living prefers death as solutions are not in sight. Who will save the dying land?

Amidst the seriousness of the play, Iwu introduces two characters: Ezemma and Nwokeocha, who are members of the cabinet to ease the tension arouse by the unfolding events. These two revered men help to crack the ribs of the readers with comic banter.

In page 20;

EZEMMA: what am I saying? Wisdom! Wisdom! Igwe, I am full of...[Nwokeocha intrudes]

NWOKEOCHA [scornfully] Madman!

EZEMMA: will you shut up and listen to...

NWOKEOCHA: What wisdom can one possibly get from a lunatic? I do not blame you; a child that suckled a goat's milk will definitely act like a goat even in his old age. You need to return to your mother in her grave so you can have a taste of her breast milk.

EZEMMA: [Rises and faces Nwokeocha] How dare you call my dead mother into this? I see, you have really want to show me that you have grown enough hairs around your manhood.

ELDERS: Chai! [Elders exclaim, laughing and turning left and right] Enough!

NWOKEOCHA: [Stands up, pointing a finger at Ezemma] And you whose hairs are now overgrown into a forest, you need to be weeded...

This play is both revelational and revolutional. On the former, Iwu reveals that there's more to scapegotism as a concept. Some great African writers Wole Soyinka, Femi Osofisan and a host of others in their various plays, but Verdict of the Gods introduces a new scapegotism. However, on the latter, it demolishes the stereotype created  in most African writings, where the  God of the new religion is often given ultimate power of purifying African lands of its mess. In Verdict of the Gods, it is different as the  African gods reign supreme in sanctifying their people and their lands of sins.

The masterful ink of the playwright is laudable in his ability to select suitable words for his characters. The social standing of his characters are discernable through the quality of their language. Every scene in this play is opened with a beautiful African proverb dancing into your eyes and the use of African proverbs by the characters show the rich culture of Achara community.

The cover design of the play has great significance in the over development and arrangement of the play. Its from cover has the head of three gods joined together in a threesome unity. However, the play is not arranged in Acts and Scenes but it's divided into three - Beginning, Middle and End. The use of three gods has Biblical allusion of God the Father, Son and HolySpirit. That's, the Trinity in one God. In this play, one discovers that these Gods are one and their verdict is equally one. Despite the deviation from play's convention of Acts and Scenes, the play maintains the three unity of place, time and event which solidifies its beauty as a play. Although some might raise alarm on his use of uppercase in 'Gods' but I don't think he has committed as grammatical blunder on that. I think, it's a question of choice.


The Playwright 

Iwu Jeff ( Iwuchukwu Jephta) is an award-winning writer who has written in the three genres of literature - poetry, drama and prose. His works have gained homes in different Anthologies and online publication.

From the beginning, through the middle and to the end, the play is suspensely decorated and readers won't have any reason to drop it for a moment until one gets to the very end. Are you ready to discover the verdict of the gods for Achara people? Are you equally ready to discover how a wounded lion got its healing balm? Grab your own copy of Verdict of the Gods.

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By Izunna Okafor



It was Haruki Murakami who once said that death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it —an aphorism buttressed strongly by George Eliot's apothegm that "Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them."


It is on these long-standing witty sayings that the Nigerian literary community received the her first shocking news of 2020, that foremost Nigerian novelist, who was also the Traditional Ruler of Ndikelionwu Kingdom in Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra, Eze Prof. Chukwuemeka Ike has gone asleep.


The news which ushered in the dawn of the second Thursday of the year was hitherto faulted and scored a grapevine, to the credit of two points —the source from which it came, and the terminology with which it was broken. 


By way of reaction to the news, it was rightly argued that, in Igbo land, Traditional Rulers do not die. In other words, in Igbo land, it is wrong for one to say that a Traditional Ruler is dead; instead, one could say that the king has joined his ancestors, is sleeping, is resting, or has fallen asleep.


Secondly, no one is authorised to disclose such information (that the king is sleeping) except the affected community's cabinets or Council of Elders, in agreement with the members of the royal family or the ruling dynasty, as the case may be. 

Although, people, especially the closest relatives or community members may be aware that the king has fallen asleep, they won't dare disclose it or tattle over it, pending an authorised disclosure by the right source.


Little wonder why, when interviewed on the hideous development, a stakeholder from the Ndikelionwu Community, Prince Emma Okoli-Ijeoma said, “'As far as I am concerned as a member of the ruling house in this Ndikelionwu Ancient Kingdom, I am saying that Prof. Chukwuemeka Ike Eze Ndikelionwu, the 11th of Ndikelionwu is not yet dead!

In our tradition, nobody opens his mouth to tell outsiders that the Traditional Ruler is dead. You don’t say it because according to the customary law of Anambra state, king doesn’t die!


"If at all there is anything of that nature, one would say the king has joined his ancestors. It is not the duty of anybody to tell outsiders that the king is dead. It is after the royal family has met and agreed before such thing would be announced. Not just a rifraf would come and say what he doesn’t know!


"So I am saying that as far as the royal family is concerned, we have not announced anything to the public, that is, if something really happened."


Also, in most cases, the Elder In Council may not even announce the news, except a replacement or heir is found, especially in a situation where the crown is rotational.


These formed the basis upon which the news of Prof. Chukwuemeka Ike joining his ancestors was held in the air on arrival.


Be it as it may, succeeding sunset and sunrise have unmasked and unearthed the rock.


As Nze Prof. Chukwuemeka Ike rests on in his ancestral home and palace, Ndikelionwu, literary enthusiasts, fans and some other stakeholders in the country have continued to register their feelings and pour their tributes to the legend.


Breaking the news, the Anambra State's Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr.  C-Don Adinuba said, "Goodnight, Prof Chukwuemeka Ike. We all drank from the fountain of The Bottled Leopard as students to assuage our curiousity for mystery. We were stunned by the shenanigans of Expo ’77 and thrilled, to no end, by Sunset at Dawn.


“As you join your ancestors, let’s pray you never stumble from The Chicken Chasers or undone by Conspiracy of Silence. Adieu, a great man of letters, a king who wore humility like a robe.”


On his own part, the Executive Governor of Anambra, H.E Chief Willie Obiano said, "I am saddened by the death of HRM Eze Chukwuemeka Ike. He was always a regal presence around us here, bringing his wealth of experience to bear on the deliberations of the Traditional Rulers Council. We shall sorely miss him. But we shall also find strength and consolation in his exemplary life and the legacies he left for mankind through his literary works and stellar contributions to the traditional institution in Anambra State.”


Former PDP Presidential Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar said, “I mourn one of Nigeria’s prolific novelists and traditional ruler of Ndikelionwu in Anambra State, H.R.H. (Prof.) Chukwuemeka Ike.


“He will be remembered for his classics: "Toads for Supper" and "Sunset at Dawn" among others. May he rest in peace."



In similar tones, other literary enthusiasts and concerned Nigerians have also bared their minds thematically on the development, ruefully registering their reactions to the news and their tributes for the legend, as collated below:


Denja Abdullahi, immediate past President of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) says:


"Prof. Ike's death was sad all the same but it was not a shock because he was an old man. He was a contemporary of all other first generation of Nigerian writers and his death was like the end of an era. We could say that the last of the titans has gone home.  


Tributarily, Abdullahi said, "Prof. Chukwuemeka Ike was a productive writer of several novels with interesting stories and catchy titles. You could locate his works between the popular and literary fiction genre. He was a very good satirist of the human condition.I feel that he was not celebrated enough like some other people feel. It may be because of his self-effacing nature and unwillingness to indulge in needless literary and critical controversies.


"He has gone beyond just being a writer to contribute to the development of the Nigerian Book Industry through his Nigerian Book Foundation. He was always there anywhere you invite him to if it had to do with writing,writers and the books. 


"Prof Chukwuemeka Ike will live eternally in the minds of all of us through his evergreen stories of the foibles of man."



Mr. Oseloka Henry Obaze, a published author, poet and literary enthusiast says:


"The passing of HRM Prof. Chukwuemeka Ike, Eze Ndikelionwu is numbing.   He was an exceptional, gifted, resolute and most unassuming person.  I was privileged to be considered his friend and welcomed freely into his palace. He was chair of my book presentation in 2018. 


His tribute: "Eze Chukwuemeka Ike lived life fully and made enduring contributions to our educational system, literature, cultureand traditional institution. He motived many writers, even those who never met him personally. 


"He has immortalized his name and his footprints will linger for years to come.  May God grant him eternal rest and his dear wife HRM Bimpe Ike, the fortitude to bear the loss."



Okeke Chika Jerry, an author, publisher and literary arts promoter says:


"I was in deed shocked when I heard the sad news over the radio. I wished he stayed a bit longer so that this generation of ours will have tapped a lot more from his wealth of wisdom. 


"But I believe Professor Ike is not totally dead and he will never die completely because all his works are still breathing all over the world. "Rest in peace Papa ndi authors."



Odili Ujubuońu, award-winning author and literary enthusiast says: 


"This is a huge loss. Chukwuemeka Ike was a great inspiration to a lot of writers who came after him. The choice of subject matters he treated in his novels spoke a lot about the kind of man he was and the whole essence of his writing.


"He was never complex in his style and or his plot and that led us easily into the wonderful worlds he created. These worlds would live forever with us. Through them, we would keep remembering him. May his gentle and kind soul find eternal peace."


Reginald Chiedu Ofodile, author and international award-winning actor says:


"I received news of his demise with sighs. I'm told Professor Ike is asleep, which is a correct phrase to apply to a traditional ruler. His subsiding into sleep did not shock me. He lost his only child three years ago. It must have been a massive blow, and he was also in his late 80s."


Tribute: "Eze Ike was an engaging, fluent and satirical writer. He created fascinating characters and witty, wicked situations. I remember 'Sweetie' in TOADS FOR SUPPER, 'Peace Bozo' in THE CHICKEN CHASERS, 'Mrs Ikin' and 'Dr Okoro' in THE NAKED GODS... and many others.  I recall his books appeared under the FONTANA imprint, not the AFRICAN WRITERS' SERIES."



Prof. Sam Uzochukwu, Igbo Poet and Novelist says:


"Prof Ike's death is indeed a loss to the nation, particularly to the literary class.Though he lived to old age, death, particularly of an icon always evokes shock to the living; so I feel shocked by his death as his other admirers .


"Prof. Ike was among the respected writers, in the same class as Chinua Achebe, for which Umuahia Govt college was renowned. He produced novels that dealt with topical issues of his time. 


"Above all, Prof. Ike was a man imbued with tenacity of purpose. He never wavered on any issue he was convinced about. This quality of his was manifested when I worked with him, a few years ago, on an Igbo project for which we were appointed by the Anambra State Govt.

May the Lord grant him eternal rest, amen."





Untill he slept off, Eze Prof. Chukwuemeka Ike (born on April 23, 1931) was award-winning and pioneer Nigerian writer, known for a mixture of lampoon, humor and satire, a writing style believed to be tied to his Igbo cultural upbringing.


He attended the Government College, Umuahia, where he started writing for the school magazine, The Umuahian, which published his first ever written story —‘A Dreamland,’ a work which set his foot on the literary space.

Some eminent Nigerian writers who attended the school include Chinua Achebe, Christopher Okigbo, and Ken Saro Wiwa, among others.


A graduate of the University College, Ibadan, Prof. Ike made a plethora of impacts and left great legacies in the literary and academic fields, and was conferred the Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM) Award which is Nigeria's highest and most prestigious national prize for academic and intellectual attainment, making him the second Novelist to receive the award since its inauguration in 1979, the first being Prof. Chinua Achebe.


Prof. Ike's works include Toads for Supper (1965), The Naked God’s (1970), The Potter’s Wheel (1973), Sunset and Dawn (1976), Expo ’77 (1980), The Bottled Leopard (1985), Our Children are Coming (1990); Conspiracy of Silence  (2001), among other publications.


Away from the literary flank, Prof. Ike served as an academic in different roles such as a lecturer at the University of Ibadan, registrar at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), and visiting professor at the University of Jos.


He was also the President of the Nigerian Book Foundation, as well as the first Nigerian to be the registrar of the West Africa Examination Council (WAEC).


Ike slept at 88.


As Prof. Chukwuemeka Ike peacefully joined his ancestors, Nigerian literary community, fans, and the world at large heartily bid him farewell and wish him eternal repose in the world of immorality.

Goodnight great man.





About the Author:


Izunna Okafor is an award-winning Nigerian Novelist, Poet, Journalist, Essayist, Editor, Translator, Publicist, Igbo Language Activist and Administrator who hails from Ebenator in Nnewi South L.G.A of Anambra State Nigeria. He writes perfectly in English and Igbo languages, and has published several books in both languages.

Izunna has received over 25 awards, and has over 2000 articles published online, both nationally and internationally. 

He can be reached via: izunnaokafor70@mail.com


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Local police were unable to help due to a lack of evidence that a crime had taken place, so she approached the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (FTU).

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"I feel disappointed and cannot believe it's even happening in modern Hong Kong."

She remains married for now and may have to apply for a divorce. It is unclear who the man she married is, or if he entered Hong Kong after the marriage.

"The 21 year-old lady was taken advantage of while she knew nothing about the circumstances," said Mr Tong.

"Her biggest loss is to have a marriage record and it has caused her psychological damage."

Each year, Hong Kong police see an average of 1000 cross-border marriage scam cases.

Chinese residents who are married to a Hong Kong partner are able to apply to reside in the city.

BBC

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Chinua Achebe, who died in Boston today at the age of eighty-two, was a few weeks shy of thirty years old when Nigeria was granted independence from the British Empire, on October 1, 1960, and he was already acclaimed, worldwide, as the preëminent novelist of black Africa. The British publisher Heinemann had brought out Achebe's first novel, Things Fall Apart, only two years earlier, and it had to have been the first African novel that many of his admirers on the continent and off had read. The sure tragedian's authority with which Achebe tells the story of Okonkwo, an Igbo elder of immense strength and pride, a figure of heroic qualities within the traditions of his culture, who is ill-served, brought low, and undone by those same qualities in his first violent encounters with colonial power, has ensured that still today, with more than ten million copies sold, Things Fall Apart remains the best-known work of African literature.
The great African novel? The book could as truly be called a great novel, period. Many writers would prefer to carry that badge of universality, but Achebe who has gone to his grave without ever receiving the Nobel Prize he deserved as much as any novelist of his era has said that to be called simply a writer, rather than an African writer, is a statement of defeat. Why? Because his project has always been to resist emphatically the notion that African identity must be erased as a prerequisite to being called civilized. Growing up as what he called a British-protected child in the colonial order, the young writer came to see that the Empire's claim that Africans had no history was a violent, if at times ignorant or unconscious, counter-factual effort to annihilate the history of his continent's peoples.
Achebe made his case in many forms essays and lectures, interviews and acts of protest, and as an ideologue and propagandist for the failed Igbo-nationalist secessionist state of Biafra but he made it most cogently on the final page of Things Fall Apart. With the reader in the full emotional grip of the many dimensions of Okonkwo's epic fate, the author boldly and deftly adds another, shifting to the perspective of a colonial governor who considers Okonkwo's story good material perhaps not a whole chapter but a reasonable paragraph for the book he is planning to write:  The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger.
Having, with his first effort, created a permanent place for the African novel in the world literary canon, Achebe continued to be a prolific imaginative writer, producing novels and stories that evoked, in a range of voices, the trials of Nigeria's pre-colonial and colonial history, and the traumas of its post-independence ordeals: from No Longer at Ease and A Man of the People in the sixties to Girls at War and Anthills of the Savannah in the aftermath of the Biafran war. But the fact that he must be remembered as not only the father but the godfather of modern African literature owes at least as much to the decades he spent as the editor of Heinemann's African Writers Series. In that capacity, Achebe served as the discoverer, mentor, patron, and presenter-to-the-world of so many of the now-classic African authors of the latter half of the twentieth century. The series's orange-spined, generously inexpensive paperbacks carried a stamp of excellence that drew readers everywhere to essential works by writers as varied as Kenneth Kaunda, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Dennis Brutus, Tayeb Salih, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Ousmane Sembène, Wole Soyinka, and Nadine Gordimer, to name but a few: it is an extraordinary legacy.
As a storyteller, as a voice of his nation, as a cultural impresario, an intellectual combatant and provocateur, Achebe gained with age the status in Nigeria of a bard and a sage that the modern world rarely affords to writers. After suffering terrible injuries in a car crash, he spent much of his time in the last decades of his life in America, where he settled into long-term professorships at Bard College and Brown University. But when he returned to Nigeria he was received as a national hero. Crowds of thousands sometimes tens of thousands gathered to pay tribute to him. The adoration hardly softened him, though. He was, in his old age, as much a scold to his compatriots as he had ever been in his youth.
I met Achebe a few times in his wheelchair-bound American years. When he gave you his hand it was at once firm and soft and notably warm. He had a gentle presence a man fully capable of wit and mischief and open laughter, but whose default expression, at ease, was one of sympathetic melancholy. His voice was another matter: low-pitched and rich and adamant. When he spoke, it was with great command and unmistakable music. In Boston, in 1999, at a celebration of the centennial of Ernest Hemingway s birth, I had the honor of sitting on a panel with Achebe, on the subject of writing about Africa. He was as cogently withering about Hemingway's Africa a place he could not recognize because there were no speaking Africans there as he was, in one of his most famous essays, about Joseph Conrad s. At the end of the session, the floor was opened to questions. An evidently confused woman in the audience took the opportunity to ask In what sense are you writers about Africa? The other panelists Nadine Gordimer and Kwame Anthony Appiah were too baffled to respond. Not Achebe. He leaned into his microphone, and very slowly and melodically, with rolling Rs and drawn out Os, roared: Read. Our. Books. The woman said, But I'm asking you. And Achebe said, I'm telling you: Read. Our. Books. 
What better epitaph for the man, and what better way to remember him today: read his books.
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