Posts Tagged ‘Heinrich Boll’

When did I even meet Azeenarh? I don’t remember to be honest. What do I remember about her though? Frank conversations, laughter, real talk, dinners at her place (babes remember the ‘after birthday party’ you threw for me this year with lots of cake)? @Xeenarh’s a real person; what you see is what you get. No airs, no high shoulders, nothing. One way we’re alike? She loves to travel! Dang! Like, you can grab a bite with Azeenarh today, and tomorrow you call to pick up, I don’t know, a pencil you forgot in her bag and she says she’s just touched down in some European country! Girl can move! 

We did some work together last year, first time I’d ever done that so I was really excited – it was a Book Sprint for Heinrich Boll, and I chronicled the 7 days we were holed up in a house in Maitama here

So, give it up for my gorgeous, skinny (yes I’m beefing) friend, Azeenarh!

I’m Azeenarh Mohammed, Nigerian, resident in airports and tech conferences, happily unemployed.

The first thing I am grateful for is that 2015 is ending. Yeah, I said it! Despite recording a couple of good things (Nigeria eradicating polio, a peaceful democratic transition, passage of Violence Against Persons Act) the year was also all round shitty. Boko Haram continued to wreak havoc in the land, we passed a very vague and harmful Cyber Crime Prohibition Act which is being used to silence bloggers and journalists, and we switched a clueless government for another one that seems just as insensitive. But let me step away from that (deep breath) and focus on some not so bad stuff…

One thing I learned this year; it is a gift to be able to say I love you. To ourselves, to our parents, to our family, our friends, our partners and even many other people in our lives. So many people go through life not hearing these words said to them and I feel this is one of the tragedies of our times. One thing we can never do too much of is say and show people how much we love them. Life is too short to feel awkward. So go ahead, look at yourself in the mirror and gift yourself the words; I love you. Don’t be shy to tell your parents, your friends, your personal persons, your baby sister, how much they mean to you and how grateful you are that they are still here with you. Then before ringing off, tell them you love them. I promise it gets easier after the third time 🙂

The one thing I would undo in 2015 is everything that happened on 19th January 2015. I wish I had called my sister to tell her I loved her. I wish I had called her to check on her. I wish I had taught her how to use Circle of 6. I wish I had been more present in her life. I wish I knew more about her last moments. I wish I could have hugged her. I wish I could turn back the hands of time. I wish. I wish. I wish…

But sadly, life doesn’t work that way.

Things I would do all over again; quit my job. We are brought up to ‘go to school, get a degree, find a partner, find a job, settle down and live happily ever after’. This puts so much pressure on individuals that we never really get a chance to find ourselves and follow our passions. If there is a gift I could give to everyone, it would be 1 year of paid unemployment. So we can all learn to breathe deeply, live simply, listen/sleep consistently, find/confirm our true calling and most importantly, center ourselves. But since I cannot gift you that, I encourage you to save hard so that you would be able to take anything from six months to 1 year off work and life. We need to be able to pause, to heal, to grow, to marinate in ourselves and our emotions.

I wish that the gains humanity recorded in 2015 are surpassed, that we start to look past our perceived differences and learn to live together in peace. I hope that we learn to dream, to actualize those dreams, and to allow others the freedom to dream big and actualise their dreams. I desire joy, happiness, good health and contentment for myself and my loved ones. And I wish the same for all of you too! See you in 2016.

Love, @xeenarh.

I love you baby girl, and again I’m truly, really sorry about January. Here’s to a 2016 without any bad news or evil occurrence, full of God’s great joy, peace, and very many blessings!

In the last few days I’ve chronicled the Book Sprint orchestrated by Heinrich Boll Stiftung but facilitated by people (Barbara, Simone, and filed by Louis) from Links to those posts are below.

7th – 7th (a.ka. The Day We Got There) – Chronicling the Book Sprint

8th – 8th (a.k.a Day One) – Getting to know you #BookSprint

9th – 9th (a.k.a Day Two) – The Nitty Gritty Stuff #BookSprint

10th – 10th (a.k.a Day Three) – We have characters! #BookSprint

11th and 12th – 11th and 12th (a.k.a Days 4 and 5 ) – Life! Our baby is born! #BookSprint


Do you want to know what I got up to the next day? You’re in the right place.

Yes! Yes! Yes! Woke up still on a high from yesterday, albeit with a fresh headache (thanks to our #TurnUp last night, lol). `Went down to brekky, copped the last two boxes of Special K (since I was the only person interested in the thing), and after gisting with Simone, Elnathan, and Kalu for a bit in our workroom, it was go home time.


Went off to my sister’s for her to add up the figures in my time sheet for a gig I worked (I am rubbish with math), and then there was the ‘short skirt discussion’ with a policewoman I don’t have the energy or space to recount.


Noticed my dongle (Etisalat) had stopped working on my mac so I went to a service center. Ended up in their mobile booth – never been in one before and extreme dilapidation/extremely poor maintenance aside, it’s a really good idea – where I was told I would be sorted. I wasted two hours of my life there without getting the help I sought, short version including phrases like their technician not knowing how MacBook’s work. Long version would include gratitude to the technician for trying, and his patience, and finally for accepting he didn’t know what on earth he was doing! I would talk about Etisalat being negligent in employing technicians who don’t know the spectrum of their environment.


Dropped off the time sheet, grabbed a snack, then pushed off to church to see my darling nephew Boo Boo because I knew he’d be asleep by the time I’d go home. Played with him the rest of the time service held for (((photo))), and then I went off to play catch-up with besto (who’d been in town since Sunday).


One hour later (including a call to JT), I tried in vain to reach Pearl. SMH. A bit frustrated and incredibly hungry, I went off to Yahuza, got suya and one incredible banana and strawberry smoothie, and then it was home time!


Fortunately there was power, so chicken, smoothie, and antibiotics later, it was time to pack! Yep, I’m off to England tomorrow.



Today was really busy. I think we’d also started getting tired of being cooped up in the house – I know I was! The food was still crap (it was substandard everyday to be honest), creating perfect characters was tiring, and I missed my nephew terribly! Plus, Pearl and I were now firmly in the grip of the evil flu, and I think Rafeeat was starting to sniff a bit as well. Or was it Kalu?

This book must be completed! Men at work...

This book must be completed! Men at work…

Writing collaboratively also meant loving and leaving your characters, and I remember Elnathan and I had a bit of thing because I felt like his editing of my character was a bit too much. To be honest, I think writing with others is a humbling experience, and one that I’ve learned to approach with an open mind for a million reasons, chief of which is the fact that no one has the monopoly of knowledge. No one.

On the bright side, Pastor Ekwueme and Madam Oluoma were born today (they are characters in the book), and am I proud of them or what?!

Evening... We worked till 9pm everyday. Started at 9am after breakfast, then a break for lunch, dinner, maybe half an hour personal time in the evenings, and then it'd be back to writing, writing, writing!

Evening… We worked till 9pm everyday. Started at 9am after breakfast, then a break for lunch, dinner, maybe half an hour personal time in the evenings, and then it’d be back to writing, writing, writing!

We bonded just a bit more – just a bit more. Sometime before I slept, it occurred to me that 12th was the end of the sprint, and I knew I’d miss everyone. Really  miss them. I also worried about the bits that hadn’t been sorted – title of the book, cohesion of all the stories, graphics, those kinds of things.

We’ll see.



Race against time, book should be published today! And another character was born this morning, the ineffable Bonaventure! I’m sure I don’t have any friends in real life called that; I like and get amused by the name!

I snapped at one (maybe two) people today, really felt ashamed afterwards. Not in my defense or anything, but by this morning I was unofficially ending a 2nd week with the flu, and the constant throbbing in my head was driving me mad. So, I admit I was short with a few people, and this here is an apology!! Please forgive me, I don’t know what to do, please forgive me, I can’t stop loving you! Who sang that song again?

By evening, we agreed on a title, how we wanted to be presented in the book, we agreed on a cover, and after we’d been back and forth with our designer a bit, our baby was ready to be born! Did you know Nigeria had a ‘national bird’? Incredible, but we do!

On the left you can see the different options for a cover...

On the left you can see the different options for a cover…

5 days of blood, sweat, and tears, and we had a book! Whoop! Turn up!

Talk about joy and rejoicing, grooving our hearts and stress away at XO (thank you Oche for being such a wonderful host), and that 4am shawarma! I kind of understood what people say about the sight of a baby erasing all the labor pains – with this experience I can so relate!

And so I give to you, our baby, NAMELESS!!

Screenshot 2014-11-25 07.58.11

Yes!!! Finally!

Screenshot 2014-11-25 07.58.39

Don’t think we could rejoice enough… we did this pose like 3000 times!

Screenshot 2014-11-25 07.57.59

One more for the road, yes please! Big shout out again to Louis for all the photos! Can’t wait to see the full documentary!


Available for download here – and printed copies available (for free) on request.

Massive thank you to Christine, Ghida, and the entire team at Heinrich Boll for the opportunity…how about a book tour next year? Lights, cameras, red carpets and things? Yes please!!

*Sorry this series was interrupted yesterday. My laptop screen was destroyed (destroying my day with it), and I’ve only just sorted that. Details later, but let’s get on with this.

When I first thought of the title for this post, first thing that came to my mind was Alvin in Alvin and the Chipmunks saying, “we have made fire” in the movie. For us, it is “we have characters”!

If you’re wondering what I’m on about, then I’m chronicling the events surrounding the Heinrich Boll sponsored Book Sprint. The day before we ‘checked in’ is here, and days one and two are here and here. You’re welcome!

So. Today, we rebelled. What!! I think those of us who went out to lunch had just about had it with the food. So, at lunch time we went out to Iya Oyo (hi-five someone if you know it), and had a glorious afternoon swallowing amala with ewedu, gbegiri, and our ‘choice of protein’. As an aside, ever been in a restaurant and they asked you that? Always makes me smile!

Anyway, our food was awesome, I even bought some beans and plantain which I took back to the hotel and added to my meals. And it got even better! My brother in-law dropped by (totally unplanned) and he had my nephew! The one and only Boo Boo! Whoop! At first he looked at me funny, didn’t let me carry him, and I understood – I’ve been so irregular and I can imagine he wasn’t quite sure why he was meeting me at the amala place and I wasn’t the one who took him there (Boo Boo loves amala). Then suddenly, he said my name, and we started playing! I love that little munchkin to pieces walai. He cried when we had to leave, broke my heart. 😦 😦 😦

I went to get my passport (totally different story about how unhelpful people can be), and then I went to the pharmacy to buy antibiotics and some stuff to help with the almost two-weeks-old flu I’d had. By the way, Pearl started sniffing this morning, I feel so bad 😦

Then I went to buy a radiator cover for JT, can’t tell for the life of me how I lost mine (not even surprised, how else would you know it had to do with me if there wasn’t any drama?)

The team missed me so much @Xeenarh tweeted me to say so, and back at our lodgings, the rest of the day was spent writing, bringing all our ideas to life collaboratively, and then bonding over drinks and dinner!

There was the incident with our WIFI not being able to take over 10 people, and we had to change our password (because the hotel people had it and even though they’d signed out on their devices, we just wanted to be sure). Do you want to know what the new password became? Naah… I can’t say. Ok, maybe I can. Naah! I can’t!

Stress ball... I can't imagine how many times Xeenarh aligned all the squares, she's so good at it!

Stress ball… I can’t imagine how many times Xeenarh aligned all the squares, she’s so good at it!

We also started filming interviews today…atleast I filmed mine today. I’ve had a look at the video, and apart from a strand of hair that kept falling from my weave, I think mine looked ok! Show y’all later k?

Do the stories make sense? Are they forced? Questions, questions...

Do the stories make sense? Are they forced? Questions, questions…

By bedtime, characters like Jamila, Iquo, Yaro, Alhaji Azeez, Goldie the baby girl (lol), etc. had been born and given direction. Progress!

The evening and the morning, the third day!


A bit of a background to the series starting today. I was recruited by Heinrich Boll to participate in something called a Book Sprint. It involved 8 writers, five days in seclusion, two facilitators, and one film maker to produce a book. All we had? A potential book title. Everything else? We’d have to figure out in the five days.

This Book Sprint ran from the 8th of November (exactly one week today) to the 12th. Over the next few days, I will chronicle the days spent at our lodgings. Ready? Here’s day one!!

So I woke up, feeling just a bit better than the day before. Do you remember what my yesterday was? Of course you do! If you don’t, read this (BrandiQ and All Souls Church – A day in the life of a strategist!). you’re welcome!

So, back to the 7th, I ate my leftover lunch from yesterday (beans and catfish and plantain), Terra Kulture is the truth!

There was the incident with me getting locked in (and yours truly only noticed when I was at the door and didn’t have the key) but thankfully, I made my flight. Thank you Arik! And big thank you to the hostesses who gave me all the water I needed on the flight, I was totally dehydrated.

Cabin pressure aggravated my inflamed tonsils and blocked nostrils – not a very sexy me getting off the plane sniffing, I can imagine people gave me just a little more space than normal.

Met Pearl and Kalu and we jumped in the car waiting to take us to our lodgings Driver? Funny guy. He was driving us and carrying on this really long conversation on the phone – yes, I told him to please not talk on the phone (never mind it is dangerous, his voice was so loud)!

Got to Dullion Suites, and first off I was disappointed there wasn’t a pool. Yep, I was upset there wasn’t a pool. Anyway, I settled in, and then I had to push off to my sister’s to exchange the things I had in my suitcase for clean, fresh clothes and things. Also, needed to pick up some documents and get JT. Want to see my room?

Do you like my ankara shorts? Love em! Comfortable as anything!

Do you like my ankara shorts? Love em! Comfortable as anything!

2014-11-13 12.16.58

Decent… Amen to white sheets, and not making my bed myself for the next few days!

Got home, there was no power (electricity in Nigeria is one big unfortunate joke), and there was another incident with my car keys so I was stuck.

Bg thank you to my sister who dropped me back at our lodgings. Was nice to meet everyone (details about them tomorrow), and then it was dinner time.

To be honest, I wasn’t impressed with it; don’t think any of us were. At all. I didn’t even take a picture (and y’all know I photograph just about everything I eat). Fatush salad was good, but that was it.

Went out with Elnathan, hung out with a few people. Good, interesting conversation about our darling Nigeria, with all its proclivities and current troubles.

Got back to the hotel, all plans for #TurnUp trumped by a lingering headache and exhaustion, I was in bed and asleep by midnight. Work begins tomorrow. Good night!

When Miss @AbangMercy rang to tell me she’d be in London for a few days for the Green Deal event, I was excited! Not only because it would be great to see her (or because it was the making of a proper ladies weekend), I was finally going to get a first hand handle on Heinrich Boll, and what all the fuss about Nigeria going green ‘immediately’ was about.

Then I heard @xeenarh was coming too, sounded good – from the days of the Occupy Nigeria protests when she and a few others got tear-gassed and beaten by the Police (and/or military), I knew she was of a different ilk from the clanging  cymbals but no action type on Twitter. And I wanted to meet her too!

@Omojuwa was billed to come too, met him for the first time in May this year, we’ve been friends since. Weekend shaping up nicely huh?

Friday morning I popped to Kings Cross to meet up with the girls. After waiting a bit Mercy appeared, I dropped my overnight bag (do we still call them vanity cases) and then we were off to Finsbury Park. Three hours, some tears (of joy) and loads of shopping later, we headed for Westfield (Stratford City) to meet @aninoritse and @Tomi_Ola. Do I have memories of Westfield or what!!!

We met the ladies, and the craziness began! In and out of shops, we chattered, laughed, and just had a wonderful  time poking fun at ourselves! Can I mention that Tomi was meeting Mercy and Anino for the first time? I remember her saying, “Anino, you are really your tweets”. Social media moment, lol.

Back to the hotel, where we joked about everything under the sun, and then got a call from reception telling us to ‘please keep it down’. Of course it was them, I wasn’t even making noise at all!

Yep! Then we remembered we had to eat, and popped to Indian House for dinner. Meal was really good, Biriyani I think. I remember Mercy complaining about the jug of water with slices of lemon inside. “The water I know doesn’t have anything inside biko”; hilarity for days!

Next day we were up and out of the house by 7.40am, headed for? You guessed right, Oxford Circus! Shopped till 11am, ran back to the hotel and I nearly collapsed from hunger! By the way the ladies totally ruined my diet (not that I’m complaining *smile*)

Got changed and it was off to the Green Deal event. Awesome presentations by Xeenarh, Mercy and Omojuwa, was so proud of them! Robust discussion too, all of that’s captured in the ‘Green Deal: The Real Deal’ post.

We all had cake (further destroying the diet), and we took loads of pictures!! Whoop!

From left to right, @FidelisMbah, @Abangmercy, @DoubleEph, @ChiomaChuka, @Tomi_Ola, @Omojuwa, @aninoritse, @forakin, and @Operko. Don’t know the name of the guy behind Mercy…

Headed to Emukay for dinner with @forakin (what a gentleman); we got there about 7pm and were a little worried because the place was empty. Started filling up about  8.30pm and by the time we left, it was packed full. No wonder Nigerians have pouches, we eat so late! And see people guzzling beer! *Le sigh*

Last night of noise making, @Omojuwa dropped in for a few minutes with one cute guy like that. More gist after they left, and then we slept (more like we dropped off)!

Mercy took this picture of us in the morning, I absolutely love it!

And I love you girls, thanks for the most amazing weekend!

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