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‘Wounded’ by Benjamin Solomon

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Wounded was inspired by domestic violence. It is one of the social issues that is truly not talked about as much. Most women shy away from talking about it because of fear, or some sort of dependent love, which, in itself, is unhealthy. But, unlike other artistic expressions of domestic violence, I chose to portray it in the way that it really is – in most cases of domestic assault, as in Wounded, the women hardly break away from that unhealthy bond, which is where help needs to be provided.

The pestle is a very common African kitchen tool, and women in the rural areas who are unable to use it are usually castigated. The pestle symbolises strength, and proves to me that even the strongest women may still fall victim to a violent partner, without being able to rise again.

I drew much of my inspiration from the traditional African setting where a man is seen to have ultimate power over the ‘much inferior’ woman, so that violence within the home becomes his right. Hence, I chose to go traditional when taking the pictures. Her dressing symbolises innocence, but we still end up seeing that she’s happy nonetheless, which to me, is sort of a superpower that women possess; they’re able to smile through their pain, through their problems, something that I personally appreciate about the women around me.

– Benjamin Solomon

 

Midnight,

At midnight she awakens,

Her heart still sore from the thought of his words,

That punched holes in her core,

Like a fist through drywall.

Layer by layer,

Her self-worth eroded,

By the lash of his whip,

Her body greeting the cold marble.

 

Her bones are icy,

Her back tattooed with welts,

A love tainted by flays

of words and of belts.

She can only hope to Heaven,

Not that her wounds are cured,

Rather, that his sins are forgiven.

 

And is that what love really is?

Noon strikes, so does his hand,

Carving lesions into her back,

Her form laced with blood.

And in that moment,

She swallows a sword,

Fine china shattered across the floor,

Gore mixed with sweat.

Constantly shuffling between life and death.

But maybe she’s already dead,

Drowned in a pool of melancholy,

Not revived, not revivable.

 

 

For she is an amazon,

Bamboo to his storm,

Proving too tough to break.

A luminous beauty,

Battered with scars.

She wears her sorrow like a velvet scarf,

And his hands around her neck like crystal pearls.

Her pestle is her strength,

In her breasts she cradles life,

Life too pure to see.

 

 

Might she rise again,

Is her question to ask,

Her choice to make.

Still broken, she attempts to salvage

A romance once real,

Now chocked out by vehemence.

Piece by piece,

She picks her bruises off the ground,

And onto her shadow.

Still, he re-bruises her bruises,

And stirs up her anguish.

 

 

Her tears couldn’t heal

The burn she felt on her skin,

The throbbing in her head,

Nor the ache in her soul.

For she was no longer sad,

She was numb,

And in that state she knew,

She had crossed ruin beyond repair.

 

 

 

She must rise above the darkness,

For she knows for sure,

That she cannot fix anyone,

not until she fixes herself.

Yet here she is,

Trapped in a box,

Far from utopia, yet far from him,

Fighting to swallow all of her chances,

Before he rouses at dawn

Where his palm once again,

Meets her face.

 

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‘Kissing’ by Wendy Mekwunye

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As he leaned in to kiss me
All I could think of at that point was how his lips would taste
Mhmm… he tasted like strawberries
He kissed me tenderly and quite frankly very slowly
As if trying to relish every moment of the kiss
I was fascinated at how the shape of his lips fit perfectly with mine
Our tongues dancing in an erotic way
He decided to explore
Planting soft kisses on my neck
I wanted more, I needed more
His mouth tenderly pressed against my neck
Electric shocks soared through my body as he started licking, sucking and slightly nibbling on my neck
An involuntary moan escaped from my lips
My heart racing
My body craving more
…Craving an evening of sensual bliss
I was in a state of euphoria with just one kiss
I pulled away
Looking at his pink and slightly swollen lips
I unconsciously start licking my lips in an aim to re-taste him

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‘Banana Leaves’ by Ujah Godwin

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I feel my eyes move,
And I have a clue.
Maybe I have shifted my mind’s eye,
From the negatives of this life,
And settled them on these banana leaves.
In all it’s green lustre,
Having fallen the shallow heights from the tree,
It looks like it doesn’t give a care.

Lush and green,
It grins
At me.
Letting me know that,
It is fine, and it just wants to sleep.
“It’s time to rest”,
It whispers,
“I have blossomed enough”.

Still, as my mind’s eye watched,
The wind sprinkled a company of fine dust.

Banana leaves peplumed with fine sand,
Sprawled on the floor,
It said to me,
“What is life?”

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‘1004 spoilt me’ by Afolabi Aiyela

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1004 spoilt me
From the highest thrones
To the silly games we princes and princesses seldom owned.
On lawn tennis lawns was birth the first imagination
With no retaliation
The first kiss,
the first fight and stupidly bruised wrists
I remember the 6th floor balcony,
a world so far away from the earth stringed with big boy realities
The wind kissing my skin,
forget that ridiculous AC thing
There were no mosquito bites that high up
All I beheld was the perfect sky drop
The Stars were so close to reach,
they would visit me every night and preach
Of only opulence and glamour
These I latched on to as a shield and amour
1004 gave the first best friend,
the first carpoolkareoke trend,
the first birthday party butterfly dance step,
the first make believe Captain Hook on a bonk bed/ pirate ship.
Why didn’t you prepare me for nasty slums,
bad roads and eventually a world run by a Donald trump?
Why didn’t you say “folabi, don’t get used to me.
The government is gonna take back your keys,
I’ll become even posher and fully serviced,
and you will eventually be worse off for it”
Instead you gave me music and you gave joy.
You gave me household Christian fellowships and friends with cool toys.
Now we see each other only once in a while
when my island voyages bring me past u to the lekki isle.
I won’t even front, I miss you.
You majestic mystery, you.
Thank you for spoiling me good
and for affording me the best childhood.

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#theTOOLevent

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Time Of Our Lives 2017 ( #theTOOLevent )

Games x Food x Music
Due to non-stop questions and huge demand…
TOOL17 is here for the biggest summer event ever!We are excited to announce…
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– GRINDS AND CHILLS
– & much much more…SATURDAY 12 AUGUST 2017, FROSTYZ , BODIJA, IBADAN
TICKETS ON SALE NOW (& Selling Out FAST!!!!)
Time of our life ’17 is an event you don’t wanna miss.It is going to be epic, features a lot of games, music to vibe to, food and lots of drinks, it’s going to be a time to chill, connect with old friends. There’s not much we can say about it now.just come see for yourself
#theTOOLevent #tool17 #timeofourlives17
Follow us on all Twitter, Instagram & Snapchat : theTOOLevent

Brought to you by
Ini Olu , Benz , Iv Fits and theAyoBusari,Oshobisi

 

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The Sublime: A Short Film by Ajay Abalaka

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Solitude is myself and the sublime,

in the sublime,

where you hear my heart cry

This is the first short film by Ajay Abalaka, a budding Filmmaker, Photographer and Writer. She captures not only what it means to be introverted, but also adds to the beauty of it. The Sublime, starring Tracy Adjei and voice over by Colleen Laurent,  is a capsule of aesthetics and poetry- an aid and companion to the viewer as we join our protagonist on her search for a safe place to an unexpected end.

The film feels slow, a drawn out journey that is undoubtedly a reflection of our character’s experience, and the title is befitting of its ambience. The narration is our guide and we are offered a range of emotions she goes through, coupled with a broken heart. We are given an inkling of where she is coming from and what she is seeking. Something further highlighted by the Director in her note:

“I have tried to narrate what it feels like living in utopia and also, one of the many things that come with trying to find a safe place in a bittersweet world, where there seems to be no hope for emotional recovery.”

There is a delight to be found in the colourful imagery as the simplicity of it all overshadows an otherwise complex situation. This seems to be a reflection of Ajay herself or her style, as one goes through her Instagram. Ajay is a great photographer with a gifted eye for finding beauty in simplicity, which she has incorporated into his filmmaking. ‘The Sublime’ is a promise of what is to come and we look forward to seeing more of her work soon.

Sublime, this is what I live for

Ocean blue, make me full

Still water, calm my soul

Waves make me think out loud, but slow.

Watch ‘The Sublime’ below.

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The Awakening

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I have spilt enough tears,
I have decided to disburden myself
of these awful memories,
The haemorrhage, consternations,
they make me shudder.

Every bitter tear shed,
over might-have-beens,
discontentedness, self-accusations,
the sour taste of shame and self-hatred,
every lost love and fruitless efforts.

I am pushing ahead,
relinquishing my hold to the past,
I have said my goodbyes,
I have chosen to love myself
regardless of the hurt, the pain,
appreciate myself for fighting
a good fight.
I know my worth and strengths,
and I shall work over my weaknesses.

Indeed, at the end of the tunnel,
there is a luminous beam,
a future, bright as noonday.

I arose, smiled at the sun and said,
“I am a survivor by His Grace,
and I will smile come-what-may.”

– by Stephanie Anene

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Friendship Series- The Lone Ranger by Otin Babine

Loner by Peter Pharaoh

I seem to always have the worst luck when it comes to friendships. From my supposed older “friend” who spilled my secrets to the entire staff-room, to my agemates who made me think less of myself and threatened to spill my secrets, to those who actually spilled my secrets, and finally to Frank. Before I met Frank, I had been  completely content in my state of friendlessness. It was not like I did not have people to talk to–I had a few acquaintances but I was a lone ranger, a happy one at that. However, on the suggestion of Susan, I decided to give the boy-girl close platonic friendship a chance and that was around the time I met Frank.

I met Frank at an event; a basketball tournament that a church member, who happened to be one of the players, had begged me to attend and I immediately noticed his jovial nature as he was seated beside me and kept on making funny remarks. He was tall, dark and had the fullest hair I had ever seen on a guy.  I unconsciously laughed at one of his jokes and he winked at me. At the end of the event, he collected my number and we kept on texting on whatsapp till he decided that it was time to meet again at the same park we met, since I had been disturbing him to turn me into a basketball pro. He fulfilled his promise of teaching me how to play basketball that day, and despite the fact that when it was time to leave I still had not shot any hoops, Frank encouraged me with his light hearted jokes. For a girl with only negative experiences of close friendships, having someone that was not a member of my family willing to encourage me made it easy for me to decide that Frank was going to be the male best friend Susan had encouraged me to have.

Due to our weekly basketball practices, Frank and I got very close and soon, we knew everything about each other. Frank was the perfect friend to me except for his predilection for the word “shut up”. I soon discovered that Frank belonged to the group of guys who believed that women’s opinions were invalid once it did not coincide with theirs. This, coupled with my mother’s warnings about men like that, was not enough to reduce the intensity of  loyalty and love that I felt towards him. Besides, we rarely disagreed on issues; we were perfect for each other. Or so I thought

I was blinded by the promise of a secret keeper and a sadness binder. I admit it, I was selfish; I expected him to be all of that to me without getting anything in return. But then again, I was naive enough to actually believe that our friendship was enough settlement. Oh, was I wrong! I found out on a windy Thursday afternoon when Frank invited me over to his house.

When I got there, I hugged him then I plaited his long hair and we talked about a lot of silly things. As we talked, I noticed that his gaze was directed at my lips but I overlooked it, thinking he was one of those who lipread to understand faster(even though in all our past face-to-face meetings, it had never happened). Frank got up from his seat and ordered me to dance, in the same tone that he had used to order me to shut up in the past, and my heart beat quickened. I got up and playfully swayed my body from side to side, although I was guarded. Frank excused himself to another room and returned shortly after, asking why I was not dancing well. As he asked, his younger brother walked out of the same room and left the house, but not without giving me a knowing glance that triggered alarm bells in my head. We were alone except for the dogs and his little sister. This warning had set off alarms that caused my eyes to spin and my head to pound.

Frank forced me to dance with my back facing him and he kept on trying to kiss me. As punishment for my reluctance, he dug his long nails into my veins and refused to let me go till I forcefully dragged my lips and body away. I knew that if I had not done that, he would have raped me because I could already feel his member rising through his shorts. I left under the pretense of picking a friend with a promise to return. Of course, I never did.

I do not know which hurts more–the fact that he betrayed my trust or the fact that he did not even apologise for his actions. Asides accusing me of not returning, Frank did not say another word to me. Till this day, we have not spoken to each other. I am now fully convinced that he saw our friendship as a joke, just like he saw every other thing in life as one.

This phenomenon called “friendship” has once again proven itself to be an unnecessary emotional roller coaster that always ends up hurting the weaker person the moment trust enters the picture. But what is friendship without trust? Nothing. What then do I need a close “friend” for? So the next time you see that lone ranger, rather than call her a loner, look at her with a little more respect. She knows what she is doing.

 

Otin is not really active on social media but you can reach her on:

Instagram.com/otinbabine

Facebook.com/theotinbabine 

 

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The 2016 Experience – Tiffany Isesele and Sonia Ogbeh

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Sonia Ogbeh (@_nxxcole) on twitter

I have followed both Tiffany (@_tiffanytiffany) and Sonia (@_nxxcole) for a while now on Twitter and I find them to be very interesting individuals that I appreciate, especially because of how different their personalities are. Tiffany is always blessing my timeline with some valid, strong opinions that she is not afraid to voice out, regardless of who you are and Sonia comes off as a romantic with a big heart, especially since she is a phenomenal poet. They are both  passionate feminists and writers. Read on to learn about their 2016 experience.

What were your resolutions at the beginning of the year?

TI: I wanted to do a lot, launch my NGO, write more and get on the dean’s list, start investing and save money.

SO: Truth be told, I never make resolutions at the beginning of the year. I get bursts of moments of motivation and I start an activity, and hope I keep up with it. Discipline has never been my strong suit, I should probably focus on that in the coming year.

What were your biggest lessons this year? Was there anything you had to unlearn?

TI: No one other than myself can push me to be who I want to be. Also, it is very important to learn how to move on from a setback, because life comes with setbacks.

SO: No matter how much of yourself you pour into people, the ones that want to leave will always leave. You just have to make peace with it and be happy for the good memories they gave you.

Actions have consequences and you just cannot reset your life because a new year is starting. I don’t think you have to wait for a new year to set new targets and stuff, you can always start now.

Describe 2016 with a colour

TI: Red.

SO: Grey; a mix of light and darkness. There were so many bad things that happened this year, but so many good things that happened as well.

What was your biggest inspiration and driving force this year? 

TI: Me. I was tired of everything going wrong and  I just told myself that it was time to write my own destiny.

SO: I really just wanted to show myself I could do everything I said I could do.

Finances and health, what role did it play in shaping your entire year? (fitfam journey, splurging etc.)

TI: LMFAO, I am off and on with fitfam, so we will see how that goes. I like the gym because it helps me release emotions. Finances definitely played a big deal. I mean, I spent a lot of money on Etsy. I used my credit card and while I was planning on how to pay it off, I got scammed, and it was a lot of money, that basically turned my life upside down.

SO: People who say money does not matter are liars. Being able to buy myself nice things when I felt down or eating really good and visiting beautiful places helped me a lot this year.

What about religion and spirituality?

TI: I really had a tough time with god this year, but I think the relationship has changed. I no longer look to God to get me out of situations, we are more like friends now and I like it.

SO: I am not the strongest Christian, but God has helped and blessed me so much this year.

It has been a tough year generally speaking, what were the coping mechanisms you adopted to help you get through it?

TI: Crying, watching Netflix and it used to be retail therapy.

SO: I reached out to people and actually let them know how I was feeling instead of just suffering in silence. I also read and wrote a lot.

Was there a low moment/breaking point for you? how did you deal with it?

TI: A breaking point was losing my debit card. I mean, I had lost my passport earlier this year, got scammed and I lost my debit card, so I had no way of verifying who I was. I cried a lot.

SO: Unfortunately, yes. I was so tired and suicidal at a point, but I reached out to people and formed a support system for myself. It is okay to ask for help.

Love is an infinite resource that we decide to show, or not.

I am in love now, and it feels like home.

Your greatest fear?

TI: That by next year I will not know what I want to do anymore. I feel like everyone is miles ahead of me and they all have connections. And I am really impatient, so I do not want to get tired.

SO: My greatest fear is that I will stop fighting and my demons will win.

Name one quality you deplore in yourself

TI: Impatience. I know very few people born with ability to be great at what they do, but it is so hard to work for 2-5 years before seeing results.

SO: I dislike how self-depreciating I am.

Your most treasured possession?

TI: My friends? they are not a possession, but they have been there for me through it all. They really are the best.

SO: I do not think I have any at this point.

The meaning of life, perfect happiness and love changes as we grow. So what do these words mean to you right now? As opposed to what they meant to you last year, or the year before.

TI: Love has never really changed its meaning for me. It is an infinite resource that we decide to show or not, and a lot of other factors affect whether we show it. The life question is every existential, but for now, I am just happy to be breathing and laughing from time to time.

SO: I do not think there is such a thing as perfect happiness. We have 24 hours in a day, and in those hours a lot of things happen. To say that a person will be constantly and perfectly happy for all of those hours will be a bit untrue (for me, anyway). We will get bursts of joy and happiness, we will be content (if we are lucky), but I do not think we achieve ‘perfect happiness’. I am in love now and it feels like home.

What is your self-love/ self-care practice like?

TI: Self-care is probably Netflix. If I can spend 2-3 hours watching Netflix, I feel very relaxed.

SO: I always take time away from everything, no matter how swamped I am. I also practice daily affirmations; whether I believe them that day or not.

What are you most thankful for at the moment?

TI: Oxygen? I am happy that I know what to do for now. I replaced my passport and I got a new debit card. Also, I have an amazing support system.

SO: At the moment, I am grateful for winning the Abuja Literary Society Poetry Slam. It is still surreal because it isn not even been up to a year since I started performing.

Name 3 Books you read this year

TI: Buchi Emecheta- I have been reading her works lately and they are all amazing, so it is really hard to choose. ‘Milk and Honey’ by Rupi Kur and ‘The Hard Thing About Hard Things’ by Ben Horowitz.

SO: ‘Funny boy’ by Shyam Selvadurai; ‘More Happy Than Not’ by Adam Silvera and ‘Every Tongue Got To Confess’ by Zora Neale Hurston.

Top 3 albums of 2016?

TI: Beyonce’s LEMONADE, Chance The Rapper’s Coloring Book and NAO’s For All We Know.

SO: Absolutely loved Encore by DJ Snake, Human Condition by Jon Bellion and Blonde from my baby, Frank Ocean.

What is the biggest thing to generally happen in 2016?

TI: I mean, in a world that is hard to quantify, I love how black artists are really openly embracing their blackness, and that has caused a lot of waves, It is amazing.

SO: Man… 2016 was such a weird year, but it has to be Donald Trump becoming the president of the United States. I am still flabbergasted.

Do you see the beginning of a new year as chance to reset your mindset, set new goals and targets, or you just see it as any other day

TI: I think it can be what you want it to be, but it is a great time to think and reflect. Even birthdays, it is really important because it is possible you are letting toxic people into your space without noticing.

SO: If I am being honest, it has always been a continuation for me. Actions have consequences and you just cannot reset your life because a new year is starting. I do not think you have to wait for a new year to set new targets and stuff, you can always start now.

2016 in one word?

TI: Interesting.

SO: Egregious.

2017 is the year of __?

TI: Hope.

SO: 2017 is the year of freedom and surrounding myself with people who truly love and care about me.

 

Check out Tiffany’s blog and medium for her short stories and articles. Follow Sonia’s blog http://normalisanillusion.wordpress.com for amazing poetry. 

Written by Lamide O-Bello

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