"I am lost in thoughts, of how living can be a playlist on repeat." A Q&A with Keem Tunde.

Things That Never Die

It is 06:17am, and I am late. While waiting for a bus, I am lost in thoughts, of how living can be a playlist on repeat: sleep, eat, work and other things lost in transit.

A bus arrives; I am on my way to Victoria Island, but first, Ojuelegba. In the bus, the man beside me looks like my dad. He, the man, has my dad’s kind of Polo on – with stripes. He is light skinned, with folds above his eyes. His neck sits like my dad's – backward, and tilted up a bit, like when he watches the news.

He catches me staring. I do not apologize. I look away. I search through my phone’s gallery, in between, I let out a tear. I am broken. There is no picture of me and my dad, unlike my siblings who have many. Though I bear his name, and he preferred to call me Junior, we were apart, in several ways.

Through the window, I stare, at shops still locked. I think of the owners, still sleeping. I wish for the same, but faced with a different reality. A job waits on the Island. A dawn to dusk job. Two seats away, a man makes me a reference point to his son. "Go to school so you can wear a tie like him." I smile.

Almost at my stop, a look at my phone; I wish to call my dad, to hear him speak for the last time.

#WriterPrompt is a regular flash fiction event we run on our Facebook page. Writers post stories in response to a picture, then workshop them with other participants and members of the SSDA team. Keem Tunde's story tackled grief, memory and expectation in a particularly elegant way.


Tell us a little about what inspires you to write and when you started to learn the craft?

KEEM: My first real exposure to the craft of creative writing was in 2012 through a social platform - 2go. Every day, I would visit the poetry rooms just to observe others write. Later, I started writing my own poems. In 2014, I wrote my first story and posted it on Facebook. The comments were encouraging, so I decided to put in more effort. I am still putting in effort.

My writings are inspired by everyday activities. I am interested in the little things that many might overlook; the bus ride from home to school, how the kids in my compound interact - what they say and how they say it, a picture or phrase etc. Over the years, my writings (especially poems) are influenced by people, places and pain. We all have our shares of pain. Haha! 


Who are your favourite authors and why?

KEEM: Favourite authors? The list is endless, especially with the emergence of a new generation of African writers, I read based on mood. I have stuck with a few authors and works over the years though: say Mario Puzo's The Godfather, JD Robb's In Death series, TJ Benson's 'Tea' among others. Through media platforms, Facebook especially, new writers are emerging and they are changing the narratives; bringing new styles to the table. For every author I read, I am interested in how they depict human experience in their works. 


What is next on your writing agenda, plus some writing tips that you found most useful?

KEEM: The next thing on my agenda is to continue to grow as a writer. It has always been my goal to be a better writer. It is only when I have mastered the craft that I will aim to publish a book. For now, I can only grow through platforms like SSDA, and, hopefully, I can put in for the annual competition in couple of years.

I have allowed myself to be guided by two writing tips over the years:

A. Writing is like music; it must have a flow.

B. Sometimes, writing stories take time. If you relax for a while and come back, you may find errors that weren't visible before.



Keem Tunde is a graduate of Mass Communication from The Polytechnic Ibadan. He lives in Lagos where he doubles as a writer and street photographer.




"We just kept searching for food, lest we die." A Quick Q&A with Mo Cadillac.

The Cost of Greed

Kamal ended his inglorious life in the deep, dark, red fluid-laden churner of the magnitude of the creature of the lake. We had flown over the once shrinking aquatic space determined to survive the depression that had ran aground our economical institutions and impoverished our populace. It began as a recession, the dry season refused to give way to the rains until the government declared famine. It ravaged our village and sacked our king. It strode majestic through our streets, its gait lifted, its swagger boisterous. Emboldened by its conquest, it marched on. The King’s Guard could not stand its weaponry. If they could not fight it, what could our cutlasses and hoes have done. The sun scorched earth would have become our resting place, if we had attempted to fight the seemingly insurmountable. We fled our homes. We flew to nowhere. We just kept searching for food, lest we die. 

Kamal stumbled on a bag of grain under a rock, it had fallen off a truck headed for the human towns. He grew fat, while others got leaner. I became suspicious of Kamal not only that his limbs were fat and feathers bright but he left the clan at night. I trailed him to the rock, where he fed. Kamal was accosted. He refused to share the spoils despite multitude of pleas. The gods heard our cries and sent rain. We flew back home leaving an obese Kamal by the lake. He couldn't lift his body.


#WriterPrompt is a regular flash fiction event we run on our Facebook page. Writers post stories in response to a picture, then workshop them with other participants and members of the SSDA team. Mo Cadillac's winning story was a graphic story of greed and just deserts.


Tell us a little about yourself and your ‘name’ Mo Cadillac. Where does it come from?

I am Michael Chukwuemeka Mbegbu, birthed and bred in Lagos, Nigeria. I obtained a Bachelor's degree from the Federal University of Technology, Owerri in Nigeria. Mo Cadillac is gotten from the car brand Cadillac and Mo from the 42nd element on the periodic table, molybdenum. When I am not writing, I visit art galleries, I listen to soft music and read.


What inspires you to write and how often do you make time to practice your craft?

Writing to me is a creative venture in which one draws out his or her imaginations using the power of words and language to create pictures, to tell a story to entertain, inform or influence a social change. I am inspired by the works of great writers such as Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. I tell myself if I want to change the world or influence it like Mark Zuckerberg did with Facebook, then I would have to develop and use my talent, writing, to do so. I write as often as I can. When I am traveling I write, when I am in traffic I write.


What writing tips could you offer new writers?

New writers should never give up on themselves. They should continue to work on their writing skills until they become mature.




Mo Cadillac is a Christian who lives and writes in Lagos, Nigeria.

"A certain "right way" of being a writer does not exist in my realm." A Quick Q & A with #WriterPrompt Winner Frances Ogamba


We are fragments of time, and the universe. The bodies we inhabit, like trees, sand, pebbles, wind, and oceans, are passages. We walk through them until the end bell tolls for us, and we melt into susurrations and echoes, and tears, its salt our souls.

We once lived here, you and I, in this rectangular box placed deep in the valley. These surrounding hills grew on us, and it appeared as though we sank further into the ground. The stars knew our names, and the birds inserted them into the verses of their morning chants. Our footsteps are written here, in these sands. The stones may remember which are yours and mine. Does God know we owned here once with our kisses and the music we made with our thighs? Why are we suddenly strangers in a place that stood in our names? Why do pots clatter in the room we kept empty, and dogs bark in a yard that formerly brimmed with our silences? Do the newcomers smell us? Something has to hint to them the kind of people we were – your finger stamps on our room wall, the melted candle wax that caked on the staircase, the broken glass pane of the living room window. Do you think they smell our fear the morning those robbers accosted us, or our anxiety the day we saw a cut on my shin?

Did our laughter die with us, or does it ring in the indistinct sounds they hear?

#WriterPrompt is a regular flash fiction event we run on our Facebook page. Writers post stories in response to a picture, then workshop them with other participants and members of the SSDA team. Frances' bittersweet story of memories, old homes and our place in the cosmos, won. Here she sheds some light on her writing journey and what she's reading at the moment.


This is the third time your story has won a #WriterPrompt. What do you attribute your flash fiction success to?

FRANCES: In 2015 when I first learned of #WriiterPrompt, I thought I knew quite a lot about writing. Two years down the line, I have worked harder than I remember, staying up late nights just to read up what every writer in my library has to say. Yet, isn't it strange that I have found out that I know so little? I write these things because they are the best expressions of how I feel at that moment, without even knowing if they would be commended. Maybe it is the wide reading (which I think every writer should be doing) that moves my flash fiction forward. Maybe it is the realization that I know nothing, the further I delve into knowledge. Maybe it is both.


Which book, if any, have you recently read that captured your heart and why?

FRANCES: A book, Damage, by Josephine Hart, a dead author. She prised apart the details of the human mind and human nature. She accessed depths of man than she was allowed to. Let me give you an excerpt from the first page.

“There is an internal landscape, a geography of the soul; we search for its outlines all our lives. Those who are lucky enough to find it ease like water over a stone, onto its fluid contours, and are home. Some find it in the place of their birth; others may leave a seaside town, parched, and find themselves refreshed in the desert. There are those born in rolling countryside who are really only at ease in the intense and busy loneliness of the city. For some, the search is for the imprint of another; a child or a mother, a grandfather or a brother, a lover, a husband, a wife, or a foe. We may go through our lives happy or unhappy, successful or unfulfilled, loved or unloved, without ever standing cold with the shock of recognition, without ever feeling the agony as the twisted iron in our soul unlocks itself and we slip at last into place.” 

I do not know who else begins a story like this, but Josephine Hart does.


Can you tell us something about your writing world? 

FRANCES: I read more than I write. The aphorism 'write always' is not for me. Some rules and a certain "right way" of being a writer do not exist in my realm. I also think rejections are great. I look out for them. I still have a lot of work to do, so the rejections are awesome reminders of that. 


Frances Ogamba is a writer, poet and graduate of Foreign Languages and Literary Studies from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Frances is bilingual (English and French) and has run a Master's degree programme in Professional Translation at the University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria. She was selected for the 2016 Writivism Mentorship.


Interview by Catherine Shepherd