On Septeber 26, 2012 I attended a book reading organised by the Writers Project of Ghana at the Goethe Institute dubbed the Ghana Voices Series. There I happened to meet one of Nigeria's great writers Chuma Nwokolo, whose short story Quarterback and Co I read and reviewed in the first edition of the African Roar anthology. If there was an author who was in charge of his work and who read with passion, vigour and complete control, it was Chuma Nwokolo.
I followed Chuma on his facebook page ever when I read that phantasmagorical short story of his and heard of his works, some; however, I never really took the time to search more about him. In fact, after that short story, perhaps because I erroneously thought most of the contributors were new authors, I didn't delve deeper into any of them until recently when his collection of short stories - The Ghost of Sani Abacha - popped up again. Chuma read from this and also from his Diaries of a Dead African and a poem from Memories of Stone. As he read, spurts of laughter irrupted randomly as the participants couldn't contain themselves any longer.
I will say that Chuma is a great writer and an excellent reader. So who wouldn't jump at the opportunity to grab his books and get them autographed? I did; if I regrettably missed the president's - Ghana's President John Mahama - book reading and signing activity on Founder's Day (September 21, 2012), I wasn't going to miss this one. I got the following books:
- The Ghost of Sani Abacha: [From the blurb]: A harassed servant plots his grim revenge .... Sheri puts a potential boyfriend to test .... Phiri contends for his civil service career ... and a politician in his finest hour finds himself possessed by a begoggled demon ... 26 stories of life and love in the aftermath of autocracy, delivered with wit and insight by one of Africa's incisive writers...
- Diaries of a Dead African: [From the blurb]: [It] explores its life-threatening themes with native humor. Meme Jumai and his two sons - Abel (failed writer) and Calamatus (aspiring conman) - document the final days of their desperate struggle to retain the vanishing shreds of their dignity. At last, Abel's father had died at 50 and his brother at 25. How to outlive them both - without fleeing the very opportunities he had craved all his life...
According to the author The Ghost of Sani Abacha is metaphorical; he describes most countries in Africa as suffering from a post-autocratic stress disorder, where the governed still worship their leaders instead of demanding accountability due to having been under dictatorship for too long. The one-hour programme was stretched to its allowable limits of two because of the fun of the read and the interactions that the reading generated.