Soft petals of music
Their lilting tune mesmerise me
Sweet chirps of the Nightingale’s song
Accompanies and rises
Above the orchestra’s symphony
What a gift, what a joy
What a trembling of hearts, and bows
Sing me a lullaby; caress me to sleep
O sweet Nightingale
Flitter and float
Above life’s wailing notes
Send me to sleep on cottony down
Wrapped in your tender serenade
*This is one of five posts on the Caine Prize for African Writing 2013 Shortlist. A group as organised by Aaron Bady will be blogging about the entries (one per week) for the next five weeks until the prize is announced on the 8th of July. Please see the links below for details and a schedule.
My Thoughts on ‘Miracle’ by Tope Folarin
By Veronica Nkwocha
‘Miracle’ (read here) begins with an all too familiar tale in the diaspora, a people uprooted and fragmented leaning close together huddling with the familiar. The thread that binds them in this story is religion and its ‘familiar’ rituals of service. The particular service presents an extreme focus on a man at the apex and a shivering pool of the faithful expectant of the heady feelings that herald a shared knowing as to their wholesomeness.
A most fascinating attribute about the story lies in the things it doesn’t say. ‘Miracle’ presents the congregants as almost child-like. Like a group of uniform wearing kids sitting up straight jacketed in class afraid of breaking any of the many rules, whether written or unspoken. The service is orgasmic but even when they dance happily and ecstatic, they do so in tandem with the dictates of an unseen conductor.
It is a church service and the supernatural typically trumps the physical, a spring where the faithful can draw strength to face the tough world outside. (Edit) It’s everyone doing the same thing lost in an ‘other-worldliness’ that creates an unsettling feeling, is that how its adherents are really perceived from the outside looking in?
Here wishes and desires take a front seat before reality; hope is worn leaving the dress of truth behind. The eyes of the boy were not healed but the glasses were cast aside. Is that faith? Will he see with perfect clarity? As the (more…)
The creative well from whence Ihotu was drawn must have been filled with charm and beauty. Those two words define the collection which is feminine and unapologetically pretty. Their clear lines and movement speak of comfort, a testament to the expert finish and use of fabrics; Lace, Ankara and Accessories used in carefully tempered ways so as not to overwhelm the concept. The different pieces come together as part of a collection, yet stand on their own, bold, confident and sure.
Ihotu means love. A deeper meaning reads ‘purity of the heart’. Ihotu shines in a lovely non-fussy way; the love the designer Josephine Akioyamen poured into it is clearly evident.
*This is one of five posts on the Caine Prize for African Writing 2013 Shortlist. A group as organised by Aaron Badywill be blogging about the entries (one per week) for the next five weeks until the prize is announced on the 8th of July. Please see the links below for details and a schedule.
My Thoughts on Bayan Layi (A Short Story by Elnathan John)
By Veronica Nkwocha
‘Bayan Layi‘ boils down the effects of socio-political problems of a certain kind of abandonment, distills it and presents it to us as Dantala and his friends. Nature abhors a vacuum and we are cast into a tale of the repercussions. And one wonders how this  ‘travesty’ became a reflection of us as a people, tied as we are to the author’s vivid description. It sets the tone where one feels a revulsion but can’t quite look away.
There is the niggling sensation as one reads this story; is it our failings as nurturers that spawn the ones who view killing as no more than a fly to be swatted? Empty spaces filled up with perverse watering holes feeding the plains where teenagers can strut their stuff boldly. Enabled by puppeteers who weave their hypnotic lies into the webs in which the Bandas and the Dantalas roam, stars in their eyes, believing they are free. They are there, barely mentioned in the story, a metaphor for real life; behind the scenes, unobtrusive but superlatively influential.
‘Bayan Layi’ peels all the layers of the onion and as we read, our eyes water at the hopelessness of the situation, babies bearing arms, the (more…)
A spiral stack of copies of the 1994 Anchor Books edition of Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
An Iroko has Fallen
By Veronica Nkwocha (a tribute to Chinua Achebe)
An Iroko has fallen
Who can disguise the din
An Iroko lays prone and all of the forest
Rise in silent tribute
He whose head and honour rose high in the sky
Not in trembling and fear
But as one who has performed great feats on the theatre of the world stage
Bowing as he takes his exit to heed the timeless call.
He leaves the forest and the testament of his earlier presence
Rings true and loud and unbroken
Only the silent can hear
May they heed the din from the Iroko
Rise to the stars
Stand tall and strong
Unbowed by life
And unbroken by the elements
An Iroko has fallen but the Iroko lives;
Long may it live.
In the midst of all the clanging metal and screeching tires and pounding fists, I thought how odd that the story line looped over itself in such away it appeared secondary to the desire that it be fast paced and loud.
I still believe that as important as it is for the machines to tell their tale, those scenes humanising it lent a side that got everyone in the cinema laughing and sighing together.
Emotions are important; storytelling that lifts the objective of the movie even if it be nuanced can still be used in a way that grinds the lure of Fast and Furious deeper, etching permanent tattoos of commitment into fans, old and new alike.
I give it a 4/5. It was hard, boisterous, efficient and unbelievable taking one away into a world, a cross between fiction and reality. A Saturday afternoon well spent, highly recommended.
I am wearing the toga of the bold
The beautiful and the sassy
I am vibrant,
I am feisty
And I am unbreakable.
Where is the wind to make me turn my gaze?
Where is the hate that will make me hide in shame?
Where are you O brass to tame my shine?
For I am gold,
Pure and invaluable;
I am a gem of intricate proportions
Fashioned after my maker
In the similitude of a palace
Palpable is the happiness they exude
as they hurry off for a day of sunshine and fun
Flappable is the aura they wear
tight about them
as the day ends
draining every bit of sunshine,
fun takes away her garment