All posts by Su’eddie Vershima Agema

A Flood of Titan Tears for a Nigerian Century

By Su’eddie Vershima Agema

  • Title: Footmarks: Poems on One Hundred Years of Nigeria’s Nationhood
  • Editors: Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo and Naza Amaeze Okoli
  • Publisher: ICS Services Limited
  • Number of pages: 332
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Poetry

Nigeria marked a century since its amalgamation in 2014 and to celebrate this, there were several events including a number of offerings from the literary community. Two standout anthologies of poetry in this mould include Poems for a Century edited by Tope Omoniyi and Footmarks: Poems on One Hundred Years of Nigeria’s Nationhood edited by Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo and Naza Amaeze Okoli. More…

A Toss between Loss and Love in the Spirit of Time

By Su’eddie Vershima Agema

  • Title: A Rare Blue Bird Flies with Me
  • Author: Youssef Fadel
  • Translator: Jonathan Smolin
  • Publisher: Hoopoe
  • Number of pages: 235
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Fiction

Youssef Fadel’s A Rare Blue Bird Flies with Me is a postcolonial novel and part of a prison literature set in the period of Moroccan history known as the Years of Lead (1961–1999), the reign of King Hassan II. It is the second part of a trilogy that explores that country’s history and culture during the ‘70s and ‘80s. The novel covers a season of imprisonments, maltreatment and murder in Morocco, which was the aftermath of the 1971 and 1972 coups against King Hassan II. More…

From Nigeria to the World with Love: A Review of Route 234

By Su’eddie Vershima Agema

  • Title: Route 234
  • Editor: Pelu Awofeso
  • Publisher: Homestead Media
  • Number of pages: 212
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Travel

Travel writing is an exciting sub-genre of prose that allows readers view the beauty or ugliness of different places through the subjective lenses of the writer. Though it is not as popular as fiction, various writers have explored it across time. While in earlier times, it was the narratives of white explorers about the continent as seen in works like the narratives of Mungo Park, there are now more works by African travellers about Africa. A ready example of a current work is Sihle Khumalo’s Dark Continent, My Black Arse, an often humorous account of Khumalo’s journey from the Cape to Cairo using different means of public transport. There are also blogs these days, such as Black Girl Wanderlust and Zuru Kenya where people explore their views of new lands and places of interest. It is into this ever widening body of writing that the anthology, Route 234, falls. More…

Of Paths and Destiny: A Review of Bizuum Yadok’s King of the Jungle

By Su’eddie Vershima Agema

  • Title: King of the Jungle
  • Author: Bizuum Yadok
  • Publisher: Kraftgriots
  • Number of pages: 271
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Fiction

The path of one’s life is inscribed on one’s palms. It is not in the crooked lines but in how such a person decides to use their palms: to work, to be soothing or to be violent. This largely goes to say that the fate of everyone lies in the decisions they make. This principle underlies the tale that is Bizuum Yadok’s King of the Jungle. King of the Jungle is a tale seen through the eyes of two brothers. The author brings the nature/nurture question to the fore in this work, highlighting in great detail the birth and growth of the two brothers and what they become. More…

Cruel Bites of Insanity

By Su’eddie Vershima Agema

  • Title: Bites of Insanity
  • Author: Nsah Mala
  • Publisher: Langaa RPCIG
  • Number of pages: 115
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Poetry

The African pen is a weapon of protest against societal ills. Many times, it seems that writers place the passion for their nations above other considerations.

In Bites of Insanity, Nsah Mala, a Cameroonian poet, reveals his fury at the rot of life, at evil and at the dehumanising drama of living in most parts of contemporary Africa. Indeed, he follows in the social commitment tradition of writers like Chinua Achebe, Oswald Mtshali, Servio Gbadamosi, hitting at government, religion, and ‘bad’ people. In the collection, there are tales of betrayal, disturbing tales like that of a boy who beheads his father. There is also a devotion to the environment, philosophy and blows struck at government’s inadequacy. More…

Fifty Poems of a Nigerian Century

By Su’eddie Vershima Agema

  • Title: Poems for a CenturyAn Anthology on Nigeria
  • Editor: Tope Omoniyi
  • Publisher: Amalion Publishing
  • Number of pages: 79
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Poetry

Anthologies of diverse works by different writers are published every once in a while to celebrate one event or the other. Sometimes, they are for causes. The most popular of these anthologies collect essays, short stories, or poetry. Recent anthologies include the SEVHAGE flood publications, The Promise This Time Was Not a Flood and The Rainbow Lied, poetry and short stories respectively. Both anthologies feature artistic responses to the 2011 flood in Nigeria. More…

More than Faces: A Review of Born on a Tuesday

By Su’eddie Vershima Agema

  • Title: Born on a Tuesday
  • Author: Elnathan John
  • Publisher: Cassava Republic Press
  • Number of pages: 263
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

‘For the boys who will never be known

And the girls who become numbers –

Stars without a name’

There are many people who think that Northern Nigeria has only the adherents of one religion, only the people of one ethnicity and that the experiences of one person is the experience of all in the region. Many times, the people of Northern Nigeria are thought of as just faces or, worse, numbers. Perhaps this is what informs Elnathan John’s book dedication in Born on a Tuesday, which is quoted above. More…

To Be or Become: A View of Lagos through an Oyibo’s Black Nyash

By Su’eddie Vershima Agema

  • Title: Blackass
  • Author: A Igoni Barrett
  • Publisher: Kachifo Limited
  • Number of pages: 302
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

When the bare arse has been seen, what remains for a man to hide? How does our pigment determine our destiny? These questions seem to be the thrust of A Igoni Barrett’s Blackass, a funny novel of being and becoming. When one reads Barrett’s Blackass, Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis comes to mind, and that remains so throughout the book. One notices tributes to that famous, human-to-insect transformation story. For the first few pages, the reader will wonder whether they are not reading Kafka. It does not help matters that the first part of the book is preceded by a quote from the same Kafka. But, let us focus on our Blackass.


Of Transitions, Agendas and Bad Balls: Thoughts on Hamid Qabbal’s The Road to Mogador

By Su’eddie Vershima Agema

  • Title: The Road to Mogador
  • Author: Hamid Qabbal
  • Publisher: Editions Sefrioui, Essaouira, Morocco
  • Number of pages: 128
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

Hamid Qabbal has balls. In his third novel, The Road to Mogador, he disowns allegiance to his balls and paints men as monsters and women as angels trampled by these monsters. The novel is one of transition, new beginnings and gender relations. It belongs to the broad collection of works that form the corpus of Moroccan literature. More…