For Chinyere Chimodo, it was the juicy story of preparedness meeting opportunity. The young writer’s short story, “International Sisi Eko”, became the title of the first lecturer and student collaborative collection of short stories in the Department of English, University of Lagos (Unilag).
The book, edited by Professor Hope Eghagha and Karen King-Aribisala, was published in 2018 by Kachifo Limited, publishers of Farafina Books. International Sisi Eko and Other Stories is a collection of short stories by sixteen writers.
Chinyere, who was doing her masters programme in the Department when the call for entry was made, said she was pregnant at that time. However, she had written a story earlier which she was looking forward to publish. The story having suited the criteria for the entry, she merely re-edited and submitted it.
Her story is about the seemly danger that comes from leaving home very early for work just to beat the morning traffic. The young lady referred to as Sisi is the main character in the story. Reacting to her success, the young mother said, “It is exciting and encouraging to be published alongside notable lecturers in the department.”
International Sisi Eko and Other Stories, as reviewed by Mr. Abiodun Adeniji, a Senior lecturer in the Department of English, is a unique 115-page volume story on Lagos State by 16 contributors –students and lecturers from the Department of English, Unilag.
It evokes the kaleidoscope of issues, good, bad and the not so good, that constitutes the Lagos experience. Some of the stories in the collection include “I Fixed It” by Lola Akande, “Lucky” by Chris Anyokwu, “My Chip-toothed Angel” by Chika Nzekwe, “The Thin Line Between” by Bosede Funke Afolayan and “The Tale of the Traffic” by Chidiebube Okohia.
International Sisi Eko and Other Stories presents Lagos to readers from diverse perspective, all of them reverberations of the glorious and the guttered, and the many contradictions and spontaneous transformations in-between.
Presenting the book to the general public, Mrs. Saidat Otulana, Executive Director, Lagos State Council for Arts and Culture, who represented the special guest at the event, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, Honorable Commissioner, Lagos State Ministry for Art and Culture, said they would like to see more of this encouraging and beautiful collaboration between lecturers and students.
“I, particularly, like the book, because it is about Lagos. I daresay when tourists come to Lagos, they would want to pick up the book as a memoir for having visited Lagos. Lagos is an enigma. It is full of many things, but, most importantly, it is a land of opportunities. Many people come from the village to Lagos and make success of their lives,” she said.
Head of Department (HOD) and one of the editors of the book, Professor Hope Eghagha, said Africans should tell their story. “What we have done is to tell the story of Lagos as we have experienced it. The vision to write arose from a class workshop. During the call of entry, the response was poor as many did believe we would publish. We got 17 entries, and the publisher dropped one as it did not meet the criteria.
“We chose stories that depict Lagos, was well written in terms of plot and characterisation and how interesting they were. This will not be a one-off project. There is going to be volume 2. In fact, there is a call for entry,” he explained.
Dignitaries present at the event included Professor Muyiwa Falaye, Dean of Faculty of Art, Unilag; Professor Duro Oni, former Deputy Vice Chancellor, Unilag; Sam Omaseye, Ruben Abati, Odia Ofemium, among others