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Monday, March 7, 2011

Weaverbird Collection {An anthology of 14 Short stories}

The reason why I have a bias for prose anthology is simple; unlike a full fictional piece that compels you to go through the gamut of a particular writer's thought in order to make reason of the message it passes, a collection of short stories rather gives the reader the choice of random selection of piece that appeals to his literary taste. In an anthology of different writers, whenever a story put you off, there's the likelihood that succeeding stories might make up for the dourness. Weaverbird Collection, a show of literary deftness, mingles skills in a way a compilation of such should. What excites a reader more is in the exactitude that some of the stories are told with. Though, it is of a truth, that an anthology does not only showcase motley of knacks, but also uneven balances that smear some. I wouldn't know if open submissions were really called for in this publication or the literary clique that dominates the Nigerian scene was a factor.

Weaverbird Collection streams definitions across themes that express the new Nigerian writing. The new Nigerian writing that comes with the age of the Internet with patches of emigrant experiences. Ikhide's and Khalidah's pieces are an attestation to this fact. Some are daring enough to stir fantasy with concocted literary adroitness to bring attention to issues the society may consider permissive. Uche's, Shylle's and Tade's pieces bear this tale. Others only regurgitate known matters to our terrain in a way that make them new. Tolu's story of deep-eaten corruption, Ike's contribution that brings to memory the plight of the Niger Delta and others, fit into this portion.

The collection's categorization makes a whole as its various themes dazzle readers of different understandings of what Literature is or should be. Weaverbird Collection is an anthology of fourteen short stories by different writers.


A Peep into the Book:

Seafood Pasta (Mogbolahan Koya-Oyabola) - When Sownade is in Nigeria, what the Whites mean to him is only seen from the hospitality of his half-caste Uncle's wife, Dane. When he is exiled to UK to seek greener pasture in a Restaurant, though as a would-be lawyer, his views about life generally change.

Hair Memories (Khalidah Aderonke Bello) – Hair memories recounts the ordeal Khalidah goes through in the name of making her hair less kinky. The story depicts the hypocrisy of female hair fashion. It is a side swipe at the manner African women tends to follow everything Western. Khalida crinkled hair moves her to frustration. The personal reinvention of the psyche of Khalidah at the tail end of the story passes judgment on what boundary African women shouldn't cross in looking good and 'beautiful'.

How Sergeant Redwood Lost His Penis (Ike Okonta) – A vacancy for a bodyguard at Imperial Oil in Port Harcourt opens up and Tom fits in as the only experienced candidate for the job. Tom Redwood's job is simple; his task is to help contain the restiveness of the tribe that poses constant threat to Imperial Oil. For Redwood and his 'aid-de-crime' Major Okuntime, the job becomes a game of blood and free sex. During bloody raids, Major Okuntime will let his libido lose on married women in the presence of their husbands and Redwood will have his privately.  By some stroke of luck, Major Okuntime escapes karma, leaving Redwood alone to narrate the story, years after, of how he pays with his scrotum.

Digital World, Analogue Planet (Ikhide Ikheloa) – The narrator relives his memory in the land of his ancestors with ambivalent feelings. His homesickness gradually transmutes into boredom as the narrator quickly longs for the clinical serenity of his American home few days after visiting his ailing mother in Nigeria. The narrator repulses the static state of the country on his visit. The American comfort he revels in is denied him in Nigeria. His journey to Nigeria is able to bring to light how stagnant the condition of Nigeria has been over years.

Shadow of Eclipse (Adebayo Ayobami) – Folashade's plan of surviving on campus without support from her parents would have paid off if the table hadn't turn against her. Folashade's hunts for rich men who pay young campus girls for sex, her search turns successful when Chief Bamgbose becomes her symbiotic sex partner {aristole}. One thing Folashade Ogunroke shares with the eclipse is uncertainty. Just like the eclipse will suddenly change the weather, Folashade regrets her fortune of meeting Chief when she realizes her mother is once Chief's Abeke {darling} and her the pregnancy Chief runs away from when he dumps her mother in his days as a teacher who cashes on the innocence of her mother as a young girl-student.

How I Became An Assassin (Tolu Ogunlesi) – Tolu's contribution in this anthology catalogues the life of a man who repulses corruption like an excreta one spits on. The man fights the menace with the emotion that later translates to the unsuccessful death attempt he plans against the corrupt Local Chairman of his borough. Eons later, after he has tasted the juice of office himself, he metarphosizes from a poacher to a gamekeeper as he becomes morally rotten than the Chairman he almost kills. His transfiguration as a puritan to the social ill he wants to erase lends a voice to the weakness one faces when what one loathes becomes one's daily bread.

Walking into my Groom (Unoma Nguemo Azuah) – This story infuses mythical belief with the currents of the present day society. Nneka, an archetypical character of the sufferers in modern day civilization cuts a good picture. Nneka marries Ikwe, a man who is later known as a being who lives after death {akudaya}. After so many quarrels and heated arguments, she is able to get the location where Ikwe is from. Her discovery of Ikwe's hometown turns everything called reality into a mirage of some sort for her. It is then she knows the truth. The truth that Ikwe, Ubani (the friend of Ikwe she has always known), Ikwe's children she once visits in school and Ikwe's wife; have all died in an auto crash years before she knows them all.   



Letters To The Authors:

I always have matter to settle with the works of writers that try so much beyond their literary muscle to remain African. As a writer, if what you are used to living with everyday are sleet and snows while seeping coffee, don't try writing about how tasty amala with egusi or eko with ila (Okoro soup) could be. You could miss details if you do. Remember, the frosty weather of your exile might have rendered your thinking blurred about the scorching sun of your fatherland. Khalidah Aderonke Bello's Hair Memories nearly pisses me off the reading. I understand she wants to romance with the language of her pantheon so as to have an identity. What she should have done is to see how the rhythm of the narration would not be affected. The input of Yoruba expressions amidst the conversations of the story deskills her effort as she struggles to interpret them in English. She should know one of her expressions isn't it in the way it blunders what the real one should be. "Me o ni time fun awon are oshi yi!" reads better as "Mi o ni time fun awon are oshi yii!"

A short story is in its meaning; simple, short and succinct. When the conversation becomes so wordy and lengthy, writers struggles to give hasty conclusion to it. Mogbolahan Koya-Oyagbola's Seafood Pasta is one story of untidy climax. I find little connection in the exchanges between Sam and his cousin, Daphne. The conflict of the story is farer from it. If Mogbolahan would say it is to support his description of Nigerian political situation and any other thing in the story as Galump, then the effort is not near necessity.

Gorge Orwell posits that what makes a good book is when the matters it systematically tells you are things already known to you. The subject matter of Shylle's Seventh One is easily decipherable. Reading few couples of words, you would know what the story is all about. Even at that, Shylle crafts her plot with the majestic confidence a good storyteller uses while everyone already knows tortoise to be the conman in the fabled animal kingdom. The temerity Shylle absorbs the reader with is splendid. Three things make hers a good read; Confidence, Diction and Plotting Creativity.



·         With Weaverbird Collection, my anthologies of short stories are gradually heaping up on my shelf. I'm glad I have it.


…to be updated later. More to come under 'Letters to the Authors'





  1. I like this...looks like a collector's piece. Nice!Where can one get this collection?
    Well done.

  2. @Su'eddie. How are you doing? Thanks for reading. As to how to get the book, I only know of places in Lagos where the books can be picked up. If you are in Lagos, this information will be good for you: check it out at Terra kulture's library, VI or Silverbird Galleria's Lifestyle Store, VI.

    I hope that helps you in getting the book. See you here soon...

  3. I had fun reading this collection. Very captivating pieces

  4. @shittufowora. I'm happy you had fun reading the pieces from the collection. Truth be told, it is really impossible for someone not be delighted reading the collection.
    Thanks for stopping by, I hope you will come around soon...


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