by Anthony Okpunor

what is that in your mouth
your mock your father’s silence before it becomes
                                                            girls who do not spell the alphabets in your name correctly
                                   you say it’s bitter drinking from an ocean
                                                                                  you love the color of bitterness
what part of you isn’t crazy
madness is love sometimes
                                the truth is you once cared for your father
talk about your science teacher
               did he not say the earth revolves with you in it
it is vain to accept love without accepting sadness first
your name is different in every language
                                 no one knows what’s wrong with you
                                 your hand is a road map
                                 your dead lovers are road maps
                                 your bitten tongue is a road map
a road map is what is lost after naming a body of water
a road map is your skin beautiful with different boys calling it white
not-white       caucasian      olive-brown       jewish                         there are some words that fit into leaking tongues
  your skin is quick and brief—something bitten into black
boys yawn before biting at your flesh
biting into rocks with honey
it means you should cook before it’s late at night
                                                                             the world has it that bad dreams come with late
night foods
but your worries are different        aren’t they
in the morning you will notice that songs float in every bird’s tongue
so do not worry about what died on your face
what flew from your mother and burned your house down
your mother beats your younger brother’s mouth for cursing
   & those words always fall back into yours
you like the way your brother screams in pain
your mother is always blind from anger
again your worries are different
you know though
you dance your body into the depth of water and it stings your mother’s heart
you should teach young men who visit
                                    that a boat inside you do not sail with lovers


Anthony Okpunor is a Nigerian writer who discovered poetry and writing in general, as a better form of self-expression from his early school days. He lives and writes from Asaba in Delta State. He is a student of the University of Benin at the time. He splits his time between writing, reading, lectures, good epic music, and himself. His works have appeared in several online platforms including African Writers and Praxis Magazine.

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT on Nadine Gordimer

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT on Nadine Gordimer

Author Spotlight On Nadine Gordimer

A towering figure in the history of political activism, Nadine Gordimer remains one of the greatest legends to ever put pen to paper on the black continent. Throughout her career, she published works which did not just entertain but repeatedly questioned the inhumane racial superstructures of her society. She is remembered today as a voice which lives on, continually reminding us of the magnificent power of truth as a lasting virtue.

Early Days

Gordimer was born on November 20, 1923 in Guateng, a town just outside of Johannesburg.  Her father was a Jewish watchmaker from what is known today as Lithuania, while her mother was from London, England. While her father was very apolitical and unconcerned about the plight of black people in South Africa, her mother was the polar opposite. From her mother, who founded a crèche just for segregated black children, Gordimer learned activism.

Being rather precocious, her first published work “The Quest for Seen Gold” was released at age 15. She published her first work of adult fiction the following year.

In 1947, she gained admission to study at the University of Witwatersrand but only studied for a year before dropping out and moving to Johannesburg.

Nadine Gordimer

Photo accessed via Stockholm Shelf


Gordimer’s literary career cannot be divorced from her life as an activist. Her bibliography is full of themes of race, class, and politics in South Africa.

Though she had become involved in the anti-apartheid movement ever since she was an undergraduate at the university, meeting with other student-activists, she did not become fully involved until 1960. This was inspired by the arrest of her best friend, the radical activist Bettie du Toit and the Sharpeville massacre of black protesters on March 21, 1960.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, she was outspoken against racial injustice in her country, with focus on the apartheid system. Her works were deeply critical of the system. While her writing got her international renown during this time, it also made the government of South Africa very displeased with her. It began to censor her works. Her novel, “The Late Bourgeois World” was banned in 1976 for a whole decade. Another work of hers, A World of Strangers faced total censorship for 12 years.

She joined the rebel party, the African National Congress; fighting against discrimination of black South Africans. She was reported to have hated discrimination so much that she rejected a spot on 1998 shortlist for the Orange Prize because the award only recognizes female writers.

Over time, her international fame and recognition grew even larger and her works reached a global audience. This prominence of hers culminated in the 1991 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Nadine Gordimer

Photograph accessed via Channel 24

Gordimer’s literary career cannot be divorced from her life as an activist. Her bibliography is full of themes of race, class, and politics in South Africa.


Exceptional storytelling coupled with a dogged belief in freedom from the shackles of apartheid placed Gordimer on a legendary pedestal when compared to her peers. However, during her reign of brilliance in the world of letters, there were some notable figures dishing out delicious literary meals to humanity. In her class, we have names such as Chinua Achebe, Derek Walcott, Gunter Grass, Doris Lessing, Wole Soyinka, Toni Morrison, and J.M. Coetzee. 


Gordimer died on July 13, 2014, at age 90, survived by at least two children.


A highly-decorated woman, Gordimer won a lot of awards during her career. Here are a few of them:

Nadine Gordimer

Photograph accessed via

Published Works

Below is a list of most of Gordimer’s published works:


Short Stories


In conclusion, Gordimer’s life is a testament to the product of a marriage between purpose and passion. Though she is no more, her works resonate through history as one of the voices that pierced the thickets of apartheid in South Africa. Her love for activism and superb writing are inseparable, and these two traits made her a glowing light that guides young stars to the home of honor.

Now, it’s your turn to share your thoughts. What is it that inspires you about Gordimer and her works? Let us know in the comments section below.


Kanyinsola Olorunnisola is a poet, essayist, and writer of fiction. He is the Managing Editor of Kreative Diadem. He writes from Ibadan, Nigeria. His writings border on the themes of unease, racism, colonialism, terror and all things familiar to the black folk. He describes his art as that specialized literary alchemy which aims to extract beauty from the frail commonplaceness of words.
His experimental works have appeared or are forthcoming on such platforms as Brittle Paper, Kalahari Review, Bombay Review, Lunaris Review, African Writer,, Authorpedia, Kreative Diadem, Parousia Magazine, and Sampad International Journal. He was the 2016 recipient of the Albert Jungers Poetry Prize.


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Winners of the 2018 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest

Winners of the 2018 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest

Winners of the 2018 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest

We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2018 Kreative Diadem Creative Writing Contest.

Poetry Category

Honourable mentions:
“The city is my family” by Michael Ifeanyi Akuchie
“What to imagine” by Yusuff Uthman Adekola


Flash Fiction Category

Honourable mentions:
“The step breaks your confidence” by Ezinne Okeke
“Souls and Smoke” by Justin Clement


Congratulations to the winners!
We had intended to release a list of ten longlisted writers in each genre; however, many of the entries were of poor quality. We look forward to receiving better entries next year.

Winning entries for flash fiction were chosen by TJ Benson, author of ‘We Won’t Fade into Darkness’ (Parresia 2018). The winning poems were selected by Wale Owoade, poet and founding editor of Expound Magazine.

Regarding the flash fiction entries, TJ Benson writes:
“I was looking for fresh stories, stories that were hidden in plain sight every day, remarkable but abandoned. However, the poor writing floored me. So, I decided I would make do with coherence of thought. In that sense, ‘The House Called Joy’ is the most ‘complete’ story.  ‘Souls and smoke’ has a lot of vivid imageries, but the writing wasn’t honest enough, especially the perspective of a suicide bomber’s family. I was lost halfway.
Also, I sought innovation in prose. Chizoma invites you, in his writing, to watch him try to contain a self in a diagnosis and fail. This is true of human life. There is an almost unaware virtuosity in how he links random elements observed by “you”, his first-person singular narrator: ‘…a woman leaning in towards you over the counter to hand you crisp notes, her hair smelling of talcum powder, a baby turning to flash you a dazzling smile right before you do the sign of the cross in church, a newscaster saying that the price of pampers had risen.’”


Regarding the poetry entries, Wale Owoade writes:
“The entries are ambitious for an under 21-year old poetry competition. The five shortlisted poets were primarily selected based on their use of imageries and how their techniques connect the reader’s senses to their subjects and objects, a quality that sets them apart from other entrants. However, the winning poems were selected based on the clarity of their expression and poets’ diction. CJ Onyedikachi’s winning poem is a brilliant piece of art, his engaging imageries and contextual diction demonstrate his staunch dedication to his craft. Altogether, most of the entrants to this year’s prize only need a few editorial guidance to write the next best poems from Nigeria. It will be amazing if my contemporaries could create a little time to offer critical guidance and editorial mentorship to younger writers.”
We wish to express our gratitude to our sponsors, the judges, and all the writers who participated in this year’s contest.
The annual contest aims to recognize the best writings from Nigerian writers age 21 and below. The maiden edition which held in 2017 was judged by Sueddie Vershima Agema (Flash Fiction) and Okwudili Nebeolisa (Poetry).

THE HOUSE CALLED JOY by Chizoma Emeka Joshua

THE HOUSE CALLED JOY by Chizoma Emeka Joshua


by Chizoma Emeka Joshua

The house called joy – Winner of the 2018 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Flash Fiction Category)

What you have has a name.

You are sure if you entered a bus from your house at Ajah and stopped at the general hospital at Obalenede, if you let the doctors there run their tests and flip through their big books, they’d find a suitable title for what ails you. But you would not. Because you have learnt that when a man gives a disease a name, he breathes life into it and lends it the ability to become a thing that could be like him. Or become him. You are afraid that in your case, this now named thing would cling to you, move into your flat, try on your new shoes, and begin to go with you to the bank where you work as a cashier. It would become as conspicuous as the yellow dress you wear to work on Fridays and everybody would notice and point and laugh.

You are afraid that if you name it, you would acknowledge that maybe you are a broken piece of pottery that needs fixing.
You do not remember when it started. Yours is a relationship whose beginning has no footprints, and you have gotten used to this lack of history like you would an annoying sibling. What you do now is prepare for the red flags, the little incidences that set you off: a woman leaning in towards you over the counter to hand you crisp notes, her hair smelling of talcum powder, a baby turning to flash you a dazzling smile right before you do the sign of the cross in church, a newscaster saying that the price of pampers had risen.


At one point you had taken the symptoms to Google. Google was better than doctors. Less intrusive. It did not ask if your family had a history of mental illness or whether you had been under a lot of stress lately (Both useless questions because doctors were always embarrassed to ask the former, and the latter was just plain silly, I mean, what banker is not under a lot of stress daily?)

But Google provided no solution. Perhaps the problem had been with how you typed the question. In the search area you had written:

1: is sadness a person?
2: what condition is it that makes one feel like oceans are threatening to spill through her mouth whenever she is alone? 

For a long time after Google had spewed articles about ocean animals that left you the more confused you had sat staring at your laptop screen, wondering if perhaps Google was not as smart as people gave it credit for.

With time, you teach yourself to manage the storm. At nights when you feel most vulnerable, when the minions carry out their onslaught and there isn’t the armour of work to keep you safe, you whisper affirmations to yourself. You are a Christian so it is easy for you to pick from the armload of cheesy statements that fill the Bible. Your favorite is from Ecclesiastes 9: 4 – a living dog is better than a dead lion. You like how you think yourself as the dog, you don’t know who the dead lion is. You would chant the verse like a prayer, wield it like a sword, till you emerge on the other side, victorious.

Other times what you mutter is the twenty-third psalm. You repeat the words over and over again, hugging your knees, your back against the wall. You repeat it till you actually find yourself beside still waters and smell the freshness of the rivers on your skin.

But there are nights this storm would refuse to be caged. It will hit against your barriers with such intensity that your affirmations would be ill-prepared to stop it. Nights when you lie awake in the spare bedroom because you got into one of your frequent fights with your neighbor who had then hurled her insult of choice: barren woman, and you needed a safe place to hide from your shame. Or the nights when your husband had used his fist to communicate his rage at your childlessness or any other of his many problems that he thinks you are the cause of. Those nights, you do not give affirmations, because words would not do. You rather reach into the recesses of your mind to that sunny place where you store happy memories. You flip through the pages: your graduation from primary school, that time you had an A in government, the time that boy in the choir smiled at you, you skip all these pages and rest on a particular one.

In it you are sixteen: too young to be carrying dead dreams around but not too old to receive seed from a man, nourish it and present him a flower.

You are lying on a hospital bed. You are tired.  There is a hand in yours. Smooth, little hands. Baby hands. They are the reason that even though you feel sharp pains in between your legs from where you had just pushed out another human, you are content, proud of yourself. On your lips is the taste of joy, and it takes like nothing you’ve ever had before. It is foreign in the way a lot of things are foreign to you. You would nibble at it. Careful not to gobble it up, so there’d be some for next time.

It is this joy that you visit. The feeling you felt in that moment. It is a safe harbor where physical pains cannot break through. Where raging storms cannot reach across to place their hands on your heart. Where you feel most worthy of things you do not deserve. In that house called joy, you are everything, and everything is you.

Those nights, you are also careful not to go beyond this point. Because past it, there is another picture of you. In that one, you are two years away from sixteen. Your parents are standing behind you, a scowl on their faces. The camera clicks shut as you are handing your baby to a man who in return hands you an envelope within which you would find, over the course of 8 years, a university degree, a job at a bank and a flat where you lie on cold nights with an aching heart  and a resentful husband to keep you company.

What you have has a name.
Sorrow, loss, the aftertaste of longing you have on your tongue. These are not what your doctors would call them. These aren’t the names of sicknesses. You are afraid that if you submit to the doctors that they would flip through their big books and actually find a title for what ails you; a different name from the ones you have chosen. Then you would no longer be in doubt that you are unhinged. Next the doctors would then try to find a cure, because that is what they do – find a cure for every sickness. You do not want to heal. You like sorrow’s company. It is your penance.  You like looking out from your glass house to see the storms billowing, knowing that there is the possibility that one day it would drown you in it.
THE SKIN OF OTHER WOMEN by Chukwuebuka Ibeh Leonard

THE SKIN OF OTHER WOMEN by Chukwuebuka Ibeh Leonard


by Chukwuebuka Ibeh Leonard

The skin of other women – First Runner-up of the 2018 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Flash Fiction Category)

Stay away
from men who peel the skin
of other women, forcing you to
wear them.
-Ijeoma Umebinyuo.

  She would wait for him to come home from football practice, to have a quick bath and come downstairs for dinner together, to lead her to the bedroom and make love to her swiftly and ferociously before she tells him she’s leaving. She plans to make it undetailed, a simple, self-explanatory sentence. I’m leaving, Nedu. She pictures his expression; impassive, as though uncomprehending. He would tilt his head sideways to get a good view of her face and then pull the covers up as though she had not spoken. And she would smile and say nothing.

But when he comes home, smiling and smelling faintly of alcohol, she finds her voice is gone. The routine follows it’s course, except in place of a break-up, she tells him her name; Kamnelechukwu. He tilts his head to watch her face, his eyes a question, and she knows she is supposed to smile and brush it aside, but instead she sits up and repeats her name. It’s Kamnelechukwu, she says, not Ngozi, not Bisi, not Maria. She would appreciate it if her calls her her name. He laughs that strange laugh of his and says he is sorry, Angela.


He is different, her man. She had known that the first time she saw him, at the club in GRA where they both sat facing each other at a corner of the dimly-lit bar. She watched the strippers twirling on the pole with startling expertise, declining offers from eager, bright-eyed men, offering her to buy her a drink. She had been in the process of turning down one of such offers -the insufferable man would not take a direct no for an answer- when she looked up, bored, and saw him for the first time. His features were striking; chocolate skin and oval face with lips curved slightly to the side in what could have been a smile, but it was his eyes that particularly got her attention, something about the directness of his stare that was disconcerting, and made her -strangely- shy. He did not look away when she met his gaze squarely and arched her brows for an explanation of sorts. She smiled at him already think of the best polite way to shut the man in front of her. It had to be the alcohol getting to her.  The bar was getting too hot and her vision slightly blurred, and on cue, she stepped out for a smoke knowing he would follow her, and he did. They stood side by side on the veranda, quietly overlooking the still, serene pool in front of them. He reached out to touch her face, running his fingers over her lower lips and it did not occur to her to stop him. She did not stop him too when he took the cigarette from her fingers and held it in between his. She expected him to take a long drag from it and probably puff the smoke on her face, but he held it mid-air for seconds before he tossed it into the pool. She would later come to learn that he was allergic to cigarette smoke, but that night she thought him, of all things, brave, and a little rude. It did not stop her from typing her number into his phone, did not stop her from letting him drive her home and kissing him in the car in front of of her apartment, with a delicate intensity that made her feel a new warmth in between her thighs. It was only when she took off her clothes in the bathroom that she realized she did not even know his name, did not know why the thought of his fingers on her cheek only a few minutes ago made her heart beat five times faster.



The first time he called her by another name, she was not sure what she felt. It had been six months since they started dating, a few weeks since she moved into his apartment, and she had never had cause to question his fidelity, and yet he had called her by another name. She waited for him to realize his grave error and be horrified, to stutter in his attempts at justification and end up confessing and apologizing. But he sat there smiling at her, totally at ease with himself, and it took her a moment to realize it was not a mistake. He genuinely thought she was someone else. And so when he called her by a different name the next time, she knew it wasn’t just his tongue slipping, and to her surprise, she replied.

It was the same way she would come to accept him, his flaws and his idiosyncrasies; same way she would listen to him go on and on about things they had done in the last six years ago even though they had barely been together for two years. It was the same way she indulged him when he talked about using cuffs and whips during sex even though she longed to tell him that the mere idea of using those eliminated the intent of the act in itself, which was pleasure. And he may be confusing her again for Chinwendu, or is it Jessica now?

It made sense when she found the diary in his drawer, flipped through the pages, absorbing the brief accounts of the lives of Maria and Ujunwa and Kosarachukwu, all the women who have shared his bed in the past, who have been in her place, all the women whose skin he scrapped off from time to time and made her wear.
The thing really is, she knows she’ll never leave. Even though nowadays, she no longer feels like herself. Even though she takes a deep breath, not sure it is hers. Even though she looks into the mirror, not recognizing the image that stares back at her. She knows she will never leave.



Her friends think he is erratic, unstable, psychotic? But she knows he’s fine. He just needs someone who gets him. When they see a man who’s bipolar at best and outright crazy at worse, she sees a man who’s broken and easily misunderstood in a world that thrives on convention; a man who’s stuck between two selves, a man who needs saving.

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