Wednesday, 22 October 2014


There are three very important dates or days for every individual; birthdays, marriage anniversary (priestly anniversaries for those that embraced chastity) and the not so pleasant death day. The first two are remarkable in the life of any individual and where resources permit, celebrated in grand style under a special jubilee name depending on the number of years being celebrated.
Jubilees are named depending on the number of years in question as follows: Wood (5 years), Tin (10 years), Crystal (15th), China (20th), Silver (25th), Pearl (30th), Ruby (40th), Gold (50th), Diamond (60th), Platinum (70th), and Titanium (100th).
It is worrisome how rarely, these names sound in our present age especially in the case of marriages. Most marriages today start out very promising but all of a sudden flip-flops and crash land on a dead end, even before it ever gets to kiss a Wood or Tin.
Often, I sit and ponder, “How did water get into the coconut? What has led to demeaning of marital vows? Our parents enjoyed marriages that span long years, sometimes brought to an end by death but the case is different today.”
Only recently, I came to a conclusion that it must be one of two things or both; it was either they were ill-informed about the institution or they played down some salient yet vital points in the course of courtship.

So before you seal your mind on whether to say I DO or I DON’T, here are some factors you should consider:
You may have at one time or another heard various versions of these sentences from a girl, “It doesn’t matter if he has money or not. What I want is a responsible man who would love and care for me.”

Believe me, the moment you get to the point of no return, only then will you realise money has always mattered and will continue to matter. A candid advice, you young man planning to tie the knot should observe yourself. If you find it difficult giving yourself three rich and sumptuous meal every day, it would be best you held out a little longer and work on strengthening your financial muscle.

As a bachelor, if you don’t have, you may decide to go on a compulsory fast. But as a father and husband, I wonder how you would force your wife and kids into starvation – except if your system of government is tyranny. The moment you pull off bachelorhood and embrace family, expenditures are bound to mount and will climb higher with each new birth.

I know a man (name withheld) who used to sell petrol in black market to survive. He wasn’t rich but looked good at that time. Years passed and he felt he was aging and took a wife. Today, he sells buns with a basket. Worse of all; he now dresses like a man who narrowly escaped lunacy. I didn’t put this here to mock him but to drive home a point. Marriage is not a factor of age but a factor of when all the other factors especially finance have been put in place.

Naturally, this singular factor shouldn’t be on the list or considered even, but, in Nigeria and as a Nigerian getting married to another Nigerian so that both of you would live in Nigeria, it matters a lot.

Like I mentioned in one of my previous post, some tribes see themselves as superior while others to them are abominations and misfit. The uniting cloak of Nigerians was rendered between nineteen sixty seven and nineteen seventy and the friction will forever live among us. Fingers would always be pointed.

While the romance is hot, make out time to learn the tradition of your partner and wherever whenever they differ. Ask yourself, “Can I conform with this or in the case where I can’t, will I be able to modify it to my satisfaction?”

In the long run, you will find out you didn’t get married to the girl alone but to her family and her community at large. Very few inter-tribal or inter-ethnic marriages in Nigeria cross the Silver mark, majority crash after few births. Also bear in mind that ethnic frictions are bound to intervene, discuss the various possibilities among yourself and also try to phantom how best to handle them when they do come.
If your aim of getting married is to prove a point, to drink at the table of MEN, then you need not bother to get married at all. A number of ideologies have fuelled or caused people to venture into marriage when deep down, they know they are not ready.

One of such idea is embedded in according married men respect as responsible men. The lighted cannon on this is that it makes marriage appear like an achievement. But that is not what marriage is.
Let me help you to think this through: achievements are rewards people get for working so hard and probably attaining success in that field. One thing common with achievements is that, once the applause dies, the awardee shelves it and goes out in pursuit of another. Now you decide if that is what your definition of marriage is – I do know that marriage is noble and was ordained by God.

If I ever tell you to mention your achievements and along the line, you say, ‘and I am married’, I will shake my head and walk away. Marriage isn’t something to brag with, rather, a model to teach. Marriage should be in the picture when you are trying to buttress your CV, trying to show your sense of responsibility and your years of successful marriage should add a plus to your managerial skill.
What that idea that marriage is an achievement does – especially to most ladies who view it as the summit of their existence – is, makes them woe young promising young men into giving them their surnames. Some go extra miles to pin their targets down with pregnancies.

For young men, it makes the ones that are obviously write-off in all spheres of life – socially, emotional, financially, spiritually, and so on – to take up a wife just to have an achievement tagged to their once worthless names.

I however laugh at ebullient and vibrant young men that truncate their hustle in the name of love and marriage. Concrete jungle shall be their home, cold ground their bed and stone their pillow.

Finally, all these wasn’t said to stand you between I DO and I DON’T, to scare you from getting married, rather, to prepare you for the task ahead. I don’t hate marriage as some may presume already but its fall. After you might have read this, I don’t assume you would agree with all of it and that’s why the comment box is just below for you to tell me your own side of the story.

Sunday, 24 August 2014


It is said, ‘the harder the battle, the sweeter the victory’. But I tell you, if the battle becomes too hard, the sweetness of the victory would be lost. Same could be said about failures which many claim to be the definition of an individual’s strength and weakness. However, failures – especially those from parameters beyond our control – that comes in the wake of glaring success casts shadows on the authenticity and or validity of such quotes on failure.

I like many other ambitious and zealous Nigerian youth have failed, not once, not twice. In fact, I have lost count. More intriguing is that the failures am talking about isn’t in my entire life rather an aspect of it – my writing career. If I venture to compile the former, Guinness would be forced to create a new World in their Record Book (that is if I would ever complete such a mission).

From the inception of my writing till date, I have entered countless writing contests, still yet to succeed in any. I always approach all the contests as if it was my last chance; write-out my heart, de-ideating my brain in the process. Next thing I do is go through the rigours of getting close friends to read, review and spot typos and missing strings. The body language of a handful of my friends tells me that am already a burden to them. Some will give me a hasty reply, ‘LATER’, which more often isn’t delivered. Some am sure don’t even read but will reply in emphatic adjectives – and I warn that giving someone too much false hope is a grave inhumanity to your fellow man – that will make my head swell and up my confidence and aspirations,

“Ah! It’s very good”, “You are a great writer”, and so on to avoid hurting my feelings. In the end, only a few give me helpful tips.

Laden with huge confidence and the internal pride of self-accomplishment, I would submit these write-ups with unwavering optimism. When the results are released however, the story is different. My confidence and mental strength drains on reading those demonic lines,

“Dear Anthony, we are sorry to tell you that your story does not fit…” bla bla bla…

Some go ahead to explain their reason for rejecting your work probably to console or force the bitter lemon sweetly down your throat,

“being rejected doesn’t mean your story is bad but that it doesn’t fit into the working plan…”.

The very first of these sorts of replies – that would later be a reoccurring stanza in my rhythm – left me broken for days and weeks. Today however, their poisonous effect doesn’t get me bed ridden anymore because my mind has produced immunity against them.

Truly, nobody wants to plan and still fail or get disappointed. We all set goals – albeit at different levels – and aspire to reach them. The only enemy standing on our way is usually failure. It often succeeds but if you don’t allow it to hold you down, you’ll be surprised at how farther you’ll go beyond your initial target.

Today, I would write a story – even the smallest in word counts – and I’ll keep getting buzz and commendation from people I’ve never met my entire life. Most of them say I write so well they look forward to my new posts. At such times, I would look back and flinch, not in disgust but constant realisation of how I wouldn’t have become a better writer if I had listened to the loud voice of inertia and dropped my pen after that first wave of cascading failures.

Yes! That’s the point am trying to make obvious. The more you remain resolute in what you do, in your dream and aspiration, the moment you muffle all the voice telling you to quit, you set yourself on the path of excellence. This may not turn you into an instant award winner but one thing you’ll be sure of is that you’ll not be the same person you were, you’ll become a better you. I am a better writer, I know that, don’t ask me how. And I believe the awards and recognition will one day come.

This brings me to the pathetic tale of a friend of mine who for a very long time had stood by me, feeding me with unrivalled amount of motivation. Recently, this friend explained to me how one could draw inspiration from ones immediate mind state; joy, bitterness, depression, anger and so on. As I write, this friend is in dire need of solace and motivation. I guess even the motivator sometimes needs motivation and it would be thirty-third degree evil of me to sit and watch at such a time.

This friend of mine right from undergraduate days to post NYSC had strong in heart to make a mark in the world, to stand out, to be distinguished. Early this year, the friend applied for a Master’s scholarship and got it. I was all stressed up and angry that afternoon when I got a beep on my whatsapp. It was this friend and the message read,

“I have something to tell you.”

I quickly replied, “I hope it’s something good” – my current life is enough bad news.

“Yes” was the reply.

Much later that day, the friend broke the good news to me and I rejoiced deeply because of how much I knew this friend has struggled for this opportunity. A month later, the Korean government sent the visa and every other document required. All the while, my friend often told me of a premonition that something may go wrong, but I dispelled the fears every time it came up in our chat. In fact, I began to relay my fantasies and what I would like this friend of mine to do for me on getting over there – I think that was faith. Was it?

My friend was supposed to travel through Kenya to Korea republic. Barely a week to the journey, it was on Aljazeera that the Kenyan government has banned flights into its countries from Ebola hit countries.

“I am scared. The Kenyan government banned flights from Nigeria” was the message on my whatsapp that Friday morning.

“What? Have you contacted the Korean Government?” I asked.

“Yes but they won’t reply till Monday because today is their independence and tomorrow would be Saturday so it’s till Monday.”

“Ok. Don’t worry, am sure they’ll get you an alternative.” I said – maybe I was guilty too here of giving too much confidence.

“Am having panic attack”

“No need to, everything would be fine. Believe me.” I concluded.

The truth was, I panicked more than my friend but I said to myself that if both of us wept, who would console the other so I called up all the sangfroid in me to maintain my calm. Five days later, very early in the morning, I got the shocker,

“The programme has been cancelled because of Ebola” my friend had written.

I tried effortlessly to contact my friend but my friend would not pick calls. This development has left me also devastated. If my friend will have the heart to read this, know that I share in your pain and shutting me out only made it worse for me.

This taught me that aspirations are like steaming soup; we may smell the aroma from far away or even close but may never get to taste the soup. Just when the light at the end of the tunnel beamed so brightly, its rays was choked off suddenly from the least expected source. It’s weird how things that seemed not to matter would turn around and ruin our dreams.

How would my friend have predicted this fate the day the Liberian ‘madman’, Patrick Sawyer exported the deadly virus into Nigeria? Let’s leave aside the blame game because of the strong strings animosity it would wield likewise the healing wound it would chaff again.

Now this friend of mine is probably in a sort of trance; lonely, torn, depressed. At this point, the religious would often say, “God knows the best.” This is one phrase that vexes me the more and I would advise my friends never to use it for me – I think too much and this sentence may set me on a wrong path with my creator, my Dear God Almighty.

To my friend I would ask, “Do you think this missed opportunity is the highest you think you’ll ever attain in your entire life or do you think you deserve and can get a better one if you work towards it? If your thought resonates with the second part of my question, then you’ll have to get up, dust yourself and forge ahead. I have been in a trance before and I don’t think it’s what one will even wish for an enemy. One thing is certain when one is in a trance: nothing anyone tells you makes sense except that which you tell yourself.

Finally, beyond every disappointment is a lesson learnt, if you keep trying and refuse to quit, IT CAN ONLY GET BETTER.



Description: F:\blatter.jpg
Am not an ardent soccer fan – except am the one with the pads – but the current crisis farrowing in the Glass House pushes me to pick my paper and pen. Believe me, am flogged mentally for my prolonged resistance.

Corruption and the NFF hitherto are like Siamese; successive administrations bedevilled by fraud, misappropriation of fund, maladministration and so on. The once peaceful shenanigans hit a rock immediately after the exit of the Super Eagles from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, exposing to Nigerians what otherwise was intended to remain indoors.

The public show of disdain, disgust and distrust began on the 4th of July when a court order got the NFF president, Aminu Maigari removed on grounds of corruption and later on, arrested and detained by the men of the Department of State Security. This move attracted the mighty rod of Oga FIFA; raining sanctions and bans on the Nation for what it called external interference.  In view of the negative impact the ban and sanctions would have on upcoming international tournaments the country has spent time preparing for, the government – or whoever was in charge – was forced to upturn its decision and return Maigari to office.

Roughly three weeks later, Maigari was sent packing again by eight of the thirteen man Executive Committee of the NFF. This again attracted the red eyes of FIFA; memo upon memo on letter-headed paper from the mother body. The acting president couldn’t resist for long and left the sit for its rightful owner – but not without carving out his own faction. Will this be recorded as one of those cases of good triumph over evil? I don’t think so.

The drama hit crescendo recently and this time, it is between the NFF and the Electoral committee. Let me give you a brief gist of what is going down in case you were not informed too. The NFF Electoral Committee earlier scheduled the election of a new president to be held on the 26th of August 2014. Following the rippling sack and reinstate saga of the president, the Executive Committee decided to set aside that day to sit and forge a way forward rather than holding the election.

Lo and behold, the Electoral Committee – mind you, constituted by the Executive Committee – has come out strong to say that nothing would stop the election from holding on that day (a case of the servant becoming bigger than the master).

Now, let’s relax and ponder on some critical issues. First off, am pushed to ask why the Electoral Committee is headstrong on the election when the body that formed it says NO. Does it not smell fishy? Does it not spell hidden agenda? Come to think of it, the accreditation process of prospective candidates was very suspicious; I heard on radio that some candidates were disqualified because one receipt or the other was missing, others for a ban that happened decades ago. It got to a point I had to conclude that if they (Electoral Committee members) liked your face, they’ll get you approved and vice versa – like they don’t want anyone that would come and beam light in their darkness and was setup to foresee to that end.

The unending ban-threat by FIFA on what it calls ‘External interference’ has become obsolete and irritating with the current state of sports development in some countries, using Nigeria as a case study. One may argue that it is a universal law hence why should Nigeria be an exemption. Yes! Nigeria is driven by a bunch of corrupt leaders – and that’s putting it mildly.

The attempted removal of the President was occasioned by what the members termed gross embezzlement of the funds set aside for the soccer mondial. The fart in the NFF smelt round the world when the Super Eagles players refused to train till all their entitlements were paid. We all know what happened next; how President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan called the players personally to resolve the issue. In fact, this has become a reoccurring decimal in the life of the national soccer body.

Did FIFA at this point not see it as external interference? Why did it not ban Nigeria at this point in time?

We are aware the Nigerian government is the backbone of sports in Nigeria. That is why year in and out, Nigerians suffer in the form of tax to raise the money for the government to finance these events in the annual budget. Is it possible telling someone to put his/her money where his/her mouth isn’t?

Let us approach this matter practically from a layman’s view: assuming I sent my small brother to the market and he came back without justification for my money, them am supposed to fold my hand and watch him or even clap for him just because Dad said we shouldn’t beat our younger ones. No way! He’ll either produce my money or I’ll beat silliness out of him.

If FIFA should insist on NO EXTERNAL INFLUENCE then it should be ready to take up responsibility on total financing of the game globally unless it creates a clause in its constitution for an exemption because the current policy stands more for corruption than the independence of the game.

Why did fire have to engulf the financial offices of the Glass House and not any other place? And why is it happening now that people are pointing fingers?

Listening to the Radio Nigeria programme, ‘Radio Link’ on Saturday 23rd August 2014, I learnt from one of the guests Mr Austin Mgbolu, former spokesman of the NFA that he had five levels of communication with FIFA and that he was surprised how some of the FIFA decisions eludes him till it come on a letter headed paper. This again draws my mind to how mischievous Nigerians could be. I will advise the NFF to verify the authenticity of any letter that comes to it before acting in accordance and on the part of FIFA, they should file such information which may seem trivial under the respective countries on their web pages for easy verification of its authenticity.

Finally, I present a passionate appeal which am sure represents the supressed murmur of most Nigerians at the moment to the warring parties of the NFF: sheath your sword and lock your barrels for the sake of the young talented Nigerian youths whose career and dreams you are toiling with. Imagine if the initial ban was upheld, we won’t be talking Nigerian Falconets getting to the finals in the 2014 U20 Women Wold Cup and probably lifting the cup. The likes of Asisat Oshoala – who I call in my own words SUPER STRIKER because she reminds me of Shegs Okoro in that comic book – and Sunday and a host of others wouldn’t have reached the level of success they recorded and also would have missed playing at that level all their life.

It is my sole prayer that Leaders – no matter how small the post – in Africa would emulate the life of the great Madiba, the great Nelson Mandela and shun the sit-tight mentality, learn to quit power easily when they perceive they are no longer wanted by the people, learn to give way after one tenure in office knowing that no one can do it all.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014


Travel is said to be a great part of learning. Basically, travel is either for business or pleasure and rarely both. This time I travelled for the latter (tourism). Born and brought up in the city of Makurdi, capital of one of the North Central states of Nigeria. I often got mystified when conditions of rural dwellers were narrated. Most times I nod in the gist to the comfort of the teller while convincing myself that those tales were merely exaggerated to gain audience.

Come the fall of 2012, I decided to see for myself. As widely known, ‘charity begins at home’, I took a trip to Echori, a village in Obi local of same state, notorious for its savage lands. The trip was not in short of enthusiasm as can be expected of any tourist expedition.

We got to a junction from which a dirt road branched off. The driver turned to us and said, “This is the farthest I can go”.

Our heart skipped as we got down and pondered on what next. I almost forgot to say I went with a friend, just in case. Two motorcyclists came and stopped.

“Where una dey go?” One of them asked in broken English.

“We want to get to Echori,” I said, “How much?”

“Oga, two of you seven hundred but one person na five hundred,” the motorcyclist explained.

We hired the two in the end. As we went deeper into what seemed like a forest, we met other cyclist plying the road. I was convinced my thoughts had demeaned the exaggerated gory tales of rural dwellers. A village with such huge number of motorcycles must be more civilized than speculated. Isn’t it?

Further in, we were greeted with houses made of mud bricks – not plastered – and rusty zincs or thatches. That moment, the reality of how wrong I might have been hit me. On arrival, at the place the cyclists advised us to go because we could easily get accommodation, children rounded us – most of them cladded only on dirty pants.

We intended spending a week but realism cut the tour to two days: the only borehole – manual by the way – released only one bucket of water every three hours, there was nothing like electricity because they were cut off from national grid, the houses where apologetic. There was no way I could endure longer.

Besides the odd stories, good stories also abound: as little as two hundred naira could prepare you a sumptuous full pot of nutritious soup because of the low cost of living.

What captivated me the most was how little children would poo-poo and rub their butt on sand afterward. We took photographs of the kids, albeit they were shy at first. When we prepared to leave, we left behind cutlery, toiletries, clothes and so on. At least am sure they’ve had the experience of wiping their butt with tissue paper till I return – that is, IF I would ever return.

Thursday, 17 July 2014


Chibuzor had always been a force to reckon with in the race for who tops the class at some point in his primary years – a very cheerful and vibrant young lad. As expected, he came first at the end of the term. It was a brief three weeks Christmas holiday. On the day of resumption, the class was bustling with tales and gossips when Chibuzor ghosted in. That was unlikely and immediately caught my attention – the real Chibuzor always made a scene of his entrance.

‘What happened?’ I asked, an arm over his shoulder.

He was silent for a while before the words flew out of his mouth, ‘Daddy. And. Mummy. Fought. All. Holiday.’

The forceful and drolly manner in which the words came told me he never intended to share. I was pushed to ask further questions but my heart would not let me, gazing at his lifeless face. I rather provided as much solace as I could muster. His mood lightened over the next coming weeks with constant encouragement and friendly nudge. About a month later, he came to school with watery eyes. Walking straight up to me, he broke down in tears,

‘Mummy has gone away,’ he cried.             

I hugged him tightly and let his tears soil my uniform on the shoulder. He cried his heart out and cleaned his eyes. I for once knew I wasn’t sure of what to say so I kept quiet. Later, at break time, I engaged him in an elaborate chat. That was when I found out that his mum was from the Idoma ethnic group while his dad was Igbo by tribe and that tribal difference sprouted the dispute, somehow. His father forcefully took custody of them and sent them to the village. Chibuzor never got to make it to the top of academic excellence he was known for and currently enjoys a meagre salary as a teacher. Probably, his academic excellence would have made way for a better fortune for him but that was never to be. Tribal difference at then to me didn’t present any meaning, talk more of being a threat to peaceful  coexistence until years later when I prepared to leave home for university.

I had packed my bag that morning and readied to leave when my father called me aside for a last minute fatherly advice,

‘Ebuka, come here,’ he had called.

‘Sir?’ I responded and came over.

‘You are now leaving for the university so be very careful and face your books.’

Brief pause, I nodded.

‘Yoruba girls are dangerous, they easily charm men. Run from Nsukka girls (who are also Igbo but with confusing accent) too because those ones behave like the Hausas and you know very well Hausas don’t have sense. The Calabar girls…’

I felt uneasy with the discussion because I at then had a phobia for women (caused by his ugly tales about women) which obviously he had failed to observe so I let my mind trail off cutting short assimilation of his words. To my father, every other race or tribe – even those of his tribe but with different accent – had demonic tendencies.

Watching him talk to people of other tribes rudely or associate with them coldly was to him justifiable because they were evil. When I grew older however, his mentality gradually washed off me and I began to make my own judgements. Firstly, I realised that there was no such thing as a bad race but bad people; my secondary school classmate who helped me put out my best through his unending competitions was Yoruba by tribe, the girl that became my personal teacher after my first year woes in the university was Igbo by tribe but from a different state of origin (in fact, shares the same state as the Nsukkas), the girl that fed me with sumptuous meals to ensure I didn’t die from my poor diets during my service year (of mostly soaked garri and sugar) was a Yoruba Christian from a Muslim ancestry.

It is without doubt that many ethnic groups or race see themselves as being superior to another. This mentality to a large extent directs their behaviours towards the acclaimed lesser tribes or race and vice versa. This same mentality has pulled down most inter-tribal and inter-racial marriages due to pressures from families of both parties. Therefore, it is easy to see that causes of disunity stems from the mentalities we flaunt.

Another conclusion I reached quickly was that every chaos had a small beginning. Such thing as a simple feel of superiority or inferiority by an individual or a small group could blossom to a nationwide mayhem if not nipped at the bud. Same can be said about religious and political violence – they mostly start with one party posing as superior or threatened.

As a teacher now in a remote primary school, I saw how a simple advice could turn around an individual’s life. Jemila wasn’t witty in the class albeit she manages to secure promotion at the end of every session. I had observed her solitude for some time and it was worrisome. It was break time when I entered the class – haven completed a lesson with another class – and found her sobbing.

‘Jemila, come here.’ I said when I was seated.

She walked sluggishly from behind the class to my seat at the corner of the front of the class, ‘Sir?’

‘Why are you crying,’ I asked.

‘Nothing,’ she replied amidst tears. She was reluctant to say but after few more times of repeating myself, she burst out her tantrum, ‘I don’t like what Joy and favour are doing. They are always insulting me that I don’t know anything but don’t talk to Juliana. Anything I do in this class is different. Is it because I don’t have father or mother?’

At that point, I didn’t want to hear anymore. Children will always be children; they always seek fun even if it means capping on the weakest classmate. I didn’t think twice before I gave her my reply,

‘Why are you behaving like a kid? Don’t you know that they like to see you cry and you are making it easy for them? When next any of them insult you, insult them back and if they beat you, come and tell me and I will take it up from there. Stop seeing yourself to be inferior to them and mingle freely with them and you will see how they will come to respect you.’

Even though I said the words so convincingly, I still nursed doubt if she would ever take it or if it ever works. But alas, she heeds to it and it worked! The once shy and timid Jemila soon began to bubble with life and excitement and even joined the boys to play ball. Although those words didn’t change her poor grades, it changed her worldview and I think that’s most important – I gave her something to live for. Imagine if I hadn’t taken that bold but sublime step but throttled the road of ignorance. Maybe she would have sought solace elsewhere and could easily get it amongst bad company. This would have been terrible because her default demeanour towards the world and everything it contained would have been hate. This same animosity I presume consumes terrorists when they launch their attacks.

When individual’s feelings are neglected or treated mildly, be it the feeling or superiority or inferiority, we pay the ultimate prize, war. Most importantly, we should put the future of our young generation first before taking any major decisions that could make or mar them. The fight against terrorism should begin from the home. As it is said; “You can’t give what you don’t have”, so also, a war torn home can never make a peaceful society.

Friday, 13 June 2014




Description: (StampedWhite) 2013 Search Heroes.jpg




The $20,000 Golden Baobab Prizes – Submission Deadline Two Weeks Away


The deadline for the 2014 Golden Baobab Prizes is June 29th, 2014 – less than two weeks away – but just enough time for African writers and illustrators to enter their stories and illustrations to any of the 6 prizes for which they qualify, for a chance to win the up to $20,000 in cash prizes plus in kind prize packages.


The 6 prizes offered by Golden Baobab this year are:

·         The $5,000 Golden Baobab Prize for Picture Book

·         The $5,000 Golden Baobab Prize for Early Chapter Book

·         The $2,500 Golden Baobab Prize for Rising Writers

·         The $5,000 Golden Baobab Prize for Illustrators

·         The $2,500 Golden Baobab Prize for Rising Illustrators

·         The Golden Baobab Lifetime Achievement in Children’s Literature Award


Golden Baobab is a not-for-profit social enterprise dedicated to ensuring that African children have access to whimsical, delightful and magical African stories that will inspire their imaginations and ensure they fall in love with reading. The prizes seek to discover, nurture and celebrate the very best African writers and illustrators of children’s content.


Apart from the $20,000 cash prizes, this year’s prize packages include publishing opportunities, mentorship opportunities and opportunities to attend exclusive Golden Baobab workshops and award ceremonies.


Last year, the prizes received over 180 submissions from 13 African countries.  Karen Hurt (South Africa), Liza Esterhuyse (South Africa) and Kanengo Rebecca Diallo (Tanzania) emerged as the overall winners.


For more information on how you can enter these prizes visit Golden Baobab’s website ( or contact the coordinator, Nanama B. Acheampong at


You can also connect with Golden Baobab on:

Facebook page:

Twitter page:







The overrated tag, ‘Head of the Family’, placed on men has in recent times become the greatest weapon of deception used to strip them of any accolade that should be accorded them in a family and our society at large. In our society today, men labour till the last breathe to ensure the survival and blossom of his family but alas! The woman bags the honours at the end.

From the moment a boy begins reasoning like a man (which varies with individuals, but according to the law begins the day he attains the legal age of eighteen; to some however, it is the day he graduates from university or its equivalent) there is always a girl somewhere that gives him sleepless nights (exception of those that willingly chose to live celibate lives). He at this point struggles to acquire wealth to entice the girl and further facilitate his marriage to this dream bride. This same lady he must have worked hard to please.

The life of a man is one of persistent struggle. Getting the attention of a lady is not always an easy task. It often requires huge investments in the form of money, time and patience. The problem doesn’t end with the woman accepting to flaunt the engagement ring rather it makes way for the next phase of ‘snoozing problem’. The yes nod by the woman means greater hurdles to be crossed by the man. This immediately doubles the man’s problem. First, he has to break several sweats to gain the blessing of the girl’s parents and also fight off any form of opposition in the form of her ex-boyfriends if any. Secondly, he begins thinking of means to raise his income to cater for the bride price (which is gaining weight with each passing day) and subsequently the traditional and white wedding.

The final legalization of the union paves way for the second phase of ‘problem snooze’. The man has to defile his aching nerves and worn out muscles most nights to ensure that the wife is sexually satisfied. This routine exercise or activity must be accomplished often especially as fresh couples or it could open a rift in the still fragile union (not withstanding how tired his work place had made him). Most marriages have met their early doom because the husband failed to meet up with the wife’s sexual demands. Little wonder it had become a reoccurring sight on the pages of the press new of men who died during sexual intercourse. However, cases of women who died during the same act are rare (exception being unfortunate cases of rape).

The nine months of pregnancy makes the man go through tumultuous mental shift which presents him with incessant nightmares and day dreams. All these occur because his brain is mostly preoccupied with thoughts of safety of his wife and her unborn child. It is easily observed that most men grow pale during this period especially if it is their first issue. It is most appalling that most women undermine the mental contribution of the men during this period. The fact that they don’t walk around with babies in their tummies doesn’t mean they don’t carry both of you in their tiny brains. It is by far true that mental exercise drains one more than physical exercise since the brain consumes lots of oxygen and glucose. As a famous BBC sports commentator Jon Champion puts it, ‘once the mind (brain) goes tired, the body goes with it’.

During the critical hours of labour, while the woman yells from the birth pangs in the labour room, the man stays close, praying to God with all the faith in his being, heart thumping beneath his breast. When well-wishers begin trooping in to pay homage to the new born, praises are rendered to the woman for the child forgetting it was the man who laboured day and night to ensure that the wife got pregnant. His part is completely neglected like it is an inconsequential part of procreation. This also goes a long way to show how our society praises ‘results’ rather than ‘hard work’.

The joy of every woman in her matrimonial home is climaxed with the cry of a child and increases with each subsequent births, so does the burden of the man. Some women pressurise their husbands into having numerous children, not giving a hoot to the harsh economic realities of recent times. Every new birth means extra mouth to be fed, another body to be clothed, and more miscellaneous expenditures to be taken care of. Funny enough, most women don’t contribute a penny in terms of finance to the routine running of the home. The father stands aside, enduring all these pain for the joy of a brighter future for his children.

At the end of the day, these children come of age and raise their voices in unison to chorus:

Sweet mother, I no go forget you for this suffer wey you suffer for me…

When I no chop, my mother no go chop…

This particular song keeps the father at bay and makes it appear as if he stood aside with folded arms from conception till the child attained his/her present age and paid no attention to their wellbeing. This is totally erroneous and should be corrected. The song ‘Sweet Mother’ by Nigerian/Cameroonian singer Prince Nico Mbarga and his band, Rocafil Jazz, released in 1976 has sold over 13 million copies to date. In 2004, the song won the BBC readers and listeners Africa’s Favourite Song award. A song is loved if the words of the lyrics are considered true by the audience or in some cases, if the beat appeal to their hearing.

This one sided praise seems to be worse in Africa especially in my dear country Nigeria. Many musicians have so far followed the footsteps of the great highlife performer Prince Nico in the eulogy for mothers. Mc Loph of the blessed memory recorded a song for mothers where he featured Flavour. The song titled ‘Mama’ generated a lot of buzz and also got them smiling to the bank with ample recognition of stardom. Others include M.I, Mr Incredible’s  ‘My Belle, My Head’ where he expressed his love for his mother and how he’ll go any extreme to ensure her survival during trying times. When the song isn’t about mothers, it ends up 70% of the times as praise or adoration of young mother to be ladies. Only thrice have I heard songs by Nigerian artists with men as the theme. Although the songs weren’t praising the toil of fatherhood but rather expressing their feelings towards a man they love so much, I consider it a good start. These instances includes Desperate Chick’s track ‘This boy’, Sorty in the song ‘Malaria’ and the new to the scene young damsel Chidinma in her debut Kedike.

The story is however slightly different in the western world. Fathers tend to receive a good amount of recognition once in a while. The most glaring of such instance is embedded in the lyrics of the song ‘Dance With My Father’ by Luther Vandross. The song became one of the most requested songs at that time. During the 2004 Grammy Awards, ‘Dance With My Father’ earned Vandross the twin accolades, Song of The Year and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. Like I said before, if the audience didn’t appreciate the lyrics, the song wouldn’t have gotten to such lofty height.

The high standards and hurdles fathers set for their children especially their sons often scare them away into the open arms of their emotional mothers and gain them the reputation, ‘Wicked man’. Women and mothers entirely tend to be emotional and soft to realities, hence prefer to give their children free-hand to do as they will (same reason why most youths will openly confess that they love their mothers more than their fathers because every youth wants freedom). Am certain that if a census is conducted on the effect of parental training on the outcome of a child, the result will show that children brought up under the supervision of their fathers will turn out to be more responsible at adulthood than children trained by single mothers. You and I know that iron sharpens iron as clearly emphasised in the Bible (Proverbs 27:17). You don’t expect a child to be great if you don’t burden their minds to some extent with problems and discipline.

The pride of fatherhood has been threatened enormously in recent times by the irresponsible attitude of some fathers. Some fathers price their job and wealth above the ware fare and emotions of their children. Some children don’t set their eyes on their father for days. Their father travel for years, abandoning what was meant to be a shared responsibility to the woman. Such children grow with the affection of their mother who was always there for them at the time of need. When they grow, they are not to be blamed if they choose to shower all the praises on their mother. Other so-called fathers go out in the morning and return late at night drunk (what images are they showing as the head?).

Renewed incidences of rape on young women by those who were naturally created to be their protector casts questions on the future and dignity of the noble word fatherhood. The one incident that remains fresh in our mind is the case where a young medical student in New Delhi (India), 23 years of age, was raped in a bus and later thrown out. This incident resulted in her death and further sparked protest across the country. A number of rape cases have also been reported in Nigeria by both young men and fathers alike. This prompted the House of Representatives on Tuesday March 5th to approve life imprisonment for any person convicted of rape. They also approved a minimum of 20 years without an option of fine for persons convicted of gang raping someone.  The combined actions of robbery, use of illicit drugs, rape and a host of other heinous crime mostly promulgated by ebullient young men in their prime hastens the transfer of praise to their female counterparts.

I intend making a remake of the song ‘Sweet Mother’ to ‘Sweet Father’ and I challenge Nigerian artists to do the same. I dare them to put these words into a beat let’s hear how it would sound:

‘Sweet father, I no go forget you for this suffer wey you suffer for me…

If I no chop my father go run around for street to raise money to buy me something to eat ooo…

If I the sick, my father go carry me, he go carry me run go hospital…’

When they are done, let’s place the songs side by side with the traditional version and see how it would fare in the market. Every year, the church (mostly Catholics and Anglicans) sets aside a day to honour women (Mothering Sunday). This day has become so popular that it is gradually gaining universal acceptance. On such days, parties are thrown in their respect and they are also showered with gifts. That of fathers is celebrated on low key that not everyone is aware of its existence.

This is a wakeup call directed to every man to amend his ways so that they can regain that which is almost lost. It is paramount that every man understands the meaning of the title ‘HEAD’ bestowed on them. It is important to note how anything that affects the head has an extended effect on the rest of the parts. Like a proverb says, ‘uneasy lies the head that wears the crown’, every man should strive to be outstanding in both morals and attitude. If every man unites in good morals and redefine their interests in family matters, their voices and nobility will reverberate round the earth and their dignified Fatherhood accorded the desired respect for all ages. In the final analysis, it is without doubt that women model the home but it is in my candid opinion that the time is ripe for fathers to be appreciated, appreciate their sweat and the tough decisions they have to make for the betterment of the family. Appreciate your father today. I love my mother but will always respect my father.


Since it was a new year's eve, I  thought it the perfect time to conclude my findings on Nigerian literature.
 'This is it! Rubbish! Nigerian literature is dead!'. I muttered beneath my breath as I scanned through the last paragraph of a prose that had won a prestigious writers award a week earlier.
Most people are of the opinion that the worst that could happen to any living being was death but the turn of event has taught me that the death of hope supersedes any other form of demise.

For six months straight, I've been rummaging through stories especially those by renowned Nigerian authors and also those stories that had garnered lots of reviews. It was only now that I understood truly the saying that not all that glitters is gold. None out of the thousand-plus stories I read could quench my thirst for uniqueness in the skill of writing.
There was no doubting the fact that Nigerian authors now lacked creativity, their stories had over time become more or less redundant; recycling told stories in different words. I only realised how loudly I've been speaking to myself when I lifted my head to close to a hundred staring eyes scattered in the three hundred capacity multi-purpose University of Nigeria library. I forced myself mute, allowing the accumulated anger swell in me.

Part of me pushed me to the bookshelves to try another story but NO! My robe of patience was too soiled and reeked of hopelessness, I had to pull it off. I slammed the book I held on the table, ignoring the wild angry comments and suppressed curses its sound attracted. I got up, packed my belongings from the library table and dragged my feet through the aisle that led to the door. I was determined to infuse some of my anger into the innocent readers and gladly, my action yielded tremendous level of success. I felt every single eye in the building follow me as I dragged to the door.

I was about to open the door when a Librarian called my attention. I stared him down from head to toe but those grey hair was too strong a force-pull to be ignored.
'What on earth has reduced you into such a low-life behaviour'? He rebuked.
Those words was like a spark that immediately brought life back to my numb spirit. I couldn't resist such an open invitation to pour out my heart to him. When I was done, he sighed and flung his head in pity. Even though I wasn't looking, I had a feeling most of the readers were eavesdropping on our conversation because the hall went grave silent. 'I think I have what you have been looking for' he whispered. My eyes shone with all eagerness at the revelation.
'If such a book ever existed, how come I never heard of it or saw a review on it'? I asked in quick succession.
I watched the librarian's eyes dampen with tears and his head drop after my question. I acted wisely by maintaining the silence to enable him sort out whatever the problem was. After few minutes, he inhaled deeply, placed his right hand on my shoulder and said;

'Two scores and a decade ago, a young lad found passion in writing. He wrote for his school magazines, classroom notice boards and close pals and they all appreciated his work. A day came when he had an inner conviction to do something bigger. It was challenging but after three years, he came up with a book. He sent the book to several publishers but each time, it was returned with a letter of excuse regards to why they couldn't publish it. A friend advised him to get few big names in the field of writing to write forwards on the book, that way, no publisher would resist the offer. This young lad embarked on a search and to his astonishment, most of the award winning authors demanded for money in return for a forward. Out of frustration he designed a cover, glued together the 365 pages to produce a story book and hid it in a library, hoping one day, the book will get the exact recommendation it truly deserves'.
He told me to wait while he fetch the book. I stood there like a statue gaping in awe. Five minutes later, he resurfaced with a dust laden book and stretched it out for me to take. As I took the book from him, he voiced in a low tone, 'the book holds a treasure that the world is yet to know'.
I watched keenly with questioning eyes as he retired to his work post then I hurried back to grab a seat and enjoy my gift. The entire book was covered by a thick layer of dust that concealed the title. I blew off the dust and wiped the book clean with my handkerchief. It was amazing how the three word title 'HAPPY NEW YEAR' came alive in my heart as my eyes read them off the cover. I rubbed my eyes in delight and cleaned my wet palms before flipping it open. I gazed bewildered at the blank pages more furious than ever. A voice I recognised as that of the Librarian came over my shoulder and said,

'We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is filled with opportunity and its first page is New Year's Day'. Happy New Year isn't just three words, it is the first words that begin our annual story. How good your story will become is up to you.


Never will any amount of encomium poured out for women, our mothers, Ezinne (Good Mothers), be considered too much. Undoubtedly, mothers are the strong pillars of any home and the stability of any family revolves around them; the power to make or break a home. In most homes, mothers are the ones that stay behind to spend more time with the children, teaching them morals and basic tenets of life. My mother had a strong effect on my early life and still has, till today even.

The church as one family, united in Christ has the Catholic Women Organisation (CWO) as her mother. Viewing this noble organisation with this eye makes it easy for us to see how much more responsibilities this organisation is bestowed with; much more beyond coming together once every month to meet and collect dues, levies or fines. (Although coming together in itself is something good because it helps to foster unity, understanding and rejuvenate our dying communal living which by far supersedes western individualistic lifestyle, it shouldn’t end there however. There is a gap yearning to be filled.) The same role women play at home should be translated into the church.

One of the things I expect to see in the nearest future from our mothers, our CWO, is them developing an NGO which will generate funds to help other mothers that have been widowed through giving them soft loans or grants. This will go a long way in making them feel like a part of the family, save them from ‘religious prostitution’ and bring succour to their children who are in fact, the responsibility of the community. Like the Igbos say, nwa bu nwa ora nile. A child is the child of the community.

Secondly and most importantly, our youths are going astray and in need of motherly care and advice. Many families today are in disarray because both parents, father and mother, leave very early in the morning for work, returning very late in the evening. The children are left at the mercy of the house helps, peers or themselves (Please! am in no way advocating for our mothers to become house wives. That era is gone, long gone and should be left there). Mothers can still make out time from their busy schedule to talk to their children. That one minute can make a whole difference. The truth is that, most men are carefree about their children but care more for their business and ever ready to shift blames to the mother when the child goes wayward.
Translating the same scenario into the church, CWO can make herself relevant in the lives of the youth, her children, by delegating a member or two to speak to the Catholic Youth Organisation of Nigeria (CYON) on every meeting. They could also organise skill acquisition workshops for our youths, bringing in facilitators where necessary to teach our youths how to ‘catch their own fish’ rather than jumping from one place to another in search of one favour or another, sometimes jumping into trouble in the process. The CWO should for once forget about capital projects and think about growing pious, intelligent and self-sustaining minds. Capital projects are important; indispensable. However, the church can do without them but the church will crumble if the level of decay in the minds of our youths is not checked, fast. Therefore, inasmuch as infrastructures are important, spirituality and intellectual should not be relegated. Just like the bible said in proverbs 22: 6, ‘Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.