Monday, February 24, 2014

Chuma Nwokolo's Reading at the International House (with Pictures)

Last week Wednesday (February 19), the Writers Project of Ghana organised a special book reading for Chuma Nwokolo at the International House of the University of Ghana. It was special because this reading was outside the monthly book reading WPG organises with the Goethe Institute.

The Reading: One thing every reader needs is a good reading voice and an ability to capture and control the audience. And Chuma has both. He has a way of controlling and bending the audience to his (could this be the result of his training and practice as a lawyer? Possibly! The room vacillated between quiescence and laughter. There was never a point of boredom. Anyone who could be bored by Chuma's reading is more likely to be suffering from irreversible depression. Chuma read from four books: the poetry anthology, Memories of Stone; the 'novel', Diaries of a Dead African; the collection of short stories, The Ghost of Sani Abacha; and his latest short story collection, How to Spell Naija in Hundred Short Stories, which was published to mark the centenary celebration of the amalgamation of the northern and southern part of what is now called Nigeria into one country. Though of the selected text in these books dealt with very serious matters, such as the Ten Commandments of Nigerian Politics, Chuma's humour shone through them. Partly because what he read - though written from the Nigerian experience - was not different to the Ghanaian. If one took a step back and analysed our behaviour as a third-world continent, one could not but laugh at the incongruities, absurdities, the ironies, the contradictions of the lives we live. Chuma Nwokolo's writing bring these things sharply into focus.

However, Chuma is not all political - yes, he knows his political history of Nigeria and proffers some solution to the nation's (perhaps the continent's) endemic corruption. In fact, the majority of his writing has nothing to do with politics, except that the life the people live is a reflection of the bad politics the leaders of the continent play. As Achebe said, the problem with Nigeria (Africa) is a problem of leadership.

Tasha opened the reading with a poetry reading. Excellent reading that was.
Chuma Nwokolo's reading. He captured his audience with his booming voice and excellent reading.
Participation: Chuma's reading was a huge success in terms of participation, reading, interaction, and organisation. The programme started on the dot of 7pm, as is characteristic of all WPG programmes. All the hundred chairs acquired for the occasion were filled and more had to be brought in. However, even though the reading was organised on the university campus, students' participation was minimal. Is this a sign of lack of interest in intellectual activities by students? Or is it an excessive love for football, since it coincided with the UEFA Champions league matches. Regardless of these, the room was overfilled and the reading went down well.

Part of the audience.
Part of the audience (II)
Kofi Akpabli author of Tickling the Ghanaian - encounters with Contemporary Ghanaian Culture and A Sense of Savannah - Tales of a Friendly Walk through Northern Ghana.
These three ladies and the blurred gentleman are part of the Book and Discussion Club of the Writers Project of Ghana. They were at the reading.
Late at the book signing session. Chuma took time to talk to almost everybody who was there. He has a genial personality. In felt-hat is Ben Akoi-Jackson, an artist.
ImageNations and Chuma. What else were you expecting?
Authors Nii Ayikwei Parkes (author of Tail of the Blue Bird) and Mamle Kabu (author of End of Skill, a Caine Prize shortlist) were at the reading.
Random shots after the book signing.
Donna Sheppard, Mamle Kabu, Nii Ayikwei Parkes, Chuma Nwokolo, and Martin Egblewogbe (author of Mr Happy and the Hammer of God)
If you are in Ghana and want copies of Chuma's books contact me or visit the bookshops. The Writers Project of Ghana holds its monthly Ghana Voices Series at the Goethe Institute every last Wednesday of the month. The reading, organised together with the Institute, resumes next month (March 26) with a reading by Empi Baryeh author of Chancing Faith.


  1. Nana.. you are so lucky, you are such a VIP. yeah Chuma books are really good. I highly recommend. Though, I've only read Diaries of a dead African. Thanks for the post.

    1. Yay! Reading has brought me into contact with some people I might never have met.

      Try his collection of short stories. I have read The Ghost of Sani Abacha. A lot to love from the collection.


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