Sunday, July 15, 2012


Reading Search Sweet Country is like reading a dream, and indeed at times it feels like the magical landscapes of writers like the Nigerian Ben Okri or the Mozambican Mia Couto. Each page delivers an intense blast of vivid imagery, a world in which landscapes come to life when inanimate objects receive human characterizations: “Pillars of houses marched to meet and welcome him: There were smiles of baked mud, there were smiles of cement plaster, there were thatched teeth smiling from above, for others came with curiosity from their buildings …” Its political commentary is fascinatingly rooted in the body; fears of impotence and solicitations to the ever-present Ghanaian woman’s buttocks present a people searching for meaning between their own powerlessness and immense (pro)creative potential.

If there’s a common flaw in self-publishing, it’s that too many books are published too soon. Experienced voices across the publishing world continually advise self-publishers to get help with editing, and not just copyediting but story editing too. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to properly edit your own work. But the siren call of the Kindle store is often too seductive. The urge to finish your first draft, chuck it through a spellchecker and release it in to the wild is often far too strong for eager writers to resist.

I ran into Tommy just before Nigeria versus Argentina. NEPA had taken light and we had gone to Jowitz to watch the match at around two that morning. As Maradona and his compatriots stretched the limits of fair play at the expense of our countrymen, Tommy came up to me and asked how I was doing. I said fine. Then, just as Siasia scored, he said he wanted to talk to me about something. During the half-time break, we strolled outside.

“Your father owns a Bureau de Change?”

Well, in the past, he had proven that he did not waste time. “Hmm,” I replied. I knew where he was going.

“I get this guy. Very cool chap. But his father is such an arsehole. I was wondering if you could do him a favour. For me. You see the guy papa has this bag of hundred pound sterling notes that the boy can have access to . . .” He paused when he saw the smile on my face, one of disgust, of sadness.

“Tommy stop. Why do you do this to me? I have always respected you, haven’t I?”

“What are you talking about?”

“Tommy, there is nothing like a one hundred pound note. And even if there was, I wouldn’t switch anything with the real stuff in my father’s office. Just take am say I no fit.”

“You never even hear wetin I wan’ talk.”

“I no go ever fit, Tommy.” 

Mudashiru had bought the bus off a roadside mechanic who was in the business of searching for abandoned vehicles and putting them in working order. So he was unsure who the owner of the bus was. He however imagined him to be a man not given to spending late nights. Maybe he was a devout Muslim with burqa-wearing wives. Maybe he needed to be home early, in time for the evening prayers. Maybe he prayed five times daily according to the tenets of Islam. He must have been everything Mudashiru was not, but then he didn’t really care. He was the man of the moment and the owner of the bus. It was as simple as that. And to prove that, he recently added his own words to the literature of the vehicle, an unashamed declaration of his daily mantra stenciled on the fender in yellow letterings “ENJOY YUR LIFE NOW, NO ONE KNOW TOMMOROW”.

You’ve just finished a painting, sculpture, design, etc… You’ve put all your talent into creating an amazing piece of art, but how do you get it out into the world? I know it may seem scary at first…but you are your own best promoter. Being active in social media is the key. You need to engage.  More than likely, you have a web site and feel like that should be enough…the trouble with web sites is that no one can interact with you on it.  Remember these three steps to getting your work seen; write, push and engage.

Have a great week!

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