Website Review: Guerilla Basement

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Guerilla Basement is a nascent website owned by Wana Udobang, a writer, journalist, and broadcaster. What began as a blog in November 2008, is surely cooking up the content-to-beat. A creative arts-centred website, it offers visitors something on books, film, music, poetry and photography by way of features and news and events on the world of arts.

GB also features interviews of notable Nigerian artists, writers and photographers. Some of the notable interviewees include award-winning Nigerian-Dutch writer, Chika Unigwe, Afro-German performing artist, Bantu, and widely-celebrated London-based Nigerian photographer, Jide Alakija, whose works have been featured a number of times on the site. The website has also featured works from visual artists, including Ananaba Ibeabuchi.

The pair of Tahirah A. and Biodun Adebiyi keeps you refreshed with excellent work presented in a unique voice offering intellectual content and entertainment. Guerilla Basement is like an exotic piece of embroidery in the works, gradually assuming shape in the hands of the master weaver. The truly artsy would love it. The articles on the site are unique and blissfully authentic.

Though a breath of fresh air in its message and discipline – Guerilla Basement is dedicated to providing online content on arts and culture in Nigeria – fans would like to see more content, more vibrancy, and enrichment in the writing. That said, Guerilla Basement is a promising venture by all accounts.

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This review was first published in the Issue 5 of Y! Magazine (July-September 2011).

Call for Submision: “ANA @ 30” Commemorative Poetry, Short Story & Play Anthologies

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Deadline: 31 August 2011

The Association of Nigerian Authors invites interested Nigerian writers, home and abroad to send in their works for the ANA @ 30 commemorative anthologies. The anthologies which will cover the three genre of literature – Prose, Poetry and Play will be presented during the International Convention and 30th Anniversary of the association in October 2011, in Abuja.

Guidelines for Poetry Anthology:
– Writers are expected to send in 5 poems each
– Poems must be original and never previously published in any form (including on the internet)
– Poets are free to use any poetic form of their choice
– Submissions must be in English language
– The Subject box of the email should read: ANA @ 30 POETRY SUBMISSION
Editors: Ahmed Maiwada & Kabura Zakama.

Guidelines for Short Story Anthology:
– Writers are expected to send in maximum of two short stories
– Stories could be on any subject matter of the writer’s choice
– No part of the story must not have been published before
– Entries must be a maximum of 2500 words
– The Subject box of the email should read: ANA @ 30 SHORT STORY SUBMISSION.
Editors: Diego Okenyodo & Lizzy Ben-Iheanacho, (Phd)

Guidelines for Play Anthology:
– Each writer to submit one play each
– All plays must be original (no adaptation) and on any subject matter of the playwright’s choice
– Playwrights are free to explore any form of drama of their choice
– Play must be a maximum of three acts or not more than 45 minutes in performance time
– The Subject box of the email should read: ANA @ 30 PLAY SUBMISSION.
Editors: Denja Abdullahi & Jerry Jerry Adesewo

General Rules:
– All entries should be sent to ana30anthology@ymail.com
Deadline for submission is midnight of Wednesday 31st August 2011.
– All entries must be accompanied with the biodata of the writer

For enquiries, please feel free to contact the Convention secretariat on 0818 200 5597 or email: anaabuja@yahoo.com.

Photo credit: www.writerscafe.org

Guest Post: The Beauty of Your Own Business by Bolaji Olawoye

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I would love to describe business as an art of selling excellent service to people.

The following characteristics are key:

  • It is an art;
  • It involves service;
  • It involves excellence;
  • It involves profit;
  • It involves an audience or a market – people

Let us expand on each:

1. A Successful business is not trying to exploit people or hustling for gain; but the graceful wielding of a skill, excellence and mastery in service offering, trade and relationship with people. Modern business expressions that bring out this excellent mindset are popularly termed ‘service’, ‘commerce’, ‘brand-recognition’, ‘human resource’ and ‘customer service’. Godly business people are not trying to make a living; they practice something they love doing and are good at for that matter.

“Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings, He will not stand before unknown men.” Proverbs 22:29

They know what they have to offer (product and/or service), who to sell it to (niche market), how to sell it (sales, adverts and marketing), how to distinguish their offerings (branding) and how to maintain a good relationship with their customers (customer relationship and service).

2. Your business involves service – always remember that you are doing a service to someone or people. You should be meeting a need. This is an ingredient of constant patronage – the goal of customer service. It should give you (and your staff) joy to satisfy a customer so that he/she LEAVES HAPPY!

3. Excellence is a great distinguishing factor – the way you ‘do it’, whatever it is that you do! Many people may sell food, few ensure that it is ALWAYS fresh and hot, serve it in a nicer way and maybe even bring it to you. When you ‘do it’ in a more excellent way and ‘serve’ one person, making them happy, boom, you have a great asset in business – a loyal news-spreading, mobile-advertising customer.

4. Trading for Profit, for me, can be an exhilarating exercise. It is not usually selling for a high figure that brings the profit. Profit can be buying much lower than you are selling. The skill is how to buy low (minimize your expenditures, maximize your assets/resources) and sell at a very affordable rate. Making your products/service very affordable without compromising quality is a great way of serving the customer in an excellent manner.

5. Your business needs an audience – a market. Your market should have a niche – a set of people it targets, serves and that are well suited for it. The niche may be one or more age-groups, societal class, career type and so on. You should be able to define such markets and target it excellently. Your niche type helps and guides your advert/marketing schemes as wells as product and service pricing.

The beauty of a Godly business:

“Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands that which is good, that he may have to give to him who has need” – Ephesians 4:28
“That you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

A business is beautiful because of the following:

  1. You can mind your business.
  2. You have freedom in your finances and of your time.
  3. An opportunity to express the good works in your hands.
  4. People see your good works and glorify God.
  5. You can properly carry out your responsibilities to people outside; family, relatives, friends and other believers.

Building your dream Business – your wealth generating enterprise:
I do hope that you have a good understanding of what a business really is. Wealth responds to value; the value you create and make available to people. People do pay for what is of value to them, and more easily if they can afford it. To create a valuable product and/or service, you need skill or skilful hands. You may be gifted in wielding a God-given skill or in harnessing, amplifying and managing the skill in others.

Photo Credit: www.businesscareercenter.com;

The Serial Entrepreneur – Olabisi Waller, CEO, Elise Charles Company

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Self-employed since 2001, Olabisi Waller identified a major gap in the gift industry for unique useful gifts for special events and businesses. After consistently receiving inquiries from people wanting to make purchases for various items to send to Nigeria, as well as an increased demand for event styling, decorative lighting and event consulting services, she started the gift and souvenirs business, Elise Charles Company with her husband, Charles Waller, in 2007. A year later they launched EC Cosmetics with the goal of providing unique products that truly enhance a woman’s beauty. The companies moved online the following year. An astute business woman, currently enrolled in the Wharton Business Development Program at the University of Pennsylvania, she got her entrepreneurial inspiration at a young age when she would buy affordable goods at a local market and resell it for a profit to her schoolmates. In this insightful, exclusive chat with BN Editorial Assistant, Gbenga Awomodu, Olabisi Waller talks about growing up in Nigeria, her beauty and special events business, marriage, and relocating to the United States.

Meet Olabisi Waller
My name is Olabisi Waller. I was born in Delta State, Nigeria over 3 decades ago and grew up in Lagos with a large family of nine sisters. My mother is a strong, inspiring petite woman who constantly reminded us, her girls, to never allow anyone tell us we couldn’t achieve whatever we wanted. Because of this, I quickly became a very determined, strong willed person. No wonder my pet name while growing up was “manpower”! I had my primary education in Lagos, attended Federal Government Girls’ College, Oyo, and the University of Ado Ekiti, where I studied Business Administration. I am currently enrolled in the Wharton Business Development Program at the University of Pennsylvania. I run a company called Elise Charles. We offer Gifts for special events and Event Consulting services. We exclusively provide in Africa sophisticated lighting designs by Blachere who have created lighting for the Champs Elysees, and the Eiffel Tower, to London’s West End, Walt Disney, Cartier, and more. We also have a cosmetics company EC (Elise Charles) Cosmetics. An exclusive distributor of unique peak performance beauty products such as Divaderme Lash Extender, Brow Extender, Lip Extender, Stimulash Intenso, Model in a Bottle and a variety of other products.

What other various services does the Elise Charles Company provide?
The Elise Charles Company provides a variety of services with a focus on Special Events & Festivities (www.elisecharles.com) as well as the Beauty Industry via EC Cosmetics (www.eccosmetics.com). With Special Events, our services include: Event Styling & Decorative Lighting, Event Consultation, and Gift Solutions. We offer turn-key event consulting services which includes the total organization of your event or we can simply assist with the scenic elements such as decorative lighting, and more to make your event truly one of a kind. We are your Event Partners – Our team can provide you with as much or as little help as you need. Elise Charles (EC) Cosmetics is a distributor of peak performance beauty products internationally and exclusively in Africa through salons, independent sales representatives, beauty professionals, and select retail stores. Elise Charles started in 2007 with EC Cosmetics following a year later.

Why and how did you start the company?
The company started because we identified the gap in the gift industry for unique useful gifts for special events and businesses. I was consistently receiving inquiries from people wanting to make purchases for various items to send to Nigeria. Then came inquiries on event styling, decorative lighting and event consulting services. Elise Charles was created to cater to this increasing demand. We launched online about 3 years ago with a decision to focus on special events and named the company after my kids Charles & Elise. EC Cosmetics started simply from the desire to share effective beauty products that I use myself and are proven hits in the U.S to my fellow African women.

In what ways have your previous jobs impacted your business thus far?
To be honest with you I’ve only been employed twice in my life and realized very quickly that I was not suited to a 9-5 corporate job. I got easily bored and did not feel creatively challenged at all. Working as an employee served its purpose within that specific time frame and then it was time for me to move on. I learned about work relationships, teamwork specifically, and being somewhat structured. Running a business is challenging, but it’s a challenge that I look forward to everyday. Your brain is always working; you are continuously pushing yourself to learn new things about the business, learning how to interact with various people – that’s where the teamwork came in handy.

*Read full interview here: The Serial Entrepreneur – Olabisi Waller, CEO, Elise Charles Company.

Hello Lasgidi, Let’s catch up!

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Moi on the Ropes Course

Hello friends. Last night, I slipped back into Lagos, Nigeria.

It’s been ages away from blogging, no thanks to the mandatory three weeks at Wannune Camp and another ten days in Makurdi, sorting out stuff and making the days count. Amidst a lot of fun and work, I made sure to capture some of the moments in words and pictures. In a few weeks, you should start reading the series of short and interesting blogposts from my various experiences in Benue State so far. I am currently working to ensure they are ready in a very enjoyable format for you: dear friends and GN faithful.

In other related news, I had a feature titled “Long Story Short: What’s On Your Bucket List?” Published on BellaNaija.com on the day I left for the NYSC camp. Earlier today, “iJebu: Random Notes about Old Nokia Phones, Parachutes, and More”, a short selection of random notes about frugality and technology trends (particularly, phones) was published too.

Also, the “Nigerian Dream” edition (Issue 5) of Y! Magazine is out. Graced with a stunning photograph of Nigeria’s sweetheart, Genevieve Nnaji, it contains several interesting features and yours truly has an article in there as well as a website review. According to a press release on Y! Naija, “… in Bikes, Boats and Balls, ‘Gbenga Awomodu takes a trip through Luxury Lane, profiling Nigeria’s fine breed of bikers, golfers and boat lovers”.

I’m off to catch up on more news and do some blog-rounds. Will be back soon!

Photo credit: Gbenga Awomodu

Off to the Middle-Belt!

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Hi folks,

Thanks for the support and encouragement you have always given me. I have been posted to serve my country, Nigeria, for the next twelve months under the National Youth Service Corps programme (NYSC) in Benue State. As soon as I mentioned this on my FB Status, the first comment I got was a piece of advice to go with as much (packs of) condoms as possible. The adviser cited the high rate of HIV prevalence in that State as a reason…

Anyway, while I wouldn’t need all that, it’ll be quite interesting to take in a new environment. Several hypotheses have sprung up in my mind, but I’ll be back in three weeks’ time with my preliminary findings: whether one can link the fact that Benue State is ‘The Food Basket of the Nation’ to a high libido which then leads to rampant activities, or not. I can tell that will probably not be the case – something more complex.

I hear the people are very hospitable and that food is very cheap. 🙂 Also, there’s Bro. Gbile Akanni’s Peace House (Living Seed) Ministries in nearby Gboko for some respite… I am in a big hurry right now, so sorry for the hasty and rather short post. I have also decided to take a break from blogging for most of this month. You bet I certainly need some time off to get refreshed. I promise you much more interesting and engaging posts when I return. There is also the possibility of a regular diary based on my NYSC experiences in the Middle Belt region of Nigeria. Meanwhile, you can dig into the archives for very useful blog posts I have made since May 2010.

Wish me journey mercies and pray for ‘your boy’ as I leave Lagos tomorrow morning to begin a new phase. Stay cool and be safe.

“The Art of Nigerian Women”: Call for Submissions

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Deadline: Sunday 31 July 2011

NEW ALBANY, OhioBen Bosah Books is issuing a call for submissions for women artists from Nigeria for a book tentatively titled The Art of Nigerian Women being published this year. This call is for all women, living inside and outside Nigeria. The call is open to artists working all different mediums. Submissions in the areas of paintings, sculpture, photography, video art and mixed media and experimental art are welcome. The deadline for submission of entries to be considered for the book is July 31, 2011. The book is going to be released with a launch that will take place in November or December of 2011, and will be available immediately after the launch, locally and internationally, and wherever books are sold.

The entry forms can be downloaded from The Artists Corner section of Ben Bosah Books. Those interested in sending submissions should download and complete the form and follow the instructions clearly. The form is provided in two different formats for your convenience. Those using the form in portable document format should scan and attach the completed form to their application. The completed application and all the attachments using the format shown in the form should be emailed to NigerianWomenArtists@benbosahbooks.com.

In a space dominated by men, Publisher Ben Bosah felt that greater impetus should be given to the work of the many women who produce work that rival and in some cases surpass the work of their male counterparts. This book will address the disparity in exposure and hopefully bring opportunities to the women in a society that still treats the bulk of them as second class citizens, despite their achievements.

“Being a woman and an artistis a burdensome task. In mostcases, it is a thankless proposition like motherhood. This man gets it. This book will hopefully start the process of recognizing thevalue of women’s contribution to our national life and increase the value of their work. It is a thank you gift woefully overdue,” states Bosah

The Art of Nigerian Women was conceived to showcase the work being done by women in Nigeria, where the profession is predominantly practiced by men. In this decade of the women, Publisher Ben Bosah of Ben Bosah Books is determined level the playing field and give the talented women theirdue. The publication of this book will highlight the quality of the work available from these women who operate in a mostly chauvinistic society. Fifty percent of the net proceeds realized from this venture will be ploughed into women’s health education programs in Nigeria.

Ms. Chinwe Uwatse, the Managing Editor adds “In a time filled with theoretical re-examinations of traditional assumptions and social structures, we seek an indigenous understanding of our artistry within our cultural multiplicities. It is refreshing to connect with a person that is so clearly passionate about fully illustrating the authenticity of contemporary creativity of Nigerian women. After discussing with Ben Bosah, about his passion, as well as his delivery of 101 Nigerian Artists, I found myself co-opted into this project. I believe this book will be successfully published this year.”

Sponsorship opportunities are available for companies interested in joining the efforts of Ben Bosah Books. We are accepting sponsorships for the book publication and a touring exhibition works by featured artists. Interested companies should write to Partnerships – The Art of Nigerian Women.

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About Ben Bosah Books

Ben Bosah Books is an independent publisher of books that make a difference in the lives of the peoples of the world, located at 3575 Head of Pond Road, New Albany, Ohio 43054, United States of America. Telephone number: +1-614-939-0595. For more information, visit Web site at www.benbosahbooks.com.

Photo Credit: Aicha Dapchi

“Agbako Was Here” – A Short Story by Gbenga Awomodu

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Mickey, the middle-aged black mouse pokes its head out of the tiny hole burrowed into the floor. Similar holes dot the four corners of this dingy room at the Kru Kru prison. Wary of the sole occupant of the room, it pushes forward, surreptitious and whiskers-alert. Only the staccato drop of water from the leaking roof can be heard as it joins the puddle near the centre of the room.

Until only three weeks ago, when the occupants were two, it was difficult, very difficult, to steal crumbs from them. That Monday morning, two prison officers, a man and a woman, marched to the entrance and called Pius, the older of the two inmates, out of the room. They slipped the handcuffs onto his hands and led him to the hangman’s noose. He never returned.

For a week now, the rat has made away with Agbako’s meal – a paltry loaf of bread and some watery, half-done beans. Agbako has refused to eat, but only stares in the dark. Every night, all he sees are strange things as Pius’ ghost visits him. In those apparitions, Pius never smiles…

After three years in prison, no one bothers to visit Agbako anymore. Even his wife, he heard, has run off with an Alhaji and left his children in custody of his widowed grandmother. The nightmares wouldn’t go, or even move an inch. Last Sunday, he was told he would finally be hanged today.

Continue reading here: BN Prose: Agbako Was Here by Gbenga Awomodu

Website Review: BellaNaija.com – All That’s Cool on Naija

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BellaNaija was created on 1 July 2006 as a blog, but five years down the line, it has morphed into a full-fledged website with well-written material for that avid community of Nigerian internet readers. It is certainly one of the most popular websites of its kind in Africa – enough for its founder to appear on Oprah and CNN! Every day, over twenty thousand unique visitors from across the globe check in for inspiration, entertainment, and useful information.

Columns range from News & Features to Movies & TV. The Music column is a dynamic platform for both the underdogs and the established in the Nigerian music industry. Relationships, perhaps the most frequently visited of all ten columns, has a predominantly female community converging to discuss love, life partners, heartbreaks and marital stress. Comments can get as long as 750 words! Beautiful writers like Glory Edozien, Ejire, and Wana Udobang always bring fresh perspectives to seemingly over-flogged subjects.

The Wedding section is another high-traffic corner – readers swallowing the latest weddings, and commenting on planning, gowns, décor, photography, love story, exotic cars, and expensive suits. Career and inspiring stories are not left out of the mix with periodic features and in-depth interviews with some of Nigeria’s best – innovators, young leaders, and entrepreneurs.

Whatever gets on BellaNaija immediately gets cool, and it’s testament to the incredible hard work of the team behind it. Well done guys.

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This review was first published in the Issue 2 of Y! Magazine (October-December 2010), but has been slightly modified here.

Website Review: Naijastories – A New Haven for Nigerian Writers

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Naija Stories (www.naijastories.com) went live in March 2010 and has become one of the top online communities which serves the needs of new and emerging Nigerian writers and literary enthusiasts.

At the site, writers share their work, receive help through the commentary to improve their work, gain recognition, connect with publishers and peers, and gain access to a potentially global audience. By the anniversary of its launch, Naija Stories had recorded 1,700 posts by over 680 authors in fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, and drama.

Recently, the Wibiya toolbar was added to the site and it became a social media networking site, much like any other, permiting users to register and connect with one another. Naija Stories is however, felixible because you don’t have to register to read, rate, review and recommend your favorite stories.

Users score member points as they remain active on the site and they can improve their ranking by registering, submitting a story, starting a discussion group or a forum topic.

Naija Stories is run by its founder, Myne Whitman*, a Nigerian romance fiction writer, Tola Odejayi*, her husband, and a recently constituted team of volunteers.

*Pen name
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This review was originally published in the RSVP Edition of Y! Magazine (April – June 2011). It first appeared online on YNaija.com.