A short post on Nigeria

Today Nigeria celebrate 52 years of independence.  My home town is in the Niger Delta where we are still waiting for electricity so that at night we will be able to see the stains and lumps of petroleum waste on the shores and mangroves of the rivers, ponds and creeks. This is just one result of oil exploration – the list is comprehensive and the guilty ones come from within and without.

I believe Nigeria’s greatest achievement is that after 52 years, it is still the same one Nigeria.

Happy Nigeria Day!

It was a long time ago and I cannot remember the details but reading Sefi Atta’s novel, “Everything Good Will Come”, brought memories of my own growing up – I experienced a mix of Enitan and Sheri. A father whose fierceness was hidden behind a veneer of charm who wanted me to study law. A mother who was a free spirit and who jumped into Nigeria feet first. Nothing fazed her. I need to re read the book and refresh my memory but suffice to say Atta is one of the many contemporary Nigerian feminist writers bringing women from the margins to the center and I look forward to reading her latest book “A Bit of Difference” published by Interlinked Books.

 

At thirty-nine, Deola Bello, a Nigerian expatriate in London, is dissatisfied with being single and working overseas. Deola works as a financial reviewer for an international charity, and when her job takes her back to Nigeria in time for her father’s five-year memorial service, she finds herself turning her scrutiny inward. In Nigeria, Deola encounters changes in her family and in the urban landscape of her home, and new acquaintances who offer unexpected possibilities. Deola’s journey is as much about evading others’ expectations to get to the heart of her frustration as it is about exposing the differences between foreign images of Africa and the realities of contemporary Nigerian life. Deola’s urgent, incisive voice captivates and guides us through the intricate layers and vivid scenes of a life lived across continents. With Sefi Atta’s characteristic boldness and vision, A Bit of Difference limns the complexities of our contemporary world. This is a novel not to be missed.

Farad is a first novel by Emmanuel Iduma, co-founder / editor of Saraba Magazine.  I met Emmanuel on a workshop in Lagos in October 2009 and was immediately taken by his intensity and measured reflection along with excellent writing skills.  I remember he borrowed a book from me and I had to harangue him on the last day to return it.  On reflection I should have just given it to him.  Ever since then I have followed his work and progress.  I notice an increased confidence and self-awareness of himself and the contemporary literary and technology space he occupies.  I try not to be too influenced by  book and film reviews because so many times I end up being disappointed. Even what purports to being a ‘good’ review can be off putting. Take for example this one on Farad

This book is an experimental fulfilment of the uncommonly common. It is broken into eight different stories with unrelated plots. This is surprising. This style will definitely make you angry. The stories are disjointed but united in denouement. After everything, you will also grieve over your taste for normalcy. Everything about this book is resplendently different. Iduma is a daring writer; and this debut does not portray otherwise. Faradis a collage; a delicate calligraphy; a head with multiple faces. Though its resolution is single, the divergent parts are necessary.

What is “uncommonly common” ? “disjointed but united in denouement”?  Everything about this paragraph is pretentious and wordy and really tells us nothing.  So my anticipation for reading Farad is not based on reviews but on  Emmanuel’s writings to date and knowing his interest in ‘experimental’ writing and writing against the grain.  Farad is published by Parresia Publishers.

Finally in the trio of new literature from Nigeria, our dear father [grandfather] Chinua Achebe has  published his memoir on Biafra – “There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra” .  My hope is that along with the film adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie novel, “Half of a Yellow Sun“, Nigeria’s lost consciousness on Biafra will be awakened.