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Stay With Me – Ayobami Adebayo

By Diana Evans

The childless protagonist of Ayòbámi Adébáyò’s Baileys-longlisted debut is so desperate to get pregnant that she breastfeeds a goat. It happens at the top of “the Mountain of Jaw Dropping Miracles” in southwest Nigeria, surrounded by drooling bearded men in green robes whose leader, Prophet Josiah, has been recommended to the barren Yejide by a pregnant customer at her hairdressing salon.

The goat must be white, he has instructed, and it must be pulled up the mountain single-handedly by the miracle seeker, arriving at the summit “without wound, blemish or a speck of another colour”. There follows some frenzied chanting, singing and dancing around the swaddled animal beneath a blazing sun, until eventually, despite her initial scepticism, as Yejide relates, “the goat appeared to be a newborn and I believed”.

It’s a comic scene, and it reminds me of the kind of high superstition my Nigerian mother often brings to bear on the subject of having children. If you drink through a straw while pregnant you will have a boy. Don’t do “that yoga” with a baby newly in your tummy or you will kill it. In Nigerian society, a childless woman is a tragedy, and considered to have probably brought it on herself. And it is not just her apparent inability to conceive that Yejide is up against. Her husband, Akin, has been coerced by his mother, Moomi, to take a second wife, in the hopes that he will get her pregnant instead. “You have had my son between your legs for two more months and still your stomach is flat,” Moomi tells Yejide when the new wife is also not yet pregnant. “Close your thighs to him, I beg you … If you don’t he will die childless. I beg you, don’t spoil my life. He is my first son, Yejide.”

Such animated dialogue is a delight throughout the novel, and Moomi’s voice is the loudest among the vivid, persuasive characters who bring this Yoruba community to life. There is the rival hairdresser, Iya Bolu; Akin’s womanising brother, Dotun; and Yejide’s cruel stepmothers, who were also extra wives to her father, her own mother having died in childbirth.

The story is set in Ilesa, in the state of Osun, against the political chaos of the 1980s. It’s a place where students are shot during protests and elections are “nullified” by the military, where armed robbers give advance notice of their forthcoming crimes with chummily threatening letters, and the police take the day off work to join in.

Yet our heroine’s worsening nightmare of mistaken pregnancies and childlessness becoming child loss takes centre stage. When Yejide eventually does bear fruit, she discovers that at least two of her three children suffer from sickle cell disease. They are thus relegated to a life of pain, of waiting for the next “crisis”, and some of the most touching moments in the book arise from her attempts to describe how this feels. At the hospital with her son Sesan: “His hand gripped mine with pain-induced strength that crushed my knuckles together. I welcomed the pain in my hand, aware that it was only a tip of what he was feeling. I hoped that by holding me, he could transfuse his agony into my body and be free from it.”

Reminiscent of the men on the Mountain of Jaw Dropping Miracles, Akin’s role in all these, is unhelpful. It is the women who are strong and the men who mess things up, yet the patriarchal tradition is stringently held to – even after Akin has let his rage get the better of him and committed an atrocious act, Yejide still leaves his breakfast out for him in the morning.

The author, Ayobami Adébáyò has been tutored in writing by both Margaret Atwood and fellow Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and though there is still room for growth, she has a thoroughly contemporary style that is all her own. Her clever and funny take on domestic life and Nigerian society is a welcome addition to her country’s burgeoning literary scene. Despite the intense sadness of her subject matter, she has produced a bright, big-hearted demonstration of female spirit, as well as the damage done by the boundlessness of male pride.


A Plague of Gadflies


By Ada Dike

A Plague of Gadflies is a book which mirrors  issues of a special breed called ‘the Royal Blood‘, largely in control of political and economic power, which breaches a long-standing traditional process of choosing a successor to the ancestral throne of kingship.

This happens at a time when the spiritual and ritual festival of peace, Egba, is to be observed. Spurred by the realisation that people’s last functional vestige of tradition is about to be erased, there is a crossfire between the traditional warlords and political reformists, bringing the peaceful village of Ovrode to the brink of disintegration.

In the book, Emema hints that, to control the rising rebellion against his kingship, the traditional, Ovie Ogbighe Okumagba –‘the Night Fox’ indicts his king’s men and appeals to the spirit of his ancestors. However, the spurious twist of fate that follows catches the glow of Night Fox’s rule fading in the pool of sins and deaths that haunts his smooth and convincing façade of innocence.

A Plague of Gadflies, set in Niger Delta highlights the imbalance in the control of resources at the expense of the poverty-stricken communities caused by corruption.

This book touches issues about family relationships, traditions, social and traditional issues. It concerns a village in early 20th century about a certain village in which there are a lot of complaints between the populace and the ruler in Ovrode. The selected chief (The Royal Blood) without having feelings for the people enrich themselves with slaves, concubines and wives, low-level Samson Akpojaro, the half-brother of Isaiah often complains.

There comes a time when Okumagba will select his chief. He selects Isaiah Akpojaro, who was wealthy but childless. Meanwhile the culture states that a childless person cannot be king so the populace rejects him and threatens to cause mayhem. Samson and Ochonogo team up with the people to challenge the corrupt regime. Many houses are burnt during the Egba festival.

After 23 years of Okumagba’s regime, he slips. “I, Gideon Ogbighe Okumagba – The Night Fox – as I live, and because my noble ancestors watch over my throne night and day, I pronounce your exile to Bini Kingdom until your deaths.”

Truth is revealed that Okumagba collected bags of cowries and parcels of land from Isaiah so the people tell him that he will no longer be their king. He banishes himself.

A Plague of Gadflies teaches that a society cannot move forward if it accepts bad or corrupt leader.

The historic drama is a satire of the abominable sins of the political class in Africa. The author highlights issues bedeviling Nigeria including corruption, which has led to uprisings in many African countries including Chad, Mali and so on.

It was written by a man endowed with a lot of talents. He is a writer, producer of drama series including Behind The Cloud and Supple Blues. In the 1990s, he did other works like Intended Outcomes, a drama targeted to promote positive social re-integration. He’s one of the producers and directors of I Need To Know, an educative television series sponsored by the United Nations Funds for population Activities (UNFPA).

Emema believes that every Nigerian has a role to play, that is why he revealed the way out. He garnished this story with proverbs. Quite interesting story, it was written in simple English. Whoever picks up this book will not drop it till he or she finishes reading it. No grammatical error was noticed in this book.

He dedicated this book to the healing of Nigeria and all God’s wounded children in Africa.






Edo Governor, Rotary Club partner to promote reading culture

By Newsdesk

The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, and Rotary Club of Nigeria have indicated interest to restructure and upgrade curriculum of basic education in the state.

They lamented that the need for upgrade was sequel to inability of graduates in the country to acquire basic life skills while still in school, noting that, part of the partnership would be to rebuild libraries and add technology to it.

Obaseki, who bemoaned the inability of children in the state to reaped benefits of basic education in 30 years, indicated that his administration would work to ensure the system is upgraded.

He disclosed his intention for education sector during a courtesy visit by Rotary Club of Nigeria to the State Government House, Benin on Wednesday.

“This summer, we will start to train our primary school teachers and we will have to organise things so that they will prepare their lesson notes and other things for teaching on a technology platform.”

He added that by September, technology-friendly education would commence with Primaries 1 and 2 and sponsors would be engaged to fund the process so that in five years, every child in Edo State would be taught on a technology platform.

“It has to be general and public driven because the bulk of the children still have to go through the public system. We are partnering with an education group, which will provide the checking principles for SUBEB and put in a whole curriculum on a technology-driven platform,” Obaseki said.

Meanwhile, the 2017-2018 Rotary International District 9141 Governor, Osagie Ogiemudia, commended the Governor for his developmental policies in the state and informed him that the committee on books for Africa had collaborated with the charity club to the effect that a 40-foot container had landed in Benin City with books.

Ogiemudia explained that the club comprised concerned citizens, who met to exchange ideas and proffer solutions to issues that challenged them.

He therefore, appealed to the governor to send representatives to help in sorting out the books for Edo’s library, affirming that Edo State had been scheduled to receive grants on maternal health care.

Book Review: This is Lagos, Our Legacy


By: Ada Dike 


Book: This Is Lagos, Our Legacy

Author: Abbey Wilson

Publisher: Ideas.Com Publishers, Lagos, 2015

Abbey Wilson’s 172 paged book, This Is Lagos, Our Legacy, documents history, present and future of Nigeria’s commercial centre, Lagos. The book divided into five parts presenting details about the mega city in sequence was crafted with outstanding artistry that engages a reader from first paragraph to end.

Part One of the book traces origin of Lagos from two angles -Lagos and Benin. It shares local, historical and traditional accounts about original inhabitants of Lagos who were descendants of Ogunfunminire, a hunter that lived around 16th Century. Ogunfunminire settled in Isheri, moved to rule a fishing village on mainland of Ebute Metta. Other progenitors in the book include 12 descendants of Olofin who later became Idejo (the white cap chiefs).

The book also explores history of Lagos from influence of  Britain, slave trade era, deposition of Oba Kosoko, signing of anti-slavery treaty with Oba Akitoye in 1852, settling of Saros (Sierra Leoneans) and Amaros (Brazillians) in Lagos, Colonial Lagos, to past Obas of the state etc.

While discussing creation of present day Lagos State on May 27, 1967 in Part Two, the author presents how the state took off as an administrative entity on April 1, 1968 and became Federal Capital Territory in 1976 before capital was later moved to Abuja on December 12, 1991, as well as relocation of Lagos State capital to Ikeja.

A sub-heading under this section centres on: History of the location of Lagos State, Relief (dominant vegetation of the state -swamp forest consisting of fresh water and mangrove forest) and Demography, which explains that Lagos is the smallest but most populous state in Nigeria.

It states that inhabitants of Lagos State were Aworis and Ogus in Ikeja and Badagry divisions respectively, among others. It explains further that administratively, Lagos has five major divisions namely: Ikeja, Badagry, Ikorodu, Lagos (Eko) and Epe.

Others topics that can also be found in the part include: Islands of Lagos comprising Lagos Island, Ikoyi and Victoria Island; Climate; Administration and Demographics; Census Data for Lagos; Economy; Transportation; Culture; (Music and Film Industry); Sports; Tourism and Education.

Part Three mirrors how Government of Lagos State became administratively effective from April 1, 1968, Lagos State Coat of Arms, five divisions of Lagos State, History of Creation of Local Government Area in Lagos from 1971 to 2003, Names of 20 Local Government Areas and their Headquarters and 37 Administrative Development Areas of Lagos State.

In this same part, she listed Past and Present Administrators/Governors and their Achievements. Among whom are: Mobolaji Johnson Administration (1967-79), Commodore Adekunle Shamsideen Lawal Administration (1976-77), Commodore Ndubuisi Kanu (1977-78), Navy Captain Ebitu Ukiwe (1978-1979), Alhaji Lateef Jakande Administration (Oct 1, 1979-1983) and Gbolahan Mudashiru Administration (1984-1986).

Others are: Navy Captain Mike Akhigbe Administration (1986-1988), Raji Rasaki Administration (1988-1991), Sir Michael Otedola Stewardship (1991-1993), col. Olagunsoye Oyinlola Administration (1993-1996), Col. Mohammed Buba Marwa Era (1996-1999), Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu (May 1999-2007) and Babatunde Raji Fashola (May 2007- May 2015).

Abbey Wilson, Author of This is Lagos, Our Legacy

In the Author’s First Note titled: “Can Lagos State Expansion be Contained?” she recalled with nostalgia, the old Lagos where they could play “hide and seek” without fear of being knocked down by a marauding commercial driver.

According to the author who returned from the North in early 1960 to live with her uncle along Ikorodu Road, Lagos, Lagos had changed drastically and dramatically overtime, especially since the late 1980s and much during the democratic era.

“The transformation of some areas in Lagos has been awesome. Even the streets lights work when we do not have electricity in our homes!”

Interestingly, the insightful book was written to equip pupils, students, tourists, Lagosians and non Lagosians with vital information about the Centre of Excellence, Lagos State.

She did not forget to discuss about tomorrow’s Lagos. This can be read in Part Four of the book titled “Lagos of the Future: Eko Atlantic City”.

Succinctly put, the book gives estimated population of Lagos in 2015 at 25 million, making it the second largest city in Africa and the third largest mega city in the world.

It describes the Atlantic City as Promised Land that will serve as a residential, commercial, financial and touristic accommodation on a location serviced by a state-of-the-art high tech-infrastructure for those who wish to live and work within walking distance; adjacent to Victoria Island.

She believes that Eko Atlantic City could be considered as ‘Dubai’ of Africa; a lively happening metropolis, cosmopolitan and culturally diverse, a melting pot for enterprise and exchange.

Part Five of the book contains Lagos State Government Emergency/Vital Telephone Numbers for Ambulance Service, Emergency Management, Rapid Response Squad, Traffic Control and so on. List of Lagos State Government Agencies and their Codes can be found from pages 147 to 150.

Not forgetting to teach non Yorubas some commuters’ bus slangs, words like Shift in (Sun mo nu), where is your fare? (Owo e da?), When a passenger wants to alight (O wa o!), the passenger is pregnant and also a nursing mother (Oloyun oponmo o) etc, can be found in the book.

The book also contains historic tourist attractions like Iga-Iduganran (the official residence of the Oba of Lagos), Tarkwa Bay and Snake Island, the first storey building in Nigeria built in 1845 in Badagry and the National Theatre, among others.

Wilson garnished the book with memorable pictures of Shitta Bey Mosque (Brazillian Architecture), old Marina, beach scenes, pictures of the Railways, Carter Bridge, old Central Lagos, and old Tinubu Square.

Others include: modern central Lagos, Broad Street, Lagos 1950, Old Kingsway Stores in Lagos and Lagos Lagoon.

There is no better time to analyse content of this book, This Is Lagos, Our Legacy, than now that Lagos State Government through the Governor, His Excellency, Akinwunmi Ambode, celebrated Lagos at 50, a year-long event which began on May 27, 2016 and ended a couple of days ago.

Lagos at 50 celebrations which attracted people from all walks of life butressed the point that Lagos has rich cultural heritage. Interesting events showcased include: Eyo Festival, Jazz Meets Runway, International Conferences, Arts Exhibition and Film Shows and Music, among others. Notable artistes including King Sunny Ade (KSA), Pasuma, Sir Victor Olaiya, Evangelist Ebenezer Obey and so on, thrilled guests, tourists and Lagosians during the event.

In fact, different artistic creativity made for the event still adorns many parts of Lagos.

I thank the author of this book for her contribution in documenting rich information on Lagos. The book was written with an easily comprehensible diction for everyone to read and digest it. The author with a sense of history takes its readers to nooks and crannies of Lagos by the way she handled each topic which shows she is a good historian.

Emphatically speaking, whoever picks up the book to read will not want to drop till he or she reaches the end.

I hereby recommend it to whoever wants to get detailed information about the great mega city- Lagos.

There was no noticeable error in the book which shows how meticulous and painstaking the writer was while producing it.

Wilson holds Master’s of Art in Architecture and Planning. She is a practising architecture who has flair for creative writing. The talented writer has authored many books including: Pride of Africa – A Collection of Poems and African Proverbs; Beauty More Than Skin Deep; Nuggets of Wisdom for Success; Amazing Household Cleaning Techniques at Your Fingertips; Irresistible Quotes on Women, Love and Life; and Mind Your Manners!


Book Review: Chronicles of NEPU/PRP

By Prof. Umaru A. Pate, Bayero University, Kano.

This is a meticulously written book on political struggles involving one of Nigeria’s most principled statesmen, Mallam Aminu Kano and his leadership acumen in Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) and People Redemption Party (PRP). Tracing history of the party from 1940s through 70s and first half of 1980s, it explains history, membership, trials and tribulations as well as vision and legacies of NEPU and PRP in context of Nigeria’s political development processes.

The book has six chapters spread over 329 pages. It was written by, perhaps the most informed person on the subject, Alhaji M.K. Ahmed, MFR, the Sarkin Yakin Lokoja, in many respects, Alhaji M.K. Ahmed can be described as most competent to write such a book in his capacity as an energetic participant in the NEPU/PRP activism as well as his role as the national administration secretary of NEPU. In the text, the author painstakingly presents the details of the formation and the personalities involved in the NEPU/PRP platform in Nigeria’s progressive politics.

Specifically, the first chapter introduces the reader to the formation of NEPU and efforts that Mallam Aminu Kano and some of his colleagues invested in the initiative. The second chapter tells the reader the story of the workings, achievements and challenges of NEPU as a political platform in the country. The chapter also tells how NEPU laid foundation for PRP in the late 1970s when Nigeria was transiting to democratic governance in 1979.

Chapters three, four and six focus on members and membership of NEPU/PRP platform in the provinces, though with more emphasis on Northern provinces. In the three chapters, Ahmed recounts the names, in some cases, full details of some of the prominent members of the platform. I find it very exciting seeing photographs and documents that reveal faces of many people whose names I can recall but never got to see.

In chapter five, the author expands the discussion to give general contributions of the progressives and specifically NEPU/PRP in the political development of the country. It also narrates involvement of NEPU/PRP in some major conference, seminars and workshops that were fundamental in the country’s political history. In the last chapter, the book gives a list and details of some prominent NEPU/PRP supporters in different parts of the country.

In the book, one could see the efforts, struggles and commitment of individuals to actualize a dream in midst of formidable odds from entrenched forces. It was tough and rough but they remained faithful to their dream of redeeming the people of Nigeria. This is one lesson that the present generation and especially our politicians need to imbibe; being principled, strong willed and dogged in pursuit of collective good.

There are indeed many more lessons to learn in the book, specifically, our politicians can learn essence of proper political party organization with functioning structures, committed membership and reliable administrators like Alh. M.K. Ahmed who can preserve the party’s ideals and sustain proper record keeping systems.

Today, NEPU/PRP is still relevant and has remained unforgotten in the minds of the people because of its leadership quality, honesty of its vision, principled membership and impressive administrative arrangement and without a doubt, experience.

This publication would not have been possible without the commendable effort and the painstaking ability of the author, Alh. M.K. Ahmed, Sarkin Yakin Lokoja who was able to gather, assemble and  process all primary information as well as documents that make up the book. This is no easy task, particularly considering the author’s age. In every respect, I admire his sense of history, the strength of his conviction in NEPU/PRP ideology and his ability to link the past to the present.

I also commend the effort of many other distinguished individuals who worked with him in many ways to make his dream of publishing the book a reality. We pray to Allah to reward their efforts, accordingly.

Finally, I recommend the book to our leaders, politicians, researchers and general readers interested in Nigeria’s political history. I believe that every Nigerian would have something to pick from the book. I hope many more of our elders would also find it worthy to document their rich experience for present and future generations.