Archive for the ‘POST-COLONIAL AFRICAN LITERATURE’ Category
THE VIRGIN AND THE NARROW PATH MOVIE NIGERIAN FORUM, FORUMS, SOCIAL NETWORK, NIGERIA JOB FORUM, BLOG, WEBSITE, SITE, NOLLYWOOD, ONLINE MESSAGE BOARDJanuary 27, 2010
NIGERIAN LITERATURE IS RAISING AGAIN ACCORDING TO BROTHER LINDSEY BARRETT-FROM THE GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER,OCT.17,2009October 17, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Nigeria’s Literature At Odds With Her Poor Politics, Says Lindsay Barrett
LINDSAY Barrett is one Diaspora Pan-Africanist, who boldly stuck out his head in the heady days of the 1960s to relocate from Jamaica to parts of West Africa before settling down finally in Nigeria. He was consumed in the vibrant Literature and cultural life of the land he chose to make his home and significantly made his contributions as journalist and writer. Although in his late 60s, Barrett is still active in his journalistic and creative engagements that have earned him fame. More than these, his relevance as a writer also came to the fore recently when he was shortlisted, along other eight nominees, for the NLNG Prize for Literature with his new work, A Memory of Rivers. However, at the Grand Awards Night ceremony last weekend in Abuja, the judges said no winner emerged, and thus, the prize money of $50, 000 was decreed to be given to the Nigerian Academy of Letters to develop Literature. In this encounter with ANOTE AJELUOROU, Barrett reminisces on the journey back to his African roots and the milestones so far. Excerpts:
IT would look like you have been there forever, even while still having your works relevant to issues of today. When you look back at this long stretch of involvement in Nigerian Literature, what really occurs to you?
I’m always saddened by the fact that Nigeria has produced the greatest body of Literature of relevance and strength of any African nation yet little matching national development. Its work is as important if not more so to the rest of Africa than any national Literature, like South African Literature of resistance, Ghanaian Literature of political awareness. Nigerian Literature has cut across all formulas and yet we have produced a national Literature that seems to be at odds with our seeming inability to get the administrative strength of our nation right.
I came to Nigeria directly because I was influenced by her Literature. I came to Africa because I wanted to renew the spirit of ancestral hope. I felt that there was hope in knowing where you came from and that we could renew our links, that we could strengthen our systems.
But for anybody coming from the Diaspora, you don’t have to choose any one country. Quite frankly, if you come from Jamaica, you may be inclined more to Ghana. There is a strong sense of the Akan story in the Afro-centric areas of Jamaica. If you are from Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba or Brazil, you get inclined to Yoruba. If you come from Haiti, you will look back to Angola or Central Africa. Once you begin to know about cultures, you see similarities, you see polarities that attract you. So, if one is academically inclined, you may have a sense of this root movement. I have not been so inclined. I tried to be a Pan-Africanist. For me I look at the contemporary, political issues and see all Africa’s relevance in trans-nationality terms.
But through Nigeria’s Literature I found that there seemed to be a chart. I saw Nigeria producing such rich Literature. There was no constant interaction between the creative and the service sector. When I came that was a disappointment, but Nigerians continue to be the most creative people, expressing creative elements in African life.
By failing to do something, you inspire criticism. You have Soyinka; you have Chinua Achebe and the rest. So Nigeria is a paradox by failing to meet the expectation of those who have the highest expectation. It throws up incredible responses. And, that keeps happening; that is what creative people do. That is what is happening in Literature today. But unfortunately, look at your media (the Radio, the Television), which should be the public media throwing this expression out so that people become infused with the spirit.
Our modern media is behind in Literature. When I came into this country, I lived on writing at least two serious radio drama every month and I re-branded for four years. I lived on programme production, producing a programme called ‘The story-teller’. I wrote two stories every forth-night. I was paid 7 pounds, 7 shillings but because I had the facility to do that and the medium was there to do it, I could make a living but you can’t do that now. Our media has fallen behind even the musical aspect of the media is less than what it was.
When I came into the country, there was a newspaper called, Daily Express. I remembered that the literary days in the Sunday Express was as good as any newspaper. There were incredible critiques from people like J.P. Clark and others. And so we are living a life where the spirit is willing but the material reflex is weak.
There was a time you had small group talking literary stuffs like the Mbari Club. But such things do not seem to happen any more?
Basically, the tradition did not catch up and take hold of its own creative tone. And we had the period of materialism that came up in the oil boom years, and people became enamoured; these things became less important. What is also probably responsible is the fact that nobody really got around to finding a way to make a living out of the arts as pop music and others.
There’s no one place that Soyinka’s plays are regularly staged and viewed; nowhere, and yet we have so many brilliant playwrights among the old groups that came out of Soyinka – the late Wale Ogunyemi and Bode Sowande and so on. It’s sad because we all lionise Wole. But I always tell my son that the tragedy is, all of you that lionise Wole, how many of you have read his books? But how many of those that shout loudest about Wole actually know something about his works that appeal to them.
I wish that all the taxi drivers had seen the ‘road’ in his plays. I wish everybody that shouts about him really know what Jero is, really could see the role Jero played in his book Trials of Brother Jero. This man is an artist of a popular sensitivity, but he has been put in his compartment and seen as an obscurantist, which he is not to me. We throw up great artists but we do not actually live and believe in their work. We’re all part of the fault, really.
Amongst those personalities you have mentioned: Soyinka, Clark, Okigbo and the rest. Which of them did you have more bonding with at the time?
I don’t see differences; I see similarities. The person who got me this hotel accommodation is Wole’s son, who is like my son like other Wole’s children. They know how I interact with their father. Christopher Okigbo was the first person I really bonded with in this country when I got here and he died shortly after that.
He was the one who put me in Mbari as secretary. J.P. Clark was the person who insisted that I should come to Nigeria when we met in London in 1961 or so. I was producing a programme with some Nigerian writers, and J.P. was one of them. So he said, what the hell are you doing in Europe, a man like you? You belong in Africa; you belong among us. You come to Nigeria; any time you get to Nigeria, you’ll see that we are your people. You know how J.P. talks. I took it as a joke but five years later, I remembered it when I was living in Sierra Leone; and I told myself, why not go to Nigeria?
The truth is that in my life, I just make friends and they all had some meaning to me in their works. J.P. Clark’s The Raft was actually one of the things that drove me to writing plays, and I wrote several plays. I did not act in it but I did effect in a radio production of The Raft in London. And, it was an excellent, extraordinary work.
It reminded very much of my home in Jamaica, my actual home, which is near the sea. When I got to Paris, I wrote a series of plays that were produced. Well, I don’t know where most of my works are, unfortunately. It was during the Commonwealth Festival in 1965. It was a play largely influenced by The Raft. That was a play called John Pukumaka. Pukumaka is a Jamaican term for big stick. They have influenced me in various ways.
Wole strongly influenced me not so much by his works but his activism, social activism. We have not always seen eye to eye, politically; but I strongly respect his commitment to whatever he believes in. After all, when Wole was in detention I was serving the Nigerian government on the federal side seeking to prevent secession. At that time, my biggest fear was the balkanisation of Nigeria.
Some people asked me after nearly 50 years in Nigeria, if that thing happens again, would you be on the same side? Now, I’m not so sure what side I will be. I will just pack my bags and leave. At that time we had this block against Africa’s division, and I empathise and sympathise with Wole’s plight because Wole did not promote secession. Wole believed that we need a different mood in the federal side to encourage the Igbo not to go rather than to fight them physically to prevent them going. That was his theme.
The people I was working with were no less patriotic than him. But they felt that the other side was less altruistic than Wole thought. Of course, in a military era, things were not always as planned. When I was working on the federal side, it was made publicly known that I was praying for and advocating for the release of Wole Soyinka.
I have always gotten away with that in Nigeria. I suppose it’s because I’m a very poor man and nobody thinks I have any interest. So when I make these comments, Wole will say, don’t mind Barrett. But we remain friends even when we fall on different sides on any argument but I will support him to hold his side.
With the kind of disappointment that greeted you on Africa’s failures, why didn’t you pack your bags and head back home to Jamaica or Europe?
Where do I go again? I have made my life here; I’m 68 years. This year I will be 43 years in Africa. I have been back to Europe several times and I have lived elsewhere. I was in Liberia before the civil war came. But it’s not something you can just give up. Remember that the objective I have in coming to Africa will always be there no matter how disappointing I get.
I have several children here and in Liberia, and I live for their sake, whether they know it or not. If I lived in Jamaica or Europe, I could live off writing. But the fulfillment of struggling to put in place the renewal will not be there. I have said I may be disappointed by things that have happened in Nigeria but I’m not totally disappointed by Nigerians because the struggle continues.
Like the event that happened recently (the CORA Party for nine shortlisted poets for the Nigeria Prize for Literature); it means there is progress at certain levels. The other thing is that one doesn’t just give up because your life is not your own. So, I don’t have the right to give up.
I was telling somebody that Nigeria is celebrating her 50th birthday next year. Nearly everyone I told said, what are we celebrating? They said we are celebrating nothing. I said, no; celebrate the fact that you have survived so far because of the civil war of such brutality when you were not 10 years old. And you call yourselves Nigerians 40 years after that civil war.
We who are inside Nigeria tend not to know the extent to which we are actually better off than many others. The challenge that we have to overcome is to assume our full potential, but not to say we have achieved nothing. We have achieved a lot. History has it that Nigeria picked the bills of anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa. Abacha, who we all abuse, is the same who brought peace to Sierra Leone.
Somehow, the President is looking to 2020 to set a target that can be owned. Why don’t we own our mistakes and our triumphs in the last 50 years? We don’t. Nigeria’s failures have been so spectacular that why not just celebrate the fact that we could fail so spectacularly and still be alive?
We seem to over-look not only our potentials but sometimes, willingly fail to recognise the opportunities offered us. We should work harder to own our opportunities more in the next 50 years; that should be our concern.
How familiar are you with writings coming out of Nigeria at the moment? And, are you satisfied?
There are lots of incredible writings going on. One of those I can say without fear of being challenged for nepotism is when I say my son, Igonibare (Igoni Barrett), is one of the finest writers I have seen over the years.
I’m particularly happy to say I have nothing to do with developing his talent. What I did was when I saw his talent I told him I admire it and asked him to keep it up. I have distanced myself from promoting him until he could see any of his achievement, which resulted to his book of poems that is recognised globally as a brilliant work. This made me happy.
But he is not the only one. There’s an interesting thing going on among the women. You have Chimamanda; she is a brilliant writer although I still have my reservations about her style. But, no problem. The real original is Sefi Attah. I haven’t really read much of her works except excerpts on the web but she writes beautifully. There are two others, who have not gotten equal recognitions. One of them is Kaine Agary, who won the LNG prize with Yellow Yellow last year; brilliant book.
Then there is a girl, Bimbola Adelakun with her Under the Brown Rusted Roofs. The book is not well put together. If I had the money I really would have loved to publish that book. It’s an extraordinary book. I find her potentially much more satisfying than Chimamanda, who is, herself, quite a talent. Then there is a book called Burma Boy (by Bandele Thomas, a Nigeria resident in Great Britain); extremely brilliant. Nigeria is producing a national Literature totally at odds with her inability to get her politics and management of her affairs correct.
There is so much other stuffs coming out that is not properly produced, not properly edited and so on. It means there is a lot bubbling in the pot, and how to get it out. What we need today is the coming together of the media to make this industry big.
As it was before, Nigeria Literature is beginning to have world audience again. It had it before, and it’s coming like a second time around. I think government should take note of this and encourage essay competitions, literary clubs in schools. It’s clear that the world wants to hear Nigeria; and, they want to hear something better.
In most parts of the word, Literature has a way of permeating into politics and governance. But here those who govern don’t even read the available books on major issues. Why is this so?
Actually, I can’t agree with you more. Literature elsewhere is an integral part of the spirit of governance because it has influence on those who govern.
I think that in Nigeria, an important cause of this dichotomy goes back to education. The average Nigerian is not educated enough to treat Literature as a vital element of service. And, what is regarded as higher is making money to sustain the family. But the truth is that Literature is the basis on which everything else is based.
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A. THE WRITINGS OF BAYO ADEBOWALE: A BIBLIOGRAPHY:
(i) Books Published & Book Articles:1. BAYO ADEBOWALE: 1985: The Virgin – A Full-length Novel, published by Paperback Publishers, Ibadan & Bounty Press Limited, Ibadan, (1985 & 1995)
2. BAYO ADEBOWALE: 1987: Out Of His Mind – A Full-length Novel, published by Spectrum books Limited, Ibadan.
3. BAYO ADEBOWALE: 1992: Frontiers: Nigerian Short Stories (ed. Asomwan Sonnie Adagbonyin) – An Anthology of Nigerian Short Stories selected from the works of nineteen Nigerian Writers. Vide “Lonely Days” (as a short literary piece), published by Krafts Books Limited, Ibadan. 1992, pp. 49 – 55.
4. BAYO ADEBOWALE: 1996: “I Wonder,” in Poetry For Africa 2, A Poetry Anthology selected from the works of European and Nigerian Writers, (ed. Ann Berry), University of London Press Ltd., London, & Bounty Press Ltd. Ibadan 1996, p. 15.
5. BAYO ADEBOWALE:1996: “The Elephant,” in Poetry For Africa 2, A Poetry Anthology selected from the works of European and Nigerian Writers, (ed Ann Berry), University of London Press Ltd; London, & Bounty Ltd. Ibadan, 1996, p. 16
6. BAYO ADEBOWALE:1996: “The Flute,” in Poetry For Africa 2, A Poetry Anthology selected from the works of European and Nigerian Writers, (ed Ann Berry), University of London Press Ltd; London, & Bounty Ltd. Ibadan, 1996, p. 59.
7. BAYO ADEBOWALE: 1997: “Song Of the Maiden,” in Crab Orchard Review. A Journal of Creative works (A Special Issue of African, Afro-Caribbean and African-American Writing); ed. Allison Joseph, The Department of English, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, USA, Vol. 2, No. 2, Spring/Summer, 1997, p.46.
8. BAYO ADEBOWALE: 1997: “Perdition,” in Crab Orchard Review. A Journal of Creative Works (A Special Issue of African, Afro-Caribbean and African-American Writing); ed. Allison Joseph, The Department of English, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, USA, Vol. 2, No. 2, Spring/Summer, 1997, p.47.
9. BAYO ADEBOWALE: 1997: “No More,” in Crab Orchard Review. A Journal of Creative works (A Special Issue of African, Afro-Caribbean and African-American Writing); ed. Allison Joseph, The Department of English, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, USA, Vol. 2, No. 2, Spring/Summer, 1997, p.48.
10. BAYO ADEBOWALE: 2002: “Critical Introduction to Works of fifteen Nigerian Short Story Writers,” in Talent – A Collection of New Nigerian Short Stories (ed. Bayo Adebowale), Positive Press, Ibadan, pp. vi-x. Plus the fifteen Authors’ Resume, Ibid, pp.216-272.
11. BAYO ADEBOWALE: 2002: “Tanko’s Exit,” in Talent – A Collection of New Nigerian Short Stories (ed. Bayo Adebowale), Positive Press, Ibadan, 2002, pp. 1-15.
12. BAYO ADEBOWALE: 2002: “Voice of the Elder,” in Talent – A Collection of New Nigerian Short Stories (ed. Bayo Adebowale), Positive Press, Ibadan, 2002.
13. BAYO ADEBOWALE: 2002: “The New Comer,” in Talent - A Collection of New Nigerian Short Stories (ed. Bayo Adebowale), Positive Press, Ibadan, 2002, pp. 228 – 235.
14. BAYO ADEBOWALE: 2003: “Tanko’s Exit,” in A Passage to Modern Cicero, (ed. Prof. Ayo Banjo, Dr. Wale Okediran, et.al), Bookcraft Publishers, Ibadan, 2003, pp158 – 167.
(ii) Articles (Language and Literature) Published in Journals et al:
15. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “The New Comer”, Horizon Journal, English Department, Univeristy of Ibadan, (ed. Matthew Umukoro et.al), March 1973, pp.40-47. and also in Life Journal (ed. Bola Aloba), November, 1973, pp.42-43.
16. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “Perdition,” Index On Censorship Journal, Vol. 21 No. 9, 1992, p6. And also in African Literature Association (ALA) Journal, Vol. 19, Spring 1993, No. 2 p. 59. (Canada).
17. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “William Shakespeare and the Black Race”, in Ibadan Literary Review Journal, No. 4, April, 1974, pp. 1-9.
18. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “Towards an Improvement of Audience Response and Expansion of the Nigerian Prose Fiction in English”, College Review Journal, Osun State College of Education, Ila-Orangun, 1995.
19. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “Forty-Eighty Hours At Home With Niyi Osundare”, An Article on the artistic ingenuity of an African Poet Laureate – Winner of the Commonwealth Prize and the Noma Award, Published in Gists Journal, Ibadan, pp. 20-36.
20. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “In the Pockets of My Memory”, A Full-Length interview with Poet Niyi Osundare, Commissioned by and conducted for, Matatu Journal, Federal Republic of Germany, 1994.
21. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “Caroline’s Choice”, Monthly Life Journal, (ed. J.K. Bolarin), Apirl, 1974, pp. 34-35.
22. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “Babu’s Favourite Song”, Today’s Challenge Journal, (ed. J.K. Bolarin), April, 1974, pp. 6-11
23. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “The Runaway”, Monthly Life Journal (ed. Wole Olaoye), Vol. 4 No.3, March 1987, pp. 34-35.
24. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “Game of Chance”, Woman’s World, (ed. Adaora Lily Ulasi), April, 1973, pp. 32-33.
25. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “Her Only Son”, Woman’s World, (ed. Adaora Lily Ulasi), April, 1973, pp. 32-33.
26. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “The Big Quarrel”, Apollo Journal, (ed Toun Onabanjo), Lagos, February, 1975, pp. 19-20.
27. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “The Village Hero”, Apollo Journal, (ed Toun Onabanjo), Lagos, November 1974, pp. 12 & 24.
28. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “Goodbye Granny”, Apollo Journal, (ed Toun Onabanjo), Lagos, January, 1974, pp. 11 & 26.
29. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “Looking After Daddy”, Apollo Journal, (ed Toun Onabanjo), Lagos, February, 1974, pp. 11&26.
30. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “The Road to the Market”, Apollo Journal, (ed Toun Onabanjo), Lagos, March, 1974, pp. 20 & 26.
31. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “The Long Wait”, Apollo Journal, (ed Toun Onabanjo), Lagos, April, 1974, pp. 23 & 24.
32. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “The Evil Men”, Apollo Journal, (ed Toun Onabanjo), Lagos, December, 1974, pp. 19.
33. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “Moment of Truth”, Apollo Journal, (ed Toun Onabanjo), Lagos, January, 1975, pp. 19 & 25.
34. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “A Call to Duty”, Spear Magazine, (ed Enyina Iroha), Lagos, May/June, 1986, pp. 32 & 34.
35. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “Iron Hand”, Woman’s World, (ed. Toyin Johnson), Lagos, July, 1985 pp. 26, 26 & 34.
36. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “The Hour of Decision”, Modern Woman, (ed. Adunni Oladipo), Lagos, April 1972, pp. 9 & 28.
37. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “Broken Melody”, Modern Woma</strong>n, (ed. Adunni Oladipo), Lagos, April 1972, pp. 9 & 28.
38. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “The Hour of Shame”, Modern Woman, (ed. Adunni Oladipo), Lagos, July, 1972, p. 9: and also Modern Woman, August 1972, p.3.
39. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “Misplaced Trust”, Modern Woman, (ed. Adunni Oladipo, Lagos, June 1974, pp. 27-30.
40. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “Conspiracy At Home”, Modern Woman, (ed. Adunni Oladipo, Lagos, January 1975, pp. 30-35.
41. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “The Shadow Between”, Modern Woman, (ed. Adunni Oladipo, Lagos, July 1975, pp. 28-29.
42. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “Burden of a Secret”, Modern Woman, (ed. Adunni Oladipo, Lagos, July 1974, pp. 27-30.
43. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “The Bleeding Heart”, Modern Woman, (ed. Adunni Oladipo, Lagos, September 197, pp. 27-30.
44. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “The Guilty Mind”, Modern Woman, (ed. Adunni Oladipo, Lagos, November 1975, pp. 29-30.
45. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “Partners In Sorrow”, Modern Woman, (ed. Adunni Oladipo, Lagos, February 1976, pp. 31 & 38.
46. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “Divided Household”, Modern Woman, (ed. Adunni Oladipo, Lagos, February 1977, pp. 31 & 38.
47. BAYO ADEBOWALE: “Valley of Judgment”, Happy Home, (ed. Sam. Amuka-Pemu) Lagos, February 1975, pp. 35 – 36.
B. UNIVERSITY DISSERTATIONS ON THE WRITINGS OF BAYO ADEBOWALE:
1. “The Use of Symbolism in Bayo Adebowale’s The Virgin” – A 657 English Stylistics Research Project for the Master of Arts Degree (1991), University of Ilorin. Department of Modern European Languages, by Lawal M. Babatunde.
2. “Marital Sensibility in Bayo Adebowale’s Novels: The Virgin and Out of His Mind” – A Final Year Bachelor of Arts Degree Project (1992), University of Ilorin, Department of Modern European Languages, by Ayoola Samuel Olayiwola.
3. “A Comparative Study of the Theme of Innocence in Thomas Hardy’s Tess of The D’urberville and Bayo Adebowale’s The Virgin” – A Final Year Bachelor of Arts Degree Project (1995), University of Ilorin, Department of Modern European Languages, by Abaya A. Elukpo.
4. “A Compartive Study of the Theme of Social Realities in Bayo Adebowale’s Out of His Mind and Ngugi Wa Thiong’o’s Weep Not Child” – A Final Year Bachelor of Arts degree Project (1995), University of Ilorin, Department of Modern European Languages, by Dairo Bunmi.
5. “A Comparative Theme of Cultural Conflict in Bayo Adebowale’s The Virgin and Adeze Madu’s Broken Promise – A Final year Bachelor of Arts Degree Project (1995), University of Ilorin, Department of Modern European Languages, by Joseph Foluke.
6. “A Comparative Study of the Concept of Traditionalism and Modernism in Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure and Bayo Adebowalke’s The Virgin” – A Final Year Bachelor of Arts Degree Project (1995), University of Ilorin, Department of Modern European Languages, by Odunola E. Folorunso.
7. “The Nigerian Novel – A Megaphone of It s Society: Bayo Adebowale’s Out of His Mind As A Case Study” – A Final Year Bachelor of Degree Project (1996), University of Ilorin of Modern European Languages, by Ogunyileka, G.S.
8. “Youth Response to Nigerian Prose Fiction in English: A Critical Study” – A Ph.D. Thesis (1997), University of Ilorin, Department of Modern European Languages, by Samuel Olubayo Adebowale. Bayo Adebowale’s Out of His Mind analysed and cited on several pages of the thesis.
9. “The Artistic World of Bayo Adebowale.” – A Final Year Bachelor of Arts Degree Project (1999), University of Ibadan, Department of English, by Edosa Aghedo.
10. “Socio-culrutal Ethos in Camara Laye’s The African Child and Bayo Adebowale’s The Virgin” – A Master of Arts (Literature in English) Dissertation (2006) University of Ilorin, Department of English by Kayode, Esther Bola.
C. REVIEWS OF BAYO ADEBOWALE’S CREATIVE WORKS INBOOKS AND LEARNED JOURNALS:
1. “Lexical Clues to Thematic Development in Bayo Adebowale’s The Virgin”, by Dr. Ayo Ogunsiji (of the English Department, University of Ibadan), published in Oye. Ogun State University, Department of English Journal, Vol. 12, 1991, pp. 13-20.
2. “The Creative Arts of Bayo Adebowale” – A Critical Study of Bayo Adebowale’s Writings, including fifteen of his published Short Stories and his two novels, The Virgin and Out of His Mind (120 pages), by a frontline Nigerian Journalist, Yinka Tella of the African Guardian Journal (1990)
3. “Bayo Adebowale’s The Virgin and Out of His Mind: A study of the Aesthetics of the Conflicts Between Traditionalism and Modernism,” by Professor Sam A. Adewoye (of the University of Ilorin, Modern European Languages Department) published in The African Novel – Another Evaluative View, Majab Publishers, Lagos, 1996, pp. 54 – 75.
D. PUBLISHED CRITICAL APPRAISALS OF BAYO ADEBOWALE’S NOVELS AND HIS EDITED ANTHOLOGY OF SHORT STORIES:
(i) Nigerian Novelists – Out of His Mind listed in an Annotated Bibliography of Nigerian Authors, by Professor Wendy Grisworld, University of Chicago, United States of America, published in Commonwealth Literature Journal, 1990.
(ii) “A Lasting Impression: Out of His Mind Staged to the Admiration of Literary Buffs, “Dele Ologunde, African Concord, September 1988, Vol. 2, No 33, p. 40.
(iii) Out of His Mind: Another Novel Goes on Stage” – A Review of stage adaptation of the novel, Dele Ologunde, The Guardian, August 30, 1988, p.16
(iv) “The Theatrical Beauty of a Living Prose” – A review of Out of His mind, Dele Ologunde, Daily Sketch, Thursday August 18, 1988, p.5.
(v) “Newspaper Reviews: Purpose and Intention” – An Examination of the previous review of Out of His Mind, Larry Ahmed, Nigerian Tribune, Tuesday, December 1, 1987, p.11.
(vi) “Out of His Depth” – A review of Out of His Mind, Nosa Osaigbovo, Daily Sketch, Thursday, October 8, 1987, p.5
(vii) “The Writer and His Crtics” – A Review of previous review of Out of His Mind, Tony Owogbade, Daily Sketch, Thursday, October 29, 1987, p.6.
(viii) “Osaigbovo’s Review is Biased” – A Review of previous review of Out of His Mind, Ayo Ogunsiji, Sunday Glory, October 18, 1987, p.6.
(ix) “These Qualms Apart, a Story is Fairly Told” – A Review of Out of His Mind, Bridget Annuwa Owhotu, The Guardian, Monday, October 19, 1987, p.17.
(x) “Out of His Mind” – A Review of Out of His Mind by Reviews Editor, Quality Magazine, November, 1987, Vol. 1. No. 6
(xi) “The Review of A Review” – A Review of previous reviews of Out of His Mind. Larry Ahmed. Daily Sketch. Friday, October, 23 1987 p.7
(xii) Out of His Mind” – A Review of Out Of His Mind. Joseph Dominic, Lagos Life, Thursday, October 13 – Wednesday, October 21, 1987, pp.7 & 10.
(xiii) “Loyalty Disaster” – A Reply to a Review of Out of His Mind, Nosa Osaigbovo, Daily Sketch, Tuesday, November 5, 1987, p.5
(xiv) “What A Review Is” – An Assessment of the Various Reviews of Out of His Mind S. Ayo Winjobi. Daily Sketch, Thursday, Nov,12, 1987.
(xv) “Graduate Worker Runs Out Of His Mind” – A Review of Out of His Mind, George Abana. Sunday Glory, October 11, 1987, p6
(xvi) “Out of His Mind” – A Review of Out of His Mind, Ayo Ogunsiji, Lady Love, Vol. 1 no. 10, May 6, 1988, p.27.
(xvii) “Out of His Mind – Listed in Africana Selected Recent Acquisition No. 124, December 1988, Michigan State University Africana Library, East Lansing, Michigan, United States of America, p. 49.
(xviii) “Out of His M</strong>ind” – A Review of Out of His Mind, Review Editor, Monthly Life, December, 1987, p. 29.
(xix) “Out of His Mind” – A Review of Out of His Mind, George Abana, New Nigerian, Tuesday October, 27, 1987, p. 12.
(xx) Out of A Lecturer’s Mind” – A Review of Out of His Mind, Kolaso Kargbo, Prime People, Vol. 2, No. 24, November 13-19, p. 12
(xxi) “The Wages of Sin” – A Review of The Virgin, Larry Ahmed, The Punch, December 11, 1985, pp.8-9.
(xxii) “Mourning the Destruction of An Essence” – A Review of The Virgin, Ayo Ogunsiji, Messages – A Creative Journal of the Department of the English, OYSCE, Ila-Orangun, No. 111, Vol. 001, 1986, pp. 16-18
(xxiii) “Destruction of An Essence” – A Review of The Virgin, Ayo Ogunsiji, Sunday Glory, March 15, 1987, p.8
(xxiv) “Morality Among Youths Examined” – A Review of The Virgin, Larry Ahmed, The Guardian, Jan. 6, 1986 p.10.
(xxv) “The Virgin” – A Review of The Virgin, Jare Ajayi, Lady Love, Vol. 1, No. 9, April 29, 1988, p.32.
(xxvi) “The Story of A Broken Pot” – A Review of The Virgin, Same Adesua, Daily Sketch, November 28, 1985, p.5
(xxvii) “Are you A Virgin? – A Review of The Virgin, Larry Ahmed, Daily Sketch,
February 20, 1986, p 5.
(xxviii) “The Broken Pot” – A Review of The Virgin, Andrew Ehimwenma, Sunday Punch, May 17, 1987, p.1.
(xxix) “Yoruba’s Belief in Virginity” – A Review of The Virgin, Bayo Akinpelu, Sunday Glory, Noveomber 13, 1988, p.6.
(xxx) “Defiling A Virgin Culture” – A Review of The Virgin, Andrew Ehimwenma, Daily Sketch, June 18, 1987, p.5
(xxxi) “Prisms Of the Mind” – A Review of The Virgin, Biyi Odunlade, Nigerian Tribune, October 20, 1987, p.8.
(xxxii) “I am In Love with Books” – Personality Interview of the Author of The Virgin, Ebika Anthony, Daily Sketch, April 15, 1999, p. 12
(xxxiii) “The Traditional Values of Virginity” – A Review of The Virgin, Tope Abiola, Nigerian Tribune, January 9, 2001, p. 26
(xxxiv) “I Sometime Write Stark Naked” – Personality Interview of the Author of The Virgin, Sina Oladehinde, Nigerian Tribune, October 26, 2001, p.16
(xxxv) “Of Dauda, Awero and The Virgin” – A Review of The Virgin, Ebika Anthony, The Monitor, November 4, 2001, p. A8
(xxxvi) “The White Handkerchief: New Wine In Old Bottle.” – A Review of Film Adaptation of The Virgin, Demola Awoyokun, The Guardian, October 4, 2002, p. 32
(xxxvii) “Symphony of Bata Drums and Poetry” – A Write up on the Author of
The Virgin, Adebanji Adeyanju and Lekan Alao, Nigerian Tribune,
December 17, 200.
(xxxviii) “A short Harvest of intrigues’’- A Review of Talent (ed. Bayo Adebowale), Steve Ayorinde, The Comet , February 3, 2003,p 16.
(xxxix) “Exposing the Talents of A Virgin Continent”- a Review of Talent (ed. Bayo Adebowale), Akintayo Abodunrin, Nigeria Tribune, April 28, 2003, p 37.
(xl) “ A New Deal in Short Story Writing” – A Review of Talent (ed. Bayo Adebowale), Chux Ohai, Daily Independent, April 28, 2003, p E5.
(xli) “ The Handkerchief: A Quest for Self-Cultural Interrogation”- A Review of Film Adaptation of The Virgin. Demola Awoyokun, The Guardian, April 25, 2003 , p 30.
(xlii) “ Tutuola Back From Land of the Ghosts”- A Review of Talent (ed. Bayo Adebowale). Agatha Eke, The Sun , June25, 2003, p 37.
(xliii) “ I Don’t See Acting As A Career”- Personality Interview of Kabirat Kafidipe Araparegangan (On White Handkerchief – The Film Adaptation of The Virgin ) . Saturday Tribune, August 16, 2003, p .27.
(xliv) “Hunger Hardship Can Serve As Impetus to Creative Writing” – Personality Interview of Bayo Adebowale, Chux Ohai, Daily Independent, November 24, 2003 , p,E4.
(xlv) “ About Virgins and a Recurring Moral Dilemma”- A Review of The Virgin, Chux Ohai, Daily Independent, December 22, 2003, p . E3.
PUBLISHED ARTICLES ON THE PROJECTS OF BAYO ADEBOWALE:
i. “African Heritage Research Library Seeks Exchanges” – Write-up on AHRL, Stephen Arnold, African Literature Association Bulletin, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, ‘ Volume 14, Spring 1988, No. 2, p.48.
ii. “African Studies Library” – Write-up : on AHRL, Editor, American Writer (Journal of the National Writer Union), New York , USA, Vol. VIII, Issue 3,Winter 1989-90, p . 14.
iii. “The African Heritage Research Library (AHRL) – A Pioneer Center” – Write-up on AHRL, in The Black Collegian, New Orleans LA, USA, November/December 1990, p , p.5.
iv. “General News Of Interest to the Region” – Write- up AHRL , Editor, International Federation of library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Newsletter; Sao Paulo, Brazil, No 8, June 1991, p . 5.
v. “African Heritage Research Library” – Write-up on AHRL, Editor Isivivane: Journal of Letter and Arts in Africa and Diaspora, Berlin, West Germany, January, 19A91,p. 49.
vi. “African Heritage Research Library Needs Donations”- Write-up on AHRL, Editor, The Black Collegian, New Orleans, LA USA, September/October, 1991, p. 19.
vii. “I Proved Critics Wrong” – Write-up on AHRL, yinka Peter, Classique, January 27 1992, p . 9.
viii. “Roots”- Write-up on AHRL, Yinka Tella, The African Guardian Vol. 7, No. 32, August 31, 1992, p. 9.
ix. “Nigeria: The African Heritage Research Library” – Write-up On AHRL, Editors, Conexiones Journal, Michigan USA Vol. 4, No.2, November 1992,p.17.
x. “African Heritage Research Library”- Write-up on AHRL, Editors, IRED-Forum, Geneva, Switzerland, No 46, January-March, 1993, pp. 12 & 46.
xi. “Research Library Serves Rural Community” – Write-up on AHRL, Editor, African Farmer, New York, USA, October 1993, p. 55
xii. “A Dream Unfolding” – A write-up on African Heritage Research Library, AHRL, Professor Niyi Osundare, Newswatch, December 20, 1993 pp 36-37.
xiii. Heritage – A Turn In History” – Write-up on AHRL, Ngozi Abanobi-Uka, African Vision, Lagos Vol. 1 No. 13, July 24, 1995, p. 30.
xiv. “The Making of A Dream” – Write-up on AHRL, Ngozi Abanobi-Uka, African Vision, Lagos. Vol. 1 No. 13, July 24, 1995, p. 30.
xv. Forgotten In the Countryside” – Write-up on AHRL, Yomi Kassim, The Monitor, pp. xii – xiii, December 3, 1995.
xvi. Clearing House for African Culture” – Write-up on AHRL, Olayiwole Adeniji, The Guardian, November 30, 1996, p. 36.
xvii. “African Heritage Research Library: An Embattled Dream” – Write-up on AHRL, Yemi Ogunsola, Sunday Tribune, October 5, 1997, pp 9 & 11.
xviii. “Giving Africa Its Pride” – Write-up on AHRL, Tunde Aremu, The Punch, November 13, 1997, p. 28.
xix. “A Boom To Intellectual Growth” – Write-up on AHRL, Ade Ajayi, Daily Monitor, May 20, 1999, p. 14.
xx. “Slaving For the Society to be Literate” – Write-up on AHRl, Ade Ajayi, Daily Monitor, May 20, 1999, p. 14
xxi. “African Research Centre Takes Shape at Ibadan” – Write-up AHRL, Kayode Ogunbunmi, The Guardian, July 4, 1999, p.45.
xxii. “African Heritage Research Library Lives On” – Write-up on AHRL, Akinyinka Omoniyi, Itanna Searchlight, July 11, 1999, p.9.
xxiii. “Hello There, Intellectuals! This is Our Own Bethlehem” – Write-up on AHRL, Joel Ayanlola, Daily Sketch, July on AHRL, Olumide Iyanda, Tempo, November 25, 1999, p.15.
xxiv. “Study Africa in Africa” – Write-up on AHRL, Olumide Iyanda, Tempo November 25, 1999, p. 15.
xxv. “Making Africa Answer For Itself’ – Write-up on AHRL, Tunde Aremu, The Punch, December 16, 1999, p.28.
xxvi. “A Feather to His Cap” – Write-up on AHRL, Adebola Adewole & Uche Maduemesi et al, Tell Magazine, Febraruy 21, 2000, p. 50.
xxvii. “New Centre for Research Works Emerges” – Write-up on AHRL, Kehinde Adio, Nigerian Tribune, January 28, 2000, p. 19.
xxviii. “Welcome to the Village of Books” – Write-up on AHRL, Ebika Anthony, Nigerian Tribune, February 15, 2000. p. 27.
xxix. “AHRL Extends Library Services to Schools” – Write-up on AHRL, Kehinde Adio, Nigerian Tribune, April 21, 2000, p 19.
xxx. “On the Track of an African Heritage” – Write-up on AHRL, Akeem Lasisi, The Comet, July 28, 2000 pp 35- 36.
xxxi. “Studying Africa In Nigeria” – Write-up on AHRL, Idowu Adelusi, Sunday Tribune, August 13, 2000 p. 17.
xxxii. “Rooting For African Renaissance” – Write-up on AHRL, Joseph Musa, This Day, January 5, 2001, Vol, 7, No. 2084, p. 24.
xxxiii. “Resuscitating the African Heritage” – Write-up on AHRL, Joseph Musa, This Day, January 5, 2001, Vol. 7 No. 2084, p. 34.
xxxiv. “African Music Educators and Library Facilities” – Write-up on AHRL, Kehinde Adio, Nigerian Tribune, February 2, 2001, pp. 18-19.
xxxv. “Oyo Governor Set to Support African Heritage Research Library” – Write-up on AHRL, Kehinde Adio, Nigerian Tribune, April 6, 2001, p. 14.
xxxvi. “A Hidden Fountain of Knowledge” – Write-up on AHRL, Senayon S. Olaoluwa, Post Express, October 7, 2001, p. A8.
xxxvii. “Treasure House in the African Heartland” – Write-up on AHRL, Sina Oladehinde, Nigerian Tribune, January 18, 2002, p.16.
xxxviii. “AHRL Education Day Holds March 30” – Write up on AHRL, Kehinde Adio, Nigerian Tribune, January 26, 2002, p.23.
xxxix. Culture of Reading is Going Down in Nigeria” – Write-up on AHRL, Titilayo Ogunsan, The Monitor, February 26, 2002, p. 23.
xl. “Adeyipo: A Library Grows in a Forest” – Write-up on AHRL, Akeem Lasisi, The Comet, March 6, 2002, p. 35
xli. “An Heritage for Africans’ – Write-up AHRL, Muyiwa Ojo, The Monitor, March 16, 2002, p. 5.
xlii. “I Use Pictures to Educate Illiterate People” – Write-up on AHRL, Kehinde Adio, Nigerian Tribune, March 29, 2002 p. 18.
xliii. “AHRL Commissions African Music Auditorium” – Write-up on AHRL, Enam Obiosio, Sunday Vanguard, April 7, 2002, p. 41.
xliv. “Grassroots Education Needs Government Backing” – Write-up on AHRL, Kehinde Adio, Nigerian Tribune, April 26, 2002, pg. 23.
xlv. “A Dose of African Heritage” – Write-up on AHRL, Yinka Fabowale, Tell Magazine, May 6, 2002, p. 15.
xlvi. “A Treasure In the Forest” – Write-up on AHRL, Augustine Avwode, Sunday Punch, July 21, 20002, pp. 23 & 25.
xlvii. “Bi Asa Ati Ise Eeyan Dudu Ko Se Ni Para Nise Ile Ikawe Wa” – Write-up on AHRL, Seye Arowolo, Alaroye Magazine, October 29, 2002, p. 23.
xlviii. “AHRL Organises Picture Education Seminar for Villagers” – Write-up on AHRL, Kehinde Adio, Nigerian Tribune, December 27, 2002, pp. 26 -27.
xlix. “Giant Stride of An African Monument” – Write-up on AHRL, Sina Oladehinde, Nigerian Tribune, January 21, 2003, p. 34.
l. “Monitoring Elections in the Village of Books” – Write-up on AHRL, Funso Iroko, Nigerian Tribune, October 28, 2003, p.35.
li. “Dance, Poetry and Carnival of Books” – Write-up on AHRL, Funso Iroko, Nigerian Tribune, October, 28, 2003, 17.
lii. “African Heritage Research Library Plans to Expand the Frontiers of Reading and Literacy” – Write-up on AHRL, Chux Ohai, Daily Independent, December 1, 2003, p. E4.
liii. “African Wealth of Knowledge Yet Undiscovered” – Write-up on AHRL, Bode Adefolu, Showbix Expo, February/March, 2004, Vol. 1, No. 3, p. 20.
liv. “Preaching the Gospel of Total Education” – Write-up on AHRL, Akeem Lasisi. The Punch, July 5, 2004, p. 13.
lv. “Three Days of Talking Poetry in Adeyipo Village” – Write-up on AHRL’s hosting of CFP members Benjamin Njoku, Sunday Vanguard, June 20, 2004.
lvi. “African Heritage Research Library (AHRL) Nigeria” in Year Book of International Organizations 2004/2005 & 2005/2006, Rue Washington 40, B-1050 Bruxelles, Belgium.
Bayo Adebowale, poet,novelist,short story writer,critic, teacher and librarian,was born in Adeyipo Village, Lagelu Local Government Area of Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria, on 6th June, 1944,to a peasant farmer and traditional drummer, Alagba Ayanlade Oladipupo Akangbe Adebowale. His mother, Madam Abigael Ayannihun Atunwa Adebowale is a traditional rara chanter and dancer,who hails from the neighbouring Apon Onilu Village,Ibadan, Oyo State.
Bayo Adebowale attended St. Andrew’s Kindergarten School at Kufi I Village, and St. Andrew’s Senior Primary School, Bamgbola, Igbo-Elerin District of Ibadan, where he obtained his Grade A Primary School Leaving Certificate in December, 1955. Thereafter, he was admitted to the Local Authjority Secondary Modern School, Aperin, Ibadan, between 1956 and 1958. In 1959,he became a pupil teacher at St. Mathias Primary School, Busogboro,Oluyole Local Government Area, Ibadan. The need to be trained as a teacher took him to Ilesa where he was admitted to St Peter’s Grade III Teacher College between 1960 and 1961. He was headmaster of St. Michael’s Primary School,Eko-Ajala,near Ikirun, Osun State, from January 1962 to December 1964. He was transferred to head another school in 1965-St. Andrew’s Primary School, Ilawe,three miles from Ifon, Osun State.
In 1966, the year of Nigeria’s military coup,Bayo Adebowale gained admission to Baptist College, Ede for his Higher Elementary Grade II Teacher Training Programme, which he finished in 1967 with Merit in ten subjects, including English Language, English Literature and Music. At Baptist College, Ede, Adebowale’s creativity boomed. He was a College House Prefect, the Secretary Literary and Debating Society,and the Editor of the College magazine,The Echo . He was a voracious reader of English and African novels;an ardent reader of the works of great writers like Gerald Durrel,Rider H.Haggard,Jane Austen, Daniel Defoe,John Buchan,R.L. Stevenson,Alexandre Dumas, Charles Dickens,Cyprian Ekwensi, Chinua Achebe, Elechi Amadi, Alan Paton, Peter Abrahams and Amos Tutuola. Bayo Adebowale’s creative ebullience was kept alive as a Higher Elementary (H.E.) teacher at Baptist School, Afolabi Apasan (near Araomi Akanran)Ibadan,between d1968 and 1970 and also at Ibadan City Council Primary School, Agugu, between 1970 and 1971.
In October,1971,he was admitted to read English at the Universtiy of Ibadan, having passed his General Certificate of Education(GCE) at both the Ordinary and the Advanced levels, between 1968 and 1971. He graduated Bachelor of Arts (Hon.) English in 1974 and had his National Youth Service Corps at St. Augustine’s Teachers’ College, Lafia, Benue-Plateau State, Northern Nigeria, from July 1974 to July 1975.
Bayo Adebowale was employed as an Education Officer (English) by the Western State Public Service Commission Between August, 1975 and August 1979 when he was posted to the Government Trade Centre at Oyo as an English Instructor. But in-between, Adebowale was given admission to the University of Ibadan for his Post Graduate Diploma in Applied English Linguistics (1976) and his Master of Arts Degree in English, which he successfully completed idn December 1978. His higher educational status qualified him for employment at the Oyo State College of Education,Ilesa,where he was appointed a Lecturer I in English in September 1979. He was posted back to St. Anderew’s College(then a Campus of OYSCE Ilesa) to head the School of Arts as the Deputy Dean,in 1981. He became athe Acting Dean of the School of Arts in Oyo State College of Education,Ila-Orangun in 1987. After the creation of Osun State(out of Oyo State) in 1991,Bayo Adebowale returned to his State of origin, with other officers of Oyo State indigenes working at OYSCE Ila-Orangun and was redeployed to The Polytechnic,Ibadan where he,at various times, as a Senior Principal Lecturer,was a Head of Department, and Acting Dean, and the Deputy Rector of the Institution between 1999 and 2003. Bayo Adebowale completed his Doctor of Philosophy Programmed in Literature in English at the University of Ilorin in May,1997.
To date, Bayo Adebowale has published over one hundred short stories in magazines, journals and papers in Nigeria and abroad.He admires a lot the works of distinguished writers, in the short story genre, like Edgar Allan Poe, Guy de Maupassant, Ernest Hemingway, Somerset Maugham, Toni Morrison, Doris Lessing, O. Henry,Jack London, Stephen Crane, Judith Wright, Agnus Wilson, Chinua Achebe,Eyprian Ekwensi, Ama Ata Aidoo, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o,Ben Okri, A.G.S. Momodu, Rasheed Gbadamosi,Lekan Oyejide, Nadine Gordimer, Lekan Oyegoke and Danbudzo Marechera.
In 1972,Adebowale’s short story,”The River Goddess” won the Western State Festival of Arts Literary Competition, in Ibadan, Nigeria and in 2002,he edited a collection of new Nigerian short stories-Talent-involving the words of fifteen Nigerian writers,including those of Femi Osofisan, Wale Okediran, Akeem Lasisi,Lekan Oyegode, Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade,and Amos Tutuola. Adebowale’s short stories had appeared in important Anthologies like Frontiers:Nigerian Short Stories (1992)d;A Passage to Modern Cicero (2003) and Horizon Journal,University of Ibadan (1975). Adebowale’s short stories are collected in book form in Iron Hand,Girl About Town; and Book Me Down. His collection A New Life was published in 2006 by Bounty Press,Ibadan.
Over ninety per cent of Bayo Adebowale’s short stories have rural setting, and deal with local community people in Nigerian villages and hamlets. A common trend of culture runs through them, stretching into his poetry and his three full-length novels.
For Adebowale the so-called modern society has nothing to offer to communal African village life “except chaos, corruption and other manifestations of of western narcissim”. Africa,for Adebowale,is a passion. “The contemorarisation of the mystic of the African essence is an addiction”.
Bayo Adebowale exhaustively examines the theme of culture in his poetry. Village Harvest,his first book of poetry,bears testimony to this. All the fifty-eight poems in the collection discuss sceneries,seasons,people,places, experiences,events and beliefs of the rural community people. This same trend is discernible in his second book of poetry,A Night of Incantations; where Yoruba traditional incantations are broken into three broad categories, viz: Malevolent Incantations;Benevolent Incantations and Propitiatory Incantations. In 1992,Bayo Adebowale’s poem, “Perdition” won the Africa Prize in the Index on Censorship International Poetry Competition in London. Quite a good number of his poems have been anthologized in Poetry for Africa 2(United Kingdom),Index on Censorship Journal (United Kingdom),African Literature Association Bulletin(Canada);Poetry Drum (Nigeria) and Crab Orchard Review(United States of America).Adebowale’s latest collection of poems, African Melody (2008) gives a realistic literary repositioning of the African Continent and has been acknowledged as”deeply reseached and a compotently crafted work of art”.
Today, Bayo Adebowale is most well-known as a novelist. His first novel,The Virgin, has been adapted into two home videos under the titles of “The White Hankerchief” and later as a thirteen week National Television Serial under yet another tile- “The Narrow Path” -all by the Main Frame Film Organization of Lagos under the directorate of the ace Nigerian cinematographer-Tunde Kelani. Adebowale’s second novel,Out of His Mind has several tiimes also been adapted for the stage. Both novels have been used by researchers as final-year Long Essay Projects in Colleges of Education, and for the Bachelor of Artrs degree final-year research and for Master of Arts dissertations in Nigerian Universities. His third novel, Lonely Days is probably his most ambitious literary endeavour to date. The novel predictably deals with an important aspect of the African culture-widowhood- and has its setting, predictably also, in African rural environment. Adebowale has two other yet to be published novels:Sweetheart and Lone Voice Bayo Adebowale has been described variously as “an advocate of the grassroots people”,”a village novelist” and “a protagonist of the African culture and tradition”and “Africa’s Charles Dickens”.
His pet project, The African Heritage Research Library (at Adeyipo Village, Lagelu Local Government Area,Ibadan,Oyo State,Nigeria) is the first rural community-based African studies research library on the Continent. The objectives of the Centre are (i) to serve the educational needs of students, researchers, scholars, documentalists, and archivists in Africa and all over the world;and (ii) to serve the socio-cultural needs of the local community people:peasant farmers,local artisans, craftsmen and women in African villages and hamlets. Adebowale’s Centre at Adeyipo Village, now incorporates the cultural aspect of the life of the people with the introduction of a Music of Africa Auditorium,a Medicinal Herbs Garden and a Talking Drum Museum.
The establishment of the African Heritage Research Library and Cultural Centre (AHRLC) has helped a lot to enhance the quantity and quality of Bayo Adebowale’s literary output.The African Heritage Research Library has a formidable Board of Advisors which include eminent scholars and writers all over the world like Ngugi Wa Thiong’o,Elechi Amadi, Niyi Osundare,Bernth Lindfors,Akinwumi Isola;Femi Osofisan;Sam. A. Adewoye,Lekan Oyegoke, Tony Marinho and Niara Sudarkasa.
Sun. 7th Sept. 2008
Two entries make literature prize shortlist
By Akintayo Aboderin
AgaryKAINE Agary’s Yellow-Yellow and Jude Dibia’s Unbridled have been short listed for this year’s Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) sponsored Literature Prize.
The literature committee comprising of emeritus Professor Ayo Banjo, Chief Joop Berkhout, Professor Charles Nnolim, Mr. Ben Tomoloju, Professor Dan Izevbaye, Mrs. Pheabean Ogundipe, Professor Theo Vincent, Professor Abubakar Rasheed, Mr. Dan Obidiegwu, Professor Munzali Jubril and Alhaji Abubakar Gimba made the announcement on Thursday in Lagos.
The Professor Theo Vincent led committee, in a departure from announcing a shortlist of three works announced only the two works as being of sufficient quality to vie for this year’s award. The two books emerged from a long list of 11 novels released a few weeks earlier. The 11 initial books are: Ozioma Izuora’s Dreams Deferred, Mark Nwagwu’s Forever Chimes, Obi Akwani’s March of Ages, Outrage by Promise Ogochukwu, The Conquest by Chinedu Eze, Treasure in the Winds by Odili Ojubuonu, Jude Dibia’s Unbridled, Abimbola Adunni Adelakun’s Under the Brown Rusted Roof, When the wind blows by Camillus Chima Ukah, Yellow-Yellow by Kaine Agary and Wuraola Forever by Femi Osofisan writing as Okinba Launko.
The committee noted that the two works were of outstanding quality. The winner, if any eventually emerges, will be honoured at the Grand Award Night which will hold on October 11 at the MUSON Centre.
DibiaBoth works vying for the award centre on the lives of women trying to make sense of their existence. In Yellow-Yellow, Agary looks at the life of a young girl of Greek and Nigerian parentage struggling to find an identity for herself in Port Harcourt, while Dibia in Unbridled, focuses on a woman who is determined to be independent from the men who have dominated her life.
While Yellow-Yellow is Agary’s first book, Unbridled is Dibia’s second novel. His first book, Walking with Shadows, won the ANA/NDDC Ken Saro-Wiwa Prize in 2007.
If one of the authors emerges winner of this year’s award, s/he will walk away with a $50,000 prize money, an increase from last year’s $30,000. The prize drew a lot of controversy in 2004 when none of the works, due to their supposed poor quality, was deemed worthy of the prize. In 2005 and 2007, the prize had joint winners: Gabriel Okara/Ezenwa Ohaeto and Mabel Segun/Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo respectively.
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AFRICA’S 100 BEST BOOKS OF THE 20TH CENTURY BY THE ZIMBABWE INTERNATIONAL BOOK FAIR,2002 FROM COLUMBIA.EDUJune 6, 2008
Africa’s 100 Best Books of the 20th Century
An initiative of the Zimbabwe International Book Fair
View a copy of the final list.
Over the last hundred years African writers have written of their lives, experiences, culture, history and myth; they have written in diverse forms, styles and in many languages. They have been published widely on the African continent, in Europe, the Americas and Asia. They have written in English, French, Portuguese, Arabic, Swahili, and in many other indigenous languages. And they have written with extraordinary originality, flair and great integrity. Nonetheless their work as a corpus deriving from the African continent remains largely unknown and uncelebrated.
To mark the beginning of the 21st century, and encouraged by Professor Ali Mazrui, the Zimbabwe International Book Fair launched the international compilation of “Africa’s 100 Best Books.” This project was organized in collaboration with the African Publishers Network (APNET), the Pan-African Booksellers Association (PABA), African writers’ associations, book development councils, and library associations.
Nominations were sought throughout the African continent and internationally. A comprehensive list of all nominations was published at the ZIBF in August 2001 and during the course of the following year regional panels compiled their own short lists of 100 best books. Closing date for nominations was 30 September 2001.
A jury made the final decision from the short list and the final list of “Africa’s 100 Best Books” was announced on February 18, 2002.
See: a copy of the list below.
This allowed ample time for those involved (authors of nominated books and their publishers) to prepare for participation in ZIBF2002. From August 3rd to the 10th in 2002, the fair participants celebrated the authors and publishers on the final list.
The aim of this endeavour is:
- to celebrate the achievements of African writers over the last century
- to stimulate debate, discussion, reading, criticism and analysis of African writing
- to foster the publication and development of new titles and those that are currently out of print
- to encourage translation of different texts
- to promote the sale and exchange of books continent-wide and throughout the world
- and above all to increase awareness and knowledge of books and writing by African authors.
Definition of an African
Only books written by Africans are eligible. After extensive discussion and debate the ZIBF has for the purpose of this project identified an African as: ‘someone either born in Africa or who became a citizen of an African country.’ This definition incorporates those African writers who have moved from their countries of birth to other continents. The issue of authors who are not by this definition deemed African but who consider themselves such or those who have made a notable contribution to African scholarship and literature will be addressed on their merit should their books be nominated.
Criteria for nomination of a book
Nominations were made on the basis that the book has had a powerful, important or affecting influence on the nominator, as an individual, or on society.
What you can do?
* Use this project to generate discussion among your colleagues and friends, with your teachers or students, and in the media.
* Use it as a basis for having African writers in your own cities and countries interviewed, or given a platform to speak and to debate their own work.
* Use it as a positive vehicle for analysis, serious criticism, debate and scholarship.
* Use it as an excuse to buy or loan books and to extend the breadth of your knowledge and understanding of the great wealth of fiction and non-fiction written by Africans about their lives and societies.
* Photocopy, translate, circulate and encourage people to seriously complete the nomination forms. Every serious nomination will lend weight and substance to the list; every book that has made an impact on an individual or on society is worthy of note.
***Africa Book Centre — Order Catalogue of Best Book Award Winners (Brighton, UK)
– Commercial site
Please address all queries and ideas directly to:
Zimbabwe International Book Fair Association
P. O. Box CY1179
Fax: 263 4 702129
Africa 100 Best Books of the 20th Century–Final List
Arranged in the tables below is a copy of the final list of 100 titles announced by the panel of judges in Accra, Ghana, 18 February 2002.
The jury selected books in 3 main categories:
– Literature for Children
– Creative Writing
In the table below, ** indicates a top twelve title.
Literature for children
Asare, Meshack Ghana **Sosu’s Call Sub-Saharan Publishers
Al-Homi, Hayam Abbas Egypt Adventures of a Breath Atfalna
Mungoshi, Charles Zimbabwe Stories from a Shona Childhood Baobab Books
Tadjo, Veronique Côte d’Ivoire Mamy Wata et le monstre Nouvelles éditions ivoriennes
Abnudi, `Abd al-Rahman Egypt al-Mawt `ala al-asfalt Atlas
Achebe, Chinua Nigeria Arrow of God Heinemann
Achebe, Chinua Nigeria **Things Fall Apart Heinemann
Aidoo, Ama Ata Ghana Anowa Longman
Almeida, Germano Cape Verde O testamento do Sr. Napumoceno da Silva Araújo Ed. Caminho
Armah, Ayi Kwei Ghana The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born Heinemann
Bâ, Amadou Hampâté Mali L’étrange destin de Wangrin Union générale d’éditions
Bâ, Mariama Senegal **Une si longue lettre Nouvelles éditions africaines
Ben Jelloun, Tahar Morocco La nuit sacrée Seuil
Beti, Mongo Cameroon Le pauvre Christ de Bomba Présence africaine
Brink, André South Africa A Dry White Season Penguin
Bugul, Ken Senegal Riwan, ou le chemin de sable Présence africaine
Cheney-Choker, Syl Sierra Leone The Last Harmattan of Alusine Dunbar Heinemann
Chraibi, Driss Morocco Le passé simple Gallimard
Coetzee, J.M. South Africa Life and Times of
Michael K Secker & Warburg
Couto, Mia Mozambique **Terra sonâmbula Ed. Caminho
Craveirinha, José Mozambique Karingana ua Karingana Academica
Dadié, Bernard Côte d’Ivoire Climbié Editions Segiers
Dangarembga, Tsitsi Zimbabwe **Nervous Conditions Women’s Press
Dib, Mohammed Algeria Algérie, La grande maison, L’incendie, Le métier à tisser Le Seuil
Diop, Birago Senegal Les contes d’Amadou Koumba Présence africaine
Diop, Boubacar Boris Senegal Murambi ou le livre des ossements Stock
Djebar, Assia Algeria **L’amour, la fantasia J.C. Lattes
Emecheta, Buchi Nigeria The Joys of Motherhood Alison and Busby
Daniel O. Nigeria Ogboju ode ninu igbo irunmale Nelson
Farah, Nuruddin Somalia Maps Pan Books
Fugard, Athol South Africa The Blood Knot Simondium Publishers
Ghitani, Jamal al- Egypt Zayni Barakat GEBO
Gordimer, Nadine South Africa Burgher’s Daughter Jonathan Cape
Head, Bessie South Africa A Question of Power Heinemann
Honwana, Bernardo Mozambique Nos matamos o cão tinhoso Academica
Hove, Chenjerai Zimbabwe Bones Baobab Books
Isegawa, Moses Uganda Abessijnse Kronieken Uigeverij De
Jordan, Archibald Campbell South Africa Ingqumbo yeminyanya Lovedale Press
Joubert, Elsa South Africa Die Swerdjare van Poppie Nongena Tafelberg
Kane, Cheikh Hamidou Senegal L’aventure ambiguë Editions Juillard
Khosa, Ungulani Ba Ka Mozambique Ualalapi AEMO
Kourouma, Ahmadou Côte d’Ivoire Les soleils des indépendances Le Seuil
Laye, Camara Guinea L’enfant noir Plon
Magona, Sindiwe South Africa Living, Loving and Lying Awake at Night David Philip Publishers
Mahfouz, Naguib Egypt **The Cairo Trilogy Maktabet Misr
Marechera, Dambudzo Zimbabwe House of Hunger Heinemann
Mofolo, Thomas Lesotho **Chaka Morija Sesuto Book Depot
Monenembo, Tierno Guinea Un attieké pour Elgass Le Seuil
Mutwa, Vusamazulu Credo South Africa Indaba, My Children Blue Crane Books
Ngugi wa Thiong’o Kenya Caitaani Mutharaba-ini Heinemann
Ngugi wa Thiong’o Kenya **A Grain of Wheat Heinemann
Niane, Djibril Tamsir Senegal Soundjata ou l’épopée mandingue Présence africaine
Nyembezi, Sibusiso South Africa Inkinnsela yaseMgungundlovu Shuter and Shooter
Okigbo, Christopher Nigeria Labyrinths Heinemann
Okri, Ben Nigeria The Famished Road Spectrum Books
Oyono, Ferdinand Cameroon Le vieux nègre et la médaille Editions Juillard
P’Bitek, Okot Uganda Song of Lawino Heinemann
Pepetela Angola A geração da utopia Dom Quixote
Saadawi, Nawal El Egypt Woman at Point Zero Zed Books
Salih El Tayyib Sudan Season of Migration to the North Heinemann
Sassine, Williams Guinea Le jeune homme de sable Présence africaine
Sembene, Ousmane Senegal Les bouts de bois de Dieu Le livre contemporain
Senghor, Léopold Sédar Senegal **Ouevre poétique Le Seuil
Serote, Mongane South Africa Third World Express David Philip Publishers
Robert Bin Tanzania Utenzi wa vita vya uhuru East African Literature Bureau
Sony Labou Tansi Congo La vie et demie Seuil
Sow Fall, Aminata Senegal La grève des battus Nouvelles éditions africaines
Soyinka, Wole Nigeria Death and the King’s Horsemen Spectrum
Tchicaya U Tam’si Congo Le mauvais sang – feu de brousse – à trisse-coeur P.J. Swald
Tutuola, Amos Nigeria The Palm-wine Drinkard Faber
Vera, Yvonne Zimbabwe Butterfly Burning Baobab Books
Vieira, José Luandino Angola Nós os do Makulusu [União dos Escritores Angolanos]
Vilakazi, B.W. South Africa Amal’eZulu Witwatersrand University Press
Yacine, Kateb Algeria Nedjma Le Seuil
Amin, Samir Egypt Accumulation on a World Scale Monthly Review Press
Amadiume, Ifi Nigeria Male Daughters, Female Husbands Zed Books
Mario de Angola Os nacionalismos africanos Sa da Costa
Appiah, Anthony Ghana In My Father’s House Oxford University Press
Cabral, Amilcar Guinea-Bissau Unity and Struggle Monthly Review Press
Chimera, Rocha Kenya Kiswahili, past, present and future horizons Nairobi University Press
Diop, Cheikh Anta Senegal **Antériorité des civilisations nègres Présence africaine
Doorkenoo, Efua Ghana Cutting the Rose Minority Rights Group
Hayford, J.E. Casely Ghana Ethiopia Unbound Cass
Hountondji, Paulin Benin Sur la philosophie africaine François Maspero
Johnson, Samuel Nigeria The History of the Yorubas G. Routledge & Sons
Kenyatta, Jomo Kenya Facing Mount Kenya Secker & Warburg
Ki-Zerbo, Joseph Burkina Faso Histoire de l’Afrique noire Hatier
Krog, Antjie South Africa Country of My Skull Jonathan Cape
Mama, Amina Nigeria Beyond the Mask, Race, Gender and Identity Routledge
Mamdani, Mahmood Uganda Citizen and Subject James Currey Publishers
Mandela, Nelson South Africa Long Walk to Freedom Little Brown
Marais, Eugene South Africa Die Siel van die Mier J.L. van Schaik
Memmi, Albert Tunisia Portrait du colonisé suivi de portrait du colonisateur L’Etincelle
Mondlane, Eduardo Mozambique The Struggle for Mozambique Penguin
Mphahlele, Ezekiel South Africa Down Second Avenue Faber & Faber
Mudimbe, V.Y. Dem. Rep. of Congo The Invention of Africa Indiana University Press
Nkrumah, Kwame Ghana Ghana: The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah Nelson
Plaatje, Sol South Africa Native Life in South Africa P.S. King
Soyinka, Wole Nigeria **Ake: The Years of Childhood Rex Collings
Van Onselen, Charles South Africa The Seed is Mine David Philip Publishers
“FROM NOLLYWOOD TO NOLLYWEIGHT?OR REFLECTIONS ON THE POSSIBILITIES OF LITERATURE AND BURGEONING FILM INDUSTRY IN NIGERIA”BY PROF. FEMI OSOFISAN FROM AFRICULTURES.COMMay 19, 2008
From Nollywood to Nollyweight ? or, Reflections on the Possibilities of Literature and the Burgeoning Film Industry in Nigeria
by Prof. Femi Osofisan
publié le 18/07/2006
[Cet article est pour le moment disponible exclusivement en anglais] Being the text of keynote by Prof Femi Osofisan – dramatist, actor and director and lecturer at the University of Ibadan – to the 6th ITPAN FORUM, held July 6 to 8, 2006, at the Lagos Business School, Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria.
Ladies and gentlemen,
1 The first appropriate gesture I must make, on this platform, is that of gratitude. With your kind permission, I want to use this opportunity to publicly express my gratitude to the entire artist community, my friends, and all well-wishers who have so warmly and so generously rejoiced with me on the occasion of my birthday. What a wonderful world – to paraphrase the great bard – that has such good and friendly people in it !
Next, please also allow me to thank the organizers of this Forum, for the honour of being asked to give this keynote address. I am not myself, as you all know, a film maker. I am just one of your customers.
I take it therefore that, if you have asked me to give the keynote address today, it is because you want some feed-back from your audience. That is something certainly that I can offer, and I hope I will not disappoint you. My business is literature, not film. I deal with words, with the texture and architecture of the written phrase ; you with pictures and frames, the tones of light and shadow, colour and chiaroscuro. As a dramatist, I tell stories, just as you also do ; but only for the stage, and not for the screen. However, already in that magical territory of fabulation, of story-telling and myth-making, you can see where we have a meeting place and share a common interest.
This means that we should be able to work together, we writers and film-makers, as indeed we have witnessed in other countries and in other film industries. But so far this kind of collaboration has been rare in the Nigerian film industry. And it is this lapse I intend to talk about today.
2 The enormous commercial success of the contemporary film in Nigeria – at least of the genre that has come to be known as “Nollywood” – is now a familiar, if astonishing, fact.
Everywhere you care to travel, both within the country and outside our borders, the Nollywood films, you will discover, would have preceded you with their ubiquitous presence. In most African homes on the continent or in the Diaspora, the films have established themselves conspicuously as the staple diet of domestic entertainment. And in places as far distant from one another as Nouakchott or Ndjamena, Banjul or Nairobi, even the minor stars are household names. Like the icons of the football field, they adorn the covers of glamorous magazines ; their lives provide the juicy menu of the gossip journals and newspapers ; some of them are better known than many heads of state.
Such has indeed been the scintillating tale of the Nollywood adventure that even the Federal government, not normally known to accord any importance to mere artists, however gifted, startled all of us recently by coming out openly to shower encomium on the industry and its practitioners. It even talks of collaborating with them for some future projects !
This is by any consideration a most phenomenal story, for a business that began almost by accident, was sustained by expediency, and has not benefited from the support of either the political Establishment or the orthodox financial institutions. A totally homegrown industry, all that has kept it afloat and buoyant has been the fabled ingenuity of the Nigerian entrepreneur !
It will never cease to be a marvel then, the fact that a group of half-literate dramatists of the popular travelling theatre tradition, seeing their trade tottering on the brink of extinction because of the harsh economic policies of the time, could, out of desperation and entirely on their own volition, seize a hitherto neglected and subsidiary technology, and, in alliance with spare parts traders and such small-scale businessmen, harness it with such inventiveness that they have turned it into a multi-million naira business, till their products have almost completely displaced the far more sophisticated, far more technically competent products of Hollywood and Bollywood.
Without any precedent example, without recourse to foreign assistance, without the benefit of hefty budgets or of any of the dazzling gadgetry of Hollywood, the Nigerian Nollywood outstripped all its former predecessors and competitors, within the first decade of its birth, and initiated a completely novel cinematic genre. It is worth a celebration.
3 So, in the wake of these sterling achievements that it has garnered, how does one dare voice any negative criticism of the industry – “that is, without the risk of subjecting oneself voluntarily to derision or abuse from its practitioners ? Especially if one has himself never produced a single film, how can one criticize without seeming to be asking to be fed with hemlock ?
But it is a gamble nevertheless that one has to take, if only because the industry is one that has enormous implications for our people’s development. The films have been proven to exercise a tremendous impact on our people’s minds, on their ways of thinking and their habits of perception, on their attitude to the world, to work, to family, to their neighbours. The films also have significant influence on the way that others see us, and hence on the way they relate to us. We cannot but be concerned therefore about what they are saying, what attitudes they are promoting, what image of us they are projecting.
Precisely because they have deservedly won ovation everywhere, the Nollywood films have come to assume an authority over our values and our lives, such that what people see in them comes to be taken not as just a fictional projection by one imaginative consciousness, but as the true, authentic mirror of what we really are, as a veritable marker of what our society represents, and much worse, of the ideal that we aspire, or must aspire, towards.
This is where the films present us with a great dilemma, and where, in spite of our pleasure, we must take a stand in the interest of our collective survival. For we cannot but remark that, however popular the films may be, and however much in demand, the picture that the majority of them present of our world is one that we must not only interrogate, but indeed reject very strongly, if what we seek is the transformation of our society into a modern, progressive state.
I will not, as you know, be the first to make this complaint. Even our friends outside have voiced the same unease about the ambiguity of Nollywood. The common question that people ask, as you know, is – “why this unceasing preoccupation with juju, this relentless celebration of dark rituals and diabolical cults ? Practically every Nollywood director seems to have been caught in the spell – “mix a diet of grotesque murders and cacophonous chants and bizarre incantations, and smile all the way to your bank !
Then, again, those who wish to be different from the rest, who want to demonstrate the ineffectual power of juju rituals, what do they do ? They show us scenarios where the brutish African cults and priests are overpowered and devastated by the agents of Christianity ! Thus one mythology replaces another – “this time the one imported from abroad simply replaces the barbaric local variant. Tarzan is reborn, only this time in black skin, and wearing a cassock ! And it is a sign of the deep damage done to our psyche and our consciousness by decades of European proselytizing that the filmmakers themselves are blissfully unaware of the racist and cultural implications of this fare they offer to the public !
4 What I am saying is that, with all their commercial success, our films parade a number of serious deficiencies, viewed from the cultural and ideological perspectives. These have been summarized before into four broad areas, and I will rapidly recall them here, as follows : – First, is their lack of thematic profundity, of subtlety and complexity in characterization, and the repetitiousness of the scenarios ; – Second, the lack of adventurousness in the area of filmography, or is it “videography” ; with the most basic rules in such matters as costuming, lighting make-up and so on, being regularly compromised ; – Third, the promotion of superstitious habits, of the belief in miracles and witchcraft rather than in concrete, empirical extrapolations and direct physical participation in social struggle. This, ironically in spite of the fact that all the special effects they employ to conjure up their magic are achieved only with the aid of technology, with scientifically-manufactured implements ; – And the fourth, the most serious of them all, is their open promotion of cultural alienation and inferiority complex among our people, even more brazenly than the colonialists and their films did.
It is not of course that the films deliberately set out to do these things. Rather, these perceived deficiencies are due, obviously, to what one may describe as the intellectual deficit of the people involved in the profession. [Now one has to be careful here, not to appear to be patronizing these practitioners or to be undervaluing their intelligence.]
What I mean, to be more precise, is that those who provide the financial means, as well as those who conceive the scenarios for Nollywood are, for the most part, only interested in film as a fast business, as a means merely of making quick money and raking a quick profit, (just like their imported spare second-hand goos), and so can not be bothered by the larger aesthetic or ontological dimensions of film production.
This is why indeed there is most often no script available at all for the actors on most locations ; what you will get is only a scenario, or a series of scenarios, which will be verbally announced by the director or producer as a general guide for improvisation, just as in the old days of the travelling theatres.
5 Given all these problematic areas, all these cultural and philosophical anxieties, the suggestion has been made that what we need for Nollywood is a stricter and more extensive form of censorship. Some have even called for an outright ban.
But censorship is never safe nor fool-proof, nor even predictable. It is not to be trusted ; it can be a dangerous tool in the hands of dictators. Especially with our experience so far of government as terrorism in Nigerian history, it will be most careless of us to assume that the ogre of dictatorship can never rise any more to haunt us. To approve of censorship in such circumstances is to deliberately shut our eyes to danger, and help prepare the way for our own eventual subjugation.
In any case, the effect of censorship is quite often to drive the forbidden good underground, and, like cocaine, make it even more attractive to the consumers. There is such a fervent demand by our people for films that whatever they find available will be gobbled up as soon as it comes out, whatever its quality, and however much they complain afterwards about it. This compulsive appetite of our people, this uncritical and almost insatiable demand for film products should, in my opinion, be a guide about what solutions to suggest.
I want to recommend therefore that, instead of wasting our time with censorship, the line that will be more productive for us to pursue, in order to displace the deficient films from the market, is simply to embark on the production of an alternative repertoire of films, and to making sure that they are abundantly available for consumers. Now, this is where I believe that we writers can come in, as it has been done in other places. An alliance between film makers and the producers of literature is what I believe is most urgent for the necessary recuperative work that Nollywood requires, and deserves.
Our writers are not only good story-tellers, but they have proved for the most part to be story-tellers concerned not primarily with material gratification, but rather, with the overall wellbeing of the community. They entertain, but also instruct and enlighten. They propagate our cultural heritage, but without necessarily glorifying superstition or on the other hand, deliberately demonizing our local religions and customs. They have, that is, the ingredients to enrich and radicalize Nollywood, even while boosting its revenue potential. A good number of books are there on the bookshelves that can be made into profit-yielding projects on film.
Only Tunde Kelani, (and the younger less well-known Demola Aremu), have tried so far, to my knowledge, to exploit the potentials of this fruitful collaboration, but it is no exaggeration to state the immense success that TK has reaped, and is still reaping, from the venture. Almost all his films, until recently, were film adaptations of the works of Professor Akinwunmi Isola, one of our most talented writers, and they helped catapult TK to his position of eminence among the film producers.
There are two possible ways of undertaking the kind of collaboration that I am calling for. The first is to select from a number of successful books already in print, and adapt them for the screen. Here, one can suggest a few titles, apart from the already much-recycled Things Fall Apart. There are also the same author”s Arrow of God, Man of the People, or Anthills of the Savannah. From Cyprian Ekwensi, there are Jagua Nana, the sequel, Jagua Nana”s daughter, The Passport of Mallam Illia, Iska, and so on ; Elechi Amadi”s The Great Ponds ; Onuora Nzekwu”s Danda, Chukwuemeka Ike”s Toads for Supper, Wole Soyinka”s Ake, Isara, and Season of Anomy ; Saro Wiwa”s Sozaboy ; and numerous recent works by Eddie Iroh, Ifeoma Okoye, Zaynab Alkali, Ogochukwu Promise, Akachi Ezeigbo, Maik Nwosu, Okey Ndibe, Helen Oyeyemi, Tony Marinho, Chimamamba Adichie, Sefi Atta, and others.
Apart from novels, there are also very dramatic plays which could yield exciting film scripts, such as the works of Sam Ukala, Olu Obafemi, Ahmed Yerimah, Akinwunmi Isola, Bayo Faleti, Emman Nwabueze – ¦ the list is long ! Nor does the choice have to be confined to only those books written by Nigerian authors. In both East and Southern Africa alone, there are thousands of books waiting for an adventurous film maker !
The second approach I can recommend is for you to liaise with some of the established writers mentioned above, and to commission them to produce original scripts. You will be amazed by what you would generate from them, and then from others who will be inspired by them. Certainly the current bogey of thin stories and trivial or merely sensational themes, of insipid dialogue and worn verbal and lexical garbage, of dull and uninspiring plots, and so on, will become a thing of the past, if the film-makers agree to exploit this idea of collaboration with our writers.
And instead of “Nollywood”, what we will be celebrating, come next season, will be the advent of “Nollyweight !”
I thank you for your attention,
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Selected Comments on the Wizard of the Crow
Kenyan novelist Ngugi wa Thiong’o “mounts a nuanced but caustic political and social satire of African corruption of African society with a touch of magical realism – or, perhaps, realistic magic, as the Wizard’s tricks hung on holding a not-so-enchanted mirror to his client’s hidden delusions. The result is a sometimes lurid, sometimes lyrical reflection on Africa’s dysfunctions – and its possibilities.” STARRED REVIEW Publishers Weekly, August, 2006.
“Magic realism drives this mammoth novel set in the imaginary African country of Aburiria, and exiled Kenyan writer wa Thiong’o roots the wild fantasy in the brutal horror of contemporary politics. His ridicule of the powerful knows no bounds as the novel chronicles greed and corruption in Aburiria and in the West, including the Global Bank’s funding of the Aburirian ruler’s Marching to Heaven Tower of Babel. But even more than the crazy plot of coup, countercoup, flattery, and betrayal, what holds the reader here is the intimate story of one couple. Quiet secretary Nyawira, secret leader of the people’s resistance movement, persuades her intellectual lover, Kamiti, to give up his search for himself in the wild, and they embark on a plan to change the world, with Kamiti disguised as a sorcerer. Set off by the global farce, this unforgettable love story reveals the magic power of the ordinary in people and in politics.” HAZEL ROCHMAN. Booklist.
“Ngugi has perfected in Wizard of the Crow an art of radical simplicity, of sharply defined conflicts that, paradoxically, is less reductive than ostensibly more nuanced accounts of Africa proffered by historians and political analysts. At once an epic burlesque of a sick lumbering state and a praise song to the manifold forms of African resistance, the phantasmagoric saga of Aburiria is as clear a view of Africa as we are likely to get for sometime.” JAMES GIBBONS, Bookforum, Summer 2006.
“I have every expectation that his new novel, Wizard of the Crow, will be seen in years to come as the equal of Midnight’s Children, The Tin Drum or One Hundred Years of Solitude; a magisterial magic realist account of 20th-century African history. It is unreservedly a masterpiece.” STUART KELLEY, Scotland on Sunday, August 13, 2006.
“In its best scatological moments, it echoes the great Latin American novels of dictatorship by Miguel Angel Asturias, Carlos Fuentes, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez…. It now stands as a vivid portrait of postcolonialism and the banality of evil.” SIMON GIKANDI, in a review of the Gikuyu original in Foreign Policy.
“Ngugi writes with bite on contemporary African themes like corruption and sexual discrimination, but he isn’t caustic or heavy handed. It’s magical realism meets Africa, and it hits the mark.” FLORENCE WILLIAMS, Outside, August, 2006.
“In his crowded career and eventful life, Ngugi has enacted, for all to see, the paradigmatic trials and quandaries of a contemporary African writer, caught in sometimes implacable political, social, racial, and linguistic currents …The tale is fantastic and didactic, told in broad strokes . . . its principal actors wear physical distortions like large, firelit masks.” JOHN UPDIKE, The New Yorker, July 31, 2006.
“The pull and promise of Wizard of the Crow … is evident in the labyrinthine wonders of its opening chapters, which involve the authors most raucus and ambitious combination to-date of satire, social realism and supernatural occurrence.” RANDY BOYAGANDA, Harper’s Magazine, September, 2006.
“The effort to throw off the[se] shadow chains of the [colonia] past while establishing an authentically African continuum has been at the thematic center of much African literature, but in Ngugi Wa Thiong’o's epic novel, “Wizard of the Crow,” this theme may well have found its ultimate expression….[I]t is essential reading for a world that only seems now to be finally waking up to its own reality, bathed in a vision of ever potential hope.” DAVID HELLMAN, San Francisco Chronicle.
“For all the angry force of Mr. Ngugi’s storytelling, his tale ends on a note of hope and, indeed, happiness. “Wizard of the Crow” is not a nostalgic celebration of folk-wizardry, as if quaint belief will solve the troubles brought on by Africa’s encounter with the modern world. It is, though, a reminder that people can find within themselves redemptive resources.” ROGER KAPLAN, The Wall Street Journal.
“This delirious comedy feeds on itself… At its deepest level … the novel is really about re-centering the author’s discourse in Africa itself by a radical focus on multiple African voices. There are many tellers of tales in this saga, and each has an individual authenticity.” KEITH GAREBIAN, Globe and Mail, August 19, 2006.
“Aburiria is recognisable as Africa in all its splendour, squalor, economic malaise and venality, but it comes with more than a touch of magical realism. (…) Despite the book’s faults, it is hard not to be cheered by the spirit of gentle resistance that is at its core, in defiance of everyday greed.” The Economist.
“Wizard of the Crow is the most ambitious entry yet from a writer whose output feels essential for those hoping to understand contemporary Africa.” GREGORY MILLER, The San Diego-Union Tribune, August 6, 2006.
“The shades of humour range from the caustic when lampooning a corrupt politician to affectionate when exposing the frailty of ordinary struggling to survive … it is also a love story that leaves lingering tenderness.” RUTH WILDGUST, Post-IE, The Sunday Business Post.
“Wizard of the Crow … is an impish and hallucinatory satire on dictatorship — as though Saddam Hussein had won a coup d’état in Wonderland, then sent Alice and the rabbit to a Soviet labour camp.” Sunday Times (London), August 26, 2006.
“This novel is restless, epic, allusive. Ngugi wa Thiong’o gives himself scope to tackle big themes, to explore the nature of political oppression and corruption. His book attempts to explode assumptions about the essence of reality. It blurs and frequently juxtaposes visions of everyday consciousness and visionary truth… This is a book about choosing sides. A book above all about the individual’s responses to moral dilemmas… It’s a book of wonderful purple phases (the greatest lyrical description of making love I have ever read, a marvelous evocation of wilderness).” TOM ADAIR, The Scotsman, August 12, 2006.
“Why should a reader invest in Wizard of the Crow nearly 800-page bulk? Simply because this novel is a literary masterpiece, woven in the rich nuance of Africa’s oral tradition, as real as spilt blood, a mythical dance of great power.” SKYE K. MOODY, The Seattle Times, August 27, 2006.
“ …a compelling novel… a first class masterpiece.” Aesthetica, Issue 14, 2006
“A remarkable book, sure to be widely read.” Kirkus Reviews, starred review.
“One of the best reads of the year.” Essence, August 2006.
Links to Articles:
Wizard of the Crow
By Laura Mitchell
Odyssey of an African Sorcerer
By Stuart Kelly
Follow link, click on “Article Index”
Scroll to “Review” section
Ngugi wa Thiong’o; Doris Lessing
By Rosemary Goring
Inconstancy of Rain, Homes and Politics
By Lesley McDowell
UC Irvine Professor Ngugi Wa Thiong’o
Publishes Long-Awaited Novel
Allegory of Post-colonial Africa Takes Flight
Reviewed by David Hellman
Playing the Role of a Voice for Freedom
By John Freeman
By Tom Adair
By Cornel Bonca
Fictionalized Africa, Ills Intact
Wall Street Journal
Thiong’o is Back
By Davina Morris
Kenyan novelist, 68, refuses to be silenced
By John Freman
Wizard of the Crow:
Rooted in reality, steeped in the supernatural
By Skye K. Moody
Wizard Of The Crow
NGUGI WA THIONGO,THE GREAT AFRICAN WRITER FROM KENYA,FROM HIS WEBSITE
Ngugi Wa Thiong’o: A Profile of a Literary and Social Activist.
Ngugi wa Thiong’o, currently Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Director of the International Center for Writing and Translation at the University of California, Irvine, was born in Kenya, in 1938 into a large peasant family. He was educated at Kamandura, Manguu and Kinyogori primary schools; Alliance High School, all in Kenya; Makerere University College (then a campus of London University), Kampala, Uganda; and the University of Leeds, Britain. He is recipient of seven Honorary Doctorates viz D Litt (Albright); PhD (Roskilde); D Litt (Leeds); D Litt &Ph D (Walter Sisulu University); PhD (Carlstate); D Litt (Dillard) and D Litt (Auckland University). He is also Honorary Member of American Academy of Letters. A many-sided intellectual, he is novelist, essayist, playwright, journalist, editor, academic and social activist.
The Kenya of his birth and youth was a British settler colony (1895-1963). As an adolescent, he lived through the Mau Mau War of Independence (1952-1962), the central historical episode in the making of modern Kenya and a major theme in his early works.
Ngugi burst onto the literary scene in East Africa with the performance of his first major play, The Black Hermit, at the National Theatre in Kampala, Uganda, in 1962, as part of the celebration of Uganda’s Independence. “Ngugi Speaks for the Continent,” headlined The Makererian, the Student newspaper, in a review of the performance by Trevor Whittock, one of the professors. In a highly productive literary period, Ngugi wrote additionally eight short stories, two one act plays, two novels, and a regular column for the Sunday Nation under the title, As I See It. One of the novels, Weep Not Child, was published to critical acclaim in 1964; followed by the second novel, The River Between (1965). His third, A Grain of Wheat (1967), was a turning point in the formal and ideological direction of his works. Multi-narrative lines and multi-viewpoints unfolding at different times and spaces replace the linear temporal unfolding of the plot from a single viewpoint. The collective replaces the individual as the center of history.
In 1967, Ngugi became lecturer in English Literature at the University of Nairobi. He taught there until 1977 while, in-between, also serving as Fellow in Creative writing at Makerere (1969-1970), and as Visiting Associate Professor of English and African Studies at Northwestern University (1970-1971). During his tenure at Nairobi, Ngugi was at the center of the politics of English departments in Africa, championing the change of name from English to simply Literature to reflect world literature with African and third world literatures at the center. He, with Taban Lo Liyong and Awuor Anyumba, authored the polemical declaration, On the Abolition of the English Department, setting in motion a continental and global debate and practices that later became the heart of postcolonial theories. “If there is need for a ’study of the historic continuity of a single culture’, why can’t this be African? Why can’t African literature be at the centre so that we can view other cultures in relationship to it?” they asked. The text is carried in his first volume of literary essays, Homecoming, which appeared in print in 1969. These were to be followed, in later years, by other volumes including Writers in Politics (1981 and 1997); Decolonising the Mind (1986); Moving the Center (1994); and Penpoints Gunpoints and Dreams (1998).
The year 1977 forced dramatic turns in Ngugi’s life and career. His first novel in ten years, Petals of Blood, was published in July of that year. The novel painted a harsh and unsparing picture of life in neo-colonial Kenya. It was received with even more emphatic critical acclaim in Kenya and abroad. The Kenya Weekly Review described as “this bomb shell” and the Sunday Times of London as capturing every form and shape that power can take. The same year Ngugi’s controversial play, Ngaahika Ndeenda (I Will Marry When I Want), written with Ngugi wa Mirii, was performed at Kamirithu Educational and Cultural Center, Limuru, in an open air theatre, with actors from the workers and peasants of the village. Sharply critical of the inequalities and injustices of Kenyan society, publicly identified with unequivocally championing the cause of ordinary Kenyans, and committed to communicating with them in the languages of their daily lives, Ngugi was arrested and imprisoned without charge at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison at the end of the year, December 31, 1977. An account of those experiences is to be found in his memoir, Detained: A Writer’s Prison Diary (1982). It was at Kamiti Maximum Prison that Ngugi made the decision to abandon English as his primary language of creative writing and committed himself to writing in Gikuyu, his mother tongue. In prison, and following that decision, he wrote, on toilet paper, the novel, Caitani Mutharabaini (1981) translated into English as Devil on the Cross, (1982).
After Amnesty International named him a Prisoner of Conscience, an international campaign secured his release a year later, December 1978. However, the Moi Dictatorship barred him from jobs at colleges and university in the country. He resumed his writing and his activities in the theater and in so doing, continued to be an uncomfortable voice for the Moi dictatorship. While Ngugi was in Britain for the launch and promotion of Devil on the Cross, he learned about the Moi regime’s plot to eliminate him on his return, or as coded, give a red carpet welcome on arrival at Jomo Kenyatta Airport. This forced him into exile, first in Britain (1982 –1989), and then the U.S. after (1989-2002), during which time, the Moi dictatorship hounded him trying, unsuccessfully, to get him expelled from London and from other countries he visited. In 1986, at a conference in Harare, an assassination squad outside his hotel in Harare was thwarted by the Zimbwean security. His next Gikuyu novel, Matigari, was published in 1986. Thinking that the novel’s main character was a real living person, Dictator Moi issued an arrest warrant for his arrest but on learning that the character was fictional, he had the novel “arrested;” instead. Undercover police went to all the bookshops in the country and the Publishers warehouse and took the novel away. So, between 1986 and 1996, Matigari could not be sold in Kenyan bookshops. The dictatorship also had all Ngugi’s books removed from all educational institutions.
In exile, Ngugi worked with the London based Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners in Kenya, (1982-1998), which championed the cause of democratic and human rights in Kenya. In between, he was Visiting Professor at Byreuth University (1984); and Writer in Residence, for the Borough of Islington, London (1985) and took time to study film, at Dramatiska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden. (1986). After 1988, Ngugi became Visiting Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Yale (1989-1992) in between holding The Five Colleges (Amherst, Mount Holyoke, New Hampshire, Smith, East Massachusetts) Visiting Distinguished Professor of English and African Literature (Fall 1991). He then became Professor of Comparative Literature and Performance Studies at New York University (1992 –2002) where he also held the Erich Maria Remarque Professor of languages, from where he moved to his present position at the University of California Irvine. He remained in exile for the duration of the Moi Dictatorship 1982-2002. When he and his wife, Njeeri, returned to Kenya in 2004 after twenty-two years in exile, they were attacked by four hired gunmen and narrowly escaped with their lives.
Ngugi has continued to write prolifically, publishing, in 2006, what some have described as his crowning achievement, Wizard of the Crow, an English translation of the Gikuyu language novel, Murogi wa Kagogo. Ngugi’s books have been translated into more than thirty languages and they continue to be the subject of books, critical monographs, and dissertations.
Paralleling his academic and literary life has been his role in the production of literature, providing, as an editor, a platform for other people’s voices. He has edited the following literary journals: Penpoint (1963-64); Zuka (1965 -1970); Ghala (guest editor for one issue, 1964?); and Mutiiri (1992-).
He has also continued to speak around the world at numerous universities and as a distinguished speaker. These appearances include: the 1984 Robb Lectures at Auckland University in New Zealand; the1996 Clarendon Lectures in English at Oxford University; the 1999 Ashby Lecture at Cambridge; and the 2006 MacMillan Stewart Lectures at Harvard.
He is recipient of many honors including the 2001 Nonino International Prize for Literature and seven honorary doctorates.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
The Narrow Path
Tunde Kelani’s film deals with an extremely touchy subject
Written by Laura Adibe Photography by NGEX website
What is admirable about Nollywood film is the ability by its filmmakers to put together films on moderate budgets with quick turnarounds. Kelani’s film, done on a moderate budget, pieces together a story with a very important message. The Narrow Path deals with such issues as rape, marriage, and innocence.
Tunde Kelani’s film in which he wrote, directed, produced and even partly shot has screened in numerous festivals such as the Women of Color Arts & Film Festival and the New York African Film Festival. The film, an adaptation of Bayo Adebowale’s novel, The Virgin and a sequel to The White Handkerchief follows protagonist, Awero (Sola Asedeko) , who must choose between three suitors who wish to have her hand in marriage. Her wedding night is transformed when she must cope with a shameful secret line that places her in an awkward position between shame and honor.