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Chinua Achebe And Nigerian Literary Achievements As Nigeria Turns 50 – Politics

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The news of African literary icon Chinua Achebe winning the 2010 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize is the buzz of the moment as Nigerians glow in the excitement of the 50th Independence Anniversary of the nation. The lionized writer’s celebrated novel Things Fall Apart was published in 1958, two years before the independence of Nigeria on October 1, 1960. And afterwards things really fell apart in the most populous country in Africa as incessant political crises plunged Nigeria into a catastrophic civil war after two horrifying coups. But Nigeria survived the civil war and other terrifying coups and barbaric religious and political conflicts and deserves the celebration of her Golden Jubilee this weekend.
Nigeria is famous for being the country of highly gifted writers like Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, the first African winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Cyprian Ekwensi, T.M. Aluko, Flora Nwapa, Nkem Nwankwo, Christopher Okigbo, Gabriel Okara, John Pepper Clark and others who wrote great books before and after 1960. A new generation of young literary geniuses have emerged since 1960 to date. Festus Iyayi, Isidore Okpewo, Ken Saro-wiwa, Ben Okri , Chris Abani, Biyi Bandele-Thomas, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Helon Habila, Helen Oyeyemi, Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani and others have won coveted prizes for their novels and this month Chibundu Onuzo, who is only 19, has become the youngest woman authior to sign a two-novel deal with the British publisher Faber.

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Little Splendor Dazzles At Quiz Competition

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To many, vision of what they turn out to be in life becomes clearer as they gradually develop into adulthood, while a few others manifest so early in life. For the likes of Master Splendor Ovunda Peter-Elechi, one does not need to import a Daniel to interpret the writings on the wall about such a unique specie of our time.
A native of Omerelu in Emohua Local Government Area of the State, born to the family of Mr and Mrs Peter Elechi, 10- year old Splendor has started to manifest early intellectual prowess as he leads his pears in various form of intellectual displays especially as it relates to committing intellectual documents to memory and being able to recall same for presentation when needed.
Much earlier in life, when little Splendor was spotted doing things his age mates could not identify with., little did his parents realise the distinct potential he was made of until late, when the General Council of Assemblies of God Nigeria organised a quiz competition for the children department of the Church.
The exercise which sourced its participants from the grassroots Assemblies, located this shining star from his little corner in Assemblies of God 1, Nkpor, Rumuolumeni 1 Section, Port Harcourt. The JSS 2 student of Gregof International School, Nkpor, Port Harcourt, came tops in the quiz competition organised at the local church, from where he proceeded to the district category, maintained his leading position and then to  Zone at which point only the first runners were selected for the general council category, which took place at  Assemblies of God Nigeria Secretariat, En ugu.
Master Peter Elechi’s emergence as a participant at the national level did not only bring glory to him and his immediate family, but to the Ikwerre-South District of Assemblies of God Nigeria, and to the entire Christendom.
Thus, this singular feat by a manor, didn’t only earn him a national award, he was gloriously honoured by the Ikwerre-South District, A.K.A Canaan City, his home district.
Announcing the lad to a congregation of members of Ikwerre-South District of Assemblies of God Nigeria in Port Harcourt recently. The District Spuritendent, Rev (Dr) J.C. Ezekwu, expressed delight on the resillience demonstrated by the boy to earn victory at last and enjoined other members to emulate such spirit.
Meanwhile, Mrs Peter Elechi, the mother, whose Joy has known no bound following the excellent performance of her son in recent time, recounted how the lad had taken to reading, especially the Bible and committing to memory important information that would be needed in near future. She said “ my son started developing by cramming scriptural verses, having time for prayers and joining in evangelism which made me say he would probably be a pastor. To her, the hand of God is upon the lad.
However, for Mr Peter Elechi, his father, though very excited but not surprised as he had ever known him to be a reader, serious and committed personality, a reason for which his primary school Bright International School, Nkpor, offered him scholarship.
Splendor would advise friends and colleagues to remain focused, Read their books and achieve their goal in life
At Gregof International School, Nkpor, Port Harcourt, where He schools, the proprietress of the school, Ms God’swill-Philip Rita, said “Splendor is a unique and serious child, always ready to learn, know by being calm, attentive and asking question where he doesn’t understand. I think sky is his limit”. She also mentioned Master Gideon Charles, a friend and colleague of Splendor who also performed splendidly in a similar quiz exercise.

By: Sylvia ThankGod-Amadi

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Arts/Literary

How Heinemann, Pacesetters Promoted Growth In Nigerian Literature

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The emergence of the African writers series by Heinemann in 1962 really helped to boost the Nigerian and indeed African writings of the Achebe era. According to Odimegwu Onwumere, a poet and media consultant, the series has been a vehicle for some of the most important African writers, ensuring an international voice to literary masters including Chinua Achebe, Ngugi was Thiong’o, Steve Biko, Ama Ata Aidoo, Nadine Gordimer, Buchi Emecheta and Okot P’Bitek. “It provided a forum for many post independence African writers, and provided texts with which many African universities could begin to redress the colonial bias then prominent in the teaching of literature”, Onwumere wrote. The works in the series include novels, short stories, poetry, biographical writing and essays from across Africa.
The  brain behind the series was the Heinemann executive,  Alan Hill, and the first editor of the series was Chinua Achebe, who focused first on West African writers, and soon branched out, publishing the works of Ngugi Wa Thiongo in East Africa, and Nadine Gordimer in South Africa. By the time Achebe left the editorship in 1972, over 40 writers from 19 different countries had been published in the series. According to records, apart from the editors, James Carrey anchored as the editorial director of the label from 1967 to 1984, and during his tenure, the series released over 250 titles by authors from more than twenty-five African countries.
In spite of the obvious advantages of the series, it also had some shortcomings. According to Onwumere, many African authors saw the series as part of the colonial masters strategy of exploiting the relics left of Africa. Consequently, many of the authors did not want the label, AWS, to publish their works; they wanted African publishers as against the neo-colonial publishers. The genesis of this contentious relationship between the AWS publishers and the African authors ranged from advance/royalty payments to editorial recommendations. This was why perhaps, Wole Soyinka, for a time, resisted having his novel, The Interpreters appear in AWS; though he said it was for fear of being confined to the ‘Orange ghetto’ defined by the recognizable colour scheme of AWS volumes. The contention could also been the reason for Ayi Kwei Armah’s hope “to find an African publisher as opposed to a neo-colonial writers coffle owned by Europeans but slyly misnamed African”
But the factor that really led to the steady decline of the series seem to border more on economy than authors-publishers relationship. In Onwumere’s words, “After a fairly prosperous beginning, the series faced (the economic) difficulties that mirrored those which faced the continent as a whole. By the mid-1980s, only one or two new titles a year were being published, and much of the back catalogue had fallen out of point”.
However, from the early 1990s, Heinemann has been making attempt at reviving the series by publishing new works, text originally published in local release and translated works. So, in conclusion, while there are all sorts of ways to critique what the AWS turned out to be, in the words of Aeron Badly, “it is absolutely unquestionable that Alan Hill’s establishment of an ‘African Writers Series’ for Heinemann was the most important and most influential publishing infrastructure through which ‘African Literature’ was first developed between the late 1970s and early 1980s Nigerian young writers were given the opportunity to have their works published curtsey Macmillan publishing company. Through the company’s young writers’ series, known as pacesetters, hundreds of youths across Africa were published, with Nigerians forming the largest percentage. The series dealt mostly with contemporary issues that were of interest to young adults. Among the lucky young writers to be published were Mohammed Sule, author of the undesirable Element (1977) and the Delinquent (1979), Helen Obviagele, who wrote Evbu My Love (1980) and Dickson Ighrini who authored Death is a Woman (1981) and Bloodbath at Lobster Close (1980). Other work in the series include, Kalu Okpi’s Coup!, Sunday Adebomi’s symphony of Destruction, I’ve Oparandu’s The Wages of Sin, Sam Adewoye’s The Betrayer, and Victor Ulojiofor’s Sweet Revenge. By the early 1990s, there were about 125 pacesetters titles. And the books were widely available, even in the market bookstalls, which usually sold only textbooks.
However, with the economic decline which began around the 80s, Macmillan separated from Macmillan Nigeria, taking with it the pacesetters copyright. Consequently, the series vanished, and only occasional pirated versions of a few titles could be seen in Nigeria. But, those who were fortunate to have been published have made their marks and some have even gone further to produce more serious works. Among such writers are Mohammed Tukur Garba (author of the Black Temple-1981); and Muhammed Sule, who published Eye of Eternity and the Devil’s Seat, respectively, in the 90s.

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Arts/Literary

Collection Of Poems For Ken Saro-Wiwa

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KEN AWAKE
(Tribute to Ken Saro-wiwa)
Dance to us again
The dance of your people
The ogoni traditional dance
The Scintillating dance
That rekindles the fickle minds
Motivating them to sing war songs
Songs of freedom, injustice and rebirth
We watched you at the wrestling contest At the literary battlefield
And saw you acrobatic displays
The defeat of your opponents With your piece Sozaboy”
A novel in rotten English
In another harvest, y our poems. Their verses were sonorous
Yet they indicated sadness, pity…
Oh! That of “Ogale’”, a poem of war conditions
Threw me apart mentally, as Ogale a town did lie naked
In the hands of the Nigerian civil war.
Give us your golden pen Pen of good hope
That makes the sarows, here and abroad
Where is Basi and company? Where is the publishers gone? When shall he return
To continue the liberation struggle?
When shall another Soyinka, Achebe
Shakespeare. Aristotle of Ogoni emerge in your place?
This death!, death at the crossroads
That struck you on the road to freedom Has left literal scholars in tears.
THE PERFECT LIGHT
Like a firefly that flies at night Ken flashed a perfect light
It was Daytime
And Tappers headed riverside Ogonis were awake
They reminiscence on their losses It was a perfect light
It contained uric-acid
Its luciferin reacted violently
In the minds of the minority people.
Like a firefly that flies at night Ken flashed a perfect light
That produced an amazing powers of revolution He shaped golden teardrops And had the razor on his lips.
As a rebel
Like a firefly that flies at night Ken, flashed a perfect light
And gave the candlelight of educational progress and Ogonis flew to Europe
I n search of knowledge
But today, Ken. has flew away He is trapped like an ant
Trapped in the tree’s honey like resin As he scurried along a tree trunk
Arguing for his peoples BiII of rights Lamenting against injustice
Injustice meted on his people, Niger Delta…
But his detractors switched it off Before Christmas
They should understand that Ken’s light The footprints of Ken Saro-wiwa
Still shines now and years to come.
To be continued Nwagwu Samuel wrote from Port Harcourt

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