creation offers the opportunity to take from the table all that we ever need so we can acheive the best we ever dreamed. Thanks for visiting here.

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Friday, December 16, 2011


Honestly, I really couldn’t tell you. If I had to pray from now to the next Christmas..hey I could give you something for Xmas. First offer will be a big hug and smile that you have been part of my life for this long. You have come to this blog when you are bored? or think I may have something to offer? Or as I fondly think, you wanted to encourage me to touch the stars and make one mine.
I did own one star, actually several stars, all those that have come to view this blog, nodded and even dropped a comment or two. We have met through dreams, mists of the sheer substance of creativity. I have through you opened my inner being to the light substance of the Muse and searched for the meaning of my existence. I have lived through months and moments of  happiness it will probably take a life time to define. I have met human beings who lit up in airy shades of happiness my corner of space and the universe. In long nights of hunger for the meaning of life, I have been touched by what you have favoured me with.
Gerry Huntman
Life was not for me riches in currency, but in the experiences and the flight of my soul to touch the outer span of your thoughts and soar to heights undreamed of through your thoughts. What should I offer you for Xmas? Let’s make twin flights back and through the meadows remember those who have shared this blog with me and who have touched you and I one way or the other. Center Stage really started this way
This week I am starting something new. Apart from my regular writings, I wish that we get to know ourselves a bit more. I would like to introduce guests. Authors, poets whose work I have admired. They bring to the human table their own very talents and have been a great influence one way or the other. Actually writing is a great influence one way or the other. My first offering this week is someone who I hold in very high esteem and feel he is very special.
The truth of a human soul shines through from the windows of his spirit and that is in the eyes. My people will tell you, the conversation is in the eye. I have the distinct pleasure therefore to invite you to read about Gerry HUNTMAN
I learned many things about writing over those years, the hard way. Perhaps the most useful and rewarding was joining a small virtual group of speculative fiction writers, which eventually became the nucleus of the International Fantasy Writers Guild, and which culminated in us forming a publishing company. It was then that I discovered that I also had the right temperament and skills to be an editor - and which I have honed since then.

Over the last few years I have grown as a writer, culminating in 2010 where I had 10 short stories accepted for publication, as well as my first published novel, GUARDIAN OF THE SKY REALMS.

JAN 13 2011
Elixabeth Lang
The Empire by Elizabeth Lang
I would like first of all to congratulate Elizabeth for a very brilliant piece. I would like to thank her for giving heart stopping moments. She wove a story of love, naked abuse of power, real evil and outright hypocrites. I would like to thank her for using the novel “The Empire to lay bare our pretensions to civilization and ‘empire building.’ I have never felt so involved in a supposed fantasy as Elizabeth made me feel with the brilliant characterization of Adrian Stannis, Kali MIrren and the very awful Sester. Humanity has great potential for infinite good and absolute evil and in the portrayal of Adrian, the scientist who learned through love to discover his own humanity and almost die in the process of saving humanity, I had an urgent prayer that copies of this book be made available to all those ‘intelligence’ men. The tragedy might be they may not find themselves in time as Sester did. I could not drop the book even as my eyes went heavy, every page held me and tortured me with the hunger to know more so I kept turning the pages and forgot all else. Thank you Ms Lang. Congratulations, may your quill continually flow with creativity.
In talking about herself this very creative and exceptional author said:
I'm a Canadian, born in Hong Kong. I've been writing for about 3 years. The Empire is my first published novel, though it's not my first novel-length story. It is my first original one.

In my other life, I'm an IT professional, working mainly in a software development company specializing in insurance.

I've worked on various projects in many places and especially enjoy working overseas, most recently in Taiwan and India.
I find it fascinating learning about different cultures and perspectives in a work and social setting rather than just as a tourist. And, of course, I love sampling the foods of the various regions. 
2. You write science fiction, and have now published a very brilliant piece: “The Empire” how do you feel?
Thanks, Biola. I can't lie...it feels great! I hadn't considered publishing The Empire but I had thought of being published eventually, so this was a great opportunity. I really must thank my publishers, IFWG Publishing for taking a chance on The Empire.

Sunday, March 6, 2011
ONET’S TALE: My Review
 Onet’s tale is a chilling warning of what real evil could be. I never was into sci-fi and definitely this one held me by my short hairs. It grabbed from the first page and refused to let go until the very last. I found the interesting twist at the end more frightening. For I felt Onet was the absolute evil itself. I would not deign to classify it as even near human. I found the way women were portrayed a bit of a hard chew, which being female I guess is understandable. I would like to congratulate Jack for this brilliant work and can only say, in obedience to his statement from the beginning, mankind sows seeds in words, actions and in thoughts and the consequences of such sowing lies at their feet. I would sincerely hope the world will be spared the thoughts of the Khaz.
Jack Eason
 I ‘met’ Jack Eason on one of the social networking sites, specifically FACEBOOK. He had a contained presence even then and has this brusque vinegar and lime gentleman courtesy towards me. I took a risk, I decided I liked him which may have annoyed him but he was (and still is) unfailingly encouraging and supportive as I submitted my book and waited for the publishers to take a decision. He remained always encouraging and had a deep sense of what I may be going though. His book came out and I was awed but for all I know it was Greek. I read it and yes, that is my review you just read. I have retained my respect for Jack since then knowing full well we are cut from different bands of light. It is thus my pleasure to bring Jack Eason to Center Stage. Please enjoy the interview.
1.Tell me a bit of what you thought of in your younger days as you gazed at the stars?

Like most people from my generation, I grew up as the space race was in its infancy. I still remember the reports when Sputnik was heard beeping for the first time. We all thought it was a wonderful technological achievement at the time. As for my literary preference for science fiction novels and short stories Biola, my imagination was fired by authors like Arthur C Clark. I must admit that it was several years before I got bitten by the astronomical bug. But when I did I spent many happy nights looking up towards the stars, wondering if we were the only sentient beings in the entire universe.

Merry Xmas and Season's Greetings to all. I do have stars in my eyes.

Monday, December 5, 2011


He is Nigerian of the mould of the Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka and as radical as they come. A chief in his own right , tall, spare with a piercing turn of language, my guest on Center Stage today… Chief Sehinde Arogbofa.
Chief Arogbofa started having his books published 37 years ago while still in school. Today he has15 books to his credit and was for a time the state chapter chairman of the Association of Nigeria Authors. (ANA). When I met him, I had asked him to review my debut collection of poems titled CHANTS IN MY DREAMS. He looked at me and gave a wry grin asking why I wanted to launch myself into the public with a book of poems. He said, "books rarely make the grade as pleasure reading and you are thinking of poetry". I laughed then, shrugged and said I might as well start from the deep end of the pool. He reviewed the book to a crowd of 5 who had come for the launching. He watched me keenly trying to guage my reaction to the non existent crowd as the 5 were all family. I think he adopted me thereafter and faithfully attended all other book presentations I have done since then. The attendance got better and I think he approved of me too.

I am thus not reviewing a particular book of Arogbofa, (I would need to review all 17 books published to date) but having a chat with him about the Nigerian Literary scene. It is an interesting conversation, please read.

  1. You have been a published author for some 37 years now, please tell me what it has been like and your experience
Well Biola, I have enjoyed myself a lot. I started writing because I wanted to leave something behind for posterity. I have received some level of satisfaction through that.

  1. Early Nigerian writers have tended to become activist of some sort or the other, why is that?
Interesting! Well you could say a lot of us started out being members of the literary and debating clubs in secondary schools. Naturally I started writing about the things around me, commenting about the society and as a teacher of young persons, which was a natural profession for most of us, I guess becoming at some level an activist was a foregone thing. It came with the territory. Speaking for myself, but for my teaching profession I probably would have been as radical as the late activist Gani Fawehinmi.

  1. The Nigerian literary scene is rather lethargic in the sense that creative authors have an uphill task getting recognition why?
Well, up to some point, you are correct Biola, but the problem is deeper than that. Generally very few Nigerians read for pleasure and reading is restricted to the academia. People read to pass examinations, the lecturers publish in order to sell to the students or make money or get promotions.

  1. Some years ago you were the State chairman of the association of Nigeria Authors ANA, what really does ANA do for its members?
ANA provides a forum for authors to meet, exchange ideas, fellowship and discuss current trends In writing. It has a yearly conference that affords its members to also celebrated excellence. The body tries to network with similar bodies of West African authors to enhance its activities.
  1. Authors today have embraced self publishing in order to get their work noticed, what do you think?
I do not really like self publishing as there are too many disadvantages. One, there is no real editing done and the author is the editor, review person and marketer. The author has no real knowledge of market forces and is subjective about the reception of the book. Most authors do not have much of a choice than to be self published. The Nigerian experience of traditional publishers leaves a lot to be desired. Most traditional publishers here are arrogant, discriminatory and they tend to check if you have a political clout that will ensure sales. 
You also find that these traditional publishers do not give the author enough publicity relying solely on the social standing of the author to push sales. This can be very depressing for an upcoming author. Writers here do not get decent publicity at all so there is little appreciation of the creative potentials that abound in this country. Chinua Achebe became very popular and celebrated because of the publicity he got outside the country.

  1. Internationally, there are different genres of writing with fantasy, horror, sci-fi commenting with old traditional genres of writing, would we be able to see a Nigerian J.K Rowling?.
Why ever not? We had D.O. Fagunwa who wrote about the forest of a thousand demons. How many Nigerians have read about him? Or his books? As I mentioned earlier, it is about appreciation, and proper publicity. D.O. Fagunwa is in some way our own Shakespeare. I mean his town has become a tourist attraction because people want to visit the forest of a thousand demons.

  1. Give advice to young and upcoming authors
Practice makes perfect we say, you must always write, write and write. You should also understand what you write. I remember I wrote in one of my books about witches and witchcraft. A friend called me after reading it and wondered if I am a witch. I laughed and took that as a compliment because it meant I had made the book believable. That is the beauty of creativity.

  1. Could a writer in Nigeria make writing a ful time profession?
Heck no! He will be hungry for a long time. In this country, writing can at best be a serious hobby. You should have some financial background. Have a job, have a business and you will derive some satisfaction from your hobby thereafter.

  1. I see that you have written almost exclusively drama plays.
Yes. Biola I am actually more of a playwright than an author, I read your books as prose and doff my hat to your expertise but seriously I do not write prose. You could say I am lazy. Besides I think plays serve me better as vehicles to comment on the society I live in.

  1. Are any of your books listed on amazon.com or some such?
(smiles) I think I will ask my publishers if they have done that, but I come from the old line, we just wait for royalty which has gone through all types of deductions.

Thank you for coming on Center Stage.

Thursday, November 24, 2011



You know by now that we sometimes get lucky and have a guest paying us a  visit. Our guest today is none other than Ian Hall 
When I fist got in touch with Ian, I naively said I would like to read his book first before sending my questions after all the rationale of Center Stage is to read the book, review it and then ‘chat’ with author on Center Stage. Ian must have laughed when he said his book was 200,00 words strong 605 pages. I gulped. He offered that I could read in bits, I stared at the computer screen wondering if I just read those words 605 pages. I gave a timid reply asking if there was a review I could read meanwhile I took a look at what he had sent. Heck, it is history book of guns, war, sickness and Jamie. 6 pages into the book I was laughing while I wanted to give Jamie a spanking too. Well,  Ian is here and I would like to share him with you. Ian Hall author of the very readable and enjoyable book “OPPORTUNITIES”

First of all I would like to congratulate you. That was one hell of a story Ian. I am at best an old lady of 61 living in the middle of nowhere in Nigeria and you took me back into the middle ages and one hell of a journey that I was shocked to find I did not want it to end.
This is incredible as my jaw had dropped when you landed 605 pages on me! I would like to assure you I am reviewing my naïve promise that I give to authors that I need to read the book first. Seriously though, I feel exhilarated almost confused myself into thinking I am a sailor now.
1.Now Captain, if we may start this sail appropriately, please tell us about yourself
I’m 51, born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and immigrated ten years ago to Kansas in the USA. I started writing 15 years ago, but only seriously for twelve or so. Midlife crisis, etc. Opportunities isn’t my first novel, but it’s the first one to be actually finished.
2, Opportunities like an onion story has a lot of layers and it is a straight adventure story, why did you write it?
I’m a bit of a historian, you’d never guess, and when I found the Scottish Darien story, it was a bit of a surprise to me. I’d never heard hide nor hair of it before. It kinda became a big-interest deal for me; I wrote a song about it, and it must have festered in my head for a few years. Then I wrote the (then) short story of Jamie stowing away. (I must say here, that if it hadn’t been for my wife Karla, Jamie would never have been born) When I opened the second chapter, I still didn’t know where Jamie was, and the story then wrote itself. I was only along for the ride. After Jamie was under my skin, the rest was almost a compulsion. Jamie really has become a member of the family.
3, Jamie grew right in our eyes from a cold faced street savvy urchin to prosperous shrewd merchant ship owner making the title of the book “OPPORTNUNITIES” most apt. Man is always given opportunities and what he makes of it becomes his responsibility right?
Whether it be begging (or in Jamie’s case) stealing a penny, or using your business acumen to prosper, there are ‘opportunities’ everywhere. I believe that God has a purpose for everyone, and it’s up to us to open our eyes to find it. The short story was called “Opportunities”, and the theme never changed; right to the very end. It also carries Jamie into his later adventures. 
4. In today’s world, do you see your book picking up interest and steam?
Good question. If you look at today’s genres, historical fiction is selling very well. Also, Hollywood is dying before our eyes looking for new, fresh material. My plan is to get Jamie (Opportunities) to the Edinburgh International Book Festival next August, and present it there.
5. What made you want this kind of writing?
I’m not constrained by genre. I’ve also written Sci Fi, Horror, and American. I’ve had high plaudits and won awards in other genres.
6. Have you ever wanted to be a sailor, a pirate or an empire builder?
Oh, heck, NO. While I’m at my pc, I’m relatively safe. I know the facts about life back then, two million sailors dying from scurvy etc. Plus, I’m crazy scared of heights. I get on rung two of a ladder, and I’m getting nervous. I don’t even buy thick socks!
7. The world is full of people like Byres, Pennecuick and Kidd, what exactly were you trying to tell us about such leaders?
Basically, I told the story as the historical facts presented themselves. These men were asses, almost the lot of them. Good ideas have to be driven by good men to succeed. If the leader is not perfect, he can surround himself by good men, and he can still achieve great things, but if there’s not a rock foundation to build upon, there’s nothing at the core, so the idea withers away.
8. It is said that if we look hard enough, there is always a moral in every tale, what is it for “OPPORTUNITIES”?
I guess the whole idea behind the book is what’s called in American Football, the “Hail Mary Pass”. It’s the last chance for victory, when not getting the pass to the appointed player, absolute disaster occurs. In the late 1600’s, Scotland had many years of bad harvest. England was at war with every nation we traded with, so all the ports were blockaded. It was Scotland’s last chance for survival. We missed the pass. And as a result, England annexed Scotland, and we were powerless to stop it. Now, the very act of union in 1707 actually set Scotland free, into a bit of a renaissance, but it spelled the end of us as a single nation. My wife, Karla, said that I embodied all my love for my country into that little boy. I just hope he can cope!
9. What comes after this? Are you on a new story?
Oh my. You had to ask that one. Here we go; Jamie 2 is 70,000 words done. “Opportunities; Jamie Leith the Jacobite.” Six years past the end of Opportunities, Jamie gets ‘restless’. A mysterious Scot offers Jamie a chance of a big ship in exchange for helping put King James VIII back on the throne. So book 2 goes from Providence RI, to France, Scotland, Ireland. There’s also a heartwarming chapter when he meets his mum again.
I also discovered Kindle and Nook, so am in the middle of putting all my shorts, and a couple of novels onto Kindle. I’ve also just finished a Sci Fi novel collaboration novel, with book 2 also being written. And I’m also in the middle of another five, maybe six projects.
10. I loved specially Jamie Leith making good but there is the sneaking feeling that he survived not because he had heroes worth emulation, Drummond was a weak wicket and Fonab made me yawn, what effect do you think the story of Jamie will have on modern street children?
I’m not advocating thievery as a way of getting to the top, but there is the undercurrent of never giving up, never letting go of your dreams, no matter what hits you.
11. 605 pages was a lot of pages for a novel, read more like an epic, is that going to be a standard with you?
No. At 200,000 words, Jamie will probably be the longest book I’ll ever write. I thought about breaking it in two, but there was never a good chopping point. The Sci Fi collaboration is 37,000 words, and Jamie 2 will probably be about 150,000.
12. Share a day with us on your writing schedule.
Ok. I get up when I wake up (7am-9am, it just depends on what I did last night, or how the night went). No breakfast. I go next door to my ‘man-cave’ (yes, I have one) and put on Mike Oldfield. I write till 10am, maybe more, but I try to keep 10 as my cut-off. I try and get at least 1000 words done a day, but have done 4500 at times. I then have to ‘work’; two doors away to the ‘jewelry room’ and make jewelry, circlets, tiaras for a few hours. (lunch sometimes) Post office, then dinner, then back to the man-cave for more writing or watching sci-fi, tv, or soccer.
13. Please give us links to sites where your book might be purchased.
www.amazon.com (search for Ian Hall in books, or in Kindle)
www.barnesandnoble.com (same search)
14. Do you have a fan page? Please supply links.
http://www.jamieleith.com/ (Jamie Leith Chronicles website)
15. Who would you recommend this book to?
Anyone who likes History, Scottish History, Real life Adventure, or a rollicking good yarn.
Thank you Ian for coming on Center stage.
Thank you Abiola

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The question was simple

Give a saying
Of the ancestors

The hare being small
spoke first
with a glance
at the lion
he affirmed that
no matter how tiny
the needle;
the chicken cannot swallow it
the lion sniffed and tossed
his mane in affirmation.

The ant looked at the elephant and said,
‘If we enter through your southern gate
we can stop you
and make you stampede in pain’

Then the tortoise was asked
to give a saying from the
he scratched his pate
and looked down in shame
the vulture cackled
‘Stupid as usual’

the tortoise walked
the earth from
east to west
picking all the
wisdom he could find,
into a calabash gourd
to shame all and one.

He searched for the tallest tree
determined to hang
all  wisdom
 out of reach
he held the gourd
firmly to his chest,
as he tried
to climb the tallest tree.

The squirrel passing by
stopped and wondered
"but why don’t you sling
the gourd  on your back
to make it easy to climb?

As tortoise stared in shock
the squirrel rushed up the
tree as he muttered and
shook his tail
‘stupid as usual’

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Oronshen: Goddess, Myth or Fact

Every Yoruba Kingdom has always been able to identify and trace its roots to the cradle that is to say you will find every Yoruba city, village, or even hamlet tell you tales about how they came from the ancient kingdom of Ile Ife.
Ile-Ife also has its own story, it is the story of creation, how Man came to be and the concept of the eternal struggle between good and evil. Sometimes in the struggle, gods and goddesses are apportioned powers, responsibilities and I always found it very refreshing that very much like the Greek Pantheon, the Yoruba race has very human gods and goddesses whom they see as errand mortals achieving immortality after fulfilling their specific tasks on earth. Thus the concept of Destiny, Fate, and Karmaic returns originates from the Godhead and is given recognition in the lives of the average Yoruba man or woman.
Civilization has arrived and we have accepted its sometimes doubtful benefits but the average Yoruba man is deeply rooted in his native religion no matter how much allegiance he is expected to give to the new fancied imported religion. You will find thus in every city a patron god or goddess that the city has deified for one thing or the other.
In Owo a town in the Ondo State, a goddess, has been deified and is worshipped  and commemorated very faithfully every September. I call her very simply our own Venus, the goddess of Love but she is better recognized as ORONSHEN. That was not really her name, but it is the name  that every citizen and visitor remembers her by. Now simply translated ORONSHEN means “No TROUBLE HAS OCCURRED” it is in direct contradiction to what happened and what led to her worship.
As the myth or story goes, Oronshen was a half mythical woman that the king of Owo kingdom happened upon at night in the forest as he and his warriors took a  much needed rest from the infernal inter -tribal wars that was the bane of the Yoruba kingdoms.  As the story goes, the king  watched a beautiful creature take on the shape of an exquisitely beautiful woman and was intrigued. He traced her to a vassal town as a stranger living with a hunter. She attened a festival of the king and the king fell in love with her. Before she agreed to become his wife she explained that certain taboos must be maintained. These taboos were simple enough but she insisted it must be kept. The besotted king agreed and a marriage took place.
Oronshen ‘s arrival at the palace upstaged all the other queens breeding jealousy, hate and anger. She was also reputed to have made the king very wealthy by some magical art of excreting priceless corals. Naturally the king had no more time for the other queens in the palace. A plan was thus concoted by the enraged and neglected wives. They plied the king with palm wine until half- drunk he disclosed the true nature of his strange queen. War broke out and the king went to defend his territories, In his absence, the queens took their revenge and openly broke the taboos of Oronshen, who left the palace in distress.
When the King returned, he sent warriors on a desperate search for her, they met her at the mouth of a grove and she refused to return rejecting all pleas. She however relented enough to offer to be a protector of the kingdom requesting that the king with his subjects must return to the grove every year to supplicate her in they ever were in distress or needing help of any human nature. The spot where she indicated was thus identified as Ugbo Laja (the reconciliatory grove).
Fact or Fiction: Archeological digs at the Ugbo Laja have confirmed that the grove had been a repository of clay pots, offertory carvings and such stuff dating back to the assumed time when the festival of Oronshen was suspected to have started. These relics have been carbon dated and give credence to the story.
To this day, as the month of September draws near, there are precise announcements to the people of the town. Beating of drums and such merriment is forbidden. The warriors do a special ceremony with long sticks in a fairly secretive ceremony exclusive to the lineage of the warriors who first went to search for the queen. A particular quarter of the town carried this singular responsibility. There after the king proceeds to the grove for the prayers and supplication. He is decked out in a beaded blouse, a white wrapper. The king has golden swords and heavy coral beads (symbols of the wealth of Oronshen) on his wrists. Infact the coral beads about his person are so heavy and plentiful that two chiefs hold his arms as he makes his way from the palace to the grove. The solemnity and pageantry of the event has made the event a tourist attraction to Owo. The trip to the grove serves as the climax to the festival. However an exclusive festival of the queens who had naturally become devotees of ORONSHEN also takes place within the palace premises.
Modernism, Religion and Commerce: Oronshen has evolved over 600 years into a planned and well orchestrated festival that spans a 24 day period. Its tourists potentials are being harnessed to create and enhance the economic potentials of the town to its sons and daughters within and outside the country. Purists of Oronshen worry that Modernism may soon erode the real social and moral benefits that Oronshen had for the people and a tribal tradition and legacy may soon be lost. Society thrives on change and has a tendency to be deaf to the lessons of its past. One of the effects of colonization and modern religion on our culture, ethos and customs is to create a sense of shame in all things native as it had been translated as barbaric. There is the other view that change is a necessary force, darkness is the absence of knowledge, so the town needs to exploit modernism to bring the savage things we did in the past into the light of reasonable civilization. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

In the African concept, a sexual health discussion is held with quite a lot of innuendoes and unfinished sentences. Most parents are very embarrassed to discuss their sexual health problems or queries with the older folks. They prefer to rely on the suspect information of their friends or surf the Net for answers!
Policy makers and implementators are yet to give honest, open lectures on sexual health a recognized place in the school curriculum. It is thus not very surprising that the fight against the spread of STD's and HIV particularly is moving rather slowly.
The young person grows within a society and is bewildered by the inconsistencies he finds within. The boy is expected to be virile and active while the girl is assumed to be virginal and chaste. These realities are barely acknowledged but do affect the attitude of youth to each other resulting sometimes in risky sexual attitude.
I say the economies of living because even rich people hardly ever know how to handle the exigencies of negotiating a responsible life style let alone teach the youth how to live responsibly. Poverty of both funds and right knowledge is one of the important factors that the youth must understand if he is to effect a change.
What role can the youth play in behavioral communication change.
He must be able to have right access to correct information and be empowered to assess information he receives and process it accordingly.
Ability to access information depends on the facilities available to him. We already have mentioned quite a few. The key factor on this will be his relationship with the source of information. Relationships and our dependence on them determine our ability to process such information towards change. If we are able to trust our source of information, then processing is easy. We tend to collect information from our peers but are they really trust worthy sources? In early adolescence, from the ages of 10 15 or thereabouts, our peers exert a great influence on our information processing ability. Our self-awareness is just coming into play and we sense the need to belong. But a more trusted source of information ought to be our teachers, parents and at a level, our information services like the print and electronic media. The youth of today has moved from a lack of information to a surfeit of information. Why does he need to change his attitude? He now has a surfeit of information! The fact is he has a surfeit of superfluous information! A chat room in a Cyber café is the last place a 13 year old should go to have a chat because that child lacks the right negotiating skills to maintain a relationship.
Life skills are developed and enhanced by availability of correct and accurate information. Youth need to able to negotiate their different realities in relationship. That is what makes it easy for them to have the right emotional, and mental perspective on their goals and dreams. He must be empowered by the right kind of information to have the ability to negotiate his relationships with his friends, his peers, his parents and the society at large.
Communication in its right format and perspective helps the youth to understand these realities and process accordingly.
What can the youth do in ensuring these changes are positive?
He must be willing to identify his own goals and dreams and define the priorities that can make these dreams actualities. Youth are natural scientist in the fact that they experiment a lot! They tend to believe practically everything they see and half of what they hear. It makes them feel cool, hip, with it? Right! However a focused youth who has a set goal will take a more pro-active measure towards achieving his set goals and will naturally seek out the right sources of information. He would employ what comes to him, naturally, the ability to question and assess the consequences of his actions. He would be able to define his identity and accept his differences from his fellows as not an embarrassment but see it as a uniqueness of his person.
He would have a list of priorities and belief system that he can trust and defend. This will give him an identity of himself, which gives him confidence and trust in his ability to achieve his set goals.
Here's the problem. When do you really decide it is okay to have sex? I mean in my days, it was hinted at, we whispered about it but I very much doubt if we really knew what it really meant. Let me tell you a little bit of what relationships were like amongst us and our parents, especially for those who had parents that were not very educated. My dad spoke English to me. He got as far as standard four. That was education then. He ran away to join the army he says because he wanted to be in on the action. When he was demobbed, he worked for the British tobacco company and was paid something like ten shillings.
I could not possibly imagine me and Dad talk about when I could have a sexual relationship! Now there was another problem, as far as my mum was concerned I was 'alakowe' that is to say, I was educated. In essence I ought to know better than her. Technically in terms of academics ,she may be right. But heck, we were talking about negotiating a safe relationship with the opposite sex and as far as we know, it was zilch! Let us take a breather from my story and take some hard look at today's scenario. How much different was it from what obtained in the past? Today's children make up for what they miss on the pages of newspapers, electronic media with surfing the internet. I once watched in rapt horror as two girls discussed how you could pick up a date on the internet! I have daughters and I watch them sometimes with some fascination when their friends come visiting. The law in the house is clear, no visitors of the opposite sex! Sounds archaic? But for goodness sake is there a manual about how to tell your child the intricacies of first sexual experience or phew! If you should know what to do? In my last year at school, when I came to the village, I would have male friends come visit. My mum did not frown, she excused us by leaving me alone in the room with them. She innocently thought, she was giving me respect and privacy. She also felt being better educated than her, I would know better! I know a lot of my contemporaries who abused that ignorant trust. The nearest to sexual education we got in those days were strictures! Nice girls don't get pregnant. I lost a school mate who out of terror did an abortion and died from it. For most of us, I tended to think it was the fear of death from abortion that kept us from experimenting. Today, there is the added knowledge of HIV, so I guess a niggling horror of contracting that keeps some girls and boys for that matter from experimenting. I also learned through the years that parents are yet to have a clear understanding about how to go about handling their adolescent children. It could be very confusing and I look forward to the day when we can sit our children down in true African fashion and show them a viable working manual for life. In this day of grinding poverty and awful wealth, a man has to define himself every step through every experiencing, how he wants to weave the tapestry of his journey here. Sound like preaching? I guess, you could say that. Communication is fluid and mobile mechanism that we must use each time. Responsibility is not only about feeding and sending the children to school but also looking after the emotional need of the child. I remember one time in Lagos during the launch of one of our series, the Kenyan musician Tedd Josiah, said something. He said, sex for young adults was just so much nervous expenditure of energy. He tried to explain to the students we had invited, that self control was possible if it is backed by knowledge. Do parents talk? Do they have correct and accurate information they can pass on. We heard quite a lot of myths! We believed them. I grew up on a diet of authors like Denise Robins who wrote for audience that may not have included me. It gave me an unrealistic concept of men. I saw them as chivalrous! How mistaken I was, as very painful avoidable experiences came my way. I had to grope my way to maturity! It was not a picnic. Maybe one of the reasons I am writing this at all is to expiate some of the guilt we feel for some of the things we did. I could have listened meekly to my mum, but my age and ignorance were factors that did not help. So when she said, promise to marry him but do not get pregnant, she really lost a lot of moral ground. When she made a u-turn and said I could no longer marry him, I felt betrayed! I had been brought up to that point by my father to believe that a man's word was sacred. I had given my word to him that I would marry him, as long as I had no reason to believe that status quo had changed I was not prepared to change my word! I had a bitter few months with my mum. The bit of closeness we had achieved evaporated. Then she said, if I married him she would disown me! What was that? I left the next morning. I stayed away for seven years.

Thursday, October 27, 2011





Paula Boer is a writer with an interest in nature and travel. She lives in New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and a variety of animals. When she is not writing, she loves exploring the countryside, reading and playing the piano.
It is my pleasure to welcome Paula Boer on Center Stage.
I ‘met’ via the internet and through her debut novel THE OKPAI PROMISE. I was intrigued about the novel. Well, what did I think? Paula knows how to spin a story. I am African and shook my head at all that happened in the forests. I am not so sure I agree with the doctor in withholding the promise of the Okapi to humanity. I took with a dim view his pretensions that he would like us to remain savages for long. He played the classic Zeus complex. I was hurt at the unnecessary murder of Derik and felt Paula did not show us the proper justice that was coming to Cheryl. Okapi promise had my full attention from being a simple and interesting travelogue to a chilling murder thriller. Like the African weather Paula was unpredictable and took me through a variety of emotions but I was held by her expertise. Loved the story and felt sad about tragedy- prone Derik. Then I heard through our joint publisher IFWG Publishing that Paula has done it again, she is about to launch her second novel BRUMBIES so felt it appropriate to invite her to Center Stage for a chat. Please enjoy the interview.
1.    Congratulations Paula on your up- coming book, please share your thoughts on it.
Thanks, Biola. 
2.    Who is Paula really?
I've had a number of careers, starting with farming in England when I left school at age 15. After a while I decided I would like to own my own farm, so went into computing to earn better money. After twenty years (a lot longer than I thought), I did end up with a hobby farm, where my husband Pete and I had up to thirteen horses at one stage. Then we retired early as we decided to simplify our lives and sold everything up to travel around Australia. During that time I started writing; now I consider that my third career.
3.    Would it be right to make the outrageous submission that you love animals a little teeny bit more than humans?
No. I think you should say A LOT more! Animals and wilderness are my passions. I love my close friends, but can happily live without people en masse.
4.    In the Okapi promise, one could surmise that you have misgivings about the effect of civilization on the human mind and behavior, is that true?
I don't have misgivings about the effect on humans per se, more the impact of so called civilisation on the planet. Personally, I think living in balance with nature is preferable to exploiting the earth's resources.
5.    Okapi promise was a travelogue/suspense/crime thriller, Brumbies promises to be different, it is a shift from the previous genre? Why?
I was taught 'write about what you know'. The Okapi Promise was based on my own travels in Africa and my concern about the widespread nature of rabies across the world. The Brumbies series expresses my years of experience working with and enjoying horses. I loved The Silver Brumby series as a child, and have heard many young people wish for more horsey books, so I targeted that age group, but the series can be (and has been) enjoyed by adults too.
6.    You wrote Okapi promise from the view point of a benevolent person that seemed to respect the norms of the Okapi people, but one came away from the book that there was something primitive and naive about their acceptance of the tourists which would thus indicate they already had contact with the symbols of civilization, wasn’t the doctor playing god in refusing the rest of humanity the opportunity for healing?
Each reader is likely to have a different take on that (and there were four points of view used in the narration). I try to put forward all sides of a story and let others decide what is right or wrong. I can only present the information as I understand it. I try very hard not to preach through my writing.
7.    What genre of writing has had the most impact on you and thus influenced your writing?
I think the biggest influence has to be that I don't stick to a single genre in my reading. I read both fiction - science fantasy, historical drama, thrillers and so on) and non-fiction - coffee table books, 'how-to' books, essays, even dictionaries!
8.    There is a growing sense that the written word is going out of fashion, yet it had shaped millions of people in the past, what do you think as an author of e-books, electronic libraries as against the traditional library of the printed word.
I believe there is room for both. Personally, I only read paper books. However, I recognise that other people prefer an electronic medium. It's good to have a choice.
9.    As we await the imminent launch of Brumbies, what do you hope it will achieve for you as well as the readers you intend it will benefit.
I hope the Brumbies series will be successful in numbers of sales, both for my personal gratification but also to promote IFWG Publishing. As a small independent publisher that looks after their authors, I would like to see IFWG do well and rise up to be respected and recognised by the industry.
For the readers, I hope they will enjoy the same thrills that I have in sharing the outdoors with horses, whether that be only in their minds or results in them experiencing Australia's high country and wild horses first hand.
10. The developing world has a lot to catch up with particularly in the widening of their horizons through reading, yet the reading culture is dead on arrival in my neck of the woods, books are expensive and publishers are worried about making returns on their investment, do you have any suggestions for us on how we can access your books fairly moderately?
I have only visited Nigeria briefly, so can't claim to be able to solve local problems in Africa. However, I do believe that schools and libraries (state based and charitable as well as private) should play a significant role in making books accessible to a wide as audience as possible, both young and old. I believe education is the key to understanding the problems facing the world and hope that through an informed populace we can fix the damage done by previous generations.
11. Are there plans to market Brumbies to reach the African market?
As for all IFWG publications, Brumbies will be available online, so should be available wherever there is access to the Internet (subject to countries' import conditions). If I make another journey to Africa, I will be happy to do book signings wherever I am invited!
12. You are an established author, please give advice on how one can maintain a sustainable writing career.
Write, write, write. Listen to advice (but only act on it if either three or more people tell you or you wholeheartedly agree with it). Don't give up – be self-motivated and determined. And, despite writing at times being work, enjoy the process! We (should) write by choice, or because we feel compelled to do so, not because of any desire to achieve fame or fortune, sell a message or because we feel obliged to share our story.
13. Do you worry about how your next book will be received?
Of course! The process of writing from experience is very personal. But I hope that I can take any criticism constructively and use it to improve future writing.
14. Most authors look forward to seeing their books become a success even being adapted into a film, which of your books will you like to see as a film one day?
All of them. Seriously, I believe either The Okapi Promise or the Brumbies Series would make fabulous films – great scenery, lots of action, and hopefully characters that viewers can relate to. Bring it on!

You can buy THE OKAPI PROMISE online at amazon.com. Kindle, Barnes & Noble, and most online stores anywhere. BRUMBIES is scheduled for release in a matter of days WATCH OUT!!
Thank you Paula for coming on Center Stage.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Center Stage with Jeannette Katzir

Today I have the pleasure to introduce on Center Stage Jeannette Katzir
Jeannette Katzir

She is someone who made me emotional after reading her book. I remember not immediately being able to say anything. I had taken a cursory look at the first page intending to read it later as I was just finishing a screen play and felt I should rest for a few hours at least. It was a mistake opening that first page. I was tired, needed to make dinner and I had Jeannette to thank for sleeping hungry and exhausted at the end of the read some eighteen hours later. My neck was stiff and I had lived through a thousand agonies of pain, fear, hurt and exasperation. In fact at the end of my reading I had to send Jeannette this short instant poem:

Just one bird,
it flew the skies
on one broken wing
as her dream died at dawn
unable to feel the heat of the sun
the caress of the winds
the soft murmur of a fresh spring
for as a broken bird she flew the skies
pain and fear through her soul
Channa oh Channa.

I am sure when I sent it to Jeannette she must have blinked and wondered what kind of person I am. I was that affected and immersed. Before I bring on my guest I would most earnestly recommend her book,”Broken Birds”. To anyone who has been at the receiving end of injustice through racism. Let me share a few of the comments that this book has elicited, so you will know why you ought to get a copy soonest

“ . . . The final hundred pages of "Broken Birds" are thrust and parry, insult and body blow. It's nasty, nasty stuff, and yet I didn't turn away. And not because I'm a voyeur; in that game, I'm an amateur. But stories are life, distilled; as a collector of stories, I'm All Pro, and so, I'd bet, are most of you. And when the storyteller is gifted, our capacity to hear them expands.”
-Jesse Kornbluth,
The Huffington Post & HeadButler.com

“ . . . Katzir’s pacing was impeccable . . . I could not put it down from the first day I began reading it . . . I truly felt as if I, too was hiding from the Nazis and running for my life . . . [The] realistic portrayal of her beloved parents really added depth and complexity to this memoir. . . ”
 Let us now return to Jeannette, please enjoy the interview.

 Please tell us a bit about yourself 
I'm a fifty-  plus year old wife, mother, grandma-ma, author, equestrian, photographer and travel-aholic.  I started seriously writing after my mother's death and haven't been able to stop. I'm putting the finishing touches on book #2 and am co-writing a children series with two of my riding buddies.
2.    Broken Bird is a very powerful story but it is a family story, is it personal? Your name is Jeannette and not the name of the author.
 It is a non-fcition memoir about myself and my family.  It can't come any more personal than that.

3.    You have explored several themes in the story, particularly about racism, and parenting, which one of the themes has impacted on you most? 
Being jewish in a predominately non-jewish world and suffering from the racism it invokes has instilled a wariness in me.    Parenting is something i have dealt with since i was old enough to care for my younger siblings.  It is something i enjoy, but not nearly as much as grand-parenting.  It has all the best parts of parenting  - with  none of the worry.
4.    Channa’s story has made a very powerful impression, what would you say was the Achille’s heel that finally defeated her?
 I don't feel Channa was ever defeated, if anything the history of her youth and she herself were her worst enemies.  
5.    Parenting and family values also seem to have been given a lot of consideration in Broken Birds, both Nathan and Channa missed the point, didn’t they and why do you think so?
 I think their time in the war jaded them, and although they both tried very hard, parenting didn't come easy to them.  
6.    Please why did you opt for Broken Birds as an Ebook? Is Ebook now gaining the upper hand over traditional publishing? 
Broken birds is available in both ebook format and as a paperback, but i think traditional publishing will go the way of the 8track.
7.    Who are your favorite Authors?
8.    You mentioned in your book that there grew a systemic denial of the holocaust, what is the situation now?
 I was in germany in 2005 and sadly found holocaust denial and anti-semitism  flourishing.

9.    Distrust, has had a devastating effect on Channa’s marriage and ultimately destroyed a close knit family, do you think the story would have been different if Channa had received some counseling?
 I don't know if counseling could have fixed her.  The demons that surrounded her were profound and ever present. When she died she carried those fears with her.
10.  Why do you call her Momila? What does it mean and signify?
 Momila is a Yiddish word for mother, it is a term of endearment and my mother was very dear to me. 
11. What were the lessons you learned from the story of Channa?
 I learned that if you have children, and you do have a favorite try with everything you have not to show it.  And if you are going to be anything but fair in the handling of issues such as money, property, etc., don't be secretive, or leave the discoveries for a time after you're gone.  The children deserve to be told while you are alive so issues can be discussed.  If fairness is something you feel is unwarranted, at least tell the children to their face, because once you're gone they are left with an open wound and no way to heal it. (i am not saying you have to be fair, it is after all your right to do as you wish, but have the backbone to tell the child to his/her face).

12. What genre of writing do you prefer?
Writing broken birds, the story of my momila, a memoir, was cathartic and i'm glad i wrote it.  My  second book is a fiction - and i have enjoyed writing it very much.  The children's book is also fictional and writing this one as a group effort is a lot of fun. If i had to select a genre, i think i only had one non-fiction in me, so i'd pick fiction as my favorite.

13. Who would you recommend this book to? What has been the response to this wonderful book?

I would recommend this book to parents, so they'll understand the harm in favoritism. To grandparents, so they will know that if they leave money, property, belongings, remembrances  unevenly those left behind are left with a question in their hearts that will never be answered.  I also think anyone who wants to know what it was like to be the child of someone who suffered through such an atrocity would gain great insight after reading this book. Brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles or/and world war ii adicts would find it a fascinating read.
14. Share your writing day with this blog

 Unfortunately i wish i was able to write all day, but i can not, so i write whenever i have a couple of peaceful moments, sometimes very early in the morning and sometimes very late at night.
15.Please give links to anyone interested in buying Broken Birds.
 It is available on my websitewww.brokenbirds.com, on amazon.comBarnesandnoble.com andsmashwords.com,.  A number of small bookstores also carry them on their shelves.  

Thank you for coming on Center Stage.