By Ken Ike
One is a US college professor; another trained as a lawyer and is now a writer and the other is a journalist with immense creative flair. At 6-9pm on Friday 25th May, the trio of Unoma Nguemo Azuah, Hajo Isa and Abubaker Adam Ibrahim will star in the very popular BookJam@Silverbird Abuja.
The BookJam@Silverbird Abuja is a collaboration of the Abuja Literary Society and Silverbird Lifestyle. It holds every last Friday of the month and is anchored by co-host of the Abuja Poetry Slam, Jide Attah. The BookJam consists of book readings, book signings, musical presentations, raffle draw and a discussion by the guest writers. In addition, there is usually a special Slam poetry performance by some of Abuja’s finest Slam champions.
Multiple award-winning writer and Nigerian-born literature teacher at Lane College Tennessee, Unoma will be reading from her new collection of short stories, The Length of Light, and her prize-winning debut novel Sky-high Flames.
Lawyer-turned-poet, Hajo Isa has been feeding her talent and honing her craft over the years since coming to Abuja and fusing with the City’s literary culture. She was one of three featured at the Abuja Literary Society’s Emerging Voices Rising Stars debut series in 2010 and she has justified that inclusion with the recent release of her first poetry book, Shadow Fall; already being hailed for its poetic originality and crystalline lyricism.
Journalist and Daily Trust Literary Editor, Abubaker’s debut short story collection, Whispering Trees is simply delightful literature that’ll keep you turning the pages to the very end, even though, at times, you’d pause to weep in empathy with some of the acutely-portrayed characters. Abubaker weaves, in a contemporary style, Africa’s rich folkloric tradition with modern stories filled with eventful, deep characters that remain with you long after you’ve put down the beautifully produced book. One does not need to be a prophet to predict that this young writer will be one of Nigeria luminous literary stars in the future.
No doubt, the May edition of Bookjam is sure to thrill Abuja’s literati.
Born and bred in Zuru, Kebbi State, Hajara Isa is lawyer and staff of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Abuja. She graduated from the Faculty of Law, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in 2004.
As a Secondary school student of the Federal Government College, Jos, Hajo, as she’s fondly called took particular interest in poetry. She had been fascinated with words from a young age and her parents actively encouraged her.
Moving to Abuja after NYSC, she became an active member of the Abuja Literary Society. She would read her poetry at every reading and patiently noted the peer review of her writing, making sure she wrote the comments down. In later readings, she would read the amended version of the same works and it was interesting seeing her evolution from her quaint, uncertain early writings to her later poetic flourish; becoming a mature poet filled with the poise and confidence of a writer who has finally found her voice.
Recently, she has dabbled into prose, beginning with short story writing. She enjoys African prose the most, finding them “very rich in culture and passion; they have influenced my appreciation and dedication to the art of poetry and short fiction writing.” Hajo, writes best when she’s inspired. “I find art to be my best muse; I find it in music, reading a good book, being outdoors surrounded by nature, beauty in living and animate objects or art. Inspiration for me is very erratic so I try my best to incorporate creative hobbies in my life.”
Hajo aspires to serve on the legal Bench some day.
Abubakar Adam Ibrahim has been fascinated with writing since he was a boy, which was what motivated him to dump the sciences and study Mass Communications at the University of Jos.
He has dabbled into poetry and plays but is more at home with prose. He won the BBC African Performance Prize in 2007 and the ANA Plateau/Amatu Braide Prize for Prose the following year. He also emerged runner-up for the ANA Plateau Poetry Prize.
He is a fellow of the British Council Radiophonics creative writing workshop and has been selected for the Fidelity Bank Creative Writing Workshop as well as the Caine Prize for African Writing workshop (2012) – which he could not attend because of the Nigeria-South Africa Yellow fever row.
His radio drama, A Bull Man’s Story which fetched him the BBC African Performance Prize in 2007 was highly commended by the judges for the writer’s ‘ability to enter the minds of his character’.
He published his first novel, The Quest for Nina was published in 2009 and several of his works have appeared online and in literary journals.
Abubakar was educated at the University of Jos, Nigeria, where he obtained a degree in Mass Communication.
Unoma Nguemo Azuah:
Unoma Nguemo Azuah is a college professor in the US. She got her undergraduate at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka where she edited the English department literary journal—The Muse and received the awards of the best Creative Writing student for two consecutive years: 1992 and 1993. Her other awards include the Hellman/Hammett award, the Urban Spectrum award,the Leonard Trawick award and the Association of Nigerian Authors/NDDC Flora Nwapa award for her debut novel Sky-high Flames and the Aidoo-Snyder award for her latest novel, Edible Bones. Her collection of short stories,The Length of Light, reflects the predicament of everyday choices in life. The enigmatic gap between ordinary people and their dreams is dramatized in scenes that reveal severed roots, patriarchal intrusions, socio-economic impositions, inhuman cultural values, and hostility. Unoma has conducted writing workshops and seminars in some major cities in Nigeria, US and Canada. For instance, she has conducted writing workshops for incarcerated mothers and women in prison as a way of creating outlets for their expressions. Part of her focus in such workshops is to assist women in channelling their energy into literary expressions as a way of freeing their spirits in spite of their physical imprisonment.
She is also involved with “The Griot Collective,” a poetry group that organizes workshops and readings for adults and high school students in the West Tennessee area. Her contributions to this group earned her the “Griot Hero” award in 2006. In the same year, she received “The Best Faculty,” award at Lane College for her outstanding teaching, research and service to the College community.
Poet, journalist and literary activist, Ike is the Slam Master of the Abuja Literary Society.