Thank You Lord, for a Life Well Spent

This is the first guest post. It’s depressing that it involves my friend’s death. She was a monumental lady, larger than life in every way yet down to earth. My number one supporter and top commenter, Chioma Mbata, wrote this beautiful piece about her.

Lord because You did not forsake her, I say Thank You
Lord because she never stopped trusting in You till her dying day, I say Thank You
Lord because You gave her the grace to forgive all wrongs, I say Thank You

For all the lives she touched, Lord I say Thank You
For all the testimonies she ever shared, Lord I say Thank You
For all the victories You gave her, Lord I say Thank You
For all the times You healed her, Lord I say Thank You

Thank You Lord for all the love You empowered her to show
Thank You Lord for all the souls You helped her to bring into Your Kingdom
Thank You Lord because she was a tree that bore much fruit
Thank You Lord because she remains a role model, to Your glory

I thank You Lord because she lives on in Heaven
And Lord, because we have the blessed hope of seeing her again, I say Thank You.

A Tribute in honour of Pastor Temitope Oluwafioyekemi Alatishe

Godchaser

Godchaser

Death Claimed You

Beautiful Godchaser

I’ve had “Praise You in this Storm” by Casting Crowns on my playlist, repeating all day. It’s just too much for my mind to bear. I keep blanking out. My heart is self preserving; It knows the realization of what I’ve lost will cause total system shut down.

My best friend died last week. The news brought all my activities to a halt like a red light.

They say there are no words to convey the depth of sorrow that losing a loved one brings. The weight of the loss is indescribable. They are right.

But I will still try.

I feel like someone scooped out a big portion of my soul and dumped it six feet in the ground. I feel like the missing part of my soul got replaced with a paper shredder. It hurts. And screaming doesn’t help.

The first thing that popped into my head when I heard was,

She’s in heaven. And it’s a better place.

So there’s not much to say. I’ll keep this brief.

Temitope was driven, passionate, ferociously supportive. Always ready to talk, able to hold her own in an intellectual debate. Celebrated even the littlest of successes. Inspiring worshipper.

Godchaser.

She taught me how to worship God. Her motto was Hold Nothing Back.

She inspired my first poem. She was my little north star.

I remember sitting in church, mind drifting off as usual during the service when the bible reading came up. I remember being jolted out of my daydream by a voice I can only describe as the replica of Bimbo Odukoya’s. It was firm, intonation and inflection was spot on, her voice was unmistakable. Just one thing was different. When I saw who was producing the voice, I smiled like a five year old on his birthday.

Smiling was always easy whenever I was with you.

I will see you again my friend. Till then, say hey to apostle Paul for me.

She Chased God till She Slept

She Chased God till She Slept

 

South Africa stuns International Community with New Bell’s Whisky Ad

advertising in nigeria

King James, a South African advertising agency has landed itself some international attention with its latest television ad for Bell’s whisky. The ad, which has gotten mentions in Adweek and Business Insider, hits all the right notes that an advert should – emotional story, soul thumping twist/reveal at the end, memorable and shareable.

Take a look

This ad should be archived in every advertising agency and training school. There are several cool story techniques used in it that would dramatically help rookie copywriters and veterans alike.

The piece is on the lengthy side (121 seconds). In the traditional advertising world, that is like the duration of the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy. But with the amount of traction it’s currently getting on the web (over a million views on Youtube already), I think the advertiser’s gamble paid off.

This is a strong message to advertisers and agencies – the ad landscape is terraforming. It’s not clear yet what it will turn into but these are very exciting times.

How to Get more Nigerians to read

literary vs genre

There’s a not-going-to-end-anytime-soon debate about what is literary and what isn’t. It’s probably been going on long before I was in diapers. Before getting your hopes up, this isn’t the post where I weigh in on the issue; I’m ill-equipped as at now to bring anything new to the discussion. Give me a few more years, a few bestsellers and more industry cred.

But what I want to rant about discuss here is the paradoxical blackhole we seem to have encountered in the Nigerian publishing industry. And we’re stuck in it’s gravitational pull.

It’s not news that I’m passionate about reading. I love it. I could spend all day reading (I actually do). So it was only a matter of time before I noticed the paradox we’re in. And yes, it has to do with sales.

By definition, genre fiction is a better cash-cow than literary fiction the world over. Most genre fiction is written with the aim of appealing to lovers and readers of that specific genre. They hit all the right plot beats, meet certain expectations in terms of character interactions, protagonist’s personality etc. That’s why it’s easier to run into a reader who reads only romance or science fiction or high fantasy or legal thrillers or (insert category). Yes, literary works have a near monopoly on the big international awards but genre fiction has a generic trait – they are popular(some people even call it popular fiction).

Except in Nigeria. It would be wrong to call genre fiction popular because it isn’t. At least, when compared with literary fiction. Seriously, when last did a Nigerian book or author make the evening news? Or even front page of the dailies? Or any paper for that matter? If they did, was the author going by the name Chimamanda Adichie, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka or Sefi Atta (who are all literary authors by the way)?

I think the question we should be asking ourselves is – Can literary fiction be the catalyst to inspire a reading revolution/renaissance in Nigeria? People talk about the decline in reading habits, which is a reflection of the publishing industry in Nigeria. But who can blame the publishers? Publishing, first and foremost, is a business. And businesses obey the law of supply and demand. Right now, the demand for literary works exceeds that of genre fiction by miles.

This situation is irregular and counterintuitive but what is it about Africa (especially Nigeria) that is intuitive and regular? Let me quote something I read in Africa Business Magazine some time ago that stuck with me

In Africa, we have everything we need to create vast wealth for our people. You want copper, Zambia has plenty; you want oil, go to half a dozen countries; you want gas, gold, iron, platinum, diamonds, coal, timber, phosphates, sand, soda, coffee, cocoa, cotton, tea – anything – and your neighbor has plenty of it. You want land to grow things on? Africa has more arable land than any other continent and more variety of climate for a greater variety of products. It has the world’s biggest fishing grounds and more grazing land in a few countries than all the rest of the world put together – Anver Versi [Africa Business Magazine, July 2009 Edition].

Yet Africa is still the poorest “country” in the world.

It makes no sense, just like all the many things in Nigeria that don’t. I’m already comfortable with the reality that most things in Nigeria are counterintuitive. Maybe promoting and selling literature is the next thing we add to the counterintuitive list. What do you think?

Please, join the discussion in the comments.

Chinua Achebe makes Amazon’s list of 100 Books To Read in a Lifetime

scattered books

Amazon recently compiled its list of 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime. The list is a compendium of exactly 200 years of literary goodness (the oldest book on the list is Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice – 1813). Despite the fact that majority of the list consists of literature classics (Alice in Wonderland) and recent bestsellers (The Hunger Games), acclaimed Nigerian writer, Chinua Achebe (Things Fall Apart) is on the list.

Here’s the list in alphabetical order (with an asterix beside the ones I’ve read).

  1. “1984” by George Orwell *
  2. “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking
  3. “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” by Dave Eggers
  4. “A Long Way Gone” by Ishmael Beah
  5. “A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: The Bad Beginning: The Short-Lived Edition” by Lemony Snicket *
  6. “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle
  7. “Alice Munro: Selected Stories” by Alice Munro
  8. “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll *
  9. “All the President’s Men” by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein
  10. “Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir” by Frank McCourt
  11. “Are You There, God? It’s me, Margaret” by Judy Blume
  12. “Bel Canto” by Ann Patchett
  13. “Beloved” by Toni Morrison
  14. “Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen” by Christopher McDougall
  15. “Breath, Eyes, Memory” by Edwidge Danticat
  16. “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller
  17. “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl
  18. “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White
  19. “Cutting For Stone” by Abraham Verghese
  20. “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead” by Brene Brown
  21. “Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 1” by Jeff Kinney
  22. “Dune” by Frank Herbert *
  23. “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury
  24. “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream” by Hunter S. Thompson
  25. “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn *
  26. “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown
  27. “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens *
  28. “Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies” by Jared M. Diamond
  29. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling
  30. “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote
  31. “Interpreter of Maladies” by Jhumpa Lahiri
  32. “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison
  33. “Jimmy Corrigan: Smartest Kid on Earth” by Chris Ware
  34. “Kitchen Confidential” by Anthony Bourdain
  35. “Life After Life” by Kate Atkinson
  36. “Little House on the Prairie” by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  37. “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov
  38. “Love in the Time of Cholera” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  39. “Love Medicine” by Louise Erdrich
  40. “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl
  41. “Me Talk Pretty One Day” by David Sedaris
  42. “Middlesex” by Jeffrey Eugenides
  43. “Midnight’s Children” by Salman Rushdie
  44. “Moneyball” by Michael Lewis
  45. “Of Human Bondage” by W. Somerset Maugham
  46. “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac
  47. “Out of Africa” by Isak Dinesen
  48. Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi
  49. “Portnoy’s Complaint” by Philip Roth
  50. “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
  51. “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson
  52. “Slaughterhouse-Five” by Kurt Vonnegut
  53. “Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  54. “The Age of Innocence” by Edith Wharton
  55. “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” by Michael Chabon
  56. “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
  57. “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak
  58. “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz
  59. “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger
  60. “The Color of Water” by James McBride
  61. “The Corrections” by Jonathan Franzen
  62. “The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America” by Erik Larson
  63. “The Diary of Anne Frank” by Anne Frank
  64. “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green
  65. “The Giver” by Lois Lowry
  66. “The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials” by Philip Pullman
  67. “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  68. “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood
  69. “The House At Pooh Corner” by A. A. Milne
  70. “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins *
  71. “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot
  72. “The Liars’ Club: A Memoir” by Mary Karr
  73. “The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1)” by Rick Riordan *
  74. “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  75. “The Long Goodbye” by Raymond Chandler
  76. “The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11” by Lawrence Wright
  77. “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien *
  78. “The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales” by Oliver Sacks
  79. “The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals” by Michael Pollan
  80. “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster
  81. “The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel” by Barbara Kingsolver
  82. “The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York” by Robert A. Caro
  83. “The Right Stuff” by Tom Wolfe
  84. “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy *
  85. “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt
  86. “The Shining” by Stephen King
  87. “The Stranger” by Albert Camus
  88. “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway
  89. “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien
  90. “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle
  91. “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame
  92. “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel” by Haruki Murakami
  93. “The World According to Garp” by John Irving
  94. “The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion
  95. “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe *
  96. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee *
  97. “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption” by Laura Hillenbrand
  98. “Valley of the Dolls” by Jacqueline Susann
  99. “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein
  100. “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak