Through Chimamanda Adichie I saw a side of the rising sun

I shivered, cried, stared into blank space, laughed out loud, closed my eyes in embarrassment, thought hard about life, wrote interesting pieces just because of Chimamanda Adichie’s Half Of A Yellow Sun. I had read another book by her, The Thing Around Your Neck which my lovely sister, Kemi reviewed here but I did not expect what I got in this book.

It’s definitely a shelf book and I would read it again during a vacation or holiday just to see the details and explore the characters. It inspired me so much, I wrote about her on my blog several times.

I want to write as deeply emotional as Chimamanda does when I’m older and wiser. With this book, she made me see a side of the rising sun, the war and the pain that has affected every Nigerian tribe. I saw the killing of the Sardauna, the jokes about his death by the people and the death of Olanna’s extended family during the killings in the North. It was worse than the movie.

“Olanna looked into the bowl. She saw the little girl’s head with the ashy grey skin and the plaited hair and rolled-back eyes and open mouth. She stared at it for a while before she looked away.”

I could talk about the history themed in the book and it may feel like “bla bla bla” to you but the book has made an impact and told me; a young lady who did not witness the Biafran war, that it should not happen again.

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The book was published in 2006 by Farafina in Nigeria. It is based on the pre and post- independence era in the country and focuses primarily on the activities of Nigerians and “Biafrans” between 1960 and 1980.

Did you know that the secessionist Biafran state is recognised to have existed between May 1967 and January 1970? I didn’t. I thought the Biafrans were a group of people fighting for their land, I had no idea it was recognized or that so many things were involved in the process of secession and living in such a state.

In fact, I wonder how those who survived did. Chimamanda’s Half Of A Yellow Sun may just be fiction but what were the realities and how did Nigerians and Biafrans cope? We shouldn’t even start talking about the survival tactics such as hustling for salt or egg yolk as protein for the children or underground bunkers, the surprising deaths and betrayals…

It talked about the military rules and rebels and pain that would forever remain in the hearts of those who faced the war and survived it.

My favorite character was Ugwu, my dear Ugwu who loved women and treated them according to how he felt about them, my dear Ugwu, who was confused when he saw water come out from a tap, my dear Ugwu through whose eyes the story begins and ends.

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Ugwu in the movie

Chimamanda knows how to portray love realistically. The woman is good biko (please in Ibo). Olanna and Odenigbo were not just lovers, they were friends and that was what kept them together even when the love was hungry for food.

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Odenigbo and Olanna in the movie

This book is a classic in that it discusses the war from the perspective of the Igbo people in the most realistic way. I feel she achieved what she set out to do with this book because it changed the way some saw the war. Anyway, I realised that in all times, we should endeavor to show humanity to our neigbours.

Watching the movie is not enough, reading the book is so much better.

What I found a bit uncomfortable was the fact that Richard who was meant to understand Igbo so fluently hardly said a word of Ibo in the novel for us, the readers to translate and Chimamanda kept going back and forth from one character to another, which is why I would advice that one read the book before watching the movie, I kept expecting the same chronology I got in the movie.

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Please find below an excerpt on the story behind the book;

Both my grandfathers were interesting men, both born in the early 1900s in British-controlled Igbo land, both determined to educate their children, both with a keen sense of humor, both proud. I know this from stories I have been told. Eight years before I was born, they died in Biafra as refugees after fleeing hometowns that had fallen to federal troops. I grew up in the shadow of Biafra. I grew up hearing ‘before the war’ and ‘after the war’ stories; it was as if the war had somehow divided the memories of my family. I have always wanted to write about Biafra—not only to honor my grandfathers, but also to honor the collective memory of an entire nation. Writing Half of a Yellow Sun has been my re-imagining of something I did not experience but whose legacy I carry. It is also, I hope, my tribute to love: the unreasonable, resilient thing that holds people together and makes us human.

Chimamanda Adichie

Cheers, Abiola

Note: This excerpt was gotten from chimamanda.com

FREEDOM BY OCTOBER BY ADEOYE ADETOBA

I strongly support new ventures and I respect people who are able to chase down their dreams and achieve something different from their day jobs. Adeoye Adetoba is one of such people, a graduate of biological science technology, Adeoye has found the time to serve up this hot dish called Freedom By October. Not only is the title catchy, I tell you the story packs drama, intrigue and suspense.

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When he asked me to review his book, I was delighted and quickly obliged. I read it on my phone over a weekend and quickly concluded that this was a winner.

Freedom by October is a fast moving story of betrayal, corruption, lust, greed, jealousy and avarice. I sincerely can go on about several of the human vices explored in this book because they were so many but I will let you find out yourself. The author brilliantly starts the story with a seemingly honest person who we later find out is a grand schemer and a street hustler. This story cuts deep into the corrupt wiles of men in power and the atrocities they commit to stay in power. It exposes how the love of money can ruin a man. There are so many characters in the book but I was able to keep up, the threads or relationships linked one character to the other like a spider’s web.

The setting of the story is Nigeria the language is easy, mostly informal. What I enjoyed most about the story was the surprise at finding that one good person had moved over to the bad side. Before I finished the book I began gambling with characters like-“oh here’s a betrayer”! or no this one is going down next! I was also alarmed by the murder scenes, the brutality practically jumped off the lines.

If you ever read Sidney Sheldon then this book is right up your alley. Lots of conspiracies between characters for one common goal can be found in this book, of course one party has to get greedy and sell the other one out. The suspense is also intense and the story is altogether very gripping and engaging.

The author captures the desires, fear, love and despair of the characters very well with his use of words and imagery. If a character is enjoying a bowl of pepper soup you will probably crave for a bowl yourself! And if a character wants to kill someone you can feel the desperation as you follow the story.

I have a few suggestions for the writer, I noticed that the scenes jumped into scenes without warning in each chapter. The author could have placed asterixs once a part of the story was concluded before the next part commenced.

I must say it was a refreshing read and I hope to see more books from this brilliant new author.

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I am sure you are probably wondering what Freedom by October means. Well, I won’t spoil the fun by spilling that here! You need to get your own copy of the book which is available on Amazon and Okadabooks.It is very affordable.

This is the link…

http://www.okadabooks.com/book/about/freedom_by_october/11254

Thanks for reading! Please leave your comments below.

 

RISING TO THE READING OF A RAISIN IN THE SUN BY LORRAINE HANSBERRY*

Last year September after rendering my poem “I am not Nigerian 2” at Loudthotz Poetry Open Reading (a poetry club  that meets every 2nd Thursday of the month in Lagos, Nigeria) I was presented with a book called “A Raisin in the Sun”.

I received the book with glee (same way I would receive any book, bibliophile that I am) and then proceeded to carry it around in my bag for weeks without turning a page.

Several months later I saw the dear little book tucked away in  a corner  of my very overloaded bookshelf and pulled it out in wonder. I thought to myself that I must have become a lazy reader indeed to have neglected such a little book so.

One would think that I took to reading the book right away after this discovery however once again it got tossed on a table for another few days before I found myself picking it up with a resolute mind to read it once and for all. Shame on me for wasting so much time because the book “A Raisin in the Sun” turned out to be a fantastic book.

A 1959 play set in South Chicago tells a fast paced story of an African-American family comprising a grandmother, her two children, a daughter-in-law and a grandson. The grandmother expects a cheque from an insurance company after the death of her husband, it is a cheque for the sum of ten thousand dollars. The whole family is expectant as this cheque could change their lives. From the description given of their current home where they all live, it is apparent that they are not rich. This cheque is therefore anticipated by all. Her son Walter desires to use the money for a liquor business, his sister Beneatha wants to become a doctor and needs money for school.

The play moves from scene to scene as the cheque arrives and the grandmother chooses to buy a house in a nice neighbourood where African-Americans don’t live. She decided to hand over the rest of the money to her son (though not her initial intention) to put aside some for his sister and make something of what is left.

Walter is duped and loses all the money. The whole family is distressed.

The main characters (Ruth, Walter, Travis, Beneatha, Mama) come to life immediately the first Act begins, the playwright packed in few characters but each character is well developed. With the dialogue, the wit and humor descends on the reader and you will find your self chuckling in parts at the sarcasm and the sheer brilliance of the play. Other characters like Asagai,George, Mr. Lindner and Mrs. Johnson complete the cast and gives the play the necessary lift. As for the language, Ebonics is used in parts and gives the true experience of an African-American family in conversation.

One of the themes that the play presents is the segregation between the black and the whites, when Mr Lindner comes to the family to attempt to pay them so they don’t move into a white neighbourhood, they proudly refuse. Later when Walter is duped he makes to take up Mr Lindner’s offer but when Mr Lindner shows up, Walter saves face and rejects the offer thereby upholding the family’s dignity. When the play ends, the family is moving to the new place even though everything else is uncertain.

The play is so cleverly written and authentic in its appreciation of the struggles of a black family, the inner struggles of a young black woman like Beneatha whose friendship with the unique character of Asagai, is able to appreciate her nappy hair and her true self.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

*Lorraine Hansberry was the first African-American female author to have a play performed on Broadway.

Kemi Bonuola wrote this review.

PHANTOM LOVER

All the light I cannot see
Is dead in you
Because you have no light
All that’s within is a dark hollow void
You are dark

Your tongue is forked
And when you open your mouth
You spit Poison
The poison you have fed me copiously
So that I may lie pliant before your throne of deceit or bow in acknowledgment of your sick mind

You are a disease that crawls inside the heart
Especially hearts that beat in pure steady overflowing beauty
You corrode like water on metal
On the surface you lie
Still like there’s nothing beneath you
Your eyes are warm enough to pass across sincerity
But you lie in the web of your lies and lie

You are drowning in a sea of lies and
You want to drag me down with you
You were undoing the thread
A long unwinding thread of connected threads
That would lead me right back to you
I wanted to cut those threads
So I lay with you so I could find where the thread began
Alas I could not find the first lie

Because your path is not lighted
I cannot see my way back to me
But
I’ll find it
I am a child of light

You saw the light in me and vowed to snuff it out
But you forgot that where there is light
Darkness cannot win
Shame on you
For trying

Bending to your Will was easy
Because you have a gift
A gift of persuasion
A gift you should use for blessings
Now you have gone to wake up the curses in Pandora’s box
Even you cannot remember when you started to wake up the dead
Because you lie
And your memory does not serve you well

I am standing on a hill
And looking towards that place
Where my Help comes
My Help is shining all the light that I can see on me
So that my path will be lit and your lies will wither
Your lies will burn in the intensity of the light shone on them
They cannot live

You made mockery of love
You pretended to know love
You said love,
The type you peddle
Is unconditional
You lie
Nobody is able to love like that

Cause if you knew love
Then you would know that love
Does not lie
Love is light
And light illuminates and keeps you warm
Especially in the cold brutal presence of the world

When you open your mouth
Do you not see the serpent descend ?

If you do not know what you have sown
Let me tell you

You have planted a seed of deception
And it has grown seven times seven times seven
Now you have a farm
And you will reap a harvest
Your harvest will be plentiful
Nature is perfect and does not lie
Your lies will make a way for you now
But when it matters the wilderness will not budge
You cannot pass through except you face your lies and
Amen

Get away from me
You vermin

I feel sorry for you
Get help

You need help
His Help
Cause when your head touched the ground five times in twenty four hours
You forgot to ask for help

Or perhaps when you are muttering
In that tongue
You are asking for forgiveness
I do not know
I know nothing
Because you are a phantom

Phantom lover
Soul less liar

When I am done purging myself of all the poison you fed me
I’ll be whole again
But you ?

Kemi bon

LITTLE BIRD, LITTLE BIRD

After the heavy rains
Showers followed
As the earth received the blessed drops
A little bird flew
And landed in my backyard
She
With a red beak
And blue flecked feathers
She because I felt it
Her gentle taps on the concrete as she searched for food
Indeed He provides for the birds of the sky
She took cautious steps around
Tapping here and there
Picking up seeds or grains of food
Her steps were guided
Her head bobbed up and down
I gazed at her in wonder from my window
Casting wishes like a net
Drawing her near
She hopped closer and closer
On to my first step
And then the next
She fluffed her feathers and
Hopped away
Soon
She took flight and without a backward glance
Away!
Later I find the gift she left behind
A perfect feather
And just like that the troubles of the earth fall away

Kemibon 1.35pm
26th April 2020

WHEN?

When will we meet again dear one
When the birds of prey have come out to play?
When the earth is scorched and dry like the desert?
When the skies are grey and gloom hangs from every floating cloud ?
When mothers weep for the hunger in their children’s bellies?
When fathers come home in despair
Emptied of hope and every kobo?
When the songs of Solomon stirs not a single soul?
When prophets hide their faces in shame
As their followers seek for revelations?
When doing good becomes a fairy tale?
And bad deeds only prevail?
When faith is questioned and tossed ?
And weary eyes seek for daily bread?
When hearts quicken each night for fear of what the daylight will bring?
When shall we meet again dear one ?
When time reveals?
When time decides?
And not a moment sooner?
Then shall we embrace at heavens gates?
Or would we have been swept away by the tides of our very own fate?

Kemibon
10.48am
April 26th 2020

I AM NOT NIGERIAN (2)

When the talking drum throws up

Sounds like:

Doh re mi

mi re mi

doh mi mi

re mi

re mi re

Do not pretend to understand

It does not speak your language

It speaks only 

to the one that bears the identity

the one whose feet shuffle gleefully

with abandon when the drum speaks

that one whose waist wriggles

in rhythm to the highs and lows

of “awo oju ilu”*

as every intense touch

calls you home

Omo onIle Alayan*

It is to you that this call is made

Rise up!

Take charge

Claim your identity

Pick up your drum and listen

Send a message to the one whose skin changes

In the fierceness of the sun

Tell him to release my lover

Tell him chant to my lover:

Make your feet come back the way they went, make your legs come back the way they went, plant your feet and your legs below and find your way to Akanke..”

Omo Ayan*

Do not fail in your duty

Let your drum thud in rhythm to my name

That my lover may know

“Oluwakemi…Re mi re mi re

Akanke…doh doh mi

Is the one making the call

Let your drum continue to speak

Until my lover is home again!

Kemibon

*Ayan –god of drums/name of tree used for constructing talking drum shells/wood that talks

*Awo Oju Ilu- goat skin/skin on the face of the drum

*Omo Ayan –The initiated drummers belonging to an Ayan lineage/children of Ayan

Kemibon

BOOK REVIEW: AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE BY TAYARI JONES

Is there anyone out there? Do I still have any interested readers waiting for my posts? Wow! It has been too long! I apologize for my absence on this platform. I really did miss it but life happened and I just couldn’t keep up with reading and reviewing.

Actually, I have been reading but I didn’t feel compelled to review anything until now. This book by Tayari Jones reminded me that I still love to review books.

When I came across an ad on instagram for the sale of a gently used Amazon Kindle with over 600 books already on it, I didn’t think I would take up the offer. Out of sheer curiosity I reached out to the seller and before I could stop myself I had purchased said Kindle and books. This Kindle led me to my very first encounter with Tayari Jones’ words and better believe that I am in love!

There was something about this narration that stuck to me and wouldn’t let go. Even after I read the last word in the book I was still looking for more of the wholesome goodness of a well narrated story; a story that gives a a different perspective, one that says it as it is honestly and without diplomacy. A story of a black man and a black woman in America.

An American Marriage is not only beautiful, it evokes so many emotions from pain to sorrow to love and then heartbreak. Oh heartbreak! How heartbreaking can it be for an innocent man who’s convicted for a crime he did not commit and then to come back from prison and find that his wife has moved on. My heart bled for Roy and I could not hate Celestial.

An American Marriage was rich in character. I marveled at the way the author gave off the black vibe, the richness of their attitude, the awareness of their color and the reality of their situation. The characters were so properly described that I felt I would know them if they passed by me.

This story was simple enough to understand but complex enough to tug at one’s conscience. It made me question myself. What would I do if I were Celestial? Would I have stuck it out? Waiting for my man to get out of prison? And Andre? The steady friend who slips into lover once Roy is out of the picture. I wondered if it wasn’t only a matter of time before Andre and Celestial would get together.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones was a page turner. It kept me company on my commute home from work and I latched on to the book until I had milked out the whole story.

The danger of a mistake. That is what the book really centers on. A woman claims she was raped. She claims it was Roy. Roy is incarcerated. End of story? No. This claim spirals into the lives of Celestial, her parents, Big Roy, Olive, Andre…everyone connected to Roy suffers for one woman’s wrong claim.

The author relays the story in an easy way. The dialogue, the poetry in the words, the intensity of emotions and the turn of events in the letters exchanged between the main characters. I also enjoyed the narration as it moved from Roy to Celestial and then Andre. One is able to see each character and their inner struggles.

I loved the wisdom in the book as well. Reading lines like “If you have a woman, you recognize when you have said the wrong thing. Somehow she arranges the ions in the air and you can’t breathe as well”

or

“None of this proposing via billboard or at halftime at the Rose Bowl. Marriage is between two people. There is no studio audience.”

And

“Love makes a place in your life, it makes a place for itself in your bed. Invisibly, it makes a place in your body, rerouting all your blood vessels, throbbing right alongside your heart. When it’s gone, nothing is whole again”

I cannot quote all the lines that struck me but I can tell you that I will be reading the book again. I hope you look for this book, I hope you find the time to read it. It was a fantastic read and I recommend it for anyone who is looking for a story that’s entertaining yet relevant.

Kemibon

HOW A SONG CAN…

How a song can bring up long buried memories:

The sweet smell of roses

Presented as petals, scattered on a well laid bed

rich, red petals

A sacrifice, an offering to love and lover

How a song can pull at a heart in solitude:

Spraying the scent of love

So intense you want to choke on remembered declarations

Intoxicating like the smell of roses, like love

How a song can mess with time induced peace:

Ripping off the carefully placed bandage

So that blood appears and pain alongside

Like a finger pricked by a rose’s thorny stem

How a song can unfurl feelings long put aside:

Awakening lost dreams

Like a moss rose awakens with dawn’s kiss

Lazily

forgotten dreams of walking life’s path together descend

The result? Panic.

How a song can reveal that:

You are still healing

Still a crushed rose

Once beautifully in love

Once in bloom

Now crumpled

Bruised

And gasping for the scent of love

Kemibon

TO LOVE THREE MEN – A POEM OF PASSIONS

I

For you sire
I declare that my love for you is not undying
It is becoming
It is you who ignited the fires of my heart to glow once again
You are to me like soft rain caressing the dead to wake
You see me and you are not afraid
You know me yet you stand besides
I have made my bed of roses that I may lie with you
But you say wait a while my love
Till our hearts have been bound
So I’ll wait that my love for you may come
Full circle

II

To you sire
I declare that your words remind me of one I used to know
You remind me of what burning passion feels like
How it grips and bubbles beneath
Awaiting a single touch
But to love you is forbidden
To love you is to break the heart of another
To desire you is to wreck havoc
I know you feel it too but so noble are you
You will not follow the path of destruction
So
Let us keep this secret of our longings
Bury this passion and keep our hearts restrained
For a man who cannot keep away from temptation is weak
So for you I will be strong and that will be enough

III

In you sire
I see love so mature
It is in the way you speak and act
Lead and right
I am in awe of you
Your gentleness surpasses my mother’s
Your sweetness like the nectar of the flowers in the field
You are to me like history
Wisdom bows when you enter
You have lived and loved
Lost and won
Victory over vanities
You have lived
To love you is to love wondrously
To be with you is surprising
But
I cannot have you
So
Let me read you a sonnet
Tell you of how beautiful are the ways
Of love and loving
I’ll render my love in the service of my presence
When I smile at you and listen to tales of old

Kemibon
June 2019

JUMP

This is me

Wanting you

Wanting to jump into your arms

Like a cat

I want to move in delightful circles

Until I find a comfortable spot

Where I’ll stay in peaceful contentment

This is me

Wishing for you to be old

Wishing that I was younger so it would make sense

This is me

Falling for you

Falling like fools do

This is me

Counting

Counting the days

Till I see you again

So we can sit in the far left corner of my beige couch

And talk

Talking is easy with you

So I count

The days

This is me

Gazing

Not at stars

But at your perfectly shaped

Red lips

Especially

When you hide a smile

After that sweet sounding laughter

This is me

Wondering

Wondering how incredibly beautiful it is(would be)

To love you

kemibon

MEET ME AT THE RIVER

Meet me at the river 

Meet me at the river
Where the azure of the sky is reflected in the face of the waters

Meet me at the river
Where the trees stand close
Bowing their heads in the wind
Whispering like best friends at a wedding ceremony 
Exchanging notes on the beauty of the bride

Meet me at the river
That flows through our fertile land
Meet me where the river forks
And bids farewell to all who seek its blessing

Meet me at the river 
Where lovers gaze into eyes that swim with adoration 

Meet me at the river
Dear one
That we may render promises 
Of forever to our heart’s content

Meet me at the river
Where maidens bathe at midnight
Beseeching the gods for fertility and lasting love

Meet me at the river
My darling 

Meet me where the footsteps fade into the soft Sand at the shore
Where children love to play and dance to the sounds of the night
Children
Who walk fearlessly towards the waters with majestic steps
Longing for the warmth of the river long heated by the rays of the sun 

Meet me at the river
That we may hold hands
Stare into the pale milky fullness of the moon
And tell tales of our first meeting 

Meet me at the river
Meet me at the river
Meet me at the river 
that love may put us to sleep in it’s sweet embrace.

Kemi bon