Friday, June 27, 2008

Josana Boku Boku Tori

The chairmanship of Bose Ayeni-Tsevende got off to a rip-roaring start on Saturday 14th June at the Nigerian Film Institute grounds where JosANA holds forth. We had new members coming in, old members showing up and consistent members being their usual writerly selves. One couldn’t really ask for more – except that I have got this overwhelming desire to try typing this email-digest in pidgin. I don’t know where it comes from but I shall indulge this very middleclass craving!

The meeting start sharp to one o’clock when Bose Tsevende arrive with Micheal Emeka, Alpha Emeka and David Onotu inside her motor. Them meet Richard Ali as him dey enter gate so as e come dey, all of them join for front of Institute. Them come dey halla each other, dey talk “how you dey?” and general palaver. Aunty B look fine like omoge for her jeans but she come vex small as Richard been tease am, dey call am chairman. But na play play vex sha. Finally all of us come start dey carry chair from inside hall go the balcony because the breeze just dey cool for balcony and you know say writer brain sometimes e dey hot pass oven. Sha, after we don flex our muscle dey carry chairs na him David Onotu been localize one bag of cooked groundnut wey them buy for road. We sit down dey chop the groundnut dey wait for members as we still continue our palaver. Small small the balcony come dey full, five, six, seven, twelve and so on and so forth.

We just wan start the meeting proper na him one woman come come ask for Professor Ugbabe. But Kanchana Ugbabe no come that day. The woman name na Mrs. Joseph and she be nurse for Quan Pan Local Government Area of Plateau State. As we come find out say she ma na writer she be, we come welcome am proper proper give am seat to siddon. She been come with the book wey she write, the name of the book na “Jiji” and na about the myth and legend for lower plateau areas, all these them Langtang, Quan Pan side. We no even finish that salutation when one caucasian omoge wey be our old member come arrive, her name na Carmen McCain and she dey do masters for Wisconsin {America funny name} University – she come Naija come do research for Hausa film industry, all the way from George Bush country! Allahu akbar, Kannywood don go international! Nothing dey happen!

The meeting proper start with Stephanie Onyejekwe and she read one short story wey sweet well well. I don forget the name of the story but I know say “grave” dey inside sha. Anyway, the story sweet well well. The story na about all these yeye people wey dey kill their fellow man pickin because religion. Na so two neighbor, one Christian and one Muslim come take kpai themselves oh – hmm, but as them people come bury them, na for the same graveyard them throway them for ground! You see! Anyhow, Richard been like the story especially as the thing short well well jus dey like miniskirt, everything correct, but him talk say them get some redundancy {scatter scatter grammer} wey dey inside, for example where she talk say “in a pool of their own blood” – him talk say that “their” no dey necessary because if them kpai themselves, the blood na their own! “In a pool of blood”, even though the thing sound like cliché, for better. Abubakar Adam wey win BBC African Performance for 2007 ma join, come point out one place wey Stephanie write say dem bury those yeye people for “empty grave” – to, him talk say for all him experience {dey go burial oh, no be say as undertaker} him never hear where them bury person for grave wey no empty. Na so Alpha Emeka come nack him own on top, him talk say him believe say the short tory still fit to be expanded, say make she add more characters and scenarios, say that go make am short tory wey go sweet belle even pass as e dey now. David Onotu first gree with him palle, Alpha, then him come add say him feel say the inciting incident for the story {na water dem fight on top oh} dey too small, say people no dey fight like that on top water. But then Abubakar come talk say no, say our own Jos crisis here wey we do for 2001, no be woman na him them say insult Muslim man wey dey pray, abi na Muslim man wey spit ablution water on top woman – yet see as them kpai people! Abubakar say the water na valid inciting incident and in fact, na correct metaphor sef as to say them dey fight on top wetin God give for free, him commend Stephanie writing well well. Bose Tsevede plus her comments come correct Stephanie pronunciation of “sword”, say na “sord” e be – hmm, from now on, I go call am “sord”, me ma I don benefit from JosANA, abi how you see am? Stephanie been respond small to the boku comments wey she get from floor.

Next na him Alpha Emeka read small from him second book “Aunty Florence” wey him write in collaboration with Aunty B Tsevende. The part wey him read na one marriage situation wey two ayonge’ omoge call Kiki and Florence dey talk, whether to marry man wey get money or to marry man wey go take them away from the village wey them dey. Na serious matter oh! As always now, we all of us clap for am well well when him finish. Richard, that surutu boy, na him first start criticism. Him talk say the excerpt sweet him belle well well and him hail Alpha but him come point out say for one part Alpha read say a clay pot been “shatter to pieces” – Richard talk say “to pieces” dey redundant one kind like that because say if something shatter, na to pieces now. Writerman no need to talk everything before we sabi, abi how you see am? David Onotu been praise the “consistent atmosphere” for the piece as per say Alpha describe village well well as if him na village boy! The white omoge, Carmen McCain, come commend the use of short precise sentences for the excerpt to denote action and na him everybody come say aha, the thing sef jus dey like Chinua Achebe him Arrow of God. That na perhaps why e sweet like so.

Anyway, the next person wey read na David Onotu, the one wey Richard dey call terrible pickin, and him na poem e read – Eve of Iska. The poem na offering to the immortal shrine of our papa of Arewa wey die not long ago, Pa Cyprian Ekwensi. The poem na one long, rambling verse written with the perceptive eye of a person wey poetry dey him blood. Oh boy, see poem! The thing just dey flow dey go like okro soup dey go down big man throat and the powerful allusion plus simile and metaphor wey that boy use – e just dey like correct stockfish for inside the okro soup. I tell you, I just siddon inside the tip of my chair and I fall down sef but nobody see me because everybody dey listen seriously like say na rapture. {David Onotu is by far the most stunning of the up and coming Nigerian poets, seamlessly borrowing the innate ear for rhythm that marks out Osundare at his best with a social perception as keen as Langston Hughes’s.} Abubakar talk say when him hear David read him poems, im dey become aware of how “feeble” im attempt at writing poems be. Bose Tsevende say wistfully about youth and how important e dey to write each poem for him own time because time go come when you no go fit write am again. I gree with that talk oh, hmm, nothing dey make me fear pass to think say when I die God go call all my incomplete and unwritten poems to prosecute me on Judgment Day – I dey fear that fate well well. Alpha Emeka commend Onotu synthesis of sense and rhythm.

We been talk something but I don forget. Carmen and Richard Ugbede Ali been talk something about Chimamanda Adichie and Chinua Achebe. She say she agree in part for some of the things wey him talk about Chi Chi for him article “On Miss Adichie’s Sensibility”. Kai, I don forget.

Abubakar Adam come read one chapter from him novel wey him still dey write. Abubakar first novel, “The Quest for Nina” suppose commot for United States of A publisher by late August. The movement wey him read na about Bala wey hate cockroach with all him life and them come think say him father, ma, na cockroach he be. Him reading come explode critical tory for floor. Richard talk say for the excerpt Abubakar been digress too much come dey talk about the different kind cockroach wey dey {international species} so tey the thing come become lecture. And Richard no like lecture for inside novel at all at all. Alpha come talk say, this cockroach sef, na character of the character? We come dey wonder how long the novel go be if this him long cockroach digression go fit into the whole without looking like hand wey whitlow dey worry am. Sha, Abubakar talk say him still dey write the book so make we keep out ear for amber until him finish – them we go understand properly. I dey wait.

Richard come read from him own novel in progress wey him dey edit and reedit. The name of the novel na “The Legacy of Bolewa” and him read from inside chapter four. Everybody like him reading and writing but “but” dey. Alpha talk say him must to dey careful with “the superfluity of flowery description” so that the novel no go come dey sweet so tey reader go just lost the meaning of the story – you know, like siren wey dey sing for sailorman them for Niger-Delta so them go dey follow him voice until them drown. Richard gree say even him ma dey fear that fate, say na part of why him dey try re edit be that – so that the poetry for him language no go overwhelm the prose of him novel. Bose Tsevende talk say Ricahrd dey more interested in “beings” and not “things” and that na why him dey follow follow the nuance of him character thinking. Redzie talk say the descriptions for the excerpt dey apt but make Richard try to work in “interjections for turbulence”, so reader no go dey choked on the beauty of language. Another tori come break – Abubakar say something about dialog. Richard come talk say him done dey tire for wetin him call “the tyranny of showing”, him say critic this days too dey concentrate for dialog so writers dey write dialog against them will and sometimes against their sense sef. Him talk say critics dey like dragon wey go spit fire on top any prose wey no get “dialog”, that is, the “component of showing”. Redzie been talk say him ma notice the obsession with dialog but still sha that dialog dey dey necessary to show idiosyncrasies of characters. Redzie again talk say good prose suppose dey more concerned with “the skillful handling of the story” in opposition to the skillful handling of dialog. Abubakar talk say balance must to dey between description and action. The caucasian omoge, Carmen, na she talk say the thing come down to the style of the writer – Richard been retort say critics dey anti style and them go write bad reviews. Alpha come talk about him Radiophonics radio play and how him been work in dialog during his draft, him say dialog dey very important, because e dey show the contour of characters. The tori long small sha.

Next na our two pickin for the house, Oreoluwa and Adelaja na them read. Both of them na the pickins of Dr. Agboola and them been come with their mama, Paulette, because their papa don travel. Laja been re-read the poem wey him been read for ANA last week but him come add second stanza. We been encourage am with clap well well but somehow, the second stanza wey him add spoil the poem. The second stanza kuma try to force rhyme “poor/sore” so that the meaning come lost in the process. The boy try well well, him na just 10 years old. But men, na him younger sister, Oreoluwa, na her poem scatter head pass – sophisticated, and she na 7 going to 8 years she be. The title of her poem na “Jewelry Flower” and subtle double rhyme been dey the first line – in short, na fantastic poem, the girl collect plenty clap oh!

Jos city barrister, Redzie Jugo read him poem “O Chief”.

Na then na him Michael Emeka come read one short tory titled “Voices” about taximan Ndu and how him dey try get fuel for him motor during scarcity and about how soldier man dem no fit take people do rofo fofo is them dey unite. Comments been follow – Richard talk say instead of to say “petroleum product”, e for better of him dey more specific if na diesel or petrol. Abubakar been pick out some redundancies while Redzie feel say the short tory for fit end before when e actually actually end. Everybody agree say Michael don get draft of masterpiece for him hand. Bose Tsevende {Chairman} talk say writers of this generation suppose dey address the kind things wey people dey grapple with each day – like Michael do. Finally finally, the house dey unanimous say the title, “Voices”, no do the short tory justice. We been all suggest make him change am to “No More” and him ma talk say yes, he like the new title pass the old one.

The meeting finally break up with Mrs. Joseph reading a poem from inside her novel “Jiji” and then Stephanie read poem called “White Devils.”

I don tire, but I don try nack una small of JosANA plenty plenty tory.

NB: It is quite exhilarating to write in pidgin though sometimes it breaks down when you try to find a pidgin equivalent for an English turn of phrase. I remember back when Nigerian writers were fascinated with the quest for mediums for their work with the high texts of that movement being KSW’s “Sozaboy” and Adaora Ulasi’s “Many Thing You No Understand.” Whatever happened to that? Nigerian letters, it would seem, is a rich graveyard of fads.

Richard Ugbede Ali is Secretary Genarl of Josana and inquiries may be made to or 08062392145.

No comments: