The Cliché Collector/ Alchemist: Issue 11

The American poet and pediatrician, William Carlos Williams, wrote, and I more than agree: “Compose. (No ideas/ but in things) Invent!/ Saxifrage is my flower that splits/ the rocks.” Well…. Headache is my hammer that splits the skull… my head bangs in the anarchy of wild dervishes… whorls of fire, unseen, scalp my skull… the keyboard retreats; the words, the letters, are blind…

You will recall that on the 3rd of June, 2012, Dana Airline Flight 9J-992 from Abuja crashed in Lagos, Nigeria, killing all 153 on board. Naija Stories, the destination of current Nigerian writing, made a call for prose/ poetry submissions to commemorate the event. Out of the hundreds of articles submitted, a few were selected and later published in e-book format. For putting up with the absence of TCCA yesterday, I am giving you a link to download the e-book at no cost: .You will find a poem of mine there… 

Thank you…

[The lab. Stone-silent. The door clicks open and ALCHEMIST virtually floats in. He has apparently lost weight. His visage is streaked with vestiges of worry].

ALCHEMIST [flopping into a seat]: Everyone in the country is worrying except the crooks in power. Enough of them anyway. My days are vibrant; sometimes they are newspaper and tea convalescences… Today’s specimens are just a click away. See them here: [Coughs]. Ameh Comrade Godwin has been a blessing to TCCA. Let us hope he continues…  [Coughs again]. Uh-huh, let’s go…


It is apparent that books are the registers of history. If someone had not invented writing, had not invented the book, much of what we know today would be lost. BRING/ BROUGHT TO BOOK had been as apt as a sword and been received with near rapture at invention. Right now it embarrasses your essay/ story/ feuilleton, it frustrates the march of your elocution, it announces your funeral… [Shakes head]. Another slip, another threnody… Bury the great Duke; don’t bury my friend…  [Moving towards the door]. More than five dybbukim gloat in Ameh’s story. I’ll roast them in #12 of TCCA. A rendezvous you can’t ignore. Next week… [^(i)^]

TCCA’s Loss

Is that it? My God, TCCA mourns the loss of today. The challenges are so, so many. Will be back tomorrow afternoon. Will pass round a treat just for putting up with TCCA

In tears, we say thank you.

~ The Cliché Collector/ Alchemist.

The Nigerian Thunder League (NTL): Issue 4

(As chronicled by Voss)

The Octopus. #FrankNorris. Engrossing. Go grab a copy

NTL is a very tough league; in another sense, an octopus. Often, you hear of Honourable This and Distinguished That. For the most part, however, the honour is of maggots, and the distinction is in cupidity and larceny. (Lanced by doubt? You must visit Nigeria). Rectitude, unfortunately, is mostly a waste of time. You are, nonetheless, encouraged to remain on the chariot of rectitude. Let us learn from The Ragman’s Son, Kirk Douglas #Nigeriamycountry. #JohnAnusie

Natural Disaster Babes = 2 ———– Hunger Stars FC = 0
Presidential Wolves = 0 ———– Corruption United = 5
BH No-Pity FC = 3 – ———– Police Marauders FC = 0
Hunger Stars FC = 0 ———— Politricks FC = 4
Legislathieves FC = 0 ———- Presidential Wolves = 0
Kalashnikov-no-Face FC = 1 ———– Army Arsenal = 2


Anarchically secret. Oh, In the Absence of Magic…
#Ernst Pawel

Ramadan is over; Eid-al-Fitr has begun. It is not surprising, then, that in a country as noisy and flatulent as Nigeria, a country justly infamous for state-of-[the]-failure facilities, everyone has swamped the village square with the gangan of mendacity; everyone is chattering like an isle of parakeets.

Determined to ride the rostrum of public opinion and of course prepare himself for the penalty shootout of 2015, Atik Abubakar Kalou, former Presidential Wolves striker, almost lost his tongue at the Eid-al-Fitr celebration howling for unity. Hey, hold it. What are you clapping for? Have you eaten a clapping mushroom? Have you not realized that Nigeria is a desperate lie? Now that you have realized, you should as well know: you survive by, and only by, the waters of scepticism. We are not surprised that Atik Abubakar Kalou is pushing the wagon of political clichés. 😛 That is one of the tricks of political survival in Nigeria. Nanga Minus Opportunity has taught them…

Hunger Stars, Patriotic Stars and other top poor in the NTL are miffed and acidic: They had expected a roaring denunciation of the barbarisms of d’Killa Don Sheq Park and other lunatics that rule BH No-Pity FC. Let them keep expecting. Lord GODOT Expectation would probably be around tomorrow… 

Goodluck J.Okocha of Presidential Wolves equally joined in the tongue game; he loudly commended Religion Dortmund (also known as Prayer Warriors FC) strikers (of the cross and the crescent) for exemplary leadership, sorry, rulership. You would want to ask… Oh, no, let’s skip it: it’s so depressing…

His Destructive Slyness Lord Poseidon recently assisted Natural Disaster Babes, Ocean Surge branch. They pounded Kuramo Beach, one of the smouldering nests of sin in Lagos. One confirmed dead.

Dead and ignored. Actually, what is thought of, and what is remembered, is the largess. You should be familiar with the politics of it. In Nigeria, largess is one of the doors to (political) success. Coastal strikers from Delta and Bayelsa states recently complained of discrepancies in the sharing of the largess from Big Brother NDDC…

My God, are the events in the NTL numerous! I’m hungry. I will stop right here… now…

…Because you aren’t buying lunch…. 

If you follow events in Nigeria, you’ll find that our chronicles are true, true as blood. You should have no difficulty identifying the characters. But remember: you must not add to the chronicles if you’re obtuse (sorry for using that word) about the message. Don’t even dare to – you’ll be funeralized.

The Cliché Collector/ Alchemist: Issue 10

The Cliché Collector/ Alchemist is 10 issues old… An isle of thanks to the followers of #JohnAnusie… @anusieva… An isle of thanks to the commenters… Your responses have been overwhelmingly encouraging. You make me want to do more…

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

[The thump! thump! thump! of a hammer is the only indication that a carpenter is busy somewhere. Moments later a carpenter is seen observing the reconstructed door of the
ALCHEMIST’s lab and nodding to himself.

Unseen, from a distance, ALCHEMIST observes the CARPENTER].

CARPENTER [looking at the door and smirking complacently]: As good as new. I, Emeka Ndalu, am a master craftsman. [Beats chest drunkenly]. In vain other carpenters try to challenge my genius. [Suddenly thoughtful]. But must we continue under the tyranny of masks, bombs and bullets? The street is death itself. Well, the madmen, the restless sons of grenades, won’t get me. They cannot get me. I will drink to that!

ALCHEMIST [walks right up to the CARPENTER and grabs him on the collar. CARPENTER freezes].: You will drink to that! Are you the newest duffer? Are you determined to ruin my students? [Shakes him roughly]. Now pick your bag and go: I’ve paid you.

[CARPENTER picks bag up and slinks off. ALCHEMIST enters the lab, closing the door behind him].

ALCHEMIST [wearily]: There will always be those who will never learn. [Spits out]. Let that fool drink his senses to a funeral. Here –

Specimen one – SHIP OF STATE

What ship of state? Ship of the stale perhaps. The unfortunate ship has long been scuppered by storm. What are left are pieces of iron, rancid fat, maggots, mould… Everything is stale; the ship stinks: desert it right away.

[Suddenly alert, sniffs]. A gourmet’s delight is being cooked somewhere. [Opens the nearest cabinet and brings out a plate. Dusts it with his hands]. I’ll be right back. [Exits].

The Cliché Collector/ Alchemist: Issue 9

I was rifling through the journals of my early teenage years and stumbled upon this:

In all the state you lie
You’ll be forever mine.
To thee will I clung till I die
Oh, my wondrous faith.
Venomous adders may surround thee
But then I will take your stake;
You my ethereal moon…
You hurt and my soul bleeds
For nothing compares to thee…

I spent a few minutes wondering how I had written it and the context of it. And then I laughed: back in my teenage years, I had, without much care for the meaning, scribbled down whatever arrested my attention. I also had the habit of writing on whatever was available – my school notes, margins of textbooks, pieces of paper. Everything. Much of these early writings have been lost, swept into the trashcan by my younger ones. I have been a prisoner of regret ever since. Regret is a brutal tyrant; regret is right now tearing at my lungs…

Save me…

[Early afternoon. The sun is gradually increasing in gold. It is apparent that the door of the lab has been shattered: bits of wood litter the ground. ALCHEMIST is seen five metres away, ambling to the lab, heads bowed. He stops right at the door and freezes].

ALCHEMIST [Puzzled, aghast, but quickly recovers composure]: Oh my God! Whatever happened here? [Reflectively]. I would have died. Thank God I sneaked out the time I did. Thank God. [Walking into the lab]. They tried. [Smirks mysteriously]. But they are incompetent. [Looks back at the shattered door]. Ha! Ha! Looking at that door, the prisoners of ennui would readily say all hell broke loose in the street. [Fingering his pince-nez]. By the way, that’s the first specimen for today –


Hell is the doll of the bored; the new zeitgeist. Hell has been the world’s fancy, attached even to most the infinitesimal of things. Apparently, most people cannot wait to be swallowed by its arcane depths. Why have they deliberately spurned the linguistic paradise? They alone know. They have magical powers and can invoke angels. Why, then, do they choose to conjure up a crone as barbarous in decrepitude as ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE? The hell is not in the great hubbub, not in the hullabaloo, not in the bedlam, not in the tumult, and certainly not in the scene of chaos and pandemonium that you want to describe; the hell is in the article/ essay/ feuilleton. Because it is in your interest, I shall blab: grammar Nazis and linguistic snobs are right now plotting your execution… [Looks ahead, sullenly]. Flee. Now. [Coughing]

Specimen two – BY AND LARGE

[Smirking]. So easy, and, oh, so hopeless. Kill that beast! Everyone knows you have a house under construction. The large ungainly beast in the premises brings no bricks, it brings no panes; it adds nothing but the ghastly forbidding visage of Grendel. Do you realize Beowulf has long exited the earth? There’s no saviour near. You have brought misfortune upon yourself. Now is the moment to trust your heels… [Sticks out tongue]. I should love to see you outrun a cheetah… Run, run, run!

[ALCHEMIST exits the lab, looking now and again at the damaged door].

The Nigerian Thunder League (NTL): Issue 3

(As chronicled by Voss)

I am exasperated with internet service providers (ISPs) in Nigeria. Internet service has been very, very bad, execrable I should say. Because of them this edition of the NTL is several hours (no, one day) late. I am so upset about it all. By grace, however, I was able to keep my tongue from the waters of execration. Please condone this tragedy. I hope it doesn’t repeat itself. I hope.

Kalashnikov-no-Face FC = 3 ———– Hunger Stars FC = 0
Army Arsenal = 1 BH No-Pity FC = 2
BH No-Pity FC = 3 ———– Police Marauders FC = 0
Hunger Stars FC = 0 ———– Politricks FC = 2
Corruption United = 0 ———- EFCC Stars = 1

It is believed that several players moved to Corruption United from other clubs. The transfers were so covert that we failed to capture them. We apologize for this lapse of indolence. It is no longer in doubt that Corruption United partly lend their players to odium. The players know this, but earning so much, they don’t care. Money is the message. Money is salvation, their salvation

Do you remember Farcrook L. Adebayor, Corruption United’s latest catch? He wanted to travel to Saudi Arabia for the lesser hajj but was intercepted at the airport by SSS Sentinels, a group of reserve strikers who regularly help EFCC Stars. They were afraid he would escape a la Ibori. Farcrook L. Adebayor wept at the weekend when he realized that he had been abandoned by his teammates at Legislathieves FC and Corruption United, his former and present clubs. A $3 million curse is hanging on his head. He should weep.

Presidential Wolves say they are out to encourage indigenous production of ICT facilities. Hey, don’t jubilate yet! Presidential Wolves have a robust history of loquacity and very little of action. Have you forgotten the Green Revolution, how it ended up trudging with a white flag? (Alhaji Umaru Dikko Tevez ex-Fugithieves striker will (no, should) explain… For now, let Presidential Wolves stock their stadium with Omatek computers. We will believe them then…

Kalashnikov-no-Face FC broke into the stadium of Prayer Warriors FC (All Saints Catholic Church branch) in Gombe and shot dead a man in black who was later identified as a star striker at Police Marauders FC. Several others were injured.

John (oh, my buddy’s namesake!) Onaiyekan of Religion Dortmund (also known as Prayer Warriors FC) recently joined his crescent brothers to lunch. They ate and ate. Did they get pregnant from too much food? We will soon know. But I can confirm that they brought not a crumb to my brothers in Ajegunle…

Chris Williams of the Australian league was visiting. After a brief albeit profound observation of the Nigerian Thunder League (NTL), he shrugged and said the negativity in the league is over reported abroad.

He is as right as cassava… 

If you follow events in Nigeria, you’ll find that our chronicles are true, true as blood. You should have no difficulty identifying the characters. But remember: you must not add to the chronicles if you’re obtuse (sorry for using that word) about the message. Don’t even dare to – you’ll be funeralized.

The Cliché Collector/ Alchemist: Issue 8

You will love the Chilean-American writer Isabel Allende – her person, her books, everything. She is the author of several books including: Forest of the Pygmies, City of the Beasts, The Infinite Plan, Paula, The Stories of Eva Luna, Zorro, House of the Spirits, and Daughter of Fortune – my favourite. Daughter of Fortune is the story of Eliza Sommers, a “small slender girl with features as delicate as a quill drawing,” who, with the help of her friend the Chinese zhong yi Tao Chi’en, ran off in search of her lover Joaquίn Andieta in a California of whores and horses and hordes of louts possessed by the chimera of instant gold. An obsessive picaresque the book is. You will love this book

[Mid afternoon. It is evident pandemonium has broken loose outside. Feet pounded; hysterical screams rented the air – “Run! Everybody run!” Two minutes later, the ALCHEMIST bursts into the lab and slams the door so hard the furniture quiver. He leans on the door with his back and listens. Tentatively, he peeps through the keyhole.]

ALCHEMIST [breathing noisily]: I escaped. My God, I’m alive! The bastards bomb everything in sight. [Shakes head, suddenly glum]. They despise western education after having received one. The government had better deal with them, a degenerate dissembling mob of moonstruck idiots invoking religion on behalf of their paranoid constructs. [Bolts the door, moves to the nearest table and drums it angrily]. Friends are capital. How much capital have I lost at the hands of these madmen! [Shakes head again]. Only two things are sure in the country now – the bullet and the bomb. Oh, Olympus, what am I here for? [Scratches head]. Ah, I remember now –

Specimen one – BUDDING GENIUS

You are bored. You have not told the world that and really need not tell: the world already knows. The person so phrased should be repelled at your state of ennui. He will be more pleased in your being another genius than in your spouting geysers of platitude. Challenge his genius, not worship it. Who knows, you might end up a genius yourself – without “budding” of course!


After what said and done? You have said nothing, zilch, zero, nought. Nothing. You have only succeeded in hurling yourself into the oven of grammar Nazis and linguistic snobs. Your funeral begins a few seconds from now… The time is short and desperate. Do away with AFTER ALL SAID AND DONE and you will find yourself, miraculously, in the estuary of the living, lolling in a flower boat…


ALCHEMIST [meditatively]: I told you before, only two things are sure in the country now – the bullet and the bomb. [Moving to the window]. Will sneak home now. [Eases one leg through the window]. Death is everywhere, but she won’t find me. [Eases the other leg]