In the beginning was oral literature, the root of African literature. Nigerian literature in particular, began with the oral traditions pioneered by the unsung heroes of the literary past, like royal bards, warriors, story tellers, priests and many others.
According to Bade Ajuwon in his article, Oral and Written Literature in Nigeria, “In Nigerian history and culture, pre literary Nigeria once enjoyed verbal art civilisation which at its highpoint was warmly patronised by traditional rulers and the general public”.
At a point when writing was unknown the oral medium served the people as a bank for the preservation of their ancient experience and belief; much of the evidence that related to the past of Nigeria could therefore be found in oral tradition.
He cited the instance of Yoruba community, where, as a means of relaxation, farmers gather their children and sit under the moon for tale telling that instruct the young and teach them to respect the dictates of their custom. This was the practice across the cultural groupings that form Nigeria today.
A literary work must therefore derive from these basic traditional elements to be adjudged as African literature. Nigeria therefore owes her present giant strides in the international literacy scene to her rich oral tradition.
The written tradition was introduced by Northern Nigeria in the 15th century by Arab scholars and traders. The intellectual and religious interactions between them and the indigenous community led to the adaptation of Hausa into Arabic script, a genre known as Ajami.
The subsequent arrival of missionaries in the 1930s with the Roman script further enhanced the written tradition and gave rise to the emergence of many indigenous poets and prose writers.
Southern Nigeria owes its literary legacy to missionary activities in the area around 1840s which went hand in hand with inculcation of literacy. The need to translate the Bible for the new converts necessitated a number of publications by the missionaries. Prominent among such publications was A Grammar of the Igbo Language (1840) by the pioneer missionary Rev. J. F Schon.
The second one was A vocabulary of the Yoruba Language (1843) by Samuel Ajayi Crowder, an ex slave and the first Bishop of the Niger Diocese of the Church Missionary Society (CMS). Such publications eventually served not only the primary religious purpose, but also as a sound foundation for the written indigenous literature in which folklore and other genres of oral tradition were recorded and woven into poetry, short stories and novels especially in the Igbo and Yoruba languages. With the growth in literary awareness resulting from western education, the literary tradition shifted from folktales to realism, galvanised by scholars at the university college Ibadan in 1948. However, this did not mean that the folklore elements were completely eliminated, rather it was a kind of mixed grill.
The real indigenous literature in English was pioneered by the legendary Amos Tutuola in the 1950s. His debut, the palm Wine Drinkard published by Faber in London (1952), kind of, served as a monumental link in the transition of western literary tradition.
The emergence of Chinua Achebe and his contemporaries in the 1940s/60s marked a milestone in the Nigerian literary history. The most outstanding writers of this era were Wole Soyinka, Gabriel Okara, T.M . Aluko, Christopher Okigbo, John Pepper Clark and Cyprian Ekwensi, generally referred to as first generation writers. These crop of writers gave African literature focus and direction.
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. Between the late 1970s and early 80s Nigeria’s young writers were given opportunity to have their works published, a courtesy of Mac Million publishing company through the company’s young writers series known as Pacesetters and 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.
The issue that became a major concern to the Nigerian writers in the 60s and 70s apart from the multiplying social iIl, was the Nigerian civil war which took place between 1967 and 1970. The war which is said to have claimed the lives of over 100,000 soldiers affected the Nigerian literary scene in many ways. It claimed the life of one of the country’s most celebrated poets, Christopher Okigbo and caused untold hardship to other writers like Wole Soyinka, who were detained for crying out against the atrocities perpetrated in the war.
The bright side of the ugly incident however, is that the war provided inspiration for many writers, particularly those directly involved. These writers poured out their frustration, anger and memories in considerable quantities and qualities. For instance, Elechi Amadi wrote a powerful novel Sunset In Biafra (1973), depicting his war time experience.
Other testimonies to the madness of the era were Soyinka’s ‘The Man Died’ (1972), Chukwumeka Ike’s ‘Sunset At Dawn’ (1976), Ken Sarowiwa’s ‘Sozaboy’ (1985), Flora Nwapa’s ‘Never Again’ (1976) and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ (2007).
Inspite of all the numerous problems bedevilling the Nigerian literary landscape, it could be said that Nigerian literature has come a long way, considering the teeming number of writers that have emerged and the giant steps; with achievements of the writers, Nigeria now rules the global literary stage.
Nigeria today occupies an enviable position in the literary world. Achebe’s legendary Things Fall Apart has been translated into 50 languages globally, Soyinka on the other hand, has done Africa proud by winning the Nobel prize in literature (1986), while the Nigerian writers of the new generation have equally pushed Nigerian literature to the pinnacle by winning some of the most prestigious literary prizes in the world. Ben Okri won the Booker prize for his work, ‘The Famished Road’ in 1991, Helon Habila, Segun Afolabi and E.C. Osondu won the Caine prize for their ‘Prison Story’, Monday Morning and Waiting Respectively. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie like Habila won the common Wealth prize for literature as well as the Orange prize with her novel Half of a Yellow Sun.
Beyond setting international literary standards, Nigerian writers have also succeeded more than any group in the country in exporting our culture and tradition to other parts of the world. According to renowned literary critic, Prof. Charles E. Nnolim, “Nigeria today stands tall before the international community because of the collective endeavours of her writers. While our politics and the Shenanigans of our business deals often sell the country’s private shames in the international scandal market, it is through the collective endeavours of Nigerian writers that Nigeria stands redeemed and enhanced in the eyes of the world”.
Nigerian literature is indeed at its golden age.
By: Jacob Obinna
My Advice To Other Children
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.
‘Robots Can Be Used To Assess Children’s -Mental Wellbeing’
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
Workshop Participants Task Govt On Adolescents’ Needs
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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