Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Shell Apologises for Human Rights Violations in Niger Delta

Isn't this funny and pathetic?

"We are sorry.

Since Shell first discovered oil in the Niger Delta in 1956, the company has ravished the land and polluted the environment. “We thought these people didn’t know what was good for them,” explains Bradford Houppe, Vice-President of Shell’s newly established Ethical Affairs Committee. “We never knew that we were bringing them impoverishment, conflict, abuse and deprivation. Now we know.” Shell acknowledges that it is responsible for large-scale oil spills, waste dumping and gas flaring. Each year, hundreds of oil spills occur, many of which are caused by corrosion of oil pipes and poor maintenance of infrastructure. “Our failure to deal with these spills swiftly and the lack of effective clean-up greatly exacerbate their human rights and environmental impact,” says Houppe. “And that is wrong. It’s just really wrong.”

Between 2005 and 2008, the Nigerian government received around $36 billion in taxes and royalties from Shell. “They have never, not in the slightest, held us to account for all the wrong we did,” says Houppe. “So without taking back any of our apologies, by all means: blame them too!”

God help me, I'm about to puke.

Read the text here.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Polygamy? No thanks

Lola Shoneyin is a fearless woman who engages Nigerian issues, feminist ones included, in ways that appeal to me. She doesn't mince words when talking about the unfairness of Nigerian patriarchal system. I began to like her writing after reading her first collection of poems, So All the Time I was Sitting on an Egg. In this essay, she takes on the thorny issue of polygamy in Africa. Most Nigerian men would like to argue that it is the course of nature that men have more wives (there's actually a proverb that purports that having only one woman leads to impotence, oh la la), or that Africa should resist the Western attempt to dictate Africa's culture, or bla bla bla. What do I think about the whole thing as an unrepentant Nigerian man?
Well, let's digest Lola's essay first.

"Lola Shoneyin's grandfather had five wives and her grandmother, the first, never forgave him. But she was shocked to find that polygamy is still prevalent in Nigeria"

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

10 Questions for Desmond Tutu

I love honest people. Oh, yes, I love them to bits. I even tend to worship them when they are in positions of power, political or moral. I read somewhere that Nelson Mandela is Africa's moral capital. I think this is true; we thinkers and writers can really build upon that man's candor and insight. The next Africa's moral capital is Desmond Tutu. This is a guy you've got to love regardless of your religious affiliation or lack thereof. Just consider how he approaches the issue of the so-called single story the West has woven around Africa. Rather than blame the West, what does he say? Oh, yes, your guess is correct: "Well, part of it is true. You have bad governments." (I swear he has Nigeria in mind. A fucked-up country).
consider again the issue of gays and lesbians, an issue in which the Ugandan government has wasted precious time and energy in the past months.
Anyway, read Desmond Tutu's responses to a wide array of questions posed to him. He is a saint, isn't he? And a gift to Africa. And of course, a moral capital. And a simple human.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani wins Commonwealth Prize in Literature

She has done it.
I Do Not Come To You By Chance, Adaobi's debut novel has won the Commonwealth Prize in Literature, Africa Region.
Congratulations, Ada. Good luck in the finals.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Penguin Prize for African Writing Update

"A message from Penguin Books CEO Alison Lowry:

Penguin Books has been both delighted and overwhelmed at the response we received for the Penguin Prize for African Writing. We received an unanticipated number of entries: around 250 manuscripts were submitted for the Fiction award and 50 for the Non-Fiction award, most of which were received just before the cut off date at the end of January. Entries have come from countries all across Africa, including Ghana, Nigeria, Botswana, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Malawi and South Africa...."

Good luck to you, if you entered.

Monday, March 8, 2010

ANA is behaving like a political party, says Osundare

The acclaimed Nigerian poet and oracle, Professor Niyi Osundara, is of the opinion that the Association of Nigerian Authors is no more than a collection of petty, potbellied provincial politicians to be. No ideals, no ideas. This is pretty hard.
ENJOY the rest of the article.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Lola Shoneyin's flights of poetry

"Shoneyin soon stepped forward amidst thunderous applause and off she took her audience on a poetic flight, as she treated them to an outpouring of poem after poem. She read from her two previous collections, ‘So All Along I Was Sitting On An Egg' and ‘Songof a Riverbird'. Among the pieces read from these were: ‘She Tried', ‘Blessed Brassiere', ‘Diplomatic Lipservice', ‘What's Going On', ‘Jilted Jack', ‘Counterfeit Marriage' and ‘Epitaph'.

The night belonged to the newest volume, of course. From ‘For the Love of Flight', Shoneyin performed ‘Bath Day', ‘Fancy', ‘Distance', ‘Multiply', ‘The Diviner's Hand', ‘Split Reed at Water Front' and ‘For Kiitan' - a long, and touching poem in honour of motherhood. Using her own experience, ‘For Kiitan' narrated the travails of a mother loss of a full-term pregnancy."

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Petina Gappah - The Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award Shortlist

Petina Gappah has made it to the The Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award shortlist.
Good luck, girl.

The Sarah Ladipo Manyika Interview

If you have ever fallen in love, you'll surely understand Vanessa in Sarah Oladipo Manyika's novel, In Dependence. And, if you, like me, love cosmopolitan spirit, you'll love Tayo, Vanessa's Yoruba lover. Why, in Mahaja's name, couldn't this lovely pair be together? In Dependence is a beautiful novel, one that can help you understand and feel the ache of Nigeria not realizing its full promises. I loved Tayo, and of course, Vanessa. I love the writing. Plush, smooth, you almost don't feel like you're reading.

Anyway, here are some of what Sarah has to say about the novel:
"My intention was to write a story of unfulfilled love fraught with the weight of history, race and geography and intertwined with questions of belonging, aging, religious faith and family secrets. I also hoped that the novel might speak to the complexities of contemporary Africa, its Diaspora and its interdependence with the rest of the world."

Chinua Achebe: lecturing the West in the past tense

God, I love this one. I have always known that someday we would begin to tell ourselves the truth of our present day human condition. I am just tired, dead tired of looking over our shoulders in our every attempt to explain our present and our future. Reading Achebe, especially his essays, makes me feel I am totally ignored in his discourse world. Does anyone feel like that?
Anyway, this essay reminds me of some of my feelings reading Achebe. Ikhide is right on.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

If anyone sees Zakes Mda please give him a hug from me, and tell him I admire him so much. His Ways of Dying is bad ass good. And here is another reason I admire him: His suggestions on how to write. Here are his ten tips:
1. Show, don’t tell. Humbug! You do need to tell as well. Effective storytelling is a balancing act between showing and telling, otherwise all stories would be in real time.

Anyway I disagree with him on some aspect of Nr. 7., and here is it: "....However if a novel doesn’t engage you in the first five pages discard it. Life is too short."

This is exactly what I did with Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon about five years ago, then again about three years ago, then again last year. I finally got over the first fifty pages, and Good Lawd, what a book. If anyone hasn't read Song of Solomon, please drop whatever you're doing, go and get it and read. Be prepared to yawn over the first thirty-something pages. But after that it's all tender lamb sirloin and red wine and a good chat... and whatever else follows.

2. Well, see the original here.