All posts by richardalijos

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

Falling In Love With A Poet


You are a hardworking man. There is no other way your farms would flourish and your businesses would turn up a profit in that lunatic’s land that is Aba,  Abia State. Nkechi caught your eye on a fine Sunday morning in church. Her knee length skirt emphasised the curve of her hips and her blouse hugged a full bosom. Her gentle, shy smile in a bespactacled  face the colour of roasted  cashew won your heart.
She didn’t care much for truffles. Gifts that left your previous girlfriends screaming met her smile and a faraway look in her eyes. She was always reading or writing something on her phone. When you asked her she shrugged “Oh, those are my poems.” Then you bought her a Tablet and for once her eyes lit up, she hugged you spinning like a merry go round.
The wedding was quiet. She didn’t like crowds and…

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Ten Days at the Caine Prize Writing Workshop

Moonchild's Temple

This year, the prestigious Caine Prize Workshop held in Uganda, in the resort town of Garuga, hugged by the expansive Lake Victoria. 
I missed the workshop in South Africa last year because some of that country’s officials had a bad weekend and decided that Nigerians shouldn’t be allowed in on the pretext of invalid yellow fever cards. Don’t ask me what Yellow Fever is: I heard the last reported case in Nigeria was some 18 years ago. Anyway, that was how I was turned back at Jo’burg’s Oliver Thambo Airport. The climax of some four days of frustration. The trauma of that disappoint lingered for months. Fellow writer Elnathan John wasn’t even given a visa.
Fortunately, there were no such calamities this year. The Ugandans proved to be a lot more friendly and accommodating and so all invited writers, including three shortlisted writers for the 2012 Caine Prize, Kenyan Billy Kahora, Malawi’s…

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On Courage, Dear Mr. Rushdie

“Whither Moral Courage?” By SALMAN RUSHDIE
Published: April 27, 2013, New York Times.

[ ]

Mr. Rushdie,
“courage” is not enough; the issue over which courage is being demonstrated is of even more defining importance as regards how such demonstrations are received. Trying to fob off Pussy Riot as being in the mould of the Tank Man at Tiananmen or, for Chrissake, Edward Said or Chomsky is a hard sell.

Said and Chomsky, unlike you and the Pussy Rioters for example, did not deliberately set out to taunt and provoke for the express purpose of then turning around “in surprise” at a cold reception to this perverse misunderstanding of the role of the artist. In the course of an artist’s work, he might provoke strong reactions, but provoking reactions is not the primary work of an artist–to mistake these two debases the artist. There’s a subtle difference.

Courage simpliciter is not enough. One can be courageous and still be wrong. The rest of the essay is a good read. I enjoyed it.

– Ra.

On Temptation and Immorality

“When he was released, Dudko was finally given his own church. His message changed. Where he had preached harmony and hope, he now preached rabid nationalism and anti-Semitism. He died lonely and bitter and mad. In Oliver Bullough’s bleak, beautiful The Last Man in Russia, a mix of biography and reportage, Dudko’s journey from defiance to submission to self-destruction becomes the archetypal Russian story: a broken man representing a broken nation.”

From a review, here [ ]

I’d like to read this book. I am immensely curious about people like Dudko. I think of Wilde, who quipped about how great strength is needed to fall into certain temptations. And I think of an old Jimmy Croce song from a Brad Solomon novel, “The Gone Man”, he sang–do you ha’ tha feelin’ tha you wanted to go/ An’ yet ha’ tha feelin’ tha you wanted to stay? And I think again of the Fourth Tempter from Eliot’s play “Murder. . .”, who offered what was inevitable to a proud man–to accept martyrdom for the wrong reasons.

I am curious about people like Dudko, like the man in the Californero’s song, people like Archbishop Becket, because I think of myself and question my immorality. I think I admire these tales of tempted men because I am not sure if it is true that there are no temptations for me, if it is true that all there is for me is choice, then will, then ability.

What are the things so similar to our true natures as that they are likely to break us were they offered by an enemy?

Excerpt: Americanah

Farafina Books

americanahFinally, Aisha finished with her customer and asked what colour Ifemelu wanted for her hair attachments.
“Colour four.”
“Not good colour,” Aisha said promptly.
“That’s what I use.”
“It look dirty. You don’t want colour one?”
“Colour one is too black, it looks fake,” Ifemelu said, loosening her headwrap. “Sometimes I use colour two, but colour four is closest to my natural colour.”
Aisha shrugged, a haughty shrug, as though it was not her problem if her customer did not have good taste. She reached into a cupboard, brought out two packets of attachments, checked to make sure they
were both the same colour.
She touched Ifemelu’s hair. “Why you don’t have relaxer?”
“I like my hair the way God made it.”
“But how you comb it? Hard to comb,” Aisha said.
Ifemelu had brought her own comb. She gently combed her hair, dense, soft and tightly coiled, until it framed her head like…

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The Sanctity of an American Corpse

Gimba Kakanda's Blog

 500 killed in a fresh crisis in Jos onMonday. 20 shot dead by unknown gunmen in Postikumon Tuesday.10 killed in a Boko Haram attackonWednesday. 20 killed in a Boko Haram attackonThursday.30 killed in a Boko Haram attackon Friday. 40 killed in a Boko Haram attackon Saturday.Bomb goes off in church during service, 50 reported killed, many injured onSunday. As the more perceptive Nigerian journalists now know, these are the clichés that no longer attract readers no matter the best efforts of sensation-minded editors. These have been the headlines of Nigerian newspapers with which the psyches of thinking Nigerians are constantly harassed, so their empathies are bumbed and diminished, day in, day out.

Our silence over the killings across northern Nigeria…

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