I really like dogs. I don’t get cats. It would be difficult
for me to live with an animal that has as much drama as I do. I am thinking of
a breed of puppy that will grow into a large dog. Because I love dogs so much I
decided to write a whole story about dogs this week. The title of my story is
Black and White.
Once upon a time in a country far, far away, there was a
large farm run and owned by dogs. Plenty of them. In fact, in just one section
of the farm there were over a hundred dogs. A hundred and nine to be precise.
This section was slightly elevated in the farm and so they called it Top House.
Top House pretty much controlled everything: who came into the farm, who ate
what and how much food everyone had. Top House was an exclusive area and only
those invited could go in there.
Everyone came to them for favors, even the new owner of the farm, an old
wolf called White. They called him White because of how clean his fur was. But
Top House was far from clean. There was filth and gambling and stealing and
weekly acts of perversion. The farm used to have cattle but Top House stole and
ate them all. White had a huge task in rebuilding this farm that had been run
down by it’s previous owner.
White reached an agreement with Top House to share control of
the farm just so there would be peace. There were too many of them for him to
kick them out. One of the agreements they reached was that any new worker the
White would hire would have to be approved by Top House. There was this very
energetic Wolf that White knew called Black. Black earned his name from being
able to blend in the night when he went to eat up people’s cows. The previous
owner had expelled Black out of malice. Black then helped White buy the farm so
he could return; without Black’s money, White would not have been able to
afford the farm. Black used to have friends in Top House, some of whom he would
share his stolen cows with. But some of them hated him. Top House kept
postponing the dates for Black to appear before them and White was getting frustrated.
He could not just tell Black that he was sorry and could not offer him a job:
Black’s money was part of the reason he owned the farm in the first place. So
White kept putting pressure on Top House.
On a certain Monday morning, Top House finally agreed to
assess Black’s suitability for employment as White’s trusted assistant who
would protect the cows that he was planning to buy.
A senior member of Top House who had been accused several
times of eating up stolen cows, and still had blood stains from the last cow he
ate on his paws, stood up to begin.
“Black!” he shouted. “We in Top House have received some
worrying news about your days of stealing and eating cows. Many dogs have
brought reports to us alleging that you rounded up cows that did not belong to
you, ate most of them and sold the rest to enable White buy this farm. Now you
are here before us seeking employment to protect the cows that White is about
to buy. How do we know that you will not just eat them up? Can you assure this Top House that you will not eat cows?”
“I don’t even know how to eat meat,” Black replied, staring
at the dried blood on the paws of the dog that had just finished speaking –
blood of cows.
“I have never ever eaten cow meat in my life, stolen or
otherwise,” Black continued. “As a vegan, I do not even know the difference between cow
meat and other meat. Perhaps the good member of Top House can share his
expertise with me.”
The crowd in Top House burst into laughter. An argument
ensued between those who wanted Black in and those who did not. Anxiety about
being rejected by Top House made Black lose weight and have sunken eyes.
In the end however, they sorted out all their issues with
Black and in fact went into long friendly banter about the scourge of cow theft
and consumption. Dog after dog in Top House made Black promise that he would do
everything in his power as assistant to White, to end cow theft.
“Under my watch,” Black said, “no one will steal cows. Those
days are gone. Change has come to this farm!”
Thereafter there was a thunderous applause and barking from
Top House. They approved Black as an assistant to White and told him to howl
Outside, Top House supporters of Black asked him how it felt
to have crossed that hurdle.
“I thank God,” Black said, “none of them were able to find
blood stains on my paws or fur. And it is not that they didn’t want to. It is
just that they are too covered in cow blood to see mine clearly.”
White was ecstatic about this and expressed his enthusiasm
about beginning the serious work of raising cattle on the farm, bringing cows
back to a place where they were once endangered. Everyone on the farm hoped
that Black would not go back to his cow eating ways and splash blood on White’s
This is the end of my story. I hope you enjoyed it. Two
1. This is
fiction. Any resemblance to real persons dead or alive is purely coincidental.
2. No animals
were harmed in the production of this story. Because I care.
Abuja Writing Workshop, run by Nigerian writer Elnathan John has been running
since 2013 as a one-day short prose workshop for twenty participants mostly
resident in Abuja. In 2014, 60 persons applied to be part of this workshop in
Abuja. The workshop is also proud to have participants who have gone on to
publish books of their own. Co-facilitators have included award winning
Nigerian author and journalist Abubakar Adam Ibrahim.
2015 the Abuja Writing Workshop is expanding to accept participants from all
across the country. This year the focus is on SATIRE as a form of writing and
political and social commentary that has seen renewed interest especially
online. Globally, satire has come into public debate especially with the
killing of staff at the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo. Perhaps
more than ever before, people are beginning to have a global conversation about
the role of satire in public affairs. More and more satirists are pushing the
boundaries and taking on entities like corporations, governments and even the
so-called Islamic State. In Nigeria, there certainly is an appetite for deep
sarcasm online in discussing politics. Many who do this are not even aware that
what they do can be called satire and be sharpened and channeled to achieve
thoughtful, hard-hitting critique of politics in Nigeria. It is this
inadvertent interest in satire that this workshop seeks to exploit and possibly
are interested in writing SATIRE, there will be a two-day workshop from Friday
November 27, 2015 to Saturday November 28, 2015 for ten selected participants.
The focus of this workshop will include:
1. Understanding the
news and the issues that become material for satire
2. Understanding the
building blocks of effective satire
3. Learning the
different possible forms of satire
acquainted with other satire traditions around the world
5. Understanding the
power of satire and channeling that power for effect
6. Identifying and
connecting with other satirists in Nigeria and Africa
workshop will be held in Abuja, Nigeria. The workshop is free. All selected participants will have their travel
and accommodation costs covered for the duration of the workshop. Participants
will be expected to commit to staying for the entire program. Arrival will be
on Friday, November 27. THIS WORKSHOP IS NOT OPEN TO PERSONS BELOW THE AGE
OF 18 AT THE TIME OF APPLICATION.
THIS WORKSHOP IS ONLY OPEN TO PERSONS LIVING IN NIGERIA
apply, send an original sample of satire and an application letter, each not
exceeding ONE-PAGE to email@example.com with
the subject, "Workshop Application" no later than 10th
November, 2015. The shorter, the better. As there are only 10 slots and selection will be based on
the writing sample, send in what you think best represents your work. Only
selected participants will be contacted.
The workshop will feature a guest facilitator and award winning
journalist, writer and satirist Tolu Ogunlesi as well as award winning writer
and US based creative writing teacher Chinelo Okparanta.
Let me begin by clarifying: I have
nothing against Senator Shehu Sani. In fact I don’t understand people who don’t
love him, who don’t understand his sacrifice to Nigeria, his activism that
hasn’t earned him any money and his long torturous time in prison. I have been following Shehu Sani during the Ministerial screening in the senate
and I can see that the leadership of the senate has something against him. I
think they are agents of a certain governor who doesn’t like him. But let me
not lose focus here. During the senate screening of ministerial nominees, Shehu
Sani was only called twice to speak. I know there are 109 senators but how can
you keep ignoring Shehu Sani’s hand? To make up for this I have decided to
imagine what it would be like if the good senator had the opportunity to ask his
intelligent questions to more of the ministerial nominees. Because I care, not
just about Shehu Sani, but also about all ex prisoners in Nigeria.
Sani: Mr. Nominee, I want to thank you for your commitment to this country. As
a lawyer I am sure you are aware of the situation of our prisons. You know, I
know these things as a former inmate of Kirikiri prison. Wallahi I can even
text you my prison number so you can cross check. Also you are a business man…
President: Distinguished senator Sani, can you please put the question?
Sani: Yes. Ok. Mr Nominee, what is your plan to introduce business skills in
our prisons so that people who leave prison like me can come out and be good in
business like you. Thank you.
Shehu Sani: Your Excellency, former governor of
Ekiti, I have read your CV. I see that you are interested in conflict and
security and let me tell you, you can never know conflict unless you have been
in a cell with twenty other strangers with the toilet and bathroom in the same
space. As someone who was in Kirikiri while you were running an illegal radio
station and passing through non-conventional borders, I can teach you about
security and conflict just from my experience with big bad prisoners and wicked
prison wardens who…
Senate President: Senator Shehu Sani, please we are
running out of time. Kindly put the question.
Shehu Sani: Ok, Ok. My question to Mr Nominee is, if
you become minister of the federal republic, how will you prevent conflict
among prisoners who have to share the same cell so that they don’t leave
battered and bruised. Thank you.
Sani: Papa Audu Ogbeh. I am calling you Papa because I learnt respect for old
age and hierarchy from all the time I spent in prison. You know in prison, if
you don’t properly address the Chairman, hmmmm, wallahi you will regret being
born. I have no major question but to urge you, as someone interested in
agriculture to look into prisons having farms that prisoners can cultivate to
train them for when they leave. I wish I had the opportunity to farm when I was
in Kirikiri. God bless you Papa Ogbeh.
Sani: Mine is short. Will you as a serial spokesperson, speak on behalf of
prisoners like me?
Amina Ibrahim Mohammed
Shehu Sani: Madam nominee. Because of your accent I
did not understand half of what you said, but I am sure it is intelligent.
Because if it looks intelligent, dresses intelligent, sounds intelligent then
it is intelligent. My honest opinion is that if prisoners can speak like you
after leaving prison, their chances of success will be greatly improved. As
minister will you promise this senate that you will teach prisoners like me how
to speak like you?
Babatunde Raji Fashola
Sani: Oga Fashola! I congratulate you. As Minister for Justice will you pledge
to rehabilitate prisoners like me? Look at how early my head is going bald. It
is from being in Kirikiri. How will you prevent prisoners from going bald?
Dr Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu
Shehu Sani: I will be straightforward with you.
Prisoners need to stop getting food cooked with firewood. I hated it as a
prisoner. Will you as Minister for Petroleum ensure that prisons have access to
kerosene for cooking? Can you swear you will do that?
Barrister Solomon Dalong
Shehu Sani: Barrister Dalong, you were a
correctional officer. Which means you dealt with prisoners like me when I was
in KiriKiri. But you may not have known me because you must have been a baby
prison officer when I was a high profile political prisoner on death row.
Barrister Solomon Dalong: Distinguished Senator, I
don’t know what you mean by baby prison officer.
Shehu Sani: Look Mr. Nominee, do you want to be
confirmed or not? You know I am no longer in prison and you cannot talk to me
like I am a prisoner and you are a prison warden.
Barrister Solomon Dalong: I apologise distinguished.
Shehu Sani: Better apologise because the tables have
turned. And wipe the sides of your mouth.
Senate President: Senator Sani, please can you
kindly just put the question.
Shehu Sani: Yes but I just needed to clarify that I
am no longer in prison. Anyway. My question to the nominee is, as a former corrections
officer, what will you do to make sure prisoners get access to basic
necessities like medical treatment and more importantly conjugal rights. You
know they say body no be wood. Prisoners too deserve to sleep with their wives.
You don’t want them to leave prison and find out that someone has been sleeping
with their wives. That can lead to assault or even murder and then the prisoner
now returns to prison. We don’t want that. We really don’t want that.
All I am saying is we need to allow Senator Shehu Sani express
himself more fully on the floor of the senate. We cannot afford to let all that
prison wisdom go to waste.