Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Nigerian breaks world record for longest reading marathon

Bayode shortly after he broke the Guinness record on Saturday.
A Nigerian, Bayode Treasures-Olawunmi, has set a new Guinness World Record for ”The Longest Reading Marathon (Read Aloud).”
Bayode set the new record at exactly 3:30 on Saturday, at the YouRead library, Yaba, Lagos.
The father of three began reading at 1:30 PM on Monday and set the new record of 120 hours over a period of five days.
He beat Nepali Deepak Sharma’s record of 113 hours 15 minutes set in 2008 reading mostly Nigerian literature by Toni Kan , Leye Adele, Sarah Ladipo Manyika and many others.
“This is the most adventurous thing I have ever done as an individual. It is not easy for an individual to sit down and decide to read for five days almost non-stop. The plan is to create awareness for reading and writing culture in Nigeria. I accumulated 20 minutes each day to eat, sleep and have my bath. I don’t even sleep very well but I am glad it is over and I have set a new Guinness World Record,” he told Premium Times.
Bayode, a brand specialist, read aloud for 122 straight hours and only took two hours break every 24 hours.
To ensure that he was in tiptop condition, a Lagos state ambulance was permanently stationed at the library premises while the challenge lasted.
His wife, Tosin, a financial services expert, also told this newspaper that she was taken aback when her husband informed her of his plan to read non-stop for four days.
“I had just returned from work one night when he told me he wanted to read for 120 hours and I just walked past. I told him what mattered most was putting cash on the table, settling the bills and not book reading. I told him to jettison the idea because it made no sense.
“A few days later he came back to me and repeated the same thing and as usual, I called his bluff. But one thing I can tell you is that my husband is so brilliant and focused. Our children have taken after him in this regard. Now, I feel very happy because this is a dream come
true and I am glad I finally supported him.”
Sponsors of the event included Guaranty Trust Bank, Tagheuer, Lagos state government ,among others.

A Spotlight on the Relevance of Nigerian themed Children Books

Children booksGrowing up in Nigeria is definitely interesting. Nigerians are natural storytellers, who pass tales, myths and fables across generations; shaping mentality, building morals and forming the unconscious blocks that help children decipher the difference between right or wrong.  The stories, however, are not self-generated content, they are developed from content written in storybooks and novels; while some were developed by the exaggerations of elders while telling tales by moonlight.
Research has shown that reading and listening to book readings play a key role in enabling early learning experiences. It is linked with academic achievement, mental retention and oral development for enhanced productivity in adult life.
Over the years Nigerian authors have written standard fictional storybooks, most of which have helped formed the basis of early child growth across most secondary and primary schools from different generations. Books like Chike and the River; Eze Goes to School, The Passport of Mallam Illia, The Drummer Boy, Ajapa the Tortoise, to name a few, are some of the books that resonate with children’s literature in the minds of Nigerians. While storybooks have continually remained in the market, it is pertinent to note that there has been little or no production of children-focused picture books for preschoolers.
The lack of flexibility and adaptability of elementary school curriculum has resulted in the same types of books being recycled. Nigerian children literature has therefore been limited to book sequences that have been written many years ago.
Oluwaseun Aina, Nigerian literary critic once said “there are myriads of challenges noticeable in children’s books. They are either not interesting, error-prone or feature poorly illustrated pictures.” It is important to change this because reading is the only foundation for knowledge acquisition and expansion.
As Nigerians, the need to portray our culture, locale and food through literature is important especially for children as the first form of learning for them is through books. While several authors like Wole Soyinka and Chimamanda Adichie have successfully told some of the stories from our history, cultural heritage, heroes past through books either serving as a means of entertainment, education or social reforming, these books are written for adults with no specifics to children.

Children in Nigeria often have to rely on oral legends and mythic narratives, rhymes and poems that have been handed down from generations on end. Others who have access to written literature have to read foreign books, limiting the opportunity to read stories that portray realities that they can identify with. Most Nigerian parents give priority to textbooks over books that do not fall within the curriculum.

It is important to emphasize that good children’s books contribute to the upbringing and can form a module for learning. It is also necessary for a child’s mental development because of the use of clearly and beautifully illustrated pictures which depict the content of the books. Authors like Olubunmi Aboderin Talabi who recently launched a series of Nigerian themed children’s picture books, show insights into the relevance of these books for children.

The writer and publisher through the launch of her three unique books; The Tobi Series, Diary of a Toddler and Kob the antelope, highlight family values and the need for children to understand the environment in which they live; food and the necessary health habits which children should cultivate.

The Tobi Series is about the urban adventures of a happy-go-lucky, three-year-old girl living with her parents, a dual-career couple, in modern-day Lagos, Nigeria. Kob the Antelope is a story about stranger danger and teaches children obedience, and to be cautious of the environment they live in. Diary of Toddler shows a day in the life of a city-dwelling preschooler. All books by Olubunmi Aboderin Talabi are simplistic and deliberately light-hearted and perfect for children. The books are also well illustrated in ways that will spark and strengthen visual thinking, and introduce children to the love of art.

The books convey succinct contemporary Nigerian themes that help create a mental picture of the immediate environment in the minds of the young readers, helping them discover themselves first as Nigerians, and familiarizing them with our culture, ideals and even delicacies. With these inspiring picture books, children are introduced to the concept of reading, even if they cannot read yet.

The author understands the importance of changing the perception in the minds of the younger generation, that reading is uninteresting because they have little or no access to exciting, inspiring and well-illustrated picture books, as opposed to textbooks.

In exploring ideas about what Nigerian literature is, it is important to look at some of the things that makes it important. Nigerian literature mirrors our society; it makes us think about ourselves and our immediate environment; allows us to enjoy our language and its beauty, and it reflects and changes ideology. It would make a lot of difference to have children in Nigeria experience all of these through literature, and help them understand that reading can be enjoyable.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Why You Should Get This Book

Kingdom Tales is sometimes labelled a fairy story, but it’s far from that. It’s an allegory to the events that took place in Africa after most of the African nations were free to rule themselves. It was a time plagued with wars and coups, and the author of Kingdom Tales did an amazing job retelling those stories using animals.

It was written in an elegantly simple style, and the author, Charles, used the animal kingdoms as a metaphor for the African nations. The story started when King Hasha (Eagles’ king), the ruler of Mountain Kingdom defeated the Cave Kingdom (the Bats) in their quest for a legendary Dark Staff. In real life, this Dark Staff can be a total freedom or independence; because in African folklores, staffs always signify independence or having authority.

Then in the Mountain Kingdom (Eagles’ home), Charles made us to understand that even though the kingdom is strong, it still received support from the ‘creepy’ Falcons who aren’t part of the kingdom. This can be analyzed as the support most African nations got from their colonial masters, which they didn’t believe were genuine supports, rather as a way their masters hoped to exploit them more.

Also while the Mountain Kingdom, Cave Kingdom, and the Forest Kingdom were all searching for the Dark Staff (total freedom), they were also plagued with internal issues. King Hasha lost his throne to one of his soldiers, and was exiled to another kingdom for some time. Something of that nature also happened to the Bats’ king. This could be the time African nations were plagued with coups, civil wars and genocides.

Even though this novel is politically minded, it’s still very entertaining for kids to enjoy. The author has a good sense of humour and great writing style. When I first read it, I really enjoyed it as a fairy story about animals fighting for supremacy, not knowing it represented something deeper. That’s why I say it’s safe for kids to read too.

Charles was able to add African folklore and medieval feel to it too, so anybody from anywhere can totally enjoy the book. And it’s a quick read too. Very classic.Visit www.charlesumerie.com.ng

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Literary club announces contest for African writers

The Africa Book Club Short Reads Competition has begun accepting submissions for a literary contest.

The Africa Book Club Short Reads Competition features short stories drawn from contributors across the African continent. It accepts unpublished fiction and creative non-fiction submissions, not exceeding 3,500 words, and whose setting and context are primarily set in Africa, or written by African authors, a statement on its site said.

It said after the competition is concluded, it will be giving out $250 for 1st Prize, $150 for 2nd Prize, and $100 for 3rd Prize.

Also, the top three works and 27 other entries will be compiled for an anthology, for which contributors would receive $25 per entry. Submissions must not have been previously published. There is also no entry fee.

The organisers say the contest is open to non-Africans, provided their submissions are set in Africa.

The deadline for entries is June 30 according to the statement. Winners will be announced on or before July 15.

The statement also announced0 some changes:

”After a hiatus, we are pleased to relaunch the Africa Book Club short story competition. We have made a few changes.

”We have changed the format from a monthly to annual competition, we have increased the cash prizes. Submissions will be considered on an annual rolling period, starting January 1 and closing on June 30. Winners will be announced on/before July 15.

”We welcome entries that celebrate Africa’s diversity and rich story-telling traditions – anything from fiction and non-fiction stories that reflect life on the continent to childhood memoirs and travel stories.

”In addition, the top 30 stories from all submissions received in the submission period (January 1 – June 30) will be considered for our annual short story anthology, to be published in the fall. The winning stories will also be featured on the Africa Book Club website under a special “Short Reads” section.

”Unlike many other contests, we take no entry fees. This is because we want to encourage all eligible writers out there to submit their work for consideration.”
Visit here to submit

The Case for Lusophone African Literature

Gettyimages 129073003
Award-winning Angolan writer José Eduardo Agualusa

A few years ago, I was at an African literature festival that was being held, ironically, in London. Important debates and discussions were buzzing around me. African literature was not yet “mainstream,” but that year, “translations” and “languages” had again become buzzwords. There was a renewed interest in exploring Francophone (French-speaking) and Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking) works of literature and bringing them into the wider conversation. As an Afro-Lusophone myself from Guinea-Bissau, I waited eagerly. Years later, I’m still waiting.

Afro-Lusophone writers, in contrast to Anglophone and Francophone writers, remain conspicuously absent from the world literature scene. Anglophone writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is now a global star, with her latest book, Americanah, on everyone’s lips and her speech “We should all be feminists” on Beyoncé’s Flawless. Publishers and editors from the West were scurrying in search of African writers, feverish not to miss the opportunity to bank on the Chimamanda effect. Similarly, Francophone writers are gaining currency with Fiston Mujila winning the Etisalat Prize and Alain Mabanckou long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. However, Lusophone writers remain absent from panels, festivals, discussions and debates. Whenever I confront people about the absence of Lusophone writers, they laugh nervously and say, “It’s the language.” But if books in other languages have been translated, why not books from Portuguese-speaking Africa?

    Afro-Lusophone writers, in contrast to Anglophone and Francophone writers, remain conspicuously absent from the world literature scene.

The dominance of colonial languages in the African continent has created barriers between neighbors. So much time is spent perfecting the English language in Ghana that one does not learn Kwa languages or even French to communicate with French-speaking neighbors in the Ivory Coast. These barriers have extended to the literary market. Furthermore, African writers are still more interested in being published in Europe and the U.S. rather than across Africa. A Senegalese writer will not think of publishing in South Africa; Paris will be the first thing on his mind. A Kenyan does not seek literary agents in Angola; he will go to London before anywhere else. A Mozambican will prefer to go to Lisbon’s Book Fair instead of the Lagos Book Fair.

Operating in these language silos means that the African literature market is open to few, and, in particular, the Portuguese-speaking Africans — some 70 million in total — are left out. There are six African nations where Portuguese is the official language: Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe and Equatorial Guinea.

Such discreet borders can and should be diminished, and I have seen the importance of this in my own life. I was born in Lisbon to Bissau-Guinean parents and spent most of my life in Francophone Africa. My eager parents spoke only “Victor Hugo’s” French to me and my siblings. In my grandfather’s house, we spoke Portuguese with all the “R’s” sometimes interrupted by my grandmother’s Crioulo. My mother’s brothers, two suave hipsters who wore Doc Martens before it was cool, mixed Spanish and Italian while teaching me and my sister the delights of lasagna and cannelloni. At the age of 6, I added to my growing world of languages: American English, courtesy of Cartoon Network. I have grown up mixing, playing and inventing languages.

Now I want to unite the different African-speaking countries and showcase to the world that there is more to African literature than meets the eye. Currently, only one Lusophone writer is well known around the world — the Angolan writer José Eduardo Agualusa, who won the International Dublin Literary Award, but there are many more worthy of note.

Recently, Abdulai Silá’s The Ultimate Tragedy was the first novel from Guinea-Bissau to be translated into English. Set in colonial Guinea-Bissau at the cusp of independence, it tells the story of young Ndani caught between tradition and modernity, power and freedom. The novel was published in England to much acclaim. Meanwhile, from Angola, Kalaf Epalanga published a fascinating first novel, Também os Brancos Sabem Dançar (White People Can Also Dance), heavily inspired from his years touring with the kuduro music group Buraka Som Sistema. And from São Tomé and Príncipe, Alda Barros’ book of poems, A Flor Branca de Baobá (The Baobab’s White Flower), was published in 2017.

There are even more Lusophone writers to be discovered and translated, which makes this an exciting time for the future of African stories. Agents and publishers would do well to look toward Lusophone writers this year — they just might discover their next global star.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Nigerian Author Lola Shoneyin Voted 'Literary Person Of The Year'


'Shoneyin tirelessly advocates for a culture of creative and critical thought,' judges said.

Nigerian poet and novelist Lola Shoneyin has been named the Literary Person of the Year by African literature portal Brittle Paper.

Shoneyin, who is the third recipient of the prize, was named for her extraordinary contribution to the growth and development of "creative culture" on the continent.

"Both in her writing and her work as a community leader, Shoneyin tirelessly advocates for a culture of creative and critical thought," says Dr. Ainehi Edoro, founder of Brittle Paper.

"In 2017, Shoneyin, more than anyone else out there, has worked the hardest to provide platforms where communities of readers and writers are empowered to think, do, and create," Edoro adds.

Aside from her own writing, which has been internationally lauded, Shoneyin was also one of the founders of Nigerian indie publishing house Ouida Books, which has made the works of Nnedi Okorafor and Ayobami Adebayo available to Nigerian readers.

""This is for all the people doing the important work of promoting, developing and celebrating the arts (especially literature) on the African continent. I see you. Thank you!" Shoneyin said on Twitter after receiving the award.

Authors Will Get Due Payment For Their Intellectual Properties – ANA President

Nigerian writers have been assured that henceforth, they will be duly compensated for every bit of their writings. Giving this assurance recently, Denja Abdullahi, National President, Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) stressed that the association will collaborate with Nigeria Copyright Commission (NCC) and the Reproduction Right Society of Nigeria (REPRONIG) to ensure that the menace of piracy and allied crimes are curbed in the society.

Abdullahi said the writers’ fraternity is working with various organisations to ensure that authors get due payment for their intellectual properties, saying more efforts would be made to ensure that pirated literature do not get into circulation or onto book-stands.

“We are cooperating with NCC and Reproduction Right Society of Nigeria to check piracy in 2018.
“We are working seriously with these organisations to checkmate piracy alongside with other stakeholders,’’ the ANA president said.

He said the NCC which had presented a draft bill before the National Assembly is awaiting its passage soon.

“Nigeria Copyright Commission already has a draft bill which is sealed and good, and we are collaborating on it. They have just amended the copyright bill and we contributed to the amendment.

“It will soon be passed by the National Assembly and when that it is signed into law, the issue of piracy will also be addressed completely,’’ he said.

The ANA president said that the association would focus on carrying out contemporary criticism of new literature in circulation in 2018.