HALF OF A YELLOW SUN: THE MOVIE

Half of a Yellow Sun FILM TIE IN B PB.inddI read “Half of a Yellow Sun” for the first time in 2009, it was a book by Nigerian born author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and this marked the beginning of my love affair with her writing. I was captivated by how simple yet intense the story turned out to be. Although she has quite a way of ending her stories, I have to admit that in my opinion Adichie is an exceptional writer.

Any who this review isn’t about the book but the recently premiered Half of a Yellow Sun movie which I went to see with so much excitement. In my excitement I decided to read the book a few days prior so that I would be able to honestly pen down the experience.

It was my first time going to watch a Nigerian film in the cinema, so I went with an open mind. I believe I had too high expectations for I ended up being disappointed. I mean how difficult could it have been? They had a compelling story already thanks to Adichie, all they had to do was to make it into a wonderful movie.

In my opinion, it was a poor interpretation of Adichie’s book in so many ways. I don’t know where to place the fault, from the poor script to the cast. I could go on and on with reasons as to why the movie could have been better, here are a few:

1. Interpretation of the Characters: As I mentioned earlier the casting was barely there except for the actors that played Odenigbo, Ugwu and Amala. Miss Adebayo was supposed to be a loud Yoruba woman and honestly I did not see Genevieve Nnaji portray that, on the contrary I barely noticed her till she made her “drunken pass” at Odenigbo. In the book Olanna was described as an “African woman” with a “curvy, fleshy body”, they could at least have tried to get that major portrayal of Olanna right. How did Mama a village woman in the ‘60s who had never left Aba acquire her eloquent English vocabulary? Except she was really speaking Igbo and the idea was to make us hear English.

2. I dedicate my second reason to OC UKEJE…Thank you Director of Half of a Yellow Sun for casting him as a “wakapass Aniekwena” and putting his face on the theatrical poster all over the world. We Nigerians are glad and proud for casting one of us in your movie, but we wouldn’t have been the least bit slighted if you had put Ugwu on the poster instead.

3. The disco ball thing at the beginning -________________-

4. Was I the only one who did not find the movie captivating? I read the book when I was in SS3 and it got me interested in the history of the civil war. I went home to ask my mother questions after spending the whole day pretending to listen to my teachers while I secretly read the book from under my desk. If I had not read the book, I would have yawned throughout the movie. It was such a drag. The script failed to portray Olanna and Odenigbo’s relationship for what it was and the scenes of the effects of the war which could have touched our hearts was glossed over and presented in poor light.

Like somebody said after I saw the movie, the book was basically a love story where two strong personalities happened to be caught up in a war in which they had no control over, if we look at it this way their peculiar story and how the war affected it is actually more important than the events of the war itself. Maybe this accounted for my large disappointment with the movie, but that being said, in my opinion the movie didn’t even do justice to the book in that regard.

The movie ended up being a fair attempt to bring Adichie’s book to life and in the battle of movies versus books, books win this round with a huge knock out, which is almost always the case. It must have been a challenge adapting about 448 pages of literal genius into 111 viewing minutes. I encourage you to read the book if you haven’t and if you plan to see the movie, good luck.

Olanrewaju.

 

Prince of Thieves

ll_masterclass3Book Title: Prince of Thieves

Author: Chuck Hogan

Genre: Crime-Thriller

Published: 2005

Plot: Branch Manager Claire Keesey and the Assistant Branch Manager David walk into the bank on a nice morning to find a Jack-in-the-Box, a group of robbers waiting for them at gunpoint. With the speed, restraint and precision of professionals, these goons raid the vault and vanish into the city of Charlestown – Armored-car Robbery Capital of America.

Douglas ‘Duggy’ MacRay and his gang have just finished hitting a bank and the pot is full but the heat is high and the G is on to them….. Special Agent Frawley is on to the scent of these robbers like a shark on to the scent of blood. He knows he is going to catch the suckers and all is going according to plan except Claire Keesey falling in love with a man who holds an interesting twist: The man who held up her bank and shattered her fragile life, Duggy MacRay.

Commentary: Chuck Hogan is a brilliant writer with a narrative almost matching that of Stephen King. In Prince of Thieves, Hogan goes beyond Crime-Thriller and adds in a little bit of everything, suspense, romance, action, everyday-life, sort of like a literary box of Smarties. Prince of Thieves is 636 pages long but the pages pass as fast as a Sidney Sheldon book and at the end you find yourself wanting more.

Likes: I like the fact that Hogan’s characters are well rounded and very believable and I believe on par with only one other writer I know: William Shakespeare. Prince of Thieves is a quite short book (somehow) and rarely ever bores you, a true page turner.

Dislikes: One of the things I didn’t like about Prince of Thieves was the Americanism; Hogan tended to use distinctly American terms and phrases to describe things, places and events, and this was very confusing at times, losing me for whole pages. Another thing I didn’t like was the fact that he did not close some sub-stories and the end is not a sufficient Alfred Hitchcock that would let one draw their own conclusions.

Rating: Prince of Thieves a superb book and a real page-turner if ever there was one; I rate it 4stars!

Ezim Osai

Cuba Libre

Cuba LibreBook Title: Cuba Libre

Author: Elmore Leonard

Genre: Western

Published: 1999

Plot: Ben Tyler, cowboy, bank-robber, ex-convict and ‘man as got stones’ is with his partner Charlie Burke in Cuba on business when the USS Maine explodes on the shores of Havana. Tyler unwittingly insults a Guardia Civil officer which earns him a slap and the officer a hole between his eyes. Tyler and his partner are thrown into prison where Tyler meets Virgil Webster, lone survivor of the Maine. Burke is killed and Tyler and Webster are rescued by a pretty woman and insurrectos.

But now Tyler is free, he has business to attend to and if Mr. Bourdreaux won’t pay, he will make a deposit in his name from is bank at Havana…. at gun point. With war breaking out in Cuba and Tyler being wanted, he must flee across country with his savior, the pretty Amelia Brown and Victor and of course forty thousand dollars, as the Guardia Civil hunt him down.

Commentary: 404 pages and gone in a day. Elmore Leonard did not waste a single word and Cuba Libre is one of the few books I have read after Dean Koontz’s Lightning where I cheered at the end. With a blend of humour, powerful imagery and (for want of a better word) swag, Leonard delivers a masterpiece. This being the first Western I have read in a while, the book comes alive in a manner that does not sweep you off your feet but transports you to Cuba and you can hear the cowboys as they say ‘Howdy Partner’

Rating: 5stars, no two ways about it.

Ezim Osai

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Ezim Osai is a friend of the house. He is a student of University of Ibadan and writes for 9jeducation.org and tweets via @EzimOsai

Immanuel’s Veins

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IMMANUEL’S VEINS
Author: Ted DeKker
Genre: Thriller

Ted DeKker is a master of his elements, that’s the only way I can put it. I’ve read a considerable number of his books, and they all point to a few things, one of which is he has a problem with Christianity, in the traditional sense. And really who can blame him? The hypocrisy and self-righteousness sometimes stink from miles away. Instead, Ted DeKker sort of side steps religion and traditional Christianity, what he does is akin to a fight between good and evil, but on a deeper and more spiritual level. His stories transcend the good and bad divide, to an internal struggle within ourselves, whatever our religious views may be.

Immanuel’s Veins is no different, this story is set in Old Russia, in the time of Counts, Lords and noble soldiers. The first character that grips you is Toma Nicolescu, everybody, and I mean every single person can relate to this guy’s plight, well everyone with conscience and values that have been ingrained over the years. DeKker uses Toma to show the struggle between desire and duty, the need to do that which you truly and undeniably want and the burden of that which is expected of you. Many of us will struggle with this for as long as we live. You are immediately pulled to his ambiance, his use of fewer words unlike his friend in arms, Alek Cardei, a lover with the mouth and looks to back up his larger-than-life personality. DeKker places you in the mind of Toma, the handsome, ever loyal soldier of the Empress of Russia, Catherine the great.

Both Toma and Alek are on orders to protect the Cantemir family, with the Cantemir sisters having quite a reputation for not shying away from their sexuality or exploring its parameters. Just imagine how scandalous that would have been (even now, Sex and The City, the tv series and movies still make many women blush). They meet the sisters, Lucine and Natasha, two girls equally taught not to stifle their passion, but who from life’s lessons look at the world from different angles. Naturally, the attraction is in pairs, Alek with the impulsive Natasha and Toma with the more reserved Lucine. The attraction between Lucine and Toma is quite pitiful from the Toma’s view, the guy who slays the enemy at the war front without a moment’s hesitation, and there he was pinning after a woman that he was strictly prohibited from, pathetic yet sweet.

The twist comes when we meet Vlad Van Valerick and his clan. That moment you feel something is off, something is way off. The feel of wine that tastes too good, too sweet, right before the stench hits and you gag, that’s the feeling I got. I have to confess, I got slightly confused, but as I read on, everything just fell into place. DeKker outdid himself by tapping into the supernatural that we’ve all come to know (hate or like), thanks to Twilight, Vampire Diaries, True Blood, Supernatural and other tv shows. But instead of pale skinned, sexy vampires, we have something that makes those tv shows look like a five year old trying to fly a jet. As we are drawn into Vlad’s world, we realize that the feeling we had from the first moment pales in comparison to the true horror.

And as the dominos fall, and Lucine gets sucked into that world, we watch as helpless Toma abandons all vestige of duty to try save his “Lucine”. The road to that is extremely exacting. I practically ran through the novel, because I felt time was slipping and I had to find a way. DeKker has the ability to let you slip into his character, he gives you a backdoor entry and you become merged with his character, you can feel the desperation- as Toma tries to shake the veil off those that matter; longing; and the feeling of finality as Toma in a maddening rush tries to find the truth, himself, Lucine and the true meaning of sacrifice and love. Everything clicks, the parts of the story you didn’t even know was missing just clicks. You have the final piece of the puzzle, complete, and yet the author has the nerve to make you feel helpless- even at that point.

As the face-off, the battle for the heart begins, you read slowly, all your rush comes to a halt. I don’t know how DeKker did it, but the reading slows down, the exhaustion sets in and you read each word as they come. The scenery is set, the divide is obvious, the contenders are ready and your heart breaks for Toma, the inevitable is obvious. Everything is so vivid, you can virtually feel the water trickling down the stone fountain. And as the clash begins, you know, in fact, you’ve always known it was never going to be a fair fight. Toma, the warrior was never truly ready or equipped for the fight, everything was too quick and rushed for him to be really prepared for that fight. I stiffly watched the fight between sacrifice and seduction. I was waiting, hoping that the tide will change, and when it did change, when that very small factor fell into place I fully understood the meaning of putting down all, body, mind and soul. The title of the book just slams at you at that instant and you can’t really smile or be happy because the price may just have been more than you thought. But as you read the final pages, you beam with joy because you know that there was no other way. I grinned because no matter how triumphant evil may seem, lurking around victors, it takes just one boost, a flash of red, one well aimed jab in favour of good. That’s all it takes.

Reading Immanuel’s Veins was… I don’t want to say spiritual? It was…hmm, this is where my vocabulary sadly fails me… It was a roller coaster of emotions; happiness, gladness, shock, shyness, discovery, crippling realization, despair, loss of hope, glimmer of possible redemption… This was a fight between love and lust, and you can feel each emotion as you read, the drowning in one and the floating in another.

The blurb of the novel tells that, “this story is for everyone, but not everyone is for this story”. Read it, once in a couple of years. We all have to read a book that tears at our soul and makes us think. Don’t get me wrong, it is not a sad story, rather it is positively exhausting in that at the end, your emotions have been tugged and pulled, you breathe out in wordless joy. You must read it… I loved it, I will probably pick it up in a year or two and go through the yo-yo of emotions. So get Immanuel’s Veins and read it fast! Give your mind and heart a jolt.

I’ll end with these words from the book- “With a kiss, evil will ravage body, soul and mind. Yet there remains hope, because the heart knows no bounds”.

Iretomiwa

Book Meet – Touchdown!

So, we told you guys a few weeks ago about our first book meet. It happened people, but not without your support. We were truly awed by how much love you showed us, and we are quite yet to recover. Too bad if you missed it, just make sure you make it for our next one 😉

The event started with a spoken word titled: ‘EJIRE’ by a Muser –Iretomiwa Akintunde, throwing some light on the theme of the book meet. The event was structured to be an interactive session revolving around six major discussants (Uche Ani, Ibukun Akinnawo, Ezim Osai, Justin Irabor, Yemi Johnson, and Adejoke Are) supervised by a moderator- Oladimeji Ojo. The discussants were specifically chosen to share their varying views on the issues raised. The discussion revolved around excerpts from books (quotes taken from the books in view) based on the theme which were read out and then thrown open for discussion. A brief roll call of the books used were: ‘Americanah’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, ‘Yellow Yellow’ by Kaine Agary, ‘On black sister’s street’ by Chika Unigwe, ‘Second Class Citizen’ by Buchi Emecheta, ‘The secret lives of baba Segi’s wives’ by Lola Shoneyin and ‘Black skin, white masks’ by Frantz Fanon.

After the introduction of the discussants and the moderator, the discussion started. The moderator read out the excerpts from the books and the well rounded and diverse panel hashed it out in a orderly and precise fashion, they were truly engaging. When the issue of bleaching came up, the girls took over, the audience was lively, locked and loaded and ready to contribute. Trust the guys not to be left out, there were guys who had no problem with their girlfriends bleaching while some vehemently attacked the idea, even threatening the ‘dump’ word if their girls tried it. We also had hair experts in the house sharing their stories and arguing for and against the natural hair issue. The issue of language was also raised and some strong opinions were voiced by the panelists.

We also got starstruck. Kaine Agary and Lola Shoneyin, two authors, honored our invites and showed up. They answered eager questions, giving genuine insight laced with personal experiences on issues raised.

When you have a passionate panel, an equally, if not a more opinionated audience, add an enagaing topic and voila!!! you get what we had that day. Sadly all fantastic things must come to an end. After such exacting, vocal gymnastics, the audience went out for refreshments. To say the day was just beautiful, would be an understatement.

The Musers team, are more than grateful to  everyone who supported this project, everyone that Retweeted, Reblogged, sent out messages etc. Big thank you to our friends Fope, Edwin, and Justin for their thoughts on the topic. Thank you Latte for the graphic designs, and Tosin, for the photos. We are also grateful to 9jeducation.org  for their publicity.

We also have to thank Patabah Book store for their support and remarkable understanding. We had the space for free, do visit them for books.  We are humbled that Lola Shoneyin and Kaine Agary graced us with their presence; and for those who came, we cannot thank you enough, thank you all for honoring our invitation. It was a success because you decided to try something different. Thank you again, we are grateful.

IMG-20140530-WA0010 IMG-20140530-WA0012 IMG-20140530-WA0015 IMG-20140530-WA0008 musers muserss Bofjj_eCAAIcKFz

 

Is There Really A Dark Skin Problem?

So, one last episode in gear of the Musers “Dark Skin Problem.” This episode was written by Fope, a friend of ours. Thank you Fope.

 

Last year’s Christmas eve, I was selected as the chosen one of all my sisters to accompany my mother to the market. We arrived early in the day. The market was not yet bustling with its usual mud and dirty activity of haggling and buying and selling of foodstuff in their rawest form. Although, the market stench did not alternate with day and time like its activities. It was the stamped signature of the place, hitting you like an epiphany every time you walked in. Reminding you yet again of where you were.

“Ah.. Sule, how you dey? I want to grind pepper abeg, half ground. You know how I dey always like am.” I heard mother say in her pidgin voice. Yes, my mother had a pidgin voice. One that never failed to embarrass me when I was younger. She always spoke frenetically in a pitch at least five times higher than that of her normal speaking voice. She spoke pidgin in a sing-song voice that after some time began to sound as though she were yodeling.

We went round the market buying foodstuff; rice, snails, tomatoes, onions, fish and a myriad of other things. It was a festive period so mother would not be parsimonious. This made me grateful for Christmas. Live chickens were the last things we bought before we went back to collect our pepper from Sule. I stood and watched as the professional chicken murderer held the wings of the chicken together underneath her feet, paralyzing it. Tightened her fist around the neck of the chicken, pulling it upwards, and began to effortlessly slice its neck off with her big, sharp knife. I watched as its red blood drained out and I heard the last “clawk clawk clawk!” sounds that the chicken made. Loud cries for mercy and for forgiveness of sins which it wasn’t even sure it had committed…

What drew my attention away was a voice behind me, a lovely voice that sounded like that of a woman giddy with excitement– Christmas lunch excitement maybe. She was ordering two turkeys and my curiosity propelled me to turn my head backwards. I saw a bright woman with a bright smile, who stuck out like a sore thumb; literally.

Her face was brightly made up and her skin was a rainbow of randomly selected colors; red, yellow, brown with long green stretch marks that spread across from her underarms down to her elbows like confident tenants who had paid their rent. Her skin had patches of black that looked like the scabs of half-peeled wounds. Yes, she was light skinned but it was a false, fabricated kind. It was unoriginal. It was ugly. It only let my imagination wander to what she might have looked like before this disaster.  Maybe dark skinned, maybe beautiful, maybe herself.  It took all the willpower my body could muster to avert my eyes back to the turkey that was being slaughtered. I didn’t want her to catch me staring.

“God forgive me but that woman in the market, what on earth did she do to her skin?!” Mother exclaimed as we got back into the car. God forgive me because we were Christians who never gossiped without first asking for forgiveness from our Father in Heaven.

“God forgive me too but that woman’s skin was terrible. It looks like it went through a natural disaster of a combination of too many chemicals. It was full of sores. I wonder why.”

We sighed at the same time and I retreated back into my silence, into my head. I began to make assumptions. Mother was thinking about the state of her skin, I could tell. But I was thinking about the reason why. I have always believed that every action is as a result of a chain reaction or a buildup of thoughts, beliefs, influences, judgments or misjudgments and ideas consciously or subconsciously developed. It was way deeper than just a failed change of skin color. It originated from the depths of identity crisis that plague many of our women today. I wonder who told her that she was not perfect the way she was. I wondered who told her that her dark skin was not beautiful.

I wonder who told Zainab that her dark skin was not beautiful. A secondary school friend of mine who I saw last week but almost couldn’t recognize because her once lustrous dark skin had magically turned into a bright yellow. And those scary, long eyelashes she wore just made me all the more confused.

It reminded me of a conversation mother and I once had when I was a young girl, not more than eight years old. A talk about identity and pride in one’s own self, in one’s skin and in one’s race. A conversation every mother ought to have with her young girl. It reminded me of my own dark skin story…

 

The Dark Skin Problem tomorrow. We’ll be expecting you.

THE CHOCOLATE QUEEN

Interesting Read #TheDarkSkinProblem

ScarsandPinkEarth

She stands before you

And speaks

Head held high

Like an Egyptian goddess

You listen.

This rare lustre her skin possesses

Is second only to none

Her skin is dark

She is proud

To her,

There is none better.

Meticulously painted over her curves

It moulds everything that she is

It is her identity

It represents her race

It represents her hopeful Africa.

Press your lips against its soft tenderness

See that it tastes like honey

Notice how it neither smears nor taints

See that it only adorns

See that it is precious.

Oh! How she revels in the sunlight rays

Worrying neither about burns nor tans

For she knows

That even when chocolate melts

It loses not its splendour.

This skin she wears,

She relishes and carries like ornaments

‘Tis beautiful

And she knows it

Call her black,

This is her pride

That she might flash a smile

And…

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Oedipus

Musers would like to thank everyone for spreading word about the dark skin problem: the views, debates we have been running into online. It’s interesting to see the matter tackled from different points of view.
Although Musers is known for Book reviews, we’re keeping with the fever in the air and stepping out of reviews this once to bring you a special episode covering an aspect of the dark skin problem.

The following episode titled Oedipus was penned down by a special friend of ours, Edwin. Thank you Edwin, we deeply appreciate your contribution.

*Cassette clicks on*
*Static*
I: Tell me about your first parents.
K: My first memory of them is from when I was about three.
We’re in a playground, somewhere in Africa. West Africa, I think. Father travelled a lot back then, and we with him. We’re on a playground, or at least I am, at first. Its an artificial playground like the ones in America, a jungle of metal bent and twisted in what would symbolically be frightening if it were a piece of art. I’m sitting in the sandbox; I remember the sand, mounds of it scooped in my tiny palms. I am not alone. There is someone else, a little girl with wild curly hair so yellow, Sunlight made it translucent. We had our legs buried deep enough that it touched the metal bottom of the pit and she’s scooping sand with a blue plastic pail and pouring it over our buried legs while I pat it firm. I remember that there was a woman watching us from the only bench set beside the playground. She says something and the girl turns, her hair spinning with her and catching the light. It reminds me of sparklers from my third birthday cake but gentler. I sneak in a touch. The girl waves with her pudgy fingers and the woman smiles.
Then her face changes. We both see it at the same time. I notice then too that there is a fence behind the woman, not like the brick one in the house we were living in at the time, but made of wire, you could see through it to the busy street beyond. The girl stands up and the soft sand crumbles around our feet. I stand too because she has and she squats and tries to fix the sand. Her mother is off her seat and running to us. Her eyes are on something behind us. I start to look back and then she screams.
“Get back! Get back or I swear to God I will scream!”
Someone speaks behind me. The voice is low and rumbling. A man’s voice. She reaches us and swoops down like a hawk. I’m in the air, then on her hip. She is running, away from the sandbox to the exit on the other side of the park. The girl is on her other side, and she has buried her head on the woman’s shoulder. Her mother I realise. Where is mine? I hear it now. Footsteps behind us. The rumbling has turned to thundering. He is shouting something at her. She doesn’t stop running. My throat tightens and I try not to cry. I panic and turn as far as her arm will allow. Then my heart swells. And I scream.
“Daddy! Daddy!”
She stops cold. Drops me on the pavement set into the grass. Steps away from me, just two steps. She is saying something, a lot of somethings. It’s rushing out of her when my father picks me up, and I wrap my white arms around his brown neck. He crushes me against him. I can feel his heart on my belly, beating. It’s so fast. It feels like if it goes any faster it’s going to break. The words pouring out of her slow, I start to understand them.
“So sorry. Oh God, I feel like the biggest fool in the world. I thought you were a kidnapper. No bla… Oh God, I’m sorry. I can’t believe I just said that. I feel so stupid.”
There are tears trickling down her face. My father slowly walks up to her and puts a hand on her shoulder. I find her daughter’s face, she isn’t crying anymore. Her eyes are wide as saucers. She is gawping at my father.
“It’s all my fault.” My father says. “I should have been better dressed. I just left the construction site a little late and remembered Regina said you were bringing them here for their play date.”
I look down. He is dressed the way he always is when he gets back from work; blue jeans and boots with a shirt that has many lines on it. I’d never realised there was a better way to dress to work. The woman wipes her cheek with the back of her hand and drops her daughter. She offers him her hand; he takes it and shakes vigorously. He tries to drop me down; I cling tighter to his neck.
“It’s fine. Everyone makes those kinds of mistakes. You should have seen him when he was born; he was so pink the nurses tittered about me being cuckolded. He is only just starting to look like me. Regina’s genes are tenacious as she used to be.”
They both laugh, his sounds like sneezing, and hers is too loud. Relieved, she begins to smile. There is something about the way my father speaks, with a lilting British accent that puts people at ease, It happens too many times to count growing up. The woman’s cheeks flush as she asks my father if he’d like to join her for lunch as an apology, her treat. He politely declines. We leave, me peeking over my father’s shoulder at the woman’s daughter. She is still gawping.
I: And your mother?
K: My mother is special, or strange. Depending on how you see the world. I didn’t realise how different she was until I went to primary school. Father was away in Dakar for about a month, part of a research group for some UNICEF thing and the driver fell sick. I sat outside the gates of my primary school in my white uniform, growing increasingly agitated with each hour that passed. Father didn’t see the point of extra mural lessons after eight hours of school so when the kids who’d stayed behind started exiting the gate in pairs of twos and threes three hours after school ended my worry turned into something else. I had about a thousand naira with me but I’d never used public transportation before and while she used it fairly regularly she’d never let me even leave our gate alone. I used to put my head to the gate and listen, imagining scenarios for the sounds I heard. I took my pen and a notebook out and tried to piece together a route home from the stories I’d heard father tell. All I had was Obalende and Surulere, I couldn’t think of anything else.
“Afin.”
I raised my head, fists clenched at my sides. Since my mother told me what it meant, I hated the word. One of the older boys from primary six was standing across from me. He saw my face and raised his hands.
“Sorry. I don’t know your name and that’s what everybody calls you.”
“Kieran.” I practically growled the word.
“Kieran, sorry for calling you Afin. Why are you vexing for it, what does it mean?”
I couldn’t hide the surprise on my face. “How can you not know what it means?”
“I’m Igbo, my name is Ebuka. Not everybody knows Yoruba.”
“So what does it mean?” He walked over and sat beside me. I scooted over so he could share my culvert.
“It means albino.”
“Ohhhhh.”
I nodded. He reached into his backpack and brought out a pack of rich tea cookies and opened it, we ate in silence. A quarter to six, a grey SUV flew down the street and screeched, halting in front of us. A frazzled woman in a business suit came out and hurried over to us. She took Ebuka’s face in her palm and kissed him severally on the cheeks. There was a yellow splotch on her left pant leg and her white shirt had a brown collar but she didn’t seem to notice.
“I’m sorry my dear, I totally forgot you were here. Ndo.”
Ebuka rolled his eyes. “No o. I no gree. You will bribe me.”
She pouted. “Oh! Okay na. Ice-cream abi?” She stopped fidgeting when she noticed me. “Obi’m, who is this your Oyibo friend?”
I stood up and offered my hand like father had taught me. “My name’s Kieran.”
She took my hand and pulled me into a hug. I blanched and held myself as still as I could; sitting by the road for nearly four hours had turned my white uniform a dusty brown. She didn’t seem to notice. She finally released me and walked to the car. Ebuka grabbed my hand and dragged me along.
“Oyibo where are your parents?” she asked once she got to the car.
Ebuka nudged me and I spoke up. “Our driver hasn’t come to get me and my father’s out of town.”
Ebuka’s mom frowned. “What of your mother.”
I shook my head. “She doesn’t go out. But I have our house phone number, if you can take me somewhere I can call home from, I’d be very grateful.”
She smiled and waved me and Ebuka into the backseat, shut the door behind us. She drove, her eyes always on us through the rear view mirror. Ebuka seemed used to it, because he wedged himself between the two front seats and fell into a bilingual conversation with her, switching between Igbo and English filled with cackling at lame jokes I didn’t understand but laughed along anyway. We went over third mainland bridge and around, taking routes I’d never seen.
“This is where I live!” I shouted from the backseat, pointing at the stadium under construction. Ebuka and his mother started laughing and she pushed him gently back into the back of the car.
“Better then. Your mom wont have to drive far to come get you.”
I kept quiet. I wasn’t quite sure my mom knew how to drive. I had never seen her use either of the two cars in our yard. Ebuka’s house was small but clean. It was clean but it wasn’t neat. There were specks of dirt forgotten in the living room’s corners, and the dining table hadn’t been cleared of the morning’s breakfast. I went straight for the phone and dialled my house. Mother picked at the first ring.
“Mom it’s me Kieran.”
She sighed loudly. “Thank God. I was about to call your father and ask him what to do. The driver spoilt the car; he’s been trying to fix it all evening. Where are you?”
I put my hand over the receiver and asked Ebuka’s mom, who was reclined on the living room sofa eating Ice-cream with Ebuka.
“Right beside the Children’s hospice at Aguda. It’s my friend’s house. They say it’s in Surulere so it shouldn’t be far from our house. When are you…”
The phone went dead. I dropped the receiver and went to join Ebuka and his mom on their sofa; they’d brought an extra spoon for me.
The door bell rang twenty five minutes later. I started to rise but Ebuka’s mom wouldn’t hear it, asked me to finish my food. I wolfed down the rest of my plate of jollof rice and rushed to pull on my sandals. Then I heard shouting from outside. I ran out with Ebuka. My mother had her head outside of a rickety yellow taxi parked outside Ebuka’s house, her auburn hair, falling around her face in droopy sweaty strings. She was wearing a sweater that covered her arms and her face was flushed.
“… bad enough you took another person’s child home, you proceeded to feed him! What the hell is wrong with you? Do you know if he has allergies or not? Do you know if he has any medical conditions? I am so incensed right now; I wish I could get out this car and use you to wipe the floor! Urgh!”
“Mommy!” I whispered, half hidden behind Ebuka’s mom. I’d never seen her that way with strangers before. “Mommy?”
She didn’t seem to notice me. She craned out the taxi window a little more and glared. “Just because my son is an ‘Oyibo’ like you so casually pointed, doesn’t make him a Barbie doll or a poodle for you to pick off the street and feed. He is a human being! I won’t stand for you people to treat him this way.”
Her eyes seemed to come into focus and stop on me. She stretched her hand and beckoned. “Kieran Adeseluka say thank you to the nice lady and get into the car right now!”
I reluctantly raised my head to Ebuka’s mom and sighed. “I’m so sorry ma.”
She smiled. “Its fine, I understand.”
I remember Ebuka and his mother watch us drive away. The look on her face was indecipherable and he was surprised. I felt small, like I’d led them into something much larger than they could hope to understand. When we got home, she marched me straight to the bathtub and scrubbed me all over till I felt raw. Then she cleaned the house. I could still hear her cleaning way past midnight as I pretended to sleep. After that day, I realised why Mother never went out, she was too busy cleaning. I remember her in the houses I grew up in, wiping tables, washing curtains, dusting behind the TV and under the VCR, which is kind of pointless when you live in Lagos. It was a battle against the dirt that she’d never win but she fought o so valiantly. It was then I noticed how she would sneak off to the sink to wash her hands and wipe her lips after she kissed my father and hugged me.
*silence, scratch and flare of a match being lit, deep sigh*
I: You have talked about them individually; do you have any memories of them together?
K: Funny you should ask that. Feels like yesterday they were in civil court fighting for custody of me. Isn’t it ironic, that they tussled over me like a piece of meat?
You want to know why I remember all that I have told you in such startling detail.
They brought it up in court as evidence against each other. Oh, they brought that and so much more. They dragged each other through the mud so thoroughly I wondered if they had ever loved each other. And they were so civil, my father in his corner of the court room, watching in his horn-rimmed glasses and his three piece suit and his face that never so much as twitched, like a mannequin. And she sits with her hands in her lap, afraid to touch anything so she wouldn’t need to run off and wash. I’d never seen her struggle so much.
I barely knew them; both of them, as they watched me in the courtroom give my testimony. It was the first time I’d seen them in the same room in nearly three years and neither of them could really see me. He brought up the fact that I was getting bullied in school and she talked of how I didn’t fit in Nigeria, how I had struggled. I was fine with them embarrassing each other, but when they turned it to me, I got angry and petty, a trait I inherited from my mother. So I told the judge how much worse it had gotten with her now, locking herself in her room for days at a time and lying in bed, moaning about it didn’t matter how much she tried, nothing ever stayed clean. I told the judge he’d never stayed up to a month at home with me in years, the missed PTA meetings and soccer meets, the forgotten birthdays. The surprise and betrayal on both of their faces when the judge granted my request to be put into foster care was the first real reaction I’d gotten in a while, it was just so sad that even that victory had to be bittersweet. To be free of him, I had to lose her as well. There was no chance in hell the judge would have granted mother custody. 
I: Do you think your problems will be solved by becoming legally emancipated?
K: I don’t know, I’m just sixteen. I’m lucky that the judge is letting me out of the system, most kids aren’t that lucky; they stay trapped till they’re eighteen. I’ve spent three years in Foster care because I wanted to teach them a lesson. I regret that now but at some point I know I have to take responsibility for my own mistakes.
I barely know my father.  I have spent most of my childhood and most of my teens in his shadow, being reminded how little or how much I was like him, even though he is almost never here. I wasted my youth looking for my mother, then trying to fix her and when that failed, helping her hide everything wrong with her from everyone else even though we passed each other every morning at the breakfast table. I shouldn’t have had to care for my mother this way. I shouldn’t have had to live up to his standards. They both wanted such vastly different things from I ended up living two different lives to please them. It was tiring, it still is. I’m just sixteen but I feel thirty two, I am both of them and I am neither. I’m tired of living for them; I want to live for me.
I: So what do you plan to do now, Kieran?
K: The deed on her father’s cabin house just passed to me as I’m now technically an adult. I’ll sign my mother out the adult care home next month and we’ll live there for the summer. The sunshine and the time away will be good for her, or maybe it won’t. But I have to try.  Maybe then my father. I got his latest email. He’s getting remarried in Lagos in the fall, to a Nigerian this time. He wants me to come, be his best man. I think I’ll go.
Maybe it’s time to get to know them again, my parents. As adults this time.
*cassette clicks off*

Thank you for reading.
6 days to TDSP…….

INTRODUCING – ‘THE DARK SKIN PROBLEM?’

my point is that the only authentic identity for the African is tribeI am Nigerian because the white man created Nigeria and gave me that identity. I am black because the white man constructed black to be as different as possible from his white. But I was Igbo before the white man came.”
Quote by CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE.

The Musers is a Book Club comprising of a rare collection of young booklovers and literary enthusiasts. We read books and post reviews right here on this blog. We do what we do for the love of books and in appreciation of the finer art of wielding words. The importance of words cannot be understated, the beauty of words if allowed can take us into parallel universes, subjugate or heighten emotions and so on. With words we become transcendent and escape the harsh realities of the present, we develop attachments to characters; fictional or otherwise and we travel to locations miles away thereby making use of the one gift we all possess as humans – imagination. I could go on and on.

The Musers are organizing a Book Meet, the first one in the history of the book club. After inhouse consultations and a good measure of brainstorming, we came up with a theme that seems to be gaining more and more clout in the sphere of public opinion. Almost everybody has an opinion on color. Truth is whether we like it or not, issues of color continue to play important roles in today’s society. The recent online pseudo-craze for ‘lightskins’, the increasing number of girls ‘bleaching’ their skin to lighter shades and the recent surge of Lupita Nyong’o in Hollywood which has raised quite a few eyebrows as many young African women refuse Lupita as a standard for African beauty are but a few examples.

The Musers present ‘The Darkskin Problem?’

THE DARK SKIN PROBLEM?
THE DARK SKIN PROBLEM?

The Book Meet will happen at B18 Adeniran Ogunsanya Shopping Mall, Surulere Lagos, on Saturday the 24th of May 2014. A panel of discussants are going to be on ground, headed by a moderator to thrash issues raised at the event. The theme is based on African Literature for the most part; the books are meant to guide the discussion. A short list of the books in view includeYellow Yellow’ by Kaine Agary, ‘Americanah’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and ‘The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives’ by Lola Soneyin amongst others. The discussion will be based on excerpts from the various books. The Book Meet is targeted at book lovers of all ages willing to share knowledge and learn in turn, it will begin at 4pm African time.

Admission is free and you can reserve seats by sending an email comprising of your name and contact information to musersmail@gmail.com.

We do hope you make it a date with us. For enquiries about the event please send a mail to musersmail@gmail.com, contact us on twitter at @TheMusers or check out our page on facebook. Thank you for taking the time to go through this and see you there.

MISSING IN CHIBOK

To stand as one
We all agree
For pain for happiness
We all shared
For books- the mind, we all worked
With a thought in mind we all assembled
As the Northern girls we stood through it all
With gladness our parents greeted
With eagerness we planned our lives
In one fell swoop we were taken
In one destined day, our lives were changed

Education they say is privilege Like a right to life?
Right to breathe?
Right to know and right to be
But we were taken,
Collected from our fountain of knowledge
And thrust into a forest of terror Knees trembling, we hope and pray
That soon and very soon
We’ll cry in our mothers’ laps
Knees buckling, we dare to hope We will be found!

Iretomiwa & Akinbobola

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…For the 234 school girls abducted by boko haram in Chibok. #BringBackOurGirls we pray you…