Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Are You A Writer Looking To Get Published? Apply Now To Attend Our Writers Workshop!

Are you a writer looking to get published? 

As part of the 15th Lagos Book & Art Festival the British Council is running a workshop for aspiring writers looking to get published.
The workshop will be facilitated by Ms Sarah Odedina Managing Director of the UK Children’s publishing house Hot Key Books. Sarah has worked in some of the major UK publishing houses and, notably, over-saw the publication of the entire Harry Potter series which was successfully published in English around the world by Bloomsbury.

The workshop will focus on:
How to get published and what publishers are looking for.
It will explore  ways to get published from working on your manuscripts (writing tips to include looking at dialogue, plot, research, setting, character) as well as practical tips on how to submit to publishers and agents, knowing your market, making your story your own.

Event Information 
Date: Tuesday 12th, November 2013
Time: 09.00a.m – 5.00p.m

We are looking for
  1. Unpublished fiction writers with at least two years of writing experience
  2. Writers with fiction manuscripts ready for submission
  3. Writers who are committed to getting published both locally and internationally
Selected writers must: 

1. Show samples of their writing
2. Provide a 200-400 word supporting statement with evidence of their commitment to getting published. This may detail previous applications to publishers, professional feedback sought or other relevant opportunities pursued.
3. Be available on the 12 of November 2013 from 10.00am till 5.00pm

Click here to download application form, fill and send to cep.nigeria@ng.britishcouncil.org on or before 04 November 2013
Unfortunately, we are only able to contact selected candidates and will do this by November 8, 2013.

Sarah Odedina Profile 

Sarah Odedina began her publishing career working in the adult rights department of Penguin Books.  She moved into children’s books in 1992 and quickly realised that she had found her niche.  After four and a half years working as Rights Director for Orchard Books she moved to Bloomsbury in January 1997 as Editorial Director and during her time at Bloomsbury she commissioned and edited many prize-winning best-selling authors including Neil Gaiman, Louis Sachar and Celia Rees.  She also over-saw the publication of the entire Harry Potter series which was successfully published in English around the world by Bloomsbury.  In September 2011 Sarah left Bloomsbury to start a new fiction list for Bonnier Publishing and has already enjoyed considerable success with one of the Hot Key Books titles winning the Costa Book Award.  She feels now that a start-up is an incredibly privileged place to be allowing  for greater integration between editorial and marketing and sales in order to ensure that there is a seamless approach to getting authors books in to the hands of readers.

Saturday, 12 October 2013



Ekene is an enclave bloke. He has spent a good measure of his life in Ekwulu; a village in Anambra state. Although he has had education up to the secondary level, he takes an aversion to it. The provenance of his detest for education is the snafu of his brother Chukwuma who has remained unemployed after graduating from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka seven years ago. Chukwuma is thought to be the one with the Midas touch to turn things around for the family being the first son and the only university graduate in the family of twelve. However, that is not the case as grim reality shows. Chukwuma still depends on handouts from his well-to-do friends! 

Ekene the second son, going the way of many Igbo youths, goes into trading, buying and selling footwear at the Onitsha Main Market. After some time, he makes some money enough to even give to Chukwuma who still forays in the job market. However, business does not burgeon the way Ekene wants it to. Being the archetypal Igbo man with an ultramontane desire for wealth, he wants to make enough money to build what is called in Igbo Akpu-la-Apku (An imposing edifice that shows one’s status as wealthy). This hankering makes him consider other kosher options for making big easy money, as news filters into his ears of one J-boy who is a former clothes trader at Lagos line, the Onitsha Main Market, and who has just returned from South Africa, building an Akpu-la-Apku in his village, and even taking a wife. All of these within a span of two years of travelling to South, as some Igbo locals call it!  Ekene impressed and taken in by that, decides to sojourn to South Africa and Gbu-Ozu (To kill a corpse which figuratively means to make it big). He scratches and garners all he can for the trip. He sells all his wares and rents out his shop. Everything that can be sold, he sold! 

Ekene gets to South Africa. He comes face to face with xenophobia. That the fact he is black and some South Africans are black does not mean they are equal. He is a Nigerian, and Nigerians are hated for the fact that they are Nigerians. This he soon discovers. Draconian reality sets in; there are no good jobs most especially for people of his kind. How can he Gbu-Ozu in this kind of system? He wonders. He tries to learn what other Nigerians like him are doing in South Africa. He finds out it is not legit. He does not want to go to jail in a foreign country. The news of his incarceration will kill his mother. He muses. He thinks of going back to Nigeria to start from scratch again. But the thought is stifled by ego. What will they say? That is the rhetorical question he asks himself. I must find a way to survive in this land. He ponders. He tries to get involve with a South African girl with the thought that it will make things easy for him. At least, he will be able to get the necessary papers and maybe, a work permit. He discovers to his displeasure that South African ladies who marry Nigerian men are treated with contempt. They are rejected! This complicates his plans. He is tempted to go the way of some of his Igbo brothers in South Africa, but no, the fear of doing time in a strange land inundates and checks that urge. He wonders where the Ozu is (corpse which figuratively means ready money depending on the context) in South Africa. Things are not what they seem. It dawns on him. In the middle of his obfuscation, his family back in Nigeria calls steadily for remittance, reminding him that they need to have a house of their own. And that they have been living at the mercy of Uncle Igwe whose children in Malaysia have all Gbu-Ozu. Again, his jobless brother pesters him to make room for his coming so that they can Gbu-Ozu together; telling him emphatically that Nigeria is a frustrating place. The heckling becomes unbearable, that he considers changing his phone number. But no, he cannot do that. He needs to keep the line of communication open.  At least, it affords him some level of sanity in this dry land. He thinks.

 Day after day, there is no portent of change. It is always the same; the racial abuse, the bullying and humiliation. All the same! The Ozu in South Africa is not worth all the trouble after all. He affirms. Although, he did not have much in Nigeria, he lived like a king with dignity. But he cannot go back to Nigeria. The opprobrium is unbearable. It is better his corpse is sent to his family than for him to return empty handed to Nigeria. He ponders. He will soldier on until luck, one day smiles on him. Ekene is lost in a foreign land!

Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and poet and can be reached at fredricknwabufo@yahoo.com. 

 We love to read your comments!Iinquiries and stories for publication should be directed to emerge.editor@gmail.com. Call +234 7033 43 6212 to speak with us. Thanks for stopping by

Monday, 7 October 2013


Salisu nestles under a baobab tree which is at the centre of Kagua village in Bize, Borno state, Nigeria. It is a sunless afternoon. The humming wind cruises right about him, and dry leaves touch down as if betokening the grave and sad atmosphere. Crestfallen and utterly devastated, Salisu ponders on his life which now seemed worthless and the calamity that has befallen him. He has lost his whole family in one day- his mother, father, two sisters and a brother. Death has taken them all in a fatal motor accident. It would have been better if he was taken too in the same gruesome manner. This awful soliloquy he repeats to himself.

Many thoughts race through his somber mind. Suicide is at the top of them. Perhaps, it is the easiest way out of this cruel world where nothing is certain, and things precious are always lost. Before he could make up his mind whether to take his own life, the muezzin of the village mosque blares out “Allahu Akbar!”(God is great). It is a call to prayer.
“Perfect time, let me say my last prayers, and set off for the journey to yonder where my family will be waiting for me”, he snaps.

After the customary prayers, the Imam, Aliyu announces that there will be a session on the deep spiritual themes of life and death. This interests Salisu, and he puts his cowardly suicide idea on hold. The Imam stirs his mind, imagination and thoughts with “truths” from the Quran. He says, “Life is to live as a Jihadist, and death is to live as an infidel”. Redemption for the soul is through Jihad, all other means like zakat is secondary. He goes further by reeling off the pleasures of paradise for those who die “serving” Allah.
The teachings of Aliyu strike Salisu in a most scintillating way. He muses that redemption is what he needs for himself and even for his late family. He believes his own redemption can rescue his family from Shaitan as they were never practising Muslims. He must find redemption and the path to pleasing God.

And so Salisu, a sixteen year old, one hundred level student of History at the University of Maiduguri, Borno state, drops out of school as it becomes difficult for him to continue owing to the fact that he had no benefactor. More importantly his soul longs for ethereal things now. It seeks redemption. And it wants to please God. The loss of his family has left a great yearning for things spiritual in him.

Life has no meaning to him anymore, and that which is worth living and dying for is what he must pursue. Aliyu seems to bear answers to his questions and knows the path to pleasing God. He will seek close interactions with him and feed his starving soul with sacred truths.
Aliyu’s house, two buildings away from the mosque, becomes Salisu’s haunt. There he meets other boys who have come for similar reasons- finding answers to spiritual truths regarding the essence of life and the path to knowing and pleasing God. They are taught from the Quran and fatwas of Islamic scholars. They learn that as Muslim faithful they must wage Jihads always to appease God and cleanse the land of evil. That is the way to salvation, and the way to nirvana.

The idea of Jihad fascinates Salisu. He does not understand Jihad in real and concrete terms. In his view, Jihad means holy persuasion and converting unbelievers using superior spiritual arguments. Perhaps, Aliyu has never revealed the bare imperatives of Jihad to him. He becomes engrossed with the teachings of Aliyu, and so does the other boys.
Aliyu gets word that government soldiers are on his trail for radicalising Muslim youths. He calls out to his loyal adherents that the infidels are after him, and the time to prove that Allah reigns has come. Salisu wonders why government soldiers are after such a holy and noble man. Maybe, they want him for no offence but rather to thank him for setting young minds on the spiritual and righteous path.
Aliyu, Salisu along with other adherents retreat to the far-flung and forgotten Borno forest to meet Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram. Salisu thinks Shekau a spiritual master from whom his knowledge of Islam will be increased and his purpose achieved.

At Osman Camp in the forest, Salisu is thought how to use different weapons. This troubles him as it is a deviation from his original agenda. Aliyu calms his troubled mind him by telling him that it is all in preparation for a Jihad, and that soon the enemies of Allah will be shamed. The enemies of Allah must be wicked invaders then, since it is a fight of flesh and blood, and not of prayer and fasting, he surmises.

On Sunday, 24th December, 2011, Salisu is psyched up and wired up by Shekau for a holy strike at the heart of the infidels. He is on his first Jihadist mission, and there is a heightened sense of things. He has mixed feelings about confronting "those" ruthless invaders- enemies of Allah. He wonders what they look like. As the truck he is on pulls up behind a church, he is ordered by a superior to get down, get into the church and shoot the worshippers there; they are the infidels, the enemies of Allah.  He is alarmed. This cannot be true!  He gets into the church. He is petrified. He cannot do it. He is ordered again to shoot the infidels. “They are humans like me, I cannot shoot them”, he answers in trepidation. “Shoot or be shot” his superior thunders back. Salisu as if stricken by a fit, squeezes the trigger and let off a volley of bullets. After the day’s horrendous adventure, he returns to the camp despondent, tearful and remorseful.

Salisu participates albeit unwillingly in other heinous missions. His scruples never left him. It has become a Scylla and Charybdis for him at Boko Haram's den. It is either he does the evil bidding of Shekau or he is killed. Sympathisers of infidels are infidels themselves. That is the Boko Haram canon. He becomes blood-soaked in guilt.

There is a shout of ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is great) at the camp. This time it is not a call to prayer, but a cry of joy for killing innocent, harmless and hapless people. To Salisu, the cry of Allah Akbar has become a mantra for killing. He does not make sense of it. On his last mission before he finally gives up, he is compelled by threat of death to slit the throats of innocent children who are returning from school. He capitulates, but that becomes his breaking point. He finds a way. Although not an easy one, he deserts. He has shed enough blood to buy redemption and please God if truly Jihad is the way to redemption and pleasing God. There is no redemption, guilt is all there is.
Confused and feeling hopeless, Salisu returns to the baobab tree. This time he is not nestling under it, he is standing like a Trojan. It is crepuscular. The wind is not blowing and dry leaves are not falling. Everything seems to be in a hush. He has searched his soul. There is nothing left. He has been a coward for not taking his own life initially. This time he will not make the same mistake. He will end it!

Salisu called me on April, 30th, 2012. He said it was important, and that he had a package for me. Driven by the uncanny nature of the call, I travelled to Maiduguri on May 1st, 2012. After settling in at a guest house at Bize, I made straight for the Ndanusa home, Salisu’s family house. I called him, but I could not get through to him. I became pensive because I had thought he would be ready to receive me given the fact that I had called him a day earlier to inform him of my coming to Maiduguri. I got to the house, the gates were surprisingly open. I found my way into the living room. I have been there before. I called out for him. But he did not answer. Perplexed now, I made for the boys’ room. I opened the door, alas! Salisu was dangling from a ceiling.  

It was very much after his funeral that I was able to get out of my grief garment to read a note and a diary he had left for me. It happened that he had been keeping record of all the happenings in his life. In the note, he wrote “If you read this know that I have found redemption. Death has redeemed me”. In his diary, with the bold title, “My Life”, were his story and confessions laced in a fine but teenage narrative of how he ignorantly and helplessly became a member of the dreaded Boko Haram sect. Salisu Ndanusa died an unfortunate Boko Haram militant seeking redemption and the path to knowing and pleasing God.

To Salisu Ndanusa and all the souls taken by Boko Haram, Rest in peace.

 A writer and poet, Fredrick Nwabufo can be reached at fredricknwabufo@yahoo.com

We love to read your comments!Iinquiries and stories for publication should be directed to emerge.editor@gmail.com. Call +234 7033 43 6212 to speak with us. Thanks for stopping by

Thursday, 12 September 2013


If the cover design of a book illustrates a dirty child with a spindly neck bearing the burden of a huge head, wafer-thin torso skin stretched over a cage of bones, or any other symbolic synonym of poverty and strife, chances are that the book is about Africa. Sometimes the cover does not give the subject away, and the inner pages will have to perform the task of elevating poverty to literary entertainment. And when it comes to writing about Africa, no one decorates suffering better than the Western writer, either out of sympathy or scorn. African writers who are purportedly seeking Western validation had better present the closest imitation of hell when writing about their continent. The Western reader, it is said, does not find it funny that a book about Africa is deficient in what is now known as Africa's poverty-porn.

Angered by this skewed narration of the continent's socio-cultural experience, some African literary critics have been urging African writers to provide the flip-side of the African story. The continent is not only about poverty, strife, corruption and disease; away with this obsession with negativities, they say. They have a point. But their prescription is rather simplistic for two reasons.

First is that the book is not the only medium through which the West can have a glimpse of Africa. More propulsive, explicit media have emerged: Facebook; Twitter; the movie industry, especially Nollywood; and good old television. There is yet the embarrassment of African NGOs exporting sound-bites and images of squalor to attract Western donors. These are handy to contradict any colourful renditions of Africa, so putting the blame entirely on the writer is curious.  Truth is, Africa is lagging behind due to the fanfare of poor leadership and corruption, both being the major suppliers of the material for gloomy African literature.

Second is that prescriptive writing in this case implies an imperative to consecrate falsehood. Most writers are not patriotic enough to lie through their noses in the face of valid, contrary evidence. Wouldn't it appear sarcastic - a fiction too far from experience? There are those whose creativity works better when it depicts reality. Literature is life. Even as fiction, it yet reflects palpable actualities. The African writer has been told what to write so much that the prescriptions have become the malady.

There is yet the point that the critic does not want to read your story; he wants to read his own story in your book - but let that pass for now.

There is, of course, an Africa of healthy children riding sporty bicycles on paved roads; there are no kidnappers and armed robbers manning every street, no AK-47rifles replacing walking-sticks. And men there still hold their trousers in place with belts, not with strips of grenade. Perhaps such perspectives should begin to form part of the African narrative in a thematic sense - if only people would prefer good to bad news. But are these feats to be touted in the pages of a 21-century book, when other nations are launching rockets into space and debating the dialectics of human cloning?

Africa is not the sum of literary representations, whether in terms of poverty-porn or unsung glory. Monotonous as it sounds, its image consists in the expression of its leadership, one whose corruption is manured by the present apathy of literature. Surprisingly, most African writers of today find it old-fashioned to pillory graft, the very source of the excrement that critics find embarrassing. The era of bold, investigative literature is almost totally gone.

The most eloquent deplorations of corruption, especially in Nigeria, are to be found in the works of old-generation writers. The Nigerian corrupt politician, flying in his sleek private jet over a topography of rot, is such a lucky menace: apart from scanty media reports that even lack follow-ups - due to the sheer repetitiveness of theft -  literature offers him indulgence by silence. Yet the poverty-porn critic wants to make him luckier by legislating his shame out of publicity. He is also clever, the politician. With his money, he can purchase being edited into a fine gentleman, and those who lampoon him must be doing so from the blight of ethnicity or religion.

Now, this is not to hold brief for the poverty obsession in African literature. A balanced approach is welcome in its uncensored reality.

Critics seeking the re-telling of Africa had better direct attention to the right source of Africa's shaming history - the politician whose graft is largely under-reported. Literature, being a more permanent form of writing, can keep the poverty-porn writer out of circulation if it addresses the very source of that art.

*Immanuel James Ibe-Anyanwu is a young Nigerian writer based in Lagos. He has not won anything. He boasts 25 rejections for his yet-to-be-published book. His articles have appeared in several national dailies and online media, including Ynaija, NaijaStories.com, Daily Independent, The Nigerian Telegraph, The Emerge Review, among others.*

We love to read your comments! inquiries and stories for publication should be directed to emerge.editor@gmail.com. Call +234 7033 43 6212 to speak with us. Thanks for stopping by

Friday, 17 May 2013

Rejections, Rejections, Rejections!

"For long, the story lounged in my head, unwritten. I was not in a hurry. Apart from the demands of a university education that thinned out both the time and enthusiasm for writing, there was a part-time job. But at a time after graduation, the unwritten story in my head moved from inertia to agitation, until I decided to put my Muse to use.

I had written a few articles published in national newspapers in Nigeria, pieces that exacted admiration from even cynics. Yet I was cautious of the compliments, knowing that courtesy, bias and pity could have influenced them. I wanted to be sure of my writing skill, but sometimes when I re-read my articles months after I had written them, I felt inadequate. But impatience had been added to agitation in the attributes of the unwritten story.

The story is biographical, fictionalised only slightly to avoid litigation. Eleven months ago, I began writing, and in about three months, I was done. I contracted a seasoned editor in Lagos at a very high cost, but her input was apparently a greater compensation for the cost. Yet I could not trust the judgement of only one editor. Three others were contracted, one of them a university don in the literary field, and the unanimity of their praises buoyed my confidence.

Then came the phase of immersion in Google. "How not to write. What a first-time writer should do. How to write a query.  How to find UK literary agents," etc.  At a point, inquisition turned to confusion, as bits of internet-extracted information contradicted one another - a new internet find was a critique of the last, and I was set forth on a perpetual hunt for absolutes. I later put a wedge to that hunt and began sending out queries.

Rejections. Rejections. Then dejection. I re-read my manuscript, this time with a dint of enforced objectivity, pruned out a few errors, and sent out more queries. Worse! They tumbled in with sadistic mischief, rejections. Email alerts became an affliction that made my heart go epileptic. Mails were opened cautiously, reluctantly, then read with a sense of premonition – an anxious glance would be directed at the last line of a letter where the familiar courtesy of rejection is expressed.

So far, I boast of about twenty rejections. I seem to have exhausted the list of UK agents whose submission guidelines are palatable. I have lost hope. I feel ashamed of my failure, of my lack of brilliance to elicit recognition. I love writing. I love my story, and so do many others. The passion to share that story has found nemesis in depression. Writing is a masochistic affair"

Emmanuel James Ibe-Anyanwu is a young Nigerian intellectual who is very keen about the written word. His articles have appeared in several national dailies and blogs. His first literary work is due for publication soon. Emma lives in Lagos.

We love to read your comments! inquiries and stories for publication should be directed to emerge.editor@gmail.com. Call +234 7033 432 6212 to speak with us. Thanks for stopping by!