Children's stories, Personal experience, Travel, Tribute, Uncategorized

The Pieces of Wakini I Picked

It is strange to build a strong bond and friendship with someone you haven’t met physically. Wakini was such a magnet. She attracted me. She was lively and witty on our Writers Space Africa group. We had a few exchanges and we inevitably starting private communication. Then we extended the friendship and communication across social media channels. Our chats were very lively and fun. We talked about our art, culture and work. She could make fun out of every situation.

Anthony Onugba gave a challenge for people to pair and write a children’s story. Wakini was first on my mind. She was excited and we teamed up with Nahida Esmail. The legend of “Ekpu The Brave Rat” was born.

She was quick in swinging into action. I can’t remember the time frame, but she got us the first draft in less than a week. That became our adrenaline shot. Nahida and I took turns in fleshing up the work. We were like three sculptors working on a masterpiece. Each with different tools carving, filling and smoothing out the piece. When we wanned in energy, Wakini was our caffeine boost.

It was like we were in a residency room. The energy and fun was contagious. I didn’t think much of the work at the beginning. It was just one of those Writing assignments the PenBoss put us up to. However Wakini was a spear pointed at my back. I remember when we talked about how the story would end. We had arrived at a creativity cul de sac. Wakini gave me an opening. “Have you read the story to the kids in your class?” She texted one morning. Walla! That was it!

I had a class reading and the feedback illuminated our path. The conclusion was there at last. She reworked the draft and edited. Then Nahida put the glossing on the sculpture. We were good to go. The African Writers Conference was coming up in September 2019. That was a good place to present our jewel to the world. Nahida had been kind enough to arrange for the beautiful illustrations to compliment our story. We had it all laid out. Wakini was excited. We all looked forward to a new book for African children.

There were times when she stalled in getting back to me on messages. I was sometimes frustrated and felt heartbroken. She could sense it. She opened up to me on her health condition. She told me of the pains she endured while typing. Guilt struck my heart. I prayed for her. Then she told me the good news. Her doctors had discovered a new therapy for rhumathoid athritis. She was in high spirits.

“Don’t worry when you come to Kenya, I have a place for you to stay.” She couldn’t wait for AWC to come. We made plans of things to do and places to see. I longed for Kenya. I longed to see Wakini. When she couldn’t make it to Abuja for the the first African Writers Conference, I was pained. I kept her updated on the proceedings. She posted on Social media like we were together in Abuja. She felt bad missing out. I sent consolation gifts to her. She said, the best gift she would get was meeting me in Kenya. I was ready to make the gift available.

She put in her body and soul to the planning of the African Writers Conference in Kenya. She ensured that her dad would pick us up from the airport. Her enthusiasm was contagious on the planning committee group. It was going to be one big reunion in Nairobi.

I never saw it coming, like rainstorms in harmattan. I saw Nahida’s message on our book project group: “Wakini Why?” Something in that line. I thought Wakini had done something wrong. I tried to meditate. The bombshell was dropped on me. I won’t be seeing Wakini in Kenya. I didn’t have a good day in class that day. Even the kids noticed. It was like a piece of me was gone.

Wakini was a trained journalist. She graduated from St Paul’s University in 2016 hoping to throw her hat into the ring of journalism, her lifetime passion. Arthritis backpedalled her desire to some extent but her legacy lives on. She is alive in her words and our memories. In her honour the African Writers Development Trust has instituted the “Wakini Award for African Literature” which recognises the best writer in Children’s Literature in Africa.

Wakini lives on.

Wakini Lives On
Wakini Lives On
Personal experience, Uncategorized

IMA Seke Di

In a bid to develop my writting in my native tongue, I wrote a poem in Ibibio language.
It was really difficult getting poetic devices into a language I don’t have a strong grasp of. FYI I write it better than I speak it.

Ima Seke diIMG-20191021-WA0033«

Idem nyin ete nte idung Iba
Emi e wanna nwana
Ndian idem nyin eyem
Yak Inyang mmi asangha ke isong afo
Yak ntan isong mfo a were ke ibene mmi

Mbubre eyo amadi
Ntanta-offiong Aya yama ke idem iba
Nyin e were ke oyong mmong ntan
E Wong ikang aworode ke esin
Ubak usen e Mana e tongho uwana

Our bodies are like two lands
Fighting each other
Amalgamation is what we need
Let my Rivers flow over your land
Let your soil roll over my walls

When night falls
The stars shines on two bodies
As we roll on watery sand
And drink fire coming from our loins
In the morning we fight again


Ms Joana’s Rules Flip the Script

Ms Joana’s Rules

In this children’s book Maryam Awaisu addresses issues of contemporary family life in Nigeria.Marwan’s teacher, Ms Joana breaks convention by giving homework to his parents. This makes the parents more involved in the psycho-social development of their children. The homework addresses sex education. Maryam makes a brave move considering the attitude of highly religious Nigerians to sex education. Marwan and his parents discuss their private body parts freely with their parents. The myth of body secrets is broken. It is interesting how Marwan and his sister are taught to call their private parts by their proper names by their parents.In summary the book points a bright light on what a healthy family life should be. Maryam Awaisu has written a story ahead of her times, no wonder it was shortlisted for the African Writers Awards in 2018. The open conversation between parents and children without guilt tripping, the dad putting on apron and going to the kitchen were delightful to read. One conversation that struck a chord with me was the one that ends with Marwan telling his mom: “it’s not good to be shouting at me.” Many Nigerians will frown as this because they feel shouting makes you to be taken more seriously. This, however, is a big fallacy. You don’t need to shout or be abusive to make your point clear. Ms Joana’s Rules is a fantastic, futuristic family book.

Writer’s Bio

Namse is an underemployed scholar trying to make it big. He is the author of Fundamental Etiquette for Young Nigerians and Silly Sally an Ebook for children. He hopes to hammer soon, so he can make books available for children in underserved public schools and rural communities. He is the curator of Tanar Kaduna Bookathon.

You can support The Bookathon project be donating here

Acc Name: Namse Peter Udosen

Number: 0140306797 GTB


Speculations Galore As Hadiza Seeks Female Emir of Zazau

Speculations Galore: Hadiza Seeks Another Amina in Zauzau As Nasiru Consults European Historians By Namse Udosen

The Emir of Zaria HRH Shehu Idris passed on September 21, 2020. This threw the Emirate and Kaduna state into mourning. The vacant throne has thrown up lots of speculation about who will fill it. Shehu Idris, who had been emir since 1975, died at the age of 84. Idris was the longest reigning monarch in the history of the Zazzau emirate, having reigned for 45 years from 1975 to 2020.

As usual in issues such as this, the speculators have brought out their bags of prospective successors. In pre-colonial times the council of Kingmakers was burdened with the task of selecting a successor to the throne. The Zaria Emirate consists of four ruling houses with a unique composition. The four houses are not related by blood. These days, the weight lies on the shoulders of the Executive Governor of Kaduna state.

Now comes the drama! After burial rites had been concluded, Kaduna Governor Mallam Nasiru Elrufai announced a three day mourning period which was observed state wide or maybe not. Okay, that’s not the drama. On his social media handles, Elrufai affirmed that the final decision lies with him. To make his job easier he is consulting some historical materials written by European scholars. Neat isn’t it? An intellectual approach is always nice. However many scholars in Ahmadu Bello University and Bayero University would posit that there are relevant materials by Nigerian scholars on the issue. I guess we cannot trust these local eggheads on very sensitive issues such as this. This notwithstanding, the speculations still continue. Sahara Reporters seem to have eyes in the mind of the governor as they reported that ” the kingmakers have picked Iyan Zazzau, Bashir Aminu, as successor to the late Emir, Shehu Idris.”

Other online speculators have taken it a step further with brazen details with even score cards. Alhaji Bashir Aminu, Iyan Zazzau scored 89 marks; Alhaji Muhammed Munnir Jafaru, Yariman Zazzau, who was said to have scored 87 marks; and Alhaji Aminu Shehu Idris, the Turakin Karamin Zazzau, is said to have scored scored 53 marks. I wonder who set the exams and who was the invigilator? I will need to see the marking scheme. An interesting speculation is that el-Rufa’i’s ally, Ambassador Ahmad Nuhu Bammali, the Magajin Garin Zazzau, did not make the list. Maybe he came late for the exams. Or maybe he has not been paying his Emirates dues. Could it be that he wrote and scored below 30%.

Hadiza Elrufai, wife of the governor and women’s rights advocate was not left out as she threw a banger into the ring of speculation. Hers pushed the boundaries of speculation into advocacy. She suggested, The governor should consider a woman to sit as Queen of Zaria like Amina of old. Queen Amina ruled Zaria from 1576-1610 and na she be di most popular among pipo wey rule Zazzau Emirates. Even BBC carried that (the pidgin part). Hadiza’s tweet has also become fuel for debate between conservatives and liberals especially on Arewa Twitter. Feminists and anti feminists have used it as an inspiration for mudslinging and abuse. In fact all sorts of human beings and maybe robots have jumped on it.


Another speculation is that Mallam Elrufai fancies an underdog for the throne. This has sparked an amazing conspiracy theory in my mind. I have gone into my inner chambers and have solved the puzzle of speculations.

Do we remember Maryam Babangida? Do we remember the creation of Delta state from the old Bendel state? Did anyone believe that Asaba would be made capital of Delta state? The speculation mill suggested that five towns were nominated, namely: Warri, Sapele, Ughelli, Abraka and Kwale. There was no nomination from the Anioma town of Asaba. They were minorities. Sapele was the favourite to clinch it. Warri and Ughelli were also top on the cards. Enter the wife of the head of the Armed Forces Ruling Council, Maryam Babangida. If Twitter had existed then, she would have twitted “Asaba for Delta State Capital!” She didn’t . But she whispered it into IBB’s ears during oza room time. The rest is history. Pardon the cliché. Never underestimate the power of za oza room. Hadiza Elrufai may be the one to smile at the end of the speculation war. We keep our fingers crossed.


The Poet is A Vagabond

This poem is the winning entry for my poetry challenge. Poets are like the philosophers of old, often maligned by society.

John masterfully catches the theme in his words. He paints his verses with beautiful imagery and analogy. The flow is sweet and the mood is reflective. Enjoy it

“The Poet is a Vagabond”

Who is a poet? 

Did you say a prophet or something? 

No, I asked who a poet was; 

Do you know? 

I guess I do.

Go ahead and tell me then

Alright, I’ll be glad to do so

A poet is a prophet 

He wanders like John the Baptist,

Eating words and wild thoughts 

that appear on many pages 

of what attempts to contain them.

He has no home to call his own

and even when he does,

the spot where he is laid will be borrowed.

The world doesn’t entertain his prophecies

And so, they destroy him even before he speaks

A poet is like a lamb

On the altars of injustice he is sacrificed 

He dies as a saviour for a course;

His words appear as crimson 

On the pages he leaves behind

The stage where he has played his part,

he leaves for another to take and play on.

The poet is restless

At birth, the words in his insides

begin to torment him like an evil spirit 

He yearns for the yearning streams 

just to stop the words from which he bleeds 

A sharp sword to his trembling fingers 

This fire burns him more than brimstone 

He finds a way to quench it and can’t

He gives up the fight; 

He knows he can’t continue to fight it

He reaches for his ink and his tablet;

on it he writes these words:

‘I am a vagabond!’

Ojonugwa John Attah is the Prose Editor at African Crayons. He writes poetry and short stories and also teaches English and Literature. 

He has been published on a number of journals and online platforms including: The Muse (Nsukka), Babishai Niwe Poetry Competition, Kikwetu Journal, African Crayons, Tush Stories and Best New African Poets anthology etc. He has won a few awards for his works and for his behaviour too. 

He currently partners with people on educational projects and also writes as a freelancer. He can be reached via Twitter @OJohnAttah and John Attah on LinkedIn. 


The Lost Art of Nok

Any chance I got, I would visit Baba’s workshop. It wasn’t really a workshop, more like a shack but I loved it all the same. I love watching him mould clay into beautiful and elegant forms. He was an old man with little or no company most of the time, so he didn’t mind.

But when I snuck out to his store this morning, I saw one sculpture that stood out and cringed, I looked to Baba who smiled at me, wondering how a seasoned artisan could shoot and miss or mess this one up horribly.

It was the ugliest of all his creations and I was sure no one would look at it let alone buy it. So I asked.

“Baba is your hand injured? Why did you make something like this?” I picked it up from the shelf. Baba smiled as he watched my sour expression.

“That’s your history in your hands, 500 years before Christ, a culture that made works like that, existed”

“This?? Where are they now?” I asked wondering why I hadn’t seen more of this.

“No one knows, this relic is all we have left of them” Baba said, sighing and taking the sculpture from my hand.

“What was their name?” I looked at him frowning, hadn’t I heard of this before? My parents never told me anything about this.

“They are the Nok, a part of our heritage and you must never forget that” Baba said sternly and I nodded as I sat down and watched him work.

This was done in Collaboration with Tamar Bookathon, an organization with a mission to give the privilege of reading to every Child in Nigeria. To read more on the Nok culture, the net has a ton of information on them, so enjoy!😁😁

Tanar Bookathon is a project aimed at creating culturally friendly books for children as a means to boosting literacy among poor communities.

Read more:

Story and Artwork by Paula Ukwenya


World Literacy Foundation Ambassadors 2020

The WLF Ambassador Program aims to bring together individuals from all over the world to be a local voice and fundraise for literacy in their schools, universities, communities or social groups.

Throughout the 4-month program, Ambassadors will be trained to develop their leadership and advocacy skills. Participants will also learn about literacy as a human right and support our literacy project in Colombia.

2023 ambassadors have been selected from across the globe including Nigeria’s Namse Udosen.

Meet all the WLF ambassadors here

Message from the Founder

In 2018-2019, Literacy deeply and persistently impacted millions across the globe to access further education, economic development, and life outcomes.

When a person struggles with reading, social impact is profound. A person who is unable to read may have low self-esteem or feel emotions such as shame, fear, and powerlessness. Students who struggle with literacy feel ostracized from academia, avoid situations where they may be discovered or find themselves unable to fully participate in society or government.

As l reflect on our programs, our achievements and outcomes in 2018-2019,  I acknowledge so much more needs to be done! I wanted to thank you to the board, staff, volunteers, ambassadors, supporters, and funders for their amazing contribution over the past 12 months.

We are here as a community of people to serve the illiterate and those who struggle to write a sentence. Today’s Readers will be tomorrow’s leaders and it can happen with one book at a time with one child at a time.

Thank you for your support in 2018-2019

Andrew G. Kay


Tanar Kaduna Bookathon Media Briefing

Tanar Kaduna Bookathon
Media Briefing
Tanar Kaduna Bookathon is a project with the aim of gathering creative volunteers to create new story books for children. The project was scheduled to hold on the 4th of April 2020 at the Creativity Court, Yasmin El -rufai Foundation, Kaduna.
COVID 19 struck! The physical component of the Bookathon had to be put off.
We have decided on an online version of the Bookathon. The creatives have undergone extensive online classes on different aspects of writing and children’s literature production. We are privileged to have Nahida Esmail, a seasoned children’s story teller from Tanzania and Fiske Nyinrongo from Zambia, a Bookdash South Africa participant lecture participants on stages of children’s book development. Paula Ukwenya, a digital illustrator from Abuja and Christina Lwendo from Tanzania gave classes on drawing and illustration. Anthony Onugba the founder of Writers Space Africa and Chief Executive Director of African Writers Development Trust had a fire chat with the participants on elements of creative writing. It was a fantastic learning experience for the team.
At the end of the classes the team agreed to hold the remaining part of this year’s Bookathon online. The first task was to translate two books from Book Dash into Hausa. We are also trying to make more children’s literature in local languages available.
Abdulazeez Hassan and Husayn Zaguru translated “The New Road” by Fiske Nyinrongo, Nicodemus Silingo and Murray Hunter into Hausa. Blessing Tarfa, Umar Farouk and Aliyu Tanimu translated “Foxy Joxy Plays a Trick” by Nahida Esmail, Mdu Ntuli and Samantha Rice into Hausa.
Our goal is to create five new books, so three more teams have been formed to create three more books. They are;
Team One
Moderator: Baboshiya Asake
Husayn Zaguru
Abdulazeez Hassan
Rejoice Tanko
Team Two
Moderator: Richard Dambo
Aliyu Tanimu
Tobais Tauna
Umar Farouk
Team Three
Moderator: Peter Eze Ifeanyichukwu
Illiya Kambai Dennis
Tommy Tukson
Blessing Tarfa
Ibrahim Musa
We look forward to great new stories for children from these teams.
Richard Dambo,
Public Relations Officer
Tanar Kaduna Bookathon.


Silly Sally Ebook ( Hausa Version)

Silly Sally Cover

The Hause version of Silly Sally was translated by Bilkisu Yusuf.

Bilkisu Yusuf attends Kaduna capital school and is in her final year. She enjoys reading and writing. She wrote her first book when she was in primary 5. She believes that reading and writing can not only enhance and brighten the minds of the Young ones but can also change the world positively ’cause there’s a peace and joy that only books can bring.