A Snap Review of African Contemporary Literature

First, an Online Literary Experience,

Then Coming to a Bookshop Near You

Samplers:

“These are not just people possessed by poesy. These are people pummelled by pain – people who wield the pen to make plain their plaints. People who thought they had escaped the pangs of misrule only to find themselves ensnared by their own vote, (or election ‘mine-thods’), and plunged seemingly irretrievably into the abyss of anomy. A country littered with spires and minarets, of general overseers and imams, but where vice is the unchallenged viceroy”. From Review of Wellington Nwogu’s The Yawning Earth..;

“The author, it seems, was never at the mercy of her narrative; she had it dance to her whims … That is why she can hardly plead mitigation if charged with enticement. She makes Ifemelu, a normal but strong-willed youth, morph into a universal nymphomaniac, meddling with marriages and trifling with friendships.” From review of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah……………………………………….”””””””””””’

“This may not be the masterpiece that Cole is demonstrably capable of, but in adopting the book’s opening salvos and sustaining the trend to the final full stop, he has given the lie to the imperious diktat  of modern day Pontifices maximi of world poetics who are wont to decree a start-up template for fiction. Now I know how all those literary prescriptions for the opening page should be taken: jauntily to the trash can. Art, for it to be art, need not follow a pre-script…” From Review of Teju Cole’s Open City.

“This may not be the masterpiece that Cole is demonstrably capable of, but in adopting the book’s opening salvos and sustaining the trend to the final full stop, he has given the lie to the imperious diktat  of modern day Pontifices maximi of world poetics who are wont to decree a start-up template for fiction. Now I know how all those literary prescriptions for the opening page should be taken: jauntily to the trash can. Art, for it to be art, need not follow a pre-script”    

Finally I Know You

Finally I Know You

  • For ESIABA IROBI

I have finally discovered you

ESIABA IROBI

I that longed to paean about cracking laughters

and large hearts

From your rocky roots in Futa Djallon

Through  the humps of this rugged earth

To your first ejaculates into the Atlantic intake

Itself the uptake of vaster melodrama

of lounging waves and man-tides and –  

I have finally discovered you

 Not hands locked by wine glass

 telling Chimamanda how – by way of praise –

you found some page of  Half of a Yellow Sun sexually stimulating

at the Okigbo conference at Harvard

in two-thousand-and-seven when Achebe and  Soyinka

regaled captive eardrums with tales of stolen chicken at Fiditi

along with their wives, or then-spouses

As our own nods sealed us as accessories in that chicken catch-and-cook

Way back in the Fiditi days …

  • Mind: I speak nothing here but poetruth

I saw your teary eyes

When Achebe did the icho madu* ritual for his buddy

Christopher Okigbo

Denied one in his homestead when 

 the sound of flying bullets that trumped the hum of  war drums

finally drowned out all evidence of birdsongs

You could not stand his searching dirge unconstrained by wheel-chair

Still I did not know you, ESIABA IROBI

UNTIL…

I found you in these verdant verses

In the good old pulp

 eye found you in the pages of your entreaties

to implacable gods, of this millipede-stubborn life

in your quest for embrace, for earthunion,

and, unknown to you, for canonization

by the white smokes of the puritan conclave  

and your lust for JANE BRYCE’s ‘feline prose’

you are probably the reason I returned to town

Ile-Ife

this town that grew me up in deep lores

still sentient  with ancient newness –

to be tickled by the slim beauty of your  Inflorescence.

This repudiation of a well-made poem

Purring its beauty out in the

Crumbs left behind after  the king termite had feasted

in pulp-and-pageANTry

Ah, ESIABA:  If only you could see what goes for poetry now!

NOTE

*Icho mmadu: part of Igbo funeral ritual. Achebe organized what is believed to be an impromptu one for his buddy Christopher Okigbo at the Okigbo Conference, Harvard University, in September 2007

Eleven Ensemble

It had a life of its own, the Book Party that brought together eleven writers longlisted for the CORA/NLNG Nigeria Prize for Literature, 8 August 2021. That’s when you realised that reading is as much an art as writing, as some of the impresarios (yes, in their own rights) called up to read excerpts from the eleven books did so with panache. Just as the feet that measured the arena in rhythmic steps, often turning the stage into a dance enclave. Adora Hall of Eko Hotel & Suites, venue of the event, bore witness.  And not only to that, to the camaraderie and bonhomie that pervaded the atmosphere. Call it ‘Eleven Ensemble’ if you please; from each one of the other ten on the list, I picked up one or two things about the art and business of writing. And so I must thumbs-up the books that begat the Book Party, in alphabetical order:

  • Delusion of Patriots, Obianuju V. Chukwuorji
  • Give Us Each Day, Samuel Monye
  • Imminent River, Anaele Ihuoma
  • In The Name of Our Father, Olukorede S. Yishau
  • Mountain of Yesterday, Tony Nwaka
  • Neglected, Lucy Chiamaka Okwuma
  • The Colours of Hatred, Obinna Udenwa
  • The Girl with The Louding Voice, Abi Dare
  • The Return of Half- Something, Chukwudi Eze
  • The Son of The House, Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia
  • Your Church My Shrine, Law Ikay Ezeh

Kudos also to the organisers whose vision made the event possible.

Eleven Ensemble

‘Eleven Ensemble’w

It had a life of its own, the Book Party that brought together eleven writers longlisted for the CORA/NLNG Nigeria Prize for Literature, 8 August 2021. That’s when you realised that reading is as much an art as writing, as some of the impresarios (yes, in their own rights) called up to read excerpts from the eleven books did so with panache. Just as the feet that measured the arena in rhythmic steps, often turning the stage into a dance enclave. Adora Hall, venue of the event, bore witness.  And not only to that, to the camaraderie and bonhomie that pervaded the atmosphere. Call it ‘Eleven Ensemble’ if you please; from each one of the other ten on the list, I picked up one or two things about the art and business of writing. And so I must thumbs-up the books that begat the Book Party, in alphabetical order:

  • Delusion of Patriots, Obianuju V. Chukwuorji
  • Give Us Each Day, Samuel Monye
  • Imminent River, Anaele Ihuoma
  • In The Name of Our Father, Olukorede S. Yishau
  • Mountain of Yesterday, Tony Nwaka
  • Neglected, Lucy Chiamaka Okwuma
  • The Colours of Hatred, Obinna Udenwa
  • The Girl with The Louding Voice, Abi Dare
  • The Return of Half- Something, Chukwudi Eze
  • The Son of The House, Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia
  • Your Church My Shrine, Law Ikay Ezeh

Kudos also to the organisers whose vision made the event possible = CORA/NLNG.

THE PLOT

Bobo-Tunde was fished out of the lagoon yester-night

And Mama-Tunde wept and wept and wept

Here, she pointed, why did he not use this? At least the fishes would have spared his body

But Baba-Tunde was also staring at the looped rope, hanging un-used from the ceiling fan hook

And wondering why Bobo-Tunde opted instead for the lagoon death-dive.

Not only they: every other hands-on-the-head-in-disbelief wondered why Bobo-Tunde did it

And why he chose the lagoon flight path

Only Sista-Tunde, already reduced to tributaries of salt-water,

 had the answer

In the black box, his brother’s suicide note

Tell, us, tell us, they ask her, tell us why he did it:

why this promising young man blew out the flames of his own sun before his day could call itself dawn.

 Sista-Tunde harvested remnant words from her tongue

like grandma from her herder-ravaged farm

then cleared her throat:

It is not the cost of application forms

for government jobs already given out to the favoured…

O it is the plot, then..

What plot?

The plot that kills faster than suicide:

the plot of the graph of the rise in the price of garri?

No, not the plot!

What is it then? the mourners demanded

Bobo-Tunde is not asking for heaven on earth

His note says simply

 Free#LeahSHARIBU

HAVE A HAPPY WORLD POETRY DAY

(If you can!)

VAL’S TRYING SPORT

I must make a confession here: Imminent River might have stolen the show put up by the top – and not quite top – brass of Port Harcourt’s literati at my three-book presentation 3rd February 2020, but the book after my own heart is The Sea Route to Señorita’s   Heart. The story of Belema, even outside her double life as Señorita, is one that moves even stone-me to tears. To think of her emotional ordeal at the hands of her husband, Mlame, the art-possessed paintbrush entrepreneur! And then to have to clean up your eyes so you can see your own daughter as a teen mum – so rendered by another vanishing artiste undone by his own penile restlessness.

 Come on mate: this single tree does not make a VALENTINE’S DAY forest, but it won’t be for want of trying! Please forgive my self-promotion and enjoy the story.

For soft copies visit konga .com and Amazon.com and enter search for The Sea Route to Señorita’s Heart . For the good old hard copy visit any major bookshop in Nigeria, including:

PH:

*BOOKVILL :  2 Ezimgbu, off Mummy B/Stadium Road jcn;                                                                           –*CUPA BOOKS:  35 Rumualogu/Uniport Road, Rumualogu, P.H.;                                                                      *HOUSE OF GRACE BOOKSHOP:  Woji Road, by YKC, Woji ;                                                                                                               *HOTEL PRESIDENTIAL:  Bookstand,Rumuola,  PH;                                                                                                        *PERAZIM BOOKSHOP:  (HappyBite bookstand), opp Airforce Base

*BOOKS-ON-THE-LOOSE :   35, Uyo Street, off Stadium Road

*CHAPTERS BOOKSTORE:  46, Ekenewon, Oludi Street, Orazi, PH

ABUJA:

*The Booksellers Ltd:  City Plaza,  Area Eleven, Garki II,                                                               *Salamander Café:     5, Bujumbura St, Off Libreville St/Aminu Kano Crescent, Wuse II

LAGOS:

* Books and More:  Freedom Park, Lagos Island.

 *Quintessence: Falomo,  Ikoyi, etc; 

*Pls also contact Narrative Landscape Press, Anthony Village, or

*The BookFair Trust and

* Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Lagos, office.                                                               

YENAGOA

The NEW EBITARE BOOK HOUSE:

410, Melford Okilo Expressway, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

OWERRI: 

*New Ameiz Int’l Book spot,  34 Okigwe Road ;

*HomeCare Supermarket, 26 PH Road, Owerri

IBADAN:

*The Booksellers:  52, Magazine Road Jericho;                                                                                                                   *Options Books and Info Services Ltd:  142 Oyo Rd, opp. NISER

* Evangel Bookshop:  SW 8/685 Dapo Allied Building, Lagos Expressway Round-about, Challenge, Ibadan

*EKET/AKWA IBOM STATE

BOLDOZ Bookstore

21, Afaha Uqua Road, Eket

ALTERNATIVELY:

(a)