Posted in Prose

God’s wisdom – reflecting on the scriptures 17th Sunday Ordinary time


Noel A. Ihebuzor

Read the scriptures today from the catholic liturgy – they are instructive – they talk to us about true wisdom, God’s call and wonderful purpose and the beauty of the kingdom. And as you read, may God bless you according to his riches in glory.

Permit me a few quick comments on the readings. The first reading is very significant. God asks a man King Solomon to choose from the immensity of His (God’s) gifts. The dialogue is a lecture on how to engage God – Humility, self abasement, acknowledgement of God’s supremacy and a plea for a gift not for self aggrandizement but to successfully undertake a God assigned task, advance the Kingdom, to advance humanity and the request is beautiful but amazing in its stark simplicity but totality! – understanding heart and wisdom to rule and judge

Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart
to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong. 

How so badly we need wisdom in our world of today – wisdom to decide and to choose, wisdom to know the worthwhile and the futile, wisdom to know the good, the bad and the ugly, wisdom to know what truly matters! And it is so easy to think we are wise as we are surrounded by the latest gadgets and gizmos of the ICT laced 21st century. But there is wisdom and there is wisdom. And true wisdom only comes from God. So let us all, like Solomon, ask God today for that true wisdom. Once we have this wisdom that comes from on high, every other thing will fall in place. I dedicate the first reading to all my friends, to all of Nigeria, to GEJ, to the catholic Church (clergy and laity) in Nigeria as they seek to resolve the “Ahiara Crisis” and to all nations who think that might is right in their engagements with weaker neighbours. Let Wisdom prevail.

And next to the psalm.

The psalm (psalm 119), I dedicate to us all. May God’s kindness comfort us all!

May we delight in God’s commands and hate all false precepts

May we keep God’s word and love them more than every other treasure in this world

May God call you according to His wonderful purpose for your life

May the scripture, Roman 8, that everything works together for good for those God calls find expression in your life.

May you realize and appreciate the special meaning of “everything” in that scripture– as this means the lows, the highs, the disappointments, the failures, the slips, the falling down, the rising up, the challenges, the successes yes, everything, all working together in a synergy enhancement mode

May God call you, May He justify you & may He Glorify you IJMN!

Remember that line from that familiar song – “and whilst on others thou art calling, do not pass me by”! Well the problem is that He calls us always, like the good shepherd that He is, but the things of this world, our materialism, the company we keep, our obsessions etc  block our ears so that we no longer hear; they cover our eyes with translucent gauze so that we fail to see when He beckons to us. May we therefore be sensitive to His call, to His signs and to His beckoning! When He calls and you answer, you qualify for the justification. And the justification is not because of your great deeds but by and because of His grace, by His strength which are made perfect when we garb ourselves with humility, install the latest version of Obedience 7 as our operating software  and display love, justice and kindness to all of His creatures and creation.

May we be found worthy at the end of time for heaven, a place of abode for those who allowed God’s word and wisdom to install and reign in the hearts and hearth.

May heaven be our portion, our “oke”. May we sing with Obaraeze Chima Eke, “Chim awokwalam oke le! Chi gi awokwalagi oke! (Translation – My God, please do not deny me of my portion/inheritance. May your God not deny you of your portion/inheritance)!  Amen.

Happy Sunday –


Posted in Poetry

The Color of Blood


Noel A. Ihebuzor

sometimes, some situations

make you feel

that blood is unequally weighted

unequally valued, unequally mourned

sometimes, some comments

make you believe that

some blood is more red,

more human than others

that when and where bred

color blood richer crimson,

color our views about those who shed

and those whose blood is shed

the why bleeds away

with the ugly gurgle

of once bubbling blood

that soaks, drenches the sand,

Rage is subdued by reality

silence is sage when walls

listen and even hear whispers

and skies can rain final silence

yet, does all blood

not smell the same

rusting iron mingled with sickening fresh

no matter how weighted,

or is there second hand blood,

from second class humans,

colored in oluwole crimson

in this our unequal world?

Posted in Uncategorized


Sayelba Times



“How can a small ethnic group like the Ijaws threaten the rest of us? We have 170 million; I don’t know how many of that population makes up the Ijaw nation, but I don’t think they are more than 5 million. How can 5 million people threaten us?” – Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai

The above quote was made public by Femi Fani-Kayode, this morning via his facebook account


What the above statements posted by none other than Mallam Nasir El Rufai’s friend, Fani-Kayode, goes a long way to expose the hypocrisy of the former FCT minister whose reign at the National capital ruined the lives of many save for his NYSC Girlfriend whom he paid handsomely for services still not stated in the Job description of any Public/Civil Servant in Nigeria. Allow me to take you on a little trip into a little part of the life…

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Posted in Uncategorized

No Prizes For Cowards

A critique of commerce driven tokenism! St Naija writes to right!


A poem to mark the making of the female Thor and the Black Captain America.

I exist without your consent,
Thrive without your meaningless rhetoric,
I have never needed your smile to stand tall,
Never need your nod to be all
I was created and designed to be
You can’t define me in recycled dregs of burn-out or
Lack of creativity.

If you aren’t brave enough
To discover me,
That’s alright,
No one’s giving you a prize for this
Half-baked redeemer fight,
Look away in shame
Like you always have,
Truth will find a way
She always has.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Reframing Nigeria’s Terror Narrative


By Nwachukwu Egbunike


Boko Haram (BH) recently claimed responsibility for another terrorist violation of the Nigerian people. However, this time around, BH’s leader, Abubakar Shekau was incensed that they were not given due credit for the explosions in Lagos: “A bomb went off in Lagos. I ordered the bomber who went and detonated it, you said it was a fire incident, well if you hide it from people you can’t hide it from Allah.”

With such a display of insensitive arrogance, do we need any more proof that BH loves being in the media spotlight? The fact that the Lagos explosions were either hidden from public gaze or were better managed in the media, hit a raw nerve in Shekau’s media thirsty ego. Unlike the Niger Delta MEND which had an “apparently” efficient media presence via their constant media alerts of impeding bombings via emails, BH seems to feast on…

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Posted in Uncategorized

Blogging the Caine Prize: Okwiri Oduor’s ‘My Father’s Head’

Okwiri Oduor Okwiri Oduor

AiW Guest: Doseline Kiguru  

As I began to read ‘My Father’s Head’, I thought for a moment that it was going to be yet another Caine Prize story set in church and about cunning priests and their gullible as well as crafty worshipers like last year’s winning story, ‘Miracle’, by Tope Folarin. That thought was, however, cut short when I realised that Fr. Ignatius, who comes to the old people’s home where the narrator works, is not in this story to preach morality or to expose religious fallacies. Okwiri Oduor has creatively used the figure of the priest in this story as a trigger that prompts the narrator’s journey to search for her father’s head. This short story presents a recollection of painful, repressed memory. Memory that is so deeply hidden that it takes a lot of skill and patience for the events that led to…

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Posted in Prose

A review of “My Father’s Head”, 2014 Caine Prize winner for the short story

By Noel A. Ihebuzor

What Makes a Winning Work Of Art? – A review of Okwiri Oduor’s “My Father’s Head”.

Okwiri Oduor

I had asked a related question in a tweet earlier today – what “distinguishes” a short story? I asked that question when I read that Oduor had won this year’s Caine Prize for African Writing. I am usually suspicious when winners of such prizes are announced. My mind goes in every direction. Was this story the best? How do you measure best? Is “best” really anything else but another manifestation of foreign cultural imperialism? Had someone written another deprecatory story about Africa in beautiful and tightly woven prose, delighting in painting ugliness and squalor with linguistic elegance and presenting no solutions, no exits and no hopes? This was the mind set with which I set about reading Okwiri Oduor’s winning story, “My Father’s Head”, and after the first five paragraphs, I felt ashamed of myself for ever having tried to put this story in such an ugly strait-jacket!
Okwiri Oduor has written a winning story by any account. The uniting thread for this powerful story of prolonged mourning is filial devotion, but this tale is laced with a generous sprinkling of hallucinations, extra-sensory perceptions, local histories, mischief, naughtiness, biting social commentaries on religion, social services, social care, death and dying. The substance for the story is simple enough – Simbi works in an old people’s home somewhere in Kenya. She loses her father in tragic circumstances – he is run over by a tractor and she is struggling to remember how his head looked like. This story is essentially a search for emotional closure. Okwiri Oduor’s creative genius lies in the ease with which she manages to craft a gripping story out of this search for closure, and how in this journey to closure, she is also able to drag in other socio-cultural issues – religious zeal, relationships, ghost hunting, care of the elderly and more into a finely woven and engaging tapestry. And she does not walk in a straight chronological line in this story she slowly tells largely through the internal recollections and reflections of Simbi – rather she zigzags and shuttles between times and places. As in real life consciousness and recall, “Simbi’s” story does not follow a linear sequential order, rather it hops and steps, either backward or forward, and in spite of all of these temporal and spatial swooshes, Oduor still manages to achieve a great measure of narrative coherence in her tale.
Language is Okwiri Oduor’s tool and ally as her command of the language is deployed to yield a tightly controlled story where the controlled narrative and the narrator move and try to move the reader too with some expressions that are difficult to forget! Just imagine the beauty but sad poignancy in this expression – “unravelling into senility”! Admire the elegance of this one – “I was stringing together images of my father, making his limbs move and his lips spew words, so that in the end, he was a marionette and my memories of him were only scenes in a theatrical display”. And there are many like these that hit you with the same punch of the aroma of well brewed strong coffee!
Most paragraphs stand out. Take paragraph two and the very effective way the human desire for dignity is presented. Take paragraph four and her depiction of rural simplicity, the instant giving of the pensioners, the generosity of the poor priest and the delight of the okada rider who brought Father Ignatius Okello to the old people’s home. Or the single sentence about the maid that gave birth and flushed the baby down the toilet – strong, tragic and difficult to forget. One incident that had me “arrested” was when Oduor presents the possible origins of father-daughter bond – the father chewing groundnut and feeding his daughter with the mush from his mouth, saliva and all. Simbi recalls this manifestation of love, what she describes as “that hot, masticated love, love that did not need to be doctrinated or measured in cough syrup caps”. Her devotion to him and her singular obsession to recall the shape of his head which drive the short story are thus perfectly understandable. Eventually, she succeeds in recalling how his head looks like but this is achieved at the great cost of hallucinating that he was now physically present in her home, dead as she knew that he was. What a gripping tale and what an unusual denouement! Are Simbi’s vision’s real or are we dealing with hallucinations induced by strong emotions? Oduor does not tell us. But such hallucinations are understandable and have been known to happen in real life.
What is not understandable are one or two of the proverbs which sit rather poorly with the flow of the story. Here is one example – Bwibo shook her head. “It is only with a light basket that someone can escape the rain.” It is difficult to understand its role in the narrative or in Simbi’s attempt to visualise the head of her later father. There are also one or two paragraphs that do not fit, paragraphs that read like they were written to display Oduor’s descriptive powers with language but which add little or nothing to the unfolding story. This paragraph is one good example:
“Later, the old people sat in drooping clumps in the yard. Bwibo and I watched from the back steps of the kitchen. In the grass, ants devoured a squirming caterpillar. The dog’s nose, a translucent pink doodled with green veins, twitched. Birds raced each other over the frangipani. One tripped over the power line and smashed its head on the moss–covered electricity pole. Wasps flew low over the grass. A lizard crawled over the lichen that choked a pile of timber. The dog licked the inside of its arm. A troupe of royal butterfly dancers flitted over the row of lilies, their colourful gauze dancing skirts trembling to the rumble of an inaudible drum beat. The dog lay on its side in the grass, smothering the squirming caterpillar and the chewing ants. The dog’s nipples were little pellets of goat shit stuck with spit onto its furry underside”.
Strong in descriptive power, it adds little or nothing to the story except perhaps to let us into Simbi’s troubled mind. But do troubled minds have the leisure for such observational acuity? A number of other paragraphs that follow this one, about six of them, have problems of cohesion with the rest of the narrative. They read like they belong to another story – a story perhaps on exile and reconciliation but not to this one about a lady trying to recall her father’s head.
But these glitches, or perhaps my own mis-readings of the short story, do not in any subtract from a tale wonderfully told, a tale of love and devotion, perhaps of love gone extreme, a story about the present struggling to unveil the past in order to find meaning and stability in an ever evolving present. A story like this certainly is deserving of such a distinguished prize as the 2014 Caine Prize.

Posted in Poetry

For Stomach Infrastructure Theorists


Noel A. Ihebuzor

Truth looks on
impressed by our eloquence
but bemused by our biases

amused by our puny arguments
rankled by our ragged rationalisations
but still she remains silent

silent but sad as again
she recalls the deafness
of a world peopled by vain mortals

sorrowful, yet hopeful,
she surveys our clumsy
sheep led-by-gain gaits

our eyes fixed on stash
vision lulled and dulled
by the lure of lucre

as all logic is locked away
and facts blended by simple reason
are now branded as sinful treason.

*This poem is critique of the new theory of stomach infrastructure which attempts to explain losses in a recent election in Ekiti State by claiming that voter behaviour was swayed by food gifts. Stomach Infrastructure theory is at best a rationalization by persons who are unwilling to look at events objectively and to learn lessons from them**.

Posted in Uncategorized

BAT on BH and security


Noel Ihebuzor

Bola Ahmed Tinubu gave a revealing lecture on the 30th June 2014.

Politicians are allowed to mount podiums at will and to try to use every opportunity to score political points against their perceived opponents. But every mature politician is also expected to put national security and interests ahead of narrow partisan and self promotional interests. I am concerned that BAT has not done this in his take on the origins of BH, in spite of this efforts to nuance his views in the said speech. He politicked with the BH issue and because he chose to politick with such a painful national issue, he also deliberately chose to tell a single, simple and flat monochrome story of the origins of this national plague. The single story, an attempt to explain BH origins largely by appeals to misrule and social injustice, is not only inaccurate but is pathetic and patently misleading.

Reading this take on BH, I get this strong feeling that BAT has lost it completely. Becoming an apologist for BH as he does in the main body of this speech is a clear indication of either a willingness to court the “North” at whatever costs or of a deliberate choice to delink with reality and good sense or both. The social and political costs of this choice for him will be major and can only worsen a sad situation created when he stepped on his own tongue by lashing out at the Obas.  Time will tell, but BAT’s handlers need to a better job either in restraining him or in managing his utterances.