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.

Ababuo: Another Night in Lagos (A Short Story)

Gates of Ghana, Hear our cry
From a distant land, afar
Tomorrow, may we awake in Accra

“Hello lady, can I help you with your luggage? Those bags must weigh two tonnes!”

Ababuo turns back in search of the strange voice. Wow! An albino in Ghana!? She thought to herself. “My name is Appiah, may I know the name that suits this beautiful face?” the albino adds as he reaches to relieve the young lady of the heavier of the two bags.”

“I am Ababuo,” she smiles revealing her endearing dimples.

“What a coincidence! That’s my grandmother’s first name. Where are you headed?”

“I am looking for the GUFFS hostel.”

“Oh! You must be fresh on campus. That hostel is popularly known as Brunnei…” Appiah seems to be really popular here because almost every twenty seconds, someone calls out to greet him. If it is not one beautiful girl, it is a group of young guys strolling together, or some non-teaching staff… Light rays from the midday sun collapse midway on the albino’s bald head and Ababuo thinks she can see pieces of her own image staring back at her. She remembers how when she was only five, she thought Albinos were from Albania. Albania, a country she discovered in one of Papa’s big books, the one that contains the maps of the world. After some minutes of walking, Appiah announces, “Welcome to the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana!”

“Ababuo!” Mama’s voice tolls from the back yard. “Aba-buo-oo…!” she calls a second time, then a third, her voice now approaching a crescendo.

“Mama… I’m coming!” Ababuo snaps out of her dream. She crawls out of the old rusty bed, accompanied by the jingling of tarnished springs, dislocated out of joint. Tired and still sleepy, she yawns and squints in the dark room. She feels the side of the bed, and the window sill for the torch. Outside the window, the day has suddenly sung itself into evening. The evening comes in slow steps, its star silvery and solitary on the girdle of the early night. She saunters out of the door, into the dark night which now engulfs the backyard like the devil’s parcel. She staggers and navigates the curved path to the kitchen, amidst rooms unconventionally scattered on both sides of the tiny passage. She walks somewhat unsteadily like a blind man feeling his way. She is led by a glimpse of the red glow of kerosene lantern down the path and the beam of light from her torch.

Night falls upon us

Photo Credit: Tosin Poluyi

As she draws close, the sweet aroma of peanut soup wafts along with intrusive smoke from the cramped dingy kitchen. “The soup is ready. Let’s make the fufu.” Mama pours the boiled starchy cassava and plantain into the giant, wooden mortar and pounds it into a glutinous mass, stirring to the limits of her endurance. She dumps a cup of the mixture into a wet bowl. Ababuo shakes the dough almost till eternity until it forms a smooth ball with sticky, slightly resilient consistency. She serves the fufu on five platters alongside the peanut soup. She takes Papa’s dish – the largest of all the platters – into the living room, and makes for the frontage where Papa and her two siblings are seated. Under the moonlight, Papa, a poor pensioner and head of a family scraping by on a single income, shares banters and stories from the good old days with friends. The kids in the compound listen, enthralled by the golden gloom of the past and the bright-hued hope of the future. They also enjoy the stories about Anansi, the legendary spider. She walks at an even clip towards her father, takes a turn around him, and whispers to him from behind, Papa your favourite is ready. Papa smacks his lips, then brings his Ghana-Must-Go story to a close and excuses himself. Five minutes later, power supply is restored to the street. Everybody, young and old, diffuses into thin air.

Two hours later, darkness descends on the community! The television flickers into nothingness. Ceiling fans whirr to a stop. Ababuo sighs, gasps, and laments as she reaches for the match box. She lights the kerosene lantern and her candle, opens the windows, and lifts the curtain for a release of fresh air from the street. The air is raw and pointed. She studies strenuously for another hour before the candle chills out. She cringes with pain in her heart. The stifling room continues to heat up as the smell of fossil fuels laces the air. At 12 am, the wail of a trio of power-generating engines in the compound gives way to the loud singing from a Pentecostal church, four blocks away. They must have started another series of vigils. Ababuo slips under the clammy sheets. She catches a glimpse of her Ghana-must-go bag as she tries to find sleep on the wafer-thin mat. Then she sees rivulets joining into streams on the forehead of every occupant in the room.

Many times, she wishes Papa had left when her people were forced out of this country. She hears of her native land’s progressive strides, how even Nigerians are now trooping to tap into the good of 21st century Ghana, and the fast pace of economic and educational development back home. She has learnt to see in the dark and think through the noxious fumes. Every day, she prays for success in her final secondary school exams and hopes for a bright future in a Ghanaian University. As she finally surrenders to a fitful sleep, Appiah the albino turns to her, “So Ababuo, what course have you been admitted to study?”

Guest Post: Prayer Cover: A Short Story by Adetola Onayemi

By ‘Tola Onayemi

Sam rolled off his bed. Instinctively, he wiped his face with the back of his palm. That didn’t take away the sleep from his eyes. He lifted up his forearm to take a look at his watch. 3:00AM. He didn’t know what made him wake up, but he had that longing in his heart. He couldn’t put his finger on it to name it, but he felt a nudge to pray. He took another glance at his bed and he longed for the comfort of his bed. He slowly sat on the bed and leaned his head backward. He would pray in five minutes. In five minutes, he was snoring. Sleeping and snoring. He didn’t see the red eyes staring at him from the corner.

“Clear. Procrastination; he is sleeping!”

Fifty miles away, Shade rolled to and fro in her bed. She had that feeling again, but didn’t know what to do with it. She looked up at the ceiling and pondered. She travelled in her thought, but the feeling kept tugging at her heart. She didn’t know whether to pray like she always did when she was a lot younger. She stole a glance at the alarm clock. 3:00AM. She had a test later that morning, so she needed to sleep so she could wake up early to revise her notes. She lay down. In thirty seconds, she was snoring.

“Clear. Anxiety; she’s gone to sleep.”

Two hundred miles and two cattle ranches away, Mrs. Opeolu was roused to consciousness. She sat up in bed and looked at her side. No one was there. She became aware of the noise from near distance. He was at it again; writing his books that never end. Then she realized what had brought her to consciousness – that feeling to pray. But she didn’t know what she was supposed to pray about. It had been a dream, but she couldn’t recollect it now. She had vague traces of some part, and knew it wasn’t a pleasant dream. The feeling was getting stronger. She saw from the clock on the dressing table that it was 3:00AM. Just then, the books on the shelf fell off. “Oh!” She dragged herself off the bed to where the books were and started arranging them back up. She then remembered: she hadn’t washed the dishes used for last night’s meal. She would pray after washing the dishes.

“Clear. Activities and busy-ness; she’s been distracted.”

In the basement, Pastor Opeolu rattled on the typewriter. He had been saving two hours every day to type his book. The feeling welled up within him suddenly. His fingers couldn’t go on typing. The feeling filled his heart; the powerful urge to get on his knees. Not now! He had a manuscript to type. He leaned back on his chair, and entertained the wonderful fantasies that filled his mind. When his book is released, it would be a bestseller. He would travel round the globe for his book’s publicity. Presidents will await him at the airport. Show hosts would ask “what motivated you to write such a book?” He wandered in thought.

“Clear. Distraction; He’s fantasizing.”

The demons flew together into the distance, chattering loudly. Yet, no one could hear. The people were all deaf in the spirit.

“I only had to make him sleep!” Laziness shouted.

“I too; she’s pretty easy to deceive. I only had to make her remember her test and the next second she was sleeping!” Anxiety laughed out.

Activities laughed as it said, “I distracted her by giving her something less important to do.”

“Where’s Distraction?”

“He’s on his way and just reported that he was successful.”

The foundations of the earth began to shake. Out of the abyss of the earth rose a gory spirit. As he spoke, smoke came forth.

“Depression. All is clear.”

Bode sat on his bed and held his head. His heart sank in anger, but he didn’t know why. He just knew the atmosphere had changed and he felt horrible.

“I’m just a worthless dump of skin,” he muttered in his tongue. Was that him or someone else? He heard it again in his head. He felt worthless and useless. He stood up and walked out of his balcony. He felt like taking his life. What was the use of his life? He looked towards the Cathedral’s giant clock: 3:00AM.

“Can’t we do anything?” an angel asked.

“We would just stay here and watch him kill himself?”

“There’s little we can do. We were instructed to awaken the Christians to pray, but they seem to be too preoccupied to heed and get on their knees.”

“So we’ll just stay here watching him die?”

“There’s little we can do, there’s no prayer cover for us if we try to attack.”

Bode started crying. He didn’t know why, but he felt like dying. He sobbed and held the metal railing. He wanted to jump down and just die. The feeling kept throbbing in his heart. Jump! Jump! Jump! Hell was paradise! He had no reason to kill himself because he had everything he needed: a beautiful family, good grades, a well-paying job, love and warmth, and a beautiful fiancée. Yet, he felt like dying. He heaved himself over the balcony. At last, he was going to die… Die!

“Yes! We have succeeded” Despondence shouted.



“So much bitterness in the air.”

“So much sadness.”

All the demons chattered.

Bode felt the darkness deep inside and it seemed he was being sucked into that darkness. Bitterness took over his soul as his whole life history and wrong deeds of the past flashed past in seconds. He heaved himself over the balcony and fell from 20ft above the ground. Then, out of the blues, he felt love warming into his heart and a hand dragging him out of darkness. Light shone brightly and the darkness could not comprehend it.

“Hey! What’s happening? We’re losing him!!!” Depression screamed.

Some twenty miles away, Grandma Nnena was on her knees in prayer. She didn’t know why. She didn’t know for whom. She just knew she had to travail in prayers. She spoke in tongues, guided by the Holy Spirit. After minutes of those strange utterances, she felt peace in her heart and stopped. A battle had been won and she just seemed to understand that. She only knew she had to pray because this had happened to her many times in her sixty four years of intercession, since she was six. She thanked God for the victory as peace radiated and grew in her heart. She felt an overwhelming presence in her room.

The angel rested his hand on Grandma Nnena’s shoulders saying, “The effectual fervent prayer of the righteous makes power available. Woman! Your prayer worked.” Of course, she could hear the voice.

The other angel propositioned him. They had to go. Victory had been won.

In the distance, the ambulance blew its siren aloud. Groggy, Bode gave a wry smile. He didn’t know why, but he felt someone had fought for him. It had been like a trance, really. The paramedics called his parents, Pastor and Deaconess Opeolu. “Are you Bode’s parents? Bode just attempted suicide, but he’s now being taken to Riverdale Hospital.”

“My goodness, I have to call shade, his fiancée. We should call Sam, his brother, too!”


This piece was originally published in the 2009 Edition of Campus Mirror, an annual magazine of the Lagos Varsity Christian Union, University of Lagos, Nigeria and has been slightly edited. Tola Onayemi studies Law at the University of Lagos.

Guest Post: Welcome the Rain – A Short Story by Adetola Onayemi

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I shall pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.” – Hosea 2:28

The wind blew across the crusty earth, evidence of the perennial drought that had besieged the land, forty-eight months and still counting. The inhabitants of Ile-aye sauntered with their heads bowed while the river moped as its lips ran dry.

A middle-aged man whose white ears cuddled like wet cornflakes approached Ijo Village, trudging on dead logs, dried palm fronds and carcass. He stared awhile at the villagers, particularly those making little ridges for the grasses. Grasses had become vegetable in this hard time; at least they were more resilient. Yet, they were watered once in three days. The man walked towards them nonetheless. He looked plush, and well-fed. He was wearing a spotless white robe and had a smile etched on his face.

The villagers stopped tilling the farm as they gazed at the man. Questions ran through their minds. Who was he? Where was he coming from? How come he had ruddy cheeks and looked well-fed? The children ran towards him. He dipped his hands into his bag and brought out akara snacks for each of them. How did he get that much food for all the children? The villagers looked on with adoration in their eyes. The man walked on still, pressing with each step into the centre of the village, towards the gathering at the centre of the village. There, a man named Oluso-agutan taught the villagers from the Book. The congregation at the village square murmured in low tones; they were bored, but feigned attentiveness. They failed in their attempt to encourage the speaker and attract more villagers to join them. They had lost their fervency and their face dropped, revealing their hunger, boredom and frailty.

As the white-haired man arrived at the village centre, people made way for him – a path leading to the centre of the gathering. He sat down on the stool, and they all sat around him. He turned to Oluso-agutan, and asked, “Do you know Me?”

“No, sir, I don’t know You; can we meet you sir?”

He turned to everyone. The multitude had begun to increase in number because word had gone round the village about the strange man.

“Does anyone know Me?”

There was silence. A few whispers could be heard. Then, a hand shot up. It was a young woman reputed for her eccentricity in the village.

“You’re Iyanu.”

He shook his head in disapproval.

“That’s what you’ve being looking for, but that is not the answer to life’s emptiness.”

She replied, “But they told me once I joined Ijo, I would overcome life’s emptiness. It was that way for a while, until some four years ago.”

“There’s more in the life you are to live in Ijo than just some activities. That’s why the activities drained you of strength, yet you had no source to replenish you.”

Just then, a small boy walked to the centre of the circle. He spoke up as he drew nearer.

“I know you sir, you are Him of whom the prophet spoke of in Joel; you are Him whom the master promised will make our lives and fellowship with Him to peak like the mountain top. You are Emi Mimo”

Emi Mimo smiled, and stood up, saying: “You have all remained this way because you refused to read the testament as you should, and ask of me of whom your master spoke. I was around all along to guide you into all truth, but you failed to see me. I am here because that young boy read his testament and asked for me. That is the reason the rains have refused to pour: because you have left the business of the master undone to minister to your own needs. You have become people chasing after the order of Ile-aye.”

The people all fell to the dusty earth, and began to weep, each asking for forgiveness. They lifted up their voices to the heavens as they confessed their iniquities.

Just then, it began to drizzle. Rain descended in small pellets. Many people stood and ran into the rain in jubilation. After the celebration, they went into the comfort of their huts. As soon as they settled down, the rain stopped. “What happened?” they all asked, as they hurried back to meet Emi Mimo who had been waiting under the juniper tree at the village square.

“Did you wonder why it stopped raining? Firstly, how many of you prepared your soils to receive the rain? Even if it was not prepared, will it not be wise for you to till the earth even in the rain. Must the rainwater go to waste? Never squander the master’s resources. Emi Mimo’s power is meant to bring in harvest; it is not for you to just revel in. Secondly, you all went into your huts; this is what has made my presence tarry this long: because when it poured in time past, every man used it for selfish ends – furthering his own course.”

He continued, “In Ijo, there ought not to be any huts, divisions or denominations. You are one. Thirdly, for how long did you even stay in the rain to get drenched and purged? The moment it came, you started moving. Ought you not to cultivate yourself, just like you cultivate the land? There is dirt: I need to wash off your bodies. But some never stayed in the rain. You press into the depth as you remain in the rain. That is why it is expedient you tarry in the rain. Your master said He needed to leave so that I could come to lead you into a time of truth and power, and ensure that people all over Ile-aye can worship your master from anywhere, even as they remain in the rain.”

The rain began to pour down heavily on every inhabitant of Ile-aye even as he spoke.

“Stay in the rain and learn of me.”

Emi Mimo rose among them. Oluso-aguntan took the Book and began to teach the now increasing church. They held their hoes firmly and put their cutlasses to work even as they remained in the rain.

This piece was originally published in the 2010 Edition of Campus Mirror, an annual magazine of the Lagos Varsity Christian Union, University of Lagos, Nigeria and has been slightly modified. Tola Onayemi studies Law at the University of Lagos.

Keywords: Ile aye: the world; Ijo: the church; Oluso-aguntan: shepherd or pastor; Iyanu: miracle; Emi Mimo: the Holy Spirit.

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