Hey, I am feeling pink, because Bobby took me back to my very first novel internationally. He read my very first novel with IFWG publishing. BLOOD CONTRACT.
Couple of my religious friends were scared off by the title imagining I was going to write about some voodoo stuff. Those were very puzzling days, confusing to me as well. It was an ey-opener learning that my side of the pond had yet to get over the bogey thrown into them by our white masters about our local brewed religion. I think that was why I wrote the Numen Yeye series. I must have told you how Numen Yeye started and so much has passed since the days of BLOOD CONTRACT.
However as I learned and hopefully grew in the novel writing business, I got into the habit of reviewing books for authors like me. Some of the authors paid me back by offering to read my own books. That natural law of give and take happened recently with Bobby and I.
So he first bought Rose of Numen and then gave me the extra gift of reading my very first book. This is what he put in amazon.com and goodreads.
“I really enjoyed Biola’s book Blood Contract and recommend others read it. It kept me intrigued and wanting to read more. As someone who knows nothing about the Niger Delta, I found this book to be very informative of the land, culture, and societal problems. Blood Contract deals with issues of corruption, greed, evil, rape, oil bunkering, family, societal norms, God and poverty, just to name a few. I am now more informed of the Niger Delta, the damage of oil bunkering, the corruption of young boys and men, and the suffering that exists in that part of the world. I also found Biola’s writing to be inspiring and I look forward to reading her other books as well”.
A river has passed under the bridge since that book was written. I had an offer to have the book made into a film script. I even had the script written and my excitement rode the skies, but then this was my country and for all the dreams of mice and men. Sigh…. Who knows you just might read this and decide to send me a query about the book. So I will be waiting okay?
What makes us write? What do we want to achieve? For every million unknown writers out there in the great world, there are the tiny few that attract attention and somehow hold that attention.
When I started to write some 42 years ago, I had very small illusions about making the millions or even smile to the bank. But I had stars in my eyes about the written word and that excitement has outlived all other feeling till date.
I am crazy about writing. I have written television plays to educate adolescents, parents, and written just about every topic including horror!
I hope I have matured over the years, 42 years ought to count for something right? But I am still interested in human beings, our dreaming, and the painful thud when we have to face the hard grind of reality.
An elder in my community who had written for longer than I have, answered my naïve question about living on writing with a gentle laugh, said I might be hungry for a long time. He was right. But I feel like a child in a candy store when I am asked to write a story and I can deliver that story within days. Television scripts I might add. Writing a full length novel was a different kettle of fish.
So what do you think? Did you ever read that my first love affair with the virtual world when I clicked on a name and he became a much loved publisher… Gerry Huntman.
I have been blurbing right? I don’t know really but I feel like just sharing with you this time. You know like some friend you are used to warbling with. Lol.
Posts tagged ‘writers’
It is my new year. On the first Saturday of this month I turned 65. Nothing new in that as one day looks very much like another eh? For me though, birthdays are markers and I have a habit of looking forward to them. You know, do reviews and previews of my the past months and years sometimes. It was special for me this year because I had a chance to formally unveil to my own circle of friends my book two of the Numen Yeye series. Rose of Numen had been releases a couple of weeks before then.
I am using the instrument of fiction and facts to tell my people a story, and it is with a longing that we will dispense with the false façade we give the world. We are Nigerians, and I know that deeply ingrained in every Nigerian is a search for the Truth.
Why did I start these Numen series?
I spent my early years in the Northern part of my great country. I was used to walking wide open spaces in the blistering sun , the wild windy storms that will stop as abruptly as it had started.. We lived in Kaduna and I spoke the Hausa language instinctively with family and friends. I listened to tales of the dark south as I heard tales of rituals, dark medicine and held the southern peoples specifically my Yoruba homeland in dread.
When my policeman father was transferred South, we thought we had received a veritable death sentence. I had a sense of being closed in. Then I met my maternal grandmother and heard a story that opened a love for my tribe, a questioning of the very things that had kept me frightened. She was a priestess, a love and mystic that in the very simplicity of her life showed I had nothing to be afraid of. She told me about the pantheon of the gods of my ancestors and how it is I could find the same in any particular religion in any particular part of the planet Earth. Above all, these gods in a single thread led straight to Olodumare, the Supreme One.
So I wrote the Numen Yeye series first as a play, in the same trilogy as I later did in prose.
Last Saturday, I presented to my own community of friends and fellow authors, the second in the series…ROSE OF NUMEN.
Let me share one of the comments of Lloyd Weaver an African-American, when I gave him the book to read before coming to the presentation:” I am totally stunned. There is nothing more to be said. I thank the Mother of All.. You have put your soul on the line and rendered your life sacred.”
Quite heavy words for me but I understood what he meant for Lloyd is an Ifa priest of a reputation that earned him a chieftaincy title from the accepted cradle of Yoruba land, Ile Ife. I felt excited when he came to the launching and spoke glowingly about the book. His comments underlined the comments of the book reviewer, a head of the department of literature, Dr. Sola Owonibi.
In the words of Dr. Owonibi, “I am a teacher of Literature, I should know about Literature and with all sense of responsibility, the book Rose of Numen, is a great work of Literature. It is a great work of literature, a book that I am proud to recommend to anyone. I congratulate the author on a well written book and the publishers for a great cover and layout.”
I felt like I was floating on a cloud and listening to accolades for someone else. I will continue next week . I hope you will order for your own copy.
You can buy a copy from ifwgpublishing.com
Or at amazon.com
The year woke up bleary eyed and growled at a few of my friends. First hint I had of its bad temper was when I was informed a great friend of mine had bit the dirt. A heart attack had taken him to the great beyond. I blinked and desperately held on to my pain as I tried to accept that I was never going to see his green light blinking any time I came online. Skip Slocum was one that was not going to make suggestions, critique, and suggest to me on storylines anymore. I felt cold and stared accusingly at the computer daring it to tell me it had no hand in what had happened to Skip. When Lisa sent me email asking if I was aware that Skip had passed, my heart felt the blows again. It was the silliest reason to be angry and I glared at the computer.
It did not help that I had told myself I was going to be more at the darn computer this year. I had just taken on a job to teach a couple of young persons about the dangerously addictive job of being a scriptwriter. I had even shared that excitement with Skip and now the joke was on me. It was going to be lonelier, typing and sharing with just me I thought and mercifully remembered that there was Lisa the third leg of the triangle that made up what we fondly called the chord.
We were officially supposed to critique each other’s writings, share our dreams and sometimes we became impossible and teased each other endlessly. The very special moments we shared online became almost real to me. Skip and Lisa became real people to me. I had dreams of flying the pair and their spouses over to Africa to enjoy the sun and coconuts. For some reason, we seemed to think Skip would love coconuts, we promised to dress Skip and Bunny (that is what he called his wife) in proper African gear. I said I was going to feed them on my local cuisine and …bleh.. we were going to beat drums… the dream was a dream we knew it but we had fun. The agony now is knowing Skip was not going to be around , not even online. Erg.
I sighed and tried to see from swollen eyes if I could stick my tongue at the year and get on with my life, but then the news came that a colleague of mine in the broadcasting world had decided to pick up a celestial microphone. Apparently he had a more lucrative offer to do celestial programmes so he left. I scratched my head wondering what he thought he was thinking leaving me behind. Darn he was in his early fifties. I am exactly a decade older. Suddenly I watched each sunset with dread, wondering what the darkness had on its wings and felt a shamed relief each time the tiny fingers of the sun prodded my eyelids to a new day. My mouth formed a grateful thanks and I feverishly longed that by some miracle the day might just be made into thirty six hours. There was so much I still wanted to do.
Was I too late? Had the dream tarried? Would I make the miles of dreams I had drawn before I meet up with the old man with his scythe? I did not like the questions, couldn’t one just know what time was left? When should I retire? Was I being morbid? I squirmed at the realization that I loved being alive. Phew!. Did I just use the word love in the past tense? What if the gods are listening? They don’t like being taunted and wel, I breathed a sigh of relief, the gods don’t speak English anyway I said and turned the computer on. Darn, I was going to write I told myself firmly, then I decided to visit MWC, short for My Writers Circle, did some tentative posting and smiled, the day promised sunshine and I relaxed. Sango who was stretched out on the mat with his axe was kicked awake by the growl of the skies. He looked up and gave me a wink, I frowned and my phone indicated I had a text message. I lazily reached out for it and sat bolt upright.
Yeah, you guessed it, another friend had just departed. Much younger, my television producer with whom I had produced quite a lot of television enter-educate dramas. He was of the rare breed of producer/actor with loads of talent that seemed to hold him suspended between bliss and agony. He had opted out of earthly productions too.
We are still in January and suddenly I am wondering why January seemed to be growling so badly. The rains came early and sniffed at the sun too. The leaking roof is not helping my temper either. What do you think I should do?
I have been going round in circle in my brain. A couple of reason why I feel like my grandfather’s clock…you know the one that stopped working on the day he died. Remember that song? If you are from my side of the street, you might get where I am coming from. I did say I was going to use this blog to hold conversations. I never really asked you what you thought of that either.
You know this monologue thing is not going to get me anywhere. Used to think if I just ignored the gnawing fear that rides my back sometimes I might just see past my fears. It is like giving birth to a baby and you assume there cannot possibly a baby just like yours. Those tiny perfect fingers could only be just that of your baby.
When I wrote Numen Yeye, she started out under different names really. First it did not have a title just a collection of stories and cultures and then I met the lady one evening. I was actually writing a poem and suddenly in my mind I heard the first sigh and looked around wondering who was so sad.
Then she whispered in the nicest way possible. “Can I tell you about me”? I stayed my hands on the keyboard and waited for the voice to come again and without warning she changed the subject.
I have be in love too you know, though in my time we did not understand it the way you have done. My skin not the hair on my neck stood on ends and suddenly it was very cold in the room. My children were doing their home- work and there was no husband in sight. I had just started living in my state capital, one hour’s drive away from my village
No thanks, I did not believe in ghosts, folk tales and any of that ‘barbaric’ stuff I used to tell my mother. “so who was talking?”
“You really have no need to know my real name just want to chat, isn’t that the word you say in these parts’?
In those days, 1981, I was a scriptwriter more than a writer. So in one night, in long hand I wrote the manuscript. By the morning when my son came to ask me what was for breakfast, my fingers were stiff. My character(I did not know her name then) talked. Just soft whispers, she had a soft voice, and would occasionally pause if I indicated doubt and then I would sense her shrug, so I would ask her to continue or ask a few more questions, like clarifications.
One time during the long night when she sensed I was tiring she would break her story and tell me bits about the village gossip. She seemed to know everybody. I remember asking her if she was an old lady and she gave a small laugh and said it would make no difference if she told me her age but she painted a picture of herself.
“Just think of Woman as she ought to be and you would have an idea what you look like” she had answered in that voice that was beginning to be familiar.
“What I look like”? I asked taken aback, looking round the empty silent room.
“I am young, middle aged, and very old like from time” she said a small laugh in her voice.
“Yes, I can sense you so please continue” I invited knowing she could just stop talking and I was having an experience that I wanted to feel to its last conclusion.
She gave that soft laugh again and said she would be back the next morning or night as she was most times confused by our times and levels.
Then my mind went blank and I looked up. My son was staring at me in bewilderment.
“Yes dear, go back to sleep” I replied absently as I looked on the sheaves of paper in front of me
“Mum, it is morning. I left you here writing last night.”
“So what can we have for breakfast I am hungry” he looked at me strangely.
I stared at the manuscripts, the long hand that had gone in different directions and tried to picture if I had been writing in my dream. I had talked to a character all night. I had more than 300 pages of longhand writing and sighed as I pictured another day typing them. I did not have a computer then and I knew she was coming back.
I gave my sister money to buy something for breakfast. I started typing.
It was my first my conversation with Numen
I have been in between clouds and wondering when I might come down to terra firma. Why? I had been tensed up for weeks about my book Numen Yeye. There had been times when I had shrugged, told myself bravely I would take the bricks or I would be gracious if I got roses.
Okay, could I say anything in my defense. Numen Yeye is very important to me because of a couple of reasons. Maybe it is time I give a little bit more insight why Numen Yeye became important. In my neck of the woods, we have two fairly distinct camps. There are writers who write exclusively for the readers in the country and make no pretense about that. Then there are the ones who want to write for a global audience but those have two clear sub groups. The writers who write about our customs from the standpoint of seeing everything cultural as barbaric. They tend to want to write more for the western audience solely and have a taste to show us off as unmitigated savages.
There is the other sub group who talk to the global market square in a language that creates a reality of who we are, understanding where we come from but innately identifying with us, warts and all. I would like to belong to this group. I am Nigerian, with my eyes wide open, knowing about my country, accepting me warts and all. I feel we are not as terrible as we have been painted, because we are a round group of tribes with our suspicions of each other, exasperation at our leaders and the failures we face when we do not accept that Life is motion and it is important we get the business of living right.
Am I making sense? I wish to try to make sense. There is a saying in my corner of my country in my language which loosely translated states clearly that only an illegitimate child will point to his father’s house with his left fingers. When I came across that statement I was curious and asked my grandma to explain. She gave me a little lesson about loyalty. I learned being loyal does not mean whitewashing the truth when we are faced with it but being honest enough to admit our ignorance and courageous enough to take a peep into the dark ignorance that hold us in thrall.
Thus when my book Numen Yeye became available in print, I wanted to know what my tribe felt about it. After all I was writing about myths and concepts we have buried under our civilized skins. These myths and concept colours our beliefs and we needed to maybe be open about it and not shrug it off as ignorance, myths, superstitions.
Let us share excerpts of some of the reactions I have so far…
My first impression of Numen Yeye was WOW! This is different, I kept reading and I’ve come to the conclusion that its a breathe of fresh air, different from the norm. Its very insightful and paints a fairy tale yet plausible picture of a series of events, all in all a very good read and I recommend it for anyone who wants to step out of the clutches of mundane reasoning and have a different point of view on certain Nigerian ‘mythological’ beings….Segun Agoro (film maker/Stride Communications)
The book Numen Yeye is the story of Imole Ife before her conception through conception, birth, growing up to adulthood. It showcased partly the way an average girl would grow up in the western part of Nigeria.
On the other hand, Ife a special child mixed her eccentricity with the usual, while growing up. Ife only distinguishes people and situations by light or darkness and relates with them accordingly. Grandma Olaoye for instance was always surrounded by dark shades of colour while Yeye was always accompanied by light. In another instance, when Tinu’s baby was about to die, Ife required more light around her, in the hope that it would repel or clear the impending doom.
The constant migration of Ife between the physical and the spiritual is very gripping and keeps the reader hooked, if not for anything else, for curiosity. She is constantly in communication with one misty or another and most of her activities are pre-guided from the spiritual world. The friendship between Sasaenia and Ife suggest bonds that are out of the ordinary, that exist amongst humans but may not have any easy or ordinary explanation.
The book went through a lot of the rich culture of the Yoruba ethnic group in Nigeria, treating the following parts of their culture:
The marriage process,
The value of chastity,
Initiation in to adulthood and guilds,
The art of story-telling and transfer of wisdom from the elderly to the young,
The seeking for divination
Traditional belief and superstition, surrounding the existence of abiku and emere,
Communal way of living in polygamous family settings, embedded with jealousy and mutual suspicions.
The beginning of Chapter 14 is a vivid account by the author in lewd as well as enthralling narration, a phenomenon called ‘OKO ORUN’ by the Yoruba. Quite strange, but almost real.
Many times the reader gets lost in the thoughts of Numen Yeye (written in italic) and makes them forget her story in the real world.
Noticeable is the fact that the book with thirty chapters has no pagination. The language of the book is very easy to understand and the content is very relatable for Africans. To other readers who are not familiar with that culture, it would be an adventure into the thought system of traditional people and their basic life and way of living….Ms Olufunke Tolutope(psychologist and blogger)
In my next post I will share the full review of the state newspaper on the book Numen Yeye. Meanwhile it will be nice to have your thoughts on this book.
Numen Yeye is available on Amazon.com