From the very moment I landed in my home town- Warri, I was forced to drop my Queen’s English for Waffi. Waffi is the common partoi in Warri. I even dropped my regular pidgin. Waffi can aptly be defined as Warri Culture- that is anything and everything pertaining to Warri especially the Language and the general hustle. I learnt to communicate in slangs and broken English. Familiar words like “eat” became “chop”, “to meet” becomes “colide” or “jam” “Garri” is “Gaffi”, “Father” or “Pa” is “Paleh”, “Mother” or “Ma” is “Maleh”, “brother” is “bros” sister “Sist”, a Thief or “Robber” is “Omila” “Steal” or “Rob” is “Obtain”, “The Law” or “Law Enforcement” is “Kongo” “Arrest” is “Cramp”, “Warri is “Waffi”; I even had to adjust to Warri phonetics in which “Change” is pronounced “Shanje”. Every “ch” sound is pronounced “sh” and “g” sound sounds as “j”. Warri people will look at you disapprovingly if you append “s” or “es” to plural- you simply add “dem” e.g. the plural of “boy” is “boys dem”, – “girl” is “All The Girls Dem”.

While pidgin is not wholly a new experience for me, a Lagosian, I was finding out that Warri English (pidgin) is more expressive, and emphatic. Everybody, from school pupils to politicians, even pastors and Imams, and market women dem, speak the common pidgin. You also find that folks here are never timid, they talk at the top of their voices, even when whispering. Warri no dey dull. Warri is loud.

Everything I ever knew linguistically was being re-aligned. It is proper to describe my dilemma as a culture shock. For respite, I hooked up with Bros Eghosa author of “To Saint Patrick” and “Fine Boys”, who lives and work in this Oil City. That guy could as well be a Lagosian for his frequent visit there. But I came away with a conclusion that “blending” (fitting in) is the way to go. Bros Eghosa na full Waffirian, in fact Bros Dr. Eghosa Imasuen invented Pidgin, literarilly speaking. From literate indigents of The Oil City like my bros, you hear phrases like “all the whole”, “every-every”, “anyhow, anyhow”, “any which way”.

Ordinary word have different meanings in Warri parlance. “Jam” means “meet” e.g. “I met Eghosa at a Bookstore” in Waffi is “I jam Eghosa for one Bookstore”. “Collide” is yet another word which has been appropriated into Waffi “I go collide you for the club this night” is to say: I will meet you at the club tonight”.

Names like Warri, or Garri are simply recognised as “Waffi” and “Gaffi”. why this is so and how it come to be beats me. I didn’t bother to ask so as not to appear illiterate and silly. Waffi (Warri semantics) is a faculty in it’s own right.

Warri Boys dem walk the walk, all the Girls dem dress the part. The little Child can’t wait to grow up to become Big Bros or Big Sist. Every twilight you see boys and girls dem strolling the streets gaily in their Sunday Bests, running things and being fly.

One of the many nice things about this multi-layered City Of Warri is that everybody is everybody’s keeper. One hustler can buy a whole bar for all, and all can buy a whole bar for one. Even when they “obtain you” that is rob you, they do it nicely. And if you know who has robbed you, you will recover your stolen items if you can approach the thief or his relative within 24 hours.

Life is so easy in Warri that the people find the need to make it a little hard sometimes. But could you believe no one in The Oil City of Warri knows what a Point Of Sales (POS) is. Cashless, to waffi people has a different meaning from what the Lagosian think of it. Not the businessmen and women, not even the bankers are familiar with e-payment. Any thing outside of ATM, Warri no know. I know better than look for Ewa Agoin in Warri. What you get here is “oil beans” pronounced “oyel bins’ otherwise what you get is “dry beans” (beans cooked without oil- dry bins).

The more common street food in Warri is A kind of “unleaven bread” called Kpokpo Biskit in the Efurun, Uvwie, Udu, Ugborikoko areas; and “Madiga Biskit” in the Iyara, Pesu, McIver Ogbe-Ijoh Main Market and NPA areas; but Akpu Biskit in the Agbasa, GRA, and Enerhen areas. While this snack is very filling going in, it is very congesting going out. Discretion while snacking on this Biskit is virtue. Warri no be Lagos. I don’t expect the bole seller or mama put, or the bus conductor to wield a POS; Lagos has not even gotten to that. But I am sure Warri don carry last in that aspect. A banker even asked me to describe a POS, and I looked silly. So I kept my knowledge and Lagos concept of cashless to myself.

Okada here is Cheap and decent. For as low as fifty Naira one can enjoy a 20-30 minutes ride- in heavy or light traffic, despite the extra-high pump price of fuel in this Oil City. The Riders are adequately kitted and clean. Warri Okada riders are polite, though they also overtake on the wrong side, but they make a point of horning before overtake, and are apologetic about breaking traffic rules . But the taxis are different; the cabs are mostly decrepit, with parts falling off, and tattered interior. The taxis take only three passengers at the back and two at the front seat. A Taxi drop in Warri go for as low as N300. The drivers are honest, at least they have that ready genuine smile, are civil to passengers and are helpful to colleagues. Even the lunatics keep to their lanes in Warri.

Eating at restaurants is a little costlier in Warri. A plate of Fried Rice with Quarter Chicken could cost as much as N1,800, and a cup of Ice cream goes for as much as N300. Beers and soft drinks have Discretional Value Added Taxes, but a heavy drinker can still have a great time hanging out with friends and acquaintances. Eating at Mama Put is wise and pocket friendly. The banga Soup is a great delight.

On my first night and morning, I couldn’t find a mai shai till i discovered Hausa Quarter. I couldn’t find coffee to buy at Iyara, my area, not even sachet Nescafe instant Coffee. But before I got paranoid, searching for the Elixir of Life, one nice Warri Girl  pointed me to the right path, pun intended. Her name was Anita but I know that was a “stage name I could have forgotten the name if I hadn’t associated it with Pink Panties. I never get to find out her real name. No need. Although I form “fairy” for her that evening, but I never again played that kind of a sucker afterwards. Warri Girls Dem, aren’t dull. They’re are sharp as they are kind and caring.

I am still here in The Oil City of Warri. I hope to become fully inducted into Wafirianism before I take off back to Lasgidi. I wonder if I wouldn’t get another culture-shock now that Fashola has banned Okada in Lagos State, and enforced other radical changes- those inimical changes. By the way, the Government of Delta State is also banning Okada in Warri as well as other cities in the state. The good people are welcoming the “shanje” because the people-oriented policy of gradually phasing out Okada by the introduction of Keke has not caused any unnecessary hardship to the citizenry nor create automatic unemployment for Okada Riders. Well, Lagos is a different story, and Warri is clearly in the Lead. The reason for this is not far-fetched.

While Lagosians say “Eko oni’ baje”, The Wafirians say “Warri No Dey Carry Last”.



By Paul Davies in uardian.co.uk

You’ve got a story to tell – I can see it in your eyes – a tense, beautiful, moving story that’s going to pick me up and take me someplace I’ve never been. I hope.

Readers are very demanding. They want to be entertained, amused, startled, inspired, gripped, seduced, and it’s your job as a writer to make sure they’re satisfied.

Writers have been producing brilliant short stories for centuries and from their examples we can work out the techniques that have kept readers happy.

1. Don’t chew with no gum!

Have something to say. Work out what is important to you – what makes you angry, sad or happy. This is your theme. It gives your story emotional energy and momentum.

2. ‘Character is plot, plot is character’

So said F. Scott Fitzgerald. Develop characters by figuring out how they would behave in certain situations – personality, attitude and point of view shine through actions and finely tuned dialogue. Determine what they need or desire most and you will understand what your story is about.

3. Hook

Grab the reader instantly. Avoid preamble or exposition. Begin in the middle of a crisis, a situation or a problem. It can be an action, dialogue or image, anything as long as it is arresting, unusual and compelling.

4. Set up – build up – pay off

A good story is structured like a joke. Set up a problem that the characters must overcome. Build up the tension by introducing complications and obstacles as the characters attempt to solve the problem. When the tension has built to a climax deliver the punch line in the form of an event or realisation to provide a solution.

5. Conflict

Your story must be rife with tension. So create conflict between characters, within characters, or between characters and their environment. If the conflict keeps the characters from achieving their desires you’re generating the drama that keeps readers hooked.

6. Show don’t tell

Don’t tell the reader what to think or feel – they won’t appreciate it. Appeal to their intelligence and imagination by conveying your theme through emotion, sense impressions and action.

7. ‘Write hard and fast about what hurts’

As Hemingway advised, write about things in your life that are difficult or painful. All great literature deals with tragedy or falls from grace. Readers love schadenfreude.

8. Focus

Stick to one theme, one narrative point of view, one situation, and at most three characters.

9. Drafting

Proofread and edit your story. Read it out loud and rewrite it until it flows naturally. Cut all the words that aren’t necessary. Mark Twain crossed out every adjective and only reinstated those that were absolutely vital.

10. Finally

Carry a notebook and write whenever you can. Use text messages to make notes when a notebook isn’t practical. Collect words and phrases. Observe people. Imagine their lives and stories. Figure out what makes them tick.

A great way to improve is read. Read Annie Proulx, Raymond Carver, Flannery O’Connor, Richard Yates. Learn from some of the best short story writers around.


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The hermetic world of Holy Folks is such a cheerless place. All those candles couldn’t do a thing to dispel the darkness and glum. Not even humour could light up their world. They really don’t joke, and don’t give a fig about you if you were a satirist or a comedian. Even the Holy Communion is such a grim affair- I used to think it was because of the tasteless, flaky wafer and watered-down wine, but I know better now, it is all churchitude. Everything is cut and dried and kosher. These folks can’t take a joke. They are so stuck up and distracted by things, and they go about life seriously. Too seriously for comfort. But we can’t be too serious about life because “none of us will live here alive.” Alright?

Even Jesus was never serious about things, even when under pressure. Ok maybe he was a serious dude, and I am missing the point. But that rib-cracker The Guy let off about a camel straining to go through the eye of a needle was the best joke of the ancient world. Historians missed it as the 9th Wonder of the ancient world next only to the turning water to wine trick. Leave out the walking on water stunt, I have friends who can tread water real good. Leave out the feeding of Five Thousand Men with Five Loaves of Bread and Two Fish. McDonald and KFC, and here, Mama Cass and Chicken Republic, have broken that record many times over. Let’s not take those stories too seriously, they were just stories for whatever stories are worth.

The Lord knew how tough life could be back in the day. When one have to be off one’s bed at the third cock crow at dawn, and hit the traffic to be the first to see if the fig trees have fruits on them. Don’t you be telling me they don’t have Metro Traffic Stress in those days like we have it now. Just as we got our highways clogged with Bikes and Cars and Buses and Trucks and People all tooting their horns at the same time; so they had traffic jams of Cattle, Sheep, Goat, Donkeys, Horses, Camels, and people all bleating, mooing, neighing, and screaming at the same time back in the day of Our Lord. We have a better deal than the ancients, with our sophisticated systems of traffic lights and wardens, and zebra crossings.

The best the Lord could have done about easing stress, as a healer, would have been humour. Isn’t laughter the better medicine than wine? (even the wine made from water) I trust my people; they are amongst the happiest people on this planet. Do you why? I will tell you why; it is because they can laugh. My countrymen can laugh real hard. When laughter becomes a arduous chore, they manage to smile, even while suffering. It is stark hardship that is changing all that and making my people the most religious people on earth. And religion is taking away their mirth and replacing it with faith: faith is too serious an affair for bliss.

Children are okay. They can find happiness in their innocence and fun-seeking nature. It is no wonder Jesus said “suffer not the little children to come unto me, for such is the kingdom of heaven”. A little girl once told a Bishop that she was a “freak for Jesus” Which Nigerian Holy Rocker isn’t a freak for Jesus? But the Bishop slapped the ish out of the little girl and told her to “shut the “f” up and don’t joke with The Lord else die by fire”. What the hell? Didn’t The Lord say unless we all be like these Little Ones we may not enter into God’s Kingdom of heaven? It was really shocking what that old geezer did to the little girl. Eish.

I think Jesus should come back sooner. After all the signs of the end of the world is very much here with us. Men have become lovers of themselves, and the women are following suit. There are wars, and rumours of wars everywhere, inequity abounds, and the love of many have waxed cold. People go about doing things in Cold blood- like lynching students of Western Education, and bombing the ish out of those who make Jokes of their prophets in comic strips or satanic verses. It is all highfalutin bull-ish, we are freaks in diverse ways. Some are religious freaks- going about with megaphones screaming “hell fire” disturbing the peace, or inciting violence by praying that their enemies die by fire, and their enemies returning the compliments. There are others- closet freaks who go raping underage girls and shutting them away in their harems when they become too leaky with VVF*. Thankyouverymuch I can do without your mustard-seed-size faith. Give me something merry and soul-healing like a good joke, even if it tastes nasty.

I can remember when The Lord pissed some religious people off and they were just about to mob him. He took a swipe at their ribs to “crack ’em up”, but those hypocrites missed the joke when he told them to destroy the temple that he would raise it back up so fast they’d think the bricks were Lego™ Blocks.

I told you, The Lord was a baRd A.S.S. Comic geek. Did you know he admonished that you turn the other cheek when a mugger hits you. I could just imagine a scenario where a bugger hits me on the one cheek, and I keep turning left and right and left again until the bugger get fagged out, then I flexed my muscle, turn around and try out my practised Mohamed Ali “roundhouse” and follow with a Mike Tyson uppercut. That would really look great on the silver screen. Maybe starring Mr. Bean and Chris Rock. I told you, that dude is a joker.

Ok, I am not trying to mess with your head or “f” with your faith. I AM ONLY JOKING. I’m only doing what I will have you also do undo me.

*Vesicovaginal fistula (VVF) is an abnormal fistulous tract extending between the bladder and the vagina that allows the continuous involuntary discharge of urine into the vaginal vault.(Wikipedia)

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Before you submit check out our top tips for short stories:

Location – remember to fix your short story firmly in a place. How does the location colour the story? Think about the sounds, the smells and the landscape.

Time – what’s the time span of your short story? It’s often easier to set a short story over a short time frame – it could be one event, central to a character’s life.

Title – even a short story must have a brilliant title. Often it can win the reader over right from the start.

Every word must count – less is more on the adjective front. There is no space for flowery writing – when you are describing something make sure each word is vital to the description and to the story as a whole.

Sometimes simplicity rules in a short story – don’t over complicate, introduce twists and turns but ensure that the reader will understand them and that they are central to the plot and the narrative.

The first sentence must capture the reader’s attention. As with the title, this is your first impression – think about walking into the room with drab clothes on in comparison to some wonderful peacock clothes – which outfit would you remember?

Don’t have too many scenes – it can’t be a series of tiny photos, let the scenes breath. Don’t try to fit too much into the story. Allow your characters space to work out their motives, their problems and the eventual ending to their story.

Think about themes/tones/concepts – these must colour your story. Ask yourself what is your theme. What is the underlying message to your story? Make sure you are clear about this before you write your story.

Be careful with dialogue – don’t put words in your characters’ mouths to pad out the story. Try to be sparse with dialogue so when your characters do speak they are not just chewing the cud, but their words matter. They tell us about story and the characters themselves.

Finally, read and reread your story – be ruthless with your editing. And only send it out when you are completely sure it is ready.

Posted by Jacqueline on October 3rd, 2012 in London Writers’ Club (used with courtesy of LWC)

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The Africa Film Academy Short Film Script Competition: Write an effective plot twist, create unbearable suspense, design an exciting action sequence, create a high concept, use diversion & anticipation to make your script unpredictable, and create great heroes and villains of Africa. The theme: My Beautiful Africa. Send script to: info@ama-awards.com or tolani@ama-awards.com. The selected scriptwriters will be invited to a script workshop to finally develop the scripts for shooting. Entries are invited from all parts of Africa. Films made from this workshop will be available online at the AMAAPlus website. Winners will be chosen via online voting. There is a submission fee, but films will be shot at the cost of the Academy and the winning films will receive prizes.

~Curtey Onyeka Nwelue for The Africa Film Academy ~

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