An Excerpt: The Grasshopper Race by Folarin Olaniyi

Apologies. I know. It has been a while I sat down and pen something for you. Don’t blame me. Emotion Press has kept me so busy. But this is new year. Happy New Year! And I have promised to re-write my first book, The Grasshopper Race, this year 2015. Maybe we should start from that. Let me share with you some few lines of the first draft of the book. Mind you, it is a first draft. I hope to keep you posted. Be generous with your comments. And feel free to share on Facebook and Twitter. Enjoy the rest of the day. Cheers.

There were days in my village when people don’t fall sick, and if they did all they had to do was to look up in the sky, at the mid day sun, and they would be healed. It was no miracle but the norm, for the people were closer to the gods and the gods in oneness with Eledua.
Mama had told me.
It was during these days that my great grandfather was born. His name was Akurente. He was a powerful herbalist, who solved people’s problems by consulting Iwin, who in turn seeks solution from Esu.
Esu odara is God’s handiwork of craftiness. He has mastered the art of influencing God’s decisions to his favour. Iwin is Esu’s seventh offspring, who does not need goodluck before his prayers are answered.
Mama had told me.
There are seven rivers in my village and three roads lead to these rivers. These roads meet in one junction, and it is in this that Esu is believed to be domiciled. The seventh day of the week, my grandfather would take a long trek to this same junction and pay homage to Esu, whose seventh offspring, Iwin, will pay his father a visit. During this time, corruption had not arrived. The people of Kurente clan were fishermen and fruitful worshippers of the River mermaid.
Where I come from, there are two seasons – the season of the wet and the season of dust. Our people believe that during the season of the wet, the river mermaid, Iyemoja, is always seated on her riverine throne looking for whom to bless.
The season of dust, Iyemoja is at rest thirsty for worship and praises from the people she has blessed with bountiful harvest. Because of this, the Kurente clan observes a seven day festival in honour of Iyemoja during the season of dust; it is a moment of worship and self deprivation. The priest clad in all white regalia, sanctifies the whole community. He is accompanied on a distant journey by a young maiden, who must be a virgin. She carries the white sacred calabash, accompanied by the community in an energetic performance of the sacred dance and the beating of the favourite drum of the river goddess. It is always a delight.
The season of the wet, our fishermen harvests the best of fishes in the river and the farmers brings the biggest of the yam tubers and sweetest of corn. But as days went by, Akurente became more powerful and that was how the problem began.
I remember mother’s words; humans are ungrateful beings. We lust for ephemeral things and get lost on the road of life. My great grandfather like every other great priest did not just become powerful, all of a sudden. Because he had been a faithful of Iwin for decades, the gods were pleased with him. Esu, crafty in his ways, had found a way to impress the name of Akurente in the hearts of the gods. But it was only Iyemoja that had insisted Akurente swim along with her Priest, to the source of the seven rivers and pay her homage. Esu had agreed but Iwin disagreed.
‘If Akurente pays homage to Iyemoja, the people will say Esu has become a woman’s subject. This must never happen!’ Iwin had convinced Esu.

FOLA

ALGEBRA AFTERNOON, a short story by Folarin Olaniyi

ALGEBRA AFTERNOON

    An excerpt of the Novel, BOYS ARE DOGS by Folarin Olaniyi

Uncle Kehinde told me to off the cloth that covered my chest and spread my legs, yakata, like a dead goat on fire. He then climbed on my chest and slipped his long thing inside of me.

Maybe he doesn’t know how painful it is, putting that long thing, thick like the rod Daddy uses to beat us whenever we score zero in our C.A test, inside of me.

Whenever I cry and beg him to stop, he places one of his fingers of the right on my two lips and robs my chest.

‘If you tell mummy, she will beat you and praise me for training you,’ he always told me.

He is the neighbour next door. Mama told me he knew Mathematics as a Pastor knows the Bible.

‘You are now my baby,’ that was the words that came out of his mouth the first day Mama handed me over to him.

When I told Mama that Uncle Kehinde uses his long rod on me, she laughed and laughed and pulled me by the right ear to his one room apartment.

‘She is spoilt, Aunty,’ Uncle Kehinde told Mama.

………………………

‘I saw red, mama.’

I was twelve. I had just woken up from one of those eat-and-sleep long holidays siesta, when something reddish appeared on my bed sheet.

‘Go and clean up,’ Mama said, handing over a roll of toilet tissue to me.

………………………

‘Go and clean yourself,’ Uncle Kehinde said to me.

The first day Uncle Kehinde slipped his long black thing inside of me, I saw red again.

‘Are you deaf?’ I shook off the pain coming from my waist region and rose up at Uncle Kehinde’s sharp baritone. I washed myself and walked back to the tip of the bed where he laid me.

‘Don’t tell mummy about this,’ Uncle Kehinde whispered to the ear of the left.

‘But I saw red.’

‘You are now a big girl.’

 

Seven afternoons after that day, that sunny afternoon Uncle Kehinde finished teaching me Algebra and then afterwards told me to spread my legs yakata and I saw red, Mama woke up from slumber.

I don’t know why whenever Uncle Kehinde gets horny, he directs his manhood at me and moan like a hungry Lion being fed with live goat? Nor do I know why he rubs me here and there, where it pleases and pains, and afterwards whistles down to the bathroom for a five minutes afternoon bath?

One of those Algebra afternoons, I had already spread my legs yakata and Uncle Kehinde was inside of me breathing hard like a castrated goat, when a loud knock landed on the door.

He withdrew himself from me, his two eyes partly closed, and ran for his blue towel.

‘Is Blessing inside with you?’ a voice, like that of mother, rang through from outside.

‘Yes, am here!’ I shouted, my legs spread yakata.

‘Dress up,’ Uncle Kehinde whispered, his face squeezed up like roughened sheet.

 

I dragged myself towards the door, half naked and ran back for a piece of cloth to cover my nakedness. The door was not locked.

‘Open the door!’

Mama’s voice ripped through the green painted door of the one room apartment. The door opened ajar and everything went blank, for I closed my eyes and the only words that passed by were that of Mama.

…………………..

We never spoke. She would leave my food covered in the kitchen and run to work every day as if her job depended solely on not saying goodbye to her only daughter.

When July was dragging itself towards August, Mama held me tight for minutes and cried on my shoulders, like a baby girl hungry for her mother’s breast milk. A drop of tears never came from mine. When she prepared the Dinner on that night and served mine, I sobbed in between pieces of boiled yam that mixed with my saliva and goes down to my stomach.

Uncle Kehinde disappeared into thin air, like a fart. Days after that Algebra afternoon, his door was always closed and banged open and close late in the night. In between the opening and closure of his door, would emerge the laughing birdy voice of a lady and that of Uncle Kehinde’s.

When days went by and Mama had stopped leaving my food in the kitchen and running to work before I left for school, a group of young men late in the dawn of a sunny July, came into Uncle Kehinde’s apartment and parked all his properties into a brown truck.

 

 

 

 

 

BOOKREPUBLIC: CALL FOR BOOKS AND ESSAYS

 

Book Republic

BOOKREPUBLIC is inspired by the New York Review Of Books, a New York based magazine of mind boggling and highly intellectual literary essays and book reviews. At BookRepublic we are bent on creating a viable platform for Nigerian books in the world literary stage through our newly constructed website and monthly print medium.
HOW WE PUBLISH
We are the first literary magazine in Nigeria majorly dedicated towards the promotion of our books. As from the fourth Sunday of January 2013, BOOKREPUBLIC will be launching her online magazine and the print medium, come last Sunday of February, 2013.
BOOKREPUBLIC will make it as a matter of mandate to publish literary articles, book reviews, plays, short stories, and poems, update our irresistibly qualitative and educative columns and place book adverts for interested publishers every Sunday for the reading pleasure of our subscribers.
REQUEST FOR BOOKS
We are seeking for a limited number of book titles from interested Publishers to be considered for the review section of the magazine.
A book cover, Author’s bio and About the book should be forwarded to BookRepublic2012@gmail.com on or before the 18th of January, 2013. BookRepublic will afterwards request for copies of the book, if it would be of interest to our commissioned reviewer.
REQUEST FOR LITERARY ESSAYS
BookRepublic is in search for literary essays that are imaginative and at the same time, borders around world literature and its contribution to education. We might also consider creative essays that are politically under toned but not economical with the truth.
ROYALTY
At the moment, we do not pay royalty to our ever hardworking and creative contributors. This will be reviewed in a matter of time.
SUBMISSIONS
Contributions should be forwarded to the publishers at submissions@omojojolo.com. A short bio and recent picture should be submitted alongside the entry.
ADVERT PLACEMENTS
We are interested in publishers’ book placements in our magazine, as it is applicable in developed societies. As a matter of fact, a four page insert has been mapped out for Nigerian publishers and authors to place their blurbs for a paltry sum of N5, 500. For enquiry on book placement in BOOKREPUBLIC and other adverts, please query Alex Olomo at info@omojojolo.com
OUR WEBSITE
BOOKREPUBLIC is presently under construction and will be launched for the reading pleasure of our subscribers, by the last Sunday of January.
PUBLISHERS
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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.

 

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.