My Journey to Publication

On Dec 15th my first book was published. The dream I have had since I was about four years old came to pass.

I grew up reading those quaint Peter and Jane Ladybird books – where I looked for a child who looked like me in vain.

I hold up this book and I thank God for bringing me this far, for friends and family, for love and for those who believed in me when it was just a dream.

I present Love’s Persuasion. Elements of Jane Austen’s ‘Persuasion’ remind me of the characters here – of love lost and second chances. It is never too late to love, to love again, to take a chance, to write a book, go back to school or chase after that dream. Friends please don’t wait till its too late to go after your dream, your passion and that thing you know you were called to do.

I created Tony Okoli because he reminded me of the kind of guy that we fall in love with. We want the world and he is just a normal regular guy with his faults.

I created Ada because she reminded me of the kind of woman that we need to be. Strong, determined but not so tough that she has forgotten what it is like to be a woman – to love, to forgive and to learn to live again.

Thanks everyone who has supported me on this page and for your patience in this journey of discovery and manifestation. Love’Love's persuasions Persuasion by Ola Awonubi on www.ankarapress.com. Please get your copy.

Advertisements

Blue Sky Thinking

sky-08
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t afraid of the word Nigeria. It was my tormentor, my nemesis and my destiny. Even the word was heavy so heavy that you had to split it into 4 to say it properly – Ni – ger – ri- yah

Destiny was another big word. Ever since Father told me that Des-ti- ny was waiting for me in Nigeria and one day we would all go back the thought lingered in my head like an unwelcome guest but in the eternal optimism of youth I convinced myself that that day would never actually come.

Images of deep dark jungles infested with tigers and lions had embedded themselves into my imagination due to watching Tarzan and Daktari on a regular practice. It told me all I knew about Africa – the place was chaotic; full of bumbling Africans who communicated in grunts and shrugs, fought against each and seemed incapable of any original thought or action unless Tarzan guided them, helped them or saved them from their predicament with his superior problem solving capabilities.

My father walked in and saw me crying. He smiled and came over to rest a hand on my shoulder as mother flung up her hands and said something in their language.

“Don’t worry Lola…..I can understand it’s all strange to you now but you will love it when you get there. Fresh food, lovely weather. He closed his eyes, “A place where people respect their elders and you are part of a family not just some body that fell out of the sky.”

I swallowed and blinked. “I don’t want to go.”

“Nonsense – you have been here for too long. I’ve always told you that this isn’t your country.”

Amanda’s eyes met mine and I bit back my reply.

I lived with the Alison’s – Amanda and Keith and their two kids – Peter and Kate and a big lazy dog called Mutley. Home was a three bed roomed semi in Portsmouth because my parents were studying and working down in London.

Growing up I never questioned why the woman who came to pick me up at school was white and the folk with the heavy voices who came down from London to see me every fortnight were Black. I just accepted it like the sky being blue or like the fact that no matter how far you walked the moon in the sky never seemed to get any nearer…

A kid at school asked me how I came to have a white mum. I told her I had two mums.

“How’s that then?” she asked blue eyes swamping her whole face.

Cause that’s just how it is. I shrugged. Just like the blue sky and the moon.

Every Princess has good Hair

I would stand in the front of the mirror and hate what I saw. A dark face, round nose and wide lips framed by lots of woolly hair. Mum said I was a princess. So I spent years looking for a someone like me to show up on the telly.
No-one did.
Then I started wishing I looked like Susan. Can you imagine that? She had big blue eyes like the doll I had when I was a baby and like a baby she could open and close her eyes and make whining noises which most boys seemed to like listening to. She had long blonde hair which she liked to flick in everyone’s face so I got my black cardigan, stuck it on my head and swished my head around until I felt a bit sick.
Mum saw me and laughed.
Dizzy, I tore the stupid thing off my head. “I wish I had long hair like yours”.
She smiled. “You look lovely. Why do you think people go on holidays? So they can look just like you…”
I wasn’t convinced. Nobody stared at you when you had a tan that faded by autumn. I was a little ‘coloured girl’ every day of the year.
I kept on searching and one evening I saw the Supremes on ‘Top of the Pops.’ They were beautiful, sophisticated and could sing.
They looked different but it was a good different.
My hair was short and grew in clumps (because Mum couldn’t do a thing with it) it grew wild like the back of our neighbours garden. I had to wait for Mothers fortnightly visits with The Comb. This iron implement was used to coax my curls into lying smoothly across my scalp but as they couldn’t betray their heritage, they would stand up at a degree of approximately 90 degrees every time.
It wasn’t fair. After all Mother wore a wig like the Supremes which meant that she did not have to go through all this pain to look like a Princess.
supremes

Excerpt from Love’s Persuasion – OUT TODAY on www.ankarapress.com

It all started with a kiss….

Tony arrived to pick her up at 8pm. She came out wearing a simple sleeveless knee-length dress made of brown African print material patterned with green leaves. A green belt and matching heels gave her some added height. Her braids were plaited high on her forehead which gave her eyes a slanted mysterious look and large gold hoop earrings drooped from her ears.

I like. Very much, he thought to himself. Maybe too much.

“Good evening, Ada,” he said as she got into the car. “You look nice. “That wasn’t what he wanted to say, though.

Ada, you look drop dead gorgeous. Actually quite, alluring.

His eyes lingered on her for a minute more. Was her waist really that tiny? He couldn’t help wondering what it would be like to see if he could put his hands around her to find out.

Then he looked up. She was looking at him curiously.

“How was your day?”

His face assumed its usual easy friendly tone. “Brilliant.” He put the key in the ignition and they were off.

When they arrived, the exhibition hall was packed with people; some standing alone, others in groups discussing the paintings. As it was a corporate affair, most of them were smartly dressed in suits and dresses and the rest were artist types – jeans, T-shirts and dreadlocks. Some stewards in white shirts and black trousers served soft drinks and canapés.

There were charcoal drawings, pencil drawings and oil paintings on display. Some were abstract and others brought to life everyday scenes; a busy market, a snapshot of Lagos during rush hour, two kids playing in a stream, some women dressed in white garments having a church service on a busy beach.

They strolled through the exhibition halls, discussing the merits of different works. They stopped for a while to listen to a lecturer who spoke in knowledgeable tones telling the visitors about the artists and their works.

“I would like to buy a piece for my sitting room. It looks so bare,” Tony said as they walked. “But I know nothing about African art, you see. I have some ideas, but I’m not sure, so I need someone with taste to guide me.”

“What about that one?” Ada asked nodding towards an oil painting of a bustling market scene.

“It’s nice,” Tony said, shrugging. “I can see it in my study.”

“I like the way the light is falling on the people’s faces.” She pointed at one of the people in the scene, a little girl selling oranges under the shade of a tree. Her face seemed bathed in joy as she sat eating one. “It’s got character,” Ada said, “But it’s also got a Hundred thousand naira price tag.”

That settled it for him. “I’ll get it.”

“It’s a good choice.” Ada murmured. Her mind was doing some quick calculations. She couldn’t help it. 100K was several months’ salary for her. It was the down payment on a nice car, or several months’ rent. All for one picture! Whoever said having money didn’t make life easier…

“Are you hungry? Tony asked after he had finished negotiating with the gallery owner and the picture had been wrapped up and handed over. “I know I am.”

“Yes…” she wasn’t sure how to respond.

“We can go for dinner at mine.”

She stared at him.

“Dinner…”

“Yes, dinner. Then you can have a look at my collection as well.”

“Collection?”

“Of diamonds and rare stones.”

“Are you making fun of me?”

“My books,” he said laughing. “They are more precious to me than gold or jewels. I have a whole study of them – wall to wall. I don’t mind lending you a few, if you like.”

She nodded and pushed aside the voice of experience and common sense.

Go to http://www.ankarapress.com to get your copy and find out what happens next

lagos_broad_street

Letter to Patience

I have known Patience for a long time. We used to be classmates. So when I heard she was coming to London and she was anxious about how she would learn the culture and habits of the people of London so I decided to jot down a few ideas so that she would not feel too lost in this place.

1. Do not change your voice to try a mimic a posh accent when speaking to English people. It never works and you would be better sticking to your naija accent than trying to copy the owners of the language.
2. Do not discuss personal details to do with your immigration status, who took money from you or how much you are sending back to your Mother to build her house or tell us intimate details about your marriage or relationships on public transport whether in pidgin, English or your native tongue. You never know who is listening.
3. Do not entrust your personal documents or details to any ‘uncle’ or ‘aunty’ whether you are related to them or because they said they can ‘help’ you find a job, get you accommodation or help you sort out your immigration status etc.
8. Do not assume that every policeman is an immigration officer.
9.Most street traders in markets here do not respond to people haggling prices.
10. Your boss does not know the meaning of the word African time. It is best left to parties, weddings and other occasions during the weekend when even if you arrive three hours after the programme commences, the celebrants do not have the power to sack you.
11. In order to make friends with the old lady who lives next doors that is always staring at you whenever you leave the building, mention the weather and if she has a dog ask after its health and if you are really brave you can try patting it on the head.

African Roar 2013 – My short story – Green Eyes and an Old Photo

African roar8_n

African Roar 2013

Edited by Emmanuel Sigauke.

Table of Contents

Home – Alison S. Erlwanger
Business as Usual – Jayne Bauling
Salvation in Odd Places – Aba Amissah Asibon
The Faces of Fate – Abdulghani Sheikh Hassan
In Bramble Bushes – Dipita Kwa
Transitions – Barbara Ruwende-Mhangami
A Yoke for Companionship – Andiswa Maqutu
The Puppets of Maramudhu – Dilman Dila
Through The Same Gate – Bwesigye Bwa Mwesigire
The Spaces in-between – A.B. Doh
Anti Natal – Mike Ekunno
Green Eyes and an Old Photo – Ola Nubi
Cut It Off – Lydia Matata

Cover painting by Charles Nkomo.

Release in September.

Published by StoryTime.

What’s love got to do with it?

The swell of rousing music fills the air as a gasp of appreciation escapes from some lips.  Others crane their heads to get a better look at what is going on. Photographers hustle, for good vantage points to get a good picture.

The young woman leaning on her father’s arm is accompanied by a train of ten couples dressed in turquoise satin and cream suits respectively. Their steps are co-ordinated as they move in slow steps to the mellow notes of To God Be the Glory for the great things He has done.

The young bride is dressed in a long white dress heavily embossed with diamante beads – off the shoulders and revealing much more than it should, in keeping with the latest fashion. The dress, like her shoes and the pearl and gold tiara is from abroad. It is that kind of wedding where a lot of stuff comes from abroad – the outfit, the wedding cake, the invitations and the guests. There are dignitaries, family, colleagues, old schoolmates, lovers…friends, enemies …everybody who is ‘somebody’ has packed themselves into the church.  They are all present to witness this young couple take their first steps into the well and tested road leading to matrimony.

The old Pastor who has seen so many stand before the altar and make vows that are legally, spiritually and emotionally binding, gives them a reassuring smile as the procession ends and they stand in front of him.

The brides father reluctantly relinquishes his second daughter to her groom.

The Pastor begins to read the vows, those irritating little details that are meant to have an impact on two individuals and that of generations to come, but no one seems to  be listening. The bride is actually a very beautiful girl under the layers of chocolate soufflé powder mask, but it is a hot day and her bridesmaid dutifully brings out her handkerchief to wipe away the sweat running down her face and spoiling her make up. She doesn’t want her first pictures to look anything but perfect.

Someone is arranging her veil and another is making sure that her silk train doesn’t get too rumpled. The Bride is wondering whether all those haters and backbiters that swore that this day would never happen, are getting a good look at her and how beautiful she looks and regretting being so nasty to her.

What about another key player on this life changing event – the Groom?  No one seems to really pay much attention to him, as he stands tall and handsome, clutching the hand of his new bride and looking into her eyes like a man who has just paid dearly for a new car, and wonders whether it’s going to last the distance of a long journey.  He shuts out the voices of his single bachelor friends that are echoing in his head and tries to ignore the rising fears of what might lay ahead, by looking ahead to the honeymoon – no sorry I meant holiday to come.

He is a very modern 21st century kind of young man, so he doesn’t have the delights of the marital bed to look forward to, having sampled and exhausted the charms of his beautiful bride long ago. He is thinking about the tourist attractions in Hawaii, as there is nothing left in his wife that is worth anticipating. He has sometimes wondered in the past, why every woman has to make such a big deal over an event that lasts a few hours, yet alters a man’s destiny forever.

He hopes that she is worth the colossal sacrifice and expense he is making to marry her.  His mother had pleaded with him, asking him to ensure she was pregnant before marrying her but he had decided to go ahead.  He felt a bit guilty and sorry for the girl. They had been together for almost seven years and he had been her first.   So he felt obligated in a strange kind of way to make her his wife.  As for children, she was in her late twenties, a good time for motherhood.  There was loads of time.

There is another woman whose pride and joy on the day is slightly eclipsed by that of the Mother of the Bride. Yes. It’s the Mother in law.  She is a regal and authoritative as a queen as she surveys the crowd in the church.  It is truly a great gathering, one that has cost thousands of pounds and dollars. As she dances down the aisle as her son and his bride make their way out, she sends up a silent prayer to God that this very crowd will congregate here for the thanksgiving of her grandchild, in nine months’ time.

Three years later…

The pretty young bride hardly smiles nowadays. The slim girlish figure is more rounded but the light in her eyes has gone. She had certain expectations when she got married and in five years every one of them has been dashed. She didn’t marry for this. For Better for Worse…and it has been for worse.

Sometimes, she remembers the words of that timeless song from Tina Turner.

What does love have to do with it?

Part two to follow.