All posts by richardalijos

Lawyer, Poet, Author of the novel City of Memories.

On Nostalgia for Destroyed Spaces

This morning seven years ago, I’d gone hiking up one of the Shere Hills (Moses Mountain, Zarazong) in Jos East with Dr. Babajide Agboola. I was skinny and fit once upon a time. True talk.

By the time we came down six hours later (it was a 3 hour trail), there’d been some civil crisis in #Jos. I had to take a very long detour with a brave okada man, skirting past villages beyond Rayfield, through quiet deserted roads, linking up at Sibancho junction then Old Airport to get to my house in Hwolshe which was normally less than 30 minutes away.

I miss those times when I could do stuff like three hour mountain treks. I miss my hometown, for its beauty and for what it used to be. Some say nostalgia keeps us focused, but can we not have nostalgia without the loss?

So, this one is for #Jos and for #Plateau. This one is for #PlateauTheBeautiful #Nigeria

– Ra.


On Swaziland’s declaring war on Nigeria

King Mswati III


As a result of Nigerian journalist, Richard Ali’s, satire published in The African, Swaziland declares war on Nigeria.

King Mswati: President of Nigeria, on guard! Swaziland hereby declares war on Nigeria.

President Buhari: *shocked silence* (dials the National Security Adviser). General Monguno, where exactly is this Swaziland?

NSA Monguno: Let me get back to you on that, Excellency.

(15 minutes later)

President Buhari: Ah, Your Highness. My people have been able to locate your country…

King Mswati: I will accept an unconditional surrender.

President Buhari: Your Highness…

King Mswati: I am My Royal Highness!

President Buhari: Sorry, Your Royal Highness. Are you aware Nigeria is located 7,000 kilometers from your, erm, country? That Nigeria is nearly 1,000,000 square kilometers in size, has one of the best militaries on the continent on top of 170 million very colorful people?

King Mswati: Hmmm. 170 million people, you say? Hold on, Mr. President.

(15 minutes later). Mr. President, I regret to inform you Swaziland will be withdrawing our declaration of war. Swaziland is a strict adherent of the Geneva Convention and we cannot treat 170 million prisoners of war as well as we should.

Source: Rauters.

On 2017

2017 has been a long year of facing the consequences of my choices. It’s strange to find out just how much you can insist on in service of your No, exhilarating and scary.

Love lost in ’16 became concrete and there was the delicious ability to interpret and understand how people are people. Compatibility came late with someone new who will not be staying too long either, a black box worthy of me, which is interesting to observe as it all complicates itself.

Travel was the high point of the year, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania and then Italy later on. As was my work as non-fiction editor at Panorama Journal. Passports and visas and worlds without borders is the point of platforms. The creation of platforms is my raison d’etre. The Konya Shamsrumi poetry press was started this year. At its centre is an unusual idea.

In this year, I understood that friendship is not worth it when you have widely different conceptions of what it means. What’s lost is a maybe-potential and that’s nothing at all really.

The end of my very brief “career” working in the public sector armed me with (sad) knowledge (of the true state of affairs) I wish I did not have, which will come in very usefully in the coming year. To be able to see your country clearly and holistically is an amazing thing. And the question of language comes up.

In this year, I have been happy for my mother as three of her kids got jobs in banking and with a government department. Off on their little starts. Sacrifice without pressure from a good heart over years should have this reward, the joy. My second sister also got an engagement ring two weeks ago which is very funny and sweet.

And, I learned that I am getting old and cannot multitask as I used to. While this realization is unlikely to change my nature, I doubt I will find myself doing less things at once all the time now, the need to hire people to execute things to expand the scope what can be achieved is inevitable and, with this, maybe I will be more effective than ’17. 2018 might just be the year I create a machine and maybe even set up a basic household too.

Lastly, I made money enough to be happy, which all said and done is a great thing.

Last last, I’d say ’17 was a fine year. 70% good to me. ’18 will see the consolidation of offices into which I came this year, and one other audacious gamble in the retail trade.

Happy new year in advance to everyone. One day slips into another. We live. And try to thrive. That is all.

– Ra.

On Culture

Qudus (left) and troupe performing at a show.

Qudus (left) and troupe performing at a show.

“Culture in my own opinion isn’t and can’t be for sale, to the highest bidder, culture is supposed to arm the proletariat, as to what is worthy of their actions, should be able to raise consciousness and empower people beyond the need for bread and butter, should be able to be a powerful sector for the reengineering of our value system, should be able to be a teacher like Fela Kuti said, culture and tradition should be a major signifier of our underlining philosophy as a people, who still has a lot to do with self imagination, and it is up to the culture people to make the power people understand this in ways at which they understand the importance of education, of security, of good roads and other sectors in which they invest heavily, without any question of how it adds to the gdp, because they know it does, in an abstract way.”

Qudus Onikeku.

On “The Names of Continents” at Kigali

My poem, “The Names of Continents”, was performed @transpoesis End Violence, Empower Women poetry performance in #Kigali last week. It was read by Amina (in the rose blouse) accompanied by the guitar. Many thanks to Dr. Andrea Grieder and her team.

I stand in the street in the crowd with my aunts and sisters, we cause

Tremors and our leader who looks like my mother unties a child and

Feeds it from her own breast while the world of lies falls silent. She says—

Africa and Asia and America and Europa are named for women because the World

Itself is a woman, words for “seed” or “boy”, “song” “rain” or “man” from our womb is birthed

For there can be no words without sound and women are the sound and the soundness

Of all creation

From, The Names of Continents.

On So Aljanar Duniya

“Aure! Inna ni fa na gaya muku ba zan auri kowa ba sai wanda nake so. Kun san zamani ya sake. Kuma yanzu ban ga abin da zai hana ku ba ni shi ba. Yana da mutunchi da natsuwa. Ba abin da za mu nuna musu. Kuma daidai muke tun da yana da asali,ba za ku yarda in zabi na kasa da ni ba?”

(My translation.) “Marriage! I’ve told you all that I will only marry who I love. You know the world has changed. There is nothing to stop you from letting me have him. He is selfless and a gentleman. His family is as equal in honour as ours. We are alike in temperament, give me a reason why you would deny me someone who loves me?”

Hafsatu Abdulawheed’s So Aljanar Duniya (NNPC, 1980). Present reading.

Today I picked up a book by a much older friend of mine and caught the translation bug.

This is the opening paragraph (and my translation attempt) of Hajiya Hafsatu Abdulwaheed’s So Aljanar Duniya, one of the earliest Hausa language fictions by a woman. It was published in 1980 by NNPC, Zaria. Feedback on the translation is welcome.

Hajiya is my second mother, she’s mother to my law partner Asiya Ahmed. Also journalist Kadaria Ahmed’s mum.

It’s a delight to get to her story, this chronicle of love between a Fulani girl and an Arab she is in love with. The first paragraph draws me in.

Perhaps I will also natsu and work on a translation? The book is a novella really.

– Ra.

On Women

Hung out with a friend of mine, Xu, today.

Learned again how, when you meet a woman, you should hold off from thinking first how pretty or intelligent she is.

Think first instead of her scars and where she’s been, what she’s seen, and how she’s still here, glorious and thriving.

These women are more resilient than we are. Salute to these women especially.

– Ra.