A SHORT REVIEW OF UZODINMA IWEALA’S ‘BEAST OF NO NATION’

‘​It is starting like this’… And that is how we get drawn or drafted into the wonderful story of Agu, a school boy who got torn away from his regular life of family, school and church and grew rapidly loosing his innocence and childhood to war.

For me the strong points of this novel are in its imagery use, story telling and the language use. 
Uzodinma’s power of description is spelndid, and very graphic, and asides from the fact that it makes the story come alive, it also lays emphasis on the memory of Agu. It is said that children never forgets  and Uzodinma put this into Agu’s story. It us a perfect recollection, wonderfuk use of memory. And it authenticates the story. 
The story is told by Agu, the protagonist of the novel, and apart from the fact that he was telling of things that had happen, he talks in present continuous tenses. I think the writer is trying to tell us that in as much as this is Agu’s story it is still happening. More so, I think in Agu’s mind, nothing is over.

Photo Credit – @zaynabtyty

The broken English in which the author wrote is kind of strange for a modern reader, and people including myself have complained about struggling with it. Also, I think it is very contextual and a strategy. One, to reveal the locale of the story, and two to add a bit of humour to the horrendous story that Agu has to tell.
The fact that this war happened in an unknown African nation points to the fact that war is not a citizen of any country, also this has happened in some part of Africa which the author didn’t want to mention.
The debut is a good one. The author did a nice work on it, it came out fine. I will give this book a 6 on a scale of 10. 
It is an African story, that will literarily have you at the edge of your seat, and dig a lot of pity and sympathy out of you for children whose childhood were eaten up by war, and their tales of survival, which poke the question of how hard is it to talk about war, especially when children become victims.

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Freedom – Oluwatoyin Gideon-Abidoye.

​A little more patience, 

the ears have heard, 

the birds have sang, 

the rythme and lyrics scored. 
The soothing style overshadowed by 

the fear of its own fall. 

Just like the fear in the eyes

of a child with an egg to feed. 
But to the past goes the moment. 

Strengthening the heart of the learner.

Stronger and better everyday.

Beats after beats for the heart of Gold.

April Bloom, Book Cases and Music

Okay, cheers of the new month. Since the last update for March, between you and I, I have not finished reading James Marlon’s ‘The Brief History of Seven Killings’. It has not been easy, keeping my day job which I have had no break from everyday since March. I am now on Page 150. Please clap for me jare. Sure, I am still reading it.

I found and joined The Port Harcourt Book Club. It has been very exciting. The book club had been existing under my nose for a while and I never knew. As usual, I stumbled upon its existence on twitter. They read a book every month and meet for the book discussion and some kind of review every last Sunday of that month by 4pm at a venue of choice in Port Harcourt. For the month of April, they, or should I say we are reading ‘Love is Power or Something Like That‘ by A. Igoni Barrett, the book is available at Bookville Bookshop, Mummy B road, Port Harcourt. It is an open book club, so if you are in Port Harcourt or passing by you can join. Find them on twitter, @ThePHCBookClub

Between March and now, I have knocked down two books, and both are short stories collections. The one for The Port Harcourt Book Club, ‘Love is Power or Something Like That’ by A. Igoni Barrett, a Port Harcourt boy himself and ‘Smithereens of Death’ by Olubunmi Familoni an Ibadan base writer. I am unto the third book, ‘We Need New Names‘ by NoViolet Bulawayo, the 2014 Etisalat Prize for fiction winner. It is a good progress on my reading habit if you ask me. And of course, their reviews are coming right up, maybe this month too.

Next on the blog should be my short review of Elnathan John’s ‘Born On A Tuesday‘. I have managed to finish the last two chapters which the pity that flushed me up for Ahmed did not allow me to read. Watch this space.

THE OTHER THINGS…

Nigeria in suffering from fuel scarcity. I know it is no news. But guys, it is not easy, the money I have spent on fueling my car since this brouhaha started is already double my monthly usual and mounting. It is not funny anymore.  I just hope that this week shall be the end of it, if not maybe what happened in 199somthing will happen again.

Among other things, I love music and of all kinds, so far it sounds good to me and fits my mood per time. There is this beautiful Nigeria  female sensation Aramide. She sings Afro Soul, and I came across her last year. She has a new music video out for her single Love Me, in which she featured Adekunle Gold, another Afro Soul sensation I will say.

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A shot from the video – Aramide & Adekule Gold                     Courtesy : BellaNija

I love the feel of the song, its mixture of Yourba and English Lyrics, the flush of the African feel in the instrumentals and the lush video shoot and quality. It has been on replay on my music player for a while. Enjoy the new video here.

Catch you later guys.

 

 

African Literature is More – Oluwaseyi G. Abidoye

FROM reading my first African Literature piece to now, I have subconsciously developed the love for any writing that comes out of Africa, especially Nigeria.

Thinking about this, I have for some time now, devoted my free time to being a connoisseur of African Literature. African Stories, Poetry and Art move me. From the novel genre to short stories and flash fiction, I feel a part of me in every story.

So I have tried to collect the experiences and feelings that I have with reading these stories from back in time and reading them now. I have seen that at each point, a particular story speaks in essence of time and understanding to the reader.

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What I read as meaning and contexts to Things Fall Apart, for example, when I was younger is not what I read as meaning to it now that I am older and more learned than I used to be. The reading experience gets better with time and understanding. So are the discourses that Things Fall Apart generates from 1958 till date, they have become more, and seen in new perspectives.

I want to believe that this particular experience is happening to writing in Africa. African Literature has grown from its early stage as it was to something more phenomenon. It has gone beyond stories, protests, definition and its struggles for recognition and documentation both in written and oral form to become a platform that takes these earlier stages of development as tools for projection, not as form, type or definition

African Literature is now a platform that is open to different voices, across genres. Africans alike, writers, artistes, painters, photographers, spoken word performers (in oral) have all taken to this platform to display, discourse, present and churn out issues, that as much as peculiar they are to Africa, have positioned Africa in a global discourse and recognition.

Not that African Literature is assuming a new role in this ‘platform’ nomenclature or form, it has only become grandiose. It is bigger. African Writers are now all over the place, Publishing African Writers now is big business, writing is more, readers are more, dissemination is more, so is the discourse, so is the aesthetics and literariness.

Beyond the traditional and formal single view or perspective of discourses in African Literature about the social commentaries, there is more attention to the level of aesthetics and the literary characteristics that African Literature now presents. African Literature is now finding inter-textual relations and cross continental juxtapositions both in style, structures and the level content development. Detailed attention is now being placed on canonizing African Literature not only in the social and political contexts but on style, structures, beauty and deployments as works of art.

So, African Literature has evolved, It is not just stories of cultural, political, anthropological documentation of Africa anymore, it has become more, defining its writers also, their styles, their experiences and their capabilities to deliver all these in beautiful stories that span time and holds relevance for discourses on equal grounds in global Literature discourse anywhere anytime. African Literature has come to stay.

A Reading of Arthur Golden’s ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ – Oluwaseyi G. Abidoye

In Nigeria, where I live, Geisha is canned mackerel fish preserved in salty tomato paste, so when I came across this book during one of my net surfing sessions, I googled the word ‘Geisha’ and the result that popped up prompted me to read the book.

I found out that a Geisha is a traditional Japanese female entertainer who acts as hostess and whose skills include performing various arts such as classical music, dance, games and conversation, mainly to entertain male customers, they are also known as comfort women. There is a history of abuse and molestation of these women during the world war II by the Japanese soldiers and recent news wave about Japanese compensation and apologies to victims of the abuse.

geisha

Memoirs of a Geisha  is a Japanese historical and cultural fiction, a debut of the author, Arthur Golden and a bulky read of about 600+ pages.  it is the story of Geisha, who grew up in the era before the world war two in Japan. Arthur Golden is a professor of Japanese history of American origin, so the prompting contextual concept of the book is basically historical and research oriented. one major book said to have influenced the writing of the Memoirs of a Geisha is  Geisha by Liza Dalby, an American woman who actually became a Geisha.

The book is told in the voice of Nitta Sayuri, who relates her painstaking story of how she became a Geisha. Plucked from her little seaside village of Yoroido, and made into a bittersweet woman in the alluring city of Gion as a Geisha. Stripped of her family she sought to regain her happiness in a lifelong struggle by winning the love of ‘Chairman’, a man whom she greatly love and admire.

Having no prior interest or exposure about Japanese culture or literature I found the metaphor and imagery of water and wood quite boring and too frequent, so I skimmed through the instances of such recurrences. The characters appear vague and seem to be represented by an imagery which constitute their cultural existence, more like a conscious cultural craft.

The book reads like a journey, full of description, carefully laid out to ensure one does not miss his/her way. With less conversation, it compels listening than observing, and that makes it a page turner, because it captures the attention of the reader. There is a lot of expose on the life a Giesha adopts out of no choice and perfect subjectivity and obedience to a structured lifestyle that renders the feminine nature as a commodity and an object of satisfaction to a male dominated ‘club’ or culture.

The book serves an emotional meal, with Nitta Sayuri as the compelling flavour that make one want to continue the reading to the end, after which one is unsure which exact situation is making one’s eyes clouded with tears, her love-hate experience or the uncertainty about her love quest with the chairman, or her eventual happiness. Whichever one is bound to share Sayuri’s experience and feel for her emotional struggles and life journey.

It is basically a love story, packaged in a plot that is common for a love heist that ends in a ‘happily ever after’ way. You will need to read the book to capture all rushing, rolling and falling emotions of grieve, loss, identity, pain, and love. I must say it is an interesting read.  You can place an order for the book here.

Now I can go ahead and see the movie.

THE MAN AND HIS BOOK – Abidoye Oluwaseyi Gideon

Inseparable from his classic, Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe can never be forgotten. He was clearly a man that walked on the rocks and took his time to etch his footprints on them. On Things Fall Apart, the simplicity and care he employed in the delivery of the story, yet not losing its underlying meaning, political, historical and cultural contextual essence is explicitly valuable and exemplary. The text has become a reference point for the mode of African prose delivery and experience.
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Chinua made himself a world literary citizen. Even to generations unborn, Things Fall Apart would always be a right of passage into modern African Prose and Literature. His overwhelming influence and mark on the African literary world cannot be under emphasized.

On my last walk with him through the pages of There was A country, I endlessly imagined for several hours the great hope that laid in the hands of the educated Nigerian Youth during Achebe’s growing time. I can never stop to imagine that really, there was a country, Nigeria in her full glory and pride.

After the reading, i somehow reached a conclusion that Things Fall Apart grew out from the part of Achebe’s heart that loved his root, yet embraced the western culture. As a child he loved reading so much he had read most English Literature Classics for the fun of it… No wonder he finally gave Nwoye, Okonkwo’s son to the missionary,killed Okonkwo, and gave room for a new beginning.

Despite his embrace of western education, the African in him never took it well with Conrad’s description of Africans. In essence, Achebe abhorred discrimination, racism, and down to his roots in Nigeria, marginalization. On specific accounts, Achebe has fought for Africans, Nigeria and the Igbo nation. He seemed to have taken grounds to boldly stand for every layer of his black identity, right from the top, continental, to the bottom, local. Achebe was proud of his origin to the very end.

His loyalty to the African nation, Nigeria (when there was a country), Biafra & the entire Igbo nation is admirable, and undoubtedly courageous. More than a great loss to the entire world, Literature and Nigeria as a whole, Achebe is an irreplaceable great loss to the Igbo nation. In all that could have been written to describe him and his relations in this world, this words should also find a place among them, Chinua Achebe : A Man of His People, A Citizen of the World.