Category Archives: Exercises

The Guidance Counsellor by Tahirah Abdulazeez


He leaned forward, pointing his index finger downwards. It hovered inches away from the cap of a Bic biro balanced on an eraser, a make-shift see-saw.

‘You are here. Alone’

His finger migrated in the air, over the body of the pen. It came to a stop in the middle.

‘But this, here, is the centre of the universe, where the energy of the world collects’

He let his index finger drift back, to the tip of the blue cap.

‘Adebisi, you are off kilter. Understand?’

She did.

Failing chemistry was tantamount to falling off the face of the Earth.

Abuja by Olumide Owoo


“President Goodluck’s election is a first for Ijaws,” reports NNN’s Richard Kuwesti. “People now have hope that anyone can be president in the world’s most powerful country.” At the inauguration, Nammy winner D’Banj sang his hit “Tongolo”.
The only sour note was American president Barry O’Brien who, reeling from wheat subsidy protests, still insisted on attending with fifty guests.
President Goodluck was diplomatic. “One must be sensitive to the challenges in less developed nations. We will continue to assist them. In fact, next week we are sending a team of EFCC officials out there to conduct training for the FBI.”

SSDA entry by Gboyega Otolorin


“Once upon a time, in the kingdom of the black mangoes, there lived a man named Analaw.

One day, Analaw walked far. Where no one else had ever gone. In this place, Analaw found a wonder: yellow mangoes. Analaw took as many as he could and when he returned, he told everyone, “Look! See what I have found!”

The people oohed. The people aahed. Never had they seen such bright delights. The king declared, “Henceforth, the fruit of our land!” And everyone rushed to taste one.

But, alas, the yellow mangoes were poisonous. And all who ate of them, died.



I come out from the dream clutching my neck, my mouth open in a soundless scream, and I don’t know where I am. I look out into the blackness that fills this place. It is a thick, malignant black that looks like it could kill any light. I can still feel it throbbing in my neck, the bottle the mad man had stuck in it, and so I cannot take my hand away. I blink, trying to make out a wall, a window, but the darkness won’t let me. So I close my eyes, take deep breaths and count the numbers off in my head till the pain stops. At forty I can take my hand from my neck.

I open my eyes and I remember where I am. The darkness hasn’t given way, but the pain in my neck is gone now so I can hear his gentle snoring. It was the last thing I heard before I fell asleep last night, that whisper of a snore that had begun almost as soon as he’d rolled off me. I grope on the floor around me in the dark. When I find my phone I press a button for light. It’s three forty-five. I slide off the mattress and to the floor and notice that my head is pounding. I crawl onto last night’s condom just as I reach my hand bag. It sticks to my knee and I brush it off with an impatient motion. Still holding my phone for light, I rummage through my bag till I find my lighter and pack of cigarettes. There’s only one left. It will have to do till he wakes up. I light it with shaky hands. Read the rest of this entry

About The Piece I Wrote, About Myself and the Boli-Seller


It was my intention from the very beginning, from that point, that minute, that second, from that infinitesimal space of time in which I realized that I had to, simply had to write about Mr. Alani, to present him to my reader as clearly as possible, to paint a portrait as vivid and as bright and as rich as the larger-than-life boli-seller himself.

But where to begin? That became the question. Do I start with a description of the man? His physical attributes? Or with a few sentences to praise the heavenly sweetness of his roasted plantains? The crispness of his groundnuts? The neatness of his surroundings? The fastidiousness of his preparation? Or do I commence with a short bit of narrative detailing how my obsessive-compulsive love of hot boli and roasted groundnuts led me to make an acquaintance of Mr. Alani and to experience firsthand the power of his stunningly offensive and yet gregarious personality?

I decided to pursue the latter course and as an introductory paragraph to my short piece on my relationship with the infamous boli-seller, I described to the reader the circumstances that led me to become a favourite customer of Mr. Alani-Baba Boli.

I began with a simple statement of fact, the fact being that I had always been, from as far as I could remember, in a committed relationship with boli. From the blessed day, at three years old, when my grandmother cut a small piece of hot roasted plantain and blew on it, to cool it a little, and crushed it between her thumbs, to soften it a little, so I could chew it, and put it in my mouth, I had become hopelessly addicted to the plantain snack; this addiction leading me through primary school and secondary school and university to part with quite a lot of energy and money and also time, invested in walking about town, looking for that roadside woman who sold the best boli and its delightful accompaniment, roasted groundnuts. Read the rest of this entry

Bus stop exercise by Osemhen


In 2007, only 4% of students reported being bullied.

The statistic is an earworm in his head. Over and over. The words chase each other. Indicting him. How does he explain it to his son’s mother? He can not, he will not go home with this.

Perhaps if he stands just so, close enough to the queue so that he looks like he too is waiting for a bus and far enough that others can join the queue in front of him, he will not draw attention. No one will notice. That he’s been standing on the same spot for thirty five minutes, and that seven LAMATA buses, three of them completely empty, have come and gone and he still stands there.

Waiting. For the sheer normalcy of the world to crack.
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3.37 pm (Bus stop story prompt by Olumide)


If they would hold him now they could get him now before he reaches there. If they would grab his arm or maybe his leg or his neck or something, grab something, they could stop him then, stop him, these people could stop him before he reaches that place. These people crowding round, sweaty and smelly, with their “eh yahs” and “ah ahns” around the man, the man on the floor who is mad, surely mad no doubt he is mad these people could stop him before he reaches it.
Read the rest of this entry