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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

ugwu.jpg

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.

HALFOFAYELLOW-master1050.jpg

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.

Half_of_a_Yellow_Sun film.jpg

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.

photo

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.

Adeoye's book.jpg

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.

 

WEIGHTLESSNESS 2

This intimacy we share

Makes me long for all of you

The mornings and the evenings

To wake up and reach for you and find you tucked safely in a corner of my life

The warmth of Your voice 

Like the early morning rays 

Soothing 

Your hands 

How I long to interlace my fingers with yours and assure you that I’ve got you

Resisting the urge to stay aloof when we are together is a testament to my strength

You know this

I see how you struggle too

No one else can see it

Just you and me

The dance

How we tread softly around 

These age old feelings

That have become part of our lives

We have tried 

To stay away from each other 

You know this

Yet

Everyday

I find myself longing to reach you

Talk to you

Share with you

Laugh with you

See you

Every single time

It’s the same

The ease that is

The magic that lies beneath

The bubbling excitement of being close to you

I want dearly to have free reign over your body

To grab you by your slim waist and mould you to me 

To hold you deliberately close 

So you can hear how my heart beats

For you

I am naturally me with you

With you I fly

Because you give me wings

But what is my gain

If I take you and lose my soul

The soul to give you the purest part of me

The innocence of platonic friends 

I strive to be the best friend to you

To be there for you

To pick your calls at midnight and speak calm into your troubled mind

I cherish those moments we spend 

In deep meaningful conversations 

Sharing wisdom

Exchanging knowledge 

Acknowledging depth

You are deep

As I am

Sometimes I try to imagine that you

Are my twin

This connection is so…

There

You 

Don’t know what you do to me

Your essence

How it curls around my entire being 

And warms my heart ever so tenderly 

You 

Outstandingly beautiful 

In your very own skin

You are comfortable 

Do you realize how rare that is?

You confound me sometimes 

I find myself gasping for air

Trying to find my feet in the sweet waters of your ever present likeness

You 

Smart mouth

Always ready to banter

My steady

Ready laughing partner 

You get me

You get it

You get? 

But 

I’ll rather take the pockets of joy

That your presence can afford

Than set us up for a disastrous end

You know how much I want to be with her

How much she wants me

I will never take your friendship for granted 

Even if I have to bear this burden of loving you from the sidelines 

For what will be my gain

If I lost you and lost her?

Then lose myself in the misery of loss?

If I’ve never said it before 

If it has never been clear to you

I’ll tell you

I think of you in the warmest ways

I am happy to have you in my life

And this is all because when I think of what love is, can be

It is you

You’re the one 

That got away. 

Kemibon 

IT STARTS WITH A BUZZING

It starts with a buzzing 

A tingling in the body that cannot be readily explained 

You shiver at the audacity of the grim reaper

All at once blood rushes to your head and your heart

Lightheaded

You reach for all you have been told about death

You fan the flames of your conviction 

And remind yourself that this is not the end 

No, it is only birth into another life

An after life

You quickly rummage in your memory for the last conversation you had with the newly departed

you examine your thoughts 

Were you in good terms?

Did you fail her?

Did you do right by her?

Did you miss her calls and forget to return them?

Were you a worthy friend

A decent human to her?

Your whole being quivers 

When you think of her awesome qualities 

What made her so great to keep around 

And how your life will be less colorful

With her absence

You draw up her laughter

Her favorite namesake for you

You call up the first time you met

The experiences shared

The things you alone know

Her secrets tucked away for safe keeping with you

You ponder her trust in you

To seek you in tough times

You wonder at her love for you

Even when it has been years since you were in her presence

You push back the heaviness that wishes to express itself through tears

Your heart remains sunken 

Like it is weighed down by heavy stones 

This weariness that creeps in 

Is just one of the many ways your entire being grieves 

You are weak and burdened with sorrow

See, sorrow washes over you

And leaves a cloak of dismay and fear at the swiftness of life’s end

The panic attacks that come when darkness overcomes the day

The sweaty breakouts 

The blank outs

Where you zone out of present conversations and immerse yourself in past ones with the departed

And the nights after you know she has passed

Sleep eludes you 

You close your eyes and its the beloved face you see

You feel cold, then hot

You try to shake the feeling that the departed has come to bid you fare well

You hope that she has

But then you can’t see her so 

You are caught between hoping and dreading

And When you forget for a second that she is gone you feel guilty 

This ebb and flow continues 

Will continue 

Until one day in the future

You’ll think of her

And your heart rate won’t change

You’ll find the pain easing

You’ll remember her 

You always will

But for today

Right in this moment 

You are indisputably and utterly crushed

And that is what lingers.

KEMIBON

MEMORIES OF A STORM

The pain may be dull now

But the memories remain

You can see him clearly

The night he untied your nuptials

His cold eyes

The way he regarded you

The distance you felt over the telephone

Not comparable to the distance he had prepared for your arrival

His aloofness only interrupted by his hospitality

The type reserved for guests

You wanted to reach him

Seek his face for something akin to affection

You failed

The storm started slowly

It gathered with every act of rejection

Every avoided eye contact

Even an attempt at making love

Was met with absence

Pity crawled in when he said

Lay your head on my chest if you want

You started to feel tightness in your belly

Alarm

Fear

Confusion

The storm brewed

What was this you thought?

This disregard for the vows so proudly uttered before mankind

What was this?

This uneasiness around you

You spent the days of your spousal visit

In wonder

The wonder at forever’s end

This was it

The end as your lover called it

The storm came in form of tears

Starting in the very depth of your belly

It racked your entire being with its intensity

You strong feminist

Brought to tears by a mere man

You thought

How could you have stooped so low to conquer love

And then be lifted up in the agony of rejection

You wept

Kemibon

BICYCLE CHRONICLES 1

They say you never forget

Once you know how

But nobody dwells on the knowing

The how

And the wobbles you have to overcome along the way

You think you can achieve balance until you mount a bicycle for the first time

The panic that creeps in when you realize you are in a free fall cannot be contained

so you prepare to squeal

But as an adult you don’t want to be too loud so it comes out as a squeak

After a few brushes with the fence, the car and any other object in sight in an attempt to find balance

You realize that a determined mind will overcome but a fearful one will never raise a leg to the pedal

Looking straight ahead with some focus rather than casting eyes to the ground is soon learnt

And then the joy, oh the joy

When you finally make a full cycle

Not cycling backwards

And fumbling awkwardly

But projecting forward with a full revolution

I don’t know how to ride a bicycle yet

With the cockiness of those who learnt as children

But when I do

I certainly hope I never forget!

Kemibon

LONG DISTANCE

I have awoken to an uncomfortable truth

That I find it easier to relate over distances

Where feelings tug at me in near quarters

I am quick to back away

Could it be traced to my father’s absence at home?

His love for me seemingly overshadowed by his love for work?

Or my distance from people who are not characters in a book?

My Aloofness creeping in slowly and unknowingly

I have awoken to the ease with which I bear relating from a distance

Needing space

Craving aloneness

Even My marriage was distanced

Emotions and disputes fed through the wires

Little things seemed so big

And big things brought to the state of nothing

Distance does that

Creates separate experiences

Distance relates with caution

Distance knows that love can get lost in the space between

Different time zones

Why do I  seem to gravitate towards distance?

Whose affections will bring the desire for intimacy ?

That distance will become a thing regretted and discarded?

I am awake

But my eyes are shut

I am not ready to let go of the soothing space that distance affords me.

Kemibon

WEIGHTLESSNESS

I’ll rather take the
Pockets of joy
That your presence can afford
Than the heaviness of your absence

That you belong to another is the most weighty thought that I have to bear

To think That I once had you in my arms
Sears me through and through

To love you is to walk on the softest and pinkest of clouds
Those pink clouds of the morning
That herald the newness of the day

When I walk beside you
I take
Light steps
Bright steps
Happy ones

To love you so helplessly from the sidelines is my only chance at joy full ness in this moment

I have no right to frown when you speak fondly of her
I see how willing you are to be with her
And
To accommodate this friendship so wholesomely with the fluidity of a mature mind

Midnight conversations
Vulnerable moments
Real tears
You share in them all
And
In those moments I wonder

Does he still burn
For me like he did a decade ago?
Can he still pant after me?
Does he see beyond the subtle rejection on the stairs
When I told him off because
See, I was young and proud
And he was on the streets
Hustling for his future
And no time was spared for me so
I left…

Do I suffer now for that age of foolishness?

I am in awe of the depth of my love for you
Still so energetically drawn to you
I am
Naturally me with you
And you
Do you see it?

This effortlessness that is
This ease that people see
This power filled attraction
That palpable stillness between us
That propels the question
When will it be?
Your union…when

We don’t only look good together
We are good together
Existing in your space is to call comfort by name

Alas It is not to be
This is not a love lorn story
This is love besides
Love because
And love in spite
Of
Love

Weightlessness
That is how I can describe it
When I am with you
I feel no pain
My heart
It sails because you are the wind beneath

So I am lifted when I am with you
Such light headed joy
Oh!A fleeting pleasure
But pleasure still

Amoreux
I desire you
Like
The morning desires the sun
Like the night reaches for the moon

I long for you
For what you could be for me
What we could be to each other
A gleeful playmate
An agreeable partner

A walk with you…is too much to ask for?

You aren’t mine
Yet
I burn for you

But

I’ll rather take the
Pockets of joy
That your presence can afford
Than the heaviness of your absence

Kemibon

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