Wednesday, 31 December 2014


Zaharaddeen Kallah with a Member of ANA Rivers

The 33rd Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) International Convention was held at the University of Ibadan (UI) from 11-14 November, 2014. The Association which is the largest Africa’s national authors Association coincidently had the convention in Ibadan, southwestern Nigeria, and Africa’s largest city. It was the same venue where the talents of African literary icons such as Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Elechi Amadi, Christopher Okigbo and Mabel Segun were nurtured.  
As part of the Nigerian Writers Series authors, I was specially invited to the convention in order to engage in a Book Chat, which was slated in the programme of events. I had a tedious long journey from Kano to Ibadan. I was not able to inhale the earth of the historical city until after 10:30pm. By the time I arrived UI hotel, the traditional Opening Cocktail was over. It was scheduled to be a Night of Palmwine and Poetry under the direction of PEN Nigeria General Secretary and actor, Rope Ewenla.

The next day, after taken my breakfast I rushed to the Lecture Theater of Faculty of Arts. It was the venue where the opening ceremony was held. The programme of the day began with the introduction of the special guests, among which was the President of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who was represented by his Special Assistant on Documentation, Ms. Molara Wood.
In his opening remarks, ANA President, Prof. Remi Raji said the failure to host the convention by Rivers State nearly breaks the history of the Association. River State bided to host 2014 convention, but it was canceled few days to the initial date. According to Raji, it was a miracle that the convention was hosted in Ibadan. Because, even the Executive Council of the Association had given up hope to have the convention in 2014.
The Keynote Speaker, Prof. J.O.J. Nwachukwu-Agbada of the Abia State University delivered a lecture on the topic “Literature, Languages and Diversities: How Has Nigeria Fared Since 1914?” The Professor looked at the contribution of Nigerians towards the development of literature over the one hundred years of existing of the country. The presenter was able to trace literature in Nigeria before 1914 with reference to Hausa, Yoruba and Ibo languages. He linked up with the series of literary development in the history of Nigeria from 1914 to date.
The next interesting activity was a book chat on the Nigeria Writers Series, which featured the nine out of ten Authors of the maiden edition of the series. The series had its editors as Tanure Ojaide [U. North Carolina], Chuma Nwokolo [African-Writing Journal] and Unoma Azuah [Lane College, Tennessee, USA], who selected ten manuscripts based on merit. The chat was moderated by the Association’s Vice President, Malam Denja Abdullahi, and Evelyn Osagie, a journalist with The Nation Newspaper. During interaction with audiences, people like Chike Ofili commended the Association for making a giant stride to publish new writers under Nigerian Writers Series. . 
After the book chat, I interacted with other writers especially the Secretary of ANA Lagos on the status of the Northern Nigerian Writers. In particular, the Secretary complained to me of non-availability of northerners’ works. He told me that he was compiling works of poets across the country, but found it difficult to access that of northern poets. I reasoned with him, but I told him that publicity is the major problem of northern writers, and majority of them doesn’t want to attend writers’ events like convention which would avail them the opportunity to showcase their creative works and even interact with other writers.
Based on the aforementioned challenges, it is a high time for northern poets and writers to engage themselves seriously. In Kano, writers like Prof. Yusuf M. Adamu, Ismail Bala, Aisha Zakari, Sulaiman Zailani and Khalid Imam had made their names as promising talents from Kano. So, I am appealing to the old and new budding poets like Isa Muhammad Inuwa, Faruk Sarkinfada, Tijjani Muhammad Musa, Almustapha Musa Ilyas, Bello Sagir Imam, Yaseer Kallah, Nabila Ahmad Rufa’i, Safiyya Ibrahim Abdulhamid, Aisha Umar Sanusi, Gwa Dominic Doohemba, Ahmad Salisu, Balarabe Nigerian Man, and Tahir Mahmud Saleh to learn from ANA Niger. It is hardly in any ANA convention without at least seven of their members in attendance, no matter how far the venue is. I think it is time to move our creativity beyond our locality.
In the tradition, the evening of the second day holds live drama. But on that very day, a film play by top director Tunde Kelani was featured. The drama was translated from English’s work of Femi Osofisan, “Who is Afraid of Toi Solarin” to Yoruba language.
The third day of the convention began with excursions to the University Zoo and the Adeyipo Village. The village is forty minutes journey from the University, and it hosts the African Heritage Research Library and Cultural Centre. I was only able to visit the zoo, and it amazed me to see such park runs by the University. Though I came from Kano, where our former Governor, late Audu Bako built one of the largest zoos in the country. But it interested me to see UI maintains such internal revenue generation scheme. I wish to see similar project in other Nigerian Universities.
After the excursions, the Annual General Meeting was followed. It was a business for the bona fide members of the Association. At the event, the national executive council presented various reports to the congress. So also issues arising from the State Chapters were deliberated. The last important issue at the annual general meeting was the State to host the next convention. Three states bided to host the 2015 convention. But unlike the other conventions in the past, when the state to host is announce, this time around the state to host the convention would be announced next year. The riffle is now between Anambra, Enugu and Kaduna. The readiness and commitment of any of the chapters would determine the hosting state.
The last event of the day was a dinner at the Glory View Hotel. It was a breath taking event, simply by announcing the winners of 2014 ANA prizes. The prizes were announced by Professor Nelson Fasina and Dr. Salisu Baffa. The winners are as follows: Su’eddie Vershima Agema for Poetry (jointly won) with Ebi Yeibo; May Ifeoma Nwoye (ANA/Chevron Prize for Environmental Writing); Soji Cole (ANA/Esiaba Irobi Prize for Playwriting), prize for ANA Prose went to Immanuel James. ANA Prize for Drama won by Tunji Ajibade.

Zaharaddeen Ibrahim Kallah works with the Directorate of Academic Planning, Bayero University, Kano.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014


Sameera Junaid Hassan a writer and a journalist was brought up in a family friend’s home after her father, an ex-military officer was disappointed with her birth for not being the son he passionately wished to have. Sameera comes to harm’s way when she published a book The Law of the Jungle which becomes the biggest challenge of the military. Few days after the publication, she goes missing.

New young military officers under the leadership of Brigadier Saleem Sa’ada strikes and overthrows the regime of General Danjuma. The new military regime designs a five year transition programme to bring power to its rightful owners, the democratic government. As the elections approach, a political party-UPP comes to Sameera and lobbies her to accept their presidential ticket. After a protracted race, she wins the seat and becomes an instant political figure in the world. Following her inaugural speech, she intends to actualise her vision of a united economically and politically vibrant African continent as the United States of Africa.

The Right Choice's Cover

The book is out already, hurry up and grab your copy.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014


In his room, Sameer listened attentively to the unidentified noises of the night. He had never been sad and unhappy like this. How was it possible to forget a dear lover who had been so nice to him? A girl he dreamed of marrying, a lady’s smile that seemed capable of igniting fires in him. He groaned to himself when he remembered how he had been attracted by Husna’s beautiful body, which might be lying beside the long muscular ugly arms of another person at this time. For him, it will be the busiest night in his lifetime; for Sameer, it must be the lonely night filled with nightmare.
“I could never possibly love any girl else,” Sameer told his friend when they discussed the issue.
Bashir had smiled a little, but sadly. “You can’t be serious, was it because you lost the battle now? I am sure when it’s a little farther away; you could change your mind.”
“There could never be another Husna.” Sameer added.
Later, Sameer sat down at the writing table and opened a notebook. He had kept the notebook for five years, since the beginning of relationship with Husna. In the book he had described some qualities of Husna, and his feeling towards her which he referred to as unusual. To him, no one could be more beautiful in his or her dress than Husna. She walked gently in her unique style. When she smiled she looked like a jewel throwing back the ray of the sun. She was actually calm and gentle. When she talked to him, her voice had slurred, sensual tones.
Saturday morning, Sameer planned to participate in the monthly creative writers’ forum normally organized by the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Abuja chapter. He had been a member of ANA Kano, but never bothered to attend the forum of Abuja chapter since he was posted to Abuja as a National Youth Service Corp. The agony of losing his beloved encouraged him to attend, where he could share ideas with writers and enjoy the excitement of writing. He arrived the venue at about 10:30am, and entered through the rear entrance leading directly to a hall. The hall was decorated with flowers and balloons. At one end of the room was a high table, behind it five people were seated. Plastic chairs had been arranged for the participants. Sameer quietly got a seat, he wondered how late he was. A series of poems and short stories were presented, but none of them drew his attention like a poem titled IN LOVE presented by a young lady Nabila Muhammed-a slim good looking girl, with her fine eyes and beautiful teeth. A wave of depression came over him, when her words entered his head. The poem thrust a new knife into Sameer’s heart and opened the old wounds afresh. At the other end of his heart, the poem served as an amour pierced that can make him recover possession and courage. When the forum was over, Sameer met Nabila to collect a copy of her presentation. His voice shook a little as he said. “Hello. My name is Sameer Ahmad, a youth corps serving here in Abuja. I’m impressed by your poem, it may cure my emotion.”

Nabila smiled; she looked so young and untouched in her mid twenties.
“I’m glad you appreciated it.”
“I certainly do, may I have a copy?”
“I’m afraid its finished,” She said softly, “but I will write you down the words now.” She brought out a writing block and a pen from her handbag, and wrote the words down.

In love we laughed and cried
I will sing no sad songs
For being smashed by emotion
As love is life
It could be cloaked in hypnotic slumber
I shall dismiss it mysterious
Time is the great healer
As the sun rise and set
With my golden arrow at hand
Sadly I may be in loneliness
But haply may forget.

When she finished writing it, she handed the paper to him. Sameer collected it. “Thank you very much.”
She looked up with an infectious smile. “You’re welcome.”
Sameer looked at her closely. “Haven’t we met before?”, he asked.
“Not that I’m aware of,” She replied.
“I have a feeling I have seen you somewhere, were you at ANA Kano convention?”
She nodded. “Yes, I was.”
“That’s where I saw you! He exclaimed. “I’m a member of ANA Kano.”
She gave a little laugh. “Oh! I’m from Kano too, I know some of your members. I knew Dr. Yusuf Adamu, Zaharaddeen Kallah, Aisha Zakari, Ismail Bala Garba, Badsha (badshonian motion) and many of them.”

Nabila speaks Hausa fluently, he noticed that from her accent and she was raised in the walled city of Kano.
“Where are you serving here in Abuja?” She asked
“Ministry of Information.” He answered.
“I’m leaving in Asokoro with uncle; feel free to visit me whenever you wish. I can hear more about Kano literature”
“Do you mind giving me your number please, I think I better call you at least to know if you are at home before taking my bath as a steppingstone for the preparation of seeing you for the second time.”
She burst into laughter while collecting the paper she wrote her poem on and wrote down her number on the remaining space.
“You don’t have to bathe anymore, you smell good and fresh. Here is the number. She handed the paper back to him, smiling.

Two days later, Sameer called Nabila’s mobile phone. He had planned a speech of introduction in case she didn’t remember him, or wasn’t able to place his name.
“Hello. I don’t know if you remember me. I’m Sameer, the youth corps you met at ANA Abuja forum.”
Nabila answered delightedly as though they were old friends.
“Sameer, is that you? It wasn’t long enough to forget you.”
Strange, sweet madness seized him at the sound of her voice.
“I called to hear from somebody I know in Abuja, because the day is boring to me.”
Nabila’s voice came again. “Are you all alone today?”
“Yes,” Sameer answered.
“You will come and lunch with me, won’t you?”
Something echoed desolately through his heart. “It’s awfully nice of you, Nabila. I will.”

Sameer dated a number of ladies, but he was surprised to have a new feeling. The combination of distance and closeness, fear and confidence that comes at the same time one shaking hand with other.
When Sameer arrived, he called Nabila from his mobile phone. He looked young and charming in a white shirt with blue jeans. Sameer’s heart went out to her in a great rush when she met him at the gates. She appeared in a brown lace and tied a black scarf over her shining head.
“Sameer, you are highly welcome.” She said with a smile.
She led him into a sitting room, and brought him some drinks. They talked about poetry and creative writers’ forum in Kano. Nabila was comforted by the unexpected sweetness of the story of Kano writers he told her.

At about 2:30pm a house girl came to tell them lunch was ready. Two places had been set at the end of the table. The house girl brought in dishes of Fankaso and Taushe soup. There was also a dish fish soup.

She was fully conscious of his steady gaze while she was serving herself. She asked gently. “Are you enjoying service in Abuja?”
“Yes, I am, but life here is too expensive, and the environment is married with loneliness. But, apart from these, the environment is nice.”
She sighed and said. “You will enjoy it, when I first came here, it was same story as yours.”
Sameer said. “For how long have you been in Abuja.”
“Three years, since I got admission into University of Abuja.”
“What are you studying?”
“Mass Communications.”
“A journalist to be.”

Sameer found himself listening to her, talking, and when she questioned, he was happy to reply with a care of what to say. After the lunch, they walked out on to the veranda, took seats on plastic chairs.
“I want to make you happy today,” Said Nabila. “I’m going to make you laugh. I’m going to banish your agony and cure your emotion as you said my poem could do. I’m going to make the day comfortable not boring, that’s going to be my assignment.”
Sameer smiled. He said. “I think you had also experienced mysterious emotion, your poem indicated that.”
She nodded. “Yes, I’ve suffered so much; I’ve been lonely like an orphan bird. But, I learned how to dismiss those memories.”
“Yes, you still have your golden arrow at hand.”
“Yes,” she said breathlessly. “I can shoot a new target, a chance to mould men the way I like.”
Sameer laughed aloud for the first time since Husna’s marriage. “You will take a revenge on innocent men.”
Nabila’s dark eyes lit up with seriousness as she said. “They are not good.”
“You mustn’t talk in this way. I too experienced such tragedy.” He mumbled out the story of his relationship with Husna.
Nabila felt sorry for him, how much he must have loved his lover!” Your own case is different. How, will I help you to forget the past; everything will be okay for you In-Sha-Allah. It is part of the struggle in life. According to Anthony Troshope, “those who have courage to love should have courage to suffer.” And Alfred Lord Tennyson argued that, “Is better to have loved and lose than never to have loved at all.”
Sameer nodded, feeling encouraged. But he wondered what Nabila means when she said. “I will help you to forget the past.” What could she do to bring him back to the reality he had lost?

Gradually the pattern of Sameer’s relationship with Nabila had evolved into a twist a week visit and date. Sometime he would even visit her in school. He found Nabila warm, funny and tremendously vital. He felt more at home and more comfortable in her presence than he had with any woman he had ever known. He wondered how fast the story and agonies of Husna’s relationship has disappeared from his heart. With Nabila, now everything was settled except for what basis their relationship is. He wondered what makes him more comfortable in Nabila’s presence than any woman. But Nabila Mohammed, the poet, lover of books, caring, and understands human nature very well. He understood that they shared a lot more particularly in common with her. He was sure he loves her. What seemed funny to Sameer was that Nabila said nothing about love, except in a joshing way. But they did have a talk about it one afternoon when he visited her in school.

Sameer and Nabila were shown to a table in the school’s cafeteria. Sameer ordered snacks and ice creams for them.
“Nabila, you’re too nice to me. And it means something to me, it means a lot and could mean so much if I …. if I have you,” Said Sameer, he was frank and unashamed in his voice.

His words went to the very depths of her heart, and made it to beat madly. She was in loss of word; this is the moment she had been waiting. There was a warm, glowing silence between them. Sameer breathing quickly, it is ridiculous to him. His gaze still on her, drinking in the beauty of her with his soul in his eyes.

His voice came again.
“Nabila, I’ve been through hell before, but you brought me back into life. You’re the source of my courage, I adore you, and I love you even if I’ve fallen hopelessly.”
Nabila felt her whole body trembling and all the blood in her body rushing violently to her head. She mirrored her gaze down the eyes of the man close to her. She knew even from the bottom of her heart she loves him. She loves him with every drop of blood in her body.
“You won’t fall hopelessly,” she said it coolly with her eyes portraying nothing but truth. “Can’t you see the reality; I don’t need to say I love you. Because you have that power to make women love you forever. But I love you, and I want to be with you for the rest of my life.”
Sameer smiled at her. “I don’t want to make another mistake, the way it happened to me before.”
She gave a twisted smile that barely showed her white teeth sparkling like snow. “So do I, anyway! Don’t bother I understand.”

Zaharaddeen Ibrahim Kallah


The Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Kano state branch in collaboration with the American Corner of Murtala Muhammad Library, Kano had celebrated the International Poetry Month. The event which was held on 29th April, 2014 at the American Corner, Murtala Muhammad Library, Kano witnessed the presence of prominent and the emerging poets. Among the dignitaries at the occasion were former ANA Kano Chairman; Professor Yusuf M. Adamu, ANA Kano Chairman; Ismail Bala, American Corner Coordinator; Nura Mudi, ANA Kano branch Secretary; Zaharaddeen Kallah, Dr. Rabi Abdulsalam Ibrahim, Isa Muhammad Inuwa, Tijjani Muhammad Musa, Maryam Ali Ali, A.T. Tahir and other distinguish poets.
In his welcome address, Nura Mudi commended the effort of the Association for reawakening literary activities in the state. According to him, over the period of their partnership with the Association, a lot has been achieved, and that made them to appreciate the partnership. Therefore, he said that the American Corner is ready to assist the association in anything that would promote education and literary activities.
The Chairman of the occasion, Professor Yusuf M. Adamu was delighted with the way ANA Kano maintains its literary activities. He recounted his experience on ANA Kano Creative Writers’ Forum of the olden days and related it with the present day fora.
The keynote speaker, Ismail Bala who is a poet and critic of European and African poetry dwelled so much on poetry. In his paper titled, “The Poem as a Journey” discussed a lot on skills of writing poetry and its relationship to reading. The guest speaker went on to compared the art of poetry to a journey through which one passes, which could involve a number literary adventures.
Reading session followed immediately after the conclusion of keynote address. In the first round, some of the poems presented included, Chibok Girls by Isa Muhammad Inuwa, The Search in Sambisa by Yaseer Kallah, and The Cliff by Ahmad Salisu Ahmad. Also in the round, Zaharaddeen I. Kallah presented a poem, entitled, The Globalised World, and Tijjani Muhammad Musa presented a poem, We Are Struggling to Survive; Only to Die and Badamasi G. Muhd read a poem The Most Eloquent Speaker while Prof. Yusuf M. Adamu presented a poem entitled, Living in Peace. Two short stories were presented, one by a primary school pupil, Abubakar Tijjani Mato who presented a story entitled, Two Friends. The other short story was presented by Zainab Tijjani Mato with the title, The Day I Will Never Forget.
 You don’t need to be told  how interesting the round was as it allowed young and prominent poets to share their views on literary and current affairs in the nation, more especially the issue of abducted girls in the nation. Some of the young poets were more radical with happenings in the nation, which was attributed to the negligence of our leaders.
The second round began with a poem entitled, A Poem by Bello Sagir Imam, and followed by She by Gwa Dominic Doohemba, while a poem entitled, The Candle was presented by Lawan Salisu Lawan. The next poem with a title, If You Can’t Beat Them… came from Nazeer Ibrahim Kallah, while Saddiqa Tijjani Mato presented a poem What a Mysterious Life. Other poems presented include, Temptation by A.T. Tahir, Shit by Badamasi Aliyu Abdullahi, Letter to the Editor by Mazhun Idris, Yar Giwa by Ahmad Lawan, My Nostalgia, My-groundnut by Hashim Abdullahi Tanko and What a Lost by Ghazali Sani Sanda. The only short story in the round was Zahra Tijjani Mato’s The Vices Were Punished. Just like the first round, some of the poems attracted comments and criticisms, which at the end of the round gave the writers opportunity to respond.
The programme was rounded up with a vote of thank by the branch Secretary, Zaharaddeen Kallah. In his speech, he congratulated the participants for celebratings a wonderful poetry month. The branch Secretary called on the old poets to be attending the association’s monthly forum in order to encourage the emerging poets. Closing prayers were offered by Isa Muhammad Inuwa.

Zaharaddeen Ibrahim Kallah