Telling our own stories

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Finally, a winner has emerged (and it was keenly contested!) in the Farafina

osemhen akhibi And the winner is ...
Osemhen Akhibi

story competition. Osemhen Akhibi’s Assassin’s Creed, was named winner ahead of Henry Onyema’s Trumpeter On Independence Day and Tolu Oloruntoba’s  A Man Can Listen. Several criteria such as grammar, spellings, content and  creativity were taken into consideration. We apologise that it has taken this long, here’s the winning story (our judges were unanimous in this decision!) Congratulations, Osemhen Akhibi!

His name was Yusuf and, in a symbolic act of national cleansing, he was supposed to assassinate the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Independence Day.

The hiss of radio static from the walkie-talkie was his only company as he stood in the shadows of the amphitheatre waiting for a signal from the man he called General. He assembled his gun, the tripod and the scope with the ease that came from practicing this exact routine sixteen hours of every day for the past six months. Six months since the General had confidently walked up to him in a men’s room at the Transcorp, signed him a cheque and tabled plans for a coup that could only succeed if Yusuf played his part.

One shot only.

“Why me?”

“You graduated top of your class at the academy in Palestine; your teachers claim you’re the best marksman they’ve trained in decades. I wouldn’t trust anyone else to do it.”

“Why would I want to be a part of what you’re planning? I’m a loyal Nigerian.”

“Like your father.”

“My father was publicly executed for attempting a coup… General.” He washed his hands, wiped them with a paper towel, and fixed the other man with a cool smile.

“Your father was a martyr, he died fighting for the Nigeria of his dreams. Every soldier’s duty is to protect his country from enemies, within and without. That government was an enemy; this government is an enemy.”

“And your government?”

The man opened his mouth to talk but Yusuf shook his head impatiently. He had no time for political rhetoric. He glanced at the cheque, a princely sum. “When?”

“Independence Day. Symbolic, uh?”

He lit a cigarette and watched the festivities and merriment with a slight amusement. Mass self-deceit? Collective blindness? Plain stupidity? ‘Statesman’ after ‘statesman’ mounted the dais and extolled the virtues of the President and the dividends of democracy, and he felt an awkward mix of disdain and pity. They think this is all there is, they think it’s enough to make the right noises and appropriate gestures and the world would think all’s well with Nigeria. Or maybe they actually believe the rubbish they’re spouting. Poor fools.

He felt the tremors before he saw the rising plume of dust and smoke that meant the bomb had gone off as planned. It’s time. He ground out his cigarette, released the catch on his rifle as the pockets of panicking celebrators turned to mass hysteria. He watched the Presidential security detail, headed by the General, herd the President off the dais and towards the back entrance, where he would pass directly beneath Yusuf’s location…and within sight of his rifle’s scope.

Yusuf counted to ten in his native Hausa.

“Daya…”  Your father died for the Nigeria of his dreams… The Nigeria of his dreams; good roads…good schools… but most of all, the ability to sleep with both eyes shut.

“Biyu…” They had taken that from him forever the night his father was dragged out of bed, court-martialed on coup charges and sentenced to death.

“Uku…” Stick to the plan, Yusuf. One shot.

“Hudu…” My father attempted to overthrow a military government, General.

“Biyar…” Kill the President, Yusuf.

“Shida…” Nigerians are so stupid, by God, they’re stupid. They don’t deserve a democracy.

“Bakwai…” They reserve the right to make their stupid decisions.

“Tarkwa…” He should never have come to me.

“Tara…” Don’t do it, Yusuf.

“Goma.” Silence.

And then he pulled the trigger and shot the General.


29 Responses

  1. Bravo! Osehmen.Bravo. Storytelling in the style of my favorite authors: Grisham, ludlum,archer and Clancy. You deserved this. Well done Farafina.

  2. Great stuff. When he comes for his prize tell him he should write a thriller. He will beat Frederick Forsyth at his own game.

  3. Beautiful shuffling around.. It left me smiling. Crafting the story around the events that transpired recently with such brevity, wit and…wait! Was this written before October 1? *laughs* Nice Piece, Ose

  4. Have known Osemhen since our University days to be distinctively intelligent and so is the structure of this story, it was intelligently aligned with a recent occurrence.

  5. Not surprised she has won this. I’ve been privileged to read some of the works she did in her spare time even when she was much younger over six years ago; her pieces are alwayz intriguing and captivating . She is a very talented lady and strives for perfection in everything she does. The sky I’d the limit for this one because she has so much to offer. A Nigerian great in the making.

  6. I actually participated in the contest and was not by any means surprised with the outcome when I read the Master Piece represented in that story. It evolves a sense of completeness and I can only wish the writer a fulfilling writing career! It was a well articulated piece which was not overly Baroque. Thanks for writing this!

  7. Hm. Well, I suppose for an amateur writer intending to write for NY’s consumption it’s ok. I took the pains to read this cos I believed Faraffina was about the Nigerian/African voice. Save the Hausa, plus spelling error, I really didn’t get that.

    I allow for perhaps having missed the point in the assignment since it was random chance as brought me here. My advice to Akhibe is to read more Achebe and study Adichie for our more contemporary tone of voice.

    Good luck, and wonderful effort by Faraffina. Currently ff on Twitter.

  8. Osemhen’s piece is amazing from an engineer. Experience writers like Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Cyprian Ekwensi, Nguigi ‘Wationgo etc (African series writers) and you’ll become a master wordsmith. Keep it up. You’ll get up there. Look forward to your published works.

  9. its not just the piece I love, it is the use of words that provoke my imagination…4 me that is ART!!!! Proud of u Ose…so proud.

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