Posts Tagged ‘Literature’

Hello! And welcome to church!!

Today we’re going back to a service I attended in June. Venue: House On The Rock, The Refuge, in Abuja! I found it in my notes and at this time of the year when we start to evaluate what we’ve done with ourselves, the failures and successes, its instructive that we don’t become gloomy.

be merry

Ok? Pens and notepads out? Lord help us internalize these words today, trust you to help us, heal us, and take all our sorrows away. Amen.

Ok, so Pastor Goodheart Obi Ekwueme taught on ‘The Medicine Of A Merry Heart’; I have adapted the first part of the message to suit my purpose. We start with a few scriptures:

Proverbs 17: 22 – “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones”.

Proverbs 4: 21-22 – “Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. (Referring to the scriptures and the instructions from the Lord)

Psalm 11: 3 – “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

Psalm 107:20 – “He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.”

We need to learn to enjoy our today on the way to our tomorrow – Joyce Meyer. I like it when Ministers of the gospel reference other ministers of the gospel in their sermons, makes me feel like they acknowledge they are not the only ones out there, that they seek knowledge themselves. Pastor Obi Ekwueme is like that, bless him!

Here’s the gist: regardless of what you achieved or not, there is a reason to be merry, especially this season. You don’t have a job? Thank God you even qualify to be job hunting in the first place! You’re not married? You qualify for a partner, they’re not just here yet! If you were resident under a bridge, starkers and out of your mind, would any of the two questions above worry you? So be merry!

Good and perfect gifts come from God, the Father of light, in whom there is no partiality. That God is your Father, and the number one reason you should be merry! For the gift of life; January to December, we’re still here! Even if we got sick, we got better. Even if we got broke, we got better. There’s so much evil going on around us that we’ve been spared, all these are reasons to be merry!

As we enter a new week and preparations for Christmas and the New Year start to peak, let’s always remember that we have a good God who loves us and wants the best for us. And let’s stay merry!



She’s brilliant! She’s pretty! She’s down to earth, she signs her emails ‘Egbe belụ Ugo belụ …’, she’s a mom (four times over), She’s a poet, an author (writes in English and Dutch), and her works have been broadcast on BBC World Service, Radio Nigeria, and other Commonwealth Radio Stations. She’s Chika Unigwe, winner of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Prize for literature and my guest on the 3, 2, 1 Interview series!

I love her locks! Love, love, love em!

D Fairy GodSister: Play back Friday the 2nd of November for me, what were you up to one hour before you heard you had won?

Chika UnigweI was online (or on the phone, I forget which) with my friend, Elnathan John who was sending someone to the Press conference. He wished me luck. Then I left for Mass

D Fairy GodSister: Ok, were you concentrating at Mass? Or were you sneaking peeks at your phone?

Chika Unigwe: I was very nervous and having something to take my mind off it was very good. I left earlier than normal. I left my phone at home. I didn’t want to be tempted to check calls so I switched it off and left it at home. I tried very hard to concentrate. I told myself, whatever happens. I’ll still write. I wanted to win, but did not expect to.

D Fairy GodSister: Good call!

Chika Unigwe: We lost a number of family members on my husband’s part this year, so All Saints Mass this year was significant for us.

D Fairy GodSister: I’m sorry about that. *hugs*

Chika Unigwe: Thanks. they lived good lives, and in 3 cases, we got to say goodbye; you can’t ask for more than that. Two were in a fit enough state for us to thank for what they meant to us while they lived. The children got to say thanks.

D Fairy GodSister: My condolences again. Ok, you said you told yourself you’d still write regardless of how it went. On the flip side, did you fantasize about what you’d do with the money?

Chika Unigwe: No. My mind would not go there. I just thought, ‘it’d be really nice to win this!’ but I never thought as far as what I’d do with the money. It still hasn’t sunk in yet.

D Fairy GodSister: Ha ha ha…. Have I said congratulations? Maybe that’ll help!

Chika Unigwe: Haha. Thanks!

D Fairy GodSister: $100, 000… Might not be in the bank already but if you don’t mind, three things you’ll do with it?

Chika Unigwe: I’d like to give back to Nigeria. I don’t know how yet. My secondary school, FGGC Abuja, has a library in need of books, my car is breaking down and needs replacement, and number 3: my children have a long wish list

D Fairy GodSister: Ha ha ha!!! Bless them! How did they take the news that Mommy had won?

Chika Unigwe: They are very happy. My youngest is 6, so I don’t know how much of it he understands, but he’s been telling people, ‘My mama won a prize for writing a book. The best book.’

D Fairy GodSister: That’s all that matters, his mama wrote the best book! Let’s go back in time a bit, how/when did you start writing?

Chika Unigwe: I have always loved scribbling. I self published a collection of poetry in my 2nd year. For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to be a writer. Luckily, my parents supported that dream. They filled our home with books, subscribed us to literary magazines in the US and and Nigeria; and when I asked at 13 during a holiday to the village for a typewriter to type out my poems and stories, my father went and borrowed one for me for the duration of that long vacation.

D Fairy GodSister: Thank God for our parents right? So, what inspires you? And how do you deal with writers block?

Chika Unigwe :Everything inspires me. Conversations with people, overheard conversations in public, stories in the news, life. Writers Block? I don’t know that I deal with them effectively. I just stare at my computer….

D Fairy GodSister: Lola.…… Was expecting some magic formula!

Chika Unigwe: I wish I had some. LOL. I sometimes also go to Facebook and read peoples’ updates…

D Fairy GodSister: We’re winding down now….. Have you always had your hair locked?

Chika Unigwe: No. I started when I became pregnant with my youngest. I realized I would not have as much time to get my hair braided. I loved long, tiny braids, but with a new baby on the way, I knew it would be difficult to make out time for that. I wanted something easy to maintain.

D Fairy GodSister:They look lovely!

Chika Unigwe: thanks

D Fairy GodSister : If you had three wishes you were sure would come true, what would they be?

Chika Unigwe: world peace, my favourite uncle to be alive again, and equality of everyone: equal access to the world’s riches and resources.

D Fairy GodSister: Tell us about running for elective office; what was that experience like?

Chika Unigwe: Exhausting: meetings, campaigns, distributing flyers door to door, talking to people. Exhausting mostly

D Fairy GodSister: Would you do it again?

Chika Unigwe: Did it 3 times already, so chances are high that I’d do it again

D Fairy GodSister: Ok. Final question: what’s the biggest word of advice you’ve run with you’d like to leave with other writers?

Chika Unigwe: do not take criticism of your work as criticism of your person.

Thank you Chika for talking to me!! Now, how did you say we’re sharing that money again?

Related articles

Hey, how have you been? Good?

In fact, skip the pleasantries. Today’s one of those days you wish wouldn’t come, or at least would come right before something fabulous happens so it can wipe out the memory of the ‘not-so-good. Thirty four minutes after I received a bit of unpleasant news, and nothing fabulous has happened. Oh well, maybe it’ll happen before the end of today.

Why am I sad? I’ll tell you. I sent in an entry for the  Commonwealth Short Story competition. I remember the night I wrote it; I kept on sending drafts to my friend Andy Watt to read and give feedback. It was funny after some time, I had read the story so much I almost knew it off heart!

And then, after one last glance at it, I knew it was ready, so I sent it in, and the wait began. It was on one of them really cold nights in February, and the next morning I got an email acknowledging receipt of my entry, and saying I’d hear back from them after the first round of judging in May.

February to May? Quite some time to wait and true to form, I forgot I entered for the competition. I got an email today though, and immediately I saw the sender, for some reason my heart began to skip. Read with me……

The letter…..*sigh*

Yeah, so I didn’t win this one, or even move to the next round. Sucks. I’ve brushed back hot tears from my eyes, and told myself I’ll never write a short story again. That one, titled ‘Devil May Care’, was the first short story I ever wrote, word limit was 600 so I didn’t have a lot to play with. Before you think I’m making excuses (and I’m not), I actually enjoyed the challenge, and the effort it took to reduce sentences and look for synonyms just to make sure I remained within the word limit.

I thought I had a really great story, but it looks like it either wasn’t as ‘great’ as I thought it was, or maybe there were ‘greater’ stories. Either ways, it sucks. I’m going to allow myself sulk about it the rest of the afternoon, and maybe when my mood lifts, I’ll put the story up for you to read, and then I’ll send it to my big writer friends to see where I went wrong, so I don’t make the same mistake again. I enjoyed writing that story, and I want to keep writing so I’m going to hone my skills. For now though, I’m going to sulk!


This is me at the moment

I’ve had some turning point encounters in my short time on earth; I daresay those encounters are the reason I am what I am today. For example, as a child, getting scalded by oil the day I felt I could taste plantains from the fire behind momma’s back taught me that there is no shortcut to a meal.

Another turning point encounter was in 2007 at the pool side of Premier Hotel in Ibadan where I watched a guy drown (I would later find he was the only child to a widow) because he was diving to impress his girlfriend. Two things amazed me, homeboy couldn’t swim (he was still learning to use his arms in water), and most painful was the fact that the said girlfriend was in the bathroom at the time this son of God decided to display his foolishness. Thanks to a merciful God, he was resuscitated; I enjoyed watching his friends beat him immediately after he was revived. From there I learnt, live your life already! The person you’re falling over yourself to impress is 80 percent of the time not aware that you’re even trying!

You know the ‘children listen to and obey your parents’ scripture? I have a little story around that. So I told my momma a certain banker had called a friend of mine and me to work on and publicize the launch of his book. She seemed excited hearing me go on and on about it, but then she said, ‘get him to sign something binding him to your deal’.  Immediately I said, ‘ok mom, but even if he doesn’t, he’s a ‘big’ boy, he’s got integrity (which incidentally was one of the thrusts of his book), he won’t do anything untoward’. Typical momma, she said, ‘ok, if you say so’.

Fast forward eight weeks later and I was on the phone to her, complaining and cursing about how ‘Mr. Integrity’ pulled out on the deal the very day after my friend and I poured out everything (strategies et al) we had that he would need for the launch. Need I say the lesson learnt?

People I’ve met have also shaped my life and my perception of things. Somehow I believe they are the ones that have made for a more rounded, fulfilling life on the one hand, and the millions of stories I have to tell on the other. Some of the meetings have been divine, others….well, not so divine (for lack of a more printable description).

So I’ve always been a book, newspaper, ‘all you can read’ kind of person; at a time in my life I would be content to read dictionaries just for the fun of it. At some point sha, I just lost it. Two men I now hold dear to my heart would tease, implore, force, and even bribe me to read!

With one of them I had to tell a new word I had learnt every day and be able to use it in context, read up on random things from Greek mythology and he still wouldn’t be impressed! It’s almost rare these days to find friends who are more interested in your intellectual/professional development rather than ‘mundane’ things so I’m really grateful for them.

Another thing, however sad that was served as a wakeup call for me, was/is death. From April till October this year, counting the number of friends, friends of friends, and acquaintances that passed on would exceed the digits on both hands. Let’s take a minute in their honor, and in honor of anyone you might have lost this year; may their soul’s rest in peace, amen. I’m getting used to the fact that death is final, means that we must maximize every opportunity we get, be our best every chance we get!

Finally, I daresay I met some really foolish people this year (God forgive me), people who fall into the category of my favorite proverb that when translated means, ‘you’re trying to save a chicken but it insists that it wants to taste death’! I’m thankful for the laughter you brought to my heart by your actions, and for the lessons learnt too.

What else can I say? I’m grateful for you!