Stories From the Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop 2012
This book has been referred to as an anthology by Farafina Books and Tsitsi Dangaremgba. But also a short stories collection by Ama Ata Aidoo and I. Either way it features 13 captivating short stories from various genres, written from different timelines and set in mostly African countries. They all use literature to tell fantastic stories about human relationships. I bought this book in June, if my memory serves me well. Its been on my TBR since then.
I began reading it late last week. One of the reasons I bought this collection is because certain authors I love and know are featured. Eghosa Imasuen, author of Fine Boys wrote the foreword. Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah, African Erotica and relationship writer has a feature story. Her erotic short fiction, Fucking Ghana Into Me was my first review on the blog. She is one of the reasons I go back to Adventures From The Bedroom of African Women. Yewande Omotosho, author of novels that explore South African, adult fiction narratives. I noticed two things about these stories. To sit was spelt seat and most of the setting and character descriptions were slowly narrated over the duraton of the story. It helped the story unfold into a more vivid mental image.
Alpha’s Gambit by Mazi Nwonwu turned out to be my favie favorite story in this collection, Which is funny because I couldn’t figure out what the title hints the story was about. After reading its first two pages I stopped, oh Fantasy I murmured to myself. Flipping pages to Yewande Omotosho’s odd adult fiction. I returned to it some days later to fall in love with the futuristic Nigeria setting. This work isn’t fanatasy but biopunk sci-fi, afrofuturism and queer erotica. But if it’s one thing Anuli Alpha taught me is that labels aren’t important especially if they restrict you. All those sub fiction genres are my favorites! Without the labeling genres, Anuli Ezile, Nigeria’s extraordinary agent, non-binary, pheromone emitting beauty tells an unforgettable story. She was shocked that Anna (Major Anna Momoh) messed with her mind, wanted her to be male and tried killing her. I said Ghen Ghen when infatuated, hopeful and shocked Alpha turned angry at her lover’s deceit. ‘The last wing beats faded from my mind and where love once existed, a hollow that anger started to seep into appeared’. My Mum has the ability to read minds. Its really delightful to find unique African experiences narrated so beautifully. A Nigeria where the laws,companies, government and military protect the interests of everyone including LGBTIA residents. Dope!
Bolt by Ejike Kanife was hilarious. It begins with them having passionate, erotic, sex. I love the way Emeka, the doomed protagonist uses his Naija youthful lingua to tell a comical story of his sexual journey into Hadiza’s marital home. He fights off his attraction to Alhaji’s wife for a while.. In the end they fuck each other’s lives downside up. I loved the erotica, it was pure, raw and intense. The narration began during doggy style and ends in Hadiza’s cowgirl halted ride. ‘I just lay back on the bed fully aware that my life, Hadiza’s and maybe Alhaji’s would never be the same again.’
Ladies Night by Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah is set in Ghana in 2013. It reminds me of my married bestie. We have a meet-up spot to discuss our love lives. Other than that, he’s a responsible, attentive, present and loving husband, father and friend. His devotion to his family is one of the things I love about him. Kweku is a comfortable married man with a devoted wife. Comfortable enough to have extramarital affairs. The story begins with an hilarious police chase that ends ladies night. We meet Afua, his best friend, single independent woman who has sexual trysts in her car and other odd placaes. She still lives with her parents. Hotels don’t help, neither do the broke small boys she has sex with. I can really relate to their ordeals. I live with my sister. When people ask where I live I state that. I still get people insisting they want to know where my parents live. Why can’t they assimilate a young, unmarried, African woman can live alone? Yes, it can be annoying walking into an hotel with a beautiful exterior that has a irky smell, coarse bedding and no service delivery. Anyway, the story soon changes for Kweku when Maame says. “We need more than your money. I need more than your money. I need a husband in every sense of the word. Fix up or lose us.’ This reminds me of many discussions my sis and I have had about Nigerian men thinking financial provision/support is their only marital responsibility.
Bride’s Gift and Every Thing Counts analyse women’s relationships with society, empowerment, sexual expression and love. They both encourage you to live, sexy free, your truths but make healthy compromises. Every Thing Counts by Chika Oduah reminds me of Dear White People because of the heroine’s controversial interracial relationship. I was awed with Ada’s certainty of herself and her sextuationship with Calvin. This story made me smile because the oddest things or deepest thoughts go through my mind while I’m having sex. The story traced the history of her self, childhood, growing up African in Southern America, black nationalism, sexual assault of minority women. This history is given in flashback, thoughts during erotic sex. I loved it! Bride’s Gift, is narrated by a young Cameroonian bride to her companion, her diary on her wedding day. “It was on the tip of my tongue to ask about the “Groom’s Gift” did it exist?’ The pressure from “concerned” family and sexist socio-economic realities on young African women to settle for less than their dreams is a theme in this short story. This theme questions patriarchy and how women compromise to survive or give in totally. ‘That’s how I feel now, like I sold myself cheap. Only its not my body I traded away, it’s my dream, my hopes.’ At least she got her dream wedding if not her dream man, Alphonse. ‘The guy knew how to make me want him, he just didn’t want me enough to share more than kisses.’ How she lost her virginity was just insensitive of the groom, Conrad. Men need to stop silencing female pain especially during sex.
This anthology is filled with puzzling adult fiction pieces like There Was A Man by Yewande Omotosho which took me into Nina’s mind. She’s a middle aged South African woman. Her sexless-loveless marriage, therapy with Dr Needles, and the traffic newspaper man. With stream of consciousness and humor, Yewande Omotosho drives me through South Africa. Reading An Autodidact’s Guide To Sex Ed by Mona Zutoh Opubor made me gratefully reminisce about my honest, open, empowering upbringing.
There were compelling coming of age stories like A Taste of It by Martin Chinagorom, Bound by Ese Lerato Emewua and Under The Surface by Efembe Eke. Finding Courage by Richard Ali made me gasp wow, it was a disconcerting story of loss of love, faith and courage in people, causes and a nation. “With the loss of Tamara , I lost my faith in love, then in my country. Faith fuels,it is faith I am disposed of.” Aside, Born On A Tuesday haven’t read about the Nigerian Government detention and tortured interrogation of political critics or Boko Haram suspects that got me gasping. I was like, wait Tamara isn’t Tamara but Aisha, a spy? There I was touched that there was a character with a disability in the anthology. You Take Me For A Goat by Samuel Kolawole is a honest shot of domestic violence. Beatings one minute, sex the next. Psychological abuse and bullying of an enduring partner by a frustrated partner is also common. I highly recommend this anthology with 4 fireworks. Its a symbol of why I love anthologies and short stories. I loved that the female characters were empowered or learning to come into their own.