Writings of the general word's body
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
- Image from the Funky Stuff website
Reading the 'Letters to the Editor' section of the free Metro newspaper on the morning of June 3, 2003, a letter about the British public's fascination with David Beckham's then short-lived corn-rowed hairstyle - caught my eye (see on the right, as cut out a pasted into my notebook). I read the correspondent's name and it was signed by none other than Obotunde Ijimere whose book - The Imprisonment of Obatala and Other Plays - I bought in Nairobi, Kenya in 1995 and have treasured since.
The Imprisonment of Obatala carries on its inside cover an image of the 'author', a Yoruba man with facial marks, said have been a member of Duro Ladipo's theatre troupe, who was then encouraged by Ulli Beier to write in English. Or so it goes... But popular lore has since led one to understand that Obotunde Ijimere is the pseudonym used by Beier himself, and that some notable others (of the Mbari Mbayo Group) are said to borrow the name now and then. All of which make the letter in the Metro all the more fascinating.
I should have known from the start that the name is a pseudonym anyhow, since both the first and last names - 'Obotunde Ijimere' are very poetic references to Yoruba names for monkey species.
Obotunde Ijimere has been called the phantom of Nigerian literature, having the agility of a monkey or a trapeze artist, the cunning and the trickery.
Now you see him, now you don't.
I read Flora Nwapa's books Efuru and Idu as a child and I was fascinated by her descriptions of a blue lake. Last year, I visited relatives in Ogwashi Uku, Delta State. My uncle took me to see many of the different rivers and lakes surrounding Ogwashi. This reawakened a desire to see Flora Nwapa's blue lake, Lake Oguta. After some arm-twisting on my part, a few days later, I set out for Imo State with 3 others in my uncle's old 504. We arrived at the lake and it was even more beautiful than I'd imagined. Since we were in Oguta I felt I had to pay my respects to the woman who opened doors for many African women writers. We visited the Nwakuche compound and although none of the family were home, the groundskeeper listened to the story of how we came to Oguta and let us see the grounds and take a picture of Flora Nwapa's final resting place.
- Words and Image © Omolola Ijeoma Ogunyemi
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie reads from her second novel Half of a Yellow Sun...
- Quintessence, Lagos on January 5th 2007 @ 4pm
- Novotel, Port Harcort on January 6th @ 12.30pm
- Jazzhole, Lagos on January 11th @ 5pm
- LASU/Bookworm - Lagos - on January 12th @ 10am/5pm
- The British Council, Abuja on January 13th
Tanure Ojaide reads from his novel, The Activist.
- Novotel, Port Harcourt on December 30th 2006 @ 12.30pm
Read Wole Oguntokun's Review of The Activist.
Took a night-time stroll through Trafalgar Square about 8.30pm on Thursday December 21st, and these are some of the scenes. The daytime throngs of tourists were gone from around the fountains and the bronze lions at the foot of Nelson's Column but there was still some activity. A small crowd watched carol singers being filmed under the giant Christmas tree in one corner, but the rest of the square was deserted and calm. The ground was beginning to glaze over with ice from the chilly weather and did not invite walking. Still I was drawn to the white marble sculpture of Alison Lapper which now graces the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square.
Many public figures (including Nelson Mandela) were considered for the once empty fourth plinth, but the honour went to disabled artist Alison Lapper who was born with shortened legs and no arms. Sculpted by Marc Quinn and unveiled in September 2005, the sculpture shows Lapper when she was over 8 months pregnant, and represents the only female figure in the square. The other statues in the square are darkish in colour (Nelson is pale - probably white marble too - but he is so far up in the sky that he hardly comes into the reckoning at ground level). And, lit up from below, Lapper's portrait glows radiantly at night. And it was this that stopped me going straght into the underground station as planned - and drew me into the square instead.
Monday, December 18, 2006
A scene from Jasonvision's production of Ola Rotimi's play, The Gods Are Not To Blame. Directed by Wole Oguntokun, the play was staged in Lagos as part of the Muson Arts Festival, on October 28.
Wole Oguntokun is in the directorial mode again on Boxing Day. He directs Wole Soyinka's The Swamp Dwellers - as part of the Jasonvision Legend Series.
The Swamp Dwellers is on at the Agip Hall, Muson Centre, Lagos, on Tuesday December 26 @ 3pm & 6pm.
Tickets cost N2000 for Adults/ N1000 for students (with ID).
There is a musical pre-show with the group, Nefretiti feat. Adunni.
For information & tickets, please call: 0802 301 3778 / 01- 897 1691 / 01- 813 6229.
- The Gods Are Not To Blame image - courtesy of Wole Oguntokun
- The above is extracted from Becky Clarke's introduction to the current issue of Crossing Borders Magazine, which offers up new short stories by African writers including Jackee Budesta Batanda and Blessing Musariri. Read it all here.
In a new story by Nadine Gordimer published in The New Yorker, a South African woman contends with a sense that her husband, a cellist, is having an affair. In this excerpt, she wonders who the other woman might be...
Or was the woman nearer home? A member of the national orchestra in which he and his cello were star performers? That was an identification she found hard to look for, considering their company of friends in this way. A young woman, of course, a younger woman than herself. But wasn’t that just the inevitable decided at her mother’s tea-table forum? The clarinet player was in her late forties, endowed with fine breasts in décolleté and a delightful wit. There was often repartee between them, the clarinet and the cello, over drinks. The pianist, young with waist-length red-out-of-the-bottle hair, was a lesbian kept under strict guard by her woman. The third and last female musician in the orchestra was also the last whom one would be crass enough to think of: her name was Khomotso; she was the second violinist of extraordinary talent, one of the two black musicians. She was so young; she had given birth to an adored baby, who, for the first few months of life, had been brought to rehearsals in the car of Khomotso’s sister so that the mother could suckle the infant there. The director of the orchestra gave an interview to a Sunday newspaper about this, as an example of the orchestra’s adaptation to the human values of the new South Africa. The violinist was certainly the prettiest, the most desirable, of the women in whose company the cellist spent the intense part of his days and nights, but respect, his human feeling, would be stronger than sexual attraction, his identification with her as a musician would make distracting her from that taboo. As for him, wouldn’t it look like the old South Africa—a white man “taking advantage of” the precariously balanced life of a young black woman?
Sunday, December 17, 2006
under the lone glow
an island of attention,
a vulnerable picture –
pouring out your heart,
a river of candid songs.
How come such tenderness,
from a heart full of scars?
You teach me forgiveness
under a tungsten lamp.
O Songstress, O Songstress,
I hear this river of songs –
sometimes as fast as a flood,
now and again slow as twilight –
pouring out of your wounded heart.
How come such passion
from a soul full of fissures?
You teach me endurance
on a loney island.
O Songstress, O Songstress,
I hear this river of songs
sometimes soft as a whisper,
streaming out of your heart.
© Emman Usman Shehu
- Published in the Sunday Sun, Lagos, on 26 November 2006. Reproduced with permission.
Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun
By Amanta Usukpam Ukpaghiri
I finished reading Half of a Yellow Sun and was left with a lingering sense of sadness at having completed the novel too quickly. I wished it continued and that l continued to read it, perhaps, for a very long time. It is a masterpiece of a work, destined to be a classic; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has trod where many others have feared to tread. She has taken the pain and suffering and horror of a people – the Igbos -- and given them novelistic prominence, and by so doing, asked historical questions that still demand answers. She, in effect, stands athwart the current amnesia in Nigeria and requests that the country comes to terms with the Igbo sub-nationality and either accept it as a full member of the polity -- or leave it alone to its own devices. Admirably, she is (as she said in an interview) “insistently and consciously” Igbo – and unlike several economic climbers in today’s Nigeria, is never shamelessly apologetic that she is Igbo.
This book is truly more than a novel – although even as a novel, it is extremely well crafted, brimming with characters that come alive and leap off the pages and embody events that unquestionably took place in the history of Nigeria. Indeed, this book is a form of historical narrative that tells the story of Igbos’ vibrant engagement with Nigeria in the 1960s before the civil war, the massacres of tens of thousands of Igbos following military intervention in politics, and the period of the civil war itself from 1967 to 1970.
Chimamanda has achieved several noble things with one stroke. She has furnished literature with simple, elegant and sharp sentences and a (albeit horror) story beautifully woven together in paragraph after paragraph. She has also written a history of the Igbos during a certain period of time. Finally she has presented a literary monument to love and relationships and hope and human dignity. Her characters - - their lives, their triumphs, and their failures – speak to the enduringness of love and truth and the dominance of the human spirit.
It is simply amazing that Chimamanda is only 28 years’ old -- she was born 7 years after the war ended. Yet she tells her story with a level of insight, maturity, compassion, knowledge and deftness that belies her age. It is abundantly clear that her writing is the product of tremendous research on her part of the events that led up to and including the civil war. This is fiction based on facts – or “faction.”
Chimamanda’s characters are seen in every day life in Nigeria. Ugwu exists in several houseboys in Nigeria with ambition and intelligence who continue to rise by dint of application of their brains and hard work and focus to attainment of lives of accomplishment. Ugwu’s sense of ownership of his Master, Madam and Baby is quite widespread among faithful houseboys. Odenigbo – the professor of mathematics at University of Nigeria, Nsukka -- is the quintessential intellectual, perhaps, with his head caught up in the clouds with numerous ideological constructs and deconstructs. Kainene and Olanna are extremely human characters whose sisterly relationship with each other ironically blossomed in the midst of the war – and became warmer as they came to experience the horrors of the civil war together. Richard comes across as familiarly tragic – wanting to belong to and in Biafra and never belonging or never accepted as belonging.
Which brings us to the concept of belonging. It is a concept that Chimamanda explores in her novel. Miss Adebayo was never seen as belonging; and of course, neither was Richard. Indeed, the Igbos who had lived in the Northern part of Nigeria for several decades were never seen as belonging. Nor were the Igbos who had lived in Lagos: Chinua Achebe escaped death in Lagos during the massacre of Igbos by a hairsbreadth. The parallels between Igbos and the Jews are really striking. Belonging is a potent concept; witness the current acrimonious debate raging in the industrialized countries over immigration, which is inextricably linked to who belongs and who does not.
This is a story that has universal applications even as it is largely set in Igbo land. It tells the story of political conflict and war and love and hate and betrayal and oppression and human affirmation that is contemporary and resonates with the human condition.
It will be eminently interesting to see how this “transcendent novel” in the words of Publishers Weekly – which has been received with great literary acclaim in the United States and Europe – will be received in Nigeria. It is safe to predict that it will be seen in certain quarters through dogmatic lenses that will uncritically seek to brazenly question the novel’s premises. But this will be largely besides the point – because Chimamanda has rendered a classic and has told a story about a historical necessity – the defense of and by a people from being wiped out from the face of the map.
Just a few quibbles. It was 20 and not 50 pounds that was vengefully decreed by the Government of Nigeria as the amount to be (and which was) given in exchange for all the money held by each former Biafran. Before the war, Cross River Igbos would have been referred to as Bende people and not Imo people. And the settlement in Port-Harcourt would have been called Umuokirisi and not Rumuokirisi – that came after the war. But these are mere quibbles and do not affect the historical accuracy of the novel regarding the lives and times of the Igbos before and during the civil war.
Chimamanda has rightly been described as the 21st-century successor to Chinua Achebe, and she indeed displays the same sophisticated simplicity in her writing and similar deep historical insights laced with philosophical wisdom. Indeed, Achebe describes her as being “endowed with the gift of ancient storytellers” and asserts that she “came almost fully made.” The serious bent of her writings is to be widely applauded. There surely is a literary ferment afoot among young Nigerian writers in the diaspora. And Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is at the crest of that ferment. To end with Achebe’s words: In writing Half of a Yellow Sun, “Adichie knows what is at stake and what to do about it.”
Amanta Usukpam Ukpaghiri
Monday, December 11, 2006
Tolu Ogunlesi's short story about a 14-year-old girl who asks the reader to avoid Made-in-Nigeria condoms - is published in the current issue of Litro.
Here's an excerpt from Seahorses...
This is where a diary comes in handy. Was it Janet Jackson or someone else who said a diary is where you can take your time to put the pieces of your life together. You have really matured, come a long way. From the infatuation-infested diaries of two years ago... A diary is where you can put your life together again. A diary is where you can play God. A diary is where you rule over time.
But there is a snag. You have never been good at creative writing. You remember only too well your literature teacher's remarks in your report card last term. Actually, you cant remember her exact words, but you remember the feeling you had when you held the card in your hands.
Now, here is another chance at creative writing, this time without the unease of knowing that some frustrated novelist posing as literature teacher might murder it with angry red ink.
So what's it all about? Are there seahorses in it? Read on.
The Index ranked among few precious others - New Beacon Bookshop on Stroud Green Road in Finsbury Park is the one that comes readily to mind. The Africa Book Centre in Covent Garden was a well known one (like the others much too small to stock everything in their specialised area); it has closed up shop and they only sell by mail order only.
And now the Index Bookshop has closed. It closed down last year and I only found out today - the hard way. I can't believe I had stayed away from the shop up to a year. And I have been in the Brixton area recently without looking over to ensure the store was there; I suppose I always thought it would be there. Well, today, I went looking for the Index Bookshop (I sometimes deliberately stay away from such places for the same reason I sometimes go; I'd end up staying too long in there and I'd spend more than was prudent) - just to browse, to marvel, and maybe buy a book or two if they proved irresistible.
I got to where the Index was and - the horror! A brand new fishmonger had opened where it used to be! Yet another fishmonger in addition to the countless others in Brixton market, and no Index Bookshop! When the fish-sellers asked if I needed help (to buy fish), they must have been taken aback to hear me ask for books, the bookshop, instead.
It was a sad walk back to Brixton Station in the rain. I guess I'll have to make my way to The New Beacon more often then. Long may the New Beacon stay open, but the closure of the Index Bookshop is a big loss.
Many issues on Slavery debated on the day. The Royal Geographical Society was a place when, in the heyday of Slavery, English adventurers and 'discoverers' came to display the goods and trophies they had brought with them from their traves. The 'goods' included Africans in bondage. (As it happens, an exhibition of West African Mud Architecture, Butabu by James Morris - taken on his traves in Senegal, Benin Republic, Mali and Northern Nigeria - was on display in another part of the building. I interviewed Morris and wrote about the same exhibition, held at another venue, back in 2004)
As I walked around the Royal Geographical Society on the day, my thoughts were on ages past. And looking for the merest echoes of painful history, these were the sights that caught my camera's eye.
- Wooden figure guards the 'Minstrels' Gallery;
- The second photo, on the stairway, points the way to the lavatories;
- The fellow in the 3rd photo looks away from you whilst you're in the toilet; and
- One of the Zanzibar Chests on display.
Award winning poet, Kwame Dawes joins Peepal Tree Press, the leading publisher of Caribbean literature and Black British literature, as Associate Poetry Editor from January 2007.
Kwame Dawes is the author of 14 collections of poetry, including the winner of the Forward Poetry Prize - Best First Collection for Progeny of Air, published by Peepal Tree Press (1994). He currently holds the position of Distinguished Poet In Residence and Louise Fry Scudder Professor of Liberal Arts at the University of South Carolina.
Dawes has published 7 of his collections, including his New and Selected Poems, with Peepal Tree Press as well as a collection of short stories, a memoir and other non-fiction titles.
His role will be to build the poetry list for this specialist independent press that celebrates its 21st anniversary this month. Dawes will select four new poetry manuscripts a year, from Caribbean poets from the islands and the diaspora and new Black British poets, many of whom he has worked with over the past 10 years, when he started the Afro Poetry School in London. This ‘School’ nurtured poets such as Chris Abani, Bernardine Evaristo and Dorothea Smartt, the latter two whom both published their first collections of poetry with Peepal Tree Press. Dawes will also be editing the forthcoming anthology, RED, a contemporary collection of Black British poets to be published in Autumn 2007, the first such anthology of contemporary Black British poets since The Fire People, nearly ten years ago.
Dawes said: “The aim is to make Peepal Tree Press a first stop for poets interested in books of impeccable design, solid editing, and a strong support system for the authors and the promotion of the work.”
On accepting this new position, Dawes said: “I am a Peepal Tree poet who has gained a great deal from this relationship. I have full belief in the quality of the poets already published by the press, but I also have a clear vision of how this press can grow and how Caribbean poetry can be enhanced by the work that Peepal Tree does."
"Above all, I am committed to the long term survival and growth of Peepal Tree Press, and if I can play some part in ensuring that it continues to improve as a publishing house, then that would make me happy.”
Dawes has great ideas and visions for what he intends to achieve, both for Peepal Tree Press and poetry in Britain:
“I want to help the press streamline its brand, to ensure that what we call a ‘Peepal Tree poetry book’ has a character, a quality and a certain identity that is distinctive.”
He believes that his involvement will be of particular significance for Black British poets:
“Peepal Tree's Caribbean list is already impressive; we want to sharpen the brand of what we publish in terms of quality and daring. We want to commit to poets, not just to a single book. At the same time, we want Peepal Tree to be a first stop for Black British poets--a venue that will produce work of the highest standard and that will, ultimately, challenge the somewhat homogenous output of the major British poetry houses. Peepal Tree Press can be one of those publishing houses that will infuse dynamic work into the market by introducing new and exciting poets to the list.”
Jeremy Poynting, publisher and founding editor of Peepal Tree Press, said that Dawes is the the right person at the right time for the future development of Peepal Tree’s poetry list:
“We are absolutely delighted to welcome Kwame Dawes to the team. We have been in existence for 21 years and taking on Kwame is part of an extensive review of where we have come from and where we want to go. We are justly proud of the poetry collections we have published in the past, but what we felt we needed was to refresh and reshape our purpose. I knew that we needed someone with a sure eye for the future and the capacity to work closely with new poets on the development of their work. Having worked with Kwame over the past dozen years, I recognise him as not only the leading Caribbean poet of his generation, but also as someone with the highest editorial standards and generous but exacting skills in working with other writers. We look forward to a long and fruitful relationship.”
2006 Prince Claus Award to Committee of Relevant Art (CORA)
On Thursday, 14 December 2006, the Nigerian organisation CORA (Commitee of Relevant Art) will bepresented with one of this year’s Prince Claus Awards of € 25.000 by The Netherlands’ Ambassador to Nigeria,H.E. Mr. Arie van der Wiel.
According to the Jury of the Prince Claus Awards, the Committee for Relevant Art (CORA) is a unique Nigerian organisation that creates spaces to engage the publicin debate on cultural issues. Started in 1991 as anon-profit, non-governmental activist organisation, CORA’s aim is to explore all legitimate means to create an environment for the flourishing of contemporary culture in Nigeria, in particular to make the arts a lively, social and enjoyable experience for all people especially the young generations and to create a culture-friendly society.
CORA organises the quarterly Art Stampede, known as the ‘parliament of artists’, a lively, open-air, informal, discursive platform on burning issues in the arts where leading figures and invited international artists engage in public discussion and workshop-like sessions. Central issues have included the quality of recent Nigerian literature, special editions on Wole Soyinka and Okwui Enwezor, and artists as arbiters in political crisis. CORA organises an annual Cinema Carnival showcasing outdoor screenings of high quality African films. It also organises the annual Lagos Book and Art Festival, an open-air popular market featuring live music, drama and dance, activity workshops for kids, poetry and literature readings, book parties and seminars. CORA publishes ‘Lagos: The City Arts Guide’, a quarterly calendar of cultural events, listings, previews and reviews.
CORA has worked in the complex environment of Lagos, with neither government nor foreign donor support, for 15 years. It is building audiences for all branches of the arts and provides support for the work of artists and intellectuals. It is a democratic organisation run by a collective of involved citizens with current officers, Toyin Akinoso and Jahman Anikulapo. This award highlights the contributions of committed citizens, the role of local energy and initiatives in stimulating the arts and the importance of creating spaces of freedom, debate and cultural exchange.
The Prince Claus Fund is a platform for inter cultural exchange. The Fund is named after H.R.H Prince Claus, the late spouse of H.R.H. Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands. The Prince Claus Awards are presented to artists and intellectuals who have made outstanding contributions to the field of culture and development. The awards are given to individuals, groups and organisations around the globe, but primarily in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. The Prince Claus Awards recognise artistic and intellectual qualities that are relevant in the contemporary context. They aim to support experimentation, to appreciate audacity and tenacity, to legitimise, to increase impact and to provide others with inspiration.
This year’s Principal Prince Claus Award (EUR 100,000) was presented on Wednesday 13 December in Amsterdam to Iranian graphic designer Reza Abedini. The other ten Prince Claus Awards 2006 of EUR 25,000 will be presented to visual artist Lida Abdul (Afghanistan), cultural organizer Christine Tohme (Lebanon), writer Erna Brodber (Jamaica), publisher Henry Chakava (Kenya), poet Frankétienne (Haiti), actor Madeeha Gauhar (Pakistan), performance artist Michael Mel (Papua New Guinea), the Committee for Relevant Art (Nigeria), Al Kamandjati Association for music lessons(Palestine), and the National Museum of Mali in Bamako (Mali).
Royal Netherlands Embassy Abuja
By Uduma Kalu http
GRADUALLY, and unexpectedly, a white body of a woman washed ashore. The crowd at the Labadi beach, Ghana, took a close look at it. It was the body of the poet, lecturer and former literary judge of the Association Nigerian Authors, (ANA), Lynn Chukura. She was teaching English at the University of Legon, Ghana.
Just recently, a member of a listserve had inquired about her. Lynn had also sent a poem, "Identity" for an anthology being edited by a Nigerian lady living in the United States of America. She was thinking of publishing her novel, "The Man", in the United States of America. Her earlier collection of poems, Archetyping, got an ANA honourable mention.
If there was any doubt among the onlookers at the beach that it was Lynn, the press statement that followed entitled" Obituary Notice: Re: Ms. Mary Lynn Olisa Chukura", wiped all that thinking away.
The statement, released by Kofi Anyidoho, Professor and Head of the English Department, University of Legon, Ghana remarked that "It is with deep regret that I write to announce the death of our colleague Ms. Mary Lynn Olisa Chukura, Senior Lecturer in the Department of English. Ms. Chukura drowned in the ocean at Labadi on Tuesday 21st November 2006.
"Ms. Chukura joined the English Department of University of Ghana as a Senior Lecturer on 17th February, 2003, from Nigeria, where she had had a long and active career at the University of Lagos. She has been a very dedicated and effective member of the faculty, with responsibility for a number of our core courses. Her death comes as a great loss to the department and the university.
"An American citizen from Lancaster in Pennsylvania, Ms. Chukura was born on 14th June, 1950, at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, with Kilheffer as her family name. She is survived by Mr. Udemezuo Onuora Nwuneli of Lagos, aged 32, and his two sisters Nkem and Nancy Nwuneli, currently living in the USA."
Arrangements for the funeral, he continued, showed that Lynn's body was laid in state last Saturday, December 9, from 7:00 - 9:45 am, at the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, University of Ghana, Legon. Burial Mass was at the same day at the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, University of Ghana, Legon, while the Final Funeral Rites held same day also, at The University Guest Centre, Legon. The Thanksgiving Mass was yesterday, Sunday, December 10, at 9:00 am. St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, University of Ghana, Legon.
Another press statement also appeared last week. Entitled, "Tears Drop..." the message came from Lookman Sanusi and Nike Adesuyi, For The Lynn Chukura Committee.
The duo while announcing "Ms. Lynn Chukura (Nee Kilheffer) writer, literary critic and university teacher, mother, grandmother, sister and aunty, who passed away on Tuesday 21st November 2006 in Legon Ghana," went on to say that Lynn served for several years on the selection panel for Association of Nigerian Authors Literature Prizes where she contributed in no small measure in advancing the cause and course of Modern Nigerian writing.
"A Thanksgiving Mass will hold in her honour in Lagos Nigeria, on Tuesday, 12th December at St Dominic Catholic Church, Yaba Lagos. All friends, well wishers, former students, colleagues , most especially the Lagos/Ibadan literary community are enjoined to attend and pay their final respect to this great woman who gave so much of herself and her endowments towards the development of literature in Nigeria."
Lynn was a good swimmer and would often boast about it. She preferred to swim in the open sea because she felt natural waters have spiritual effect.
Since these announcements, writers, the world over, as expected, have been paying tributes to her. Some of the tributes remember the assistance she rendered to the writers and their associations. One in particular mentioned her political activism. Lynn resigned her appointment at the University of Lagos because her branch of Academic Staff Union of Universities, (ASUU), betrayed the struggle of the union in 1996.
Also Dr. Wumi Raji was sacked along with his colleagues by the University of Ilorin in 2001, Lynn tried her best to get Raji placed at the University of Lagos.
The bulk of the tributes to Lynn emphasise her literary contributions and achievements. She reviewed Maik Nwosu's Alpha Song at the French Cultural Centre, at the presentation some years back. ANA former scribe, Nduka Otiono, remembered "that Lynn just wasn't one of the most reliable judges ANA ever had, she lived a life of sacrifice for others, and was always ready to help. As Gen Sec of ANA, I sought and received her co-operation to prepare that comprehensive Guidelines for ANA Prizes on ANA website, which was adapted for the NLNG Prize and other prizes. And when she relocated to Ghana while her tenure as Judge was still valid, she accepted to complete her term if I could ship entries for the year's ANA Prizes to her in Accra.
"Clearly, she deserves an honour from ANA and WRITA for her selfless contributions to new Nigerian writing--as Judge, teacher, mentor, thoroughbred Editor, exemplary membership, etc, " he wrote.
Lynn was a regular presence at most literary activities. She was an executive member at the Women Writers of Nigeria (WRITA) and Lagos branch of ANA. Some of the national conventions she attended are also remembered by some of the writers. The writers expressed her commitment to literature, literary meetings in Benin City, Jos, Asaba, Kaduna, since 1994, and her editorial helps and as MUSON judge. Lynn shared some of her writings too, one of them said. One of the works was "The Man".
Those that were teachers also said they read and taught Lynn's story at the University of Jos, adding that Lynn would be remembered for her feminist vision in Nigerian literature.
- Culled from The Guardian, Lagos - Monday 11 December, 2006.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Chukura taught Literature at the University of Lagos for about 24 years before she moved to Ghana. A contributor to the 2005 anthology, Short Stories by 16 Nigerian women (with her story, Birds of Darkness), Ms Chukura was on the staff at the University of Ghana at the time of her passing.
From Nigeria to Ghana, the literary community mourns.
The Obituary notice from the University of Ghana, below....
Ms. Mary Lynn Olisa Chukura
It is with deep regret that I write to announce the death of our colleague Ms. Mary Lynn Olisa Chukura, Senior Lecturer in the Department of English. Ms. Chukura drowned in the ocean at Labadi on Tuesday 21st November 2006.
Ms. Chukura joined the English Department of University of Ghana as a Senior Lecturer on 17th February, 2003, from Nigeria, where she had had a long and active career at the University of Lagos. She has been a very dedicated and effective member of the faculty, with responsibility for a number of our core courses. Her death comes as a great loss to the department and the university.
An American citizen from Lancaster in Pennsylvania, Ms. Chukura was born on 14th June, 1950, at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, with Kilheffer as her family name. She is survived by Mr. Udemezuo Onuora Nwuneli of Lagos, aged 32, and his two sisters Nkem and Nancy Nwuneli, currently living in the USA.
Arrangements for the funeral are as follows:
- Laying in State: Saturday, 9th December 2006, 7:00 – 9:45 am, at the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, University of Ghana, Legon.
- Burial Mass: Saturday, 9th December 2006, 9:00 am, at the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, University of Ghana, Legon.
- Final Funeral Rites: Saturday, 9th December 2006: The University Guest Centre, Legon.
- Thanksgiving Mass: Sunday, 10th December 2006 at 9:00 am. St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, University of Ghana, Legon.
Professor & Head of Department
You know very well how I treasure your person and your poetry. I still do. What I now find offensive is your revealed unwillingness to accommodate another person's opinion about poetry and society.
I honestly don't think that wisdom ends on your doorstep. It is not and has never been my intention to pander to your ideological position on writing. Hold your literary beliefs for I zealously cling to my own.
As a respected figure in the poetry circuit, you ought to know the virtue of diversity in that genre. We can't and should not desire to write the same way. When you criticised Wole Soyinka and Christopher Okigbo in your various talks and articles, you did that in the light of your understanding of what poetry is and what function poetry ought to perform. Nobody as far as I know has bullied you for holding those opinions. The writing universe is a large one. It can contain all shades of styles and ideas. For you to go about carrying on as if I have insulted you or knocked your head simply because I aired my view on poetry is very disconcerting. You have been inspirational to me because of your single-minded devotion to the art of writing. You still have my admiration but please allow me to be. Allow me to react to the world in my own way. Allow me to speak in my own way. Allow me to write in my own way.
I seriously disagree with you in saying that I contradicted myself in the poem titled "In The Bullring" which I recently published in the Daily Times. Political poetry is just one among the many kinds that I write. I have never urged for the obliteration of political or socially-conscious poetry. I simply noted that the writing of political poems (many of them trashy) mainly as a means of courting acclaim and acceptance in the Nigerian writing scene as is currently the vogue is hypocritical. Screaming slogans in poems is not the only way that one can show his or her commitment to the betterment of this nation. Politics is not the hold-all of a writer's thematic thrust. I don't want to see poetry narrowed insidiously to any one form, theme or function.
© Uche Nduka
- Taken from Belltime Letters by Uche Nduka (Newleaf Press, Bremen, 2000). Reproduced with permission.
- Uche Nduka's poetry appears in this month's special 4th anniversary edition of Sentinel Poetry Online.
Chimurenga Vol 10: “Futbol, Politricks and Ostentatious Cripples”
The new issue of Chimurenga is, yes, about football. And politics. But no, we are not talking about soccer as a capitalist apparatus, or as a substitute for war, or about South Africa’s ability to successfully host the 2010 World Cup, or about Fifa’s global developmentalist rhetoric – the writing and art actively side-step football clichés and branded discourses.
We chose instead to scope the stadia, markets, ngandas and banlieues to spotlight narratives of love, hate and the wide and deep spectrum of emotions and affiliations that the game generates. Because, after all, if you want to pitch it hardcore political, the playing field is the only area that Fifa does not and can not fully control – everything else is board-room approved.
But. Power, board-roomed or otherwise, must be confronted. Hence the issue is framed by two perspectives from Latin America, sure to inject some criticality in 2010 euphoria: the reader will enter the Argentinean fish-tank (where militants disappeared for death or brainwashing) during the 1978 World Cup, for an ethical exploration with activist Graciela Daleo, and emerge for a deep breath with Gustavo Esteva, who extracts the essence of the Zapatista movement as a radicalisation of democracy.
Between these you will find Of Fabric and Football – a travelogue in 5 parts that delivers idiosyncratic and powerful points of view on the ‘beautiful game’. Binyavanga Wainaina, with an acerbic tongue and an ironic eye, captures the chaos and transactions, the passions and textures of Togo, Ghana, and the Entire Continent Everywhere during the 2006 World Cup. Knox Robinson writes of the relationship between player and space; Diouf and Leopold Sedar Senghor stadium in Dakar; Eto’o and Yaounde’s drinking spots; Drogba and Houphouet Boigny airport in Abidjan (read an excerpt in today’s Sunday Times Lifestyle). Simon Kuper (Football against the Enemy) conducts an off-centre interview with bush war veteran, Liverpool great and droll football manager Bruce Grobbelaar (and other Whitemen who run football in Kaapstad). Peter James Hudson time-travels to 16thC Spain and its infamous Catholic-inspired inquisition. Novelist Patrice Nganang establishes, in Camfranglais, football violence (and the rivalry between the country’s top teams Canon and Union) as a metaphor to explore political violence in Cameroon in the early 90s.
In a stand-alone piece Peter Alegi (Laduma! Soccer, Politics and Society in SA), investigates the 2001 Ellis Park football disaster in Johannesburg, concluding with a meticulous indictment of the soccer bosses’ and the government’s roles before, during and after the tragedy.
Poetry finds its expression in two poems by Adriano Sousa (against futebol coaches who should be bullfighters); a poem by Molara Wood (for Marc-Vivien Foe) and poem by Gabeba Baderoon (on God and the Athlone Stadium). Filmmaker Lindiwe Nkutha gives a nuanced short story of hate in the dusty locale of a South African township while Julia Napier evokes the bodylove for the game in her short story about a female footballer.
There is a Tricolour Triptych – head, body and corpses. Firstly, Grant Farred produces a Derridean reading of Zidane’s world-stopping head butt. Secondly, a conversation between Achille Mbembe and Zidane’s teammate Lilian Thuram in the aftermath of the famous coup de boule. Thirdly, in a story of bones, Dominique Malaquais relocates the remains of Frantz Fanon.
There’re two pieces on football and cinema (sort-of):
First, maverick Serbian filmmaker, Emir Kusturica (Time of the Gypsies; Underground), in a conversation with Diego Maradona, the best player EVER and the subject of Kusturica’s documentary-in-progress, about Bush Jr, Castro, John Paul II and the poor of Argentina. And Philippe Parreno, co-maker of the acclaimed Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, talks with Cyril Neyrat about the conceptual, political and technical motivations and processes in the making of the film.
The art and photography are delivered by Buyaphi Mdledle, Gerd Rohling, Andrew Dosunmu, Phillipe Niorthe, Joseph Francis Sumegne, Kwesi Owusu-Ankomah, Kate Simon, Nicola Schwartz, Joel-Peter Witkin and the Cuban Ministry of Information.
The cover is “Table Head (Evora, Portugal)” by Nicola Schwartz
Writing. Art. Politics. Who no know go know.
(ANA) Oyo State Chapter,
With support from Distance Learning Centre, University of Ibadan, Ibadan
Oyo ANA Poetry Writing Retreat/Workshop
Date: Friday 15th to Sunday 17th December, 2006
Venue: African Heritage Research Library Complex, Adeyipo Village, Ibadan
Interested members are expected to pay N700. This amount covers registration and transport to and fro Adeyipo.
Oyo ANA will take care of feeding, accommodation and other exigencies.
You can't afford to miss out.
For further information, contact
Chairman, Oyo ANA
NOTE: Educare Centre, Goshen Suoerstore Building, beside Coca-Cola, Sango, Ibadan, is the converging point for departure to Adeyipo Village
…shell of creativity
Venue: National Library Hall, Opposite Casino Cinema, Alagome, Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria
Date: Every last Saturday of the month (December 30th, 2006)
Time: 3 p.m. prompt.
Admission: Free, Free; Free!
Guest Artiste: Odia Ofeimun
drama: Onileagbon Troupe, music: Are, Awoko and Cornerstone.
Dress Code: Endeavour to come in your native attire.
R.S.V.P: Aderemi Adegbite 08035149337, Ropo Ewenla 08032311574, Lekan Balogun 08027727751
All lovers of literary existence are invited
~ ~ ~ ~
End-of-Year Party for Lagos Writers
Friday, November 24, 2006
Here's Nigerian poet, Chinwe Azubuike meeting Gabeba Baderoon - South Bank Centre, London, 25 October 2006. Read Azubuike's essay and poetry about the recent death of her father and her widowed mother's shocking treatment by the father's family - here.
Here meeting fans and signing his books is Martin Espada who performed on the same bill as Gabeba Baderoon.
Kwame Dawes, though he did not perform on this particular evening, was one of the headliners of Poetry International 2006. I told him I loved his piece in Granta 92, Passport Control (or... "can I be a Jamaican, please?").
Gabeba Baderoon here signs a copy of her latest collection, A Hundred Silences.
- Images taken by MW, South Bank Centre, London, October 25, 2006
I read the obituary
Of a tree, and a toddler fish
I pen a line in the condolence
Register of a cassava-stick
I attend the lying-in-state
Of a youth's dream; a fisherman's destiny
I've heard of death
But death by Oil
Is new, fresh, far
From a cliche.
It is night, yet day
A streetlight of flares
In a land where electricity
Is an abomination,
Where streams are caskets
And the air is a floating pool of
Timed death. Where sea-Shells
Sing night and day in crude tongues,
Throats dried in oil slicks.
I have heard of rigged elections
In this land
But this news of Rig-ged Annihilation
Is Breaking News to me...
I lay a wreath
For a village that used to be.
And read the obituary
Of a tree, and a toddler-fish.
© Tolu Ogunlesi
- Breaking News is taken from the anthology, Dance the Guns to Silence - 100 Poems for Ken Saro Wiwa. Reproduced with permission.
As Onari’s bulge grew, so did Bayo’s infatuation, and the size of Kelechi’s gift offerings – till Onari was living wholly off Kelechi’s fears, and, by self-seeking design, stoking the fire in which her good fortune was smelted.
For instance, with Kelechi around Onari would burst into Bayo’s room and burst out: ‘Feel it, Bayo – touch it! Can you feel the kick? He’s asking for his namesake you know. You have abandoned us.’ Or, lying on her bed with Bayo beside her, and Kelechi banished to a chair and the role of spectator, she would hitch her gown to the top of her thighs and place her ankles on Bayo’s beer-belly, and wheedle: ‘My feet, Bayo. Only your hand does anything for my pains.’ And helplessly Kelechi would return her shy smile, and grip her thigh insides bloody in silent anguish, watching all her efforts destroyed, by a foot massage.
- Read on
- Black Biro is currently the only online literary magazine published within Nigeria. The first issue features short fiction, poetry, essays and visual art.
In The Master, Alfred, a Geography teacher, goes on a long journey, crossing the border from Nigeria to Cameroon - in search of an enigmatic, reclusive writer he worships, named Dankor. On the road, the narrator encounters this woman making a hell of a scene:
"Do you know who I am?"
"No, and I no wan know!"
"Na lie-o. You go know today. Not tomorrow or day after. Go ask anybody on Iweka Road, you pig-mouth! Talking to me like that? Are you crazy? In fat you're more than. Idiot!"
Her cartons and luggage had made it out of the women's stalls, but now a transport union official wanted to prevent her from unloading at the frontage. As she spoke, she handed out each porter's fee and dismissed them.
"Go anywhere and ask about Mama Success. That's me! I have been trading for this market before they born you in the village. Calabar, Bakassi, Malabo. Everywhere. Po. Do you know who built this shop, you goat in slave uniform? Where is Obasi?"
"I dey here-o, Mama," said a stocky man chesting up a bench.
"Who hire this monkey?"
"Clear him out of here one time."
In other news, Nigerian Chika Maureen Ukaigwe is the second placed winner of the 2006 BBC African Performance playwriting competition. Once Upon a Time in Lagos, by Ghanaian Efo Kodjo Mawugbe is joint third winning story.
Winner of the competition is Kenyan John Rigoiyo Gichuki who entered under a name the organisers original thought was Ghanaian. The competition news bafflingly refered to Gichuki's choice as having "entered under a false name!" Exclamation theirs, but I'm surprised. Have they never heard of a pseudonym in writing?
M.G Vassanji and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie are two of the names joining Binyavanga Wainaina (Kenyan Caine winning writer and founder of East Africa's most talked about LitMag, Kwani?) in Nairobi next month for the Kwani? Litfest.
The festival holds between 11 - 28 December 2006.
Writing seminars and workshops (from 15 - 20 December) feature on the programme.
There will be music from DJ Ntone Edjabe, editor of Chimurenga Magazine - the next edition (Futbol & Politricks) will be launched @ the Kwani LitFest on December 14.
Please see the Kwani? LitFest Blog for more info.
Nigerian-born poet and photographer Kole Ade Odutola will read from his poetry collection at the Civic Media Center, Gainesville, Florida. In his poetry, Ade Odutola combines choice Nigerian words and phrases with the English language. The poet is a member of the Association of Nigerian Authors and a founding member of the Coalition of Nigerian Artists. He has worked as a photo journalist and has coordinated the film forum for the Goethe Institute in Lagos. His first volume of poetry, The Poet Fled, was published in 1992; his second, The Poet Bled, appeared in 1998.
Unoma Azuah Reads in California - Nov 30
Unoma Azuah, winner of the 2006 ANA/NDDC Flora Nwapa Prize wor Women Writing - for her novel Sky High Flames - will be reading and signing copies of her book @ the University of California, Pomona. The event takes place in the university's English & Foreign Languages Department as part of the programme, Harvest International.
Sky High Flames is now available in a revised edition.
ANA Abuja Special
The Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Abuja Chapter, announces its special November reading session.
The Guest Writer for the event is Maria Ajima, author of The Web, Cycles, Speaking of Wines and Poems of Sanity. Ajima, an award winning poet and short story writer currently teaches in the English Department of the Benue State University, Makurdi.
All lovers of the literary arts are invited to this event which takes place at Reiz Continental Hotel, behind Nicon Insurance Plaza and adjacent to the National Library, Central Area, Abuja.