A review of Nigerian literary blogs by Akinlabi of Ayemidun.
Literature is always a minority affair. Even in the blogosphere where we are continually inundated with massive proliferation of voices and concerns. Yet, a literary blog posses more danger to structured scholarship than any other kind of blog. The idea of a literary blog is to widen access to works of art and extend the reaches of critical activities. But the word ‘critical’ is used guardedly here because the supposed democracy of the blogosphere, which admits of individuated (oft exaggerated) rights of voice within the multitude of voices, can also translate to ‘uncritical’ adventure for the blogger-reviewer! The danger is that the peculiar character of blogosphere as a site of discourse, its nature of immediacy, might not lend a strong, well thought-out spine to literary opinions and commentary and therefore might create a situation of ‘attenuation of taste and conservatism of judgment, to borrow words from Ronan McDonald.
Yet the blogsville should not be a place where literature goes to ruin. And Nigerian literary bloggers, it seems, still cede the rights of place for critical erudition on, and dissection of, literary works to a few (rarefied) academic journals, a small number of e-zines devoted to literary activities and (although less ebullient nowadays) art pages of newspapers. Most Nigerian literary blogs approach the treatment of literary materials with a reportorial light-heart rather than academic diligence. It is just as well. It is however hard to find a blog devoted entirely to profiling Nigerian writers-their biographies and their works- in the way anglocamlit.blogspot.com is doing for Cameroonian Anglophone Literature.
Molara Wood’s wordsbody is perhaps the most popular literary blogs in Nigeria and one whose views are taken seriously by a lot of readers. Although Wordsbody covers the broad spectrum of the arts, its literary slant is quite noticeable. The blog’s last entry is in December ’08 and it announces the Farafina’s Visual Arts and Literature Event. This event included a film screening of MW’s own ‘Molara Wood in conversation with Ben Okri’. It will be greatly rewarding however to visit her old posts.
Somaila Isah Umaisha’s everything literature is one of the most vibrant, most engaging literary blogs in the country. The latest post explores the link between sports and culture through the background of recently concluded National Sports Festival in Kaduna. Umaisha reports that the culture content of the Sports event included 300 contemporary performers and 200 cultural performers, a festival play, The Royal Chamber, written by award winning playwright, Yahaya Dangana and a festival poem read by Alkasim Abdulkadir, the national publicity secretary of Association of Nigeria Authors. The report is accompanied with photos from the events.
Kingsley Keke’s poetry blog, Poetivation posts a poem ,’Life’, dedicated to his new born niece, Rihanna, ‘and every newborn babies(sic) in the world’ The short poem traces the growth of Rihanna from the yoke to uterus to labour and the breaking forth ‘like a rushing of tap’. Such imagery.
Onyeka Nwelue of Castle of the Writer reproduces a paper he presented at PAGES as part of the exhibition, ‘The World is Round’. The paper is titled ‘The Writer’s Work as Geographer’. Nwelue in the paper discusses how the joy of seeing description of a recognizable place in a book enhances a reading pleasure. He describes how he (together with friends) has discovered to his pleasure that the house Chimamanda herself used to live in matches one described in Purple Hibiscus as Aunty Ifeoma’s .He concludes that ‘fictionalizing real settings with the real names can help a city, a country by luring more tourists into it’. A good read though a little not as deep as expected for a topic that describes a creative symbiosis between literature and the map.
Eromo Egbejule of The Barbecue Republic reviews Oyeka Nwelue’s book, The Abyssinian Boy, situating its thematic concerns in ‘the social political cum ethnic cum religious links between Nigeria and India. The book gets his critical rebuke for its excessive use of flashback device and incredibility in the part where a 62 year old woman in a Nigerian village is said to be gay. Aside this textual harm as noticed by the reviewer, the review is generally sympathetic and the book is predicted to win an award this year.
Jude Dibia’s JUDE DIBIA discusses the protest of gay rights activists to the Nigerian law makers in relation to the proposed bill that legalises arrest of suspected homosexuals by the Police. Jude Dibia examines the protest of these ‘invisibles’ against a repressive law within the context of his novel, Walking with Shadows about challenges of the homosexuals in an unaccommodating society.
Osondu Awaraka of Incessant Scribble posts to announce his relocation to the US and its enabling possibility for more efficient blogosphere experience. He also announces the list of books he’s waiting to review on the blog; these include Helen Oyeyemi’s The Opposite House, Habila’s Measuring Time and Sefi Atta’s Everything Good Will Come.
Wole Oguntokun of Laspapi(laspapi.blogspot.com) announces the continuation of Soyinka’s Death and King’s Horseman at Olivier Hall of the National Theatre, London till may. Wole Oguntokun who is better known for his light-hearted column, The Girl Whisperer, in ‘Life’ magazine of Nigeria’s The Guardian on Sunday ,( The Girl Whisper is also posted on ‘laspapi’) is a Lagos based theatre director and consultant to the research crew of National Theatre London on the play.
The two ladies of The Bookaholic Blog post a short review of Doreen Baingana’s Tropical Fish- Tales from Entebbe. Describing the arresting nature of the book cover, the blog also notices that Ms Baingana’s effort is bold as it tackles ‘hard and sensitive issues such as faith, cohesion, religion, evolution of culture…’and so on. You might want to read the review to prompt your search for the book.