Saturday, 30 June 2012


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He was finally putting his life back together after the tumults of the last seven months. He was emerging, as a butterfly would, from the cocoons of his past. A past that shaped him into the man he now was. He'd fought through it valiantly, he'd lost some things, but he'd also gained from the lessons learned. They were now the pillars of his new found self confidence. He'd visited the church that day not because he was in search of salvation. He'd found salvation, what he needed now was the companionship of fellow believers. The worship was rapturous, the sermon was uplifting. It put fire under his feet, and strengthened his resolve to live life to the fullest. When it was time for first timers to be acknowledged, he didn’t hesitate, like he would have done seven months ago. He was a new man now. He stood up, towering above the congregation, a smile on his lips, a sparkle in his eyes. He shook their hands enthusiastically as they welcomed him into the fold. The choir sang a song.
You are somebody
You are special
You are welcome
We love you..
It was an emotional moment for him, he'd never felt such warmth.

She was the social butterfly kind of girl, the kind that hugs every one after service. She had the most charming smile, the most endearing eyes. Angela was so full of life; she was the darling of the church, the angel of the choir. She was every where, giving a pat there, a hug there, or a word of encouragement to someone needing such. She was a beautiful soul, a transcendent beauty that shone through her eyes and lit up her face. There seemed always to be an aura of light around her as she floated around the church, performing her Angelic duty.

When she came to shake his hands, she'd beamed her whole soul at him, it poured through her eyes, through her smile, she hid nothing, held back nothing. His smile met her smile and she smiled some more.

"You are welcome" she said, "my name is Angela, what's your name?"
"I'm Gini" he replied.
He hesitated, still holding her hand and looking into her eyes, then he added "And I'm pleased to meet you."

She'd patted him on the shoulders and said "see you around" before drifting into the crowd; she slid through it, a peck there, a hug there. He watched her. She reminded him of a movie star he'd had a crush on as a kid. There was something about her that went out to him, drawing him in, irresistibly. His chest tightened beneath his shirt, whatever air he had in his lungs was gone. She'd taken his breath away in those few moments. He recognized the feeling, one he wasn’t sure he was ready for. He knew it wouldn’t be long before she took over his entire being, thought, fiber and sinew. He'd gone home that day feeling light, the week crawled slowly as ever and thoughts of Angela lingered somewhere in his mind, tempting, persisting, refusing to go away. He nudged them gently back, like a shy little boy, but they floated around, seeking to permeate the sacred regions of his consciousness. He did yield to them occasionally, in those moments before sleep. They seemed to have a therapeutic effect on him. He was no believer in Telepathy, but he'd played with the idea that Angela could hear his thoughts, that she'd followed them into his room on those nights and floated over his bed, an invisible angel pacifying his sleep. Sunday came and he went to church early. He managed to stay focused through the service but his eyes strayed one or twice to the choir section, where Angela sat as magnificent as ever, leading hundreds of voices in awesome worship. Their eyes met once during the service and a knowing smile passed between them, he gave her a slight bow, one of nobility. He raised his rich baritone to meet her soprano; another beautiful music had been born. No one could hear it, only Gini. Hundreds of voices were singing the same song, but all he could hear was their own song, her soprano ringing in the skies, his baritone shepherding it, accompanying it, heaven bound. She came to him after service again. This time she hugged him and enquired about his week. They exchanged numbers and talked some more. He got to know she lived on the street next to the church and she got know he worked in advertising.

Angela lay on her bed trying to decide whether to make the call. She wanted to hear that deep baritone again, it soothed her, comforted her. There was a nobility about him, a gentleness that appealed to her. She could remember that first day; she’d been struck by his height. He was six foot plus, dark, extremely handsome, with an aristocratic head that rested on a slender neck supported by very broad shoulders. He was slim. She'd noticed his long arms when she shook him. There was a softness about his palm that had her wondering if he'd ever handled a broom. His eyes were a dull brown and had an intelligent disconcerting look in them. They'd drilled into her soul from their sockets, unearthing her vulnerability. They were eyes that said much, eyes that held much experience in them, experience well beyond his age. They were eyes she knew she could trust. So she did not look away, she held his gaze and let him see through her.

She made the call.

"Hello" said the voice on the other side. "My God!”, Thought Angela, “He even sounded better on phone!"

"Hello good evening Gini" she managed to say.
"Good evening Angela, what's up?"
"I'm fine and you?"
"I just wanted to say hi"
"O that's so kind of you, what are you doing at the moment?"
"Nothing, just lazying"


They both broke into laughter. Their voices mingled over the phone, their worlds merged in those few moments. A new chapter had begun in their lives, they both knew it. There was now a blank page before them and they had to fill it.
Angela replaced the receiver and lay back on the bed.  It was going to be a long week. Sleep came quickly; it carried with it a soothing message, a soothing dream.

 To be continued….


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Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Meet The Ashanti Queen, Empi Baryeh!

Hi guys!
Sorry we are a little late this week. We had to go all the way to Ghana to visit sensational Empi Baryeh for this interview, and Oh what a great time we had! I would have loved to do a little introduction but I have an agreement with Empi not to interfere! its her show!

We’re at the Legon Botanical Gardens, nestled right in the city but a great getaway – at least for a few hours. We’re at the restaurant, a lovely dark-wood structure that’s both exotic and rustic. It provides a great view of the vegetation in the gardens.


Hi my name is Empi Baryeh. I'm an author of sweet and sensual African romance. Welcome to Ghana. Ghana is a land known for various things: gold, beautiful women, kente cloth, the largest man-made lake in the world, friendly people, great weather…need I go on? As with any other country, it’s not always fun and games here, and one very negative thing about Ghana is that we don’t seem to appreciate our beaches or make the best use of them. We don’t have much of it and I wish to see the restoration (in some cases preservation) of the little that we have.

 Ghana has so many beautiful places but here are Five exotic places I'd like to show you : )

Cape Coast: when I used to live in Cape Coast, in the Central Region (which isn’t actually in the centre of the country) our house was a five to ten minute walk to the beach. It was an undeveloped/untouched part of the coastline, and I used to enjoy going to sit in the sand and feel the breeze on my face. I plucked this little piece of Cape Coast and planted it in Accra for a scene in my novel Most Eligible Bachelor. I just had to. Aside from that, Cape Coast is one of Ghana’s most popular tourist destinations.


Kakum Park: this is a bit of a cheat, since it is also in the Central Region. As I mentioned above, Cape Coast (and its environs) are a definite must-visit and Kakum National Park is one such place. You’ll be confronted with nature like never before with a guided tour of the forest reserve, and if you’re daring, you can try out the canopy walk. It’s like walking on top of the world!


Aburi: if you’ve read my novel, Chancing Faith, then you know why I’d pick Aburi, a little town in the mountains with perfect weather and a great view of Accra in the distance. It’s a great place to connect with nature and clear your head. While there, you can get yourself some tasty palm wine to go some fufu and light soup by the Aburi Botanic Gardens. LOL 


Kintampo falls: Now, who doesn’t like waterfalls? I’ve been here just once but it was a great experience, and I hope to make that trip again soon. You may have noticed by now that I’m partial to nature, which is why I enjoyed visiting the falls. It’s undeveloped, tourism-wise, but still a definite must-see. But put on your hiking shoes, cos it’s a long trek down a hill to the waterfall – a great reminder to us all to lead active lifestyles. You’ve been warned. If you’re not up for that hike, there’s a smaller one that’s equally great and provides great photo ops.

Kumasi: Called the Garden City, it’s the seat of the Asantehene (king of the Ashanti people) – and that’s a whole cultural heritage you’d want to experience. There’s a certain laidback je ne sais quoi about Kumasi (in comparison with Accra) that makes it special to me. Plus it’s only some 40 minutes drive to my village :-)


Growing up in Ghana ...
I grew up all over the place, to be honest. Until I turned thirteen, I hadn’t lived in Ghana more than a couple of years put together. I’ve been to fifteen countries around the world and I speak French and a little Spanish. I can also say "I love you" in fifteen languages (which is yet to come in handy, but I have hope).

What I love most about Ghana is that it’s relatively peaceful here, and peace allows us to explore the softer things in life: like romance and poetry and music …

Speaking of music, I’m a little old-fashioned in my tastes. I like country, ballads, oldies, soft rock, some reggae (ok maybe not so old-fashioned). On the Ghanaian scene,
my 2 favourite musicians are Kojo Antwi (Mr Music Man) and Daddy Lumba. They have very distinct styles and I love both. Everything else is on a case by case basis. I love the works of some of the newer artistes – Richie, Becca and Sarkodie come to mind.

My favourite Ghanaian authors...
Kwasi Koranteng is worth mentioning, even though I’ve read only one book of his. It was titled “The President’s Son”, my first ever Pacesetter novel. In a sense, he introduced me to Ghanaian fiction. Before then, it had been Enid Blyton and the like…

I love Christine Botchway as well. Her novels have strong romantic elements, and I remember enjoying her books at a time when relationships and marriage were definitely not thought of in romantic terms in Ghana – at least not in popular culture.

Ghana Literature is evolving. There was a time when you could only find educational books and fiction that addressed highly political issues. Today, there’s a variety of fiction available that deal with everyday issues that the ordinary Ghanaian can easily identify with. We also have a lot more writers with more diverse backgrounds and experiences, which only makes for more diversity in Ghanaian literature and better stories.

In Ghana if a young man wants to marry a young girl, he'd say, “will you allow me to marry you?” and not “will you marry me?” (same difference, if you ask me)

I love you in Twi is: Me dɔ wo.

The traditional wedding rites in Ghana are more of a gift-giving ceremony; there are variations depending on the tribe. The most important thing is a bottle of Schnapps for the engagement (which is called the aponoakyebɔ - literally “knocking at the door”) as well as the traditional wedding. In the simplest sense, the man’s family presents gifts to the woman’s family at the wedding. Nowadays, the woman is asked if she wants her family to accept the gifts (in the past the woman didn’t have much of a say if her family wanted the marriage). If she does, then the family accepts the gifts and basically seals the deal. Like I said, that’s saying it in simple terms. In reality, there’s a whole lot of pomp and pageantry surrounding the gift-giving and the gifts are specific items, rather any random thing the man chooses.

If I were to rewrite Ghana's history, the part I'd rewrite is where Yaa Asantewaa loses the war against the British Empire and gets captured.

Something in Ghana's culture that a foreigner will find romantically appealing...if I tell you, I’d be giving away the plot of my next novel, so…sorry :-)

My novel, Chancing Faith, Chancing Faith is an interracial romance about an American ad exec, Thane Aleksander, who travels to Ghana on business and finds love. My heroine, Naaki Tabika, is a woman who’s prepared to give up love for career. When they meet, neither of them expects to fall in love, but they learn soon enough that love comes without warning.
Here’s a blurb:
He didn’t do short-term relationships…
American ad exec, Thane Aleksander, doesn’t date co-workers either—until business takes him to Ghana,West Africa, and he meets Naaki. Now he’s at risk of breaking all the rules. Can he stop this headlong fall before it’s too late?
Until he met her!
Naaki Tabika has a burning need to prove, to herself and others, that she’s more than wife and mother material. To do so, she’s prepared to give up everything for her job. Meeting Thane, however, makes her want to get personal. But falling for her boss could destroy her career. Will she be willing to risk it all for the one thing that can make her truly happy?
Two divergent cultures, two different races, two career-driven professionals, only one chance at true love—will they find the faith to take it, or will their hearts be sacrificed on the altar of financial success?
The story started with a scene involving a kiss (that incidentally never made it into the story), but set the tone and premise for the story. My usual signature is to give a little twist on a familiar theme – in this case an interracial story that wasn’t about colour.

It took me years to complete Chancing Faith, because there were long breaks in writing while in grad school. But that also means I got to know my characters over a long period and the story became very personal, which I think is a strong point for the story.

A scene that really connects with me in the story is one where Thane and Naaki are in his hotel room and he has his fingers in her hair and you know he’s already fallen for her. It’s such a romantic scene, because it’s so innocent – and you really get to see into his mind to how he feels about her.

If it were in pre-colonial Ghana, Naaki would probably be a timid young nurse and Thane would be a missionary doctor, in this setting. Their first kiss is likely to happen after a very trying surgery. It would be emotional and spontaneous. (If you want an actual scene, you’ll have to give me a little more time)
The major conflict in their relationship would be similar to what it is now – i.e. the possible inappropriateness of their relationship vis-à-vis their working relationship, the fact that he’s only visiting etc.
Inter-racial romance is more about culture than colour so, I made it a point to showcase that instead of spending half of the book trying to justify why a white man was falling in love with a black woman.  

The meanest thing I've ever done to a character in my book is kill him. Even now, I’m struggling with it as I love this character very much. The book is unpublished, so I can un-kill him, but the story is so much better this way, so, unfortunately, he needs to take one for the team.

My other book (as mentioned earlier) is titled Most Eligible Bachelor, and it's
a contemporary romance about a magazine columnist who’s been burnt by love and is afraid to risk her heart again. She meets the hero, a reputed playboy, on Valentine’s Day, and despite her best efforts, she can’t help falling for him. The story is set in Accra, Ghana, which I think gives it a unique flavour.


You can find my books on the internet at as follows:

·         Smashwords:

·         Bookstrand:

Aside from writing I love reading, music, puzzles, browsing the internet and driving. (I know, I’m just such a fun person)

The best food I've ever eaten in my life is (surprisingly) a bowl of mussel and a glass of wine in Paris (ooh la la).

And on that note, I want to thank you Chidi, for hosting me on your blog. And thank you, readers and fans, for joining me today for this chat. If you have any questions I haven’t already answered, please go ahead and ask them.

Have a wonderful day!


Monday, 11 June 2012

A Chat with Chika Unigwe!

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Chika Unigwe is a Nigerian writer who lives in Belgium and who writes in English and Dutch. With her stories written in English she won the BBC Short Story Award in 2003, the Commonwealth Short Story Award in 2004, and was nominated for the Caine Prize, the African Booker Prize. She made her debut as a novelist in 2005 with De feniks (The Phoenix), a story about the personal problems of an African woman in Flanders. In the novel On Black Sisters Street, Chika tells the moving story of four Nigerian girls who had taken to the sex trade on the streets of Belgium in the search for survival. She takes an empathetic stand in the story ,seeking to explore and understand the circumstances that influenced the decisions of these women, seeking to uncover their struggle; their hidden better selves. Her latest novel Night Dancer is set in Enugu, the city of her birth in the southern part of Nigeria. TER chats with Chika Unigwe. Enjoy!

How did writing start for you?

 I met Flora Nwapa when I was in primary school and she became my idol. I wanted so much to be like her. My older brother's friend was Cyprian Ekwensi's son and he'd bring us his father's books. I have always admired writers

Writing was'nt considered a very lucrative profession in Nigeria. How did your parents take your decision to study literature?

My parents let us make our own decisions. They have always supported my dreams and ambitions, not just in words but  in deeds too. As a kid I asked my father to subscribe me to a children's magazine in the US, Highlights for Children. A classmate had a subscription. He did. Whenever they travelled abroad they brought us back books

Most times when we look back at our lives,we can identify a moment or a choice that had a very huge impact on  our career. Most people call this "The turning point". Do you have any of such moments? Can you share it with us?

For me, it was meeting Nwapa. As young as I was, I knew that what she did was what I wanted to do

As a Nigerian writer in Belgium, language must have been a challenge. How were you able to break the language barrier and get across to the largely Dutch speaking audience?

I took language lessons to learn Dutch

In your book On Black Sister's Street, you explored the experiences of Young Nigerian women in Belgium Who had taken to prostitution to survive. Can you share some of the insights you gained from researching the book?

I discovered the extent to which poverty can push people: parents willingly offering up their daughters to work as prostitutes; the extent to which human greed can blind one to any sense of decency: a father who pimps his own daughter; the extent to which familial obligations and sense of duty can push one to sacrifice: young girls who work as prostitutes to pay their fathers' medical bills, send their children to school, give their family a better life.   
I realized that the gap between the rich and the poor in Nigeria is wider than I had ever imagined; that shame is a luxury; that  people are capable of incredible sacrifice for the ones they love. 


How has writing the book affected your life as a person?

Yes. It's made me more thankful for what I have, less judgemental of others and more critical of a government that makes working in Europe as a prostitute a much more interesting alternative than staying back in Nigeria  

If you had to re-write the book, are there some ideas that you've picked up along the way that you'd like to add?

No. It's done and dusted

You mentioned that many of the African girls engaged in the sex trade in Belgium were Nigerians, does this mean that Nigeria is a hostile enviroment to women who want more than just surviving?

It might mean that the market for HT is much more developed in Nigeria than in other African countries

Early this year,there were debates in the Nigerian senate as to whether or not to legalise prostitution.What's your take on that?

Legalization has its merits: the women pay taxes like every other person; legalization will also reduce the danger the girls sometimes find themselves in with clients

How can the Nigerian girl child be discouraged from prostitution?

The government should do a lot more in terms of providing quality education and  creation of jobs

You just released a new book, Night Dancer, can you tell us about it?

It's set in Nigeria. It's a story about sacrifices, loss, memory and hope

What inspired the story?

stories of women I heard growing up

You've been away for a while,did you have to travel down to Nigeria to research the story?

I come into Nigeria from time to time

So far,the major characters in your books have been females,are you pro-feminism?


What other issues would you like to explore in future books?

I don't know yet. I don't plan themes. Stories choose me

Where can we buy your books? 

bookshops, online

In Africa, the major challenge of women has been to discover a larger meaning to their lives beyond their traditional roles as house wives and to rise to their potentials as humans in a patriachal society. Are these challenges exclusive to women in Africa? What is the challenge of the Belgian woman?

We are yet to have a female prime minister. Women here have the same chances as men but somehow there are more men in choice positions than women

Have you noticed any similarities between Belgian culture and Nigerian culture?

Respect for older people

What do you like most about Belgium?

my family

Do you have any favorite places in Belgium that you love to visit to help your muse?

my favorite local cafe

What other interests do you have asides writing?

Reading, scrabble

How do you relax?

I read. I chat

Your kind of music?

Eclectic. At the moment, socca and reggea

What would a typical Saturday morning with you look like?

Sleep in, read, write, go out for drinks

If you met a Genie who wanted to grant one of you childhood fantasies,what would it be?

Vanilla milkshake whenever I wanted it!

Three books you can read over and over again?

Alice Munro's collection of short stories

One thing an aspiring writer should'nt do?

Ignore constructive criticsm

Last words...

Thanks for the interest in my works!

Thanks for coming Chika!

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