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Friday, March 14, 2014
1:23 pm edt
for a Tree
A dear, dear companion
of mine was brutally and needlessly cut down this morning by ruthless assassins. I was rudely awakened in the wee hours by
the insistent whining of their weapons just outside my bedroom window. When I opened the blinds to find the source of the
loud noises, I watched with horror and profound sadness as limbs were cruelly hacked off and scattered to the ground. Thick,
graceful branches that once provided shade, offered protection, and harbored many song birds and chirping squirrels –
as well as their nests – were carelessly buzzed-sawed into chunks and then sliced and diced up for pulp.
the past twelve years, the broad, green leaves of this tall, stately twin maple which grew between my house and that of a
neighbor's shaded my home from brutal summer suns and guarded it from the piercing icy fingers of cold winter winds. Each
autumn, I watched its leaves wane into brilliant beautiful oranges and reds; each winter, I admired the crystalline beauty
of gossamer snow draped over its branches; each spring, as its first tentative buds began to appear, I cheered the beginning
of spring. In the summer, I laughed at the antics of small animals harbored by and playing in its boughs. And, for these many
years, it stately stood silent and proud outside my window – a symbol of strength, gracefulness, and divine creativity
upon which I drew inspiration as I wrote.
Now, sadly, s/he is no longer here. Needless to say, I greatly miss
my long-time companion. I grieve as I look out my window upon the now barren grassy knoll where the tree once grew. The early
afternoon sun, no longer muted, now mercilessly shines in my eyes. Once safe and secure in their treetop homes, birds and
squirrels, now homeless, are chattering and scurrying aimlessly on the ground, wondering what happened to their nests –
the so-called woodsmen did not care enough – so intent they were on "getting the job done" – to even
remove and/or relocate them. The animals, like me, are probably also wondering why?
I've lived with this tree
literally – and companionably – by my side and there was nothing as far I could see really wrong with it. This
morning, as the truck bearing its corpse slowly drove away, I made it a point to stand out on my balcony to inspect the trunk
chunks. There were no signs of disease. Yes, moss grew on the north side of a few of its branches, but that’s what moss
does, folks. But...this friendly maple just shy of 60 years did not warrant being so cruelly decimated. If left alone and
properly tended to, it would have – should have stood proud and tall, braving the seasonal elements and providing shelter,
oxygen, and privacy for perhaps yet another half a century.
Now there is nothing left of this once beautiful creature
of Mother Nature except two raw, sap-seeping stumps – the tree was obviously still vibrantly alive when it was felled
– and an unsightly massive pile of twigs and branches that probably won't be cleared away for another month or so. There
is a huge vacancy in my side yard and a gaping hole in my own heart. And, to top it off, where once the tree provided privacy
between homes, I can now clearly see into both my neighbors’ bathroom and bedroom windows – as I am sure they
can now see into mine. And, knowing the “caretakers” of this development, I sincerely doubt they will ever have
the heart or mindset to replace what took 60+ years for God to create and men (so called "paid professionals"
who are really hired hit men) 60 minutes to destroy.
I don't understand the rhyme and reasons why people carry
out such senseless acts and travesties again nature, against people. Why do people have to be so cruel and heartless? Why
can't we just leave well enough alone and let people, animals, and, yes, even trees grow and be what they are/were intended
to be? And, for goodness sakes, why don't people ask and/or think of the consequences before they act? Had I been consulted,
I would have protested and figured our a way not to allow the tree to be cut down. But, then, again, who am I? And
why should anyone care about what I have to say?
Which is precisely
one of the questions posed in the multi-themed, many-genre, multi-plot layered historical mystery novel, The Hidden , by Jo Chumas. And while this narrative, set in Egypt in both 1919 and 1940, really doesn't have a tie-in with nature or
with trees, it does bespeak of (wo)man's insensitivity and cruelty to (wo)man. I went out on a limb on this one, folks. My
review is posted on www.authorexposure.com for your perusal.
Monday, March 10, 2014
Out of Nigeria
1:59 pm edt
You are not going to believe
this, but today I received an invitation via email to participate in a Centenary Celebration and book promotion conference
in May in, of all places, Nigeria! Yes, folks, the country in Africa. See? I knew you wouldn't believe me, but it's true.
And it's all because I've been working the past two years with emerging authors and writers from that fascinating country,
editing, proofreading, and, at times, even rewriting their books. I've even helped publish a few of them through CreateSpace.
So imagine my surprise when, this morning, the invite arrives in my in-box! Well, if nothing else, it has prompted me to share
with you an online discussion I just recently had with one of my favorite Nigerian authors, Gideon Dashe.
What inspires you to write?
GD: It all started awhile back. I was driving to church when an FM radio station (Inspiration FM)
in Lagos, Nigeria aired a sermon by Myles Munroe as presented by Dan Foster, an African-American. He defined the difference
between “Job” and ”‘Work”. I needed to “work” but all I have been is a pharmacist
– and a brand manager was just a “job”. That same day, I was privileged to walk into my church’s bookshop
before services began. I discovered that Bishop David O. Oyedepo had over 50 titles to his credit and people gathered to buy
most of his books. That caught my attention again. If this man who is so busy could take the time to write books, then why
can’t I write one? And so, the journey to writing started two weeks later. An inspirational story stole my sleep for
72 hours as I birthed The Weeping Palm Tree in 2011.
LB: How has the recent turmoil in your country affected your writing? What are the major problems
facing your country today? Better yet, what are the major good things?GD:
Nigeria is the giant of Africa
blessed with many resources. If it coughs, the whole continent will catch cold. It is a very active nation and historians
find very difficult to keep track of her events. My inspiration is a mix of my experiences as a village boy and the socio-political
happenings of the modern day. The Mhiship people have not been written about in any modern journal and so it behooves me to
tell the world about them and also to inspire the younger generation about the benefits of education. I am a proud product
of the white missionaries that brought education along with Christianity to Africa. Right now, my state, Plateau State, is
suffering from a religious crisis that no one could have foretold. This has inspired my second book, Spine of Peace, with its plot weaving around Boko Haram insurgents.
LB: What prompted you to decide to run for office?
Dr. Daniel Kutchin, a
Nigerian nuclear physicist based in Germany, wanted to set up a political structure that would enable him to for the governorship
of my State in 2015. He came across my first book, got in touch with me, and my initiation started. Dr. Kutchin wanted to
bring in people with an educated background and with clean records that could help his campaign. I was eventually appointed
the Director General of his support group. But, still, that didn’t give me a hint that I may run for an office until
a group of concerned youths paid me a visit during the Christmas break and urged me to enter the contest. I am currently testing
my popularity. If the general populace sees me as a worthy candidate, then I will run for the office of Senator.
LB: What is the most significant message in Spine of Peace that you'd like your readers to hear
and act upon? Why?
GD: Spine of Peace is my contribution to peaceful coexistence amongst humans in the world regardless of your
religious background – because we all know that the humans started from Adam and Eve. In my own judgment, I feel that
Boko Haram is a reincarnate of Maitatsine in Nigeria. In my opinion, this is why the religious crisis in Plateau State has
lingered. People have been hurt, but they have not been appeased properly.
Tell us a little about your life in Nigeria. Are you part of a "tribe"? But you live in a modern city, yes? A bit
of cultural background would be really interesting.
Spine of Peace and a little of what Dimka, the main protagonist, went through
was partially my earlier life. I was born in the city, moved to the village, then was schooled partly in the city. Now I live
totally in the city, paying visits once in a while for my philanthropic engagements. The years that I lived in the village
from 1987 to 1995 made who I am today. I will never forget the pains of the villagers, but I still respect their contentment,
honesty, and brotherliness despite their social travails. I am now a pharmacist and a brand manager for Fidson Healthcare
Plc here in Lagos.
LB: If you could tell us in the United States the most important
thing we should know and understand about Nigeria, what would it be? And why?
GD: The United States should not be deceived by the media which portrays Nigeria as a very
backward nation. It is far from it. The story of the Yorubas tribes from the Western Nigeria is different from the Igbos tribe
from the Eastern Nigeria. I am from the Middle-Belt which is culturally and socio-economically different from the western
and eastern parts of my country. If you have been to any part of Nigeria without visiting all of the six (6) geo-political
regions, then your summation about Nigeria will not be totally correct. I will tell you that even Chimamandah Ngozi Adichie
doesn’t know much about my people. Likewise, I don’t know much about Igbos. Just last week, the country celebrated
her centenary of amalgamation of the south and the north protectorates to form the united country called Nigeria.
LB: Are your narratives based upon real life events or are they pure fiction, from your imagination?GD:
My narratives are a fusion of fiction and real-life events. Even though the real life events are not exactly as written except
for the Maitatsine and their background in Spine of Peace, they aided my
imagination towards the point I wanted to make at the end of the story.
Who are your favorite writers/authors? Why?
Khaled Hussain, Bishop David O. Oyedepo, Chimamanda Ngozi, and Chinua Achebe. Their books are un-put-down-able.
LB: What is the last book you've read?
GD: I am currently reading two books. And The Mountains
Echoed by Khaled Hussain and Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi.
LB: What book(s)/novel(s) has (have) most influenced your writing and your life?GD:
GD: The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hussain and Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.
LB: Your first novel is being made into a movie. Relate a bit about that experience. How is it
going? Will it be released here in the United States? When?
GD: There is now a movie script for The Weeping Palm
Tree. I took out a bank loan to purchase some costumes from the US so that we wouldn’t have these sub-standard
effects we sometimes see in African movies. We have had auditions and casts were selected, but lack of sponsorship betrayed
that dream. I am a goal setter and a go-getter, so I know it will someday be shot and premiered to the world. But, again,
the sponsorship has been a big challenge. I will tell you that the adaptation and the suspense and actions in “Borlong”
– the title of the movie – spurs me on to keep faith that the world would one day celebrate a movie that is fresh
LB: General comments? What would you most like to say?
GD: America is indeed helping any willing person or group
to achieve their dreams. I am one of her partners through CreateSpace and work with June J. McInerney whose calmness, maturity,
trust (despite corruption allegations against Nigerians), and professionalism in editing and proofreading has encouraged my
passion to continue writing because someone will help to bring my work to international standard. June fascinated me by speaking
a few words of my dialect because she just not only reads and edits, but also enters the story of her writers.
LB: Anything else?
Na gode. Meaning, I thank you.
J. McInerney, the host of this Literary Blog, is
an author, poet, and librettist. Her currenty published works include a novel, a book of spiritual inspirations,
volumes of poetry, stories
for children (of all ages) and
a variety of children's musicals. Her titles include:
Monster: A Novel of Phoenixville in 1978
The Prisoner's Portrait: A Novel of Phoenxville
during World War II
Rainbow in the Sky
Meditations for New Members
of Oreigh Ogglefont
The Basset Chronicles.
Cats of Nine Tales
Water: A Collection of Poems
Exodus Ending: A
Collection of More Spiritual Poems
We Three Kings
Beauty and the Beast
Peter, Wolf, and Red Riding
Originally from the New York metropolitan area, June currently lives near Valley Forge Park in Pennsylvania with her constant and loving companions, FrankieBernard and Sebastian Cat. She
is currently working on her fourth novel.