Saturday, December 25, 2010

MUSDOKI: Literature and the distortion of history

For the birth of literature in any culture, you need three things besides readers and publishers. Have you guessed? Okay, I'm not one to keep people in suspense. But the truth is that every culture undergoes rigors of parturition before the water breaks and then a healthy child will glimpse the face of the earth.
Okay, okay, for the birth of literature you need these three things: 1. writers, 2. reviewers, and 3. conscientious reviewers. Usually # 3 precedes good writers, for they make those talented people rethink the figments of their imagination before spewing them out there for public consumption.
Why am I saying all these? I have been following the meticulous, almost religious examination of African literature in form of reviews by Ikhide Ikheloa, and I strongly believe that African literature of the 21st century cannot be discussed without acknowledging his midwifery job. Last week he sat on Lola Shoneyin's Baba Segi's Wives (No pun intended, friends). This week it's Ahmed Maiwada's Musdoki. I find his reviews increasingly professional, very helpful, balanced and sincere. Musdoki, he says, is an important book.
Here is an excerpt:
"It is true that in terms of the written word, with respect to the Nigerian civil war, the commentary has been dominated by Southern thinkers. There have been few Northern writers weighing in with their perspective. Despite the myriad flaws of Musdoki, it is an important book in that it shows that a fiery rage burns still in the hearts and minds of Northerners. There is no excuse for what happened during the pogrom and the Nigerian civil war."

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