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Creative Nonfiction: What doctors remember when they retire



Creative Nonfiction: What doctors remember when they retire


Aaori Obaigbo

In an internet era, writing is the new speaking. So it pays to learn it. Not everyone can write like Soyinka and you don’t have to rival Achebe. According to J.P. Clark, you only need to find your own writing path.

It’s a comfort to know that normal is good enough. Aslak Sira Myhre, a writing coach, prefers simple, unadorned prose. Just be yourself and eliminate grammatical errors. That’s all that’s required.

But, if you’re the wordsmith kind of fellow, go ahead and be yourself as well. Be purpose-driven and organic. If your cutest phrase can be removed without hurting the story, kindly sacrifice it. That’s the brave thing to do.

Aslak writes creative nonfiction. It’s a genre of writing that uses literary styles and techniques to create factual narratives.

You could ask your mother how her teenage years were and present her history using the elements of literary prose? Elements like plot, characters, setting, point of view, theme and mood. Add a core element of drama, like dialogue, and you have history in a mimetic form.

Let’s leave the turenchi for another week and try a little practice. You could take a walk through Broad Street and narrate your observations like a movie, while I have a chat with Surgeon Commodore Mobolaji Sojinrin and present our conversation using as many literary devices as I can without turning history to fiction.

To start with, let’s choose the theme of mutability and title it, “What Doctors Remember When They Retire.”

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First Snap:

It was relatively calm in the emergency unit at the University College Hospital at Ibadan. The young doctor was leafing through a paediatric review, when his night float nurse, Victoria Zakari came in with a case file. Her uniform was immaculate as usual, but she had a worried look.

The tall slender doctor glanced at the file and gestured to Miss Victoria Zakari to wheel in the patient. It was a three-year-old female presenting diarrhoea, vomiting, high temperature and she had lost much body fluid.

The pretty nurse wheeled the child into his office and work began at once. The little girl had lush hair on her head, but the best place to attach the drip was her head, so Mobolaji Sojinrin and his nurse had to shave the girl’s pretty hair to get the needful done.

It was then time to reassure her mother that everything was going to be fine.

“Mogbe,” exclaimed the alarmed young mother. “Mo ti ku. Ah, Doctor, you’ve killed me.”

“Calm down, Madam,” said the bemused India trained medical practitioner. “Your child is going to be alright. I assure you, we’ve done what we need to do.”

“You don’t get it, Doctor,” said the hysterical mother in Yoruba language. “That child has been born thrice. Woli said she will die if we cut any strand from her head.”

“What is she saying, Doctor?” asked Nurse Victoria Zakari.

“Some superstitious nonsense. Tell you what, Victoria, get rid of the rest of the child’s hair. First, get her file.”

Mobolaji Sojinrin scribbled ‘special baby’ on the file and retired to his quarters.

The telephone rang.

“Hello, Victoria.”

“Sir, the father of the girl has shown up in his white church garment.”

“What? I’ll be right there.”

In the reception, the man, pacing up and down in his white tunic, was agitated.

“What’s the meaning of this?” the doctor demanded.

“We came for the corpse of our daughter.”

“Which daughter?”

“The one you shaved her hair. The Woli is never wrong.”

“There’s always a first time. Baba, the child is asleep. Come back in the morning, understand? We shall see who’s right between your Woli and medicine. I can bet the girl’s going to stick around.”

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Second Snap:

Three years later. 1970. The nurse is now Mrs Victoria Gowon, the First Lady of the Military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon.

The doctor returns from Edinburgh, Scotland’s compact, hilly capital, where he specialised as a paediatrician.  He joins the Nigeria Navy as one of the three pioneer Nigerian doctors. The Indians were in charge of many naval services at that time.

The civil war had just ended and the feeling of optimism was everywhere.

It was a beautiful day. Mobolaji Sojinrin, in his dazzling white naval uniform, was in Ibadan and decided to visit his former colleagues in the University College Hospital.

It was a nostalgic interlude of handshakes, hugs and reflections. He was thus striding in his white shoes through memory wards when a jubilant woman showed up. She had a child strapped to her back and a lovely seven-year-old in tow. You know how the Yorubas greet someone they want to honour. She went flush on her knees and greeted him like a long-lost relation.

Mobolaji and his colleagues exchanged glances.

“Thank you, Madam. Have we met somewhere?”

“Doctor, you don’t recognise the woman whose daughter you shaved her hair?”

“Oh, my special baby. The one a Woli said would die. How is she these days?”

The woman stood up and tugging the arm of the pretty girl, announced, “This is your special baby, Doctor. And this is her aburo on my back. Thank you for freeing us from fear.”

Mobolaji Sojinrin hugged the girl.  It’s the sunniest moment in a doctor’s life. Worth more than all the gold in Timbuktu.

Here is history furnished with all the literary trimming I could deploy. I got my materials from asking a truckload of questions. You could also do this from reading history textbooks and researching background materials about the period you like.

Don’t let anybody fool you, writing is not more difficult than digging a trench. Writing is also not spending a lifetime imagining a great epic. Writing is sitting for an hour or more, writing at least two hundred words per day for a sustained period. It’s a habit of putting words down on paper or your device, one letter at a time until you garner a body of organic incidents.

There are simple roadmaps to follow and that’s why we are here. Justin Imoudu, Stella Kpolugo, Folake Oyofo, Jennifer Abraham, Owei Lakamfa, Eric Osagie and some truly heavyweight writers who side with us are hunting for three would-be novelists. We hope to critic and give free copy editing support. There’s an email address on this page. Hit us, if you seriously want to write a novel or novella before September 2019. Enjoy.

The post Creative Nonfiction: What doctors remember when they retire appeared first on The Sun Nigeria.


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Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump – CAN fumes



Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump - CAN fumes

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s revelation of his conversation with United States President, Donald Trump, on the massacre of Christians in Nigeria, saying President Buhari was economical with the truth.

President Buhari had on Tuesday, revealed that at the heat of the bloody clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria, the United States President, Donald Trump, unequivocally accused him of killing Christians.

Buhari said these in his closing remarks at the two-day ministerial performance review retreat held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.

At a point, the President digressed from his prepared speech and narrated his encounter with Trump on the bloody clashes.

He said he managed to explain to the American leader that the clashes were not about ethnicity or religion.

He said, “I believe I was about the only African among the less developed countries the President of United States invited.

“When I was in his office, only myself and himself, only God is my witness, he looked at me in the face, and asked, ‘Why are you killing Christians?’

“I wonder, if you were the person, how you will react. I hope what I was feeling inside did not betray my emotion, so I told him that the problem between the cattle rearers and farmers, I know is older than me not to talk of him. I think I am a couple of years older than him.

“With climate change and population growth and the culture of the cattle rearers, if you have 50 cows and they eat grass, any root, to your water point, then they will follow it. It doesn’t matter whose farm it is.

“The First Republic set of leadership was the most responsible leadership we ever had. I asked the Minister of Agriculture to get a gazette of the early 60s which delineated the cattle route where they used meager resources then to put earth dams, wind mills even sanitary department.

“So, any cattle rearers that allowed his cattle to go to somebody’s farm would be arrested, taken before the court. The farmer would be called to submit his bill and if he couldn’t pay, the cattle would be sold, but subsequent leaders, the VVIPs (very important persons) encroached on the cattle routes. They took over the cattle rearing areas.

“So, I tried and explained to him (Trump) that this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing.”

However, CAN’s Vice President and Chairman of the association in Kaduna State, John Hayab, was not impressed with Buhari’s submission, saying “Buhari and his government will never stop from amusing us with their tales by moonlight because what is happening in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Birnin Gwari, Southern Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau and others cannot be described as a cultural thing.

He told Punch correspondent in an interview: “President Buhari’s weak story about his conversation with President Donald Trump further confirms why his government does not care about the killings in our country by calling them cultural things.

“Just this (Tuesday) evening, I received a report from the Kaduna Baptist Conference President about the number of their members that have been killed by bandits in Kaduna State from January 2020 to date to be 105 and our President will call it a cultural thing? All we can say is may God save our Nigeria.”

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CAMA: Bishop blasts Christian lawmakers



CAMA: Bishop blasts Christian lawmakers

The Catholic Bishop of Nsukka, Most Rev. Godfrey Onah, has blamed Christians in the National Assembly (NASS), for the passage of the 2020 Companies and Allied Matters Bill (CAMA), signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari recently.

Bishop Onah, said in a remark during the Sunday Mass that if Christians in NASS had opposed the bill, it would not have been passed into law.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Aug. 7, signed the CAMA bill into law, giving provision for religious bodies and charity organizations to be regulated by the registrar of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), and a supervising minister.

“The question many Christians have been asking is, where were Christian legislators during the debate of this bill and its passage in the National Assembly?

“Because, if they had opposed this bill on the floor of the house, it would not have been passed and sent to the president for assent.

“I blame Christian legislators for doing nothing and allowing the passage of the 2020 CAMA Act,” he said.

“When I say that Christians are too divided and too selfish, don’t forget that the second in command in this country is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a professor of Law and a pastor.”

Onah, however, wondered what the Federal Government wanted to achieve in monitoring how the finances of churches in the country are managed when it contributed no dime to the church, NAN reports.

“Government should focus and monitor its ministries, agencies and other government institutions where it budgets billions of Naira annually and not church offerings.

“Had it been that the government gave allocations to churches and decided to monitor its usage, nobody will question the government,” he said.

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Nigerians spit fire over fuel, electricity prices hike



Increasing Fuel and Electricity Prices

Anger and condemnations, across the country, have continued to trail last week’s take off, of new increases in pump price of petroleum products and electricity tariffs, as directed by Federal Government.

Recall that the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) official, D.O. Abalaka announced on Wednesday September 3, on behalf of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that the new price of petroleum is now N151.56k per litre instead of N149 – N150 per litre which it was previously.

The new electricity tariff which the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) tagged “Service Reflective Tariff” has also come into effect. It requires consumers to pay N53.87 – N66.422 per kwh of electricity.

Outraged consumers of fuel and electricity have therefore warned government to get ready for collision with the masses if it fails to rescind these new prices.

Those who have expressed outrage over the new prices regimes include, the Organized Labour, Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Nigerian main opposition political party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) and the Major Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN).

Others are: Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce (NACCIMA).

The NLC said, “The frequent fuel price increase will no longer be accepted. We will not allow Nigerians fall victim of government ineptitude and negligence to make the country self-sufficient in terms of refining petroleum products at home.”

On its part, the PDP has described the price hike as “callous, cruel and punishing” and demanded an immediate reversal to avert a national crisis.

The All Industrial Global sees the incessant increase as a confirmation that deregulation means just price increase.

“This is unacceptable! Under a pandemic, we should put money in the pockets of citizens to revive collapsed livelihoods and preserve lives.” In its reaction, NECA said it has always urged Federal Government to adopt deregulation policy in the oil and gas downstream sector.

The MOMAN in its statement insists that monthly price variation of fuel was no longer sustainable. It urged PPRA to adopt quarterly price mechanism which would save the market the hassles of price volatility. The statements by IPMAN and NACCIMA also followed along the same line that the hike “…serves only to increase the severity and duration of the looming economic recession.”

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