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Monthly Archives: August 2016

All is Well… A look back at #GrillandRead Book Party 

I woke in the morning of August 27th 2016 thinking to myself, “Finally, this day has come”.  I had mixed feelings.  I was apprehensive because the #GrillandRead team were trying something that had never really been done before. The idea behind #GrillandRead was to sell reading to people in a way that didn’t make anyone feel that they had to be “intellectual” in order to be readers,  it was aimed at attracting none readers and assimilating them into the reading commumity. With all due respect to the reading community, book events have somehow become associated with drab “jorks” who must sit,  talk and react in a particular way to books. 

The focus of #GrillandRead is reading for pleasure.  When I read for pleasure I sit with a snack and a drink,  lie on the sofa and put my leg up.  This is atmosphere we sought to create at the event. Our biggest fear was whether “book people” of our generation were ready for this kind of event. Were they ready to let their hair down and go from “drab”  to “fab” ?  Were they ready to loosen up and let in converts who were simply leisure readers? Annnnnnnnd what if it started raining (This one I could not shake off 😢) 

These thoughts preoccupied my mind as the kids and I prepared for the event.  We were to be picked up by 10am so that we could get to the venue well ahead of time. I had even planned to sneak out to attend another book event organised by Winepress Publishers and stay for a few minutes before returning to #GrillandRead. And then everything started going wrong… 

First my ride was cancelled. 

I remember sitting on the floor and trying my best not to burst into tears. After plenty of back and forth,  I opted for a taxi.  (Please someone remind me to overcome my fear of driving) We got one easily enough and set out from the traffic ridden Alagbado area of not so Lagos, only to,  after crossing Iyana-Ipaja, realise that I had left the tickets at home. The taxi made a turn and took us back home. 

And then my ride was back on. 

But then it was already 2pm and I was still at Alagbado and it was threatening to rain. Somehow we managed to arrive CCHUB,  the venue for #GrillandRead at 3.05pm.

But there was no grill. (😖) 

I found that the team coming with the grilled food and drinks were having their share of car troubles.  The plan had been that guests would be greeted by the smell of grilled food as they arrived and they could start informal conversations over the grilled food and chilled drinks even before the programme starts. This surely was not going to be the case. So we had to find a way of improvising. 

But where were our guests? (😱) 

I tried not to go into panic mode. There were just about 5 people already at the event at this time. We sold our first ticket about 10 minutes after I arrived and I thought to myself, “oh well, at least we tried”. But then we sold another and another and another…

And so we started late. 

Partly because of all of the above and partly because our guests were mostly Nigerians. And I forgot to change into the dress @skinart made for me or to wear any makeup (If I don’t look good in any of the photos,  this is my story and I’m sticking to it 😒) 

And so the party started. 

@Rezthapoet’s performance set the stage for what some have described as an “amazing”, “lit” and insert some other rave review here.  I checked in on Twitter at about 10pm heart pounding only to discover #GrillandRead was trending and not for any bad reason. (🙌) 

Everyone we invited came. 

It was amazing to have award winning Nollywood Director Dipo Abdul and writer and critic Oris Aigbokhevbolo discuss Book to TV, Getting it Right. It was a highly entertaining conversation which involved the audience in ways I did not even imagine. We had the right  mix of book and movie people in the crowd. 

@tundeleye and @SeunOdukoya later took the floor to talk about African writing and how much the system needs to begin to respect writers within the continent who have no “international exposure” (People like me 😏 By the way,  have you read #SectorIV?)   This session ended with a conversation on if Africa was a book… I’m hoping to see this hashtag on Twitter soon. 

In between,  we snuggled in quizzes to win freebies including #TLGotS and #SectorIV and an auction of two sets of books to raise some money for @TCLinitiative,  a charity that wants to establish more libraries for the next generation. 

How can I forget @Chika_Jones’ performance that sent chills down everyone’s spine. 

And the  @Rezthapoet again did a final performance. 

Then the grill came. 

Everyone was happy to get something grilled finally! @Simplyroli did an amazing job on the grill.  She has a secret sauce which she swears by.  Time to get into Plankton mode. (If you don’t watch Sponge Bob Square Pants,  of course I judge you 😐) 

Did I fail to mention that our photog for the day @bowiiii and his crew were busy capturing every moment?   I’m sure he will flood our space with his photographs soon. 

And so,  it ended well. 

I want to say a big thank you to @tonypox. I overheard someone saying she has an MC for her wedding. Tony did a wonderful job of keeping the audience entertained. 

To the #GrillandRead crew: @skinart3020, @simplyroli, @akintonmide @joyceodukoya, I thank you all. 

To @sparklewriters, @farafinabooks,  @bookhubng, @BookWawa, @BookBarterNG, @themustycorner, @main_book_cafe @Rovingheights and all the other woke book people that came out to support us today,  we say a huge thank you. 

To all that supported us with DP change to broadcast this event,  those who sent the event to their networks, for believing in us when we had “nothing”  to show,  I hope we did not disappoint you.  Thank you for your faith and love. God bless you. 

To @theTPL who believed and sponsored this event. 

To God, who held back the rain till we were done.  I feel this was a personal favour. (🙆) 

And we are back to the drawing table. 

We promise that #GrillandRead2 will be even more lit!!! We will certainly keep you posted of the next event date. Follow @GrillnRead on Twitter,  Instagram and Facebook, we shall keep you updated. 

Thank you all. Blessings! 

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2016 in General

 

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#SocialLeague: Story Twelve 

The Vice-President could not sleep. He listens to his wife snoring beside him and realizes that if he indeed becomes president, he will be stuck with her for another four years. That will be one of his biggest regrets. He had been planning to divorce her secretly before he was picked as Vice President and now providence was going to make him president.

He really should be asleep. Everything is working according to plans and the president will not know what hit him when the senate reconvenes in two days and he is impeached. The Maestro has worked everything out including ensuring that the perception that the president is ineffectual does not affect the party. They have based all their criticisms on the person of the president and used his own media team against him. The only person they have not been able to get is Nasir, but even that is about to change. He really should sleep, tomorrow is going to be a long day. He has to go through the list of cabinet members and decide who to keep and who to let go. Left to him, he will sack them all and get in his own people. But this is politics, interests need to be protected. He gets into bed and shuts his eyes. He knows that soon enough, sleep will come

                                         **********

Nasir is going through his email. If someone has managed to hack into his mail who knows how many emails they could have sent. He clicks on sent items and begins to go through the mails one after the other. He is very tired and wonders if it will not be better to go to sleep and do a more thorough check whenever he wakes up. The knock on the door startles him. He automatically looks at the time. it is 1.42 am. The knock becomes a more urgent bang. He looks at his phone. There are no missed calls. He rises and goes to the door and peeks through the spyhole. Maria. His eyebrows furrow as he wonders what she can possibly want from him at this time of the night. He unlocks the door and lets her in, a query in his eye.

“The President will like this visit kept below the radar,” Maria begins the minute she steps in, “when was the last time you swept this apartment?

Nasir wrinkles his nose wondering what smell she is referring to. “swept”.

“For listening devices? Bugs?”

Nasir feels like a child who is about to get a scolding. 

“That will be since inauguration,” he answers.

“Then I suggest we talk outside,” Maria concludes already leading the way out.

Nasir turns slowly wondering if he should throw on his just discarded shirt.  He decides against it and walks out topless.

                                  ******************

Niyi sits hunched over his laptop. Just as he suspected the header of the email terminates in Shenzhen China. He tries to remember something he had read about the city and decides that whoever wrote that email does not want to be found.  Niyi stops to think of the handful of hackers he knows that can execute something like this and he can only count them in one hand. He cannot decide on a process of elimination. At this point he does not even know what the criteria will be. One thing he knows for sure is that the person knows Akata and perhaps has a personal beef with her but also knows Nasir and may be looking to settle scores as well.

Niyi massages his temple with his fingers. Perhaps those on Twitter may know Akata but what could she have possibly done to make anyone so upset as to keep attacking her. The only thing he can think of is perhaps someone in the presidency is upset about a story she did and hired a hack to deal with her. He can’t even think of the Social Leaguers, they are the ones most likely to be used by someone in government. But, he has also come to know that things are not always what they seem.  He goes back to his laptop, time to rewrite the algorithm.  

                              ****************

The President sits on his desk going through some papers, reports from various Ministers just as he has directed. He is particularly interested in the Minister of Education’s report. He sorts it and begins to read. The Minister has some revolutionary ideas for the sector but he can’t seem to concentrate on reading it. He keeps wondering if he is one of those that are for him or against him. He shuts the report and wonders whether Maria  has carried out his instructions.  He knows he should have asked for Nasir to be brought in so he can speak to him directly. He deserved that much.  But he has again allowed his aversion to conflict to make him ask Maria to do the job. He needs to concentrate on fighting his political enemies and not be wondering if his Chief of Staff is still on his side. The hard part of this fight is that he is fighting members of his own political party without being aware that there are even factions.  Maria is the only person on earth he trusts at the moment. She had suggested that he make Senator Jimmy Vice President.  He closes the report and rises from his seat. His actions in the next 24 hours will be the most crucial. The first thing he has to do is replace his Chief of Staff and he knows the woman for the job.

                                  ****************

Maria makes her way towards her car. Nasir hadn’t taken it so well, not that she expected him to. She knows he loves the President like a father but what had to be done, had to be done. She wonders if she should go home and take a quick nap before flying to Lagos to complete assignment number two. Her phone beeps as she gets into the car and she checks the notification.  It is a message from Osi. She reads it quickly and shuts her eyes.  They are moving faster than she expected. How did they know to go after Senator Jimmy. If you found him so can anyone else. It was time for her to activate her Twitter network. She has left it dormant for years.  She seeks out a number and hits send. 

Akata picks the call at the third ring. She had fallen asleep trying to figure out how to resolve her issues and nothing seems to be working. The number displayed on her phone screen is not familiar to her.

“Hello”

“Katie”

Akata holds her breath. There is only one person on earth who calls her that.

“Marie?”

The laugh at the other end of the line is unmistakable.  Akata remembers a time from long ago when they had been friends and had adopted those names. She also remembers a more recent meeting.

“Yeah, it’s me,” Maria responds. 

“You sound so awake…it’s 2 o’clock you know.”

That laughter again, followed by a clearing of the throat. Akata could tell this was going to be important.

“I need your help,” Maria begins. “I need your help with pushing a counter narrative.

“A counter-narrative?”

“Yes, you will be going head to head against the Social Leaguers.”

“I don’t understand,” Akata says, sitting up in her bed. “You know I’m non-partisan.”

Maria looks at her watch.

“You know what? I will be at your place in 15.”

She hangs up before Akata can protest.

Akata gets out of bed naked as the day she was born. She always sleeps naked. From as long as she can remember, she has always been comfortable looking at her naked self in the mirror. She once made a joke about being able to identify any part of her body if it goes missing. She picks out a chiffon gown and throws it on as she makes her way to the living room. She knows that Maria will stop at nothing to get her to be involved in this war, but she is determined not to be drawn in.

The knock comes exactly 15 minutes later and Akata is ready for it. She had boiled water before Maria arrived and she used the first five minutes to break the ice. She avoids looking at Maria, concentrating painstakingly on the measuring: a level teaspoon of cocoa, a teaspoon of sugar, two teaspoons of milk, hot water to fill the small cup.

“Would you like something to drink?” Akata asks unexpectedly.

“Maybe after we talk,” Maria answers a smile on her lips. Akata misses the smile. “You know you can look up at me,” Maria continues. She wants to add something else but changes her mind.

“You know my answer is no. I know we have been friends and I know it’s probably for a good cause. But my answer is still no. Besides, I don’t even know if my blog is going to recover from the last spate of continuous attacks. So I really am of no use to you”.

Akata finally looks up and finds Maria’s smile, firmly in place.

“But I haven’t asked you anything…yet,” Maria responds.

Their eyes meet and hold and then the two burst out laughing.

“My God, Akata,” Maria begins, “You are so uptight, you are seated bolt upright like we used to do in Madame Coker’s French class.”

Akata relaxes as she continues laughing. She remembers how it used to be in Madame Coker’s class. Everyone seated bolt upright hoping they don’t get called to answer any of her questions. She never said anything in English from the moment she steps into the class to when she leaves adding to the general confusion.

“On second thoughts, I will have a beverage. Do you have any coffee?”

They both walk into the kitchen and Akata picks out the unopened tin of coffee from the shelf and gets out a cup.

“Sugar? Milk?’

“Black.”

Akata hands her the cup but she makes no move to leave the kitchen.

“I have no intentions of dragging you into politics. But I know how much you love this country. And no matter how non-partisan we may be, there comes a time when we cannot afford to be neutral.” Maria pauses but Akata can tell the pause is not meant for her to respond .

“What I am about to tell you will shock you but I swear to you on my honour that it is the absolute truth. When I’m done you can decide if you still want to sit on the fence.”

@akatablog was first to tweet the breaking news. The Presidency had relieved Nasir of his duties with immediate effect. Wale almost had a heart attack when he saw the tweet. He reached out to Etim Immediately but Etim was unreachable.  Etim was on a flight headed out to meet with the Maestro and the rest of the Social leaguers. Things had reached the point where phone calls could no longer do and the next few days would be crucial.

The rest of Twitter received the news with mixed feelings. The Fencists tried to analyse the news and what it could portend. Some predicted an imminent cabinet reshuffle. The lower rung of the social leaguers were at a loss what to say, without their leadership actively tweeting, some decide to just ignore the information. Wale tweets that it was difficult to tell if this news was true or the handiwork of some disgruntled bloggers and advised that everyone calmly wait for the presidency to release a statement. A few tweeps took exception to Akatablog being referred to as “disgruntled bloggers” and soon there was a full blown twar between the social leaguers and the supporters of Akata blog with each trying to outsub the other. It was in the midst of this cacophony that Zainab opened her Twitter.

(Disclaimer: All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.)

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2016 in Series

 

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