Sunday, May 30, 2010

Shell & BP & EXXON etc in Nigeria

I thought you might be interested in some of what has been going on in Nigeria for ages. Pictures speak volumes, they say. Okay:
Picture # 1

Friday, May 28, 2010

China’s subtle, silent invasion

Salisu Suleiman alerts thinking Africans to the imbalance inherent in the Chinese relation to Africa. Is it a new form of colonialism? Taking a quick look at Africa's intellectual history, it does appear that over the last fifty years, African intellectuals have invested much of their energies addressing the white man, but not much in challenging, on the one hand, various forms of inequalities and unfairness in the existing African systems, and on the other, African leaders to invest in their people. The result has been our experience of the Age of Ressentiment that failed to put Africa on the path of creative engagement with reality.
Salisu's reflection reminds us of what happens when such a vacuum is allowed to exist for long. Here he writes:
"Wherever there is a vacuum - economic or political, outside forces will move in. It is only a matter of time before the true shade of Chinese intentions in Africa, beyond raw materials emerges. The Chinese invasion is subtle and silent but salient. You only realise it when everything you see is tagged, ‘Made in China’."
Wise words. thank you Salisu.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Who needs reparations? Not Africa!

A couple of weeks ago, Henry Louis gates Jr. published an article in which he highlighted, among other things, Africa’s culpability in the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade. Many Nigerian members of different listserves launched scathing attacks on him. I, too, took part in the discussions that dared to surface against the noisy backdrop of curse and name-calling. But my greatest wish, besides airing my humble opinion, was that these discussions take place in an open forum.
Africa needs rigorous discussions of issues that confront us. And this should be done with the goal of making us more responsive to one another, more prepared to the riches of our humanity.
I am happy that Ikhide has taken the discussion of some of these important issues to the public. Great piece that should encourage informed debates about Africa. I love it.
Bravo. ENJOY!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Nomad: From Islam to America: A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilisations

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is not a typical author that you can read with soothing music in the background. No, you have to sit up, because you will be ready to agree or disagree with her almost loudly.
I think that she is exactly what the Somali society, indeed, the African intellectual world needs: an uneasy truth-sayer. You might not agree with everything she says, but boy, she stings, and I love her for that. Hopefully she will help Africa emerge from the age of naive ressentiment.
Here's a review of her latest book, "Nomad" I look forward to reading the book.

Memory and citizenship at Ike Okonta’s book launch

I thought you might like this:
The essence of shared social memorialisation was the focus at the launch of Ike Okonta’s new book, ‘When Citizens Revolt: Nigerian Elites, Big Oil and the Ogoni Struggle for Self-Determination.’ The Ogoni struggle and their place within national historical relevance are at the core of the book, which was presented to the public at the National Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) on Tuesday, April 27.

The book, which is drawn from Okonta’s D.Phil at Oxford Universty, was published by the Port-Harcourt based Ofirima Publishing House. CEO of the outfit, Doifie Ola, said it was formed to “encourage debate in terms of social change, which for some time has [been lacking] even in the mainstream media, and we thought that we engineering that kind of process, will help to move our country forward.”

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Welcome to Lagos - Ikhide's Ethics and Aesthetics

This guy made my Sunday with his piece on the BBC documentary: Welcome to Lagos.
An excerpt:
"The BBC deserves major kudos for its excellent documentary ‘Welcome to Lagos’ which shines a big light on the open sores of Lagos (apologies to Soyinka, who has reacted angrily to the piece, calling it patronising and condescending). Soyinka should reconsider his views. The BBC deserves credit for having the courage to damn the consequences and put out what was obviously going to be controversial. The Nigerian poor were empowered to open their doors and hearts to the world and revel in their humanity, warts and all. It was a triumph of the human spirit over the meanness of those sworn to care for all of us."

Beautiful piece, bro Ikhide.

Shock and surprise at Wole Soyinka award ceremony

Confusion and dilettantism cast ugly shadows at Wole Soyinka Literature Prize. In one of my earlier posts, I pointed out that the exclusionary clause (Books that have won other awards are not eligible for this prize), which is part of the entry conditions, instantly makes the prize a laughing stock in the intellectual world.
But then the prize organizers seem to have broken their own rules when they included two books that have already won prizes in the shortlist. So, where do you stand, dear promoters of honesty and the intellect? Here's one of your entry conditions: Books that have won other awards are not eligible for this prize.
But then Nwaubani's book won the Commonwealth Best First Book Prize (Africa Region, announced 18 February 2010) and Matlwa's won the 2006/2007 European Union Literary Award.
Why am I so concerned about this? Wole Soyinka, to me, is a global icon of intellectual excellence, and to drag his name into an exercise that promotes mediocrity makes me sad. Another thing is that Lumina stands for light. I wonder how bright this light still shines when it is covered with this bushel of foggy information.
Here's an interesting article on the issue. Thanks to NEXT.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

EMAIL FROM AMERICA: Revisiting Yellow-Yellow

This is a lesson on how to review a book when you cannot afford not to like the author. Ikhide revisits Yellow Yellow, a book that is, well, not bad, but one that the author is definitely in a better position to trump - assuming she remains a writer.
I love how the reviewer undertakes the job of a literary critic, and begins to provide explanation for the work's obvious lack. Here he goes: "But I could argue that the book’s aimlessness in the end is a great metaphor for Nigeria’s aimlessness in the new dispensation – an uncritical acceptance of alien values and a resulting caricature of what Nigeria once was."
Well done, bro.
But who says that reviewers can't be critics and interpreters? In the absence of any robust narrative about the Niger Delta experience, one can surely return to Yellow Yellow in hopes of finding what one missed in the earlier reading, or what one wished were there.
But I love the review despite the obvious attempt to wring some meaning out of a promising, but only promising, book.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Nigeria's anger at the BBC's Welcome to Lagos film

Here's Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani reacting to Nigeria's criticism of BBC's documentary, "Welcome to Lagos":
"...hardly have I come across passionate expressions of "Oh my goodness! There are people in our country living like this? What shall we do about them? How fast can we act?
The Nigerian obsession with image often approaches neurotic proportions. What people think of us appears to take manic precedence over who we really are. You might imagine that the rational response to some of the infamies we are accused of across the globe would be: "Are we really like this? If we are, then let's do something about it – quick." Instead, we perpetually harangue and speechify to "correct" the world's impressions of us.

To be a good writer all you need is to know your way with words. Tricia is dexterous; no, she is ambidextrous with words. Okay.
To be a writers' writer, and the conscience of your generation and the world, you have to have your heart at the right place; you have to be able to see more than meets the eye and to set the tone of discourse for your generation. Tricia does that not only in her novel, but in her writings especially this reflection on Nigerians' phony patriotism.

God, how I love smart writers.

Anyway please ENJOY her beautiful piece on Guardian.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Wole Soyinka Literature prize - A mercy prize award

Could somebody please help me understand this? A literary prize one of whose entry conditions is that "Books that have won other awards are not eligible for this prize."
In this way, excellent works such as Petina Gappah's An Elegy for the Easterly, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun, and Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani's I Do not Come to you by Chance are already condemned by the grace of their sheer excellence. Is it still a prize for excellence or a pat on the back for trying? How, in the name of all that is holy, can excellence be a disqualifying factor in a prize dedicated to excellence? How can a prior recognition be a badge of dishonor, a stigma? How am I to take the winning entry seriously? Or rather the prize itself?
A mercy prize award? It's like marrying somebody out of pity: You enter into marriage with an ugly man who's been rejected by all the women around. How's that?
I ask these question not because this prize shouldn't be taken seriously; I ask because Wole Soyinka Prize for literature is a terrible thing to waste.
Anyway, here's the result of the recently concluded prize award. Congratulations to prize winners.