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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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Nigeria Of Our Dream

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As Nigeria approaches the 2023 elections, children in Rivers State have been baring their minds in The Tide on what they expect in Nigeria and their leaders from 2023, and their advice to other children.

 

Nigeria Needs Good Leaders – Alice Godwin Udoh (SS1)
For my country Nigeria, I wish for good and considerate leaders that have the fear of God, good schools with equipment and good roads. Also, law- abiding citizens and peace everywhere in the country.
My advice to children is that, they should always put God first in all they do. They should respect their elders,obey their parents and teachers and always live in peace with others.

 

ASUU Strike Should Not Happen Again – Oluwole Anointed (SS2)
My dream for Nigeria is that there should be free education for children and scholarships for students that deserve it.I wish that ASUU strike should not happen again. Let this be the last.
Government should help the less-previledged and defend the rights of the poor.
All children should try their best to make their parents, families and nation proud.

 

I Want A Corruption-Free Nigeria – Virtue Ayomide Lawal (SS2)
I dream of a new Nigeria rising like a plumule of a lily from the myriad of corruption, inhumanity, insecurity and insincerity. I crave for a Nigeria,where justice takes the centre stage, also love and tolerance with leaders seeking first the interest of the citizenry.
I also dream of a Nigeria where I can sleep  with my eyes closed, travel round without fear, stand and express my talents and show the world how gifted I am as a Nigerian.
A Nigeria with the air in the North, South, East and West blowing fresh fragrance of oneness, not the smell of blood. A great black kingdom of power knitted in unity. A nation with an army of gallant leaders paving the paths of greatness for their children and generations yet unborn. A birth of a new Nigeria.
To Nigerian children, do not lose hope. Better days will return, do not write off this nation, do not abandon it, do your little bit,get to know your history. Begin the change with yourself. Share, spark and ignite the fire of positive change into others around you in school, places of worship and communities. Together, we shall build a nation where peace and justice shall reign again.

 

Government Should  Try And Eradicate Poverty – Benjamin Charles  (SS 1)
I dream of a Nigeria in good condition. A country where more than half of the population is not held down by poverty. A country where hardwork provides results regardless of proximity of political powers and wealth, where every graduate will have good jobs waiting for him or her after graduation.
I believe in my dream, hoping for good governance in our country and effective changes in our economic system. When these are achieved, we as children will have a country to be proud of.
As Nigerian children, our dreams would involve driving structural foundation and transformational reforms that will serve to integrate us as a country from the Sambisa Forest of the North to the Fishing Port of the South, down to the Plantain Plantation of the West and finally to the Ricemills of the East.

 

I Want Employment For Nigerian Youths – Ruth Sokari Siyeofori  (SS 2)
I dream of a Nigeria where youths will be employed so that all these kidnappings, stealing, robbery, bunkering and cultism will stop. I wish that the discrimination against the poor will stop. The government should stop giving the people false hopes but provide good roads, railways, functional hospitals and good potable water.
I wish for good leadership and governance in my country, Nigeria.
My advice to children all over the world is to be respectful to their parents, elders and religious leaders.
We as children should learn to be grateful in all situations because better days are ahead of us. We should also be focused on our education so as to make not only our parents proud but the society at large.

 

Nigeria Needs A Roadmap For Sustainable Growth-  Perfect Eric (SS1)
I want a Nigeria where youths are given the chance to chart a roadmap that outlines a future that works for the good of the citizens, a roadmap that will put the country on the path of development, and make it a place where opportunities abound.
I visualise a Nigeria  where vibrant railway network forms an integral part of our transportation system because a lot of pressure would be taken off our roads thereby making them last longer. A vibrant rail system is important for us as a country  because most cargoes will be transported  by rail. Our political leaders  must strive to ensure that there is security of lives and property  and do whatever it takes to end terrorism, insurgency perpetrated by Boko Haram and other such groups.
I dream of a country where corruption  is checkmated to address the rising scourge of poverty in the country. The current unemployment rate is mind- boggling. So, I dream of a country where jobs will be available for every qualified youth.
I wish government at all levels to find solutions to our pressing challenges, including unemployment which has made many graduates remain jobless after graduation. Put differently, the massive unemployment in the land is part of the reason why many youths consider  acquiring western education as a waste  of time and resources.
Finally, as the country marked her 62nd Independence anniversary on Saturday, October 1, I would like to charge the Federal Government to do all it takes to meet our  expectations as well as create an environment where our dreams can come to fruition and all children  from all walks of life can be proud citizens of Nigeria and boast of her achievements. If we all pull our resources together, we can make Nigeria great again .

 

I Look Forward To Nigeria’s Unity- Ndieze John Paul (JSS2)
My dream for Nigeria is that of equality and unity as a nation. I have a dream that one day, Christians, Muslims, the rich, poor, clean, unclean, able, disabled, male, female shall sit together side by side in brotherhood to pray, work, play and eat.
My hope is for this great nation, Nigeria, our great motherland to be bound in unity, faith, peace, love and progress  for therein lies our motto.

By: Ibinabo Ogolo

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Nigeria Of Our Dream

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Last month, May 27th, Nigeria celebrated Children’s
Day.The Tide spoke with some children that talked about their  dreams,wishes for Nigeria and advise to other children. Here are their views.

 

Nigeria Needs Good Leaders – Alice Godwin Udoh (SS1)
For my country Nigeria, I wish for good and considerate leaders that have the fear of God, good schools with equipment and good roads. Also, law abiding citizens and peace everywhere in the country.
My advise to children is that, they should always put God first in all they do. They should respect their elders,obey their parents and teachers and always live in peace with others.

 

ASUU Strike Should Not Happen Again – Oluwole Anointed (SS2)
My dream of Nigeria is that there should be free education for children and scholarships for students that deserve it.I wish that ASUU strike should not happen again. Let this be the last.
Government should help the less-previledged and defend the rights of the poor.
All children should try their best to make their parents, family and nation proud.

 

I Want A Corruption-free Nigeria – Virtue Ayomide Lawal (SS2)
I dream of a new Nigeria rising like a plumule of a lily from the myriad of corruption, inhumanity, insecurity and insincerity. I crave for a Nigeria,where justice takes the centre stage, also love and tolerance with leaders seeking first the interest of the citizenry.
I also dream of a Nigeria where I can sleep  with my eyes closed, travel round without fear, stand and express my talents and show the world how gifted I am as a Nigerian.
A Nigeria with the air in the North, South, East and West breezing fresh fragrance of oneness, not the smell of blood. A great black kingdom of power knitted in unity. A nation with an army of gallant leaders paving paths of greatness for their children and generations yet unborn. A birth of a new Nigeria.
To Nigerian children, don’t lose hope. Better days will return, don’t write off this nation, don’t abandon it, do your little bit,get to know your history. Begin the change with yourself. Share, spark and ignite the fire of positive change into others around you in school, places of worship and communities. Together, we shall build a nation where peace and justice shall reign again.

 

Govt Should  Try And Eradicate Poverty – Benjamin Charles  (SS 1)
I dream of a Nigeria in good condition. A country where more than half of the population is not held down by poverty. A country where hardwork provide results regardless of proximity of political powers and wealth, where every graduate will have good jobs waiting for them after graduation.
I believe in my dream, hoping for good governance in our country and effective changes in our economic system. When these are achieved, we as children will have a country to be proud of.
As Nigerian children, our dreams would involve driving structural foundation and transformational reforms that will serve to integrate us as a country from the Sambisa Forest of the North to the Fishing Port of the South, down to the Plantain Plantation of the West and finally to the Ricemills of the East.

 

I Want Employment For Nigerian Youths – Ruth Sokari Siyeofori  (SS 2)
I dream of a Nigeria where youths will be employed so all these kidnappings, stealing, robbery, bunkering and cultism will stop. I wish that the discrimination against the poor will stop. The government should stop giving the people false hopes but provide good roads, railways, functional hospitals and good potable water.
I wish for good leadership and governance in my country, Nigeria.
My advice to children all over the world is to be respectful to their parents, elders and religious leaders.
We as children should learn to be grateful in all situations because better days are ahead of us. We should also be focused on our education so as to make not only our parents proud but the society at large.

 

Nigeria Needs A Roadmap For Sustainable Growth-  Perfect Eric (SS1)
I want a Nigeria where youths are given the chance to chart a roadmap that outlines a future that works for the good of the citizens, a roadmap that will put the country on the path of development, and make it a place where opportunities abound.
I visualise a Nigeria  where vibrant railway network forms an integral part of our transportation system because a lot of pressure would be taken off our roads thereby making them last longer. A vibrant rail system is important for us as a country  because most cargoes will be transported  by rail. Our political leaders  must strive to ensure that there is security of lives and property  and do whatever it takes to end terrorism, insurgency perpetrated by Boko Haram and other such groups.
I dream of a country where corruption  is checkmated to address the rising scourge of poverty in the country. The current unemployment rate is mind boggling. So, I dream of a country where jobs will be available for every qualified youth.
I wish government at all levels to find solutions to our pressing challenges, including unemployment which has made many graduates remain jobless after graduation. Put differently, the massive unemployment in the land is part of the reason why many youths consider  acquiring Western education as a waste  of time and resources.
Finally, as the country marked her 62nd Independence anniversary on Saturday October 1, I would like to charge the federal government to do all it takes to meet our  expectations as well as create an environment where our dreams can come to fruition and all children  from all walks of life can be proud citizens of Nigeria and boast of her achievement. If we all pull our resources together, we can make Nigeria great again .

 

I Look Forward To Nigeria’s Unity- Ndieze John Paul (JSS2)
My dream for Nigeria is that of equality and unity as a nation. I have a dream that one day Christians, Muslims, the rich, poor, clean, unclean, able, disabled, male, female shall sit together side by side in brotherhood to pray, work, play and eat.
My hope is for this great nation, Nigeria, our great motherland to be bound in unity, faith, peace, love and progress  for therein lies our motto.

By: Ibinabo Ogolo

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How You Go Forward Is Your Responsibility 

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What happened to you was not fair. You were merely a collateral damage on someone else’s war path, an innocent bystander, who got wrecked out of proximity.
We are all hurt by life, some of us from egregious wrongdoings, others by unprocessed pain and sidelined emotions. No matter the source, we are all handed a play of cards, and sometimes, they are not a winning hand.
Yet what we cannot forget is that even when we are not at fault, healing in the aftermath will always fall on us and instead of being burdened by this, we can actually learn to see it as a rare gift.
Healing is our responsibility because, if it is not an unfair circumstance it becomes an unlived life.
Healing is our responsibility because unprocessed pain gets transferred to everyone around us, and we are not going to allow what someone else did to us to become what we do to those we love.
Healing is our responsibility because we have this one life, this single shot to do something important.
Healing is our responsibility because if we want our lives to be different, sitting and waiting for someone else to make them so, will not actually change them. It will only make us dependent and bitter.
Healing is our responsibility because we have the power to heal ourselves, even if we have previously been led to believe we do not.
Healing is our responsibility because we are uncomfortable, and discomfort almost always signals a place in life in which we are slated to rise up and transform.
Healing is our responsibility because every great person you deeply admire began with every odd against them, and learned their inner power which had no match for the worst of what life could offer.
Healing is our responsibility because “healing” is actually not returning to how and who we were before, it is becoming someone we have never been, someone stronger, someone wiser, someone kinder.
When we heal, we step into the people we have always wanted to be. We also are not only able to metabolise the pain, we are able to effect real change in our lives, in our families, and in our communities. We are able to pursue our dreams more freely. We are able to handle whatever life throws at us, because we are self-efficient and assured. We are more willing to dare, risk, and dream of broader horizons, ones we never thought we would reach.
The thing is that when someone else does something wrong and it affects us, we often sit around waiting for them to take the pain away, as though they could come along and undo what has been done.
We fail to realise that in that hurt, we had the most important lessons of our lives and the fertile breeding ground upon which we can start to build everything we really want.
We are not meant to get through life unscathed.
We are not meant to get to the finish line unscarred, clean and bored.
Life hurts us all in different ways, but it is how we respond and who we become that determine whether a trauma becomes a tragedy, or the beginning of the story of how the victim became the hero.
Culled from January Nelson.

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