“Writing is my calling” – Interview with Su’eddie Vershima

“Writing is my calling” – Interview with Su’eddie Vershima


“Writing is my calling” – Interview with Su’eddie Vershima

Su’eddie Vershima is an African poet, development worker, and president of African Writers at the University of Sussex, where he currently pursues an MA in International Education and Development as a Chevening Scholar. Vershima is the author of Home Equals Holes: Tale of an Exile, The Bottom of Another Tale, and Bring our Casket Home: Tales one shouldn’t tell.

He was Joint Winner—Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Prize for Poetry 2014, Winner, Mandela Day Short Story Prize 2016, listed on The Nigerian Writers Award 100 Most Influential Nigerian Writers Under 40 (2017 & 2018), among other notable achievements.
In this insightful conversation with Kreative Diadem, Vershima talked about his early days in writing, what inspires his writings and his forthcoming works amongst many other things. Enjoy.


KD: Let’s meet you, can you tell us about yourself?
Vershima: I am a husband and father, friend and writer. I am also a development worker, emerging education expert, and a believer in the human project. I am a Chevening scholar, currently studying for an MA in International Education and Development at the University of Sussex where I am also the President of African Writers.

Su’eddie Vershima

Chevening Scholar & President of African Writers at the University of Sussex

KD: When did you start writing professionally and can you tell us a bit about the early days?

Vershima: I am not sure I am a professional writer because the sense of professional writing, particularly as seen in the West is different from what we have in Nigeria. In our country, we are just passionate people who let the ink of our thoughts keep flowing in diverse ways. It is something we find ourselves doing, those of us who do it, and try to keep getting better each day. Having said that, I will just note that I was fortunate to be born into a creative family. I grew up with my elder brothers, Gabriel Agema, Taver, and Sever Ayede, doing magic with comics and making toy men. My sister, Theodora used to draw Captain Love too and tell her tales. These annoying siblings of mine would not end any comic so I eventually decided to do mine. So, in a way, I owe my writing foundations to these ones and to my mother, who bought me a lot of the Heinemann books. My dad told me stories he had read or heard.
So, I was creating consciously and writing various forms of stuff.  My younger siblings, Ngohide and Terhide inspired me to keep on, even as my other brother Ver was a motivation. In secondary school, I would draw comics with my friend, Tardoo Ayua, who drew far cooler stuff. There was also Obinna Okeke, who wouldn’t do as much. He was good too, but not as cool as us. (Laughs). I would write stories too and show my teacher, Mr. Emmanuel Mbatsavde. My creative process took a turn when I got into the university, and was tutored by writers like Dr. Andrew Aba, Dr. Maria Ajima and Professor Moses Tsenongu. I had great support in those early days from my friend, Sam Ogabidu, who encouraged my efforts. He was the ANA Chairman in Benue and I was the financial secretary, administrator and e-officer. I also got support from my colleagues in the university, Andrew Bula and Joshua Agbo, to mention two. But the biggest change to my writing came when I encountered the writings of Professor Hyginus Ekwuazi. He was a revolution to my writing and thinking. He is a remarkable man who remains one of my favourite persons till date. In a roundabout way, that is a summary of most of my writing history. It could be longer but let me not bore you.

KD: How would you describe your writing style?

Vershima: My writing style is evolving. I used to have a lot of my cultural roots in my work. Prof. Ekwuazi used to taunt me and say he understands that it is the typical way of everyone trying to ensure that their corner of the backyard was preserved. In essence, we are all fighting to preserve what we can in a globalising world eating away at all we once were. A world where our diversity is being swallowed as we become homogenous in a global village. My writing, these days, are becoming more conscious of my immediate surroundings. I am describing far more than I used to. I used to believe that my writing should be somewhat like some parts of the New Testament tales, particularly in its description of key characters where you are left to imagine what they looked like. All that is changing and I own it. It is life’s constant, change. Other than that, I can say my writing is deliberate. I think and think hard before I write. A simple poem or tale takes more months and months, some times, years. So, it is a deliberate and often, tiring process. But who knows, even that too might change at some point.

KD: Can you give a brief description of your writing process or routine? Do you have any helpful writing tips you’d like to share?

Vershima: My writing process is usually not healthy. I am usually the editor and creator at the same time. And this is not right or helpful many times. We had this workshop in Oxford early this year and Nick Makoha who facilitated kept mentioning that these are two different people. The creator comes into conflict with the editor as they are different. As such, we have to let the creator do his/her work, then let the editor work much later. I wrote on this and put it up on my blog. You can search for it online and share that link. Might be useful for someone somewhere, especially as Makoha says there is no such thing as writer’s block!


Writing is a calling for me. Something that is a part of me which I cannot discard. We will do what we can to move on.

Su’eddie Vershima

Chevening Scholar & President of African Writers at the University of Sussex

KD: What are some of the challenges you face as a writer and poet? What steps do you take to overcome them?

Vershima: Life conflicts with writing. You have to earn and you have to be all the other things you are. At the moment, I am also a scholar so I have to face work, studies, life, and family while also trying to do my writing bit. I am also almost always working towards the promotion of writing and writers, which can be distracting itself. We are currently working towards a literary festival in Benue in June 2019. A few months away. That is work and distracting, as you cannot near imagine. The death of Pius Adesanmi on Sunday (March 10, 2019) also reminded me of the part of the writer as a social crusader. Especially in our clime. Having to do that too, is something that will challenge my creative process. But in the end, it is what it is. Writing is a calling for me. Something that is a part of me which I cannot discard. We will do what we can to move on.

KD: What was it like completing and publishing your first book?

Vershima: It was awesome. I published my first collection in 2012. I would have published earlier as I had – or thought I had – the right material. My foster father, Mr. Charles Ayede, told me to hold on a bit. He wanted me to get my work through a few critics and things like that. He would also tell me that Literature would not put food on my table. By some strange coincidence, his death gave birth to new poems in his honour. They are what came to be the chunk of Bring our casket home: Tales one shouldn’t tell, my first collection. Hyginus Ekwuazi, who wrote the Foreword to the book, helped me with part of the title and also inspired the poem, ‘Tales one shouldn’t tell.’ The book also helped birth SEVHAGE Publishers. The second book we did was my cousin, Faeren Adzege’s book, A Teen for God. So, in a way, completing and publishing that first book set in motion several things that keep unraveling themselves each day.

KD: In 2016, you won the Mandela Day Short Story Prize. What was the inspiration behind your winning entry?

Vershima: The winning entry was ‘Washing the Earth.’ It was inspired by a sunny afternoon in Makurdi. I can’t remember the details but I know that my head kept spinning. It is one of those stories that tasked my imagination.

KD: Who are some literary figures that inspire you/you look up to?

Vershima: There are a lot of them, if I would be honest. The two top people on that list would my wife, Agatha and Hyginus Ekwuazi. Closely following is my near twin, Servio Gbadamosi. I am inspired by my friends and I am fortunate to have them around me and with me. I am inspired not just by their writings but also the work they are doing in the literary world and other spheres. I can easily mention the writers Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, Sam Ogabidu, Debbie Iorliam, Aondosoo Labe, Innocence Silas, Otene Ogwuche, Daisy Odey, Kukogho Iruesiri Samson, Dike Chukwumerije, Romeo Oriogun, and Dike Chukwumerije.

It might be weird or ironical but there are also some people who keep me on my toes and inspire me greatly. The names that would easily pop up here include my sister, Jennifer Aduro, Oko Owi Ocho (Afrika), Deborah Oluniran, and Torkwase Igbana. These people are lights that really help me on many dark days. Following would be Justin Ebuka Muodebelu and Nana Hauwa Sule, who I believe in so much. There are other names I can call but let’s keep it short for now.

KD: Do your poems and short stories have a unifying theme or you simply write on matters of the moment or what inspires you?

Vershima: I am inspired by several things. Life. Events. Some times, even dreams. Other times, the inspiration just comes from within. I guess I should say, Aondo – God – does His magic, right?


KD: What are some of your long term goals as a writer?
Vershima: Well, it is to give myself out as much as possible. I don’t want to go back to Aondo with anything inside. To be able to be relevant to my country and to my generation in every ramification. To rise above ordinary creative fiction and verse to be a voice where words are meant to be spoken. I also hope to create platforms where more voices can be heard, collaborating with as many people as possible to make our land better even as we help those we can to be better.

KD: Are you currently working on any book(s) at the moment?

Vershima: Yes, a children’s book which had a limited publication last year but which would be out by June 2019. The title is Once Upon a Village Tale. I am also working on a short story collection and another poetry collection.


KD: Do you think there are enough opportunities for aspiring writers/poets in Nigeria?

Vershima: For aspiring writers and poets, a lot needs to be done. For writers, a lot has been done, a lot is being done and will be done. More opportunities are opening and the landscape is getting more beautiful. Things can only get better.


KD: What advice would you give to aspiring writers like yourself, especially in Nigeria?

Vershima: I am not an aspiring writer. I am a writer. To all those who are aspiring, leave your aspirations and get into the business of writing.


THE WONDERS OF IKOGOSI by Adedayo Ademokoya

THE WONDERS OF IKOGOSI by Adedayo Ademokoya


by Adedayo Ademokoya

There they sat, feeling
the living spring that compresses
the fusion of their hearts on the emblem
of gold.
The warm spring
came flowing through the nirvana
of her soul to rev up the rattling
imaginations. Chasm couldn’t
stop the flow.
The cold spring ooze fresh air
simmering passion for the flesh.
The decibels of the heart contorted
to the strong wave. The once
impervious spring conflagrate to
infuse itself to the waiting warm



They met at a confluence of silence
congruent desires glued them
to be inseparable
That touch was the coup de grâce
to bring down resistance in a haste



Yes, it was all but blessings of nature
to etch on the soul forever the burning
flame of them.




Adedayo Ademokoya writes to resonate with his inner self. He believes that words shapen the world. When he is not writing, he’s reading or surfing the internet. His works have appeared on Brave Arts Africa, Praxis Magazine, Thought Catalog, The Rising Phoenix Review, Wild Word, Ethos Literary Journal, Indian Periodical, African Writer, Pride Magazine, Tuck Magazine, Parousia Magazine, and other platforms.
JOG IN THE RAIN by Carl Terver

JOG IN THE RAIN by Carl Terver


by Carl Terver

She saw the new pair of trainers in the cupboard, fine white things wrapped in a transparent bag. Only, the size was smaller. She knew Dami jogged every morning because she had been waking up beside him these days.

Dami was a quiet guy, in a way any hermit would covet. He smiled gently and walked as if his heels avoided the ground. Nobody knew what he did save that he jogged every morning.

‘Maybe you should jog to Lagos one of these days,’ she said to him when he returned from one of his jogging adventures in the morning, while she gave him a glass of water. As he gulped the liquid his eyes fell on her belly whose bulge, which he expected to see, was not showing. ‘I would,’ he answered.

She kept a journal since she moved in with him because she knew her life had changed. She had fallen in love with him and now was out of school because of the baby. She had to write down the things noteworthy of this change, like the uncanniness of her lover whom she knew only a pinch of; the man she’d spend the rest of her life with, maybe.

There was little conversation that went on between the two of them. With someone like Dami, it was hard to start one. When she’d left her father’s house for his place, she’d expected to meet him very unsettled, but he wasn’t. He’d simply asked, ‘You’re pregnant?’ looking at the luggage she carried. ‘Yes,’ she had nodded.

‘How do you feel’ he asked.
‘Fine. Okay.’
He sat on the arm of a cushion, perspiration all over him. A collection of poetry was on the table. ‘You’re reading poetry?’ he asked.
‘Yes, I found it.’ She didn’t want him to take her up on it. Before now she’d only known poetry as a form of art, especially inspired by love.
‘You know, there’re some poems marked there. There’s this particular one.’

She met him at an art exhibition. She’d seen the flyer for the exhibition on Instagram. The venue was close to her house. She was more curious than interested; art had nothing on her. The only thing she knew closest to art was her little brother’s pencil drawings.
‘It’s called abstract painting,’ he had said to her when he noticed the painting’s magnetic effect on her.
‘I wouldn’t know,’ she had responded, turning to the voice that had interrupted her sudden affinity to colours on canvas. And something had buckled inside her. He was saying something about the painting, how the kind was done to make humans see beyond the ordinary …
‘It’s transcendent,’ she finally said.
They both shook hands and talked for a while. She had wanted the painting but couldn’t afford it. ‘You can have it,’ he’d said to her.
‘Thank you,’ she said, repeatedly, till the moment the painting was packaged and given to her. Even as she collected it, she curtsied still saying, ‘Thank you.’
The following days it was the word ‘transcendent’, and not her gratitude, that Dami remembered like the tune of a naughty song you kept humming because you woke up with it on your lips.

 ‘… ‘The Good Morrow’. Have you read it?’ he continued.
‘No,’ she said.
‘You should,’ he said, too.
She was quiet as she sat on another cushion. The conversation had yielded things to write down in her diary.
The room was big, deliberately so. It was both bedroom and living room without demarcation. There was a bed at the far end by the windows. There was the wardrobe. Everything in its place. Small stools, a study corner with a table lamp, a miniature shelf (he wasn’t a heavy reader), and other hardware.
‘It’s a big compound . . . Where is everybody?’ she asked.
He started joltingly, then recollected himself. She hadn’t seen it, he thought.
‘In Canada.’
It wasn’t enough. Her brows went up.
So, he continued. “My father used to, well, still works with this manufacturer. He had a big promotion. He took everybody…’
‘Except you,’ she finished.
‘I was in the Navy. I could have followed them then, but I had other plans.’
‘What plans?’ she asked.
‘Well, I calculated. After ten years I could resign from the Navy with a pension, and I would have the house. Just me. Alone.’
Then, she wondered if she had intruded on his aloneness. Her eyes were focused on a point on the wall. She followed his conversation, but his voice came to her from the point on the wall.
‘Did you see it?’ he asked.
‘The trainers?’ she thought, saying.

They walked past the area in front of the porch of the house. The front door to the house was locked. And she commented, ‘I was looking around. It’s like every other part of the house is locked.’
‘I think so,’ he replied.
The ground of the compound was filled with gravel, strands of grass shot up from the pores. The coat of paint on the walls nearer to the ground had turned to flakes, revealing cracks that resembled the boundaries on a map, some part of it, fallen off. Spirogyra fried by the sun coated the walls, too. They passed an overhead water tank, inhaling the rust on the metal architecture that supported the tank, their feet making crunching sounds against the gravel.
They were now at the backyard.
He produced a key and inserted into a lock to a door that was hidden in dried vines. It opened into a void. Blankness. They couldn’t see anything; just shafts of light from windows high up the walls of the interior that shaped into a hangar sort of. A sound was heard – the click of a light switch – and the space was flooded with fluorescent lights. She said nothing. She just stood and took in the sight.
On the night of that day, as she lay on the bed before slumber came to borrow her consciousness, her eyes were wet. There wasn’t much to know about her lover than she would know, but she knew he was the man God had sent to her.
‘I’m an artist. I paint, but I don’t like people knowing about it,’ he’d told her when they both stood at that door gazing into the plethora of easels and canvases and paintbrushes and colours and brightness.

It began drizzling in the early hours when Dami presented the new pair of trainers to her to try on. It was a bit funny to her, but she did.
‘I want us to jog today,’ he said.
‘Today? It’s raining, my pregnancy . . .’ she said.
‘You’ve never jogged in the rain before. It’s sweet. You’ll see.’
So, she went out with him, that morning, in the rain, initiated into his ritual. It was sweet as he had said. Tiny droplets of rain fell softly against her skin. The cold weather was kind, mildly so. They held each other’s hands as their trainers touched the earth and leapt making wet-soil noises. She felt the blood warm in her body even as her heart pulsed. And since that day, mornings when it rained inspired a feeling in her: Something transcendent.


Carl Terver, b. July ’91, loves to listen to Bob Marley’s ‘Who The Cap Fits’, is a Nigerian writer and poet who have been published in Brittle Paper, Praxis magazine, Expound, and The Kalahari Review, and forthcoming in The Offing. He is working on a book of poetry criticism, Dead Images Don’t Walk. He is a comma disciple and fan of Adam Gopnik. His forthcoming poetry chapbook is For Girl at Rubicon. He is an in-house writer and the assistant digital Editor at Praxis magazine.




by Patron Henekou

I dote on you so much


I want us to date

In the name of the scriptures.


Oh Maria, let your will be done

And we will restart the calendar.


But you know

I’m civilized now and don’t mind having

The Baby out of wedlock

Though people gossip too much these days!


Show me your virgin boobs

Oh no, no-no-no, not in their kerchief, Maria

Let’s see if they really stand with the dots straight on them.

You never believe me:

I dote on you. I dote on you.

Well you can think or believe whatever you want.

I don’t even say I am still a virgin with silicone attractions

Oh Maria, you-miss-understands-the-world, today.

It’s not a matter of “believe”. You’ve placed your doting

On the cross. Just nail the thing up:

Anything about how you feel

And please fill in the gasps with what you want from me now

Using simple punctuations and spiritual emoji!


Maria, people are waiting to re-write the scriptures.

It’s you I want:
Your lips, full, look divinely crispy and warm
I dream to wallow in your arms like ice cube in brown whisky
It’s you I want, Gabby, and not the script-mongers of holy crushes.


Patron Henekou writes poems and plays and co-organizes the Festival International des Lettres et des Arts (Festilarts) at Université de Lomé, Togo. He writes in French and English as well and translates. His poems have appeared in anthologies such as Palmes pour le Togo, Arbolarium, Antologia Poetica de Los Cinco Continentes, and The Best New African Poets Anthology 2017, and in poetry journals such as AFROpoésie, Revue des Citoyens des Lettres, Aquifer: The Florida Review Online, The Kalahari Review, and Better than Starbucks. His published books include a play in English, Dovlo, or A Worthless Sweat (2015) and two poetry books in French entitled Souffles d’outre-cœur (2017) and Souffles & faces (2018). Patron is the 2018 African American Fellow (now Langston Hughes Fellow) at the Palm Beach Poetry Festival in Delray, Florida.



by Ugochukwu Damian

tonight you’ll pick roses / off your lover’s tongue / and you will ponder / and ask why it took so long / not for the roses you hold / nor for the many times / you’ve looked for warmth / in his mouth / but for the times / you’ve subtly planted a rose bed on his tongue / tonight also you’ll turn the shower on / you’ll mask your tears as he climaxes / then you’ll listen to the quiet of the night / and you’ll also learn that love / like tears comes from within / you’ll find roses on your tongue / you’ll mutter  words to your lover tonight / and you’ll go / in search of the girl whom you once built this bed of roses with / also tonight / you’ll plant roses on her tongue / tonight you will build a rainbow with her / and you’ll say to her / that this love has come to stay / you’ll cry also / and the tears will leave traces on your tongue / to water the roses / you’ll never lack a reason / to grow a rose bed on my tongue / she will say tonight / you’ll bury your tongue in her home / and ask if you could grow a  bed of rose there / and you’ll watch her speak the language of roses / and you’ll remember that love comes from within.


Ugochukwu Damian Okpara is a poet and a medical student based in Nigeria. He began writing poetry in 2017 and his major theme explores depression, loneliness, and feminism. His goal is to inspire those who have been hurt, making them realise that the light at the end of the tunnel is not an illusion. He was one of the 21 mentees in the second cohort of the SLM Mentorship programme. His poems have appeared in Woven Words, African writer and elsewhere. When he is not writing or reading, he spends time listening to songs by Simi, James Blunt or Ed Sheeran. 

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