8 finalists 1 winner
FIREBURST! Fiercer than any combat ever seen.
Read the stories that have kept your favourite writer in so far.
Finals comes up Next Week.
Lately, there’s a cradling inside of you, you can’t explain, it makes you swoon, leaving you hallowed out, ailing and bristling with rage. Your eyes lost the glow they long ago possessed. You sighed a lot, hissed often, smiled bitterly too many times, all at no one in particular.It is an uncomfortable anger that cannot be expressed in the way anger is expressed. There is no one to shout at. No one to blame. you only sigh. Gnash your teeth. Cry.
“Do we strut this earth just to end in pains?”
You update your WhatsApp status, you do that often, churning out flowery sentences, in a bit to unburden your over ladened mind. But your viewers only loves the uncanny beauty of your phrases and sentences and the bizarreness of their semantics— because to them, you’re a poet.
“Wole Soyinka, you write well”
they would flatter.
And you would respond with thumbs up emojis just to end their trivial conversation. Again you sigh. Gnash your teeth. Cry.
“You and this girl, she’s gradually turning you into a philosopher oo”.
Your sister taunts in response.
You want to explain, but you feel a certain languor in your fingers to type, a certain slowness in your head. It is a sensation you have begun to feel too often, alongside a deep sadness, when a discussion, about her, about Maria pops up the radar. This time, you sigh. Gnash your teeth. You don’t cry.
Here’s Maria for the context:
Well defined features, Abrasive demeanor, brighteyed, caramel skin glowing effortlessly. Fleshy assets protruding in the right places like a model from a magazine. Hair hanging down rather than standing up, straight and sleek, parted at the
side and curving to a slight bob at her chin.
You met her first in the club on one of those windswept Fridays, music blared, a cacophony mingling with the growing chatters of raving youths swaying their bodies. It’s the way her nose ring, a tiny-glass like thing glittered under the florescent flickering lights in the club that made you noticed her. You stalked her, and soon found out her unending love for ripped jeans, for Tatiana’s ‘like you’, which she posted on Facebook as her favorite song of the year.
Sometimes at night, when insomnia crawls out of its insidious cubicles to shroud you with a gnawing haze of nothingness, you visualize her, her glossy hair, her thick lips, and you marvel at all the things you would do to her body.
Then just last week, in school, you saw her pictures pasted round every auditorium, her usual smiles blurred by a splatter of inks from printing gone wrong, and beneath the pictures in red spidery penmanship is: With deep regrets we announce the passing away of a dear friend, daughter, sister and colleague Ms. Maria Peters who died after injuries sustained in a motor accident. May her soul rest in perfect peace.
Raphael Francis is a freelance writer and a lover of literature. He writes because He can, because He must because it’s the only thing that brings him Joy after Ronaldo. When He’s not writing, He watches Ronaldo and marvels at how a human can suspend with so much dexterity in the air. He’s a graduate of English and literary studies from the University of uyo.
2. THIS IS NIGERIA
Bizarre is the new normal.
Weird and awful happenings are seen as usual in the country. Thieves in power, described as people of integrity, the police station is the new law court and the press is filled with news of political hysteria.
For the people of Karmai; a town located in the southern fringes of Kaduna, another surreal event is just about to take place.
It is a dry harmattan period for the herdsmen. Drier than they had ever experienced. The cattle are too weak to move to the rain-forest region of the country, so they have to settle for grass in the savannah.
They know that the grass in the savannah region are food or cash crops; rice, millet and sorghum mainly are the locals’ source of living.
Jamila is just returning from Alhaja’s antique dress making shop. Full of relief that the peering and examinations from Alhaja is finished. She could not wait to leave the stuffy shop but now she isn’t so sure she wouldn’t have wanted to wait.
Blood curdling and spine chilling screams fill the air. With a few shaky steps closer, she realizes that some cattle are in their farm. The cattle graze hungrily on Papa’s millet, the one that made him go the city to register for the town’s irrigation because of the dry season.
All these were gone with each bite of the hungry cattle, the farmland now lies bare with Papa and Lekan’s bloodied bodies on the ground, an evidence of their struggle with the herdsmen.
Jamila is utterly frightened and to scared to speak. She watches as they pour petrol on the farmland and the houses surrounding it. One of the men looks towards her making her flinch but he just smiles.
She begs him in Hausa not to light the match but he turns away. He torches the farmland, the fire spreads quickly so she has to run away. The thought of Papa and Lekan’s burning flesh makes her cringe but there is nothing she can do.
Jamila did realise something; she has been forced to leave her own home, internal displacement they called it.
And now the list of bizarre happenings just became one event longer, the Fulani herdsmen saved a lot just to buy petrol to cause a wildfire in their clan. They took Papa’s farm forcefully and killed him too.
This is her country, the one she still struggles to understand.
Random, spontaneous, Wide imaginations, literary fiction writer, programmer.
Well, I’d say I’m a driver, more of an achiever; with lots of dreams though, a little bit of a weirdo and an introvert
I’m the best thing that ever happened to me🧡
..and everyone else too.
3. BEYOND BONDAGE
I stood behind the big palm tree in our compound as I listened to the conversation between my uncle and a British man that was dressed as a soldier. My uncle’s wife stood beside him, she looked distressed. “Tamunonengiyeoforiye” my uncle called me. “Yes father, welcome Sir” I greeted the British man that didn’t respond, he wore a stern look. I just noticed my uncle wore a similar one. “This is Colonel Williams, your master, you will serve him” my uncle said, averting his eyes from mine. “But father, why should I serve him?” I blurted out.
My late father’s brother took me in after the death of my father as my mother passed on two years earlier. He was a fisherman that never complained about running the house, why sell me? I was brought out of my trance as three well built men dragged seven people bound by chains on their necks inside our compound. “Nangi, let’s go” ColonelWilliams spoke for the first time. “It’s Nengi and I go anywhere” I said, suppressing the tears forming in my eyes.
One of the men walked towards me with a whip. “Tamuno pasisi berenima” I said softly. “I despise rebellious slaves, now move!” the man ordered. I flinched. “I told you it was a bad idea, Iyo pasisi don’t let them take her” my aunt knelt beside him, sobbing. “Erembo iweriso, we need this”. His response ignited my anger, I was already a slave so I was not scared of speaking “you need this?” I asked no one in particular as the man pushed me towards the people crying to be freed. “You sold me for a few silverwares, is that how cheap I am? You promised to love me, is this it? I poured out my anger. “My child this is..” I did not let him finish his statement as I retorted “ I am not you child that’s why you sold me”.
Will I become a worker? Will I be used for sacrifice? Will I be a sex slave? What will become of me?
I am an Okrika woman!
I am an Ijaw woman!
I will fight for my freedom!
Ibinabo Benedicta Coxson is a student at Rivers State University, where Ibinabo studies Medical Laboratory Science, she is a 400Level Student.
Ibinabo took interest in writing two years ago, as she has worked and researched with other writers within the years. She is an advocate for the girl child and has taken an active part in symposiums, workshops, with reputable organizations. She is also an advocate for mental health and stability
Ibinabo is a friendly person, she loves swimming.
4. ‘This Is Nigeria’
‘Are you ready for your big trip?’
Angel Gabriel asked me the umpteenth time. This would be my first trip to the physical world and I had been given the opportunity to choose where I’d love to make home.
‘Ah, Spirit Dangote, don’t think of choosing Nigeria o! Every thing bad that you could ever think of in a country, Nigeria has in double dosage!
The country is extremely poor
No good medical facilities
Corruption has a major headquarters there
Ninety percent of its citizen are criminals
Their leaders are Looters, killers, and stealers
They are a religious lot with no connections with the Father
I repeat, spirit Dangote, Nigeria is not an option!’
What spirit Falz did not know was that the more he tried to paint Nigeria in a bad light, the more I felt that would be my new home.
What I saw in all of the above were possibilities! A country that bad needed an optimistic spirit like me.
Nigeria it is!
I just could be anything and everything possible!
Angel Gabriel was happy when I told him of my decision. Other spirit’s had stylishly rejected Nigeria and yet, a lot of pleas were reaching the Father- Nigerian mothers looking for the fruit of the womb daily flooded the Father’s time line with ‘pregnancy prayer requests’. Only if these earthly beings could see that it wasn’t that the Father did not want to answer!
On the day of my departure, Angel Gabriel brought me a gift pack and said to me:
‘This is your manual. Nigeria is not an easy country but it’s a land of opportunities. You can be anything in Nigeria as long as you set your mind to it. May the force be with you.’
In a split second, I heard noises. I was in a room and it was dark. A woman in a dirty blue gown was holding a hand fan. The room was crowded, as well as smelly. I looked into the eyes of the woman carrying me and I saw past her face, I saw the spirit of poverty laughing at me.
‘Eku oriire’, someone in the room chanted happily.
I knew I was in trouble, my parents were poor!
I started crying…
The spirit of poverty looked at me and laughed hysterically-
‘This is Nigeria’
Mercy Oluwafemi Adeniyi is a Writer, Legal Practitioner and Co-Author of ‘Sixteen Little Every Things – An Anthology’ (an e-book launched on the 1st of May 2019, curated by Tobi Salami)
Writing for her started in 2017 when she started active intentional reading. She could not contain what she had discovered reading and thus began her writing journey.
She is a fast learner, avid reader and open-minded, with a passion for women advocacy, family law, and Alternative Dispute Resolution.
Her writings focus on love stories, relationship principles, as well as parenting tips.
Her works have been published on various literary sites: Rayofthought.com, Temidayoriches.com, Numsmotionblogs.com amongst others.
Mercy Oluwafemi Adeniyi lives and works in Lagos.
5. The Rain of April Eight
As He was the boy who stood by the stands while the boys played football, smiling and leaping for joy when his classmate scored a goal. But I was a girl who knew him differently. To me he was the ganglyboy who held so much pain in his gentle smiles, and the one who could groan with his cheeks puffed and his eyes as gleeful as the bioluminescence of fireflies.
He was Alu. The boy who sat by my side through those tiring hours of academic labour. Him, aloof, waiting only for punchlines that will spread a quiver of reckless laughing—the hilarity of which he had courted and delivered with precision. Then he would recline and savour that moment, when we would all laugh and spill our notebooks, because Alu had the power to make someone giggle in a funeral. Even though Alu made us laugh together, he was a boy who cried alone.
I knew this because I was there. On a chilly first day of April. The rains had poured the night before, and then the whole school was on the brink of a Math exam. It was as if that morning was mourning—dark and wet. I was sitting on one of the slabs adjacent to the lawn tennis court, humming and hawing; trying so hard to make sense out of trigonometry, then I saw him. Alu. He was dragging himself, something in between limping and the caution of traversing a field full of broken bottles. It was the wrong place. No business would take a student to a room full of cement bags, nails and other scraps of building work. I followed him.
There was Alu sprawled on the floor. His writhing mass was covered in white dust and his deep moans hovered above the hollow space, rippling like echoes from something or somewhere unknown. I knelt beside him and clutched him, and while he cried in pain; the rhythm of his trembling body heaved me up and down like the motions of iambic poetry. That night I read about crises and sickle cell anemia, till the school lights went off, and till my eyes got swollen from reading words that said dreadful things about Alu.
On the eighth of April, two days after I had kissed Alu on the hallway that separated the kitchen from the girls’ hostel, and a day after I told him that I loved him, inside the Chemistry lab, my eyes starry and my heart beating… On that day the cloud was dewy-eyed and the rain poured endlessly. The principal gathered us with the school bell and announced to us that Alu tried his best but God knows the best.
Name: Mazi Chikelu Chino
Writer and Editor at ShopWrite Media Consult
I am Emmanuel Chioma. I am a writer, editor, content creator, speaker, and advertiser. I write fictional stories, motivational pieces, and other literary works. I am currently working on two books, The Web and Expensive Joke which will be released this month. I am an undergraduate at Nnamdi Azikiwe University studying Mass Communication.
Thunder cried out the distance. A swirling mass, picking up everything in its path drew near. Like some greedy child, it flaunted about and claimed everything as its own..
The whisk came down over my damp back and my body convoluted; my limbs trembling, my head excruciating as I fell to the hard, rocky ground. Blood and brine boiled on my open cuts, hurtful as it spread through my flesh. My vision was blurred and drops from my blood, never less I could still see his face, the frown, over me. He was my master and he held my worthless life in his rugged hand, which was a great pleasure to him.
The whisk broke over my bare black skin again and the pains increased. Why was I such a target of torture? Our whole race was being categorized, my natives under the power of coloured skins. Why was there such bigotry against skin? White skinned, black skin… are we not the same? Do we not live under same sky?
Although not I, an African slave. We are supposed to be different, lower and mediocre to the white race. Tell me, what do they do that is so great? What do they have that makes them so different?
My back was ripped open by the hand of a slave master and I would be flogged with deftness until my entrails were barely inside me, my bones screaming to tear through my calloused dark skin. He took great reveling as he ensues to punish me. Was my wanting to be free a crime? The life I had was so diminutive, yet it was ceaseless!
As my vision blackened and hearing faded away I prayed a last prayer for my people. I prayed to god to deliver us from evil and to take us to our Promised Land to which I knew He had made for us. My eyes closed and pictures of a happy world danced around my vision. People of different races, coming together in mutual friendship. No man greater than his neighbor, no man lesser than his brother. However, despite all of that, this nation was my home. I had been raised here and would spent the rest of my years growing and tending to the needs of the place, and as dark eyes swept it all in, I couldn’t help in thinking, “Why should I run?”
Sonia Ayisa Atsen
Career and skills acquired
Painter, poet and a creative writer
Career goals: I am a crowd of people who don’t always agree. I am a world, many stories, many pictures, many designs and programs and many lives inclined in one body. I am a constellation.
General life goals: I want to be great, a world changer and an inspiration to my society and the world at large. I want to speak in such a way that others will love to listen and I want to listen in such a way that others will love to speak to me.
8. What do we say to the god of death?
“The burial isn’t over, Sola, you shouldn’t leave here”
“Should their sympathy awake my dead son, I would stay. Of what use is the burial?” Sola replied her friend as she walked into the house. Mosun was the only neighbor who steps into her house. Others are scared the house is Hades itself.
A house that was once a place of merry now held her sorrow. Sola could still remember everything.
Tomi, her first daughter had run into the house twelve years ago with blood dripping from her mouth. She didn’t get to tell her how it happened before she died in her arms. Omar, her husband died on their 20th wedding anniversary. Incessant nightmares was the reason Tinu, her third child stabbed herself few days after Omar’s burial. How could she forget how cruelly death had dealt with her?
Sola thought all was in her favor when after ten years, Akin, her surviving son hadn’t died. She became hopeful he would live to take care of her when she’s aged.
However, ten years was too long for death to strike again. Akin died in his sleep a week after his graduation from college. He’d wrestled with one whom he called “the god of death.”
“Where is he, Akin? Let me deal with him. He’d caused me enough grief to break his writ”
“He’s here mum, he’ll kill me if you do not act fast.”
Akin was right. How would Sola act fast when she couldn’t see the one her son wrestled with. He died just like the others, right in her arms, she watched his soul depart.
Too grieved to cry, Sola covered her son’s body and left him in his room.
Neighbors had come to bury him because his stench wouldn’t give a rest.
“We are sorry for your loss Sola. We all thought Akin would succeed you; but what do we say to the god of death who has chosen to take the young leaving the old in grief…?”
Sola knew nothing else would be worth listening to. She left the burial, not paying attention to her friend who kept questioning her. Sola entered her room and swallowed what seemed like a thousand pill. She slumped into her bed. “The god would be unwise to leave me now.” Sola mumbled in pains.
My name is Adebisi Temidayo D. (Temmy_D), a fresh graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University, Microbiology (B.Sc).
I write short stories and poems.
My articles are on my Facebook page @ Adebisi Temidayo (Temmy_D)
I signed up an Instagram account recently and yet to upload any of my works.
Two of my stories include:
– Breaking away from addiction
My poems include:
– Black is not a scar
– Road to stardom
– The night you bade me bye
Some of which have been published online.
Writing to impact lives most especially the young ones is a thing I rise to do each blessed day.