Archive for March, 2013

The Priestess (I)

March 24, 2013

There was  loud drumming, the thump of a primordial melody, accompanied by a frenzied stamping of feet and the stifled murmur of a hundred voices on the beach, as the dying sun, red as maiden’s blood, sank slowly towards the shimmering rolling steely grey horizon of the sea.  The surf crashed onto the shore with a display of white foam.

The chaotic energy swirled and eddied towards a tumultuous climax; the dancing got more and more frenzied, the shouts and groans got more and more ecstatic and the whirling abandon of the sweating participants got wilder and wilder.  Glistening black bodies swayed,  long limbs flayed the air, white teeth flashed in trance slackened faces.

Suddenly, as if on some concealed signal, all motion ended with a single drumbeat. A tall and regal female wearing only a raffia loin skirt with a waistband of beads, her hair radiating from her head like a peacock plumage, stepped slowly and sinuously into the beach clearing. Her erect naked breasts swayed as she still moved rhythmically in time to the now silent drums,

She looked majestically around the frozen tableau, before she picked her way delicately over the now still dancers lying prone in the sand; her metal anklets clinked together as she made her way down to the water’s edge.  There was total silence on the beach, not even the sound of the sea birds interrupted the scene. The air hung heavy and brooding over the assembly as darkness softly stole over the coast.

At the water’s edge she faced the fading sun, threw back her head and raised her arms as if to hold it an embrace to keep it from sliding beneath the horizon, a look of longing on the chiseled features of her heart shaped face.  She swung round, picked up a dove loosely tied to a stake in the sand and in one swift motion cut off its head with a ornamented knife she drew from her waist band.

Blood spurted out of the severed neck and seemed to mix with the red of the dying sun. As the dove twitched and the last blood drops fell into the sea the sun disappeared, swallowed into the deep blackness. She recited an incantation and the drummers and dancers leapt back up into frenzied motion. The sun had gone to bed down inside the sea! The gathered natives danced fiercely as if to appease the sea gods and ensure its release to rise tomorrow.

The regal lady stood still, legs wide, head back, arms down by her side the dying dove still in her left hand. A lone dancer, wearing an elaborate carved wood mask broke away from the others and danced towards her, as he approached she threw the dove into the sea and turned to face him. The moon finally liberated from the suns dominance shrouded everything in its silvery light.

 

 Angel of seduction

25 Things You May Not Know About Mz Agams

March 21, 2013
  1. Her favorite color is fire engine red
  2. Her favorite perfume is Aromatics Elixir by Clinique and she’s used it for more than 3 decades (when she likes something she tends to stick with it :D)
  3. Her favorite book of all time is ‘The Mill On The Floss’ by George Elliot, she read it more than a dozen times before she was twelve and always identified with Maggie (the tragic  misunderstood heroine)
  4. Her second favorite book of all time is ‘Alice in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll, she’s Alice of course always trying to make meaning of life’s wonderland
  5. Her favorite writer is Dr. Seuss because his simple rhymes are always so profound
  6. Her favorite cartoon character is Snoopy because he always believes he can do it
  7. Her favorite Sesame Street character is Ernie because he’s so irreverent
  8. She used to collect Marvel Comics and her favorite super hero is the Shadow
  9. Her favorite movie of all time is ‘Serpico’ a 1973 movie about an incorruptible New York City cop starring Al Pacino  (he was young, amazingly beautiful and gave an intense performance.)
  10. Her favorite singer is Seal,  when she listens to his songs she says her heart swells and threatens to burst
  11. Her favorite band is Guns & Roses, their single ‘November Rain’ is her favorite song after Aerosmith’s ‘I Don’t want to Miss A Thing’ and Freddie Mercury’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. Okay she just loves rock n’ roll and might have been a groupie or a rock star in another life
  12. She loves the trill and heart stopping excitement of being in love (or even infatuated!)
  13. She loves to dance and wanted to be a prima ballerina, she’s still a bit of a diva (sometimes) and she can still dance all night long
  14. She loves fast cars, motor sports and racing but doesn’t feel as much need for speed as she used to
  15. Her favorite quote is “to thine own self be true” and she tries to live her life accordingly
  16. She’s a nomad and an adventurer that gets antsy if she lives in the same city for more than 5 years in a row and hasn’t ever in her entire life
  17. She was born in Moscow Russia
  18. She had a pet squirrel named Squeak that used to ride around perched on her shoulder
  19. She likes to play with pythons
  20. She owns a black cat named Felix
  21. She loves Monopoly and is learning to play chess, but thinks Scrabble is for the birds
  22. She is very determined although some folks call her stubborn and she is extremely competitive, watch out she always has something to prove if not to you to herself
  23. She loves comedy TV  and satire and is currently obsessed with John Stewart’s ‘Daily Show’, Steven Colbert’s ‘Report’, ‘South Park’ and ‘Saturday Night Live’
  24. She cried when she had to pack up her super sexy designer stilettos because years of tottering around on high heels damaged her feet (she’s vain like that)
  25. Occasionally she  channels her domestic goddess and thoroughly enjoys cooking, gardening and decorating
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2 A.M. Photo – Creative Writing Challenge

March 19, 2013

I felt myself pulled back from the edge of sleep just as I was sinking into its sweet oblivion. The phone was making that persistent beeping that told me I had a message. I groaned and wondered how come I forgot to turn it off before going to bed like I usually do.  Another night of insomnia loomed ahead, I never could get back to sleep once I was interrupted at that crucial moment.

I opened my eyes, the LED light of the phone cast strange shadows on the walls of the room. I reached for the offending instrument and looked at the time; 2 a.m. Who the hell was sending me a message at 2 a.m. in the morning?  ‘Message from Gina’, I sighed, Gina the travelling gourmet and my goof friend was almost seven time zones away right now. I wondered if everything was alright and opened the message. It was a photograph her about to cut into an amazing chocolate cake !

Trust Gina to send me a picture of a chocolate cake in the middle of the night from thousands of miles away.  It wasn’t her birthday it wasn’t her anniversary it wasn’t her wedding, Gina was a foodie and she had obviously found or baked a chocolate cake that she was so impressed with that she had to share it with me regardless of the time. Okay so I’m a foodie too and always on the look out for a perfect recipe myself.

As usual the Instagram picture looked so perfect. The colour of the cake was a dark velvety brown, the strawberries that decorated it looked a rich ruby red and the stalks a deep emerald green.  The inside of the cake looked so moist and the chocolate frosting looked so creamy and rich. I forget to be upset as my mouth started to water.  There was no question of going back to bed now.  I had food on my mind, a dark chocolate cake.  I imagined it laced with brandy.

I got up, pottered into the kitchen and made myself a mug of think sweet cocoa.  Maybe that would help me fall asleep again.  As I sipped it I closed my eyes and imagined I was tucking into that sinfully wicked chocolate cake in the photograph.

 

Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast!

March 18, 2013

I can fly! I jump off the edge of the roof outside my bedroom window and land in the pile of hay below!  There in the field beyond is a Unicorn I roll out of the hay jump to my feet and dash across the court yard towards it.  The Unicorn looks up slowly as I run up to it and gets down on one knee to let me climb up his back.  I hold tight to his mane as he shakes his head, paws the ground and takes off. I can fly!

As we flew over the tree tops the birdies flew up with us to say good morning. Together we were quite a formation! The birdies chirped and the bees came out too and joined us and together we flew high over the treetops and the  cows and the sheep and the people that were just waking up and kissing the day good morning. They looked up and saw us and their mouths turned into perfect o’s. I waved and we flew on and away.

You see every morning before breakfast the unicorn, the birdies, the bees and I all flew together to the very edge of the forest where the little old lady lived in her hut made of shortbread walls and a sugar crisp roof. She was a kind little old lady and she made perfect bird seed cakes and planted perfect flowers in her perfect garden. The birds ate the perfect bird seed cakes and the bees ate the perfect flowers and the Unicorn munched on the perfect grass that grew in  her perfect garden.

Meanwhile the little old lady and I ate perfect pancakes covered with sweet purple maple syrup, fluffy pink whipped cream and candy blueberries and drank sweet tea. Of course by the time I got home on Mother would be cross with me because I was so full up that I didn’t have even a little bit of room left for her lovely breakfast of bacon, eggs and hash browns.  Till today I still can’t eat before noon time!

A Sunday Afternoon in Sussex

March 18, 2013

What does an African feminist writer do in Brighton & Hove on a Sunday afternoon?

Well a friend and I packed a picnic and took a drive through the English countryside out of  Dichling taking the B2116 through Albourne and Henfiled towards Steyning. Along the route were lots of cows, horses, sheep and adorable English Inns and tea houses which to a visiting city dwelling African were all quite a delight to behold.

As a beer connoisseur I just had to stop at a local wine shop and buy some local beer. They have incredibly quaint names like ‘Old Knuckers’, ‘Sunburst’ and ‘Honey Dew’.  The Sunburst was quite good and as refreshing as it promised to be. Brewed by Dark Star Brewery  in Partridge Green where you can book a guided tour. This you must book online first tough, one disadvantage of spontaneous excursions.

Bramber Castle Entrance

Bramber Castle Entrance

Just before Steyning we came upon Bramber Castle  built by William de Braose First Lord of Bramber Castle in 1070  during the reign of the Norman King William the Conqueror.  It sounds grander than it looks, just a pile of old stone work really but  St. Nicholas Church which he also built around the same is still in use.

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St. Nicolas Church at Bramber Castle

St. Nicolas Church at Bramber Castle

The castle grounds are rumored to be haunted by the ghosts of William Braose III’s children who were starved to death with their mother, Maud de St. Valery at Windsor castle in 1210 on the orders of  King John  who was jealous of his popularity. This act of cruelty encouraged the Barons to force the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215.

I didn’t see the child ghosts but I could have sworn I heard the Lady Maud weeping the loss of her home and family. Couldn’t help but think of the women that history ignores, surely she didn’t just sit by and let tragedy befall her household but who tells her story? The male line of the Braose family died out in the 14th century and no one bothered to record what happened to the women heirs.

Remnants of the living quarters at  Bramber Castle

Remnants of the living quarters at Bramber Castle

A short drive away in Bramber village is St. Mary’s House an enchanting 15th century house that Elizabeth I and Charles II visited during their reigns.  The entire village of Bramber where its located reeks of history. As does Steyning, the entire county is a historic site. Definitely worth a visit.

We drove back through Devil’s Dyke which has spectacular views and just over the top of the hill is the Brighton and Hove Golf Club. The views from the club car park are amazing, I fancied that I could see the French coast line  just across the English Channel.  I’m sure on a clear day maybe I could.

Dyke-Golf-Club-mist-292x300

I couldn’t help feeling a touch sad tough, at our rather dismissive and nonchalant attitude to history in Nigeria. At the same time I’m more deeply committed to preserving such of our history as I can personally. Back to the Agwubuo chronicles!

The Path to Silence

March 16, 2013

She loved him. There was no logic to her love she just did but she could not tell him. Her vocal cords freezed up every time she looked at him and felt the love.  Her heart froze. She could no longer speak of her love, of her feelings.

Why did she love him she asked herself, he treated her badly. He hit her and cheated on her. He called her names and ridiculed her. When she displeased him he would starve her of love and approval and even a smile.

Still she loved him because when it was good it was really really good. It was the best she had known any way. She was used to being abused, she had always been abused even as a little girl, he said he loved her but he abused her.

He told her she was no good, that she was worthless and useless. She had to be or how else did she wind up with him. Surely someone would have come to get her if she was worth it.

No one came and the days turned to weeks and the weeks turned to months and the months turned to years and the years turned to decades. It was obviously a life sentence. A life sentence to worthlessness.

As the years passed she stopped talking till one day she woke up and she was mute and no one knew why or how it happened and no one really cared because no one had ever really listened to her when she had tried to tell them.

Her eyes grew big and round and bigger and rounder as the days passed. The less she spoke the more she saw and she could no longer speak of the things that she saw and her heart struggled to beat in her chest from the weight.

Her heart grew heavy and big and heavier and bigger and the more she saw and the less she could say and the more she died from all the things that she saw that she could no longer say anything about.

Still no came for her and she felt less and less worth it. Still she loved him. every time he told her how worthless and useless she was she loved him more because surely he must be right and he knew what was best for her.

But he loved her. He told her so therefore it must be true. It was true he didn’t treat her with love and he didn’t show her much love but he told her all the time and constantly that he loved her. So it must be true.

One day she didn’t wake up in the morning and he came and stood over her and told her corpse how worthless and useless she was and her spirit hoovering yet in the corner of the room heard him and she still believed he loved her true.

There was nothing else to say and the silence was now forever and all the things that she wanted to say to him and to all  the people that she knew she could never say it again.

 

 

Death (The Epilogue)

March 16, 2013

IN THE HEADLINES SEPTEMBER 21, 2011

OPC Leader Dies of Gun Shot Wounds as Bullet-Proof Charm Fails

It was a sad end for Yisa Anifowose, the leader of the Odua People’s Congress, OPC, at Shasha, Akowonjo, Lagos State, Southwest Nigeria, when his friend, John Taju, shot him dead while testing the efficacy of his newly acquired bullet-proof charm.

The charm could not prevent bullets from penetrating into his body as he reportedly boasted before he was shot.

He slumped and died as a result of the injury he sustained during the shooting.

His corpse has been deposited at Igando General Hospital, P.M.NEWS for autopsy.

The late Anifowose was married and had six children.

Anifowose, 54, popularly called Baba Kazeem, was shot in the chest by his friend and member of OPC, Taju, a one-eyed man. The suspect has been arrested.

The incident happened at the OPC tarmac, Zone 5, Orisumbare, Shasha, Lagos, the family home of the deceased.

On returning to Lagos, he was invited by his friends who are members of the OPC, to their base to celebrate his newly acquired power and the purchase of a new car by one of his members.

It was while they were celebrating that Baba Kazeem asked Taju who had a locally-made gun on him to shoot him to test the efficacy of the new charm.

Taju reportedly shot Baba Kazeem and the bullet tore his chest. He died on the spot.

His death threw the residents into confusion and his friends fled the scene.

Some residents of the area quickly locked up their houses and shops and relocated from the area to avoid being arrested by the police.

The matter was reported at the Idimu Police Station. But before the police arrived the scene, Taju had escaped.

Policemen at the station confirmed the story, adding that the suspect was later arrested, interrogated and transferred to the homicide section of the State Criminal Investigation Department, SCID, Panti, Yaba, Lagos.

“Investigation is ongoing in the matter,” a source at the station told P.M.NEWS.

When P.M.NEWS visited the residence of the late Baba Kazeem at 12, Ejigbo Road Orisumbare, Shasha, Lagos, his wife, Hafsat Anifowose and her relations gathered in front of the house to mourn the OPC leader.

She lamented the death of her husband and appealed to the police to investigate the incident and bring the culprit to justice. “I cannot just stay and watch my husband killed like a chicken. The government should intervene and arrest those involved in his death,” she cried.

A brother of the deceased, Adedeji Ajanaku, described the deceased as a courageous man. He called on the government to release his corpse to the family for burial in accordance with Islamic rites.

Following the death of the OPC leader in this circumstance, P.M.NEWS talked to some traditionalists on the efficacy of the so-called bullet-proof charm and whether such exist or it is just in the realm of the imagination of the believers.

Dr. Bunmi Omosehindemi, Chairman, Lagos State Traditional Medicine Board said he has been hearing of the existence of such a charm but quickly added that he has not seen it.

“Some people say it exists but I have not seen it. I am a scientist,” he said.

A traditionalist, Chief Samuel Oluwasola Dedeigbo, however, confirmed that a bullet-proof charm indeed exists, adding that it is not easy to come by.

“Bullet-proof charm exists but it is not easy to come by. On the OPC leader that was killed as a result of using the charm, the one they did for him was fake. He should have tested it first on an animal before asking someone to shoot him,” he stated.

PM News

Death IV

March 14, 2013

There was a lot to celebrate at the den that day. He had gotten his bullet proof vest and one of his boys had bought his first car. Every new acquisition was celebrated with the procurer buying drinks and food for everyone. If you could afford to buy a car you could afford to buy drinks for all your friends and you were expected to, that’s the way it was.  Otherwise they might go and pray for you to have a ghastly accident in your brand new car.

The beer was plentiful and the proprietress kept a steady supply of  fresh hot cow tail and cow leg  pepper soup coming out of the kitchen. The men were happy and rambunctious, the easy women that kept them company at the beer parlor that was their den were happy. They knew they would make good money that night and eat and drink all they could. Wives never ever came to such establishments except to reclaim erring husbands.

The boys envied their Chairman his new acquisition, they too had heard of the bullet proof vests that their ancestors had used. City living meant most of them had lost touch with the rural folk that practiced the ancient art of making them. The practitioners that lived in the city were rarely so powerful as the rural ones, city living had corrupted them and diminished their authority to persuade men and spirits.

Chairman was in an expansive mood enhanced by a bottle of whisky that sat on the low rough hewn bench that served as a table in front of him. Their den, the beer parlor was little more than a shack made of planks and metal sheets. It was stifling hot and as the drinks flowed and the sun moved across the sky more and more of the revelers took off their tunics which they hung on nails stuck in the walls  and wore only singlet’s.

Under the influence of the alcohol Chairman couldn’t help boasting about his newly acquired armor. Imagine, he said to them, I will never be afraid of any bullet penetrating my body ever again. Taju his best friend and confidant slapped the Chairman’s shoulders in a hearty congratulation.

“Well done my friend!” he said good naturedly “but are you sure that it works?”

Chairman thought of everything he had gone through in the forest with the old man. He had experienced and participated in things that made him, a hardened veteran of bloody, brutal ghetto warfare and tribal politics queasy. He had no doubt that it worked. It had to work!

“My friend what do you mean? O course it works! Do you want to see? Who has a gun there?” he bellowed loudly to the assembly.

One of his boys quickly brought out a locally made pistol and gave it to him.

“Here, Taju. Shoot! I say shoot me!!” he shouted as he stood up abruptly, pressed the pistol into his friends hand, flung his arms wide like Jesus on the cross, threw his head back and stuck out his singlet covered chest.

The gathered assembly shouted their encouragement at Taju to shoot, others hailed the Chairman with his many praise names of bravery and courage. The uproar could be heard at the end of the street and covered the sound of the pistol going off.

Death III

March 13, 2013

Everyone in his Mushin neighbourhood called him ‘Chairman’ even his wife.  He was charismatic, knew how to get his way with people and had the bold generous nature of a natural leader. He hadn’t finished high school but neither had most of the people in his neighbourhood  School had never been their priority growing up. Real life was urgently demanding their attention. There were mouths to feed.

The ‘boys’ in the neighbourhood knew he would buy them a beer or a meal when they needed it and that he would lend them money for an abortion or a wedding or a funeral. The ‘men’ or ‘big boys’ in Mushin trusted him to fix  broken contracts, collect overdue loans or avenge a slight to their ego and they paid him well for his services. When they needed a local militia he naturally emerged its local leader.

He took his role very seriously and worked hard to be a role model to his boys and keep morale high. When they went on operations they knew that he would take care of their families if they were killed or arrested.  In the field he was always in the front line, he wasn’t one of those leaders that hid behind his boys in fear of death. He led by example. He had taken more than one bullet with his boys, they admired his fearless courage. Soon he was a national leader.

But he wasn’t really fearless, he was just damned if he was going to let anyone see his fear and vulnerability and he was more than a little reckless. After he married his wife and had children he realized that he needed to be more careful with is life. Things weren’t like they were before he had these responsibilities. He knew if anything happened to him his family would suffer. It was what happened in the jungle, like it had happened to him when his father died.

The bullet proof vest became an obsession for him. He had heard all the myths and folklore about the warriors of the ancient kingdoms and the bullet proof vests that had protected them during the numerous tribal wars they fought. Warriors were greatly admired and respected. He had heard of the white man’s amour. He laughed; white people always thought they knew it all. He trusted the African man’s armor.

When he returned from the forest if people noticed the strange gleam in his eye they said nothing. He drove straight to his gangs den in one of the back alleys of Mushin where his boys gathered daily to drink, eat and to wait for his instructions. They were there when he arrived. They were happy to see him. No one knew where he had gone; secrecy was a way of life. Men didn’t discuss their intentions, they acted.

Death (II)

March 9, 2013

He sat in the front seat of the Jeep with an excited look on his face. It was over! He had his bullet proof vest! He had spent eight days in the forest with the dirty old man and till he felt like a dirty old man himself. He hadn’t come with an overnight kit so he wore the same clothes he had gone into the forest in and he hadn’t shaved while there.

His friend the catcher had left with the Jeep soon after making the introductions to the old man, they both assured him that it was important part of the process that he did not return to the city or leave the forest till the rituals were completed and his bullet proof vest was ready. He had reluctantly agreed. Even his wife did not know where he had gone and he thought for a minute that she would be worried but the thought quickly vanished.

He was a man after all, head of his household; he was not answerable to any one much less to a mere woman and his wife. The old man of the forest smiled as if he could read his thoughts.  It took a certain type of person to perform the rituals and the sacrifices.  It was not for the thoughtful or the sentimental. The catcher knew this of course; he only brought the desperate, the avaricious and the strong minded.

The old man made him exchange his city clothes for a loin cloth of questionable hygiene. He slept on a raised mud ledge in the wall of the hut that served as a bed. There was no pillow or blanket. At night he shivered on his primitive bed while the old man stoked the fire in a round hearth in the centre of the hut. Most nights they went walking in the forest while the old man collected herbs and objects for his rituals.

He could have sworn that he heard wild animals in the forest but he didn’t say anything. He had to be brave and bold. One morning he woke up to find a python curled in the small of his back where it had gone to seek the heat of his body. He jumped out of his mud bed in a cold sweat ready to slay the monster but could find no weapon. The old man laughed derisively at his fear but said nothing.

He felt as if he had somehow failed a test and squared his shoulders in determination. He too was covered from head to toe in red cam wood now. It kept the biting insects at bay.  That morning they walked further into the forest than ever before. The old man carried a machete in addition to his staff but the small bell was silent. They came to the edge of community farmlands. The old man signalled him to be quiet.

He had watched surprised as the old man stalked a lone farmer foolish enough to work so far out on the edge of the community farmlands by himself.  The old man’s eyes gleamed as brought the farmer down with one swift cut from his super sharp machete to the back of the neck.  Together they hauled the heavy body slung over a big stick back to their forest camp.