creative non-fiction

ALitFest 2019

I attended ALitFest 2019 hosted by the Abuja Literary Society from 11th-13th of July 2019 at Exhibition Pavilion, Area 10, Garki.

The festival had creative guests, writers, bookstores, literary enthusiasts, vendors enjoy Panel discussions, Book Reading, Wedlock of the Gods stage adaptation, Arts auction, Poetry slam and Music performance.

My friends, Amaka, Logan, Tolu were guests of the festival. I was esctactic hugging and laughing with them and also watching them on panels.

“The 21st Century Nigerian man is learning everyday how to be human.”-Tolu Daniel

Panelist, The 21st Century Nigerian man #ALitFest19

Poetry Slam

I attended a little part of the interesting Poetry Slam, the evening of 12th July. From social commentary poems to a scintillating erotic poem about Banga soup to poems about betrayal to love poems. Two volunteers from Lipfest18 were in the poetry slam with lyrical poems. I shared videos in my I.G story highlights.

Panel Discussions

Saturday 13th, I attended 4 panel discussions, 2 in full and 2 in part. I unlearned, released and learnt.

“We have a wrong perception of a sexual perpetrator, it isn’t a man but a human. A victim is human.” -Dorothy

Panelist, #NigeriaToo- Sexual Harrassment in Nigeria’s public & private spaces

The 21st Century Nigerian man is a man who is constantly at war with himself and at war with the society. Self actualization is important for this man but in the context of family -Michael

Writer and Comment made from audience.

Art Auction

I also networked, walked through the Art Auction and discussed with two artists.

Bookstores and Book shopping

Logan February was kind to autograph my copy of his full length poetry collection.

Books at the RovingHeights Bookstore stand.

The Booksellers Limited stand

I shopped these two books for my dear reader and divalicious friend who values my recommendations. She wanted more African Queer Fiction after reading Stab Love with Flower Stalks. I got autographed copies of ‘In The Nude’ by Logan February and ‘Lákíríboto Chronicles’ by Ayodele Olofintuade. I worked within her budget also!

New Friends!

It was a delight getting introduced to Ope Adedeji, creative non-fiction writer and TJ Benson, writer and author. I met Fatima and her sister. Also Onyinye who were great conversationalists and fellow literary enthusiasts.

If you can attend any literary festival, please do!


Spotlight Read: Home by Ope Adedeji

Home by Ope Adedeji

Is intricate, peeling off layers on notions about being home within others and one’s self, shedding fractured light on fluid love, body acceptance, trauma and sexual abuse. It moved pieces of me inside me.

Read it published on Arts and Africa.

These men, I later think walking to campus, would never stop at your body, they want all of you, the crown of your head, and the sole of your feet. They want you, the mysteries you are moulded with, your soul, your silent resilient spirit, the arch of your body. They will not stop until you are stripped of all you have, until you are vulnerable and cold, until you are dust. Only then, will they leave you to find their next victim.

She quotes Warsan Shire saying, I cannot make homes out of human beings.

Every woman learns to own her body embody love from others. Then deal with the world robbing her of her body autonomy at any time. And she has to search, find, love and protect herself over and over again.

There are pretty weird places to find yourself and reclaim your body but nobody will tell you this. Television adverts tell you about evening you skin tone, and your mother talks about sitting like a lady, but no one will tell you that if they steal your body, it is not your fault. No one tells you that your vagina is yours. These are things my mother did not tell me, because her mother did not tell her. These are things I learn myself.

This masterful creative non-fiction piece explores unlearning negativity about one’s vagina and sexuality which the narrator goes through by its end. The quoted portion above makes me so grateful for my mother and other women in my girlhood and now womanhood who encourage(d) my body acceptance, confidence and sexual pleasure.

I remember my mother asked me during my childhood to stand over a mirror she’d placed on the floor to see my vagina. She said, ‘always look, care and respect her. She is you.’ That experience rooted my body confidence and self preservation. Almost a decade later, I named my vagina. Once I wrote, unlearn shame women. Remove the shame stuffed in your vagina. Let her breathe.

I shared this piece with some friends and on social media. Because hellooo I’m here for online fiction and creative non-fiction reviews! This is what people had to say:

“Loved reading the article… Great theme, beautifully written and captivating with every sentence.”-Anon

“I understand what the poet meant when she said it felt like she was looking for her body because I looked; for years. I understand what it means to look for answers you know you aren’t gonna get from places you long to get it from.

That’s why I tried not to cry, because it reminded me of things I’d rather not be reminded of. It was sad but I like how victorious the poet was at the end.
You own you! Not anybody else. Thanks, I loved it!!!” -Anon

Victim Blaming, Slut Shaming, Self Denial, Sexual Abuse. Toxicity need to go!

Image source: “Oh Georgia” by Logor published with Home on Arts and Africa

Valentine Safety Tips

Sunday night my friends and I had drinks at AUN Club, chatted about Bail and life. A bit buzzed i walked back to my hostel on the dimmly lit road at a quarter to 11pm while they returned to the conference room.

In the shadow, a group of loud Yoruba speaking young men were behind me with some ladies. I heard a male voice call my name repeatedly. Initially, i ignored. It isn’t safe to plug your ears while walking in the dark. #RapePrevention/SafetyTip But the persistence of my caller made me wonder. I asked twice, ‘who is that? Who is calling me?’ He doesn’t answer so I hasten my pace because i felt sleepy. Alcohol makes me sleepy, even 5%.

I turn back and say, ‘I’m asking because its dark i can’t see you.’ Next thing the man beside him, begins ranting in English. ‘You didn’t need to be impolite’. The one beside him responds in Yoruba, ‘she is a small girl.’ Another joins saying, ‘what does she feel like?’ The person who called me is silent. The women are laughing. I note but ignore and continue walking. Irritated, I abruptly turn back and shout out, ‘You are the one calling a small girl in the dark without introducing yourself.’ I walked towards the female hostel faster. While they continued loudly insulting me and my ‘audacity’ in Yoruba.

This isn’t a men are scum post. Earlier that evening a young man had escorted me to my friends even though he had sore legs. Neither is it a women are scum post. I have female friends who defend and check on me regularly. “Scum has no gender”-Rasaq Ola.

You are not entitled to someone’s politeness or anything! Men, NOTE this. It is nowhere safe or mature to call a lone woman in the dark without introducing yourself. Even if you know her. It’s immature showing your insecurities by insulting someone else in your native language. It’s rude, especially if they might not know your language. I hate when people are silent. I was being accosted and the women could laugh at their insults? The guy could stay silent when asked to introduce himself and couldn’t correct his friends.

See Gem, many unreported cases of abuse come from the victim’s close friends or acquaintances. My own sexual assault came from experiences with males friends (you know yourselves, stop tumbling into my dms) more than random strangers.

It’s Valentine, don’t feel pressured or silenced into having sex. Or making expenses you can’t afford. Don’t feel guilty when you walk away from bullshit. If a friend keeps making you feel sexually unsafe, CUT THEM OFF. I shared this with my teenage brother in uni. Talk to the teenagers in your life this February and 2019. My message is for both female and male teenagers. Advice them to respect other people’s choices and make good choices themselves. ‘There is usually a lot of pressure on boys and young men to do the wrong things.’- Oluchi Jennifer. Check on them regularly, listen to them and their insecurities, give them gifts too, encourage and compliment them. Encourage teenagers to be aware of their sexual safety.

It’s the month of love, stay safe Gems.

Adaeze Feyisayo

Image source: the_amakaa