This article was Inspired by May 22nd’s “Write with Style” Facilitated by Chukwuebuka Ibeh and Acquah Nana Yeboah.
It was the email for me...
It was one of those “good” emails that got you thinking that, maybeyour village people weren’t using a broken, “tired-of-life” mirror to monitor you after all.
It was the kind of email I woke up to after shouting enough “blood–of–Jesus” in my dreams—you know the drill—for all the reasons you end up forgetting as soon as you wake up.
I won’t lie… On some days, I am one of those people… You know, those ones that stretch out a hand to grab their phones first, without even checking if their tongues still function, or if it has kukuma been removed by God since they have refused to use it to pray to himbefore anything else.
The email notification was on the phone screen. It made me know it was an important kind. Heart, suddenly thumping, I opened and got the first “congratulations” I had received in a very, very long time. In fact, I should have known from how that email read that Chukwuebuka and Acquah would be incredibly fine boys. Reading the email felt like they were rubbing me on the back and giving me the good news. It read like they knew me, and how ugly I usuallylooked after just waking up, and were telling me, “Ndo. We know your struggles... Take this one as a rope to hold on to first.”
On my WhatsApp status, I just used that emoji of the somersaultinggirl to share my joy. I made her somersault three times and didn’t say “peem“; in case those village people were actually with that broken mirror, watching with chewing sticks in their mouths.
One girl replied to the status update—“Congratulations,” she wrote. “Thanks,” I replied.
She, of course, didn’t know the news—I had been selected to attend a writing workshop! Whoop-whoop!!!
The D-day threatened to spoil all the joy and excitement I had been building up, but… God punish the devil. Long story short, when I saw Chukwuebuka, the small para in me fizzled out.
“Why would there be a mistake with the time na? I had to wait so long,” I wanted to halla, but he’s not a celeb you can para for.
Before you knew it, I was laughing with him and Acquah NanaYeboah, who soon joined us.
They were, indeed, fine boys. Also, they were celebrities, and I was addressing them as such but they were debunking it (All these people that like to form humility). As far as I was concerned,though, I was in the presence of greatness—all that one they were saying was their own—and I couldn’t wait to suck from their wisdom with a thick straw.
We didn’t do “African–man–time” at all.
Those two men—celebrity creatives—meant business. We weren’tcomplete yet, the 10 who were selected to attend, but we began on time anyway.
It turned out to be one of the best 2 hours of my life.
Acquah Nana Yeboah facilitated a poetry session first, and it got me thinking how lucky his girlfriend or future wife would be, hearing him recite words so thoughtfully put together. Most of the poems would be about his love for whoever she was, I imagined, and it would be a “happily–ever–after” story for them because of it.
He gave us an exercise after his lesson (what a good teacher, right?).It was to write an acrostic poem in about 5 to 10 minutes.
I wrote something on “Y.O.U L.I.V.E”. (Lately, I have been moved to writing a lot about life, existence and, majorly, death. Creepy, I think, but… Oh, well…)
When we all read out what we had written, I was elated afresh to be here. It was the people for me, the 9 other selected attendees. They were awesome. Their words were deep and captivating. You were at once lost and found in them.
When Chukwuebuka began his session on prose writing, in my mind, I was like, “it’s like this man is a double-edged sword oh, because what is this humour?” The man was funnier than you, or I, (let me take responsibility), would expect of a top-notch writer. It’s not my fault—some of us have a picture of how “serious” brilliant and accomplished people are in our heads. Remember that he and Nana remain celebs to me.
Ebuka talked a great deal about the “danger of single, boxed-in, stereotypical stories“ (much respect to madam Adichie) and he all but taught us to do “tatafo“ in a professional way; there arethousands of stories that can be inspired by overheard conversations. You know his story about the old, lonely man that calls strangers and listens to them talk? Ehn…tatafo was part of what helped him build the idea. Ssshh!
There’s so much to write about how great the workshop was, but Ihave to mention the best part for me. It was when 10 of us got to read out our entries for the workshop and then take comments from the others.
The poems and stories I heard that day made me feel almost unworthy to be seated there but, yet, so grateful. Joseph’s, in particular, resonated with me. His line of emphasis read: “when you kill a soul, it dies faster than a body“. Heck, anything deeper than that must be hell itself.
And then Odafin hit us, me, with the story that made me ask for a second, slower reading just so I could walk a straight path towards full comprehension. He’s that mind-blowing.
What felt like just minutes of laughter, fellowship, and enlightenment was actually over 2 hours. It was abruptly closing time…minus “The Grace”.
It almost hurt to have to go, to have to leave that place of literary communion, learning at the feet of the “humble dignitaries“.
I shouldn’t forget to mention that those two didn’t shove us out with just a miserly “thanks for coming... Bye!” Oh, No!
They fed our bellies with snacks, added to our libraries with a well-wrapped book gift each, and increased our purses’ weights with a monetary token in envelopes that had each of our names written onthem— Such thoughtfulness! It made you want to cry.
Outside the workshop venue, we spent another one hour, more or less, taking pictures and conversing. The laughter rang high and the conversations roamed free like we had known each other all ourlives.
In the pictures we took, you could see the joy and fulfilment. Those shinning 32s were real. They were testimonies of different but the same thoughts.
So...if Chukwuebuka Ibeh and Acquah Nana Yeboah were to wake up every day, after that 22nd day in May, with ringing ears, they should think not far for the cause. I, for one, (I wouldn’t speak for the others), am calling their names and blessing them as much as I can.
No ear doctor should be disturbed, dears; neither should “village people” be blamed.
It’s just me, some human, grateful for the opportunity to be part of something so tremendous, put together by two amazing people—my own creative celebrities.
Aganaba Jesudubami Jemima is an eccentric storyteller. She studied English and Literary Studies at Niger Delta University, located in Bayelsa State, Nigeria.
Jemima is also in love with children, music, and eccentric fashion; she tries to represent these in her stories and stage performances.
Her works have been published by F-bom, Kalahari Review, Nalubaale Review, Creative Freelance Writerz; in “Coloured”, “Go the Way Your Blood Beats”, “A Country of Broken Boys II” (anthologies), and Michael Afenfia’s “Write Now 2018”.
wordpress.com—can lead you better into her mind.