My Toastmaster journey

I want to share a bit of myself. Some time ago, I attended an event and one of the officials asked me if I was a Toastmaster. I hid my inner irritation wondering if I looked like one. First mistake. Our comprehension of words and meaning could lead to a lot of misinterpretations. I just did one. I assumed that a Toastmaster was one who made toasts at parties. However, I stuck a smile on my face and looked appropriately innocent. She smiled and said, her husband felt I would make a good Toastmaster. So she invited me to check for the nearest club in my area. I smiled and was moving away when she added innocently,’ start one if there is none, you could also help in spreading that awareness’.
I stared at her, she was not seriously thinking I was going to be looking for a wine drinking club, was she?
In that mood, I expressed my dismay to my husband. He smiled and pointed out that the lady who talked to me is known as being very quiet and rarely said much. My performance had been to read a poem of mine. Mollified by that reasoning, I held my peace.
When we got back to my home, I was curious. Toastmasters? Might be good business for my master of ceremonies repertoire I said to myself.
I asked around for a Toastmasters club. People either smiled wondering if I wanted a drink or simply said they never heard of such a name. That got me really curious. So I googled it.
Stunned, I stared and stared. A body that helped you with communicating and leadership skills?
A self-improvement club, where you learn communicating skills. I stared at the byline or motto or whatever…Where leaders are made….
I apologized silently to the lady and continued my reading. A strong resolve flowered in me. I wanted to learn how to use the power of the word in communicating effectively. I might become a leader, but I am definite that I wanted to be a Toastmaster. It was that simple.
I am a Toastmaster, currently the president of Sunshine Toastmaster club in my town. I am having a very beautiful time learning about communication and leadership skills.
I am a leader in the making

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I remember

Memories are funny things. I remember today two score plus years ago. I just gave birth to a girl. I knew we were going to be friends. In a world then that felt so desolate and friendless, I felt the pull of a promise. I was losing consciousness and my Indian doctor was screaming into my ears to stay conscious. I was in despair, and her voice was receding but a word struck, ‘daughter’. It pushed me back. I struggled against the waves re-energized. I sensed she was going to be pissed if she learned I just gave in like that, so from a distance, I hurried back with apologies.

I remember my first contact to connect with my dad after he passed. It was kind of funny thing too. The message which I received that I was not to forget to be on the train. It was for me a very strange instruction. ‘You should be at the train station, board the train’. My anxiety not to miss the train, my excitement that I was going to meet my dad. That he would be waiting. I had so many questions I wanted to ask him. Most of all I wanted to let him know I missed his passing even if I had prepared for it a whole year ahead, It was not the thing, to go over to your dad and tell him he was going to depart soon. To feel the pain of his passing. One year of living in a daze trying to accept your best friend had left, and then the excitement of the impending reunion. You were aware that he had departed and you were going to see him in his new quarters.

I remember my curiosity as I watched the train move from the terminus and the faces of some of the passengers. Some of them were visitors like me, some of them were leaving permanently and were not so sure of where they were to drop from the train.
TO BE CONTINUED

As I get greyer

You know, there is something about getting grey. I always looked forward to getting grey. It makes me feel old. I always wanted to be old. I remember in my younger days, like 40 years back, I would simply admire my maternal grandma. Almost no teeth. gaps between her smiles, happiness got stuck on her face. I loved her a lot. There was a simplicity in her life. She would stare at me in awe and I would see the wonder in her eyes when I visited in my skimpy dress. There was concern that I would catch a cold. She would ask after me anxiously and wondered why I had a bird’s appetite.
My mother would laugh and say it was the new fangles fashion of eating sparingly. I would just laugh and hugged Grandma tight.
I was always curious and would ask endless questions. She never complained. It was thus very easy to visit her when she passed on. They gave her a simple room with minimal furniture and she seemed happy when I visited her. I talked about the tunnel then and I had joy explaining what could happen when the tunnel gets filled with lights. We talked about my mother and so many things. I have not visited again because she has moved to another part of existence. She may have even returned
So I am grey with strands of black in the grey. My grandchildren sometimes sit and watch me at the computer typing with maybe two fingers or picking out the letter. My grandson wonders why I never seem to stop typing or whatever, he is a wizard at dismantling things and putting them together, he wants to be a vet but for now, has a roomful of his comic drawings
What would it be like when I get to have y grey go really white like my grandma’s?
In today’s unwinding misery, will there be happy tales for me to tell my grandchildren? I am just one figure in a world that has lost its way home and we all stagger in the dark in the empty market place.
Even the ancients are now afraid to come out and dance in the market square in the varied costumes as masquerades
Why?
The ancients don’t have the internet and don’t know how to spell scam, or any of the strange words in the vocabulary of today’s

CENTERSTAGE WITH MS

CENTERSTAGE WITH MS
Everybody calls him MS, not as in manuscript but in recognition of the person of Muritala Sule. He is many things to a thousand suns but he is simply called MS
How did we meet?
Taiwo Obe introduced him to me, by the time he was making waves with his programme I had escaped from the madness that I called Lagos into the rural peace of Akure.
When his book A LIFETIME OF FRIENDSHIPS was published, I read the positive comments of those who have read it. I sighed, as I had a large hole in my pocket so I could not buy the book, but wanted to read it.

Some of the excerpts made me long to read. MS, as we tended to call him, is a strange friend and support at the oddest times. When I sent him my first international novel, he promptly wrote it as a film script and sent it back to me. I was awed. His generosity left me gaping. Blood Contract has not yet been made into a film.
MS being typically his generous self sent me a copy of the book. What did I think?

A LIFETIME OF FRIENDSHIPS is a warm meal served in the inimitable style of Muritala Sule. It is a memoir, anecdotes of youthful escapades of Muritala and his particular friend Godwin Igharo. An honest portrayal of his friends without the effusiveness of a sickening praise writing.
Muritala writes simply, an unvarnished story of his coming of age in Lagos, Igbanke and other places. I learned about the resolute streak of a clear-sighted youth, who dared to follow a dream and stick with it. It is a commentary of parenting, Alhaja, Nollywood, and the drug scene before the turn of the century. I could write pages in a review of this book, but I just want to contain myself as I invite you to share my chat with MS ON CENTERSTAGE
It is my pleasure to welcome MS to CENTERSTAGE.
1. Who is Muritala Sule?
Just Muritala Sule. It’s hard, in my opinion, to describe oneself“…for the eye sees not itself but by reflection by other means” Shakespeare, Julius Caeser. So, my sister, who do you say is MS?
2. A LIFETIME OF FRIENDSHIPS is not the usual run of autobiography, will it be okay to call it a memoir?
That’s what I think it is, in the sense that it merely reflects on a slice of the life I and others have shared. Just a little slice

3. Your friend Godwin Igharo seems to have held a special place in the book, what do you think would have been his reaction to your book?
He’d have screamed on seeing it for the first time in book form and said: “MS, we thank God for everything.” Yet, he wasn’t the religious type. Never went to church; never went to the mosque. But, he always helped me to be a good Muslim, reminding me always of prayer time. While reading the story, he’d also have shed a few tears of gratitude. We’d both re-lived aspects of the story several times when we just reminisced. And always, we normally ended up by telling each other, “We’ve had fun.” That sense of fun was what I strove to capture in the book.
4. I have read the enthusiasm with which the book has been received on the social media but how has that affected your bank account?
Hopefully. The demand shows that I can also do well financially with it. It has been very encouraging. I send out copies virtually every day to buyers. Some responses, too, to the eBook. But, I won’t say it has found massive sale yet, perhaps because I’m still undecided what bookshops to give it to. In a better structure, I shouldn’t be the one worrying about this aspect of things. I should have been back to my desk writing another book. But, it’s self-published, you know, and I have to worry about getting back the money so that I can publish my next book.
5. You made some insightful comments on Nollywood and its economic impact, but what do you really think about the moral impact of Nollywood?
Morality is a delicate issue because it sometimes changes with time. So, I’m largely careful not to condemn what I’m ill-at-ease with. There was once it was immoral for a woman to wear a pair of trousers, even in Lagos, while I was growing up. People would boo and shame you back in the 60s if you did. But, that’s no longer so today, even in the remotest villages. So, I just watch and learn from what’s going on in Nollywood. I feel the pulse of society through it. But, I’m scared by the tendency to gratuitous sex and violence.
6. What are the real partnerships that Nollywood can have with the government?
What all other businesses, too, expect from government, nothing special, just what people call the provision of an enabling environment to work. That’d include: ensuring that the taxes on earnings are not very high; it will include giving access to facilities such as the airports and other public infrastructure that could make our movies feel authentic. A good partnership is already in place, with the Bank of Industries giving loans to filmmakers at a reasonable interest rate. An endowment fund for the Arts, too, should do some good. It can enable us to make important movies that commercial film funders might not be interested in.
7. Since Lagbo Video rested, what has been the improvement on art criticisms and impact in view of today’s art and creative scene?
People have been working. There are so many platforms for that. Dealing in the mass media — now, really, it’s multimedia – environment leaves a lot to the consumer to shape. That was Lagbo Video’s attitude toward criticism, without shirking responsibility for guiding public taste. It is different from academic art criticism. I cannot speak about that, please.
8. The drug scene in the country as a whole has become worse from your youthful days, as an advocate of the impact of the media on the minds of the vulnerable and impressionable, how will you assess the impact of the media on the drug scene today?
The media isn’t doing its job in that regard. They are expected to take a responsible attitude toward the matter, report, x-ray cases and lead in the effort to check the trend. But, alas, that is not happening. Much of what I see in reports is the hailing of the youngsters who seem to promote reckless drug use. You know, these days, reporters admire the people they call “celebrities”. Indeed, reporters are now striving to be “celebrities” themselves. They call themselves “media personalities” and “on-air personalities”. In your days on radio and TV, you were a “presenter”, an “anchor” of programmes and not an “on-air personality”. There’s a difference there.
8. What type of readers do you hope will read your book?
All readers are interested in an engaging story. And that’s what it has been. The young, the old, the intellectual, the not-intellectual. That’s because the story is just about people, about what we feel through our relationships. It’s what is called in mass media parlance a “human interest” story. A story for everyone.
9. Where do you think this book should go to? Do you think it could be a recommended reading?
I don’t think of it essentially as a textbook kind if that’s what you mean. But, people interested in making a career in mass communication can find guidance and inspiration in it. It can also help them navigate.
10. Are you a full-time author?
I do this-and-that in Communication Arts. Write TV scripts, occasional Film scripts, produce, direct, consult and teach. But, I’ve become a publisher. I published Friendships myself. And I’d be writing a few more books and helping other writers to publish theirs.

11. Give your thoughts on what this book will do for the creative scene and art scene
It can stimulate more creativity and inspire other people.
12. What is next for MS?

More books.

13. Please give links where we may purchase your book and if there is a website we

http://bit.ly/ALifetimeOfFriendshipsKobo
http://bit.ly/ALifetimeOfFriendships
http://bit.ly/ALifetimeOfFriendships2
http://bit.ly/lifetimeoffriendships

Interested parties can also reach me directly via Facebook or call +2348033152708
Thank you for chatting with us on Centerstage

Back to base

I remember a saying my mother used to make when I was quite young. Several sayings in fact, but one or two might suffice. One of the best is the hot water test. She would say until a frog tries water at different states does it decide which is best for it. Translation put a frog in hot water, then in cold water and see what it chooses. Same as a woman knows which marital home is better after her second marriage. Hmmm. I am returning to my old home here on WordPress because for economic reasons, I cannot afford a paid website anymore.
What did I gain? Apart from scratching my head, I guess nothing much. I had a chance to tell you all about my literary pursuits. I still do. Learned one thing painfully, I did not sell one single book. So I have decided to be sensible. Just maintain this site. Chat with you about books, authors, poets and all. I will not need to break a bank to do that will I?
So I will post as often as I can and hope you will comment as often as you can too.
Chat soon

2019..looking to the future

I wandered in here from the debris of 2018 wondering what I should do next? Spent so much money and goodwill creating a personal website that offered me nothing in return. I had so much hope then and gave it all my concentration. I am back here, dispirited and bruised.
Do I want to make another attempt?
My bones creaked out a No. I remembered the song, ‘going back to my roots’, so I am back to where it all started for me.
On the internet I mean, the thinking for me is a recognition that I just want to consolidate, chat once in a while. I have never stopped writing so I will probably continue.
Welcome to my website, my blog and my old friend.
Here I will share what the future holds.
I am not writing much today.
Just happy I guess to be back here.

Nostalgia

You know, there is always the question of asking yourself if you are ever going to be a best seller in your lifetime. These days, those are the questions that I find myself asking each time I start writing a story. The question started simply enough. A very young child came to my house and we started chatting. He wanted to know why I was hunched over my computer almost all the time he was in the living room. I blinked and tried to focus on the young man. He noted that most times he called to say hello to my children, he invariably found me typing. I took a deep breath and wondered if I should do one of two things.

You know look down my nose at him and reply in a pitying voice on how he has missed the true calling of the writer and tell him he was not likely to understand what writing meant to me, yeah, I am still broke and I am not sure if I can claim that I have sold my book in thousands never mind millions. What? No, I am not about to discuss my despair either. Hey!, I mean my despair that I am never going to finish writing all I have to write. I never have enough time and the stranger thing is, I have had days that I sit by the computer and the stories just goes on in my head and the computer remains blank. That is really frightening when I wonder if all this is going to be worthwhile. I am not trying to change the world neither am I likely going to change my immediate community, unless I wish to be a liar.

That is another thing, my niece doesn’t think I work anyway. She came over to spend the holidays when I was part of a television series on teenage reproductive issues. She had liked me and was enthusiastic about the series, I NEED TO KNOW. She read the stories every night, staying up all night sometimes. I was preening and waiting for the commendations to flow in. She looked up and I saw real bewilderment on her face.
“seriously auntie, I have never met all these people you talk about in your story, you are just forming them up right?”
“You mean like I am making them up”? I asked her slowly puzzled at what she was implying. Here, let me insert a warning: We are writing Nigerian English and my friends across the pond may have to hold on for a translation later.
My niece nodded and I smiled, “Yes of course , that is what is called fiction, the situations are real though”.
“You mean Ikechukwu is not real?”
“No my dear, the young boy that acts the part is real but that is just his television name”.
“Hmmm, very easy job Auntie, just sit down, dream up stories about people and you get paid for having fun”.
I stared at her, opened my mouth to explain what enter- educate drama is all about and clammed shut as she stared askance at me. She commented that she envied my job and wondered why I had not become a millionaire at the very least. She said she might one day take up my job.

That was years ago, the juice train left and I stared into the hard glare of straining to make two tired ropes stay glued. Digital television, internet radio and programmes took me to hunger street and I needed to look at dim areas of my creative mind to quell the noise of my growling belly.
I have been writing since I can remember the meaning of pain, hunger, dreams and a compulsive need to talk to persons I have never met. My imagination wakes me up every dawn as the sun dips her fingers on my hopes and gives me a taste of its promise. I have like a thousand stories, impatiently jostling for attention. Men I know so well in my head, conversations that seem unending, situations crop up and I ponder on their solutions. An urgent need to tap a shoulder and start a conversation.

I am doing one right now right? Were you interested? Oh well, you got this far. That must count for something. But you see, a new fear is peeping at me. How much time do I have?
Will I ever write a best seller? Sometimes I picture a vast field, the sun is setting, the players are all gone, I am staring at the lonely abandoned ball in the field, the stands are silent and a lone figure walks onto the field, he touches the ball and hears in his soul the roar of his dreams and he makes a lob into the far end of the field. The sun yawns and calls me over.
I will see you soon my friend.