Fortunate Traveller is pleased to call for submissions of creative non-fiction, poetry and photography for the second volume of our National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) themed anthology, Becoming Otondo: An Anthology of NYSC Travels Vol II. 

Like our first volume, Government Pikin: An Anthology of NYSC Travels Vol I, guest edited by Sami Tunji and SA Sanusi, Becoming Otondo will tell the stories of Nigerians observing, or that have observed, the compulsory year of service for young Nigerian tertiary institution graduates. The anthology will document the NYSC experience and showcase the creativity it generates. It will provide a platform for both new and established writers and artists to tell their NYSC stories and reach a wider audience. 

Now into its fifth decade, the NYSC scheme was created, in its own words, ‘in a bid to reconstruct, reconcile and rebuild the country after the Nigerian Civil war’, with the aim of encouraging national unity and developing common ground between Nigerian youths. 

Has the NYSC scheme achieved its purpose of bringing unity to a devastated country immediately after independence, and in the multi-ethnic nation that is Nigeria? What are the stories corps members are telling about it? These questions and many more are what will be answered in the stories we are looking for in Becoming Otondo.  

The stories emanating from NYSC have become a staple, narrating a coming-of-age experience. These stories tell us about serving our nation, about contemporary Nigeria and what it means to be a young Nigerian, and the experience of being away from home in an unfamiliar place. They explore expectations of the scheme, and consider whether the scheme is meeting its aims, in the face of the recent upheavals in some regions of the country. These stories also offer an insight into the unique voices of Nigerian youth as they come of age in Africa’s most populous nation, and the ways in which the NYSC experience has shaped Nigerian English, with new words like ‘corper’ being added to our vocabulary and phrases like ‘passing out’ acquiring a whole new meaning. 

Becoming Otondo will be curated by the duo of Kemi Falodun and Temitayo Olofinlua.

Kemi Falodun is a writer, journalist and editor from Owo, Nigeria. Her writing explores mental health, social justice, disorders, and culture, particularly photography and film. She is an alumna of Purple Hibiscus Creative Writing Workshop and the inaugural BookArtArea Workshop. She was a Writer-in-Residence at Ebedi Writers Residency and received a fellowship from One World Media (2021). She participated in the Invisible Borders Trans-African Road Trip (Borders Within II) and text from her essay chapbook A Life in Transit (2019) was exhibited in Lagos and New York. She won the 2023 Henfield Prize in Fiction and a Hopwood Award (David Porter Award for Excellence in Journalism). Kemi’s work has been published in Al Jazeera, Catapult, The Guardian UK, Guernica, Africa is a Country, and several platforms across the world. She’s currently an MFA student in fiction at the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan.

Temitayo Olofinlua is a creative writer and editor who calls herself a general content busybody. She has completed assignments for organisations including Facebook, BudgIT, Narrative Landscape, and Cowrywise. Currently, she is a senior editor at Kugali Media. Her fiction has been published in Omenana, Lagos 2060, and Jalada Africa. Her short story ‘Metal Feet’ was published in Italian as part of Futuri Uniti d’Africa, the first African anthology of Science Fiction from the continent in the language. Her essays have won several awards including the Peter Drucker Challenge (2012 and 2014) and the 2019 Paula Chinwe Okafor Prize for Creative Non-fiction. Constantly interested in improving the quality of a story, she has edited several award-winning books including Jumoke Verissimo’s A Small Silence, shortlisted for the 2020 RSL Ondaatje Prize, and Ndidi Chiazor-Enenmor’s A Hero’s Welcome, shortlisted for the 2019 NLNG Prize for Nigerian Literature. 

The anthology will be edited by an experienced Fortunate Traveller editorial team. It will be published in print, accompanied by media publicity and a press release.

We are grateful for the generosity of the Goethe Institut, Lagos, who partly funded this project. A public reading will be held at the Goethe Institut, where the book will be launched.

Submission details:

For creative nonfiction, writers may send a single submission between 1000 to 3000 words, in a single Word document.

For poetry, writers may send up to three poems in a single Word document.

For photography, send up to three images, which should be appropriately captioned. All photo submissions should be high-resolution jpeg or png files.

All submissions should be made by filling out this form. Please, make sure you hit the submit button after you’ve completed the form.

We accept both unpublished and previously published work, providing you hold the rights to re-publish your work or can provide evidence that your publisher will grant these rights.

Submissions will be read and selected by our guest editors and editorial team. Those selected for publication in the anthology will receive a first payment of 20,000 naira each and another payment upon every 500 paperback copies sold. Successful entries will be contacted by July 10, 2023. 

Deadline: June 17, 2023