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Monday, October 31, 2011

With Sentinel and Saraba (2)

We started reviewing these literary magazines here. Please go and read the prequel of this post to follow the trend well and appreciate this series of post more.

With every issue, Saraba and Sentinel present written works of peculiar standpoints exhibiting starling performances from the established, the molting and the budding. After going through the rundowns this post will be featuring, follow the provided links of these sites to know how true my proclaimed assertions are. I make no panegyric. Your hard-drives on your reading gadgets are slipcases of these two magazines. Just go and read from them whenever you are online, their arrays are beautiful crafts of innovative minds.

The efforts that go into each issue of these two are gutsy and heroic. Of great allure are their artistic productions when you consider that they are delivered pro bono for the intellectual pleasure of the reading public. In expression of my dedication to the expensiveness of lateral thinking involved in art, especially in the written words, I have recently made personal commitment towards creating awareness for their existence through online and offline platforms. The online part I began fulfilling from the phase one of this review.  Offline: there are friends I have started various discussions with using these questions; "Do you know Saraba? Have you ever read from Sentinel?"

After this post, when you must have been made acquainted with the offerings these online literary portals churn out, I know you would readily become an initiate bent on winning more avid readers for Saraba and Sentinel. It is only then would you begin thinking through this tittle-tattle of mine in the reasonable sense. I thump my feet to affirm again; Saraba and Sentinel are proficient hands arranging the pieces of the marquetry of new Nigerian writing with new generation technology.

Slices from Saraba 9 Food Edition

As the norm is with Saraba, Dami and Iduma set the pulse for the collective works in the issue 9 with their opening editor's note. Their co-written editor's note always goes to reflect the mortise that exists between them, one which affixes suitably the different literary joints from the two co-publishers.

In this issue, Food is romanced with in varying works that try eliciting the importance of Food to human and how literature could come as close to it in analogy when the human mind is involved.

"Dodo and A Notebook" (Chika Unigwe)
How long will you go maintaining a habit? How far can you go in professing it? Chika writes about the favourite food she's been fixated on since childhood. Hers is Dodo, the fried chop of plantain. She also likes reading, a long time trait that balances well with her Dodo. Instead of smarting out of Dodo as adulthood tends to pare infantile obsessions to the minimum, she rather nurtures it into maturity. There is only one thing that accompanies Chika's Muse whenever she scribbles on her notebook – Dodo is it. When she claims Dodo is the food for Muse, I shake my head bitterly; wondering where my favoured palm oil-cooked beans with Agege bread stand if Dodo is ranked over them.

"Creativity of the Stomach" (Olaoluwa Akinoluwa)
There can never be a better personality without food. What you have is a despondent and forlorn look of utter dejection when you stay without it. Olaoluwa never thinks so when he sharpens his bladed weapon of creativity with the file of hunger-strike. He hopes to be the better for it as he settles down to work on his novel with only fluids replacing solid food. At the end of his self-imposed fast, Olaoluwa bitterly realizes that going without food can't make him more creative than he is. He comes to this understanding as various packs of juices litter his trashcan and numerous descriptive languages of food smear his writing during the period.

"Food, Again" (Novuyo Rosa Tshuma)
Novuyo bears her mind in a lapidary state. The way she philosophizes with Food makes one ponder on the complexity of Food in its various forms. The close borderline Novuyo draws between the smugness of the Western capitalist and the servile needy Africans is textually appropriated in the few words she crams her view into. Every time I read this piece, I pick out different slides of meanings from it. Novuyo's piece is one with a well related ambiguous tendency.

"The Pleasure of Swallowing" (Kola Tubosun)
Kola's nonfiction appreciates the very art that goes into making swallow of molded food. He details the arithmetic that takes place between the different regions of the mouth before such food is digested. Kola's contribution is an ode to his loved food of pounded yam.

Download Saraba 9 Food Edition here

Sentinel 7 is a matured collection without making forced claims of its fittingly-matched contributions. With few submissions in each genre of literature, it radiates with the great depth that is not usually accorded to compactness.

"Purple Hibiscus – Adichie's Debt to Achebe?" (Ahmed Maiwada)
Contrary to the comments that have been trailing this review, I love its clinical dissection of Adichie's first novel. The perceptiveness of the review displays the rich effort Ahmed includes in his research before arriving at his calculated conclusion on Adichie's Purple Hibiscus. On the first encounter with this review, I had this to say about it on facebook;

"A beautifully illustrated juxtaposition of Adichie's Purple Hibiscus with McCullough's The Thorn Birds. Analytic and straight forward. Polemic yet with astounding breakdown that uproots the bases of past purportedly incorrect evaluations about Adichie's first novel…"

"Pinchomie, the Distinguished Loot and the Banana Republic" (Esien Ekpe-Ita)
This is a real satire, unrefined! The humor in the story is well blended. Lengthiness in this story is quickly forgiven as the reader is taken through bouts of laughter that could result in permanent hiccups if not medically checked. This story is hilarious in its entirety just like Nigerian rulers are incredible in their governing. Esien speaks through a child to amusingly capture the shared banditry among Nigerian parliamentarians. The main theme is the recent matter on their state-fund-ripping remuneration.

"Late Twenties Woman" (Osayi Osar-Emokpae)
I consider poetry too arcane for my chewing. In the hands of the confused, poetry is a cloak of messy things covered, left to the perspired search of a committed reader. I dislike most poetry for this inclination. Osayi's poetry is really written with the vigour at the very centre of the matter it dwells on. Her messages are clear and not mangled in the transience of the verses they are in. Late Twenties Woman runs through the fulfillment a woman gets with the pride of locating her space.  It versifies the worthiness of a woman's wholeness in her own unpaired self, her wistfulness of things sacrificed to blasé disregard and joyfulness in the hindsight of the action she takes in her late twenties.

Read Sentinel Issue 7 now >>>

Still on this same road
True Talk isn't through with this yet. There are still some literary sites I am obliged to in kind and reviews.  By the way, do you know what NaijaStories is? What about StoryTime, can you tell me anything about it? Come around soon and let's get to those places I've just mentioned. Wouldn't you love that?

Do you know of any online literary sites? In the comment box, drop a few you think might interest me too.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Much Ado About Baba Suwe's Shit

What interests me in this short piece is not the humour the very story it is written upon has been generating all over the media in recent days. It isn't even in the shallowness of the circumstances surrounding the story. The humour, for me, is in the satire Isaac weaves around the complexity of Baba Suwe's "cocainic" adventure to NDLEA. It is the telling style of Isaac that makes this story very enjoyable.

But come to think of it; it is the personality of a man that is at stake here. The privacy of Babatunde Omidina's aka Baba Suwe has been stolen away from him. It's been days now and Baba Suwe's excreta are still been daily scrutinized for substances that seem to be in the imagination of his captors alone. Read Baba Suwe in Isaac's sidesplitting writing…



© Isaac Anyaogu

It is now thirteen days since popular Yoruba movie actor Babatunde Omidina otherwise known as Baba Suwe was "kidnapped" by stern-faced officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) over suspicion that he swallowed more than pounded yam on his way to the airport few days ago. They have been watching his shit for traces of cocaine the way housewives watch Nollywood movies to see what Genevieve is wearing.

In case you missed it, they have Baba Suwe hold up in a cell, perhaps force-fed him ewa agoyin and Agege bread, fetched him a tank of water, waited for him to hit the toilet, then bagged his shit in a white cellophane and ran to the lab hoping his shit would somehow turn to cocaine. And I used to think I have the worst job in the world.  

The last time I heard they turned something into something else was in the holy book. One wedding in Cana where booze ran out so they had Jesus turn water into wine. Perhaps the NDLEA know a thing or two about miracles. Rumour has it that they are trying to turn shit into cocaine. I wish them good luck but I'll choose turning water into booze any day. Imagine if Jesus were here to see what the breweries are charging us for 75 cl of beer? He'll just turn the Atlantic into booze and run them all out of business!

Baba Suwe has been to the toilet three times now and all he excreted were, well, just shit. NDLEA spokesperson, Mitchell Ofoyeju, still insisted he will remain under observation for other "procedural measures". Procedural measures is just the technical equivalent of "we screwed up badly".

Some Mondays past, the Director General of the anti-drug agency went on air to say that Baba Suwe would be released if the report of the CT scan and his third excretion proved to be negative. Now they are waiting for CT scan result? Pray, how long does it take to get one?

If your father works in a shit-testing factory or NDLEA lab (if we want to be cute), you should be worried. Your father tests the shit of adults for a living. That's the last person you want to get a career advice from unless of course shit testing runs in your genes. Hell, I'll pick a father that "packs" shit to the one that "tests" it any day.

Imagine this scene, two officials of the NDLEA dressed up in a white lab coat over a black jacket and paisley tie hunched over a funny looking contraption with yellowish fluid and several glass containers, one labeled "BABA SUWE's SHIT". They make notations on writing pads as they take a reading on the meter attached to the machine… Just what kind of education does one need to get a job testing other people's shit?

In June 2008, the United States brought four OD Security SOTER RS Security Body Scanners for the NDLEA for security operations for Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano and Abuja International airports to stop Nigerians supplying their teenagers coke. The machine is believed to be one of the most sophisticated in the industry available for drug detection. It can look through clothes and see anything/everything inside and outside the human body in 10 seconds. (Who do I need to bribe to get the job of watching the machines?

In any case, the sophisticated machine started flashing red when Baba Suwe was ushered through and the NDLEA guys pounced on him. Seven days now they have held him as Baba Suwe continues to shit just shit sans cocaine. How come they are not exploring the possibility that the machine has been Nigerianized (corrupted)?

In a country where nothing works, is it any wonder that some fancy machine contrived to detect cocaine has started detecting digested pounded yam as cocaine? If a government agency can't understand logic that simple, shouldn't we hire drug addicts to do the job? At least, they'll know their suppliers.

People are already envying Baba Suwe. Just why didn't I study law?


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