THE CLEANSING by Taiwo Odesanya

THE CLEANSING by Taiwo Odesanya

man touching back of the head with hands

THE CLEANSING

by Taiwo Odesanya

Say, frustration is the seed mothering these 

Bullets the earth is puffing,

Say, it is the gun flooding this heat, 

These droughts, these storms, 

These insects, these wildfires, 

These diseases,

Say, humans have pushed the earth to the wall, 

Forcing her to taste her blood,

Say, humans have harvested earth’s tears like fruits,

And punctured it with inhuman activities,

Say, the earth warned and warned, 

But humans’ 

Inhumanity clothed their ears like a river over a land,

Now that frustration is pushing these bullets from earth’s hands, 

Many of them are trying to recede into shadows?  

Now that the earth is

Hatching climate change and her consequences as eggs, 

Some are hiding behind shields? 

Some are passing the burdens to others? 

Tell me this cross will rollover,

Tell me, 

Tell me the earth will cleanse this frustration and grow grace. 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Taiwo Oluseye Odesanya is a Nigerian Poet, Non-fiction writer, Blogger, and History enthusiast. He is a Computer Information Systems graduate from Middlesex University London with a deep passion for writing. Taiwo calls writing his first love and hopes to write something “groundbreaking” about remarkable events from the past because of his undying love for history.

FOR THE FIRST LOSS OF INNOCENCE by Adedamola Olabimpe

FOR THE FIRST LOSS OF INNOCENCE by Adedamola Olabimpe

Two young black lovers hugging

FOR THE FIRST LOSS OF INNOCENCE

by Adedamola Olabimpe

your first kiss was a crime scene.

stolen from you in the darkness of your

mother’s kitchen.

it slid down your throat & started

 

the spark that turned you into the wildfire of a human.

your first kiss stolen from you

in the darkness of your mother’s kitchen.

a loss.

a funeral with only your 14-year-old self

& a mute god in attendance.

you wore nothing.

 

your first kiss slid down your throat,

hot & ready to consume.

insides turning to ash. unfamiliar desires

travelling through your senses & finding home

in the space between your thighs.

 

your first kiss was not your first kiss

but your second.

this kiss was a sin & this man forgot what a

child was.

fanning out flames with his head buried

in between your chest.

you remember his smell & how it corrupted

everything.

tainted nights. coloured thoughts.

look at you, child. the antithesis of purity.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Olabimpe is a lover of white bread who almost always has their earphones in. They have works published in Ngiga Review, Sub-Saharan Magazine, Anti-Heroin Chic, Visual Verse and others. You can find them on Instagram @borednigeriangirl and on Twitter @lilbrowneyedfae. 

Winners of the 2021 Kreative Diadem Creative Writing Contest

Winners of the 2021 Kreative Diadem Creative Writing Contest

Winners of the 2021 Kreative Diadem Creative Writing Contest

Here is the highly anticipated list of the winners of the 2021 Kreative Diadem Creative Writing Contest. Now in its fifth year, the prize seeks to recognize the best literary works by Nigerian writers aged 21 years and below.

Our guest judges: Ernest Ogunyemi, selected three winners for the poetry category and Jerry Chiemeke picked the top three flash fiction entries.

Here are the winners with comments from the judges:

Poetry Category

Winner: “It is Hope That Keeps the Flame of Dreams Dancing” by Abdulmueed Balogun

There’s a decay in our consciousness—the individual and the national consciousness—a deep and flourishing decay, and there’s a rot in our conscience: this poem reaches and speaks to that decay, it addresses and peels itself away from that rot. Yahoo (also Yahoo Yahoo) is presently at the heart of Nigeria’s popular culture; consequently, the morally upright young person is frustrated at every turn by his peers. Abdulmueed writes:

[Dear God] Gaze upon me—a poet, 

a pilgrim and dust, with your merciful eyes, I do not want to brew my bliss like birds my

 

age who have murdered their conscience with knives of greed, from the core of what you 

ordained profane, I do not crave to oil my harmattan-bitten lips like my peers with my neighbors’

 

oil, while they go to bed with growling stomachs, with bleeding hearts.

This poetry is not marked by a sense of self-morality, however, but is rooted in a God-consciousness, a knowledge of His commandments for the living and how He has put parents in place as landmarks. And though deeply reminiscent of Khalil Gibran’s poetry (The Prophet), the long lines and the cadence of Abdulmueed’s voice kin the man’s, it is the young prophet Jeremiah, speaking of a nation rotten at the very heart, that I hear in a corner of my head when I read this  poem: “I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced; I sat alone because of thy hand: for thou hast filled me with indignation.”

This poem sings of hope, and it is itself a thing with feathers. It filled me up with joy; I am glad to have encountered it.

First Runner-up: “Elocutio” by Olaitan Junaid

This poem, about grief and friendship, with faith woven into its fabric, sustains its power despite its length, and no word feels out of place. Its careful lineation and a masterful use of // allow for a containment of the overwhelming emotions that want to burst the poem’s seams. This is why it is remarkable; it holds heart-tearing grief so tenderly.

It’s also wonderful how it moves beyond the self and engages other bodies, even a ghost body and the body of the earth: “but o, i keep screaming/ & screaming // subhanallah // when a termite bites // & now /// my tongue // is lost // to grief’s brutal dialect.” In this way, this poem reminds me of J. P. Clark’s succinct ‘Streamside Exchange.’

After reading this poem, it felt like I had taken a walk with the poet in a park, on a warm afternoon, and we’d held hands and he’d touched my face and opened to me a throbbing, bleeding room in his chest. That’s how intimate this poem feels.

Second Runner-up: “Euphemism” by Samuel A. Adeyemi

Samuel A. Adeyemi is one of the few young Nigerian poets whose sense of observation is acute, and who has a language to deliver what he sees in plain yet highly lyrical lines. 

Here is a surreal poem, bone quietly sharp. There’s a death-sharp tissue; by calling a wound a flower an ache could be tapered. Though dark and brutal, in language Adeyemi makes possible a softening of violence, which is just what an euphemism is. The poet thus employs a literary device as the internal driving force of the poem: ‘Euphemism’ itself is a long euphemistic song.

The poet’s deliberateness makes for a gentle and shocking—at the turn of the lines, which are broken with care—read. I am deeply humbled and honoured to be writing at the same time as this poet, and to be able to share this poem!

Honourable mentions:

“Overuse” by Chijindu Terrence James-Ibe

“Sunrise” by Chinedu Gospel

Flash Fiction Category

Winner: “A Matching Pair” by Agbai Emmaterry Chinonso

I like the earnestness with which it was delivered, as well as the buildup, use of active language, and the narrative voice. It’s a nicely-written story on paternity fraud, infidelity, trust and broken bonds. The final three paragraphs pack the punch.

First Runner-up: “And This is How They Become Beautiful” by Mhembeuter Jeremiah Orhemba

I see potential, and I see what the writer was trying to do by trying to render the narrative from the perspective of the child. It’s poignant, it sheds light on a germane topic, and I like that the end is a little bit open-ended: does the child die??

Second Runner-up: “One Dark Night” by Oloruntobi Ayomikun

“One Dark Night” could have been better written, but it’s not particularly disastrous prose. There is a decent use of dialogue, and the writer manages to build a little tension via the antics of the corrupt, trigger-happy policemen on duty. The prose paints a graphic picture of what it’s like to navigate Nigerian roads, and while there are not many fireworks, Ayomiku manages to tell a coherent story.

Honourable mentions:

“Her Baby” by Ndukwe Uchenna Raphael

Congratulations to the winners!

We are grateful to our guest judges — Ernest Ogunyemi and Jerry Chiemeke– and everyone who sent in their work. Thanks to all our sponsors for their generous donations.

Interviews with the contest winners will be published at a later date.

The maiden edition which held in 2017 was judged by Sueddie Vershima Agema (Flash Fiction) and Okwudili Nebeolisa (Poetry).

 

Isolation

Our third issue ever, "Isolation" is out. We had thought-provoking conversations with Alexis Teyie and Tobi Nifesi. It's a collection of works from some of the finest minds out there -- poetry, short stories, interviews, and creative essays.

Do you love our published works?

You can add your literary work to an endless list of poems, short stories, flash fiction, and essays.

ONE DARK NIGHT by Oloruntobi Ayomikun

ONE DARK NIGHT by Oloruntobi Ayomikun

person holding airsoft gun in shallow focus lens

ONE DARK NIGHT

by Oloruntobi Ayomikun

Second Runner-up of the 2021 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Flash Fiction Category)

“Stop dia!” 

The Policeman shouts as he shines his large flashlight at our oncoming vehicle. The bus driver nearly loses his hand on the wheel as he brings the bus to a screeching halt. 

My heart skips a beat and I hear a few others next to me gasp in fear. The woman beside me has a baby on her lap and she cries softly for her father in heaven. I can’t make out the face of the policeman because the night is pitch black and there are no streetlights. He advances towards the driver’s window. He flashes his torchlight at the driver and the light-beam shine throughout the bus. Now I see that he’s not alone, he has a partner with him. His partner is short and stocky with a pot belly but Mr. Flashlight is tall and thin. 

Perspiration breaks out of our driver’s forehead but he swallows silently and stays put.

“G-Good evening, Officer” he stutters and he squints because of the blinding light pointed at his face.

“Your papers!” Mr. Flashlight bellows. 

He has two tribal marks on each of his cheeks and his long rifle hangs across his shoulder. His partner doesn’t have a gun but a large metal baton that I consider to be as big as my mother’s twenty year old pestle.

Our bus driver opens his glove compartment and frantically searches for his papers. I hold my breath and swallow hard, the muslim on my right-hand side begins to pick at his tesbil. The bus is pin-drop silent and the hairs on my arms have begun to stand like soldiers in awe of their commander.

With trembling hands our bus driver hands him the papers, I know for sure that they are incomplete because which Lagos bus driver has his papers complete?

Mr. Flashlight drags the papers and peers through them for a second

“E don expire, come down! Everybody!” Mr. Flashlight bellows out in all one breath.

He brandishes his torch throughout the bus. I yelp and my heart starts thumping fast, as if a rock band is playing in it.  The baby of the woman next to me starts crying as the fat and short policeman slides the bus door open.

We start filing out, our bags in our hands and we arrange ourselves by the roadside like Mr. Flashlight has ordered us to. Our bus driver is out of the bus now and he’s pleading with the policeman, trying to give him owo eyin– bribe. 

“Search them!” Mr. Flashlight orders his partner. 

It’s obvious he’s the oga now and Mr. Fat and Short begins searching us one after the other. It’s obvious that they want grease for their fat greedy pockets but nobody talks or even says anything. We are all mute like voiceless ghosts. I want to talk and shout and scream at them for being thieves in uniform, extorting innocent Nigerians that are struggling to keep their heads above water. But I’m trembling already from the thought that I will get shot, a bullet through my head and choke on my blood. So I keep shut. Nothing will be done anyways, my family would just cry. 

Mr. Fat and Short continues to search us and our bus driver continues to beg and negotiate with Mr. Flashlight.

“Hundred thousand!” I overhear Mr. Flashlight say in his thick Yoruba accent, and lift his hands in the air as if to indicate that that was final. 

As he raised his hands I saw his rifle shift and the nuzzle tilt towards the driver’s head. I was watching our driver beg Mr. Flashlight when I felt a hand drag my bag. It was my turn already. The people before me had their belongings strewn all over the grass and they tried to gather it together, some with tears in their eyes, the woman’s baby still crying loudly, Mr. Flashlight still pointing the gun at our driver’s head. 

Mr. Fat and Short tugs at my bag again and I let go. I don’t know exactly what he is searching my bag for, but he unzips the bag in a rush and starts searching frantically like he is looking for hard drugs or something. In a second all my belongings are on the floor too and he throws the empty bag at me. I am angry… but quiet. Burning with rage, but mute. Fear is the language of law enforcement in Nigeria.

Mr. Fat and Short moves to the elderly woman behind me. She is handing over her small handbag to him when a deafening shot rings out. It is all too much noise at once; a gunshot, a ton of screams, a loud groan, and a baby’s awful cry. Everyone scatters in a second, even Mr. Fat and Short. I find myself running towards the noise. I find Mr. Flashlight staring wide eyed; his rifle still pointed at where the bus driver had stood- right in front of the bus, the headlights still shining on Mr. Flashlight. Mr. Fat and Short has reappeared now, clutching his baton tightly and wide eyed too. My lips tremble and I feel like vomiting because it has all happened so fast.

One second ago he was negotiating a bribe with the tall and thin Mr. Flashlight and the next he is sprawled on the floor, bullet in head, choking on his blood. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

My name is Oloruntobi Ayomikun Demilade. I am a writer and a second-year student at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria where I major in Political Science.
Ever since I can remember, I have always loved and enjoyed writing, especially Creative fiction writing
where I get to talk about pressing issues in society, that most people don’t pay attention to but have a great impact on their lives.
In my pieces, I talk about many important issues and make them less boring by allowing my readers to follow a storyline through the help of a plot and fictional characters even though these characters face real-life everyday situations. It has been fun and amazing to write what I feel and allow my readers to share a part of my mind.

AND THIS IS HOW THEY BECOME BEAUTIFUL by Mhembeuter Jeremiah Orhemba

AND THIS IS HOW THEY BECOME BEAUTIFUL by Mhembeuter Jeremiah Orhemba

photo of daughter hugs her mother

AND THIS IS HOW THEY BECOME BEAUTIFUL

by Mhembeuter Jeremiah Orhemba

First Runner-up of the 2021 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Flash Fiction Category)

The boy wants to cry. 

He sniffs in mucus for the umpteenth time, but his mother holds his arm and tells him that he will have to make a choice. He stares into her face, searchingly. Tears stream out of her eyes. And so he turns to his father, but his father stares into space. Hopeless, he turns back to his mother. “I want to stay with both of you,” he drawls.

His mother’s hand finds her face. She sniffs. She says she can no longer tolerate his father, and the boy shudders. But he cannot deny his mother’s words either. They are fact, and his memories are proving it. In recall, his mother’s wails are loud and raw. His father keeps lashing her. The cane in his hand comes down swiftly, eliciting pleas from her. He joins his mother, pleading, pleading. His father barks at him: “Get away from here, asongo!” 

The boy buries his face into his palms. His father might be wicked, but he still loves him. And his mother—ankara-clad, ginger scenting—he can’t part from her—his sweet mother who kisses his forehead and pinches away his nightmares.

He lifts his face. Breath raspy, his mind tears into a whirlwind. His mother’s countenance prods him and the thought that he will have to choose scatters shivers all over his body. He looks onward. The door is ajar. So he gets up suddenly, chest heaving, and bursts through the door. One thought in his head, he runs and runs. Runs through the sandy street. Past houses. Past Madame Ura’s puff-puff stall and takes a turn around the bend. A tarred road ahead of him, people scream. It teems with vehicles whooshing back and forth, but the boy’s body is no longer his own. Before he realizes, a massive force slams into him and he is not on the other side of the road but rolling and rolling over its roughened surface.

 “Jesus, Jesus!”

“Yesu terem ka tor!” 

“Check pulse, check pulse. Is he dead?”

Everything in the boy’s vision blurs. Mind muddled, he can barely decipher what people are saying.  A sharp pain blazes in his ear, but it is becoming mild because he is growing lighter and lighter. When his father and mother arrive, their faces hover over him, he, however, makes out their faces. He smiles. His parents are here with him and all is beautiful. 

He doesn’t have to choose anymore.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mhembeuter Jeremiah Orhemba (b.2002) is Nigerian. A 2021 ARTmosterrific artist-in-residence and an alumnus of the 2020 AFRIKA-WRITES PROSE WORKSHOP, his works have found a home in FictionWrit Magazine, The Shallow Tales Review, Arts Lounge, Eboquills and The Muse. He is an Editor at FictionWrit Magazine, wishes to attain the serenity of water, and enjoys watching TK and Carlos kiss. 

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