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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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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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