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From Our Writers

Swapping Prison Sentences for Books? Italy's Prisons Pilot New Scheme

By ZODML on Thu, 15/05/2014 - 20:30

[caption id="attachment_3148" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Looking over the shoulder at ZODML's Prison Knowledge Centre, swapping prison sentences for books in Italy Looking over a shoulder at ZODML's Prison Knowledge Centre[/caption]

Prisoners in Italy's Calabria region may soon be rewarded with shortened sentences by being diligent readers. The UK newspaper The Independent reports that the region's council recently approved a bill which reduces an immate's sentence by 3 days for every book they complete, with a cap of 16 books per year applicable to the sentence reduction.

Airports, Cuba and Books: An Interview with Kaine Agary

By morayooshodi on Wed, 06/11/2013 - 20:05

Kaine Agary at the ZODML Community Library
After her SSRP session with students from Government Senior College Maroko and Ilado Community Senior Secondary School at the ZODML Community Library, Kaine Agary spoke to us about her early life, her favourite books, and the Nigerian general she would like to have dinner with.

During the SSRP session you said that you were sent to Nigeria at 10 months old to stay with your grandma. How did that come about?

I was born in America − my mum was doing her doctorate at the time. My parents were both very busy; it was so bad that I was taken to daycare at nine weeks old. When my grandmother heard this, she asked that I be brought to Nigeria.  So I was parcelled off to Nigeria by my dad, and all my relatives came to the airport all dressed up to welcome me.

Tribal Marks: Cultural Treasure or Barbaric Practice?

By morayooshodi on Wed, 23/10/2013 - 20:55

Nigeria tribal marks
Tribal marks are an age-long art common to the Western part of Nigeria. The Egba, Nupe, Ilaje and other Yoruba tribes commonly use these marks and designs as a form of identification, beautification and protection. There are two different types of marks: ila (the well-known facial scars) and ona (also known as “local tattoos”). Both are created using a sharp instrument such as razor blades, knives or glass. Flesh is cut from the skin to create a gash, which later heals and leaves a permanent pattern on the body. Snails (known as Igbin in Yoruba), a popular delicacy in Nigeria, are very important to tribal mark artisans, as the liquid they secrete is used to soothe the pain caused by the instrument used to make the incisions. The unique colour of the ona comes from various pigments such as charcoal.

Let the Games Begin! - Ram Fighting and Sallah

By morayooshodi on Tue, 15/10/2013 - 18:30

Ram Fighting - Eid al-Kabir - Nigeria

Every year, Muslim families across Nigeria celebrate Eid el-Kabir. An age-long festival which has its roots in the Koranic story of Prophet Ibrahim, it marks the kindness of Allah to mankind. During the festivities, Muslims distribute food and drink to their neighbours, with roasted ram meat as the big attraction. But in this part of the world, rams are for more than eating. No Sallah – especially not in Lagos State – is complete without a ram wrestling competition. That’s right: rams duking it out WWF-style to the cheers of excited crowds. Youths in every community drag their biggest, wildest ram to neighbours’ compounds, boasting about their animals’ toughness, and challenging everyone in sight, before roasting them for eating.

The Tale of a 'Kopa' (Part VI): The Agricultural Kopa by Morayo Oshodi

By ZODML on Mon, 16/09/2013 - 21:51

[caption id="attachment_1936" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Agricultural Kopa at work Watch where you swing that cutlass![/caption]

The average Nigerian knows how to tell a "local breed" chicken from an agricultural one. This same distinction can be applied to individuals.

I have always been indifferent about the lives of the plants and animals in my environment; all I cared about was their consumption, especially during celebrations like Christmas, Eid el-Kabir, birthdays, and weddings. During my NYSC year, however, I came to realise that plants and animals are more than just tasty meals: their lives aren’t too different to ours. The average ‘Kopa’ runs as far away from a rural assignment as possible, but as I had been posted to a village where farming was important, I decided to get to grips with this new environment.

Eko Wengele - A Poem by Dave Agboola

By ZODML on Wed, 31/07/2013 - 18:33

Obalende, Lagos captured by OrionPixels Photography

Don’t tell me about Lagos,

Because I’ve already lived here and know its root.

No, not about its “when you wake, wake me up” kind of life:

When you are out of your barricaded house before the first crow,

All to come back in the middle of the night;

While your loved ones in other parts of the country,

Are busy junketing in the dream land.

Elaborate Greetings and Our Heritage by Morayo Oshodi

By ZODML on Tue, 23/07/2013 - 20:35

[caption id="attachment_1503" align="alignleft" width="279"]Young Yoruba man greeting elder Eku ise baba![/caption]

Greeting is a two-way communication process that plays an important role in every society. I am certain that the most interesting forms of greetings are found in Africa, as our people love to accompany their greetings with prostrations, gesticulations and more (remember the elaborate greeting routine in the slapstick comedy Mr Bones, in which Leon Schuster and his friends slap each other hard on the cheeks and touch noses?).

In Nigeria, there are several forms of interesting greetings common to the Igbos, Yorubas, Hausas, Edo, Urhobos, Itshekiris, Barubas and other ethnic groups. Nigerians generally frown at informal greetings and it is expected that a younger person greet an elderly person with enthusiasm as an indication of respect. 

The Tale of a 'Kopa' (Part V): Dealing with the Negotiator by Morayo Oshodi

By ZODML on Fri, 05/07/2013 - 00:15

 Entrepreneurial orper at work

Most Kopas – both male and female – who served in rural areas are completely rugged and active as during the service year they were always on the run looking for ways to make ends meet. Whether teaching extra hours in schools or at people’s houses, working at computer centres, or selling various items in a bid to survive the hardship in the country, their entrepreneurial spirit is strong. This was the case with Kopa Deola and me: as corps members in the Baruten LGA of Kwara State, we were highly recognised in the community for the commodities we sold.

Award-Winning Books: Changing the Perspective - by Dave Agboola

By ZODML on Tue, 25/06/2013 - 22:46

Are book prizes worth the fuss?“Some people won’t buy your book unless they see that winner thing on the cover. I am not sure if it is all good – but that is the way the industry works.”

This statement was made by award-winning author Helon Habila in an interview with African Writing Online. His comment speaks to the anxiety of many readers who want know if a book has won an award before reading it as - presumably - the more decorated the author, the better the book.

Since reading his comment, I have been wondering about the great books we miss and the writers we neglect (not to mention the knowledge we miss out on) because such work has not received “official” recognition.

Aside from the money made from publishing books or the need to tell stories, one major reason why many people are drawn to writing as a career is the desire to be famous. And being famous these days seems to stem from the number of awards accrued during your career, rather than the quality and timelessness of your work.

The Tale of a 'Kopa' (Part IV): Zero Movement by Morayo Oshodi

By ZODML on Mon, 10/06/2013 - 22:25

[caption id="attachment_1170" align="aligncenter" width="300"]NYSC, corper, otondo, kopa, nigeria First-class seat for the first-class otondo[/caption]

“No corps member is allowed to travel. You are all expected to remain in your Places of Primary Assignment (PPA). If you are caught then you will be reprimanded. You will either be given an extension of your service year, or on the day of your passing out your certificate would be withheld.

Those were the threatening words our Zonal and Local Inspectors gave us. But nobody wanted to remain in their PPAs for a whole year, as it would be rather boring.


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