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Nigerian Literature: The First Generation

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In the first of my 52 Years of Nigerian Literature series, I look at Nigeria’s first generation of writers (1960s to possibly early 70s?). The generation that sought to counteract colonial discourses that misrepresented Nigerians (and Africans) as “primitive”, a time where themes of culture, rural vs urban, tradition vs modernity (the influence of colonialism and Western norms on traditional Nigerian society), and the end of colonialism were rife. Once Nigeria gained Independence, it became an era where issues of governance and corruption (amongst many other things) in a post-Independent Nigeria were raised. I have to say though that in looking at first generation writers, I’ve found that the focus is usually very male-centric, rarely recognising the presence of female writers, playwrights or poets during that time. With that said, here’s the first generation.
There’s quite a lot to mention but the First Generation introduced the world to plays like J.P. Clark-Bekederemo’s Song of a Goat (1961) and The Raft (1964), female playwright Zulu Sofola’s The Deer and The Hunter’s Pearls (1966) and Wedlock of the Gods (1972); and Wole Soyinka’s A Dance of the Forest (1960), The Interpreters (1965), Kongi’s Harvest (1965), and Madmen and Specialists (1970). Poems like J.P. Clark-Bekederemo’s Casualties (1970); Christopher Okigbo’s Labyrinths with Path of Thunder (1971); Mabel Segun’s My Father’s Daughter (1965), and Wole Soyinka’s Poems from Prison (1969, republished as A Shuttle in the Crypt in 1972). And novels like Chinua Achebe’s No Longer At Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964) and A Man of The People (1966); T.M. Aluko’s One Man, One Matchet (1964) and Kinsman and Foreman (1966); Cyprian Ekwensi’s Jagua Nana (1961); and female novelists like Adaora Lily Ulasi’s Many Thing You No Understand (1970) and Many Thing Begin For Change (1971); and Flora Nwapa’s Efuru (1966) and Idu (1970). This period also saw the emergence of Heinemann’s AWS (1962), which in addition to some of the works already mentioned also gave us Elechi Amadi’s The Concubine (1966) and The Great Pond (1969); Cyprian Ekwensi’s Burning Grass (1962) and Lokotown and other stories (1966); Gabriel Okara’s The Voice (1970), and J. P Clark-Bekederomo’s America, Their America (1970).
I realise that in choosing to look at literature starting from 1960, I am keeping out works like Amos Tutuola’s Palmwine Drinkard (1952), Cyprian Ekwensi’s People of the City (1954), Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (1958), T.M. Aluko’s One Man One Wife (1959), and Wole Soyinka’s The Lion and the Jewel (1959). But in general, the First Generation writers showed the world as Chinua Achebe once said that …. “Africa had a history, a religion, a civilisation”.

By: Bookshy 11-:19

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IYD: Making The Youths Relevant

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Today is International Youth Day, celebrated annually round the world to bring youth issues to the attention of the international community and celebrate the potentials of youth as partners in today’s global society. This year’s theme is, “Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for all Ages”.
In his speech to mark the day, United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, stated: “Today, we celebrate the International Youth Day and the power of partnerships across generations. The theme reminds us of the basic truth, we need people of all ages, young and old alike to join forces to build a better world for all.
When young people are shut out on the decisions being made about their lives or older people are denied the chance to be heard, we all lose.
Solidary and collaboration are more essential than ever as “our world faces series like to join forces to build a better world for all.
The Secretary-General reinterated that when young people are shut out on decisions being made about their lives or older people are denied the chance to be heard, we all would lose.
He however, noted that solidarity and collaboration are more essential than ever as our world faces series of challenges that threaten our collective future”, adding that, from COVID – 19 to climate change, to conflicts, poverty, inequality and discrimination, we need all hands on deck to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and live a better more peaceful future.
He also stressed the need to support young people with massive investment in education and skills building, and also support them to participate in civic and political life.
“We need to listen to young people, integrate them into the decision making mechanism at the local, national and international levels.
We need to ensure that other generations have access to social protection and opportunities to give back to their communities and share their decades of live experiences they have acquired. Let’s join hands across generations to break down barriers and work as one to achieve an equitable,just and inclusive world for all people,” he said.
Here in Rivers State, the state government had earlier commenced one week programme to celebrate youths from Friday 5th August, 2022.
Today,there will be a press statement at the conference hall of the Ministry of Youth Development and later the Rivers State  Youth Leadership Summit/Award Ceremony with Interactive session at Horlinkin’s event place, Eastern By-Pass,Port Harcourt.
Also, in Rivers State, non- governmental organisations are celebrating  this year’s youth day.
In an interview with The Tide, the Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for Development Supportive Initiative, Dr. Mina Ogbanga in commeration of the celebration said that the coalition of Non – Governmental Organisations  (NGOs) in Rivers State is looking at the  theme of the day by covering the generational gap and celebrate youths by calling for action for the activation  and domestication of the National Youth Policy by the Rivers State Government.
Dr. Ogbanga said the group is calling on all states in Nigeria especially Rivers States to come to the aid of youths to domesticate the National Youth Policy which cut across all the Sustainable Development Goals.
According to her: “The National Youth Policy is a framework that is supposed to drive development for the young people in the country.  The impact is that if government can keep to the commitment as contained in the policy, the nation will have positive youths.
“We are closed to electioneering campaign period and we wouldn’t want our youths to be used negatively.  Most youths are out of school and might be vunerable .
This year’s celebration is very apt. We want a transformed society where youths would not be vunerable, roaming the streets, taking drugs, internet frauds, kidnapping and all sorts of negative vices. We need the political will to take action in the needs of the youths. So we are calling on everybody to help actualise it”.
She however noted that her group is working with partners to see how the National Youth Policy can be implemented in Rivers State in line with this year’s celebration, in order to engage youths constructively  through employment by creating incubation centres for youths across the local government areas in Rivers State.
She stated that the process is currently ongoing and is carried out by he Youths Development Cluster (Centre for Development, Supportive Intiative and Relief International ) in Rivers State. The cluster head at the National is Youth Alive Foundation and Sponsored  by USAID and PALLADIUM,under the scale project.
International Youth Day is celebrated annually on 12th August to bring youth issues to the attention of the international community and celebrate the potential of youth as partners in today’s global society.
The Day gives an opportunity to celebrate and mainstream young people’s voices, actions and intiatives as well as their meaningful, universal and equitable engagement. It was established by UN General Assembly which on 17 December 1999, endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers responsible for youth calling for 12th August to be declared International Youth Day.

By: Ibinabo Ogolo

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Need To Take Care Of Children Worldwide

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At the end of last year, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) released a new report, ‘Preventing A Lost Decade: Urgent Action’ to reverse the devastating impact of COVID- 19 on children and young people. While it is easy for reports released in December to get lost in the end of the year rush, this report needs everyone’s attention. UNICEF called COVID-19 the greatest challenge to children in its 75-year history; and the situation is exacerbated by conflict, disaster, and climate change.
The facts tell a sobering story about the impact of the pandemic on children.
In less than two years, 100 million more children have fallen into poverty, a 10 percent, increase since 2019.
In 2020, over 23 million children missed out on essential vaccines.
50 million children suffer from wasting, the most life-threatening form of malnutrition, and this could increase by 9 million by 2022
At its peak in March 2020, 1.6 billion children were facing school closure.
Behind every one of these numbers are real stories: young children were left behind as preschool closed and food lines grew. School age children, particularly those with the most to gain, had limited access to remote learning. Teens suffered from social isolation and lack of mental health supports, and growing demands for early marriage. Parents tried their best to keep it all going; yet too often without the financial and social resources they needed. And the unpredictability of everyday life brought stress that seemed almost impossible to bear.
Fortunately, many communities around the world rallied: volunteers delivered food, distributed protective equipment and set up new hygiene facilities, and teachers worked to connect children with resources at home. We were all inspired by stories of people working for change, from health care workers to childcare providers, from youth to seniors.
Yet the challenges facing children were alarming even before COVID-19 became a household word. Approximately, one billion children, nearly half of the world’s children live in countries that are at an “extremely high risk” from the impacts of climate change and more and more children are forcibly displaced, all too often from conflict that could have been and should have been avoided.
Clearly, those in positions of power need to make investing in children, families, and communities a priority this year and in the years ahead. This is particularly true for U.S Foreign Assistance. Building on earlier work, in June of 2019, the U.S. launched Advancing Protection and Care for Children in Adversity: A United States Government Strategy for International Assistance (2019-23). This important document outlines a strategy for investing in the world’s most vulnerable children. In 2020 Congress passed the Global Child Thrive Act, providing additional direction for U.S. Government to invest in early childhood development. These are both important steps; now we all have to assure that they receive the attention and resources that this movement deserves.
The UNICEF report outlines an urgent agenda for action for children, including recommendations to invest in social protection, health, and education as well as building resilience to better prevent, respond to and protect children. Government, business and civil society and the public need to work together. But as in any crises, each individual action makes a difference. We can not wait for someone else to step forward with a solution. Each of us must ask: What can I do to help a neighbour, work in my community, build awareness, provide another voice, help empower others? What else can we do to integrate these issues into every field of study: from health to education, from diplomacy to economic development, from environmental studies to urban planning and design?
In their powerful new book, The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times, Jane Goodall and Douglas Abrams with Gail Hudson, addressed an important question-How do we stay hopeful when everything seems hopeless? What is so uplifting about this story is that it draws a clear link between hope and action. It seems to be telling us that, while important, it is not the resilience of nature or the human intellect alone that matter, but also our spirit and belief in the possibilities and the power to take action. I can’t think of a better year to start.
Lombardi is an international expert on early childhood development and Senior Fellow at the Collaborative on Global Children’s Issues, Georgetown University.

By: Joan Lombardi

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COVID-19 In Babies And Children: Symptoms, Prevention

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With the re-occurring traits of COVID – 19 in Nigeria, it is important that parents and gurdians take extra care of their children.  Reports from Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has it that,as from 16th to18th July, 2022, 478 new cases were confirmed and two deaths recorded.
A paediatrician and infectious disease expert, Dr Aaron Milstone at the Johns Hopkins Children Centre, has advised that it is important for parents and children to take every possible safety precautions and understand all risks and symptoms related to COVID – 19.
Dr Milstone talked about COVID – 19 symptoms in children, how to keep babies and children safe,the risk infected children may lose to others and an overview of Multi system Inflammatory Syndrome in Children  (MIS – C), an unknown but serious condition that may be related to the exposure of the virus.
He added that coronavirus variants, including the very contagious omicron variant has continued to spread, particularly in areas with low rates of community COVID – 19 vaccination among populations such as children under 5, who cannot yet be vaccinated.
According to him, “For children too young to be vaccinated, and adults who have not received Coronavirus vaccines,it is important to follow proven COVID -19 precautions such as mask wearing when in public,indoor places to reduce the chance of becoming infected with the coronavirus. “Indoor activities are riskier than outdoor activities, but risk can be reduced by masking, distancing, hand washing and improved ventilation. Parents and caregivers should understand that children infected with the coronavirus can develop complications requiring hospitalisation and can transmit the virus to others,” Milstone said.
He noted that, in rare cases,children infected with the coronavirus  can develop a serious lung infection and become sick with COVID – 19 and deaths have occurred. That is why it is important to take precautions and prevent infection in children as well as adults.
“According to U. S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention  (CDC), it appears that women infected with coronavirus can in rare cases pass the disease to their babies. Adding that, infants can also become infected shortly after being born,and most newsborns who test positive for the coronavirus have mild symptoms or none at all and recover, but serious cases have occured.
Pregnant women should take extra precautions,including talking to their doctors about getting a COVID – 19 vaccine to avoid the coronavirus.
Milstone also noted that,there is no evidence that the virus causing COVID – 19 is present in breastmilk but because there is a possibility of spreading COVID – 19 during breastfeeding through respiratory droplets,it is very important for pregnant women to follow safety guidelines.
“Generally, COVID – 19 symptoms in children and babies are milder than those in adults and some infected children may not have any signs of being sick at all; the symptoms include cough,shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing, muscle or body aches,sore throat, loss of smell or taste, diarrhea, headache, new fatigue, nausea or vomiting and congestion or running nose . Fever and cough are common COVID – 19 symptoms in both adults and children, shortness of breath is more likely to be seen in adults . However, serious illness in children with COVID -19 is possible and parents should stay alert if their child is diagnosed with or shows signs of the disease”, Milstone said.

By: Ibinabo Ogolo

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