Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Having received approximately 250 submissions in the fiction category and 50 in the non-fiction category from countries all over Africa, Penguin Books South Africa is pleased to announce the names of the shortlisted authors for the inaugural Penguin Prize for African Writing.
Congratulations on all the shortlisted candidates. May the best win; may others get good contracts.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Writing as a way of relating to others

I almost missed this great piece by Molara Wood. She explores Unoma Azuah writing and being. I love the piece for several reasons which have little to do with the fact that I admire Unoma and Molara's writings. Unoma's approach to literature reminds me of mine. Literature is there to make us connect to others; it is there to allow us to put ourselves in other people's shoes, to imaginatively reconstruct the others' lives. Since I happen to be heterosexual due to some genetic combination, I have never felt attracted to a person of my sex. Literature allowed me to put myself in the shoes of those who feel sexually attracted to persons of the same sex. Literature allowed me to understand that the issue is not that they will it, but that it is just the way they are. I have to deal with it. Just like I wake up dreaming of a hug from a woman, they wake up dreaming of hugs from people of same sex. I have to put myself in their positions.
Great piece, Molara.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Lessons on a tour of Badagry

Sometimes, discourses of the Atlantic Slavery are made to sound foreign and unreal. Not so with Kola Tobusun, who in his visit to Badagry, an old West African Slave port, saw first hand the pride exuded by some of those Africans who sold their kin, the African capitalists, who amassed fortunes from the inhuman system. Here is Kola:
"Ruled by white-cap feudal chiefs originally from Dahomey, with a strong military empowered by the proceeds of slavery, Badagry lays claim to having sold millions of people captured from parts of Nigeria to the Portuguese and other European traders who came in droves in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries."
Thanks Kola.
Perhaps, the true African Renaissance begins from the moment we begin to explore our ethical obligations to one another.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Half a World From Gulf, a Spill 5 Decades Old

The only silver lining in the dark clouds of America's oil spill is that some Americans get the chance to know what their oil companies and other Western concerns are doing elsewhere. Case in point: The Niger Delta. Now Obama has secured $20 billion dollars to compensate those whose lives have been touched by this spill. Those in the Niger Delta whose lives have been damaged get not even a gesture of empathy from their own government. Sad.
Here is an interesting article on the issue in The New York Times.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Adichie holds court at Farafina’s literary evening

I am happy to announce that literary activities are alive and well in Africa. News from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Nigeria are encouraging. People are engaging in the mind. Here's a report from Nigeria.
"Nothing could beat the eloquence of a writer at the Farafina Trust Literary evening on May 29 at the Civic Centre. Marking the end of a 10-day Creative Writing Workshop, the literary evening infused music into readings by the workshop facilitators – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Chika Unigwe, Niq Mhlongo, and Binyavanga Wainaina. Foremost Ghanaian writer, Ama Ata Aidoo, was the special guest of honour.

Welcoming the audience, publisher of Farafina Books and trustee of Farafina Trust, Muhtar Bakare, said the workshop was a way of ensuring that people take control of their own stories. “Literature is very important,” he said. “Ideas lead change in society (and) literature helps us to qualify these ideas.”

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Oil Spills We Don't Hear About

Anene Ejikeme pens a beautiful Op-Ed in The New York Times about the other forgotten oil spills especially in Nigeria. Many Americans do not know that their oil spill is just a hint of what happens in the Niger Delta where most of their oil comes from. Surely they wouldn't like to hear about that because it doesn't concern them. They are, after all, only rugged individuals, who are concerned about only their business, and who are supposed to have all pulled themselves by their bootstraps even when it involved denying others boots.
Thanks Anene.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Adichie Makes The New Yorker’s “20 Under 40″ List

The New Yorker has chosen its “20 Under 40” list of fiction writers worth watching, a group assembled by the magazine’s editors in a lengthy, secretive process that has provoked considerable anxiety among young literary types. The list will be published in the double fiction issue of The New Yorker that arrives on newsstands Monday. All of the writers were told two weeks ago that they had made the cut.

They are Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 32; etc etc. Congratulations, Chimamanda.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

More on reparations and all that jazz

To the extent that our admission of culpability should re-engineer our collective and individual moral compasses, compasses that allow us to begin to appreciate the being of the other in the African world, I think this essay should be read aloud. Here it goes:
"Skip Gates recently re-ignited an old controversy by stating that Africans are also culpable in the shame that was the transatlantic slave trade because they were active participants who relied on the trade for revenue. I agree with Professor Gates. To the extent that African states sold off Africans, they are just as culpable as the Western states that bought Africans as slaves. That they are too destitute to pay should not absolve them from culpability and responsibility."
Some call this guy a sell-out. Some call him insensitive. I call him a gadfly, one that is interested in us loving ourselves and one another. E.g. I go to the Niger Delta, I see gas flares that have been roaring since years, roaring day and night in the midst of Ogoni or Ijaw or Urhobo villages; I see these people's rivers forever condemned by months and months of oil spill. What do I feel? What kinds of questions do I ask myself especially if I belong to Nigeria's middle, upper middle or ruling classes who live hundreds of miles from the Niger Delta? What?
Read this and judge.