In the contemporary world of today, there is a widely held, negative impression that places the development of any nation in the palms of the political class, oblivious of the fact that every other member of the society has a role to play in the development of the society.
One class of people that has made valuable contributions to the society is the literary artists who use their great talents and literary skills to tell the story of their people and promote their culture through literature.
It is true that those in the pinnacle of political power have the powers to make and unmake, but whatever impacts, positive or negative, they make in the society are often shaped by critics, mot of who are made up of literary icons, playwrights, musicians, actors and actresses.
While those in corridor of political power depend more on commonwealth than their intellectual endowment to make whatever impacts they deem necessary, those in the literary world solely employ their intellectual skills to build their society. With a touch of imagination and creativity, literary artists metamorphose the happenings around them into plausible texts which in turn become a relevant reference point to the society.
Literary icons like the legendary Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, John Pepper Clark, Ola Totimi, Zulu Sofola etc have made great impacts not only to Nigeria, but to the world in general through arts and literature. They are an institution every student must pass through in the world of literature.
Due to his literary works, professor Soyinka, the first African Nobel Laureatte needs no introduction in any country of the world. His literary acumen and intellectual contributions to the world have earned him and his country, Nigeria an unenviable image among the comity of nations. Today, while Soyinka’s face is an international passport in any nation’s airport, Nigeria is regarded as a nation endowed with skills. This is one golden laurel the combined efforts of all Nigerian politicians have not earned Nigeria since its 50th year of political independence.
In the 43 years of Rivers State creation, there are many people whose literary genre has earned Rivers State good reputation. The legends among them are Emmanuel Elechi Amadi, Claude Ake, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Margaret Kay Williamson and Rex Jim Lawson.
Through their numerous works, these great writers and artiste projected the Rivers State culture and folkcore in such a way that those that belong to other cultures were able to appreciate the Rivers people.
For instance, ELECHI AMADI is a playwright and author with a strong passion for African Literature, and with a thrust of native languages. Unlike many writers who seem to have no cultural affinity on which to hang their writings, and who as a result, rely on foreign words, idioms and imitations, Elechi Amadi is a roots writer with a vision.
A well-known creative writer with African folklores, this 76 year old son of Aluu in Rivers State belongs to the core of artistes who explore the range of his local, native challenges and document them in his works.
Like a griot from the Sahel region, Amadi takes African literature to contemporary level and promotes Rivers culture to an international level.
And like the legendary Wole Soyinka and J.P. Clark whose separate, famous poems on Abiku (the reincarnate) are being driven by African beliefs, myths and mysteries, Amadi’s verse play, Isiburu is rooted in his native Ikwerre language and culture.
Due to the excellent presentation of his works which evolve pre-colonial African societies as ruled by the gods and which is wedded in the core traditional myths, Amadi is popularly acclaimed as the leading authority in the supernatural in African literature. He has in his kilts, among others, the reknown trilogy: The Concubine (AWS 25), The Great Ponds (AWS 44) and The Slave (AWS 210).
CLAUDE AKE is another prolific writer of Rivers State origin whose numerous scholarly articles in learning journals spread across six continents. His seminal work “A political Economy of Africa” was simultaneously published by Longman in London and New York in 1981, and was declared the best text book in the United States of America in 1981. The Soviet Academy of Science translated the book into Russian language in 1985.
Till date, Professor Ake’s literary works remain a reference point in political science all over the world. This achievement, in no means earns Nigeria and Rivers State in particularly an unenviable image in the world. And until his death through a plane crash in 1993, this Professor of Political Economics and founder of the Nigeria’s first private Think Thank called centre for Advanced Social Science (CASS) was an intellectual kingpin in Nigeria.
As for KEN SARO WIWA, he was one fearless writer who, in order to draw attention of the world to injustices in his community, turned to pen and paper and gave vent to his creative impulse. Before his death on November 10, 1995, he had written 27 books.
Through his writings, he highlighted the social and economic ills of the Nigerian society, as well as helped to tell the nation’s political leaders what they were not doing right, even when it was obvious that his criticism could cost him his life.
Even though he was from a prominent family in Ogoni, he was consistently concerned about the treatment of the Niger Delta within the Nigerian federation. The non-violent movement for social and ecological justice which he launched in 1990 against oil companies operating in Ogoni though precipitated genocide in Ogoniland, later forced Shell Petroleum Company out from Ogoni in 1993.
It is however unfortunate that the struggle for justice for his kinsmen cost this great writer and former President of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) his life in 1995.
In a male- dominated world where the voice of women seemed unheard and under- appreciated, it is difficult to see many women stepping forward to distinguish themselves. But Margaret Kay Williamson did.
Even though, she was born in Hereford England in 1935 and had all her education in England, Mrs Williamson was one writer who devoted her writings to the promotion of Nigerians, especially Niger Delta languages. Her Doctoral thesis was on the Ijaw language.
Titled “A Grammar of the Kolakuma Dialect of Ijaw”, the thesis was later revised and published in book – form in 1965. This thesis, by and large, promoted the Ijaw language all over the world.
It was therefore not surprising that she was given a befitting State burial in 2005 by the Bayelsa State Government at Kaima, her adopted Nigerian home-town.
Last but not the least is the music legend, Rex Jim Lawson (a.k.a. cardinal). With a compelling African rhythm and cultural affinity, Rex Lawson’s highlife music was steeped in the style of the early superstars like E.T. Mensah of Ghana, Bobby Benson and Victor Olaiya of Nigeria.
Through music, which he started playing from his primary school days under late reverend D.S.H Bob-Manuel, Cardinal was able to project the African culture, especially his Kalabari language through the use of native words, parables and anecdotes.
Within his 33 years sojourn on earth, Rex Lawson was able to compose and record a total of 109 songs.
There is no doubt that these arts and literary giants have, through their works, left valuable and indelible legacies that would continue to be a source of pride to the Rivers people.
Therefore, the best way to keep the memories of these legends alive is by improving on the legacies they left behind. This is one area the Rivers State government has a role to play.
And one way in which this can be done is by organizing special annual arts and cultural festival and literary week that would provide opportunity for the younger generation to highlight their literary skills.
Title: Beyond Expectations
Author: Reward Akwu
Publisher: Ollybell Printing Resources, Port Harcourt
Reviewer: Boye Salau
Whatever instigated Reward Akwu to engage in literary prose writing cannot, with the extreme form of clarity, be dismissed as inconsequential. Like every other journalists, Akwu is one man whose profession and the hurricane of economic survival in Nigeria would hardly permit to venture into a literary expedition.
What then is the driving force? Could it be his personal childhood experience, or the chequered experience of someone dear to him? Certainly, it could not have been his own memorabilia. The author of Beyond Expectation is still one of millions of Nigerians yearning for better life. Otherwise, he would not have remained in the hollow of the Rivers State Newspaper Corporation as a Chief Correspondent till now.
Whatever the reasons are, one is not in doubt that the various chequered experiences of life’s discomfiting paradoxes are the afflatus that make the zephr of history a reality.
In a country where many people are not sure of the next meal, Beyond Expectations clearly captures the reality of hailing from poor background.
The book is somewhat nostalgic about the fate of an average Nigerian man in the village and relieves the heart of the common man with the age long cliché: when there is life, there is hope.
The theme of the book can be located in the fortune of many people who rose from the creek and bottomless pit of life to stardom. The Abiolas, Jonathans, Amaechis fall in this category.
Written in simple narrative form with sublime simplicity, devoid of nebulous words and oratorical fancy, the 136 page novel thematises the pains and hopelessness of a brilliant secondary school boy whose intoxicating puissance and gluttonous appetite for sexual love with his classmate and child of an unforgiving gladiator with huge lubris, became his albatross. It is equivalent of the story of Adam who was sent out of the Garden of Eden for his inability to resist the apple in Eve.
How Chinedu came out of his quandary is what readers of Beyond Expectations should find out themselves.
As expected of a book that has its anthropology in local setting, communal love, family and filial affection are persuasive in this literary enterprise. The author proves that in a society where family bond is in short supply and where the only thing the rich harbours for the poor is hatred, the milk of kindness still flows in some peoples’ vein.
At the same time, the book inveighs the age – long conundrum of ersatz social class and unintentionally illustrates the yawning hiatus that exists between the Teflon rulers and the hoipolloi.
Akwu’s good understanding of the village life and his ability to capture the life and time of the ordinary people in graphic details further enriches the delivery of the book. Though sometimes too elaborate in details, the author succeeds in sending his message to the readers by employing simple diction and local parlance where necessary.
Unlike many books that are often built on hyperbole and far-fetched imagery, Beyond Expectations is convincingly obsessed with imageries that are deeply affecting and the realities of life that are both alluring and perplexing. By my assessment, the book is a fascinating nugget that addresses itself to all classes, age and gender.
Very well as the author tries to make the book flow from page to page, the book could not resist the temptation of unnecessary details, repetition and avoidable typographical errors.
Again, the book is most deficient, or better still not sufficient in suspense. A better application of literary suspense with regards to what befall Chinedu at last would have made the book more intriguing and interesting.
These few ‘slips of the pen’ can, however, be excused being Reward’s first literary expedition in the world of literature.
Without obsessive sense of sheer criticism, Beyond Expectations lives up to its name. It is sufficient for what it is meant to achieve, namely to fortify the forlorn hope, to encourage the poor not to be deterred by their poor background, while at the same time reminding the rich that no condition is permanent in life.
And until one reads the book from page to page, and from chapter to chapter, one may not be able to appreciate well the intrigue and metaphor of this heart-throbbing reality woven as fiction.
The Uncommon Truth
Contrary to what you think or what you have been told, you are wiser, better and smarter than what you think you are. You are more powerful than you may ever imagine. Inside you dwells the very power, wisdom or intelligence that controls this very world. Thus, the answer to all your problems and challenges is, and always will be within you. It’s in you! In reality, you can never be helpless in this world, and the reason is very simple: “The help is in you, the only true and lasting help.”
We live in a world where people offer us advice, even before we ask for it. There is nothing wrong with that, but the only problem is that most people are failures, and without direction. They are still trying to figure out how to get their own lives together. How can they tell you how to fish when they don’t even know the path to the river? What does that tell you? Be careful whose advice you act upon. The good news, though, is that all the wisdom and direction you need in life is within you. Success, greatness, wealth and happiness are not found outside you, they are resident in you. The day you become conscious of that truth will mark the beginning of your freedom, for then you will be free from the manipulation of others. Therefore, I wish that you may come to that point in your life where you know beyond doubt that your wealth and riches are not in the hands of any person, company or organisation, but in you. When that consciousness is established in you, then shall you come to terms with this powerful truth: “There is no future in any job, the future is in you; there is no future in any country, the future lies in you” That which you seek “without,” can only be found “within.”
The only secret capable of freeing you from the manipulation of others, and the frustration caused by adverse circumstances lies within you.
You were created to be self-reliant, and to decide your own destiny. Embrace that truth. Never let anyone control or manipulate your destiny. You must believe in yourself, trust yourself, think for yourself and act for yourself. Remember, no one can ever let you down or frustrate you if you are not leaning on them. No one can control your life selfishly if you are not seeking for their approval, and you are not intimidated by their disapproval. And no one can hurt your feeling, make you feel angry or disappointed if you are not depending on them for your help, success and satisfaction.
Self-reliance is a necessity should you desire to live a happy and successful life. But self-reliance is only possible when you become conscious of the fact that everything you need for your success and happiness is within you.
Nwibeke, an inspirational writer lives in Port Harcourt.
Title: TRAILING NEW TRACKS,
Author: JULIET MINIMAH, PORT HARCOURT:
Publisher: HELPMATE CONSULT LIMITED, 2011.
No of Pages 48pp
Reviewer: TELLE DANDESON AYASUK
AFRICAN CENTRE FOR EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT, PORT HARCOURT
Writing in The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown stated that “men. go to far greater lengths to avoid what they fear than to obtain what they deserve”. Probably driven by similar opinion, Juliet Minimah has confronted the age-long limitations that generations of potentially great men and women have placed on themselves dying unsung with loads of untapped mental, physical and even spiritual resources. Lots of work has been done in books, journals, documentaries, public lectures, seminars, media events, movies, music, etc to motivate people to achieve by giving expression to their God-given talents and abilities. Yet far too little success has been recorded as many still pine away with inconceivable endowments.
Trailing New Tracks is a motivational piece of work aimed at reawakening millions of people world-wide, who have lost the confidence in brining their natural endowments to fruition. It is a call to action in which the author challenges everyone in this situation to “break new grounds, chart new frontiers and see yourself as a trail blazer”. Juliet Minimah sees this as one certain way to address “the various social, economic and political ills that confront the world today”.
In Trailing New Tracks, the author explores the theme of Regeneration and Attainment Through Conscious Effort. She sees hope in a world hampered by crises of all kinds, shapes and magnitudes. She attempts to re-engineer attitude through uprightness, conscious effort and the exercise of self-will. In her views, “the adversities of life teach us more lessons than the prosperities of life”.
Minimah attempts, in this work, to communicate with her audience through an elevated art form. The sub genre of philosophy is by no means the easiest way to communicate any message. Credit must be given to this author for her boldness, audacity and fearlessness.
The author employs simple, persuasive and concise language to motivate with ease. She uses the first-person point of view to break down barriers between her and her audience. Mention must be made of the rich use of biblical allusion.
Minimah obviously writes to a youthful audience but recommends (in chapter 7) the same sense of activity and attainment to every age. Also, she writes to a universal audience.
Trailing New Tracks is a motivational piece of art written in a forty-eight page volume in which the author attempts to inspire action towards achievement in a world where confidence and determination are almost completely eroded. The work may be divided into three main parts.
Chapters 1 to 5 persuade the reader to develop a good mind-set devoid of greed and selfishness. The fifth chapter attempts to inspire confidence.
The next two chapters inspire the reader to dream big and be visionary. They emphasize the importance of good company in the realization of good dreams and visions.
In the last twelve chapters, the author canvasses action through uprightness and focus. She warns against the evil of procrastination and fear. She urges the reader to set a pattern for himself and society, take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves and get some extra knowledge and information. She charges the reader to rise above limitations, find hope and the will to achieve and be a problem-solver, a Trail Blazer.
Like every other work of art, there are a few weaknesses which this reviewer must not fail to point out in this work. For space and time, we shall take just three of them.
For a philosophical work, Trailing New Tracks is rather too small in volume and lacks the depth to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with other philosophical works in world -class libraries in Nigeria and universally.
It is the view of this reviewer that the author should have localized her audience and injected aspects of our cultural, social and philosophical ethos which would have made this work more relevant to the African, or indeed, Nigerian reader.
This reviewer also identifies a few grammatical and semantic inconsistencies which could be attributed to the now-popular (printer’s devil.” Particularly, the expression: “Trail New Blaze” (in the introduction) should actually read “Blaze New Trail(s)” (brackets mine) as obtained in the first paragraph of chapter 18.
Juliet Minimah’s Trailing New Tracks is without doubt a great attempt by a young African woman at reaching out to young people and even the older ones to dig deep into their mind and realize the potential hidden there. She challenges them using achievers like Barrack Obama of the United States of America, the first black president of the world’s most powerful nation, and even our own Pat Utomi, who became Presidential Adviser at twenty -seven years of age, to inspire this and other generations to rise to their talents and make new and amazing contributions to their society.
To the extent that Minimah has effectively communicated to her audience, inspiring every reader, irrespective of age and class, I consider Trailing New Tracks as a monumental success and recommend it as a must-read for everyone who aspires for unparalleled greatness.
Title: ORDEALS OF A BABY MOTHER
Author: JULIET MINIMAH, PORT HARCOURT:
Publisher: SUNNY ALADE PRINTING PRODUCTION
No of Pages 46pp
Reviewer: THANKGOD EMEKA EGBUCHU (JP)
PRINCIPAL ASSISTANT REGISTRAR,
RIVERS STATE UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE
May I inform the esteem audience here today, that I am here to appraise the monumental work done by Miss Minimah Ishmeal Juliet, titled “Ordeals of A baby Mother”.
As we all are aware and I know that Minimah Ishmeal Juliet hails from the Ancient City of Opobo in Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area of Rivers State. Born in the family of Mr. & Mrs. Ishmeal Minimah. Being the first and only female daughter of six children of the parents, graduated from the University of Port Harcourt with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Political and Administrative Studies.
As a template to all her growing contemporaries of the female folk in Nigeria, Minimah Juliet, had additional colour on her academic pursuit by possessing a Diploma in law from the Rivers State College of Arts and Science and a proficiency certificate in management from the Nigerian Institute of Management.
Miss Minimah Juliet seem little but mighty and mature intellectually in the field of academic spectrum.
In her book, “Ordeals of a Baby Mother” chapters I to 5 deals with convincing themes, which delved into “Who is a baby mother, Is motherhood a curse, why rejection and ageing forcefully rather than gracefully”, serves as an eye opener which creates awareness needed by mothers and baby mothers across the country over motherhood.
Similarly, chapter six to the last, deals with implications of early motherhood, More advantages for unequal opportunities, Refuse to be a school dropout, Being a baby mother turns you into one true life stories and a word of note, serves to show positive measures a baby mother should take to avoid being victim of the circumstance.
Minimah Ishmeal Juliet was very careful in choosing her words to convey the intended action in the book which all levels of individuals can understand easily to read.
The sequence of the chapters flows naturally to the sense of would-be readers of the book. This has demonstrated maturity of articulation of words by the author.
However, we must expect as a matter of fact that the production of this book may experience minor errors, which she accept entirely all the faults to herself but form the basis for her further encouragement to produce the best in her life.
Lastly, in my opinion, the book, “ORDEALS OF A BABY MOTHER” has served the purpose for what it was addressed.
I strongly recommend the book to all ages of womanhood to read, especially students in secondary schools and higher institutions across the country.
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