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With the Nigerian football team, The Super Eagles, soaring to the semi-finals in the 2016 Olympics, it is only fitting that we draw your attention to this gorgeous little story penned by Helon Habila.

The story is featured in a new writing project called ADDA launched by Commonwealth Writers. It is titled “Beautiful” and takes a historical and somewhat nostalgic look at the state of professional football in Nigeria.

Read Habila’s story as you cheer the team all the way to the gold medal!

There are two ways to enter Ajegunle: from the front, past the noisy market and the frenetic traffic facing the store-front displays of clothes and household wares; or from the back by boat over the dirty, shit-lined lagoon separating the ghetto from the Apapa Industrial neighborhood. I decide to go over the Lagoon. This access is closest to my office at Vanguard newspaper, about two bus stops away. Here you measure distance in bus stops, not in minutes or hours, because a ten-minute bus ride could end up taking over an hour. Like this one.

Our bus is hardly moving in the deafening, chock-a-block traffic that has something almost apocalyptic about it. God, if you get me safely out of this traffic, I’ll never sin again.

I sit next to a fat lady who is eating corn on the cob with one hand, and with the other she holds a sack of groceries in her lap. She appears oblivious to the intolerable heat that is oppressing everyone else in the overcrowded bus. The danfo bus is cramped and smells of sweat and armpit and hair oil and food and, as if that isn’t punishment enough, loud Fuji music blares out from a speaker located somewhere above, or below, but it feels like it’s coming from deep inside my skull.

I am next to the open window. The lady is crushing me. I try to make myself smaller. I think thin. I turn my nose to the window for air only to find my view blocked by a sachet of water being thrust into my face by a hawker. Another hawker, a scrawny girl selling gala meat-rolls shoves the first hawker away and tries to push the pack of gala through the window.

Read more HERE.

 

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Photo by Jide Alakija via wikipedia

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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