Due to popular demand, and mostly so I can hold on to that Workshop feeling a little longer. I’ll be putting up posts about our exercises.
Today is non fiction day.
The facilitator for non fiction was Aslak Sire Myhre, whose Wikipedia page does not do him justice.
(Picture shall be put up as soon as internet allows)
This tall, blonde Norwegian is a politician (not the rich kind) and an author who gave us a couple of exercises in writing non fiction, and made us think of our place in the global narrative as African Writers.
Who gets to tell our stories? Some well meaning European with no understanding of our culture or situation, or us?
He made us think.
I’m still thinking.
I get paid for writing non fiction, but wouldn’t it be something to write about the lives of Ijaw people – their history, their culture, their struggles? Wouldn’t it be something to write about the lives of militants? Cos let’s be honest – we talk a lot of smack, especially on the internet, but you don’t know what their lives are like. I’m Ijaw, and I know I don’t know.
On Aslak’s first day, he asked us to write a memoir piece about ourselves, telling a story that would showcase something larger than us. This is what I came up with:
It was going to be the last time I would go to campus to read at night. The next day I would be writing my last exam as a student of the University of Benin, and all things being equal, would not have to go to class anymore.
I went out to read by myself, then joined my study group for last minute discussions till about 2am.
When I looked around, none of my off-campus neighbours were in the hall. The Social Science Faculty had been the last to put up an exam timetable, and consequently, its students were the last to finish exams, and to leave campus. My classmates were planning on staying to read some more but I needed to sleep. I needed to leave, but there was no one to walk me home. My on again, off again boyfriend was around somewhere, but at the moment, we were off again, and he wasn’t talking to me. I was on my own. So I decided to walk home by myself. I walked out of the hall, out of the building we called Basement, because it had a basement, walked past the hostel for medical students, and past the campus gate to my off campus neighbourhood of Osasogie. The security men stationed at the campus gates were not paid to concern themselves with what happened outside their stations so as I walked past them I started praying.
“Oh God please don’t let anything happen to me”, I whispered in the darkness, and it was very dark. There was no light, no electricity, and it was oh so quiet.
“Oh Father, I will never do anything so stupid again”, I mumbled, as I twitched at every imagined sound I heard in the dark, and remembered the girl who had been kidnapped just a few paces from where I walked. She had returned a week later, ‘walking funny’ as a friend had put it. I remembered my friend Sammy who had been apprehended by robbers and then beaten up for having a cheap Nokia phone. I remembered the girl whose arm had been cut off by a cutlass wielding thief because she started speaking in tongues when she was attacked.
“Father, please let me get home safely. Let them not see me. Let it not be said anything happened to me the night before my last paper. Please don’t let me suffer for my foolishness”.
What do y’all think? If you’re up to it, you can email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) a short piece (200 – 400 words) telling a story that tells a bigger story.