Showing posts from June, 2011

85. The Gods are not to Blame by Ola Rotimi

Title: The Gods are not to Blame Author: Ola Rotimi Genre: Play/Tragedy Publishers: University Press PLC Pages: 72 Year of First Performance: 1968 Place of First Performance: Ife Festival of Arts, Nigeria Year of First Publication: 1971 (this edition, 1990) Country: Nigeria In this play, Sophocle's Oedipus Rex , is given a Nigerian treatment and having not read Sophocle's, I really enjoyed Ola Rotimi 's rendition. The gods are not to blame  is a play that questions destiny: are we in control of our destiny or we are the product of our destiny? Can we escape it? At the end of the play, the question is still not answered as an individual can argue both for or against this theme. The play opens with someone narrating the events surrounding the birth of King Adetusa's first son. Queen Ojuola, King Adetusa's wife, has just delivered her first son and the soothsayer has been summoned to foretell the future of this newly born son. The soothsayer,

84. A Sense of Savannah: Tales of a Friendly Walk through Northern Ghana by Kofi Akpabli

Title: A Sense of Savannah: Tales of a Friendly Walk through Northern Ghana Author: Kofi Akpabli Publishers: TREC Genre: Travelogue Year of Publication: 2011 Pages: 150 Country: Ghana At a time when local tourism has been reduced to annual school excursions to manufacturing plants in Accra and Tema, Kofi Akpabli has opened to the general Ghanaian public and the world at large the beauty locked within a place that's hardly ever travelled to by most Ghanaians, the northern regions comprising Northern Region, Upper East Region and Upper West Region. In this tour-guide cum travelogue, Kofi Akpabli documents his personal experience of travelling to these seemingly remote places in Ghana, mixing his experience with facts. The results of which is a well-crafted book that points to beautiful tourist destinations and the excellent human relations exuded by the people he met. In  A Sense of Savannah  Kofi tried to present to us a different narrative, one that those wh

Proverb Monday, #28

Proverb: W'ani rebɔ na εtε si wo so a, wofa no saa ara Meaning: If you are going blind and you find it is only a cataract, you are content Context: If you are faced with a major disaster, any small hope helps No. 4309 in Bu me Bε by Peggy Appiah et al.

Manu Herbstein: Guest Writer for June

The Writers Project of Ghana (WPG) is pleased to have Manu Herbstein , author of Ama: A Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade , as the guest writer for June, and as usual there will be a reading at the Goethe Institute in Accra. This event, which is part of the Ghana Voices Series, will take place on Wednesday 29th June, 2011. Manu Herbstein's novel won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book in 2002. Beyond this, Manu has many other works to his credit, one of the more recent being President Michelle - Ten Days that Shook the World . The author will be reading from a variety of his works, giving a wide view of his skill and scope of writing.  The Ghana Voices Series provides a platform to engage with writers in a friendly atmosphere. The reading will be followed by a discussion. This programme is organised in collaboration with the Goethe Institute, Accra. Date: Wednesday, 29th June, 2011 Time: 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm Location: Goethe Institute, 30 Kakramadu Road, (next to NA

M.K. Asante: Author. Filmmaker. Professor.

At 29, when most of us are struggling to set our feet firmly somewhere, M.K. Asante is already an author of three celebrated books, the latest being It's Bigger than Hip Hop , a filmmaker and a professor. This Zimbabwean gem says he was conceived at the night of a Bob Marley concert and birthed nine months later. Thus, at conception point Asante was/is a man of the arts. This exceptional professor shows that one can be a professor and be 'hip' at the same time. The two go together. In sweatshirt, Nike 'foot' and a cap over his Rasta hairdo, Asante has given lectures in over 25 countries across the world. He says that what counts is not the material things we wear, but the intellect - that intangible thing seated in the head which has no correlation with your dressing - that counts. A first glance would lead you to judge him as a hip hop star or a fashion aficionado; but Asante says it's bigger than hip hop.  The Philadelphia Inquirer  described him as a "

The First Science-Fiction Novel in Shona

In Africa almost everybody is bilingual. There is a choice between speaking the colonialist language or the local language. And often we find ourselves in the middle, speaking the Pidgin Language (English, French, Portuguese) in unofficial places. In Nigeria, Pidgin English is the most common form of communication. However, some scholars have called for the use of African Languages in official settings. This call has been called populist by some and shunned by others. In fact, recently an author argued that the African Language divides . Until then, I never heard that the language of our forefathers could divide us. We all had our say on the issue . However, few authors are taking this call to higher levels. A name that comes to mind easily is Ngugi wa Thiongo'o, who writes in Gikuyu, his mother tongue. And Masimba Musodza is also contributing to making this dream a success. Masimba Musodza, according to the Press Statement below, has written the first science-fiction novel

Proverb Monday #27

Proverb: Kwasea ani te a, na agorɔ agu. Meaning: If a fool becomes clever, then the game spoils. Context: If a person refuses to be taken advantage of anymore, you cannot do anything about it. No. 3950 in Bu me Bε by Peggy Appiah et al.

Quotes for Friday from Chenjerai Hove's Shadows

Exile wields the hammer of darker memories. Where the victim and the victimizer embrace, who shall intervene, and clouds of rain pour down on the sky's rejects.  Page 44 There are many homesteads which will remain intact, with children and dogs chasing after hopeless bones and fireflies. But his home will not be a home. It will be a home of graves, ancestors, shadows, broken walls leaning on tired ear. Page 45 When the small bull grow horns, it must learn to defend itself... Page 46 A silent man will die in the silence of his foolishness. Page 49 [A] man who broods about his problems alone is likely to bewitch others. Talking is the medicine for troubles.  Page 50 If this is what my foot can carry me to, I choose the buttocks which make me sit near the grave of my ancestors. The lizard with a broken tail must learn to play near the cave. Page 50 An old death is better. Everyone dies when the years have left them behind. Everyone joins the womb

83. Shadows by Chenjerai Hove

Title: Shadows Author: Chenjerai Hove Publishers: Heinemann (African Writers Series) Genre: Novella/Pastoral/Politics Year of Publication: 1991 Pages:111 Country: Zimbabwe For the Africa Reading Challenge Chenjerai Hove's Shadows is a story to read. In just 111 pages, Hove tells a story about love and death and the politics surrounding and leading to Zimbabwe's independence. Johana's father left his ancestral home to Gotami's land. There he became famous and rich, until the arrival of Marko. Johana walked with the boys and did the things they did. She herded the cattle and milked the cows. She found the classroom hostile. And she loved the boy with the civet cat in his mouth. But the boy seems to see through her; not talking to her after he had initially expressed his love for her. Then Marko came. A boy who had escaped poverty from his own land. The two saw within themselves a common destiny and fell in love, platonic initially but then with time

Proverb Monday

Proverb: Wo ne ɔberεmpɔn na εda a, anka wobε ɔsi apini anadwo Translation: If you were to sleep with a paramount chief, you would hear that he sighs in the night. Usage: Even the great have their troubles and anxieties No. 6570 in Bu me Bε by Peggy Appiah et al.

Winner of the 2011 Orange Prize

The 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction has been announced. Though ImageNations was supporting Aminatta Forna with her The Memory of Love to win, things went in the way of the Serbian/American Author    Téa Obreht with her debut novel The Tiger's Wife (Weindedfeld and Nicolson). At 25, Obreht becomes the youngest-ever author to win the prize. In its sixteenth anniversary this year, the Prize celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women's writing from throughout the world. This comes timely as Naipaul in his ever caustic remarks has recently indicated that women authors, including Jane Austen, are inferior to him. Or so he was supposed to have said and this has generated a lot of heat in the literary blogging world, to which I have added my two pesewas, in the form of comments, here and there. At a ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London, the 2011 Chair of Judges, Bettany Hughes, presented Obreht with the  £ 30,000 and the 'Bess

82. Every Man is a Race by Mia Couto

Title: Every Man is a Race Author: Mia Couto Genre: Short Stories (Anthology) Translator: David Brookshaw Publisher: Heinemann (African Writers Series) Pages:118 Year of Publication: 1991 (Portuguese) 1994 (English) Country: Mozambique For the Africa Reading Challenge Asked what his race was, he replied 'My race is me, John the Birdman.' Invited to explain himself, he added: 'My race is me myself. A person is an individual humanity. Every man is a race, Officer.' (Extract from the bird seller's statement)   Every Man is a Race is the second collection of short stories by Mia Couto . It is this collection that established Couto as master storyteller. His stories are known for being magical and surreal. It's always difficult to directly interpret Couto's story. The symbolism is heavy. Consisting of 18 short stories, Every Man is a Race follows the path of Voices Made Night  in style, structure and theme. Couto has a way with

Wrapping up the Kwamebikrom Adventure

Finally, I get to Accra and back at the office. The latter days of the research was fun and tiring. We planned on visiting a town called Soccerkrom; there it was my intention to ask the chief how they came by the name. Unfortunately, we had to leave out this town on very technical reasons. Two days before the final day, I had a ride on a motorbike through several cocoa farms; climbing steep slopes and passing on thin wooden planks acting as bridges on small muddy streams. On more than one occasion I had to get down and push the motorbike, whilst the rider tries to climb the slope. Then there was another time that I had to lift the back of the motorbike from a muddy stream. The back tire slipped off the think plank-bridge after the front tire had virtually crossed it. This particular ride was fun since it was my third or fourth time sitting at the back of a motorbike and the first time riding through a farm and a closely planted cocoa at that. The Dugout As we got to our destination

Proverb Monday

Proverb: εka wo nsa a, egyae fεyε Translation: As soon as you obtain it, it ceases to be beautiful. Usage: Familiarity breeds contempt No. 2945 in Bu me Bε by Peggy Appiah et al.

Quotes for Friday from Mia Couto's Every Man is a Race

It's been almost a month since I brought you this weekly feature. As you are, by now, aware, I have bee away for sometime. Today's quotes comes from a writer whose way with words is so unique that I believe I can correctly predict every line as his, when 'blindly' quoted. Mia Couto is known for his lyrical stories. He epitomises the originality of storytelling where the teller in his/her telling leaves room for the reader/listener to make his own meaning from the tell. A man's story is always badly told. That's because a person never stops being born. (Page 10 in  The private apocalypse of Uncle Gegue ) A poor man can't bribe his way to his fate. He invents expectations for himself, unreachable places and times. (Page 11 in The private apocalypse of Uncle Gegue ) It's the sea that causes islands to be round. (Page 16 in  The private apocalypse of Uncle Gegue ) Which is the best family? The unknown relatives of strangers. Only those

81. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale  (402; 1985) is an imaginative dystopian about a fictional world; a place where all rhetorics about women's place in the world are realised. It is also a world that has been lived before. In this novel, Atwood relied on all that had been said and is being said about women and what they should and shouldn't do. In the fictional world of Gilead, the constitutional government of the United States had been overthrown; its place place taken by Gilead, a state based on the Christian teachings and its purpose for women. In Gilead women are grouped into Wives, Marthas, Aunties, and Handmaids. Handmaids are reproductive 'machines' that keep the population of Gilead from declining. And children are the most prized assets of the day. Rich couples unable to bear their own children contract these handmaids to get pregnant for them. A Handmaid who's unable to get pregnant after several 'servicing' with Commanders are described as unwomen. The

May in Review, Projections for June

Currently I am in Kumasi and I can at least update my blog. May was a busy month for me in terms of my professional life. My reading was somewhat limited and my blogging was seriously affected. In all I read four books and reviewed two. However, I kept my Monday Proverbs going by scheduling all the post. I love this feature. Sometimes I find on my phone that a blog has just been published. The Secret Destiny of America by Manly P. Hall Searching by Nawal El Saadawi The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood Every Man is a Race by Mia Couto I also brought you updates - the non-professional side - of my travels in the Bia District of the Western Region. First I told you about what I would be doing in this blog post . Then I introduced you to the village where I would be staying, Kwamebikrom (or for a direct transliteration: a certain Kwame's town), in another post . Just last week I updated you on the chills and thrills I have encountered on this field trip . I would  be br