Saturday, March 30, 2013

Metal on concrete jars my drink lobes

This is a must read for writers, or aspiring ones.

"Nigerians are in love with language, though meaning is not always a priority - C Don Adinuba hacks through the thickets.

"‘I never perused the inner anatomy of the female homo sapiens,” the eminent historian Emmanuel Ayandele once announced to his bewildered students. This was the former vice­chancellor’s way of confiding that he had remained chaste throughout his undergraduate programme.
Maybe he had, but his romance with words is clearly torrid. In his infatuation he is not alone, for Africans are great lovers of language"


Friday, March 29, 2013

Adewale Maja-Pearce does to Achebe's literary immortality what ought to be done to all producers of ideas. I like his piece, which seeks to judge Chinua Achebe as a human being, not a god. This, I understand, does not detract from his respect of Achebe.

"Things Fall Apart, is widely considered a twentieth-century classic. It was to his great credit that he recognised the privilege for what it was, which perhaps accounted for his famous humility, a much-praised quality in Nigeria – hardly an obituary fails to attribute such to the dearly departed – precisely because it is so rare, at any rate amongst those whose chi cracked their nuts for them.

I was never a fan. I have always considered Things Fall Apart a bad book, although its suffocating sentimentality about a vanished kingdom where men were men and women virtuous – the past is always a better place, in Nigeria no less than elsewhere – presumably accounts for its 10 million readers in 50 languages who evidently like their literature to be uplifting, in this case that Africans once had cultures of great depth and beauty."


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Tade Ipadeola: Chinua Achebe, Storyteller In Excelsis

A good one by our own Tade:

"World literature acknowledges an immortal in the transition of Chinua Achebe whose quiet dignity brought unprecedented attention to African literature written in English, translated into more modern world languages than any other African writer before him and studied in every notable institution of learning around the world. As Aretino said upon the death of Michelangelo, the world has many kings but only one Michelangelo. I acknowledge that the world has many potentates but only one Achebe. He was the tree that made a forest, the one voice that travelled beyond the seven seas."


Kwame Anthony Appiah on Achebe

Achebe, who died Thursday at the age of 82, had absorbed a wide range of literature in English, both poetry and prose: the King James Bible and the English hymnal; realist and modernist novels; Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Dickens, Conrad, Buchan, Greene and, of course, Yeats, who gave him the title of his first book.
And from this treasury he drew a variety of forms of diction: one, for example, to represent the voices of people speaking Igbo; another, for the language in which he described their world. From the traditions of oral literature that he heard growing up, in turn, he drew the proverbs with which the novel is peppered, the tales of gods and heroes and heroines that hover behind his narrative. The result was a way of talking about Africa in the colonial language that allowed his characters to live for us as richly specific human beings, located in a particular time and place, while at the same time resonating with readers across the planet and across generations.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Taiye Selasi on discovering her pride in her African roots

There I was, heartily lauding Ghana in all of its peace-loving, hard-working glory, only to spiral out at one comment about my Ghanaian father. I was passionate about Africa, yes, but wasn't proud. I couldn't be. My tie to Africa – my African father – was standing in the way. Ileane was right. What I'd felt in Jamaica was shame about my family saga: the poverty, polygamy, one stereotype of African dysfunction after another. It had always seemed a matter of mere politesse to skip these sordid details when describing to a stranger who I was. But my grief at Percy's (spot-on) guess suggested something else at work: a need to obscure both where and who I came from. Intellectually, I perceived myself as a product and champion of modern west Africa. Emotionally, I perceived myself as a west African polygamist's daughter. What I needed was some other way to know myself as African, apart from as heir to my parents' hurts.
For this, I had to go home.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Africa’s Leading Novelist Chinua Achebe Dies At 82

Sad news. But we celebrate his life and achievements. We celebrate his immortality.
"Professor Chinua Achebe, one of the world’s most celebrated writers and author of the classic novel Things Fall Apart, is dead.
SaharaReporters learned that Achebe, who was the David and Mariana Fisher Professor of Literature at Brown University, died last night in a hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. Professor Achebe had been sick for some time. He was 82 years old."

Read here.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Losing my voice

"When I left Nigeria for Belgium, I made my husband’s home my own. But homesickness lodged like a stone inside me.
The year I graduated from the university, I married a man, J, whom I had known for two years. Some of my friends thought it was too soon, especially as he was not ‘from here’. My father wondered if I had thought it through, marrying a foreigner. I said I had. When J wanted to go home to Belgium not long after we got married, it did not devastate me. I did not spend days trying to convince him to change his mind, or negotiating how often we would have to return to Nigeria on holiday. I did not once doubt that I would go with him."

A good piece by Chika Unigwe.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Chika Oduah: Where The “V” Counts

Well, this is not exactly literature in the conventional sense, but it's worth reading.

"Nigerian men sit in stuffy airplanes for hours, coming from Belgium, London, Australia and New York, coming home to Nigeria. And in those planes, one imagines the freshness of the unspoiled village lady who will become his wife. He has never met her face-to-face, only in photographs did he see her and in fleeting phone conversations, he heard her homely voice. The Nigerian ladies abroad have all gone wild, so Nigerian men go to their home towns for a dewy-faced, high school graduate who cooks the best vegetable soup in town. Best of all, she is unspoiled. The joy of wedding an unspoiled woman can only be experienced. So the guy’s friends request vacation time from their jobs and venture to Nigeria to experience it, too."