Thursday, February 23, 2012

Living History: Wole Soyinka Interview

Any African writer who has not read Soyinka should reassess his/her profession. Period.
For me, reading Soyinka is like having a cup of coffee in the morning. Dope for the mind.

"My friend Christopher Okigbo was Igbo, of course. I knew him from the writers and artists community in Ibadan. He was a founding member of the Mbari writers and artists club. When I was detained for that "un-robbery" episode, he used to come and visit me in my place of detention. I was not actually formally detained. I was just not granted bail, that's all. So he used to come to visit me at the police station where I was held and we'd read his poetry together. Or more accurately, he would read his poetry. He loved reading his own poems. He wanted you to hear exactly how it sounded, because it was a very aural, musical kind of poetry. He was a musician also, by the way, so that wasn't surprising. So we became quite close. When I realized that war really was going to happen, I tried to -- and he (Christopher Okigbo) had left, like the other Igbo that fled to the East, where they were more secure. Chinua Achebe was in the East. We had other writers like Gabriel Okara in the East, and I felt maybe by linking up and resurrecting that tight community we might be able to do something to prevent that war, and so I traveled. "


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Chinelo Okparanta

A new star is about to be born. Or, is it already there, trying to make its way among the constellation? I think, (at least judging from this picture) the star is already up there. Just look up.

A piece of her mind:
"Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart was very inspirational to me as a child. In a scary way. Indeed things do fall apart, and I find that I continue to obsess over the different ways in which they do. These days I’m not so concerned with the ways in which we’ve been sabotaged. These days, I’m more interested in the ways in which we sabotage ourselves."

I love this. This move away from the Achebean past. This introspection. Bring it on, girl. You have a fan here.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Ben Okri erupts at editor over 'rewriting' claim

It appears somebody is desperately in need of some recognition, and he seems to do it at the cost of another. Shouldn't editors stick with what they do best: edit?

"Okri accuses former editor Robin Robertson of 'exaggerating his own importance' after Robertson claimed that he 'redid' sections of the author's dialogue in a 1988 short story collection."

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Militant Intellection Complex... a Conversation with Pius Adesanmi

A delicious interview given by Professor Pius Adesanmi.

"Thank you for your question. I am a public intellectual and a chronicler of Africa. I have wholly embraced that vocation with its generous hassles and miserly joys. The condition of Nigeria and Africa today are too desperate for me to find any joy or personal satisfaction in producing exclusive literary-theoretical jargons that could only be understood by colleagues and advanced doctoral students...."


Wole Soyinka: Next Phase Of Boko Haram Terrorism

It is always enriching to read a piece of Wole Soyinka's mind.

"Let me begin by reminding everyone that Boko Haram has a very long history, whether you describe Boko Haram as an army of the discontent, or even as some people grotesquely try to suggest, “revolutionaries,” or you describe them as, legitimately, this time, as marginalised or feeling marginalised. When I say that the phenomenon has a very long history, I am talking about a movement that relies on religion as a fuel for their operation, as a fuel for mobilisation, as the impetus, an augmentation of any other legitimate or illegitimate grievance that they might have against society...."

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The man who rediscovered Africa

Some of us have read this already, but I think it's worth reading again. This is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie paying tribute to her most important literary forebear, Chinua Achebe. I think that her ruminations form some basis for a kind of literary history.
A excerpt:

"All of Achebe’s work is, in some way, about strong communitarian values, the use of language as collective art, the central place of storytelling and the importance of symbolic acts and objects in keeping a community together. The American writer John Updike, after reading “Arrow of God,” wrote to Achebe to say that a western writer would not have allowed the destruction of a character as rich as Ezeulu. This is debatable, but perhaps what Updike had understood was that Achebe was as much concerned with a person as he was with a people, an idea well captured in the proverb that a character in Arrow of God recites: “An animal rubs its itching flank against a tree, but a man asks his kinsman to scratch him.”


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Letter from freed slave to former master draws attention

I thought you might like this. An awesome piece of writing. A former slaver owner writes to his former slave, asking him to come back and work for him on a wage to be agreed by both parties. This is the former slave's reply:

"... and we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you. This will make us forget and forgive old scores, and rely on your justice and friendship in the future. I served you faithfully for thirty-two years, and Mandy twenty years. At twenty-five dollars a month for me, and two dollars a week for Mandy, our earnings would amount to eleven thousand six hundred and eighty dollars. Add to this the interest for the time our wages have been kept back, and deduct what you paid for our clothing, and three doctor's visits to me, and pulling a tooth for Mandy, and the balance will show what we are in justice entitled to. Please send the money by Adams's Express, in care of V. Winters, Esq., Dayton, Ohio. If you fail to pay us for faithful labors in the past, we can have little faith in your promises in the future."

You've got to love this ex-slave, man. Such a smart guy.