Website Review: BellaNaija.com – All That’s Cool on Naija

BellaNaija was created on 1 July 2006 as a blog, but five years down the line, it has morphed into a full-fledged website with well-written material for that avid community of Nigerian internet readers. It is certainly one of the most popular websites of its kind in Africa – enough for its founder to appear on Oprah and CNN! Every day, over twenty thousand unique visitors from across the globe check in for inspiration, entertainment, and useful information.

Columns range from News & Features to Movies & TV. The Music column is a dynamic platform for both the underdogs and the established in the Nigerian music industry. Relationships, perhaps the most frequently visited of all ten columns, has a predominantly female community converging to discuss love, life partners, heartbreaks and marital stress. Comments can get as long as 750 words! Beautiful writers like Glory Edozien, Ejire, and Wana Udobang always bring fresh perspectives to seemingly over-flogged subjects.

The Wedding section is another high-traffic corner – readers swallowing the latest weddings, and commenting on planning, gowns, décor, photography, love story, exotic cars, and expensive suits. Career and inspiring stories are not left out of the mix with periodic features and in-depth interviews with some of Nigeria’s best – innovators, young leaders, and entrepreneurs.

Whatever gets on BellaNaija immediately gets cool, and it’s testament to the incredible hard work of the team behind it. Well done guys.

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This review was first published in the Issue 2 of Y! Magazine (October-December 2010), but has been slightly modified here.

BN Prose: Olembe’s Last Christmas by Gbenga Awomodu

Photo credit: www.kotkot.suntuubi.com

On that night of April 1997, rain pelted the corrugated roofing sheet like the frenzied drumbeats of village drummers who entertained guests at the coronation of a new king. As the thunder clasped far above the sky, setting out as a distant guffaw, but ending in a deafening nearby blast, the first of the dozen eggs cracked under intense heat and Mother Hen’s light weight. For twenty-one days, she had only come out of the coop from her back-corner lodge two times every day; in the early hours of the day before most people could observe how emaciated she had become, and in the cool of the evening, just before sunset, when the playful kids had gone on errands for their parents. Occasionally, she came out an additional time at noon when the same kids had gone to school and the adults were busy at work.

Photo credit: jophotography.shutterchance.com

The kids would not let her rest – from the time she laid her first of the clutch, they would quietly follow her and peep through the wire gauze at the front of the cage – it stood four feet above ground with two layers, the upper one divided into three compartments while the lower was left undivided. The upper compartments served as brooding area and were lavishly bedded with shavings and had a central heating lamp, food and water. Mother Hen had created her brooding area in the back corner of the rightmost upper compartment. The kids wanted to know everything and would giggle as the brown egg hit the cushioned floor. Then, her body would begin to vibrate as she cackled; she would raise her neck as the hackles shook in tandem; she would constantly adjust her head as if to show a sense of vigilance. As soon as she took a few steps towards the entrance of her compartment, the little spies withdrew their peeping heads and excused themselves. She would then make haste and fly triumphantly above the wall of the compound onto the street. The wall stood about five feet tall.

Continue reading the story here.

Tolu Sangosanya Builds Refuge within the Refuse: The Dustbin Estate Story

Tolu Sangosanya

My trip to the Dustbin Estate on Sunday 7 November 2010 was one I took with caution. I had heard so much and seen a bit on the TV screen earlier in the year, but I was not totally prepared for the repugnance that came on me on arrival at the Estate. At exactly 1PM, I was at the International Church of Christ gathering which held at Glover Hall on Lagos Island to meet up with my interviewee. She commended my on-time arrival and greeted me with a warm smile. About fifteen minutes after she had ushered me in, the church service came to an end. After the regular banter and some minutes of waiting, Tolu changed from her beautiful shoes into her flat slippers. It was time to head to her ‘workshop’ at the Dustbin Estate. Ninety minutes and two cranky bus rides later, we were in AJ city under the hot afternoon sun. There I got to “meet” Tolu Sangosanya and experience life in the Dustbin Estate that she is so passionate about rejuvenating.

Read the exclusive story on BellaNaija.com

Visit the LOTS website here!

“I buy books the way our politicians steal money – as if there’ll be no tomorrow.” -Tolu Ogunlesi, Award Winning Poet, Journalist and Fiction Writer

Today, I have achieved a very important goal! Okay, I actually got to interview Tolu Ogunlesi, who has been a great inspiration to me since I discovered him in 2009. I definitely had so many questions for him. I can’t fully describe how highly I regard this young man. In fact, in many ways I’m on his trail! I have started stocking every material he has ever written, thanks to Google.com. Here’s the intro to the interview:

He was born in 1982. He is the author of a collection of poetry, ‘Listen to the Geckos Singing from a Balcony’ (Bewrite Books, 2004) and a novella, ‘Conquest & Conviviality’ (Hodder Murray, 2008). In 2007 he was awarded a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg poetry prize, in 2008 the Nordic Africa Institute Guest Writer Fellowship, and in 2009 a Cadbury Visiting Fellowship by the University of Birmingham. He went on to win the Arts & Culture Award at the CNN African Journalist of the Year Awards 2009 for his story, ‘What the Truck?’, which was chosen from among 836 entries from 38 nations across the African continent. His fiction and poetry have been published in The London Magazine, Wasafiri, Farafina, PEN Anthology of New Nigerian Writing, Litro, Brand, Orbis, Nano2ales, Stimulus Respond, Sable, Magma, Stanford’s Black Arts Quarterly and World Literature Today, among others. His works have also been published online by 3 Quarks Daily, Eclectica, Buran, The Vocabula Review, Crossing Borders, Banyan Review, Stickman Review, Hiss Quarterly, Underground Voices, Pindeldyboz, African Writing, Sentinel poetry, The Maynard, Hackwriters. He is currently enrolled in MA Creative Writing at the prestigious University of East Anglia. In this exclusive interview with BN Editorial Assistant, Gbenga Awomodu, Tolu Ogunlesi puts his wits on as he talks about childhood dreams, writing, journalism, publishing, Nigeria and other interesting details.

Read up the exhaustive interview on BellaNaija.com.