The Thing Inside Your Sokoto by Folarin Olaniyi

                 

There are many faces. Bird-like ones. Tiger face. Cat face. Mother used to
say that those girls with cat faces are witches driven by cat spirits. And
they bring misfortunes unto their lover’s abode.

I love University of Ibadan girls, and they love themselves though not all
of them.

The first girl I chatted with on U.I soil was a slim dark balloon -cheek
chic I met in the University clinic.

Jaja clinic stood on plots of land, refusing to pose at the frontal
position of Queen’s hall.

The young Nurse had examined my blood pressure, then she would surrender a
test tube to my hands and direct her plump left of a hand towards my left
side.

‘We need your thing.’

I peered down at my trousers and back again at the Nurse.

‘I do not have low sperm count_!’ I pronounced with all sincerity and
boldness.

The three other Nurses and their students would laugh aloud. Some would
raise their left of a hand, another the right hands in excitement. Legs
went up. A student’s cheek blew up like a mechanically blown balloon.

‘I mean your Urine,’ the young Nurse clarified.

I did not laugh nor frown. Blank. The Nurses and those they were examining
would be looking at my back, like a family watching a popular comic soap
opera. Like Papa Ajasco.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

‘Ex_!’

‘Sorry,’ I uttered in haste.

I had unknowingly entered a female toilet’s room. A girl was inside. I
stood out in front of the toilet, peering at the test tube.

I would wait for the offended.

She came out, young, bright with a very long black hair like Yemoja. And
she wielded one of those faces mother detested – Bird-like face.

‘Sorry, em, for the other time.’

‘Don’t mention. Just look out for notices and instruction boards. It helps.
A lot!’

‘Sorry, one more time.’

She turned back sharply, as if I pinched her at the back of her dark neck,
and took a strange look at me. As if she is lampooning me.

‘Are you a one of those Christian brothers?’

‘At all?’

‘You are too polite. Who are you?’

‘Dapo. Hundred levels. Philosophy department.’

‘Nice! The name is Bolanle. Direct entry student in Philosophy department.’

‘Nice! Coincidence?!’

‘Hmn! Coincidence!’

‘Yes, it is. I also came for the mandatory medical screening.’

Bolanle and I became like Suya and slices of Onion, we would spice each
other. We would solve our problems like one and embrace our successes like
close friends would do.

Our relationship aggravated.

And I would know her, who she is in real terms. I never knew a woman’s
chest can take one to a journey that will demand thousands of hefty yam
tubers in appeasement to return from.

We were four in a room in Zik hall, University of Ibadan. Shady baby had
never summoned the courage to visit me. She detested Zikites. Only Bolanle
would.

‘They are like shit! I don’t know why a _ fine boy! Fine boy like you would
be posted to Zik hall,’ Shady baby would complain as if University of
Ibadan knew who I was before they posted me to Zik hall.

Bolanle would prepare rice and stew, stocked with frozen fish and well
packaged in her customized Jesus-loves-You cooler. She would then knock on
my door, like a bird hungrily beating its beak on a wet bamboo, and I would
open the door.

Bolanle would not say greetings during this time. She would wait till the
last grain of her well cooked rice mixes with my saliva.

‘How was it?’

‘Delicious. I like it.’

Her dark bird-like face would squeeze like roughened sheet. I understood. A
peck from her forehead down to the sole of her legs would appease the dark
beauty.

It was on one of these pecking exercises, fourth, that Bolanle grabbed my
body closer to hers. I then sucked her tongue. It was so sudden. The energy
was magical.

Bolanle was sitting on me, her buttocks directly on the thing inside my
sokoto.

I loosened her long black hair and fumbled with her breasts. My hands were
trembling as if I just carried a bag of beans. Saliva gulped down my
throat. I licked her left dark erect nipple with the same energy an
overflowing ice cream would demand. Then, she moaned and jerked her
buttocks on the thing inside my sokoto.

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Boys Are Dogs by Folarin Olaniyi

Akin

Busayo, a light skinned heavily breasted lady, packed into the room next to mine at a very strange time. She was dripping wet; her two leather bags clung to her hands.

The rain of August in Ibadan is not one to be joked with. It trots and tramples on lands, causing erosion, and breaks into softly nailed roofs giving those domiciled in the uncompleted building a thorough bath.

University of Ibadan had just resumed from a long vacation and students, some of us, had resorted to face me I face you apartments scattered all over Agbowo. I was one.

‘Are you a fresher?’ I asked Busayo, as I helped her with one of her luggage. She looked at me and shook her head here and there.

‘Oh. Sorry. Thought you were fresh,’ that was how the words snailed out of my mouth.

‘I am in my second year. What about you?’ she asked, as her left hand softly wipes her face.

‘I am a finalist.’

‘Seriously? What are you doing here? You should be in the hostel. D block.’ I chuckled and sat on one of the two wooden chairs in her one wooden window room and uttered, ‘You know all those politics, now? I can’t lick the ass of somebody because of one tiny room. I am not complaining here, jare.’

Silence stood between us for some seconds. She was standing opposite where I sat, the rays of the sun that comes after the August rain glittering on the clothed mounds on her chest.

‘Why are you staring in that kind of manner?’ she said, puts on a smile, strained, and sits on my armchair.

‘What is the name?’ I asked her

‘Busayo,’ she replied and stands to take a walk around her new room.’

‘I am Akin. Are you sleeping here today?’

‘Depends. I am not even here with my mattress.’

I walked towards the window and smelt the fresh icy air. The rain has started again, this time less aggressive.

‘You may use my umbrella, when you are ready to go.’

‘Okay. Thanks. For the hospatility,’ Busayo said and sees me off to the door.

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

It was one of those evenings in November, ushering the first semester examination. Hours ago, I had left Blessing in Kenneth Dike Library.

‘Are you fucking Blessing?’ Ola, my friend since hundred levels, once challenged me.

‘Don’t be raw, Ola. I and Blessing? We are just friends, jare.’

So when Busayo, the girl next door to mine, popped up the same question after her usual looking through my window and sitting her buttocks on my armchair, I kept mute for some seconds.

‘I don’t trust you guys. A girl sleeps over in your place and goes the next day with her thighs as dry as before? Unimaginable.’

‘You know I am a seminarian?’

‘Don’t give me that bullshit, boy. A seminarian studying Economics, when Religious studies and Philosophy are next door?’

I laughed out loud, from the depth of my stomach, and drew my eyes towards her chest. She caught my glance and shook her head here and there.

‘I am going to my hole,’ she said and walks towards the door, but stops halfway and utters, ‘Are you impotent?’

On Cyprian Ekwensi’s Passport Of Mallam Illia

       Author: Cyprian Ekwensi

Title: The Passport Of Mallam Illia

Publisher: HEBN PLC, Ibadan

Reviewer: Folarin Olaniyi

It was late in 1947. A young man’s train was gasping and panting up the steep incline that leads on to the Bauchi Plateau in Northern Nigeria.

Apparently he had plans ahead. One of those plans was to meet his mother, Dije, and find his father.

There in the train, he discovered an old worn out man staring at an old passport.

‘The book was his, and, presumably, he had paid his fare. But my attention had been drawn to his face, and, for the first time since the start of the journey, I noticed it. It was the face of an old man, bearded, with weak eyes from which the tears ran down freely.’

The young man will be the writer’s voice while Mallam Illia, the old man, would be the Protagonist.

The Passport of Mallam Illia is story of revenge gone sour, set in the colonial Northern Nigeria. It is set in the colonial Northern region terrorized by the antagonistic attitude of some Northern youths to the heavily and better armed British colonialists.

Mallam Illia in his youth is said to be brave and adventurous. He is widely traveled. A time came for Mallam Illia to marry a woman as his wife, but he would not. His parent sent him beautiful girls within the famous town hall, but none was attractive to him.

‘I prided myself on being a man, and did not consider it gallant merely to ‘buy’ or ‘take on’ a wife. I wanted something more romantic.’   Challenging, I will call it.

One of those evenings when Mallam Illia was discussing politics with his friends, a company of men, Arab traders crowned in dust masks, came to them and challenged any one of them to the game of Shanchi in exchange for a beautiful girl.

The game of Shanchi is the game of FIGHT TO DEATH.

The beautiful girl in question is Zara, the daughter of the Prince of Turaegs.

Mallam Illia, brave and adventurous, rose up to the challenge.

‘It is not a game for faint hearts. But he who thinks that Zara is not a sufficient prize to induce him to take part, let him leave now.’

‘Some of you here will not breathe tomorrow’s air. For this night Shanchi may claim you.’

There were about a dozen men willing to die or win for the hand of Zara in marriage.

Mallam Illia fought till the last contender, whom he described as an enormous man, big jawed and long-toothed.

‘You are going to die now,’ he growled. Your knife can do nothing to me. I have swallowed the medicine against steel.

Mallan Illia’s contender was indeed truthful to his words, as he jabbed with is own knife, and the blade bent.

But, an opportunity came for Mallam Illia and he employed it.

‘I saw now that now was my chance. Drawing my knife, I thrust it at his bare neck. He was powerless. Given the opportunity, he would have killed me. But I merely disabled him, and there in lay my mistake : a mistake which I have regretted my life.’

Indeed. Mallam Illia’s fallen but alive contender was Mallam Usuman. The Prince of Tuaregs gave Zara’s hand in marriage to Mallam Illia, but Mallam Usuman, powerful, jealous an influential, came back for Mallam Illia.

He got Mallam Illia into prison and, terrorized Zara and at the end snuffed the life out of the Princess of Tuaregs.

Mallam Usuman fled out of sight and Mallam Illia, in hot revenge for his wife’s death, tracked Mallam Usuman to wherever he might be.

Mallam Illia’s Passport was given to him by a learned Mallam attached to the French troops.

Out of his blind revenge, he became crippled; he was overpowered and imprisoned in Mecca by powerful Mallam Usuman.

He was rescued by a young, kind and accommodating woman called Dije who must have heard that Mallam Illia had learn the teachings of Prophet Mohammed under the tutelage of acclaimed Mallam Gobir.

Mallam Illia married Dije and left her with a talisman when she got pregnant.

‘It is Dije’s,’ I said. ‘ I am in a hurry now and cannot go back. Kindly give it to her from me. Tell her, when the child comes, to hand this laya round its neck. It is a strong protection against evil which Mallam Gobir taught me. She will understand.’

On the train which both the young man, whose pen wrote down this story, and the old worn-out Mallam Illia boarded died powerful and satanic Mallam Usuman. He was avenged to death by Mallam Illia.

At the time Mallam Illia was narrating the story, he was gradually fading away for he had poisoned himself. Besides, he is badly wounded. Towards the tail end,it was revealed that the young man was Mallam Illia’s flesh and blood, born and bred by Dije.

The Passport Of Mallam Illia’s speaks against revenge. Clearly and justly, revenge is God’s and not Man’s.

Cyprian Ekwensi has been able to belittle the rights of women to marry whom they want at the expense of the selfish and egocentric men like Prince of Turaegs and Mallam Usuman.

Notwithstanding, this book is a must read for bookaholics willing to munch the classical words of an experienced historian and storyteller.

 

You Read Them. You Love Them. Now Help Us Make Them!

Free Spirit Publishing Blog

How many times has this happened to you? While browsing at a bookstore or library, you’ve flipped through an educational book and thought, “Wow, this author is totally out of touch. How come no one asks actual educators what they need?” As a company that always strives to bring its readers quality, practical resources and fresh, relevant perspectives, this is the last reaction Free Spirit wants to provoke.

FSP Advisory BoardThat’s why we’re proud to have the Free Spirit Advisory Board of Educators. Throughout the year, we consult a wide pool of teachers, administrators, librarians, counselors, and social workers as we develop our books, and they help us make sure our books are practical, easy to use, and as up-to-date as possible. Board members provide feedback on everything from titles and art designs to best practices and educational trends.

This is your opportunity to contribute! Free Spirit is looking for new Advisory…

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Writing: Think Out Of The Box!

Since the inception of our publishing arm at Emotion Press, several writers have submitted manuscripts.
I have been given the opportunity to evaluate some of them.
In this session, I would like to ruminate on one of the major problem literally fighting most writers.Just like Nolly wood where scripting cliches are the order of the day, most writers want to write as Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Adichie and Wole Soyinka.
Thinking out of the box is quite essential as a 21st century writer.
Most stories you would be carving has been written before. The difference you would make will be your ability to write your own story your own way.
Chimamanda Adichie and Chinua Achebe don’t think the same way because they do not come from the same background nor had the same experiences; you and I don’t think the same way. We are two original and creatively blessed entities.
I am challenging you today to think out of the box. As you put pen on pen, think out of the box. Avoid cliches. Be like yourself. Be original.Create new things.

The Fear Of The Pirate

I was at Ondo recently for my annual vacation. As a bookaholic,
one of those places I visited was a bookshop not far from the Oba
Osemawe’s palace.
The shop attendant was less receptive to my gentlemanly greeting. He
peered at me and my shopping bag, as if I will steal some of his
pencils or one, two , three of his educational books.
‘ Do you have fiction?’
‘ Wetin?’
‘Fiction?’
‘Mister man, I no understand wetin you dey say.’
‘Oh, I mean do you have novels or plays in your stock?’
‘ Stock? Is that not a novel, because I no understand
stock_ fiction?’
He pointed his finger to an angle in his medium sized shop. And there
I saw a copy of Ngugi’s Weep Not, Child. It was pirated.
‘How much?’
I looked at the first page of the book, and it was inscribed: N200
‘ Na N300.’
I switched to pidgin, for the first time since the start of this conversation.
‘No be N200 you write for the book?’
‘Bring money.’
I handed him a 200 Naira note and demanded for a receipt. He was
totally transformed, it was in his shaking voice I firstly discovered
this.
‘No receipt!’ Silence invaded the bookshop. And then I
laughed from the depth of my stomach.He joined me in this harvest of
laughter.
‘ You dey fear?’ I asked, just back from laughter land. Our writers write day, noon and night, hopeful that their words will
make a way for them. They will survive the hassles of getting the
right publisher that would be faithful to the creative art of
packaging words.
Quite disheartening will it be for them,when discovery will show it
that some uneducated rascals are the ones reaping the fruits of their
labour.
The pirates are people like us. They fart, urinate and even
laugh. Only some divides make them pirates.
Most of them are uneducated and do not know the great influence
writers have on their worlds.
Some of them are educated but blinded and therefore turned ignoramus
by their greed and desperate thirst for a better living.For the
easy-way-out!
The pirates drain our resources. They call us fools. We the
educated. We the lovers of literature. We the future.
The pirates  turn our books to automated teller machine. They
transmogrify our packaged words to bank vaults, which they can
manipulate for their monetary gains. And they are the Anini, Osama Bin
Laden or Boko Haram of the publishing industry.
They know the act of pirating is illegal. And they are aware of
the fact that they are literally killing the book industry.
Afraid of the sanctions from authorities like Nigerian Copyright
Commission? YES. That is why the bookshop attendant could not issue a
receipt.
We need to ginger the pirate’s fear for duplicating our books.
Publishers, writers, critics, readers and buyers of books, must
resolve to fight piracy.
The pirates dread us. They are mere thieves that can be curbed from
stealing. They need us to help them catalyze that fear for pirating to
inestimable heights. Let us all refuse to buy pirated books and report
suspected pirates to the nearest Nigerian Copyright Commission office.
The commission should respond quickly to petitions; they should bring
there offices closer to lovers and buyers of books.
Publishers should DRAG books closer to readers. Publishing
outfits should encourage reading as an habit, and sponsor events
dedicated towards this cause.
One of those events, The Emotion Book Party is a bi- annual literary
event dedicated towards celebrating books and it is hosted by Emotion
Press.
Government and corporate organizations should make funds available
to upcoming publishing outfits.Nigeria needs more than five hundred
publishing outfits to cater for our yearly upsurge in writing talents.
Grants should also be provided for writers that wants to write full time.
An enlightenment campaign against piracy, involving workshops on
the dangers of piracy targeted at sellers, readers and buyers of
books, must be kick started by individuals and organizations.