Saturday, October 24, 2015


I really like dogs. I don’t get cats. It would be difficult for me to live with an animal that has as much drama as I do. I am thinking of a breed of puppy that will grow into a large dog. Because I love dogs so much I decided to write a whole story about dogs this week. The title of my story is Black and White.

Once upon a time in a country far, far away, there was a large farm run and owned by dogs. Plenty of them. In fact, in just one section of the farm there were over a hundred dogs. A hundred and nine to be precise. This section was slightly elevated in the farm and so they called it Top House. Top House pretty much controlled everything: who came into the farm, who ate what and how much food everyone had. Top House was an exclusive area and only those invited could go in there.  Everyone came to them for favors, even the new owner of the farm, an old wolf called White. They called him White because of how clean his fur was. But Top House was far from clean. There was filth and gambling and stealing and weekly acts of perversion. The farm used to have cattle but Top House stole and ate them all. White had a huge task in rebuilding this farm that had been run down by it’s previous owner.

White reached an agreement with Top House to share control of the farm just so there would be peace. There were too many of them for him to kick them out. One of the agreements they reached was that any new worker the White would hire would have to be approved by Top House. There was this very energetic Wolf that White knew called Black. Black earned his name from being able to blend in the night when he went to eat up people’s cows. The previous owner had expelled Black out of malice. Black then helped White buy the farm so he could return; without Black’s money, White would not have been able to afford the farm. Black used to have friends in Top House, some of whom he would share his stolen cows with. But some of them hated him. Top House kept postponing the dates for Black to appear before them and White was getting frustrated. He could not just tell Black that he was sorry and could not offer him a job: Black’s money was part of the reason he owned the farm in the first place. So White kept putting pressure on Top House.

On a certain Monday morning, Top House finally agreed to assess Black’s suitability for employment as White’s trusted assistant who would protect the cows that he was planning to buy.

A senior member of Top House who had been accused several times of eating up stolen cows, and still had blood stains from the last cow he ate on his paws, stood up to begin.

“Black!” he shouted. “We in Top House have received some worrying news about your days of stealing and eating cows. Many dogs have brought reports to us alleging that you rounded up cows that did not belong to you, ate most of them and sold the rest to enable White buy this farm. Now you are here before us seeking employment to protect the cows that White is about to buy. How do we know that you will not just eat them up? Can you assure this Top House that you will not eat cows?”

“I don’t even know how to eat meat,” Black replied, staring at the dried blood on the paws of the dog that had just finished speaking – blood of cows.

“I have never ever eaten cow meat in my life, stolen or otherwise,” Black continued. “As a vegan, I do not even know the difference between cow meat and other meat. Perhaps the good member of Top House can share his expertise with me.”

The crowd in Top House burst into laughter. An argument ensued between those who wanted Black in and those who did not. Anxiety about being rejected by Top House made Black lose weight and have sunken eyes.

In the end however, they sorted out all their issues with Black and in fact went into long friendly banter about the scourge of cow theft and consumption. Dog after dog in Top House made Black promise that he would do everything in his power as assistant to White, to end cow theft.

“Under my watch,” Black said, “no one will steal cows. Those days are gone. Change has come to this farm!”

Thereafter there was a thunderous applause and barking from Top House. They approved Black as an assistant to White and told him to howl and go.

Outside, Top House supporters of Black asked him how it felt to have crossed that hurdle.

“I thank God,” Black said, “none of them were able to find blood stains on my paws or fur. And it is not that they didn’t want to. It is just that they are too covered in cow blood to see mine clearly.”

White was ecstatic about this and expressed his enthusiasm about beginning the serious work of raising cattle on the farm, bringing cows back to a place where they were once endangered. Everyone on the farm hoped that Black would not go back to his cow eating ways and splash blood on White’s pretty fur.

This is the end of my story. I hope you enjoyed it. Two things though:
1.    This is fiction. Any resemblance to real persons dead or alive is purely coincidental.
2.    No animals were harmed in the production of this story. Because I care.

Friday, October 23, 2015


The Abuja Writing Workshop, run by Nigerian writer Elnathan John has been running since 2013 as a one-day short prose workshop for twenty participants mostly resident in Abuja. In 2014, 60 persons applied to be part of this workshop in Abuja. The workshop is also proud to have participants who have gone on to publish books of their own. Co-facilitators have included award winning Nigerian author and journalist Abubakar Adam Ibrahim.  

In 2015 the Abuja Writing Workshop is expanding to accept participants from all across the country. This year the focus is on SATIRE as a form of writing and political and social commentary that has seen renewed interest especially online. Globally, satire has come into public debate especially with the killing of staff at the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo. Perhaps more than ever before, people are beginning to have a global conversation about the role of satire in public affairs. More and more satirists are pushing the boundaries and taking on entities like corporations, governments and even the so-called Islamic State. In Nigeria, there certainly is an appetite for deep sarcasm online in discussing politics. Many who do this are not even aware that what they do can be called satire and be sharpened and channeled to achieve thoughtful, hard-hitting critique of politics in Nigeria. It is this inadvertent interest in satire that this workshop seeks to exploit and possibly hone. 

If you are interested in writing SATIRE, there will be a two-day workshop from Friday November 27, 2015 to Saturday November 28, 2015 for ten selected participants. The focus of this workshop will include:
1.     Understanding the news and the issues that become material for satire
2.     Understanding the building blocks of effective satire
3.     Learning the different possible forms of satire
4.     Becoming acquainted with other satire traditions around the world
5.     Understanding the power of satire and channeling that power for effect
6.     Identifying and connecting with other satirists in Nigeria and Africa

The workshop will be held in Abuja, Nigeria. The workshop is free. All selected participants will have their travel and accommodation costs covered for the duration of the workshop. Participants will be expected to commit to staying for the entire program. Arrival will be on Friday, November 27. THIS WORKSHOP IS NOT OPEN TO PERSONS BELOW THE AGE OF 18 AT THE TIME OF APPLICATION. 

To apply, send an original sample of satire and an application letter, each not exceeding ONE-PAGE to with the subject, "Workshop Application" no later than 10th November, 2015. The shorter, the better. As there are only 10 slots and selection will be based on the writing sample, send in what you think best represents your work. Only selected participants will be contacted. 

The workshop will feature a guest facilitator and award winning journalist, writer and satirist Tolu Ogunlesi as well as award winning writer and US based creative writing teacher Chinelo Okparanta.

Saturday, October 17, 2015


Let me begin by clarifying: I have nothing against Senator Shehu Sani. In fact I don’t understand people who don’t love him, who don’t understand his sacrifice to Nigeria, his activism that hasn’t earned him any money and his long torturous time in prison. I have been following Shehu Sani during the Ministerial screening in the senate and I can see that the leadership of the senate has something against him. I think they are agents of a certain governor who doesn’t like him. But let me not lose focus here. During the senate screening of ministerial nominees, Shehu Sani was only called twice to speak. I know there are 109 senators but how can you keep ignoring Shehu Sani’s hand? To make up for this I have decided to imagine what it would be like if the good senator had the opportunity to ask his intelligent questions to more of the ministerial nominees. Because I care, not just about Shehu Sani, but also about all ex prisoners in Nigeria.

1.    Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma

Shehu Sani: Mr. Nominee, I want to thank you for your commitment to this country. As a lawyer I am sure you are aware of the situation of our prisons. You know, I know these things as a former inmate of Kirikiri prison. Wallahi I can even text you my prison number so you can cross check. Also you are a business man…

Senate President: Distinguished senator Sani, can you please put the question?

Shehu Sani: Yes. Ok. Mr Nominee, what is your plan to introduce business skills in our prisons so that people who leave prison like me can come out and be good in business like you. Thank you.

2.    Dr. Kayode Fayemi

Shehu Sani: Your Excellency, former governor of Ekiti, I have read your CV. I see that you are interested in conflict and security and let me tell you, you can never know conflict unless you have been in a cell with twenty other strangers with the toilet and bathroom in the same space. As someone who was in Kirikiri while you were running an illegal radio station and passing through non-conventional borders, I can teach you about security and conflict just from my experience with big bad prisoners and wicked prison wardens who…

Senate President: Senator Shehu Sani, please we are running out of time. Kindly put the question.

Shehu Sani: Ok, Ok. My question to Mr Nominee is, if you become minister of the federal republic, how will you prevent conflict among prisoners who have to share the same cell so that they don’t leave battered and bruised. Thank you.

3.    Chief Audu Ogbeh

Shehu Sani: Papa Audu Ogbeh. I am calling you Papa because I learnt respect for old age and hierarchy from all the time I spent in prison. You know in prison, if you don’t properly address the Chairman, hmmmm, wallahi you will regret being born. I have no major question but to urge you, as someone interested in agriculture to look into prisons having farms that prisoners can cultivate to train them for when they leave. I wish I had the opportunity to farm when I was in Kirikiri. God bless you Papa Ogbeh.

4.    Alhaji Lai Mohammed

Shehu Sani: Mine is short. Will you as a serial spokesperson, speak on behalf of prisoners like me?

5.    Amina Ibrahim Mohammed

Shehu Sani: Madam nominee. Because of your accent I did not understand half of what you said, but I am sure it is intelligent. Because if it looks intelligent, dresses intelligent, sounds intelligent then it is intelligent. My honest opinion is that if prisoners can speak like you after leaving prison, their chances of success will be greatly improved. As minister will you promise this senate that you will teach prisoners like me how to speak like you?

6.    Babatunde Raji Fashola

Shehu Sani: Oga Fashola! I congratulate you. As Minister for Justice will you pledge to rehabilitate prisoners like me? Look at how early my head is going bald. It is from being in Kirikiri. How will you prevent prisoners from going bald?

7.    Dr Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu

Shehu Sani: I will be straightforward with you. Prisoners need to stop getting food cooked with firewood. I hated it as a prisoner. Will you as Minister for Petroleum ensure that prisons have access to kerosene for cooking? Can you swear you will do that?

8.    Barrister Solomon Dalong

Shehu Sani: Barrister Dalong, you were a correctional officer. Which means you dealt with prisoners like me when I was in KiriKiri. But you may not have known me because you must have been a baby prison officer when I was a high profile political prisoner on death row.

Barrister Solomon Dalong: Distinguished Senator, I don’t know what you mean by baby prison officer.

Shehu Sani: Look Mr. Nominee, do you want to be confirmed or not? You know I am no longer in prison and you cannot talk to me like I am a prisoner and you are a prison warden.

Barrister Solomon Dalong: I apologise distinguished.

Shehu Sani: Better apologise because the tables have turned. And wipe the sides of your mouth.

Senate President: Senator Sani, please can you kindly just put the question.

Shehu Sani: Yes but I just needed to clarify that I am no longer in prison. Anyway. My question to the nominee is, as a former corrections officer, what will you do to make sure prisoners get access to basic necessities like medical treatment and more importantly conjugal rights. You know they say body no be wood. Prisoners too deserve to sleep with their wives. You don’t want them to leave prison and find out that someone has been sleeping with their wives. That can lead to assault or even murder and then the prisoner now returns to prison. We don’t want that. We really don’t want that.

All I am saying is we need to allow Senator Shehu Sani express himself more fully on the floor of the senate. We cannot afford to let all that prison wisdom go to waste.