My Thoughts on Bayan Layi by Elnathan John

*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 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 [edit] ‘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…)

Iyeji and Ikinabo (An Adaptation of an old Idoma Folk Tale)

Tortoise

Iyeji and Ikinabo (An Adaptation)

By Veronica Nkwocha

 

“Grandpa, Grandpa, tell us a story! Tell us a story please?” the chirpy group of children yelled out all at once.

Grandpa Ediga was tired but it was a cool evening and the gentle breeze grazed against his moustache tickling him into a genial mood. He was curved against his Ukonobo, the curved elongated chair made out of polished dark wood old men relaxed in. He toyed with the chewing stick almost permanently attached to his mouth; he only removed it when he was talking or eating. He smiled beckoning the happy group and a few of them called out to the others who were not around. Then they sat in a neat half circle at his feet on mats spread out, the older ones cradled the toddlers who were being lulled to sleep after the evening meal. The full moon sat high up the sky lending some light to the otherwise dark village, candles and lanterns dotting the area, their pale tongues flickering here and there. The evening meal was over and the compound was nice and tidy in readiness for another day. Older women lay sated on mats here and there tired from carrying out the day’s chores and content at having some time to themselves.

Grandpa began the story as he always had and they all listened intently.

“Once Upon a Time, a very long time ago, Iyeji, the hare and Ikinabo, the tortoise were on one of their many fabled long journeys once again. Ikinabo had been promised a feast like never before in the village of his in-laws; mountainous white and fluffy pounded yam, Ohupi garnished with delicious spicy abahi and chunks of the goat meat fattened on the choicest and freshest grass. The never ending flow of fresh palm wine was a given and Iyeji massaged (more…)