Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Opinion: The Curse Of Literature Nobel Prize In Africa

Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
A Nigerian publisher once told me that of the manuscripts she reads from aspiring writers, half echo Chinua Achebe and half try to adopt Wole Soyinka’s style. Mr. Achebe and Mr. Soyinka, who won the continent’s first Nobel in literature in 1986, are arguably the most celebrated black African writers, especially in terms of Western accolades. But their dominance causes problems in a region where the common attitude is, “If it already works, why bother to improve on it?”

Here, each successful seller of plantain chips spawns a thousand imitators selling identical chips; conformity is esteemed while individuality raises eyebrows; success is measured by how similar you are to those who have gone before you. These are probably not uniquely African flaws, but their effects are magnified on a continent whose floundering publishing industry has little money for experimentation and whose writers still have to move abroad to gain international recognition.

An Ngugi Nobel would have resulted in the new generation of aspiring writers dreaming of nothing higher than being hailed as “the next Ngugi.”

This would be a shame. Of course, it would be a relief to know that there’s at least one more option for young writers besides becoming the “next Achebe” or the “next Soyinka.” But what African writing needs now is real variety and adventurousness — evolution, not emulation. Messrs. Ngugi, Achebe and Soyinka are certainly masters, but of an earnest and sober style. What about other styles?

As a lover of humorous books, I’m often saddened that I can find hardly any by African authors. Fans of lighter literature or commercial fiction often make the same complaint. I know some young writers who are experimenting in these and other genres; an Ngugi award could have pushed them back to the old tried and tired ways.

I should say that Mr. Ngugi remains one of my literary sweethearts, and he’s hardly a conformist. Many fans have extolled his brave decision to write in his mother tongue, Kikuyu, instead of English. If he truly desires a Nobel, I can’t help but wish him one. But I shudder to imagine how many African writers would be inspired by the prize to copy him. Instead of acclaimed Nigerian writers, we would have acclaimed Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa writers. We suffer enough from tribal differences already. This is not the kind of variety we need.

I’d rather we miss out on this year’s Nobel party and are able instead to celebrate the accomplishments of more literary groundbreakers in the future. African writers will achieve more greatness when they are rewarded for standing on the shoulders of their elders to see farther ahead, instead of worshiping at their elders’ feet.

Culled From The New York Times

Citizen Report: Nigerian Foremost Nationalist, Anthony Enahoro Feared Dead

Pa Anthony Enahoro
chidi opara reports have just received a citizen report on phone that Nigerian foremost Nationalist, Pa Anthonty Enahoro is dead, no details were provided.

Pa Enahoro have been critically sick for some time now.

We are yet to independently confirm this report.

News Release: Allegations Against Former ASUU Chairman By Governor Of Rivers State

Governor Amaechi
The attention of the Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Laws (IHRHL) have been drawn to an alleged statement credited to Governor Chibuike Amaechi the Governor of Rivers State at the Gateway Church, Port Harcourt Sunday December 12, 2010 to the effect that Ms Jaja, was responsible for the closing down of the two Universities in the state. For the avoidance of doubt, Ms Jaja was the immediate past Chairman of the Academic Union of Staff Universities (ASUU) Rivers State Chapter.

This is a very dangerous and castigating statement coming from the Governor of Rivers State who is expected to express utmost diplomacy and tact in the handling of state affairs and guarantee the Constitutional rights of every citizen in the state especially the right to freedom of association. The IHRHL frowns upon the cavalier attitude with which a very central matter like the prolong strike action in our Universities and its attendant implication on education, the general population and society is being handled.

To reduce a high profile matter to one person from the ASUU is in keeping with the logic of the State government in turning a clear issue of the Implementation of an agreement which ASUU reached with the Federal Government into a personal and vindictive one.

The IHRHL notes that what is at issue is the standard and quality of education in our Institutions where infrastructural decay, impunity, low quality of education, lack of transparency in governance have become the rule rather than the exception under this leadership.

Democracy and its processes must mean not the dictates of a government or governor but must include all views no matter how irrational it might seem or opposed to the views of the government of the State.

The IHRHL also calls on Clergymen not to allow their pulpits to be uses as platforms for Political calumny and demonising of respectable members of the society. The IHRHL also call on the Security agents to pay attention to the safety of Ms. Jaja, as agents of politicians usually go on their own whims to clamp down  perceived opponents of their principals.

Nkasi Wodu Esq.
Program Officer ESC Rights Unit
Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (IHRHL)