Call for Entries: The Garden City Literary Festival (GCLF) Writers’ Workshop 2012

Deadline: Friday 31st August, 2012


Entries for the 5th edition of the annual Garden City Literary Festival Writers’ Workshop are now being accepted. The workshop will hold in October 2012.

The Writers’ Workshop is a creative platform where aspiring writers sit under the tutelage of their established counterparts. It is recommended for anyone who wants to improve their writing skills. Each applicant must indicate their preferred choice of workshop.

Application to more than one class will not be considered. Participants are required to submit samples of their writing (in line with requirement for the different genres) before Friday 31st August, 2012, to secure a place.

All applicants must submit the following:


* Sample short story of between 1000 and 1500 words (please highlight–in the subject of your email–how many words your story contains). You should submit only your best story.


* Sample poem (no longer than 1000 words). Please note: synopses or abstracts will NOT be accepted.


* A ‘one act’ play script on any subject.


* A one-page personal CV must be submitted along with each entry;

* A brief paragraph about what you intend to learn from your chosen workshop must be included in submission;

* All manuscripts must be double spaced with a header showing ‘author’ to the left, ‘title’ in the middle and ‘page number’ to the right;

* Handwritten entries or entries that do not adhere to the manuscript format above will not be accepted.

All sample materials must be submitted to not later than 12 Noon on Friday 31st August, 2012. Materials submitted after this date and time will not be accepted.

*Guest writers at the 5th edition of the Garden City Literary Festival which holds from Monday 15 – Saturday 20, October 2012 in Portharcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria, include Doreen Baingana, Lola Shoneyin, Veronique Tadjo, Noo Saro-Wiwa, Chibundu Onuzo and the Caine Prize administrator, Lizzy Attree.

For more details, please visit: The Garden City Festival.

It’s Been Ages! Now, I’m Back to the Blog!!!

Dear friends,

It’s been ages since I last blogged here. I cannot find the exact words to qualify the wide range of experiences that filled that period of silence. I have missed my regular interaction with you, my ever-faithful readers. Though, I managed to maintain my regular columns on Bella Naija, I have had to endure what I’d call bouts of (mental) fatigue. You know when you can only read, but keep struggling to even scribble a draft for a blog post. Some commissioned essays, sadly, eventually had to be cancelled. My schedule was so haphazard that I always ended up too drained to sit, focus and just write… Now, I’m sure you’ve had enough of my first paragraph of rambling.

I would like to intimate you of developments in my writing since October. Last month, I decided to work on more regular posts so I came up with strategies to ensure I write more consistently. I began the “On Becoming a Man” (OBM) series on where I hope to share my thoughts on crucial matters that I continue to examine as I approach the mid-twenties. It’s been great writing the first four bi-monthly episodes, yet challenging. I must admit that it could be really difficult being so real in one’s writing without becoming vulnerable. Many times you are forced to think twice before spilling some details, especially when they are about you, albeit minute they might be. However, the truth remains that readers readily connect with analogies and relevant (well-told) anecdotes. It is also easy to feel you don’t know enough to be writing about becoming a man. But, that series is meant to be about my observations as I journey through this season of life, and which should/could stimulate discussions amongst readers; it is not necessarily an attempt to tell adults what to do with their life. In summary, I intend to keep experimenting with the voice and hopefully I’ll get that ‘perfect’ voice soon. Perhaps, I might just continue with that journey of reflections and self-discovery beyond my next birthday, if Christ tarries. [See the previous posts here:]

The other major project I have embarked upon, which I am sorry I have not mentioned yet on this blog, is the Bella Naija Photo Stories. It is a series of photo documentaries based on several fundamental developmental issues in Nigeria. I am collaborating with two photographer friends who are equally doing pretty well in their primary focus – photography. It’s been a beautiful work of synergy and I am very glad being a part of the project. Through a series of fortnightly posts on, Africa’s foremost fashion, entertainment and lifestyle website where I am an Editorial Assistant, we explore the lives of regular, often voiceless Nigerians on the streets who are often overshadowed by the rich and powerful in the society. We have run the first four episodes so far touching on the traders in the informal sector of the economy, waste and environmental pollution and control in Lagos, women of the ‘underground’ economy and commercial motorcyclists in Lagos. You can catch up on all the previous episodes here: The BN Photo Stories series is scheduled to end in the first week of January 2012.

Finally, the end of 2011 is upon us and it’s time for evaluation of the outgoing year. I do not promise many blog posts next month, but I can assure you I’ll be back to my blogging ways. It’s been a whooping 19 months since I started and it is only necessary that I explore more possibilities about my approach to writing /blogging in the New Year. I took a bold step to move to a self-hosted domain in September 2011 and it’s been increasingly rewarding. I would like to spend the most of December reviewing all the blog posts I’ve made since inception and adding a few useful skills to enhance my blogging experience, whilst strategizing and exploring ways to improve in my art and be more effective and consistent next year. Till we see in the next post, be good!

Photo credit:

Call for entries: Commonwealth Book Prize and Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Commonwealth Writers – a world of new fiction

The Commonwealth Foundation made the call for entries for the new Commonwealth Book Prize and Commonwealth Short Story Prize. The prizes are part of a new initiative, Commonwealth Writers, an online hub to inspire, inform and create a community of writers from all over the world. Together with the prizes, Commonwealth Writers unearths, develops and promotes the best new fiction from across the Commonwealth.

Awarded for best first book, the Commonwealth Book Prize is open to writers who have had their first novel (full length work of fiction) published between 1 January and 31 December 2011. Regional winners receive £2,500 and the overall winner receives £10,000. The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (2000-5000 words). Regional winners receive £1,000 and the overall winner receives £5,000. The winners will be announced in June 2012.

Chair of the Commonwealth Book Prize, Margaret Busby said “The significance of a prize such as this becomes greater with each year. It is vital to encourage and celebrate the talent of newly emerging novelists whose words have the potential to inspire and enrich the entire literary world. Searching out and promoting the best first books of fiction internationally is a serious task, a great honour and a wonderful challenge.”

Chair of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, Bernardine Evaristo said “This wonderful prize will turn the spotlight on the increasingly popular short story form and aims to support and encourage short story writers worldwide.”

As one of the Commonwealth Foundation’s culture programmes, Commonwealth Writers works in partnership with international literary organisations, the wider cultural industries and civil society to help writers develop their craft. Commonwealth Writers is a forum where members can debate the future of publishing, get advice from established authors and ask questions of our writer in residence.

Commonwealth Foundation Director, Danny Sriskandarajah said “As one of the Commonwealth Foundation’s flagship projects, I’m delighted that we’re putting the prizes firmly on the contemporary map of new writing and launching a dedicated Commonwealth Writers website to extend our global reach.”

Full rules and entry and eligibility information is available at

Closing date for entries:
Commonwealth Book Prize is Friday 9 December 2011 (5pm GMT)
Commonwealth Short Story Prize is Wednesday 30 November 2011 (5pm GMT)

Happy Independence! Here are 419 Reasons to Like Nigeria!!!

For too long, Nigeria and Nigerians have been readily associated with the online scams, financial crime and impersonation – termed ‘419’, after the penal code for the same offence under the military regimes in the early nineties. However, beyond the unfortunate stereotyping, there are several positive characteristics and cogent intriguing traits of the country, Nigeria and its people, some of which are highlighted below as part of the ‘419 Reasons to Like Nigeria’ campaign which enlisted 100 volunteers and bloggers to share reasons why they like Nigeria. These reasons echo the voices of Nigerians, with resonating similar themes. The campaign is being facilitated in partnership with ‘The 419Positive Project’.


  • I like Nigeria because it is a land of endless opportunities and possibilities. Nigeria is one country I believe the world is yet to experience it true potentials. I believe Nigerians are sharp, brilliant and accommodating people. Giving the right enabling environment the world will marvel at what Nigeria will become.
  • Nigeria is the most populous black nation – and a buying one at that. From a capitalist point of view, this makes for a great investment opportunities.
  • The fact that Nigeria currently lags behind so much – in infrastructure and developmental terms – hints at the size of the potential for innovation and transformation, and at the huge number of vacancies that exist for ‘transformers’. What I think this means is that the world will be hearing a lot about Nigeria and high-achieving Nigerians (in the public and private sectors) in the near future.


  • The Nigerian Green and White flag is a notable national symbol. The green color symbolises agriculture, seeing that the country is endowed with masses of arable land, while the white colour signifies unity and peace. Other national symbols include the Nigerian Coat of Arms, which depicts an eagle on a black shield, tri-sected by two wavy silver bands, and supported on either side by two chargers. The national motto underlies the coat-of -arms: “Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress.” Her national symbols convey great meaning to its people.
  • The Nigerian accent is currently ranked by CNN Global Experiences as the 5th sexiest accent in the world.
  • Nigeria is home to Nollywood, one of the world’s biggest film industries.


  • Something great to like about Nigeria is our cultural diversity. A strong affinity exists, despite our differences. Learning about other ethnic cultures in my country really helped me personally relate to other cultures when abroad.
  • I think the food is tastier in Nigeria than that I have found in other countries.
  • Nigerians live a communal life style. The extended family is part of the immediate family in a Nigerian home.


  • Nigeria has produced many world class musicians. A notable mention in this regard is Fela Anikulapo Kuti. A Broadway show titled ‘FELA!’ was produced in 2009 depicting the life and times of the Afrobeat musician.
  • Nigeria’s movie industry, Nollywood, is reputedly the 3rd largest film industry after Hollywood and Bollywood, and has grown gradually into a $250 million industry in more than 10 years.
  • Nigerian indigenous musical instruments are unique, soulful and rhythmic. They comprise the popular Talking Drum, producing proverbial and storytelling sounds, the Shaker (shekere), the Udu drum, the Lute, the leg and arm Rattle, the Omele, the Ogene (Gong originating in Eastern Nigeria), the Ekwe drum and the Kakaki (A 4m metal trumpet popular in Northern Nigeria). Many of these instruments have been incorporated in South American music over the years


  • Nigeria is a nation blessed with rich human and natural resources. As the 8th largest exporter of Oil in the world, with the 10th largest proven reserves, our blessings cannot be overemphasised. No earthquakes, no tsunamis, no droughts, an evergreen land. The rest of the world should live here.
  • The beauty of the Nigerian state cannot but leave one in awe. Blessed with captivating physical features and abundant wild life. From the rolling hills to the vast plains in the North Central Nigeria and the forests in the South, the beautiful scenery of the country is more than breathtaking and with the wildlife spread all over the country; Nigeria is surely a beauty to behold and a tourist’s delight all year round.
  • Nigeria is blessed with tremendous agricultural resources. Cotton in the North, Cocoa & Oil palm in the south amongst many others. The flag is green for a reason


  • Nigeria has the largest population of any country in Africa. Approximately 1 out of every 2 West Africans, 1 out of every 4 Africans, and 1 out of every 5 persons of African origin is a Nigerian.
  • Nigeria is the largest contributor of troops to the ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) and by extension, is the largest force for peace and stability in West Africa.
  • A Nigerian will stand out anywhere you find him/her, from Libya to London, Tokyo to Timbuktu. Well known examples include Hakeem Olajuwon (Houston Rockets, USA), Olumide Oyedeji (Seattle Sonics), Tunde Baiyewu (Lighthouse Family), Sunday Adelaja (Ukraine), Chris Aire (US), etc.


  • Nigerians are intelligent, brilliant minds who have proven their mettle in various fields – Wole Soyinka was the first African to win the much coveted Nobel Prize for literature in 1986. Chinua Achebe’s classic novel ‘Things Fall Apart’ was ranked as number 14 in a list of top 100 books in the world by Newsdesk in 2009. Others include Cyprian Ekwensi, Mabel Segun, Chimamanda Adichie and Helon Habila whose literary works have won both international and local awards at various times.
  • We have budding fashion designers. Yes! It’s a line every Bunmi, Amaka and Amina has decided to tow but to disregard the effort and originality of our Fashion Designers would be disrespectful. Tiffany Amber, Lanre Da Silva and Deola Sagoe are building world renowned brands, not to mention the legacy developed by the likes of Abba Folawiyo, Maureen Onigbanjo, Remi Lagos and Zizzi Cardow.
  • Nigerians have excelled in the fields of economics and finance, managing well established global bodies. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, the current Minister of Finance, was until recently a Managing Director at The World Bank. Obiageli Ezekwisili is currently the Vice President for Africa at The World Bank. Mr Adebayo Ogunlesi is a first class graduate of Oxford, and Managing Partner of Global infrastructure Partner (GIP), a concessionaire of London’s Gatwick International Airport.
  • We take technology and expand it in ways those who created it could not have imagined. For instance, take the BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) which allows you to send broadcast messages to all addresses on your contacts list; Nigerians recently found a unique way of advertising the different businesses they do. Someone started a message highlighting the fact that many people in Nigeria are entrepreneurs or provide a service and included his BB PIN in the message and sent to all his contacts with the charge that they state the service they provide, include their PIN and send on to all their contacts too. This seemingly small campaign has gone “viral” with whole lists of entrepreneurs and their BB PINs being passed from phone to phone. This is a clear sign of the ingenuity of Nigerians!


  • Nigeria is the 7th most populous nation in the world (over 160 million) and most populous in Africa – a gold mine of energetic, determined and talented people in each and every field. From Lagos to Aba to Kano, the Nigerian business spirit and desire to succeed is visible. It requires just proper harnessing of these human resources before Nigeria becomes the super power she was meant to be.
  • Nigerians are passionate, friendly, welcoming, hospitable, and well cultured people. The average Nigerian reflects a combination of vivacity, intelligence, energy, talent, and resolution.
  • We are a nation of people that can hardly hide their excitement at seeing family and friends. Some misconstrue this thinking we are loud but let’s just say we are EXPRESSIVE! If you see us on the streets of New York making a big ruckus and hugging? No sweat. We are just happy to see each other.


  • The Giant of Africa: Not ignoring the current challenges, eventually, when we get our acts right, we will reign supreme on the global scene. We have the potential and as is much touted by the Warri people – “Naija no dey carry last”
  • The ‘survivor-mentality’ hard-wired into the DNA of Nigeria’s people. The fact that against all the odds (and there are many of them), Nigerians continue to live, hustle and seek to triumph. It is not by mistake that Nigeria is regarded as one of the “happiest” countries in the world, despite its challenging economic and social conditions.
  • We are hardy. The average Nigerian does business under circumstances that are unimaginable to people from other parts. In a place where there is no power, no credit, and scant regulation, people do business and do very well for themselves too. If you can make it in Nigeria, you can make it anywhere in the world.


  • Nigeria is an amazing tourist haven and is home to the Obudu Cattle Ranch, located in Calabar. It is only 45 miles from the Cameroon border. The Obudu Plateau is spread over 40 sq. miles and is 5,200 feet above sea level. The Obudu resort features a Gorilla Camp where tourists may observe gorillas in their natural habitat.
  • Nigeria has two UNESCO world heritage sites, the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove and the Sukur Cultural Landscape in Adamawa. UNESCO world heritage sites are places designated as being of cultural significance.
  • Nigeria has produced great footballers like Teslim “Thunder” Balogun (the first Nigerian to play for an English Club – QPR), Segun Odegbami, Muda Lawal, Stephen Keshi, Rashidi Yekini (who scored Nigeria’s first ever goal at the World Cup), Nwankwo Kanu, Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha, John Mikel Obi, Osaze Odemwingie, to mention but a few.
  • Nigeria has excelled in athletics over the years, still holding continental records in the 100m men and women, 4x100m men and women, 400m men and women, among others. Over 100 skilled Nigerian professional footballers played in First Division leagues in different countries all over Europe in the 2010/2011 season, 9 in England; 8 each in Finland, Norway; 10 in Ukraine and 7 in Sweden.


  • Nigerians, despite our diversity are a united people who always strive to help one another. With 774 local government areas, multi religious and ethnic affiliations, 36 States, and population of over 160 million, we still stand undeterred to move forward together.
  • Even outside the country, Nigerians remain united. This gives a quiet assurance somewhat that you can get on a plane and go to any country of the world and find a Nigerian there who will not only make you feel welcome but will go out of their way to be of really good help. I have experienced this several times on my travels and each time it amazes me how all I need to be is a Nigerian, not Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa and once I run into another Nigerian, I will immediately feel at home.
  • Our greatest strength lies in our diversity.

The ‘419 Reasons to Like Nigeria’ Campaign is in partnership with ‘The 419Positive Project’. The full list of ‘419 Reasons to Like Nigeria’ is available here (