Showing posts from January, 2011

January in Review, Projections for February

My reading in January was aimed at fulfilling the Africa Reading Challenge , which is aimed at reading books from other African countries other than Nigeria, Ghana, and South Africa. In all I read eight books (or nine, counting the last book I read in December 2010, which was reviewed in January 2011). The countries I have read from are: Mozambique (Mia Couto's Voices Made Night and Lilia Momple's Neighbours: The Story of a Murder ) Egypt (Alifa Rifaat's Distant View of a Minaret ) Angola (Pepetela's The Return of the Water Spirit ) Cote d'Ivoire (Veronique Tadjo's The Shadow of Imana ) Malawi (Jack Mapanje's The Chattering Wagtails of Mikuyu Prison ) Zimbabwe (Tsitsi Dangarembga's Nervous Conditions ) South Africa/Botswana (Bessie Head's A Woman Alone - yet to be reviewed) Lesotho (Thomas Mofolo's Chaka , currently reading) Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy (not on any challenge) Map of Africa This trend would continue. However, I

Proverb Monday

Proverb: Wopε sε woyε ɔpanin pa a, wosisi w'aso, kata w'ani Translation: If you wish to be a real elder, you close your ears and cover your eyes Usage: An elder does not pay attention to idle gossip nor trivial events. This is to prevent wrong judgements of problems, allowing such an elder to speak with the wisdom it requires. Consequently, an elder is not necessarily a very old person but anyone who is wise and speaks and judges impartially.

The "Remembering Marechera" Anthology, a Call for Submission

Ivor Hartmann, writer, editor, visual artist and publisher, is calling for submission for the "Remembering Marechera" Anthology. The full call is below: To celebrate Dambudzo Marechera’s posthumous 59th birthday this year I will be compiling an anthology entitled “Remembering Marechera”, consisting of essays, reviews, short stories, poems, etc. that follow this title/theme, to be published by StoryTime Publishing. To this end I invite your submissions until the 6th of April 2011. Theme: “Remembering Marechera” Word count: 1000-5000 words (less for poetry if needs be) Format: An attached Word doc/docx, times new roman, 12 point, single spaced. Submissions: By email only to: Deadline: 6th of April 2011 The project will depend on the quantity and quality of submissions I receive, and if all goes well it will be distributed through Amazon’s Kindle platform in a variety of formats (and possibly print too depending). I look forward to reading your

Library Additions

Finally, I have been able to add some books to my library. Over the past two or three days I have made purchases of some books to help me with the Africa Reading Challenge - in the coming weekend I would to show my progress with this challenge. The following are the books: Tropical Fish: Tales from Entebee by Doreen Baingana (Uganda): I haven't as yet read any book by a Ugandan writer so I chose to add this book to my collection. Also this book has been read and reviewed by Geosi of Geosi Reads and Kinna of Kinna Reads . This is a collection of short stories and the title story won the  Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book in the Africa region. Underground People by Lewis Nkosi (South Africa): Louis Henry Gates (Jnr) says the author (and this book) is worth listening to. Besides, my reading of South African authors (excepting the dual nationalist Bessie Head, whose work I have not yet reviewed) does not include an author of colour. Lewis Nkosi is the beginning of th

63. Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga, A Review

Title: Nervous Conditions Author: Tsitsi Dangarembga Genre: Fiction/Novel/Coming-of-Age Publishers: Ayebia Clarke Pages: 208 Year of Publication: 1988; (this edition, 2004) Country: Zimbabwe For the Africa Reading Challenge and Top 100 Books Set in a period when women were hardly considered for education because they would soon be married off and therefore be lost to the household from whose meagre financial resources she was educated, Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga, tells the story of young Tambudzai - or Tambu as she was known - as she challenges her archetypal family which threatens to consider her as an ordinary member of the homogeneous group of women. However, Tambu's resolve to seek education was so strong that she was not sorry when her brother - Nhamo - died. In the first sentence of the first chapter she says I was not sorry when my brother died. (Page 1) This sentence would cause jaws to drop and sensitive people to ask why? However,

62. Neighbours: The Story of a Murder by Lília Momplé, A Review

Title: Neighbours: The Story of a Murder Author:  Lília Momplé Translators: Richard Bartlett and Isaura de Oliveira Genre: Fiction/Novella Publishers: Heinemann (African Writers Series) Pages: 133 Year of Publication: 1995 (In Portuguese), 2001 (In English) Country: Mozambiqu e For the Africa Reading Challenge ASIDE: The cover illustration of this book (at least the version I have from Heinemann as shown on the left) is by Malangatana . I got to know this great artist on the day he died, January 5, 2011, through a fellow blogger Abena Serwaa . His paintings are so unique that the very moment I saw the cover of this book I knew it is hi work (though I had only known him and his works for about two days as of the time of reading). When Mozambique gained its independence on June 25, 1975, the country sought to help freedom fighters in South Africa and Zimbabwe in their quest to shatter the chains of oppressive regimes: colonialism and apartheid respectively.

Featured at Munyori

I am happy to tell you that four poems of mine have been published by Munyori Literary Journal at My poems are featured alongside R.S. Carlson (USA), Louie Crew (USA), Lian Yujing (China), Mike Mware (Zimbabwe). There are also fiction by Miriam Shumba, Kudazi Ndanga, and NoViolet Bulawayo (all from Zimbabwe), Joanne Hillhouse (Antigua), Patrick O. Ochieng (Kenya) and an interview of Bapsi Sidhwa (Pakistan) by Sunil Sharma (India), and a book review by Memory Chirere (Zimbabwe). And more! The poems featured are: Savages are We A Curve in the Tell (A Direct Response to Naipaul's The Masque of Africa ) Devolution Abracadabra Adabraka Click here to read.

Proverb Monday

Proverb: Sε asamando wɔ amane a, anka ɔbaatan bi amane ne ba Translation: If there was fortune in the spirit world (netherworld), a good mother would have remitted to her child. Usage: No mother will sit idle for her child to suffer if she has any means of helping.

Quotes for Friday

Her five daily prayers were like punctuation marks that divided up and gave meaning to her life. Each prayer had for her a distinct quality, just as different foods had their own flavours. (Page 3, Distant View of a Minaret,  in Distant View of a Minaret  by Alifa Rifaat) All fifty years, I felt, were shown in the footprints they had left round my eyes, which were still my best feature, and in the slackness round my chin (Page 17, Thursday Lunch, in Distant View of a Minaret by Alifa Rifaat) Life is a web weaving a spider (Page 95, The Ex-Future Priest and His Would-be Widow, in Voices Made Night  by Mia Couto) Happiness stepped out of her and forgot to return (Page 83, Patanhoca the Lovesick Snake Catcher, in Voices Made Night by Mia Couto) I am a blind man who sees many doors (Page 48, So You Haven't Flown Yet,, Carlota Gentina, in Voices Made Night  by Mia Couto) The power of a minion is to make others feel even smaller, to tread on others just as he himse

61. Treatise on the Social Contract of Marriage and on Social Class in Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

Jude the Obscure is a novel that challenges the social settings and structure of its time. Jude could not enter the university, Christminster, because he was self-taught and poor. He couldn't maintain Sue as his wife, without formal marriage contract from the Church and registry, consequently he was sacked from work and couldn't find any proper work until they pretended to be married. Sue and Jude were kindred spirit who wanted to live their lives without complicating it with laws and contracts that are meaningless. They hate social structures, especially one that deals with marriage. But how could two individuals with diametrically opposing views of society live in a society that is intolerable to people of varied views? In Jude the Obscure (1895), Thomas Hardy provides compelling arguments against the common thoughts of the time as they relate to marriage. Several themes run through this beautiful novel. One quote I fell in love with is No average man—no man short of a

60. The Chattering Wagtails of Mikuyu Prison by Jack Mapanje, A Review

Title: The Chattering Wagtails of Mikuyu Prison Author: Jack Mapanje Genre: Poetry Publishers: Heinemann (African Writers Series) Pages: 99 Year of First Publication: 1993 Country: Malawi For the Africa Reading Challenge Chattering Wagtails of Mikuyu Prison is a collection of forty-five poems grouped under four sections: ANOTHER FOOLS' DAY HOMES IN; OUT OF BOUNDS; CHATTERING WAGTAILS; and THE RELEASE AND OTHER CURIOUS SIGHTS. Together these interwoven poems tell the story of what got the poet arrested, his time in prison and his time out of prison. Jack Mapanje was arrested and detained in Mikuyu Maximum Detention Center for three and half years without charge. This arrest came on the back of the reprinting of his first collection of poems Of Chameleons and Gods . Right from the beginning, in the  Prologue , darkness forebodes as  Laughters and ceaseless tears shed/In the Chaos of invented autocracies//Now darkly out of bounds beyond [...] (Page 1) Th

Proverb Monday

Okay so it isn't Monday today! I forgot to search for the appropriate proverb yesterday so here it is today. Proverb: Aboa no nya wo na ɔre nka wo a, ɔmfee ne se nkyerε wo Translation: If the animal won't bite you, it won't bare its teeth to you Usage: Take caution from threats. This is mostly used in advising an individual who has had altercations with another person.

Literature, in the Eyes of the Elite

Ever since Tricia Nwaubani's infamous article, In Africa, the Laureate's Curse , first published in The New York Times and then at the NEXT , a lot of comments and opinions have been shared. The majority of these have been against the theses posited by the writer. I personally wrote a response . The crux of Tricia's article are: An Ngugi Nobel would have resulted in the new generation of aspiring writers dreaming of nothing higher than being hailed as "the next Ngugi"; An Ngugi award could have them [new writers] back to the old tried and tired ways [which Tricia described as 'an earnest and sober style' of Ngugi, Achebe and Soyinka]; Instead of acclaimed Nigerian writers, we would have acclaimed Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa writers. We suffer enough from tribal differences already. This is not the kind of variety we need. [Here Nawaubani claims that writing in his native Gikuyu language or any other African language for that matter breeds tribalism].

Every Piece Shall Go, These Impartial Cleaners

I was scheduled to review Jack Mapanje's anthology The Chattering Wagtails of Mikuyu Prison . Unfortunately, I left the book home while coming to work. Besides, my Nokia N95's modem is not working anymore; hence, I am 'net-less' at home. Since today is a Friday and I may not post over the weekend, I cannot leave work without a blog post knowing that if I do it would take another three days for me to post. Therefore, I am posting the first poem I wrote in 2011. It is still a Work In Progress, at least until it is fully published. And The Man with his cowries shall, Piece by piece like the beggar Whom he booted, shot and killed When his grumbling intestines Silenced his eyes to beg a tinkling coin, Be gleaned clean from his essence Ingested, digested, and shitted into his Primeval origins – a shadow would Elongate, shrivel, or run with the light But always, as all things in end, Returns to its source. 06.01.2010

Featured here and there

Last December, I had the privilege of being featured in the Dust Magazine. My poem Middle Sex  and a brief biography were published. You can read it here . You would have to scroll down to read. This same poetry was also published at the Writers Project of Ghana . The following poems have also been published in JENdA ! No. 17 (2010): African Women in Dimension: Part I: In the Line of Darkness Eyes in the Window The African Woman

59. The Shadow of Imana: Travels in the Heart of Rwanda by Veronique Tadjo, A Review

Title: The Shadow of Imana: Travels in the Heart of Rwanda Author: Veronique Tadjo Translator: Veronique Wakerley Genre: Non-Fiction/Travelogue Publishers: Heinemann (Africa Writers Series) Pages: 118 Year of Publication: 2000 (In French); 2002 (In English) Country: Cote d'Ivoire For the Africa Reading Challenge When I embarked on the Africa Reading Challenge I never thought the genre of books I would be selecting would be so varied. But that is exactly what it turned out to be. Veronique's book The Shadow of Imana  chronicles a traveller's views, response and reports on the Rwandan genocide and it is the first non-fiction travelogue I have read. In 1998, Veronique travelled to Rwanda to find out what might actually have motivated the genocide and this book is the product of such an investigation. However, more importantly, the book is more than just a recording of interviews, views and facts. Its prose boasts of poetic tendencies so that the w

Definition of a Miracle by Farida N. Bedwei

Farida N. Bedwei, author Farida Bedwei's debut novel , Definition of a Miracle , has received rave  reviews  from home and abroad. It is a bold novel that puts into perspective the idea of 'not giving up'.  It also challenges the kind of story that has become representative of Africa. I am sure that had this been written in the mould of the 'acceptable' African Story, hope would have been lost. The author, Farida Bedwei, was born in Lagos, Nigeria, but spent most of her childhood in Dominica, Grenada and the U.K. before she (at 9 years) moved with her family moved to Ghana. At age 10 s he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. This condition made it almost impossible for Farida to enroll in mainstream school at such an age and was thus tutored by her mother, entering mainstream school 2 years later when she was 12. She, however, overcame the challenges posed by this condition in a country which is not disability-friendly and excelled academically and has risen to