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A signboard outside a restaurant said:

"Eat as much as you can and let your grandchildren pay the bill".

A man entered the restaurant, ate as much as he can and when the waiter gave the bill he pointed to the signboard, "Don't you see, only my grandchild needs to pay for this bill".

The waiter said, "Sir, this is not your bill. This is your grandfather's bill".
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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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A job scam was used to trick this woman into marrying a total stranger. Sounds funny buy she signed a marriage document thinking she was role playing and proving she could work as a wedding planner.

The woman has said she was told that she had to play the role of a bride in a simulated wedding as part of her training to be a wedding planner.

During the ceremony she and the man signed a genuine marriage document.

She only realised she was actually married after returning to Hong Kong, where she sought legal help.

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).

"It's a new form of marriage scam," Tong Kamgyiu, director of the Rights and Benefits Committee of FTU, told the BBC.

"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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