“So, Ngozi, what’s your surname?”

Ngozi let her eyes roam again and again over Ada’s features, marvelling at the incredible likeness they bore to Tony’s. Twin-beauty.

“Eze-ebube’s my last name,” she replied. Before anything further could be said, however, her eyes darted down to the papers in Ada’s hand, on her lap, and she recognised Tony’s unmistakable hand-writing.

Ada saw the sudden breathdrawn look jump into Ngozi’s eyes and automatically lowered her own eyes as well to the sheet that was now visible on top. On it, as title, boldly hand-printed, were the words SEEING THROUGH.

The two women looked at each other again and if there had been any clumsy last barriers between them, they crashed swiftly down now in the wake of the twin-look of deep, shared understanding that pulsated, in their eyes, from one to the other, and back again, on and on, into their hearts.

It was as though a million things had been spoken and shared, a million fears, a million experiences, a million thoughts of love and concept without number, had been settled, in that one look, after their simultaneous glancing at those words, SEEING THROUGH, in that hand-writing, and the knowledge and memory of innumerable loved poems, written in that hand, once read and stored away forever where hearts alone breathe.

A look in a million. No words were needed. The moment was fulfilled, their friendship sealed instantly as Ngozi gently lowered her eyes again to the poem in Ada’s hand and, in a voice even gentler still than the look she’d just had in her eyes, began to read aloud, yet softly, audible to them two alone, heads locked together over poetry.

“Seeing through…:

Like bird I fly, fly out of sight
To the land of poetry, there I write
A poem for you, a poem for you
And a poem for me too

It is my work, it is my love
When I write I rise above
When I die, yes when I die
Nobody should weep Goodbye…

Because I leave, with every line
A part of me behind, undying
Weep not, o child, weep not, o child,
To simple words so mild…

Fly high with me, far beyond the sea,
To the worlds of art, song and poetry
And then beyond, into silent heights
A little closer to the Lights…”

With a sigh she was through.

And tears came a-calling softly gently tenderly. Tears for that thing, for which we often have no name, for which we are wont to cry when we cry. A little closer to the lights.

“So he still writes poems,” Ngozi softly smiled, a tender look floating upon her features.

“It’s in his blood. He will never stop.”

“No, it really seems, not until he dies.”

“Nay, not even then.”

Ada and Ngozi here paused and searched each other’s eyes.

“How is he?” asked Ngozi.

Ada shrugged.

“The same as always… I don’t know… just himself, I guess…” She liked Ngozi’s eyes and the look in them. Tender, deep, perceptive… strong. Feminine might. The bond, formed, was quickly cementing.

And memory was stirring…; she remembered… three, four years ago… Tony had spoken often of an Ngozi for a short space of time… Ngozi.

“You were…” she hesitated…, “close?”

Ngozi searched Ada’s eyes for a cue, a thread to pick up and weave with, that she may construct adequately before Ada’s inner gaze the nature, simplicity, the intricacy and the intense intimacy of the close relationship that she had shared, for one short sharp moment in time, with her twin-brother.

Finally she simply said:

“Yes – we were.”

And again volumes were said, shared and mutually understood.

As though they feared to say anything further, their eyes went down again to the sheaves of paper in Ada’s hands.

They had no idea of the kind of deep impression they were making on fellow passengers in this dreary bus. There was a similarity, mutually complementary, about them, and a wide gulf seemed to yawn between them and everybody around them. They were alone. They might have been on a hilltop, or on a lonely, deserted beach, or on a boat out at sea. So immersed had they suddenly, apparently yet unperceived by either, become in this shared moment, in this new union.

The Molue is the nastiest form of transport on Lagos roads, except for perhaps the motor-bikes, popularly called Okadas, nasty little metal-birds of the roads. But like a yellow cuboidal prison, this mighty monster of a bus absorbs human numbers like sponge water, clumsily sardines them and then imperils with every mile the lives and destinies of hundreds. Uncomfortable, dirty and dark on the inside, it is perhaps the last place many would expect to see two such pretty, neat young women immersed in poetry and poems that, like golden threads, spun the garment, upon tears, of a newly arising friendship.

But where there is life, there is hope.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

Part 5
Part 4
Part 3
Part 2
Part 1

Or simply enjoy the entire novel here:
amazon cover copy twice is not enough 2015


At independence, South Sudan’s problems were and are daunting – but no more daunting and unique than the situation in the majority of African nations at their independence also, five decades earlier. Thus, everything happening in South Sudan today – South Sudan and the African Union (AU) should have seen this coming. That an organisation which has spent decades operating as a rebel group is going to have difficulty transforming itself overnight into a legitimate, democratic, parliamentary government is self-explanatory and has antecedents in Africa and the world. That a poverty-and-famine-stricken, largely peasant, oil-rich, infrastructurally poor, multi-ethnic nation, newly sovereign, without the familiar ancient common foe to unite against, is going to need the selfless Service of a revolutionary Leadership that makes the people understand that division, egocentricity and disintegration are the new common foes which they have to unitedly defeat now, is a lesson history has taught us. Not the familiar endless paper-rounds of ceasefire agreements will bring salvation to this new State now, and salvage and build upon whatever is left of the momentum of independence, but the self-sacrificial and deeply clear will of a Leadership that sounds the bell of reconciliation and genuine participatory upbuilding across the length and breadth of the land, in every South-Sudanese soul. Now more than ever, South Sudan needs leaders who think and act like Nelson Mandela.

No-one can tell if in the near or distant future, new African states will or will not break out of the existing, arbitrarily created, states of tension left behind by colonialism and in turn become “independent”, or whether a deeper calm will gradually set in within these countries of myriad states as they meld into functional united nation-states – but in the unpredictable nature of human history, who can tell? But one thing is for sure: no matter what happens, each state of tension will either bend to the gentle force of “Mandela-like” minds within its polity that push towards painful and tedious reconciliation, unity and harmony, or it will disintegrate sooner or later into internal chaos, like the majority of “independent” African nation-states all did, and like South Sudan is also now going through. There are those that will tell you that chaos is the necessary precursor to order; but six decades of African independence would also suggest that chaos, unchecked and unpacified, simply continues to beget even greater chaos.

The African continent is a kaleidoscope, a jigsaw puzzle, of hundreds of tribes and ethnic groups. If the continent does not intend to end up ridiculously splintered into innumerable mostly micro-mini single-tribe pseudo-nations, at odds with one another, weak, open to rape, exploitation and so-called “intervention”, then our countries and nations are bound perforce to remain multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-ideological. There is nothing we can do about it – this is the state in which we crossed path with the modern world. Of all continents, Africa above all is damned to unite or perish. Africans have no choice but to learn how to live in unity if they do not want to self-destruct and be eventually gradually re-colonised, steps towards which are already being actively, if surreptitiously, undertaken – economically, militarily, politically. Re-colonised by all those loving donor nations, East and West, who like to break bread into crumbs and miraculously shower us with fish, but never really teach us how to fish. Because, I guess, why should someone else teach you how to fish? –

But, watch fisherfolk when they go out to sea: to be successful, they do it in unison, in unity.

Christian or Moslem or Animist or whatever other faiths we differently follow, whatever our different tribes, our different tongues or our different races, our orientations, our ideologies, or our classes… the song is simple:

Africa, unite.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10


Der neue Tag ist eingebrochen
Er kann nicht länger warten
Der Regen, den ich nachts gerochen
Erfüllt ihn mit Erwarten

Du merkst, wie er sich Mühe gibt
Die Führung zu übernehmen
Merkst auch, dass ihm dies nicht gelingt
Fängt an, sich leicht zu schämen

Ein rötlich Färben streift seine Wangen
Er zittert unbewusst
Eine Gänsehaut, ein dumpfes Verlangen
Ergreift seine Brust

Denn der Regen, der die Nacht
Enthäutete wie einen Lauch
Führt weiter mit seinem Liebesakt
Er will den Tag auch.

Che Chidi Chukwumerije.


A gentle feeling of lullaby
A soothing wave, a beast asleep
A little child is passing by
Why does it weep?

Tears as large as sun and moon
Bright as heart, dark as dream
Butterfly trapped in a cocoon
Life is vanishing cream

We spend our youth growing old
Learning sophistication, hardening up
The night grows empty, proud and cold
Saddening up.

But precious moments will come sometimes
A tear, a thought, a child’s pure heart
A Memory, a bell that suddenly chimes
And tears your heart apart

Those who find the child again
Do so because they looked again
Through clouds of lies and inner pain
And wiped its tears of pain
And became normal again.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.


(Lessons from the first (mis)steps following modern Africa’s independence)

Some say that Mandela, by doing the right and revolutionary thing in South Africa, has placed upon that country’s shoulders the heaviest burden ever borne by an African nation, certainly the most historically unusual. The burden of responsibility. To preserve, protect and build upon… peace. Today’s South Africa has no antecedents in Africa, no African sister States to learn from. Instead, the others will study and learn from the curves, triumphs or failures and  vicissitudes of South Africa’s socio-political path, post-Mandela. Whatever challenges modern South Africans still have to master in the generations going forward – just like every country has challenges to master – they started out under the guidance of a visionary leadership that not only set the political framework, but also socially and morally set the tone for a continued sustainable upbuilding. In their new beginning was the pronounced will to forge a more just and perfect union, a reconciled nation-soul, one in which the blessings of liberty are secured. The value of such a beginning cannot be over-emphasized. Every and any diversion that may ever occur in the future has a corrective reference point, like a compass needle, to which it can return. Mandela gave to South Africa, and to Africa as a whole, a special gift. He took a chance on peace, reconciliation and absolute democracy. Of modern Africa’s foundational leaders, Nelson Mandela – whose country obtained freedom last – was the one who took the leap of faith. The last became the first.

True, it is not an easy example to follow, Mandela’s. Infact it has few precedents in known human history, not just in Africa. On such a large national scale, to checkmate a slide into civil strife and bring about the mutual pacification and unification of bitterly warring nation-subgroups, guiding them into a voluntary fusion of patriots, the large majority of whom want to make the nation project work – and he achieved this feat purely by the force of pragmatic forgiveness and well-defined reconciliation, aided by the iron power of persuasion, diplomacy and tact, full of farsightedness and a sense of history. TO crown it all, he secured it by serving one term in office and then stepping down. In the twenty-seven years he spent in prison, he had watched with frustration as one African nation-state after another squandered the momentum of independence and liberation, and failed to start the rotating engine of democracy, or build the institutions that lay the foundation for patriotic, enthusiastic, inter-united upbuilding. Instead they degenerated into national fratricide, due to the inability of even the most well-meaning and most intelligent leaders of politics, leaders of military and leaders of thought and of faith, to forsake vengeance for reconciliation; unilateralism for universal inclusion; suppression and oppression for liberty of rights and free will; arbitrariness for the rule of law; rigid ideology for a flexible approach to a real and changing world; personal power for nation-wide empowerment; personal wealth for national enrichment; past grouses for present peace and future progress; and selfish desires for national interests. Economic projects without political emancipation is the same as building on shaky ground. You need politics to protect the economy. As true as it is that economic troubles can destabilise a country, so is it also true and all the more important to have stable politics in place to safeguard country and economy. Whether the economy is flourishing or is fragile and floundering, you need stable sustainable politics to protect it. Stable sustainable politics, however, goes deeper then even a constitution. It is a moral contract that a society has with itself. Yes, ‘tis true indeed: peace is harder than war. And Mandela learned from history. Not only did he politically reconcile black and white in South Africa; but, even more impressively within the African context, he pacified native groups, convincing adversarial African tribes that there was more gain in cooperation than in conflict, and the path to peace does not always have to pass through the flaming gates of war. Why don’t others learn from that?

Today, in modern North Africa, five years after popular revolutions via which their peoples maneuvered their countries into position for a new beginning, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt have been unable to manage the momentum that began with the so-called Jasmine revolution. In Egypt, the newly democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood President, with the backing of his supporters, immediately set about repeating all the historical errors of the past, ostracising and repressing different parties, groups and ideologies, disempowering the judiciary and trying to strong-arm a new constitution into place, thus triggering furious and vicious waves of resistance. The nation, in the middle of a sensitive, tentative search for unity, was immediately and bitterly divided again, and then army General el-Sisi pushed aside Mursi, setting a new sequence of events into motion, the end-result of which no-one can yet say, and North Africa too is still troubled. All of this on the same continent that had recently produced a Nelson Mandela, a beacon of light, and a shinning example to all on how to turn years of persecution into the moral authority to reconcile a nation within, and with, its many selves.

Be it religion, be it ethnicity, be it race, be it class, be it ideology, be it orientation, or one thing or the other… there has always been something to divide Africans. And there have been pitifully few strong spirits with the courage, voice, moral and political authority to empower a reconciliation of the peoples.

… to be continued.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9


Der dürftige Nachtregen
Kehrt abermals zurück
Ich lausche ihm lieber
Als schreiben in meinem Buch

Wäre ich ein Baum
Würde er meinen Blättern
Alte Zeilen bereinigen
Perlen hinterlassen

Ungestört, die Nacht und ich
Der Regen legt sich abermals
Das Schweigen erhebt sich abermals
Weicht und befruchtet mich.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.


The way is “how”
Even more than “what”
Even more than “where”

“What” without “how”
Is religion, is dogma
Will chain the spirit

“Where” instead of “how”
Will never lead to
The answer of “why”

For it is the doing
By oneself that yields alone
The personal Understanding of “How”

Just do to me that thing
That makes my spirit light
And, deep in me, I’ll understand
The way

Who needs teachers
When we’ve got horses?
Just teach me how to ride
Or I’ll learn it myself

Then we’ll ride out together
And see for ourselves
What the world has to offer to
Seekers and lovers.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.


(Lessons from the first (mis)steps following modern Africa’s independence)

History is the teacher of the wise. The irony of the squandered momentum of African independence is that many of our first generation independence leaders, like Nyerere, like Nasser, like Nkrumah, like Selasie, Senghor, Houphouët-Boigny, Kenyatta and the list gets longer, were unquestionably deep-thinking, patriotic, well-meaning, ideologically clear, passionately driven and courageous personalities and leaders, conscious of their calling and fired by a sense of mission. Their gravest mistake, however, was the one that Nelson Mandela was determined not to make. They disobeyed a law best expressed by a very simple African proverb: A tree does not make a forest. No matter how deep, great, and whatever other superlative you are, you alone cannot move your country forward. Everybody must be involved. Their deepest error was not economic, ideological or military – it was political. Politically they became, at best, one-sided; at worst, unilateral. But you cannot build upon a divided house. Especially when it is your calling to be the first in a new time. You must chaperone the building of the foundation for the future and lasting peace and unity of your country’s peoples. The most important first step for a newly dependent African country is unification, not divide-and-rule; reconciliation, not vindictiveness; healing of wounds, not continuation of ancient feuds. In such a tribal kaleidoscope as Africa is, the primary light filter is unity. Politics derives its strength from unity and solidarity. But the leadership style of practically each of the first and second generation nationalist leaders and regimes in power almost invariably was a one-man or one-group show, authoritarian or dictatorial, forcefully exclusive of all opposition and adversary. Most of them stayed on in power endlessly until either they died there, were killed, overthrown or forced by events to hastily stage-manage a belated exit. The few who were able to avoid serious civil unrest, did it largely by their own mercurial powers of diplomacy, or sometimes by economic policies that uneasily delayed the effects of political disenfranchisement. Economic progress without political integration is a game of Russian roulette. Every downward swing simply reminded the people that they are not united – and each time, they placed the blame on their long-winded leaders. Ultimately even the most devoted, apparently successful leaders also had to make way in order for the democracy experiment to take their place. Democracy’s joke on those who wish to bring progress is that it requires of them, above all, simply to get out of the way. And thereafter to join in and participate in the building and maintaining of a system that ensures that others too, in their own turn will get out of the way also. Politics is not kind to permanent guests.

Re-enter Nelson Mandela, in South Africa – ten years after Zimbabwe, thirty years after the euphoric year of African so-called independence – a sadder and a wiser man. And a more determined one too. If ever, in the wilderness of history, the right person was at the right place at the right time, it was Nelson Mandela. History’s quiet thoughtful student. He knew what needed to be done, and he had the heart, the intellect, the character and the experience to not just do it, but also to inspire his people to go down that road with him. The road of inclusion. The path of reconciliation. Peace, unity, democracy. The historical chance that Mugabe, despite the benefit of hindsight, had been unwilling or unable to grasp, Nelson Mandela hungrily and wisely did. Africa needs peace, not war. Upbuilding and liberty, not oppression and suppression. Unification, not fracturisation. Reconciliation, not vengeance. Because if we go down the path of vengeance, there will be no exit from its downward spiral – for everybody has wronged somebody else irreparably. But while Africans squabble with one another, the rest of the world is rushing ahead, not waiting for them to get their act together. And now they are encroaching back on Africa, economically, politically, militarily.

… continued in Part 10

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8