Time And Traditional Writers of South East Nigeria

11.02.20

By Pius Odiaka

THE death of the eminent writer and scholar, Chukwuemeka Ike, last January 9, seemed to bring to a faster depletion of the first set of prominent modern writers in the old south-east Nigeria.

It also reminds scholars of the absence of what may resemble a national literature. Most of the first generation writers focused on the cultures and life in their respective rustic backgrounds. Chinue Achebe attempted a national tradition in his Anthills of the Savannah (1987) but lacking in thematic depth and characterization, especially given that his protagonist, Ike, remains perceptively Igbo or regional.

The death of Chukwuemeka Ike also recalled the essence of the pen as used by the prominent writers of the old region, particularly those of them whose work and exit live beyond their time. They include Flora Nwapa, Buchi Emecheta, Elechi Amadi, Chinua Achebe, Gabriel Okara, Cyprain Ekwensi and Ken Saro-Wiwa.

Florence Nkiru Nwapa, commonly identified as Flora Nwapa, was the first West African female writer to publish in English. Through her writings she exposed the social dilemma of womanhood and insatiable demand placed on the woman by the African society, using the Igbo cosmology as a setting.

Together with Buchi Emecheta, Nwapa's work seemed to have influenced such modern writer as Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, whose Children of the Eagle (2002) final of her trilogy  like  Nwapa's One is Enough (1981), continued the study of  societal fate of the woman in the prism of Igbo cultural predicament.

November 10, 1995, another writer, Ken Saro-Wiwa, left the scene. He was executed in Port Harcourt by the cruel regime of late General Sani Abacha, the likes which most Nigerians vowed would never be repeated.

With his narrative, Sozaboy (1985), Saro-Wiwa gave a graphic analogy of the terrific events of the Nigerian Civil War, thereby exposing the unattractive nature of wars to the young minds.

Through his other writings, Saro-Wiwa exposed years of destruction of the environment of the Niger Delta through crude oil exploitation.

His 'Silence Would Be Treason', a collection of letters and poems sent while in military detention to Irish solidarity activist, Sr. Majella McCarron was donated by the latter to the National University of Ireland Maynooth after the students' protest in the 'Shell To Sea' North-West Ireland. It further increased an international attention to the environmental abuses on the Niger Delta ecosystem, culminating into the establishment of institutions for the protection of the rights of the people and the environment of the Niger Delta.

The execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa on November 10 1995 by the military junta of late General Sani Abacha further exposed the Ogoni, Calabari and Ikwere people to possible danger of extinction; thereby creating in them the courage to doggedly campaign for international protection; they fought and got it.

However, Ken Saro-Wiwa made one costly mistake: He saw the emerging Biafra as possible worse predator and parasite than the federation of Nigeria and the crude oil hunters. He fought it; weakened it; but got negative results.

June 29, 2016, witnessed the death of another literary icon of the old southeast, Elechi Amadi, who with his plays and novels particularly The Concubine (1966), exposed the rustic nature of African village life before contact with the western world. Amadi contributed majorly the creation of hunger in the minds of western readers and literary analysts whose exploratory critique brought 'African Literature' to fore.

But then; Gabriel Okara, perhaps, most popular for his poetry which delineated African and Western cultures is believed to have begun African poetry, while some critics say he begun the entire modern African Literature.

After leaving school, Okara wrote plays and features for radio. In 1953 his poem 'The Call of the River Nun' won an award at the Nigerian Festival of Arts. Some of his poetry was published in the literary magazine Black Orpheus, and by 1960 he had won recognition as an accomplished literary craftsman. Some of his poems have been translated into several languages.

One of Okara's most famous poems is 'Piano and Drums' in which he explored differences between African and Western Cultures. He continued the theme in his first novel, The Voice (1964).

He eventually like others closed the chapter when he died on March 25, 2019.

And the legendary Chinua Achebe left March 21, 2013. Achebe was most popular for his first novel Things Fall Apart (1958) which discusses confusion in a juxtaposition of native and foreign cultures especially while the foreign attempts to eclipse the native. The novel has been translated into world's major languages. Achebe won local and international awards before he died. Some critics believe he ought to have won the Nobel Laureate for Literature.

Another of the writers was Cyprain Ekwensi who wrote hundreds of short stories, radio and television scripts besides other several novels and children's books. His People of the City (1954) was his first book to attract international recognition, but his most successful novel was Jagua Nana (1961), famous perhaps for its focus on a pedestrian love, explored through a woman, married but abandoned her husband for a teacher.

With another novel, The Passport of Mallam Ilia (1960) also on similar themes of trust, betrayal and vengeance; Ekwensi seemed to have been unique on topical or contemporary issues, which didn't seem common among his contemporaries.
He received the Dag Hammarskjöld International Prize in Literature in 2001and became a fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Letters before he died on November 4; a few months to the presentation of a planned Award by the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA). The honour was eventually presented posthumously.

Vincent Chukwuemeka Ike, presently the guide, who later became a traditional ruler, was popular for his humour and satire in writing. He has also joined his ancestors. His death is reminding literary scholars of an era and tradition fast closing.

With the exit of a whole generation of the regional writers, it seems a twilight or another Sunset at Dawn (1976); perhaps a literary material for a redirection in the region's literary tradition; and perhaps a time for the development of a Nigerian literature which is lacking at the moment.

 

 

 

 

 

Gays, Lesbians, face hard time in Nigeria

By Pius Odiaka

06.11.19

GAYS in Nigeria are facing hard times as police arraigned 46 of them before a Federal High Court in Lagos. The 46 gays were among 57 persons arrested in August in a hotel in Egbeda, a suburb of northwestern Lagos.
 
The trial judge, Justice Rilwan Aikawa, could not take their pleas due to lack of space in the courtroom to contain such a large number.

“We cannot have 57 persons in this court. We have to look for a day; we can use Court 2, so it can be convenient for all,” the judge said while he adjourned the case to November 22.

The suspects were arrested about 2am while performing gay initiation rites for a set of recruited members.

According to the police prosecutor, Joseph Eboseremen, the suspects were alleged to have violated Section 5(2) of the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act of 2013.

Same sex marriage or sexual activity law prescribes 14 years imprisonment. Sharia law practiced in most northern states prescribes death by stoning. Apart from laws, same-sex sexual relationship is regarded as taboo in Nigerian society. It is believed to be practiced in the country by individuals with alien cultural background. Various surveys conducted by groups in a decade indicated that over 94% of the population does not accept same-sex sexual activities.

Western world recognizes the practice, often referred to as ‘Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT), as an expression of individual’s rights to life and freedom of association, both Christianity and Islam, world’s largest religions, outlaw the practice. While the campaign for the acceptance of gays and lesbians gain ground in a few cities of Nigeria, acceptance percentage in Moslem dominated north and Christian dominated south is less that 10% of the entire population.

Campaigns for recognition of LGBT in Nigeria stepped up by rights activist, Bisi Alimi, seem to have yielded no success especially in the face of the Act of National Assembly banning the practice.

Despite the law prohibiting the practice in the country, about 20% of southern population may tolerate practitioners, while less than 10% of northern population may accommodate any known practitioner.

Years before the overt practice of same sex marriage, some cultures in Nigeria accepted the practice. For instance, among Enu-ani people of Midwestern Nigeria, a single woman, who desired a family of her own, could marry another woman and appoint a man-friend for her, for the purposes of procreation. There exists, today, many families raised from such background.  Members of such families with matriarchs as heads of their respective families, enjoy equal rights with every other individual within the communities of Enu-ani.

At the moment, such practice seems to have been eliminated by the introduction of lesbianism, the trailing controversy and the eventual Act of 2013 banning same sex sexual relationship in the country.

 

 


The writer in China- Liberia relations

By Samuel Dweh

WHAT China expects from Liberians is to show what it has done for Liberia in the Monrovia-Beijing friendship. The People's Republic of China prefers the 'showing' to be in writing more than for it to be in speaking.

What China expects again, but won't demand as condition from any Liberian reporting on China's works in Liberia is to capture small Chinese businesses with thousands of Liberians, skilled and unskilled employees. Chinese Stores  trading in wears, electronics, etc. are everywhere around Liberia, especially in the two major trading points of Liberia's most commercially thriving areas: Waterside Market (central Monrovia) and Redlight Market (Paynesville). But most of the 'recorders' do not go beyond 'Government programme', or only speak about 'China's works' from what they read in “old documents”.

Members of Liberia Association Writers (LAW) are not “static” or are not “photocopiers” on informing the Liberian publicand the rest of the World about China's “development footprints” in Liberia.

No serious organizer of a description-based  “Writing Award” would give a prize to any of the “writers” hired by the Government of Liberia to “promote” China's “architectural masterpiece” (Annex of Capitol Building  seat of Liberia's Representatives and Senators  in Monrovia). All the hired writers fall below “showing” of this Building to Liberians and foreigners who can't come to enter into the building due to the distance between them and the Building. Members of LAW would rather describe what almost everyone sees.

I visited the Building on Tuesday, September 11, 2018  my first time inside the Building since the Chinese people (who built it) turned it over to the Liberian government. If the Liberian Government's 'official invitation' had reached LAW, the group would have felt compelled to describe it to people outside the shores of Liberia  a professional job none of the Government's 'favorite' private communication group could do.

On patriotism, however, the writers' group is pleased to describe only the interior of the National Legislature's Annex, leaving out the exterior part already dealt with by some of the Government's 'hired' communicators.
The colour of the walls bears greythe same as the exterior, while the tiles on the staircase are beige.

 The corridors are spacious for four persons to walk together without touching each other, or for six persons to stand and converse and space still left for two passers-by walking side-by-side. (This is unlike each of the old Building's corridors:  narrower, as if the designers had thought about “only three persons” for the space). There are ventilation points on the walls in the corridors (air points absent in the old Building).

I couldn't see any stain on any part of the wall (unlike the interior of old Building that bears 'smears' from dirty hands from persons in the corridor who mistake a wall for a handkerchief, serviette or tissue). But don't bet on the customarily 'dirty people' working in that place or on visit, who can rub their dirty hands on “anything'. I hope I'm not talking like the Ghanaian Ayi Kwei Armah looking for the “beautiful ones” of his country yet unborn. Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

I couldn't see any spot on the roof, but I begin imagining the roof tearing apart soon (as it was with the old Building, as reported several times by journalists assigned here) due to poor maintenance culture of (most) of the people working in the place.

I couldn't enter any of the Restrooms, but the air from inside one of them (opened by an employee or visitor who was coming out) was 'perfumed'. Unlike the Restrooms in the Old Building which could cause nausea due to stuffs left in 'smeared' commodes.

Each office (occupied by a Representative or a Senator and his or her Office Staff) has a huge Fire Extinguisher. I saw “hydrant” written on one in the office of Hon. Jonathan FonatiKoffa rpresenting Grand Kru County. This was when I was delivering his 'letter of support' for a writing Workshop for the County's Senior High Schools students, to be facilitated by Liberia's writers' group in November, 2018.

I wish I were at the 2018's edition of the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCA), held in Beijing, China, to “show” (describe) in this article the facial expressions and handshakes of Liberia's and China's Presidents George MannehWeah and Xi Jingping at the Airport and at the Chinese Presidential Lounge.

Nevertheless, the “role” of Liberian objective writer is vital to the “expansion” of Liberia-China relationship. The Government of the People's Republic of China, through the Chinese Embassy in Liberia, believes this, so has drawn LAW “nearer” to the PRC by giving “capacity-building gifts” (computers and books).

The truth is that the role of objective writes in nation-building of any country can never be under-estimated. I hope the Government of Liberia understands this truism quite early

  • Samuel Dweh is the president of the Liberia Association of Writers (LAW). He was partly trained in Lagos by Courtly Group before he returned to Liberia to join the rest of his compatriots in rebuilding the West African country ravaged by years of violent conflicts, He may be reached through (+231) 886-618-906/776-583-266; samuelosophy@yahoo.com or info.liberianwritersasso@gmail.com.


  • Agriculture Nigeria

    Ilorin, the Kwara State capital hosted the international community last January, in the stride to make agriculture a serious business in Nigeria...

    read more »

  • Investment Nigeria

    STANDARD Chartered Plc, the parent company of the Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria, has posted a total group income of $19.07 billion, representing eight per cent increase over the previous result...

    read more »

  • People & Event

    Over 70 percent of revenue earned by the Nigerian government is used to pay salaries of civil servants and politicians, leaving barely 30percent to finance infrastructure.Over 70 percent .to finance to finance to financeto finance

    read more »

  • Effective Legislature

    Over 70 percent of revenue earned by the Nigerian government is used to pay salaries of civil servants and politicians, leaving barely 30percent to finance infrastructure.Over 70 percent .to finance to finance to financeto finance

    read more »

  • Personality of the Moment

    Late Rev. Aggrey Ashibuogwu could have converted the drugs in his custody to personal wealth as it has been the tradition of people, but he chose to leave a lasting legacy...

    read more »



Featured Video