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Top Five Nigerian Novelists You Should Read

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With the contemporary Nigerian literary landscape being so vibrant and productive, selecting only a handful of authors to profile is a challenge. Many of these writers are as yet unknown outside Nigeria, but some of those authors whom we predict will make waves on the international literary stage in the next 12 months include Ayobami Adebayo, Diekoye Oyeyinka, Odafe Atogun, Jumoke Verissimo and Olumide Popoola.
The following five writers, all based in Nigeria, feature in a BBC Radio 4 documentary: Writing a New Nigeria, and are some of the hottest talents on the continent right now.
Abubakar Adam Ibrahim
Abubakar Adam Ibrahim is a writer and journalist. The titular story from his short story collection The Whispering Trees (Parresia Publishers 2012), was shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2013. He is a Gabriel Garcia Marquez Fellow (2013), a Civitella Ranieri Fellow (2015) and was listed by Hay Festival Africa39 as one of the most promising Sub-Saharan African writers under the age of 40. His debut novel, Season of Crimson Blossoms, was published in Nigeria in November 2015 (Parresia Publishers) and published in the UK in June 2016 by Cassava Republic Press.
What others say: ‘Elegantly, and with compassion for the powerless, Ibrahim gives us unique insight into contemporary Nigerian society.’ Zoe Wicomb, author and Chair of Judges, 2015 Caine Prize for African Writing, said
In one line (from Season of Crimson Blossoms): ‘When Reza slipped his hand under her wrapper, he discovered, much to his surprise, that the clump of ancient hair he had encountered the first time was gone’.
A. Igoni Barrett
A. Igoni Barrett was born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, in 1979, and lives in Lagos. He was the recipient of a Chinua Achebe Centre fellowship, a Norman Mailer Centre fellowship, and a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center residency. His short story collection, Love is Power or Something Like That, was published in 2013, and in 2014, he was named on the Hay Festival Africa39 list of Sub-Saharan African writers under the age of 40. His first novel, Blackass, was published in 2015 in Nigeria (Farafina Books) and the UK (Chatto and Windus).
Why read him: For his satirical take on life in Lagos, and his analysis of identity and race.
What others say: ‘The most exciting writer producing right now. He has an incredible range, a unique voice and has the power to move’. Binyavanga Wainaina, author, journalist and founding editor of one of Africa’s leading literary networks, Kwani.
In one line (from Blackass): ‘The bribe-sharing, the queue-jumping, the fact non-checking, and the customer-handling were as efficient as any system whose design was alimentary: in through the mouth and straight out of the anus’.
Lola Shoneyin
Lola Shoneyin’s works include three books of poems and two children’s books: Mayowa and the Masquerades (2010) and Iyaji, the Housegirl (2016). Her debut novel, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives (Cassava Republic Press, 2010; Serpent’s Tail, 2011) was long-listed for the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction and won the PEN Oakland 2011 Josephine Miles Literary Award. After teaching in Nigeria and the UK for many years, Shoneyin now lives in Lagos. She is the director of the Ake Arts and Book Festival, and in 2014, she was named on the Hay Festival Africa39 list of 39 Sub-Saharan African writers aged under 40 with potential and talent to define trends in African literature.
Why read her For her humorous look at life in a polygamous family.
What others say: ‘Shoneyin’s prose is by turns violent, evocative, witty, humane and gripping.’ Danuta Kean, journalist and publishing industry commentator.
In one line (from The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives): ‘They say the elder who soils the floor with shit immediately forgets; but the stench remains in the memory of the person who has to scrape it up’.
Elnathan John
Elnathan John is one of Nigeria’s most well-known writers and satirists. He has twice been shortlisted for the prestigious Caine Prize for African Writing. He is a 2015 Civitella Ranieri Fellow and lives in Abuja, Nigeria. His debut novel, Born on a Tuesday, was published by Cassava Republic Press in Nigeria in November 2015 and would released in the UK (Cassava Republic) and the US (Grove Atlantic) in Spring 2016.
Why read him? For his disarmingly sensitive portrayal of life behind the headlines of religious and political extremism, told through the eyes of a young boy.
What others say: ‘A writer of prodigious talent.’ Petina Gappah, author of ’ An Elegy for Easterly’ and winner of the Guardian First Book Award.
In one line (from Born on a Tuesday): ‘I did not say when Sheikh Jamal asked how my mother was, that when I held her hand and told her I was leaving she didn’t even look at me; that she preferred to look up at the sky or to the ground than give me her blessings or advise me to be good in Sokoto.’
Adoabi Tricia Nwaubani
Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani is a novelist, journalist, essayist and humourist. Her debut novel: I Do Not Come to You by Chance (Cassava Republic Press, 2009; Weidenfeld and Nicolson 2010), won the 2010 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book (Africa), a 2010 Betty Trask First Book award, and was named by the Washington Post as one of the Best Books of the Year. Her essays have been featured in the New York Times, CNN, The Guardian and The New Yorker. She writes a regular column for the BBC Letter from Africa section.
Why read her: To be entertained by the ingenuity and creativity of the character ’Cash Daddy’ and his 419 fraudsters, from the novel I Do Not Come to You by Chance.
What others say: ‘Nwaubani’s subversive skill lies in telling us a familiar story from an unfamiliar angle’, Chris Cleave.
In one line (from I Do Not Come to You by Chance): ‘At last, the Book of Remembrance had been opened and Fortune had called out my name’.
-Source: Emma Shereliff.

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My Advice To Other Children

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Children are blessings  to their families, they are the joy of mothers because no mother wants to be barren.
When God blesses a man with children, He gives duties and responsibilities to both parents and their children.
First and foremost, children are to obey their parents in the Lord for this is right. And also honour their father and mother and people in the society, school and church.
Children are expected to perform their duties to their parents  by helping them in house chores, running errands for them and accord them respect.
Children should learn to keep away from bad influence in the society and at school because evil communication corrupts good manners.The bible says,” show me your friend and I will tell you who you are”.
As a child, your life is in your hands,you are 100% responsible  for how your life turns out.Therefore, feed your mind with good thoughts about your future. Think big and think well.  You should always strive to be the best person you can be. Never shake a person’s hand while sitting down or using your left hand.
Children should form the habit of reading their books and studying their books rather than  surfing the internet for things that are not edifying, chatting, playing video games and watching different kinds of movies, that is why children, especially teenagers should put a stop to all these activities because the time they use in doing all these at least they might have used it to read books and do well in examinations with flying colours and become  leaders who will lead Nigeria into becoming a better place in the future.

By: Flourish Christopher
Flourish Christopher is a Senior Secondary student of Methodist Girls High School, Harbour Road, Port Harcourt.

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‘Robots Can Be Used To Assess Children’s -Mental Wellbeing’

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Robots can be better at detecting mental wellbeing issues in children than parent-reported or self-reported testing, a new study suggests.
Robots can be better at detecting mental wellbeing issues in children than parent-reported or self-reported testing, a new study suggests.
A team of roboticists, computer scientists and psychiatrists from the University of Cambridge carried out a study with 28 children between the ages of eight and 13, and had a child-sized humanoid robot administer a series of standard psychological questionnaires to assess the mental wellbeing of each participant.
The children were willing to confide in the robot, in some cases sharing information with the robot that they had not yet shared via the standard assessment method of online or in-person questionnaires. This is the first time that robots have been used to assess mental wellbeing in children.
The researchers say that robots could be a useful addition to traditional methods of mental health assessment, although they are not intended to be a substitute for professional mental health support. The results will be presented today (1 September) at the 31st IEEE International Conference on Robot & Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN) in Naples, Italy.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, home schooling, financial pressures, and isolation from peers and friends impacted the mental health of many children. Even before the pandemic however, anxiety and depression among children in the UK has been on the rise, but the resources and support to address mental wellbeing are severely limited.
Professor Hatice Gunes, who leads the Affective Intelligence and Robotics Laboratory in Cambridge’s Department of Computer Science and Technology, has been studying how socially-assistive robots (SARs) can be used as mental wellbeing ‘coaches’ for adults, but in recent years has also been studying how they may be beneficial to children.
Source: University of Cambridge.

By: Ibinabo Ogolo

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Workshop Participants Task Govt On Adolescents’ Needs

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Young people in Rivers State have urged the government to be more sensitive to their needs by providing enabling environment in the health centres and more enlightenment programmes to curb drug abuse, cultism, violence and other vices in the state.
Speaking in separate interviews to The Tide on the sideline of a workshop Monitoring of Priority/Annual Implementation Plans  of Adolescents organised by the Rivers State Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Port Harcourt  recently, some adolescents who attended the workshop noted that a greater attention to the needs of adolescents and young people will aide societal development.
Mr Okwua Ezekiel stated that the three health facilities at Orogbum, Ozuoba and Mgbudunku that were visited during the adolescent programme had very limited free space and no easy access for young people to receive counselling or treatment since they would want their privacy to be maintained.
Ezekiel, who is a youth champion of the state Ministry of Health  representing Port Harcourt Local Government Area further noted that government should help create adolescent free space in these health centres so that more adolescents will be willing to visit these centres to receive treatment and counselling.
He also noted that the health care providers in these centres should be young, friendly and accommodating unlike the elderly ones who oftentimes are harsh in their attitude towards adolescents, adding that the centres only concentrate  in teenage pregnancy, conception and rape cases, no counselling for drug abuse, cultism and services for their male adolescents and access fee of N800 for card/folder may not be affordable by adolescents.
He however pleaded that government should maintain the building provided for adolescents by the Charlton Adolescent Health Initiative at the Orogbum centre which has been converted to family planning back for adolescent use.Also,rehabilitation centres for male adolescents that are into drug abuse and cultism should be provided nusy like the one for rape cases for female adolescents.
He also tasked government to do more with information dissemination to adolescents in schools, both government and private schools on the consequences and effects of these vices which adolescents indulge in, adding that, government can partner with brand companies, especially during festive seasons to talk to adolescents about these vices.
According to him, “the ministry should concentrate action in the Diobu axis and other sensitive areas of the state that have high rate of cultism and substance abuse among adolescents and youths. Also, the Police should be trained not to abuse adolescents, especially around Mile One area. He noted  that the actions of the Police sometimes drive these young boys into  joining cults”, he said.
Another youth, Miss Catherine Dasosi said that, there is urgent need for government to reduce the incidence of substance abuse by adolescents which is the basis of crime and violence in the state.
Dasosi, who is also a youth champion representing Gokana L.G.A also pleaded with bodies such as the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to help the adolescents more by providing funds to reach out to these young ones.
She also noted that, “parents were part of the problem as some don’t  have time for their children, they don’t know how to take care of them or even advise them”.
She also tasked religious bodies to devote more time to educate adolescents in their fold on everything they need to know, including sex education.
Dasosi, however expressed satisfaction with what the state Ministry of Health was doing concerning adolescents, though they need to do more to help the young ones.
She explained that as a youth champion representing the ministry in Gokana, L.G.A, she counsels young people from ages 13-24 in the three wards in Bodo city and Gokana.
“I go to churches on Sunday’s or youth days/programmes. By 2pm I visit student’s social clubs or elite groups. On Monday’s and Wednesday’s, I go to schools in the area for counselling to talk to them on abstinence from sex, issues of STI s, gender based violence, conception, family planning methods, cultism, alcoholism and drug abuse.

By: Ibinabo Ogolo

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