Category Archives: Book news

I take a look over my shoulder, as I get older.

My birthday is in two days. ‘Happy Birthday!’ you say. Well, in the words of Warren G, you don’t see what I see.

I’ve managed to shock quite a few people with my  age in the last two months – the most recent being my former neighbour who tried to keep a straight face and failed (Hi Pavla).

With that in mind I have decided to stop telling people my age now. This is a thing I would find absolutely ridiculous on a normal day, it’s isn’t as if I had any sort of control over when I was born right? I don’t want to be younger, or thought of as obsessing over a number, any number. I just want to be further along in life, I want to have achieved more than I have. That much I do have control over.

And this is the crux of the matter. This is why I have decided not to celebrate my birthday as I previously planned.

Oh, it’s no great hardship to me (sniff, sniff). I was waffling anyway. The first party I had was at 22 and it was kiddie party complete with cake, ice cream, jello and Pin the Tail on the Donkey because my flatmates felt bad for me. My mother was not a party person so I had never had one before then. The other one was when I turned 27. It was afternoon tea at The Cadogan, again, not some great party – even if afternoon tea is something that I love. 

So you see, I don’t have some great party-throwing history.

In spite of this, the debate on whether I should throw a party or not is still raging. My vicar is on the ‘Celebrate’ side and so is Hubs. While it is great to be reminded that God takes an interest in such seemingly mundane details as a birthday shindig, I figured he’d be happy with me doing a private Thanksgiving in church.

And Hubs will live.

Instead I will spend my whole milestone year doing something which I much prefer. I was poised to type what it was but the idea of what Ginger and Nkem and Kiki and the rest of you will say is putting me off. Meh, whatever. Kill me.

I am going to do it; I will write and finish a manuscript as I always do and this time, I WILL LOOK FOR AN AGENT.

This is my solemn vow.

Why you should NEVER let Igbo parents know you are writing a novel.

They go crazy.

I don’t mean your normal parental give-you-a-used-broom-to-take-to-school-for-MOSAI crazy. I mean full-on LOCO PARENTIS – yes, I know this is not what it means, but it’s a pun so it stays.

First, my father. He calls me up day before yesterday on some random thing and just when I begin to wonder what the conversation is really about, he clears his throat.

Ahem! So…how is that book you’re writing?”

“Fine, fine.”

“Yes, yes. Good. You know you have to hurry up and finish it and then you can do your PhD and when you finish that you will start chasing your professorship. You know the path you have chosen…it is not…it is not…errrr…like medicine or law. So, you have to go into academia…”

Silence.

“Well,” he continued “Ah ha ha ha. Maybe you and your husband will decide something else. This is just a father’s wish.”

Then today my mother arrives en-route to somewhere else. After I serve her lunch…

So,” she said in Igbo “Have you finished that book you are writing?”

“It’s there in that big envelope by the chair if you want to take a look at it.”

“Ah,” she reached down. “What is ‘Rekke’?” I explained, even as I watched her eyes glaze over. “Onye kwanu kalu ya red red n’ile a?” she asked when she opened the first page.

“I did. I use the red pen for corrections before I type them up.”

“Mbu so akwukwo. It’s a lot.”

“That’s not the whole thing, that is just the bit I have edited.”

“Ah.” She looked in the envelope. Slowly she started pushing the sheaf in her hands back in. “God will help you o.”

Yes, I do believe God will help me.

The last time I checked, my father was planning a book launch.

Editing my book ‘Recce’, disciplining children and other matters.

Editing is hard, man. I don’t mean that I hate editing myself, on the contrary I might like it a bit too much. Well, maybe not like, but I keep wanting to change things until the entire thing is completely unrecognisable. I am just going to have to remember that people seemed to love the book when I blogged it last November/December and not change it too much.

On the plus side, I am more than halfway done and I find myself actively enjoying the dialogue of Paul-O and Lucy the most. That boy was supposed to be a very minor character. I’m still surprised at how he keeps showing up.

Remember, even if you read parts of the book when I blogged it, THERE IS A SURPRISE TWIST! Muhahahaha! I love twists. (Hopefully) you didn’t see this one coming. Till July peeps! I can’t wait!

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I watched City of God for the second time yesterday and I cannot tell you how sad that film makes me. I just hope and pray that the only way for any of my descendants is up. I cannot bear the thought that someone descended from me will have the kind of life that the Runts had in that film. Nobody should have to live like that but that is the reality of the world I suppose. Things are hard in a lot of places. Even here in London, there are tower blocks and estates where the situation is no better; children living on their own because parents are druggies or work more than two jobs, hiding out form social services…stealing to get by, learning to kill to ‘get respect’ , a substitute for the love and care they are not getting at home.

This reminds me of rapper DMX’s ‘Intervention’ where he recalled that when he ran the streets and it was getting dark, the mothers of his friends would ‘whup their behindd’art, pull their ears for being out that late. There was no one who did the same for him, he says. Of course I am reluctant to put all the blame on his parents being a parent myself – I mean the guy is almost 50, take some responsibility for your life – but it’s easy to see how they can mess up a person’s life.

I will spank my children out of love.

It’s easy to get it so wrong though. Parents are human with their own worries, personalities and baggage. It’s easy to tip the scale from correcting a child to venting your frustrations. Before I had my son, I didn’t think twice about flogging or spanking a child. In fact, I will tell him something a few times and if he doesn’t listen, I’ll smack him. But then I read something a few months ago which made me feel like a monster. I believe the quote was something like ‘Children cannot fight back’. I wondered then, was I an abuser? I was flogged with a cane, slapped or spanked all my life as a means of discipline and correction but it wasn’t the nicest thing. Do I really want to do the same to my child? It especially hurt when I called my parents out on something they were doing which they’d told us not to. In those scenarios, spanking was supposed to discourage questioning or challenge to authority. I don’t think it was fair  but….that was society. You didn’t question elders. However, do I want to raise a child who is afraid to question, who – given his parents – is likely to grow up questioning EVERYTHING?

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Thank you to everyone who helped me when I asked for comments on adoption in Igboland. The latest issue of BBC Focus on Africa Magazine is out now and you can find my article on page 24. For details of how to subscribe to this magazine (including back issues) click here. I cannot tell you how much I miss working with these dedicated people, bring us entertainment, information and good news from the African continent. Please subscribe. And you can follow the editor Nick Ericsson on twitter (@nickericsson).

That’s all for now. It’s back to work for me.