‘Burning Hurt’ review

Review on Burning Hurt by Frances Kelvin OtungBurning Hurt

Why would a ‘Hurt’ that is already painful by itself be Burning? Not ‘Burnt’, but ‘Burning’ in a continuous present term. I wondered…as I tried to imagine the story behind the title. A part of me said ‘it will be filled with bitterness’, probably a typical “boy-meets-girl-boy-loves-girl-breaks-her-heart-and-runs-away-with-her-best-friend-story” with a slightly different twist to it.

Imagine the shock on my face, the thrill in my heart as I flipped pages upon pages in a slow hurry, not wanting the chapters to end or the scenes to conclude… yet panting with desire to know what happened next. Too much anticipation is not good sometimes for an old heart you know, but the anticipation in Burning Hurt pumped fresh blood into my heart.

Unyime-Ivy King is one writer you do not want to assume you know what she will say at the end of a line. Being a lover of books gives her the added advantage to take you on a roller-coaster ride at every turn. Just when you thought you had it figured out, she dims the light and returns full scale with all the beams on you!

Burning Hurt is definitely a story about love, hatred, deep seated un-forgiveness, neglect and bitterness aimed at the wrong person. For me, it is a Library containing Cooking instructions, Histories of our forgotten legends in Ibibio land, How-to-learn-Ibibio-Language-in-some-hours, Sound Proverbs, Educational Values, Ideals from Groups necessary for good home-keeping and Economic Empowerment, which also covered Primitive forms of seeking justice and so much more. According to Unyime-Ivy King, the “Ebre Society” for the women performed during the day, while the “Akata” (for the men) operated at night in the cover of darkness. I’m wondering why, but that’s a matter for another day.

The book Burning Hurt deals with the birth of a child under shameful circumstances, the death of that child, the curses that follow upon the Father from the Mother, of a parent’s failed hopes for his first son; of “Verity’s” pain in the waiting room (for a child) for 9 years, of meddling parents in their children’s marriages, of the loss of a Dad and a Mum’s remarriage to his best friend, of not having someone to confide in, of unwavering faith in God and His ways; of the true lies our mothers told us “if a man as much as touched her, she would end up pregnant. Hence, Verity and her sisters were severely warned not to go near men as the latter were ‘dangerous’” and it worked! Oh… the humour!

We are reminded of the power of agreement in the place of prayer/forgiveness/love, of songs, of witchcraft and false prophets, of philandering and most importantly of God’s expertise at intricately weaving lives into one fabric such that no matter how far anyone runs, their paths meet for the sake of Purpose and Destiny and it all begins with Itohowo Ekanem. Join me on this ride through the Hurt to the Healing…using your own copy.

Thank you.



Ever since my decision to get married became public knowledge, I have had to lend my ears to wonderful and wonder-filled speeches from the Elders! Our people say (I’m sure an Elder coined this one) that, “what the young man cannot see standing on an Iroko tree, an Elder has already seen it from afar sitting”. Sorry if I sound sarcastic here – probably because when that Elder saw what he saw, we never had binoculars and computerized systems that could easily allow you see what you want to see when you want to see it even if it’s a million miles away from you. Enough said. Back to the Elders’ speeches (it certainly wasn’t one!)

We (my fiancé and I) had the opportunity to visit some Elders to acquaint them of our intentions and this is what some had to say;

Elder 1:           “In our days, we never had divorce (I agree with you Elder cos we aren’t planning for one either), if you were married to Mr. A, you stayed married to him for life. So please look at him/her very well and decide if this is who you want because I certainly won’t entertain you in my house if you come with an ‘em-Uncle-something-has-gone-wrong’ story.”                   

He went further to narrate how he has been with his wife for many years and now the kids are grown, all he has left is his wife and the love of his kids. So he gladly stays with her and they go farming together. He kicked against wife-battery and told us of his sibling that had to endure abuse and he got tired of mediating and advised his sibling to fight back when next her hubby hit her or else he’d disown her. She did and he got someone arrested. After cooling off in cell for a week, the hubby never raised his hands against the wife again and always mentioned his name as a ‘Saviour’ when it came to keeping his marriage and home…Ironic he had to learn the hard way! 

Elder 11:         “In marriages, there’s sweetness as well as bitterness, but marriages are usually filled with bitterness except you know how to handle it!” She kept on repeating this and also advising against two-timing and fights or third-party involvement. At this point my fiancé cut the Elder short and pleaded with her to pray blessings on us rather than give premonition of doom. That we are different and will by God’s grace do what is right, respect and love one another. 

Watching each Elder speak, I decided that though they both (and the others not mentioned here) praised marital union and highlighted its woes too. They successfully pointed us to the fact that they are still married to who they started the journey with; clearly hid the truth that at one point someone felt like leaving and following another person with bags packed or just “up and away” because of having had enough of the other’s mess (though Elder 11 mentioned this in passing)! 

More than that, I came to the realization that we will certainly have our struggles which might be different from theirs and we might handle it differently from the way they handled theirs and still come to a peaceful conclusion. And that some time soon, we will also become Elders and give our own speeches and these speeches might be perceived as useful or a waste of time by the young man/woman listening (or pretending to listen) to us! Therefore, this is getting me prepared ahead of time – what legacy do I want to leave behind enough to be worth sharing with another. Thank you my dearest Elders, we appreciate your wisdom and salute your faithfulness and certainly will make you proud!

© Frances Kelvin Otung 2010


Receiving King Earl

The period of pregnancy and child-birth is something I’ve always wondered about…If the foetus could speak to our hearing, what would he/she say (or them as the case may be). With this in mind, I decided to become one and imagine what was going on in their minds while in the womb. Using a real life situation, before my son came out after full term, (the different movements and reactions when someone or something was close by)I wrote this as a reminder to what they do in their world.

King Earl

Through my sojourn in watery interiors
In between flights from food and exteriors
At quiet times and when her voice rose in prayers
Or when Dad’s hand patted my head ridding fears
I counted minutes, days, weeks and coming months
Not like I’m going anywhere in a hurry on 2nd thoughts

I’ve waited for the months to march slowly on
I’ve played, stretched, learnt songs and had fun
My nails are formed, eyes sparkle – I must look suave
So when are the guys coming for me? I’m a must-have!
Yet, I linger on, a day. Two days! It’s past due season
I feel her tremor but hold on for obvious reasons!

Free at last! Born with all eyes and little flesh
I’m hungry Mum! What’s for lunch?! Say the grace!
Surely you must know the delayed flight made me so
I’m here now and daily looking every inch as I know
Cute, calm, collected and full of divine gait
All rise and hail King Earl the Great!


…Like a child

I have always wondered why child-speech is regarded as gibberish. Interestingly, listening to the children around me talk, I have gained more wisdom, laughed hard and long, pondered and wondered about their pure/unadultrated way of thinking in all its innocence! I have come to a conclusion…don’t be quick to shut them up…they are entitled to their opinions and their voices need to be heard too. Apart from building their confidence, it will teach you a thing or two and you will become a child again (in a good way).

Join me as we share some fun experiences I have had conversing with the children around me.

Pronunciation Class: Mirror or Minorr

Every time Earl saw the mirror, he will say innocently and with conviction ‘Minorr’. Imani, King and I are forever correcting him ‘Mirror!’  and he will shout back (as if correcting us ‘Minorr’). We will laugh and plead with Imani to leave him alone as with time, he will say the right thing…but she never lets it pass.

One of the occasions, he said Minorr and when Imani corrected him, the following ensued:

It’s not Minorr, its Mirror!

Why are you saying Minor? It’s M-i-n-oo-rr! Rrrrrrr….the sound of an Elephant he replies with finality.

Weeks later, he started pronouncing it ‘Mirror’ and when we want to poke fun at him, we reply ‘Minorr’ and he’ll walk over to you and smack you (with his chubby fingers) and say, don’t say ‘Minorr’, it’s ‘Mirror’!