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Reviews
Sector IV is a book set in the period of the Nigerian Civil war and the months just after it ends. A story of stories, the book runs through the lives (and sometimes deaths) of various individuals linked by a common fate in their bid to escape the distortions that wartime sorrow and pain visits on the lives of erstwhile normal and ordinary people. The book does not overly focus on the atrocities of war to create a horror fest or seek to apportion blame to any of the combating sides; rather, it simply takes us through the daily lives of the characters as they make choices concerning love, sacrifice, wealth, loyalty and patriotism with the war serving as a backdrop in a matter of factly manner. It tells of how the war irreversibly affects the lives of the main character Onyiyechi and the others, how it brings to the surface feelings of discontent which were normally hidden and tests their loyalties to loved ones, how it forces them to adopt pragmatic solutions to problems that would have otherwise proved awkward and inconvenient at other times. Love is lost and found, as is friendship, while death, sorrow and suffering become familiar visitors, ripping apart the cocoon of peace and hope which had been wrapped around their lives before the advent of the conflict. It also reveals how people are forced to re-evaluate their positions and make strange choices in the face of overwhelming odds, all in a bid to survive the harsh realities they are faced with during war time. As we find out, sometimes the choices they make don’t always turn out for the best. The book seamlessly fuses history with fiction and drives home its message beautifully with the author’s simplistic use of clear language. Account of events are written to enable the reader feel as if he/she is watching a movie, while the characters struggle to overcome all the challenges the war brings to their doorstep. It paints the interaction of the lives of the characters with the war in harsh vivid colors, letting it be known to everyone that reads that war is hell for all those who go through it, but there is hope for those who survive. It also subtly addresses domestic spousal issues, especially the usually silent but evident battle between both sexes for compromise and dominance and the right to take certain decisions based on differing viewpoints. You are breathlessly carried along as you live through Onyinyechi’s eyes, the challenges of a young adult female in a traditional society disrupted by war, how she deals with the consequences of the choices she makes concerning love, loss, duty and loyalty and her unwavering determination to survive all the ordeals with her humanity intact. It is my opinion that there are quite a few loose ends which the writer did not satisfactorily tie up. Whether this was deliberately done to leave room for a sequel is what we wait to find out. Also, the twist at the end although brilliant, robs the reader of closure. The book is particularly recommended for young adults – who were not born at that time but who have ‘romantic’ allusions of war, especially those who are part of the increasingly strident agitations for the sovereign state of Biafra – to read and understand why none of us should pray to relive the events of those dark days.   [color-box] Abiodun Awodele daily juggles the Lagos hustle with running his personal blog and trying to stay sane in an increasingly insane world. Prose (fiction) and poetry roll of his pen as the spirit directs and his first collection of short stories is expected to hit the shelves very soon. He blogs at www.versesbybeordoon.com. Follow him on twitter @MASKURAID [/color-box]
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So the 27th of September, 2015, came around soon enough. I had just spent the 1st week of a grueling 11 in Lagos and was going for my first social event, a meet up with the members of the Mainland Book Cafe. You could have called me a fringe member, since I was told about it by the one and only modern day Ojuju, Beordoon . I had even written a post for the blog, so I felt like I was not too much of an outsider. More importantly, I was going to see the popular “Bar Enclave” and it’s twitter renowned TURKEY. So yeah, I was excited. I had no idea what to expect. I only knew one person of all the people (so I thought): plus, am pretty much as unconventional as they come and was a tad worried. In my head, “writers” are the knowledgeable ones; are supposed to be stuffy and all that (yeah I know, we all judge people on some level. we all stereotype, so let me have my two minutes please….) Never mind myself, I just rant and have never really considered myself a writer. Anyway, I got there a tad late and met the mini community. Guess what Ekene? They were all cool people; not fuddy duddy at all like my imaginary TV screen projected. The conversations were all inclusive and every one’s opinions were listened to, even in the selection of the next book to be read. The informal atmosphere of The Enclave helped me settle right in as well. And the turkey? Please, that’s subject for another blog series in fact. So for sure I knew I was going to come back for as long as I remained in Lagos. And I did go back twice. Made a new set of friends, met some people I had only known online, saw some old friends again and discussed books in a setting as different, yet as similar as my literature class for the first time in ages. I also attended my first book reading, got an autographed copy of Sector IV and generally had a nice time. For the rest of my stay in Lagos, my last Sundays of every month were booked. Sadly, am back to base now and miss the MBC meetups. Hopefully, I’ll visit soon enough and they will not forget about me; as I sure will not forget them!   [color-box] Eky Shirley is an unrepentant Liverpool FC Lover. A girl who loves words, books, and good music. She blogs at Eky’s Corner. [/color-box]  
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Fiction
When English singer and songwriter, Adele, released the sonorous ballad – Hello, little did she know that it was going to caught on like wildfire. Still topping global charts weeks after it release, the song shows no sign of slowing down. And as the song became more popular, other artistes jumped on the trend voicing different covers for the song. But hey, why should musicians be the only ones to enjoy the fun, can’t writers join in too? So inspired by Abiodun (@Maskuraid), for the next few weeks, we would be publishing short story covers inspired by the of the monster hit – Hello. Abigail Anaba (@Anabagail) shares her Hello story with us this week You can read @Maskuraid “Hello” short story here *****

This will be the last time.  But that was the same thing he said the last time and the time before.  Yet,  he is determined never to walk down this road again. He has been remembering the faded memory of his mother too often of recent.  Sometimes she wears a wig like she does in the photo his father has displayed on the mantelpiece and sometimes she only wears a smile with the rest of her body blacked out.  Her eyes tell him everything he wants to know.  Her smile is one of dissatisfaction. Today will be the last time.

They had planned everything.  It will be simple enough, entry and exit will be clean.  This is what bothers him. He hated plans that were easy and straight forward.  The more complicated, the better. But he had neither a choice nor a say in this matter.  He wonders how the rest of the crew will react later tonight when he tells them he is done.  It has been five years. They were fam, blood but he has to stop.

Sting walks into the room, his diamond studs twinkling on his right earlobe like a star in a dark night.  Even if he hadn’t seen him,  he would have smelt him.  He had a distinctive body odour.  That was the first thing that had struck him that day five years ago when he had rolled under a packed “danfo”  to escape the chasing mob. The five minutes he spent waiting out the crowd was enough for him to get used to the smell for lifetime “Ready?” Sting asked.

There were murmurs from around the room and he had an overwhelming urge to tell them he wanted out. He didn’t. “Let’s go!”

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They shouldn’t have any problems. They had stalked the target’s social media page and knew he would be away for at least a week.  He still posted pictures of he and his family from their Dubai trip a few hours ago.  He had tweeted at someone that his younger sister would be home. AY had run into her and they had quickly become friends. He will be letting them in.

All they wanted was the content of the safe.  Sting hadn’t revealed how he found out about the safe and its contents. It was worth five million naira. This was the largest heist they had ever been part of and they had to bring in two others to make five.  AY  was one, the other was the man’s driver. The driver lived in the Boy’s Quarters and his job was to leave the gate open and stay out of the way after. The Mai Guard would be praying at this time. They were to complete operations before he completes his prayers.  Nothing could possibly go wrong.

Sting had the gun. He never carried a gun.  Ake carried a knife which he hardly ever used.  They never resorted to violence… There was just this one time, but it was the only time.  He had taken a walk round the compound earlier in the day and he knew the terrain quite well. Once more he felt that tug,  the urge to back out.  He ignored it.

He looks at his watch,  it is exactly 8pm. He can hear the muezin call in the distance as they make it towards the gate.  He was to act as the sentry at the gate, just in case anyone chooses to pay an unexpected visit in the ten minutes they will be in the house. Sting and Ake will go in tie up AY and the girl; get the jewels out of the safe and walk right out. It suddenly occurred to him that he hadn’t asked if Sting knew the combination for the safe …It was too late to ask.

He tried to get his thoughts together.  Perhaps he will go back to school.  At 22 it isn’t too late for him to try to get a degree.  His father had tried to talk him into getting one earlier but he hadn’t been ready.  He remembers that day,  under the danfo when he first met Sting, how he levitated between holding his breath and holding down his morning meal due to the stench coming out of Sting’s body. He should have been in school that day but he had chosen to try out something he had watched in a movie and make some fast money. He had waited out the angry mob and when he wanted to leave, Sting had stopped him, saved him actually, he was older in the game and knew there was always that one person who would not leave with the crowd. The man had finally left convinced that he had vanished into thin air. “Sting,” Sting had said as they rolled out from under the bus and they had become friends from that moment.

The sound of the gun shot brought him back to reality. It had come from within the house leaving him quite confused.  They had agreed no shooting.  The sound of a scream from the house reverberated forcing the Mai Guard to abandon his prayers and start running towards the house. He watched him go,  hoping his comrades will be running out any moment. Instead he hears AY screaming.  It took him a while to realise what AY was saying then it registered.

“Barawo,  Barawo!”

He slips out of the compound as soundlessly as he can and then begins to walk away leisurely at first as the crowd begins to gather,  no one pays him any heed.  He stops himself from breaking into a run, that would be fatal.  He gets to the car.  Ake had left the key in the ignition.  He gets in and drives off slowly.  He would drive towards Seme and then disappear. The only hello they will be getting  from him will be from the other side of the border.

  [color-box] Abigail Anaba is a writer, teacher and thinker. She has been in the writing business for about fifteen years where she worked mostly in the movie and TV industry with writing credits to “Eve”, “I Just Came Back”, among others. She recently published her debut novel, SectorIV. [/color-box]
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