Monday, March 3, 2014

For your reading pleasure! youth #education #volunteering #entrepreneurship

Hard copies available at:
  • Terra Kulture Bookstore, Tiamiyu Savage street Victoria Island, Lagos
  • Florence and Lambard publishers and booksellers, 202-204 Ikorodu road, Palmgroove bus stop, Lagos
  • Media store, Silverbird Galleria, Abuja
  • And a university campus near you!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

THE BOOK: HALF A LOAF & A BAKERY

In the present age of Information overload where youths can easily get confused about how to chart their future path, Half A Loaf & A Bakery provides tested practical survival ideas and guides for youths to make the best of whatever situation they find themselves.

More than ever before, the global economic depression has brought to the fore the need for youths to have total education beyond academic knowledge, not only to compete for the available limited job opportunities, but to come up with new ideas and concepts.

Divided into five sections, Half A Loaf & A Bakery covers critical issues every youth should have a clear understanding of, which includes challenges of getting started and survival strategies, money matters and overcoming fears that can easily abort dreams if not properly addressed.

The importance of acquiring education in the face of tempting opportunities and the need for adequate preparation for adulthood were also properly articulated based on the experiences of the writer, those interviewed and others cited.

The main key lessons in the book are summarized in the following subtitles:
  • Before graduation: get started
  • Money matters
  • Don’t freak-out of fear
  • Don’t drop out
  • Learn the art of transitioning.
Unlike in the past when youths have to wait to graduate before thinking of what to do with their life, this book lives up to the promise of inspiring them to know what and how to learn before graduation.

There are many cited case studies for readers to learn from and convince them about how practicable the ideas contained in the book are.

Half A Loaf & A Bakery is indeed a valuable resource material and should be a recommended text for Entrepreneurship courses being offered by higher institutions in the country.

By: Mr. Lekan Otufodunrin.

Managing Editor, Online, The Nation.
HALF A LOAF & A BAKERY 
Have you read it?
ISBN: 978-978-936-307-0
Author: Jennifer Ehidiamen
Interviewer: ‘Funso Bukoye 
Foreword: Mrs Oby Ezekwesili
Publisher: Click Weavers Communication (CWC) Limited
ORDER FOR COPIES!!
To buy your copies, please visit:

The Media Store (bookstore) at Silverbird Galleria Abuja.
Florence & Lambard Publisher and Booksellers 202-204 Ikorodu road, Palm Grove, Lagos.
Or buy online: www.okadabooks.com.

Read and share your review!! Thanks.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Memoir of a Kidnap-Victim Parent: Bringing Elizabeth Home.


Title:                      Bringing Elizabeth Home – A Journey of Faith and Hope
Author:                  Ed & Louise Smart with Laura Morton
Genre:                    Non-Fiction
Publishers/Year:  DoubleDay/2003
Pages:                     211
Chapters:                25
ISBN:                      0-385-51214-7
Reviewer:             Sotunde Oluwabusayo


                                                               



“Hope like faith is the evidence of things not seen. You can’t have faith without hope.”




Every parent had one time or another thought about the unspeakable, unthinkable question: “What would you do if one of your children was taken from you?” – The worst nightmare any parent or family could ever face.

At first I was skeptical about picking the book on the shelf of the book store. It wasn't the usual book I read but I read the summary on the flap of the book and I was hooked – I wanted to know what happened and how the parents coped (Sometimes reading other people's story can help you put things into perspective).

The Book: “Bringing Elizabeth home” tells the story of young Elizabeth Smart (the eldest daughter of Louise and Ed Smart) who was kidnapped by Brian David Mitchell aka Immanuel and his partner Wanda Barzee for 9 months. It is a true-life horrific review of a parent dilemma, facing the possibility of  loosing a child to an horrible experience.

Elizabeth Smart’s story was one of the compelling true crimes that rocked the international media in 2002.

I did not know about Elizabeth’s story during the time it made global news in 2002 but hearing or reading about stories of children kidnapped is not new to me. It’s all in the media.

But when Elizabeth was kidnapped, she became everyone’s daughter.

At first her parent thought she had gone to sleep in another room as it was the norm if Mary Katherine, their nine years old daughter had kicked her in her sleep – but the girl persisted that Elizabeth has been kidnapped.  

Her father assumed that she had had a bad dream.

But she went on, “You won’t find her. A man came and took her. He had a gun.”

Mary Katherine’s account later proved true as it will take Elizabeth’s parent another nine month to find their fourteen years old daughter. This was just few days after her maternal grandfather passed away.

Through it all, memories and family kinship as well as the parent’s marriage were tested as they were all subjected to media and police scrutiny.

They had to cope with the press outside their home twenty-four hours a day, the invasive line of questioning from the police and the pressure of Elizabeth’s absence. The family was on edge all the time.

Leaks to the media were occurring - leading to mistrust between the Elizabeth’s family and the police.

The police asked several questions and even went as far as pointing fingers to the victims. As they say, “Everyone is a suspect.”

Elizabeth’s father – Ed said on his daughter’s disappearance: “They tried to rip apart everything we held near and dear. Our marriage, our children, our integrity, our faith – all of it was put to question after Elizabeth kidnapping.”

At a point after Elizabeth’s disappearance, world famous forensic expert, Henry Lee, who consulted on the OJ Simpson trial, was invited to look into the case to see if there was a missing link in the investigation.

But eventually, with the help of the media and a 911 call from good-willing citizens, they were able to find Elizabeth and her abductors - Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee.

Mary Katherine’s description of Elizabeth’s abductor which had been ignored by the Salt Lake police was later televised on the TV show: “America’s Most Wanted” - thanks to the photos provided by Wanda Barzee’s son.

Elizabeth’s parent met Brian David Mitchell (the man who would later kidnap their daughter)  as one of the local homeless persons who do little yard work for them. But he did not give them his real name; rather he called himself “Immanuel.” It was after he kidnapped Elizabeth that “Immanuel” was not his real name.

Though not many parents are as lucky as Elizabeth’s parent, the book gives a sense of hope that miracle still happen and even if you have lost a child or relative to kidnapping, you can channel your pain towards helping other people   – at least in your own little way.

While noting that regretfully, such miracles do not always happen in kidnapping cases; Louise and Ed in their word said: “Having our daughter back home, in our arms, is nothing short of a miracle. It is the ultimate proof that God answers prayer. Granted sometimes the answer is not the one we pray for, but still it remains an answer.”

One of the good things that however came out of the ordeal was that the family became stronger than before and even the Amber Alert bill and the Child Protection Act was signed into law by then US president, George W. Bush.

“Bringing Elizabeth home” though tells the story of a parent’s struggle through the time of waiting, the pain, guilt, suspicions, disappointment  and frenzy media who would do anything to sell their story (to the extent of brandishing the story to suit their purpose); life lessons on hope, faith, survival and the importance of family and friends in everyday life were quickly brought into the attention of the readers.

The book was written by Elizabeth’s parent, exploring the pain in their heart concerning the situation and the joy that goes with finding their missing daughter.

Indeed, the story drove one important point home: that no matter how we try in this world, there are always sick and twisted people that may want to mar your happiness but with faith, everything can return to “normal” - There is always a light at the end of the tunnel and good do triumph evil if there is hope and strong faith in God.

“Though our experience was painful, through our faith and a trust in God’s power we gained tremendous strength, which became the cornerstone of how we survived,” Elizabeth’s parent recounted in the book.

Another point driven home in this book is that: Nothing is more important than family.

Family, the prayers of so many friends and strangers and trust in God are what got them through this experience –and having survived, they have no doubt that they can preserve any situation as long as those three things are in their lives.

However, Ed and Louise, though I respect their privacy, somewhat fail to give a detailed account of what it was like to "cope" during this trying period and most of the time their religion and being a devout Mormon family  came into bear too many times to count.

Regardless, the book is an emotional and enjoyable read – giving hope that all is not lost if only there is faith.

After reading the story, I could not help but find out how Elizabeth is fairing. Today Elizabeth Smart is a “Smart” young lady living her life as an example of faith and hope with her husband. Her abductor, Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee are both serving time at the federal prison.

Elizabeth’s book “My story” will be out on October 7, 2013 - recounting her nine months ordeal  - eleven years after her painful and rewarding journey .


                                                                 My Story Autographed by Elizabeth Smart

I hope I get to read it J - to remind me once again that Miracles do happen. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Book Review: “I Do Not Come To You By Chance” - An Eye-Opener To The Troubles Of Everyday Nigerian






Title:                      I Do Not Come To You By Chance
Author:                  Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
Genre:                    Fiction
Publishers/Year:    Cassava Republic/2009
Pages:                     339
Chapters:                45
ISBN:                      9784851824
Reviewer:             Oluwabusayo Sotunde


With struggles of unemployment, social decadence and the zeal to make it in a society that is ridden by corrupt people, the novel “I Do Not Come To You By Chance” chronicles the realities that lead people into a life of crime.

Presented in a satirical form to open the window into the realities of the “socially-declined populace” who got themselves involved in a fast-paced life, “I Do Not Come To You By Chance” tells a familiar story from an unfamiliar angle in a twisted and funny way.

It chronicles the life of a young man, Kingsley Ibe, who assumed the role of a loving son, self-sacrificing brother, disappointed lover, and savvy 419er – a distinction from the way his England-educated, civil servant father would have wanted him to turn out.

Kingsley Ibe, the protagonist in the novel, is the first-born son (opara) of his family. A fresh graduate of engineering from a family that has highly prized education and despised those who chase money instead of knowledge, Kingsley is committed to his college sweetheart, Ola, and he is confident that his brilliant results will get him a good job in an oil firm so that he can support his and Ola’s families.

Sadly, Kingsley receives multiple rejection letters while Ola - with the pressure from her mother loses faith in his ability to ever provide for her needs; particularly in doing the right thing by her in paying the ‘shuddering’ bride price associated with the Igbo tribe of the eastern part of Nigeria. As Kingsley put it; “Marrying an Igbo girl entails much more than fairy-tale romance and good intentions.”

While he was still battling with how he was going to win back Ola and his mother, a family crisis ensued as his father’s illness took a worse turn thereby taking the Ibe’s family from the edge of poverty to its depths.

Kingsley becomes more desperate as his ailing father's health dwindles and he had to either succumb to the wills of the fast-lane life of his uncle Boniface, aka Cash Daddy (a secondary school dropout turned email scam billionaire) or hold on to the moral principle that “stripped” his parents of everything but their pride, particularly when he had learnt that one must have a “long leg” to survive in his country.

Kingsley gradually made his choice by succumbing to his maternal uncle’s fraudulent world. Cash Daddy, a conman of blubbery greed and unabashed naked exhibitionism was happy to help as long as Kingsley uses his formally educated brain to aid his immoral schemes. As Kingsley puts it, "He could probably even talk a spider into weaving silk socks for him."

Cash Daddy represents the image of a bushman rising from grass to grace. His behaviour is disgusting and at the same time daring whether he is devouring a meal with his hands, quoting the Bible or taking a business meeting while defecating.

Kingsley journey into an immoral lifestyle was gradually woven from Kingsley’s parents’ courtship in the prologue to establish that Kingsley and his immediate family were not the type who would bend to any scam.

Its short chapters and grueling descriptions of some of Nigeria’s discomforts on health care and public transport are used to exhibit the reality of everyday life in the Nigerian society. 

The novel is an eye-opener to the troubles of everyday Nigerian – from the struggles of unemployment down to the struggle of trying to make it in a society that is ridden by corrupt people; the mind- boggling lifestyle of the 419ers (Referenced by their Nigerian penal code number, the 419 scam) as well as the poor health services in which patients have to buy their own bandages and IV fluids are also some of the issues that endear one to read the novel.

Even Kingsley’s old school mate, Andrew Onyeije, whom he met at the airport crooned “I love Nigeria soooooo much, whatever happens, I’m gonna come back here and settle someday. With my family.” But he was quick to change his patriotic tune when his American passport was stolen at the airport, he screeched, “This country is seriously fucked up.” But Kingsley was quick to interject in his narrative voice that “The country is not fucked up and certainly not a place for idealising and auld lang syne” but that “Once you faced the harsh facts and learned to adapt, Nigeria became the most beautiful place in the world.”

Nwabani weaved the Kingsley’s story in such a way that you begin to see things from a con-artist point of view and even cheer him on in his escapade. It becomes more enchanting when one sees how Kingsley systematically cons a mugu who blindly falls into the trap he set for them.

It’s a fairly overwhelming scenario with Kingsley using his education to draft e-mails urging anonymous mugus.  No one will buy it, Kingsley thinks at first. “Who on this earth was stupid enough to fall prey to an e-mail from a stranger in Nigeria?” Then the replies begin to come. Someone in Auckland, another in Cardriff , then a woman in Wiscosin. “Soon we were on first-name terms. It was almost like staying up to watch a dreadful movie simply to see what happened at the end.”

As Kingsley falls reluctantly under his mentor's spell and discovers his own innate flair for the art of the confidence trick, Nwaubani takes us deeper into the intricate world of the Nigerian e-mail scam. She gave detailed exposition of the methods deployed to string along Western suckers who are gradually converted into a mugu.

Targeted mugus get emails like - "Dear Friend, I do not come to you by chance. Upon my quest for a trusted and reliable foreign business man or company, I was given your contact by the Nigerian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. I hope that you can be trusted to handle a transaction of this magnitude"- and surprisingly the victims get caught in the fraudster’s web. People like Winterbottom, Mirabelle and Hooverson were silkily dubbed through Kingsley gang fraudulent act.

Kingsley method of conning his victim is also humorous that one finds himself laughing out loud at the gullibility of the victims. The one who stole the show the most was Cash Daddy, who with his bush-like attitude of conducting business meetings in the toilet and eating with his mouth open inject humour and his witty sayings and proverbs endear us more to understand the world of the con-artist the more.

As a narrator, Kingsley infuses his own story with humor, warmth, and no small amount of rueful regret bemused him by the place in which he finds himself. In his own view, he sacrificed himself as the family messiah to haul them out of poverty and yet he believed he was not appreciated for his effort. In the end, he yielded to using Cash Daddy’s word that “relatives are the cause of hip diseases.”

Meanwhile, Cash Daddy, tired of just making money, dabbles into politics and gets himself killed. Upon Cash Daddy’s death, Kingsley refuses to take over the reins of leadership of the organisation as he felt in control of his destiny for the first time in years.

The theme of a good person tempted by circumstances to do bad things is not a new one in literature, but author Nwaubani makes it fresh by plunging the reader into a dizzying new world of 419ers (scammers) and the  mugus (victims). Her characters are fully fleshed out and dimensional. The novel reveals larger-than-life characters, impressive operations and the greedy westerners that make up both sides of the 419 business.

The strength of the novel becomes apparent when the good versus evil distinction begins to blur – especially for Kingsley. The narrative soars when Kingsley is detailing the 419 work of Cash Daddy’s inner circle – a much more complicated world. It is a world where a gullible mugu deserves no sympathy. When Kingsley expresses doubt to his uncle, Cash Daddy responds: “Do you know this is the man whose money is going to feed your children and your children’s children children?” He condemns Kingsley’s ‘holier than thou” attitude by telling him, “You say you don’t eat rat but you want to taste only the tail. Please don’t close my ears with all this rubbish about education. Me I don’t believe in film tricks. I believe in real life action.”

Cash Daddy further reassures him that his sympathy is misplaced. “Why are you taking Panadol for another person’s headache?” he asked. “Don’t think America and Europe is like Nigeria where people suffer anyhow. Over there, their governments know how to take good care of them. They don’t know anything about suffering.”

Thus, readers are invited to see the whole fraught relationship between Africa and the West in the microcosm of deceptively simple e-mails from Nigeria. There is a vivacious anger underneath all the tricks and the levity. When challenged regarding the immorality of ripping off unsuspecting Westerners, Nwaubani's characters explicitly cite slavery and the Western exploitation of the Niger Delta's oil wealth as justification; they're merely repatriating capital that they feel was taken from them unjustly.

The picture is further complicated by the charitable use to which a great deal of the embezzled money is put to build schools, pave roads and fund orphanages. "No matter what the media proclaimed," says Kingsley, "we were not villains, and the good people of Eastern Nigeria knew it."

While the novel has a serious undertone, there are many laugh-out-loud moments.  

However, Nwuabani simply rushed the ending of the novel as an eight-page epilogue was quickly constructed to indicate that Kingsley has set up his own organisation where his ever-admonishing mother pays him a visit, showing her acceptance of his new, seemingly legit, status. In reality, it’s a cover up as we see him take a call from a former mugu, Mr Winterbottom, and it is business as usual. This is done perhaps to show that fraudsters like Kingsley still exist in the society under false pretences.

Also, Nwuabani’s elongated the ‘back-grounding” - as she used almost half of the book- the first part of the book- (144 pages) - to explain the circumstances that led to Kingsley’s decision into the e-mail scam world could have been done in a couple of chapters.

 We knew from the start that he was going to make that decision. Probably because of this elongation, the decision to join Cash daddy scam group comes across as escapist as he could have find a way out of the family problem by other means since he had already told his mother that he would be going to live with Aunt Dimma to get a job in the banking sector.

In spite of these imperfections, I Do Not Come To You By Chance is a highly recommended read as it is a no-boner into the realities of the social issues in the Nigerian society. It is alternately funny, tender, satirical and sad and the dialogues are sharp with laugh-out-loud moments. The plot is also relatively simple and the language was easy to follow. 

Though the novel has its flaws, the positives far outweigh the negative as the flaws are compensated as the issues that Kingsley faced were both believable and real.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Alchemist: My thoughts on the book


The Alchemist. So much to learn from it. Two lessons I picked out: 

1. We must all find our purpose/Personal Legend in life. No one can do that for us. We'll find help but it is for us to make that decision. 

2. In the process, we learn many things and grow through life. We'll discover that each and everyone of us carry within us a unique power as we take lessons from everything. Of course the journey is never a piece of cake. But, at a point, we'll find out that which we seek is right where we started We must return to embrace it and learn to live life to the fullest. 

The Alchemist is an interesting book. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Will Nigerians Read Books On Mobile Phones? @ofilispeaks


The reading culture of Nigerians has been on a steady decline for some time now. The decline can be attributed to many factors from a tough economy to a general lack of reading interest in the younger generation. Some have even gone as far as blaming the poor reading culture on mobile devices.

Now there is a new app called okadabooks that is putting Nigerian books on mobile phones in a bid to get people to read on phones. The app has a diverse collection of books from Nigerian authors and even past WAEC/JAMB questions with answers.

This all sounds like a good idea, but the question is will Nigerians actually read and buy books on their phone and will students actually study with their phones. 

Check out the app at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.okadabooks and let us know what you think about it and the Nigerian reading culture in general.

Monday, February 25, 2013

What are you reading? Keep it short and simple (2)

Here is a sequel to the blogpost  "What are you reading? Keep it short and simple." Well, I promise not to make it a habit of keeping reviews this short.... :-)

I'm currently reading "Quiet" by Susan Cain. The book got a lot of reviews... very good reviews for that matter. Usually, I set my expectations low for books that receive high praises, just so I do not get disappointed. But honestly, even though I'm just in the first couple of pages, I am totally blown away. Quiet makes a good case for us introverts out there. But I think every extrovert, in all their glory, should sit still and read this book. I am loving it so far! Will let you know if I change my mind but I doubt it. Cain, well done! :-)


I decided to punctuate my list of books with this hilarious novel, "Lucy Sullivan is getting married" by Marian Keyes. I think I have read one of Keyes' book before but I'm not so sure. The front cover does not hold much promise but trust me, as soon as you flip past the first chapter, you are glued. The first day, I read it straight into the night. I could not put it down. Reason I slept 3.24am-ish. My alarm went off 5.30am-ish and i finally got out of bed 8.00am-ish with a nagging headache. But the adventure was worth it. I can think of 3 other people who would love to read this book right now! Pure comedy and beautiful romance. Each character play a significant role, one we can all identify with in our day to day life. No long narration from me, go get your copy!


"The Best Advice I Ever Got" by Katie Couric is a collection of powerful "essays" from famous and somewhat famous individuals, each telling us one or two life lessons that served as a pivotal force that helped them get to where they are today. I almost flipped out of my seat when I read Matt Lauer's Sometimes You Gotta Go Off Course. An experience I could totally relate to! What is that saying again? There is nothing new under the sun! Well, I'll recommend this book to every young people, aspiring to be something more :-) And oh, this book was originally bought as a gift... I had to sneak through it to be sure it was worth it. And yes, it was!

 I bought this book for my niece. She said that she enjoyed reading it. Now I can't wait to read it too :-) Have you read a copy? Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok. 

What are you currently reading?