Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Afraponafra Bside said of Feasts of Phantoms

"I'm reading Feasts of Phantoms and it has quickly become one of my favorite books!
Such good storytelling and the author really helps you learn about life, Nigeria, and what it takes to persevere in the face of huge challenges. Thank you so much for this wonderful book."

Feasts of Phantoms
a novel by Kehinde Adeola Ayeni
-- ISBN 978-0981393926
Available your local bookstore, a host of online booksellers and directly from Genoa House.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Our Mothers Engorged Breasts

For Nigeria.

Our mothers engorged breasts, painful and full of milk?
Who will nurse at our mother’s engorged breasts to relieve her of the chills of fever from children Murdered?
What drains there of, of our mother’s bosom?
Poison it is, pain it is, sorrow it is, milk it is not.
Our mother stood regal and for the world her breasts displayed,
Coverlet of dignity? Shame her cloak.
She killed her babies from the sourness of her arrogance filled wells. Of diamond and of Petroleum, of cocoa and of palm oil, palm kernel, ivory and ebony,
And her children enslaved at home and abroad. The treasures of her chest run to ruin.
The primal of womanhood, for country and for honor?
Iya is gold! Iya is anguish!

She swings her ripe taunting and the poison thereof,
Sprayed her children from the Delta rich in poverty to the Deserts very poor in hope.
We will milk our mother’s full harvest the children wailed
We will milk them and feed on them and they will be beauty.
And our mothers name? We will relieve her chilled, engorged and painful breasts and she must not char us.

I am from the Ibibio group and I will hold your hand my brother from the Kembi group and we will cross over to nurse together to help our mothers fevered peaks of glory, and she has to give joy.

My brother Birun, my brother Hiji, and you my brother Kentu, we hold the world up with the pride between our thighs, forget not.
My sister is Ibo and she bleeds red blood from her warm springs of fertility. I too bleed red blood from my warm spring of fertility.
Laughter of children comes through her passage and my passage.
I will hold my sister’s hand, that my sister Hausa, and my sister Gwari and my sister Yako, with my sister Bolewa, and together we will cross over to our mother’s fury from the pain of her sorely taut expectations.

We will feed at her promises only,
Poison we will refuse. Milk we will suckle.
Giggle of Kanuri, of Egede, and of Yoruba princesses,
Prowess of the Edo, of the Arago, and of the Kare-Kare princes,
We will demand milk from our mother’s store of solace.

Mother there is a heart behind the left breast we will entreat her,
A heart full of blood and the forces of life.
The right breast is for nurture; it is not decay or desecration.

I will call to my brothers and sisters. Do you know my sisters and brothers? I will tell you my sisters and brothers names. Do you know my sister and brothers Adarawa? Manga? Kanuri? Bede? Fulani? Dakakari? Dukawa? Jaba? Seyawa? Margi? Kamuku? Bakakari? Gbari? Kadara? Koro? Fali? Angas? Busa? Kaje? Mada? Nupe? Bubu? Dimmuk? Arago? Basa? Shuwa Arab? Batta? Mumuye? Junkun? Chamba? Mambilla? Tiv? Igala? Idoma? Iyala? Yako? Ekoi? Boki? Ijaw? Itsekiri? Urhobo? Edo? Igbira?

Do you know us? Does our mother know our names? The delirium from her engorged painful annihilation erased the memories of our names. We will go to her and mine milk form her springs.

They are beautiful, our mothers breasts. The pride of a nation.
Evil within sealed our mothers delight, fear within her aching breasts.
In the pretenses of her children is the envy, in the guise of those my brothers and sisters
With names earned from the depth of wrenching history,
The brothers and sisters whose names I know.
Mother gave birth to us in writhing terror, and we
Her children refused to nurse at her wealth.
Malice to go, it must, so milk can flow from mothers’ fountain of anticipations.
Despair in the ominous looks of lying helpers,
Hopelessness in masks of dancing deceit, identities in blaming music.

Mother finally spoke through her feverish parched lips.
Children must account, children mine you must make restitutions.
The milk will not flow until you expiate, only poison and pain and anguish and misery will erupt.

Children you engorge where you should share.
Children you bite when you should suckle.
Children you rape where you should cherish.
Children, with guns and swords and machete you come at me,
Not to cleanse, but to vanquish.
In toil, and humility, in labor with sickles, in sacrifices
With sweat, tears and blood, you must atone.
And she falls from her conceited stance. Accountability.
(Excerpt from ‘Our Mothers Sore Expectations’ by Kehinde Ayeni. Jay Street Publishers 2006)

Feasts of Phantoms
a novel by Kehinde Adeola Ayeni
-- ISBN 978-0981393926
Available your local bookstore, a host of online booksellers and directly from Genoa House.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What People Are Saying About Feasts of Phantoms

Mary Ellen Clifford (Ann Arbor) on 1/5/10.

"I have just finished reading your novel, which I found very moving, thought provoking and hopeful about what the human can bear and recover from. Phantoms in the mind are surely alive in all of us.... I have passed it on to my sister. I have two sisters and I am sure they will both want to read it. I hope you continue your writing and that this novel gets a wide circulation! Thank you so much."

Linda Barrow Ikponmwosa on 1/21/10

"Feasts of Phantoms by Kehinde Ayeni is a brilliant book and a must read for everyone. The book caught my attention from the first page and was really hard putting it down. I enjoyed the lessons of life as told by the author and it truly was an eye opening experience for me reading about the lives of generations of women . . . makes me want to do better things and achieve more. Thumbs up."

"Kehinde Ayeni, I had such a wonderful experience reading your book Feasts of Phantoms. I especially enjoyed the Yoruba proverbs and how Iranti would relate them to her experiences. It's filled with such rich cultural inferences. You really did a great job.

"I am curious though, is this story about real experiences cause I was just blown away by the fact that Esho was raped by her own father... these stories are stuff we only hear about here in the US, I know about the female circumcision and the tons of young girls living in the north who have to live with these afflictions through no faults of theirs.

"However, I know that in our culture, folks do not speak up against such atrocities so they could well be happening but no one wants to talk or do anything about it. I went through different emotions reading the book, sometimes I would be close to tears and at other times smiling and grinning from ear to ear."

Feasts of Phantoms
a novel by Kehinde Adeola Ayeni
-- ISBN 978-0981393926
Available your local bookstore, a host of online booksellers and directly from Genoa House.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

For the Very First Time

The other day I was trying to describe what it was like for me when my daughter left for college to some acquaintances and one of them cut me off with, “Its empty nest syndrome. It happens to everyone.”

I felt robbed, and we all kept quiet because we had to find something else to talk about. I know that from the dawn of humanity, people have been sending their children off to college or its equivalents, so my experience wasn’t unique but at the same time it was special to me because it was my experience, and it was my first time.

Why are we so eager to box things up, label them and dismiss them? I know that in some ways it allays our anxieties, and we hope it decreases the amount of the unknown that we have to contend with, in a world that constantly throws the unexpected at us.

But what is wrong with new experiences or re-experiencing the old as if it was new, seeing the same things through fresh eyes? Why couldn’t my acquaintance let me talk about what it was like for me to send my daughter off to college, why did she have to short circuit it and dismiss me?

It made me think of the times that I had seen things as if for the very first time, or see the same old things through fresh eyes.

When I turned 45 and tried to renew my driver’s license, I failed the reading part of the test because I had become short sighted. I spent my birthday morning at the optometrist and was fitted with my first pair of eyeglasses, driving home on that sunny summer day, everything looked bright and clear, especially the edges of the tiny leaves on the trees. Everything was so sharp!

Another time, I was leaving Sam’s Club and was behind a Chinese family with a four-year-old boy, his grandparents, his parents and a baby sister. The four year old saw himself in the security television and became very excited. He pointed to himself, jumped up and down with glee and made faces for the camera. His family joined in his joy, a part of it, which made the experience richer for him. I couldn’t help joining in and imagining what it must feel like to see yourself on a TV screen for the very first time.

Some twenty years ago, my 23 years old maid came from a remote village in Nigeria to work for me in Lagos. A week after she arrived we crossed the bridge to Lagos Island, and for the first time in her life she saw the lagoon. She howled, ‘Ewoooooooooooooooooooo.’ She was both stunned and amazed at the same time. And I too, though I had seen the lagoon and the ocean a zillion times, I was able to see it anew and for the first time through her eyes.

It was the feeling that I had when driving on Ohio turnpike, my first fall in a temperate climate in 1993 and the Appalachian mountain abloom with the changing colors of leaves looked like a giant bouquet of flowers to me. I had quoted aloud, “To wonder is to worship.”

This is the feeling I get each year at the first snow, and each spring at the budding leaves, blooming flowers and the colorful birds. It makes me want to take my camera with me when I go on my walks. It is also the feeling of the hot sun on my skin when summer returns.

I want to remove ‘seen that, been there, done that,’ from my language, because have we really? And I want to be able to welcome everything that comes my way with joy as if I am seeing it for the very first time.

Feasts of Phantoms
a novel by Kehinde Adeola Ayeni

-- ISBN 978-0981393926
Available your local bookstore, a host of online booksellers and directly from Genoa House.