Friday, 26 August 2011

The African story as told by Chimamanda Adichie by Obinna Emelike

Here comes the summary of one of the books I never feel tired reading; the book of one of those rare autors I never feel bad admiring and almost venerating. I have really come to fall in love with the writing of Ngozi that I feel so sad when I come to understand there are so many young Nigerians who do not know her litterary capacity. I will never stop commending Ngozi's work to all lovers of good books. She is just so good in what she knows well how to do that reading her is just like plunging into the story of the igbo nation. Digest this analyses of Obinna Emelike
"While signing her autobiography on a guest’s copy of ‘The Thing Around Your Neck,’ her latest work, her calm demeanor was unmatched as her almond shaped eyes peered deep into the guest’s eye, probing the intension of buying her new book. She would prefer every guest at the book launch not to buy a book they will not read.
What bothers her is why people don’t read nowadays. She is also concerned with the fact and saying that the best way to hide a secret from a black person is to put it in writing, is becoming a reality today.
Welcome to the world of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the foremost young fiction writer to come out of Nigeria in the past decade, as she reveals the secrets hidden in books.
Of course, she despises the poor reading culture in Nigeria and on the continent at large. “People come up to me and say, ‘I am so proud of you and your success, but I don’t read,’ with no shame whatsoever. We are raising young people who don’t think that reading is important. It really bothers me that more people don’t read. They say if you want to hide something from a black man, put it in a book,” she says sadly.
Apparently, Nigerians spend less time going through books, indulging rather in other mediums, but it is only the bookworms, according to her, are a select group who are fighting an uphill battle to make reading cool again.
Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus (2003), won the Best First Book award in the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. Her second, Half Of A Yellow Sun (2006), set during the Biafran war, won the Orange Prize. She is a 2008 MacArthur Fellow (otherwise known as the genius award), ‘The Thing Around Your Neck,’ her latest work and her books are set texts across the world.
Moreover, her short stories have been published in celebrated literary journals and her novels have been integrated into school curriculums worldwide.
With these books, she has made the Nigerian experience coffee table discussion among literary critics, bookworms and fans spanning the different continents of the world. Though Adichie’s stories mostly revolve around Igbo Nigerian characters, but she does not merely tell Nigerians stories, she tells human ones.
She is not trying to step into the big shoes of Chinua Achebe, Africa’s foremost literature giant and her mentor. Of course, the shoes will be oversize. But Adichie seems to toe the same line of Achebe in telling the Africa stories exactly the way they are.
Growing up in a university campus in Nsukka, Nigeria where her father was a professor and her mother an administrator, afforded her the opportunity to live in the same house Achebe once lived. This also meant a great deal of exposure to books at an early age in addition to her middle-class upbringing. But most of these books had very little to do with her own reality.
What I read were British and American children books, she once said when delivering her now famous 2009 talk on the danger of the single story. “When I began to write, I wrote exactly the kinds of stories I was reading… about things with which I could not personally identify,” she narrates.
But things changed when Adichie discovered African books, because of writers like Achebe and Guinean poet Camara Laye, her perception of literature changed, and she started to write about things she recognised and realised that people like her could exist in literature.
Truly, Adichie has come of age as confirmed by Achebe. “Adichie is a new writer endowed with the gift of ancient storytellers. She knows all too well about the power of the story,” Achebe proudly remarks of his most likely successor in African literature.
Funny enough, when she was a child at school, her report cards followed a frustrating pattern. Her grades were all As, but the teachers’ remarks gave her parents headaches.
“She is stubborn, arrogant, she has no respect,” wrote one, after she told him that he was wrong about something. “I remember being angry with my father, being angry with the teacher, just feeling this sense of injustice that I hadn’t been allowed to speak,” she laughs. “I just didn’t shut up, so I got into trouble.”
Her teachers must be spitting now, because she has not shut up since and she is doing rather well writing and speaking her mind. She was once asked, “If Achebe were alive, what would you say to him?” He is living in New York and they have met. But she has avoided getting to know him well. “I want to keep my hero separate.”
Impressively, Adichie’s ‘The Thing Around Your Neck,’ her latest collection of short stories, is like her, a dazzling hybrid of Nigeria and America, raucous and thoughtful, fun and furious.
Her study and writing have taken her out of the country severally, but when she is in Nigeria, she teaches writing workshops in schools to the kind of children who do not have the upbringing, steeped in literature, that she had.
Most importantly, she feels a sense of huge goodwill from her country and “not just from the little writing circle in university towns. She is stopped in the street by people who want to argue about what her characters did. She has heard about people calling their children Chimamanda. What more can she ask for.”
But watch out for more mind-blowing, exciting and revealing books in the pipeline, as the young Nigerian writer expected to venerate Achebe is not done yet." Source: http://www.businessdayonline.com/NG/index.php/art-a-life/26476-the-african-story-as-told-by-chimamanda-adichie

''The truth might be hard to say, painful to bear or even drastic for the truth sayer but still needed to be said''. ALISON.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

LEADERSHIP or IDEOLOGY; which is Africa's Nightmare? By Oduwale Kehinde

The fact that Africa is envied by other continents for her numerous Mineral, Animal and Human resources cannot be overemphasized. It is sad however that Africa is disdained by the same continents for being the continent that harbours the worst socio-economic and political ills. This Outrageous Paradox obviously renders Africa as Prey to imperialists’ antics. Disenchantment with Africa’s status-quo takes many forms; varying from current civil insurgence and imperialists’ insurgence against sit-tight despots in the North to incessant civil wars/deceases of all kinds in the West/Central/East down to HIV and AIDS epidemic unprecedentedly plaguing the South; all existing in an atmosphere of abject Poverty, Unemployment and Insecurity generally tormenting the continent. Since all external and internal efforts to rescue this situation proved abortive, not because this predicament is predestined (as some mysticists opine), but because (as many often say) the continent is currently lacking unitedly focused and Dedicated set of leaders. Hence, we ask…

IS LEADERSHIP responsible for Africa’s ills?
There is no doubt that Africa’s predicament can be directly attributed to corruption and callousness of most African leaders. Since independence from colonial rule, Africans have been having political experiences ranging from Parliamentary/Presidential Systems inherited from Colonial Rule to Military incursion via coups & counter-coups. In fact, towards the last two decades of the 20th Century, Military Dictatorship ran in parri-passu with Civilian Absolutism in Africa. As a result of wide Dissatisfaction with this harsh political atmosphere, especially the Horrible Apartheid Regime in South Africa; Africans began to clamour for “DEMOCRACY” (having been admonished by the Democracy inclined West), not minding its kind – whether it is people oriented or Elites oriented Democracy.
Furthermore, as unpleasant Socio-Economic and Political experiences unfold in all Democracy inclined African countries (far worse than Previous Dictatorial Regimes), Focus is gradually being shifted from naïve fantasy for main feature of Democracy (i.e. Periodic Change in Leadership) to Reflection about Devastating set backs this Elitist Democracy is bringing to Africa. This is evident in my country Nigeria, where we now nurse a decade of shattered Hopes in consequence of poor Democratic governance; where as a result of institutionalized corruption, the cost of Governance is 400% greater than the cost of maintaining the Governed majority, leading to Infrastructural Decay, Insecurity, Unemployment, Gradual Collapse of Large, Medium and Small Scales enterprises. South Africans’ Disenchantment with the Elitist Democracy is evident in May/June, 2008 when Black South Africans (out of poverty and frustration) launched an unprecedented Xenophobic attacks against fellow black immigrants, having suspected them as threats to their Economic opportunities cum incessant industrial actions in demand of meaningful wages. Ghanaians also replicate a silent Xenophobia against other fellow black immigrants (especially Nigerians) in disenchantment with this Elitist Democracy worsening Africans Economic well being. Liberia, Kenya, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Senegal e.t.c. have untold stories of Evils of Elitist Democracy, co-incidentally with Equatorial Guinea, Togo, Gambia, Sudan, Gabon e.t.c who are presently battling with the pains of Absolute Regimes. This Dilemma is compounded by the Flunky alliance of many African leaders with imperialist leaches to drain Africa’s Resources like Oil, Gold, Diamond e.t.c. African leaders who frown at this unholy alliance with external opportunists fall victims of either western propaganda or forceful invasion into their sovereignty. Asides the opportunism of the U.N.O. and E.U vis-à-vis proffering solutions to this Dilemma, the outright failure of Regional/Continental inter-governmental organizations in Africa (like ECOWAS, A.U., E.C.A. CEMAC etc) is a pointer to the fact that Africa lacks a Strong and United Political and Economic framework to drive home Africans’ aspirations.
Nevertheless, these convoluted problems do not portend perpetual Hopelessness or Doom as pessimists might opine. It’s rather a golden opportunity for Africa – the sleeping giant to not just be sleeping, but to cognitively and constructively Dream (while asleep) about “WHOM SHE WAS”, “WHOM SHE IS” & “WHOM SHE IS GOING TO BE”. In other words, while generally agreeing with the fact that Africa suffers from “BAD LEADERSHIP”, Rationality demands that we dig into the root of this Nightmare in the light of our Pre-colonial, Colonial and Post-Colonial Realities. We must diagnose the basis of the unhealthy competitiveness in our Educational, Political and Economic endeavours; rooted in the imbibed western ideas of the “THE SQUEAKY WHEEL GET THE GREASE”, “SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST” and “DO OR DIE AFFAIR”. These ideas unfortunately influence our Psyche in our Political endeavour as evident in Cultures of Electoral violence/Fraud and Political assassination in the bid to loot National resources rampant in many African countries (like Nigeria, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Uganda etc); Economic endeavour – as evident in culture of Greed and Self-Centeredness ingrained in our psyche in many of Business transaction; Educational endeavour- as evident in the way we all strive for knowledge basically for Extrinsic ends (unlike the intrinsic ends of the past), the way Students, Lecturers and Teachers hoard knowledge from one another, the way some students Read and Bribe to boost scores and the way lecturers became stooges to higher Authorities to win Professorial promotions, in short Mediocrity is Fast overshadowing Meritocracy in all Africa’s institutional arrangements in consequence of deeply ingrained Alien ideas, a colonial heritage.
If Reflecting on these Realities could make one objectively link contemporary Africa’s ills to colonially inherited underlying “IDEAS” antithetical to Traditional African ideas unique to our Pre-colonial and Original African Socio-economic and Political experiences, we ask this big question ….
Is Africa suffering from Loss of IDEOLOGY? I AM BECAUSE WE ARE; AND BECAUSE WE ARE; THEREFORE, I AM” John MBITI. The phenomenal fact that pricks one’s thought when we recall the pre-colonial Traditional Africa is the Interdependent view of the “SELF” in all African Societies. This runs contrary to the Independent view of the “SELF” in the West (as evident in Descartes Dictum “I THINK THEREFORE I AM”). This collective self scheme considerably influenced Africa pre-colonial Socio-Economic and Political Cultures of the people as evident in John MBITI’s Aphorism above. In other words, pre-colonial Africa was shaped by Economic Egalitarianism; as attested to by NKRUMAH and NYERERE in CONCSIENCISM and UJAMA respectively. African philosophical thought systems like “UJAMA” (of the Swahili speaking Africans), “AJOJE LON YONI” (of the Yoruba speaking Africans), “UBUNTU” (of the ZULU/NGUNI speaking Africans) etc were once ideological scales determining Economic and Political moralities; simply because these philosophical slogans (“UJAMA”, “UBUNTU”, “AJOJE LON YO NI”) are all synonyms meaning collectivism, Harmony, Humanness, Hospitality and Respect the individuals, communities and Groups display for one another in the socio-economic and political spheres. In fact, the Colonial intruders (having arrogantly and contemptuously envisaged chaotic political and Economic atmosphere in Africa) were so surprised to meet organized socio-economic and political settings across Africa along egalitarian line. These opportunists (i.e. colonialists) however saw this collectivism as threat to their Economic prospects. Hence, through regime of coercion, they played the Gimmicks of supplanting Africa’s Collectivism with individualism, Generosity with Greed, Selflessness with self-centeredness, and Unity with disunity through a “DIVIDE & RULE” policy in the bid to usurp Africa’s resources. Consequently, Africans began to experience ideological somersault by the influx of Alien ideas (like “THE SQUEAKY WHEEL GET THE GREESE”, “SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST”, HUMAN WANTS ARE INSATIABLE” etc) penetrating into African’s Psyche in spheres of Formal Education, Politics, Economics and Religion. This indeed is the root of Corruption, Callousness and Civil wars in Africa. Given these, we are forced to deduce by intuition that Africa’s Malversation is symptomatic of colonial legacy of “DOG EATS DOG” syndrome; implying that misplacement of ideology (commensurate with Africans’ original Psyche) is holistically responsible for Africa’s current Quagmire.
Furthermore, while viewing Bad leadership in Africa as offshoot of Bad ideology inherited from colonial capitalists, we must (as a matter of intellectual synthesis) also view dedicated leadership as basis for good ideology (a structure of Economic justice). This is the practice in the East (i.e. Asia & Arabia) where we have institutional Resistance against complete infiltration of individualism/capitalism (as evident in this Asian Truth “THE NAIL THAT STANDS OUT, GETS POUNDED DOWN”) in form of organized WELFARIST PACHAGES. The moderated Capitalism operated in China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Saudi-Arabia, Oman, Quarter etc. lends credence to this fact. However, it’s not all well in the East as cases of abject poverty / class antagonisms still abound.
Thus, Africa must transcend these Reformist weaknesses of the East and West by not only managing the crisis/evils of capitalism but rather to revolutionarily destroy capitalism. This can happen by adopting the principle of EDO- EDUCATION, DEDICATION & ORGANIZATION (an acronym unique to Anthony FASHAYO), when all African Labour Unions come to Unity under a virile leadership of a continental All Africans’ Labour Union. This automatically creates the platform of working towards the materialization of much fantasized and awaited Geo-political Unity (i.e. UNITED STATES OF AFRICA) anchored around people oriented ideology that can guarantee True Democracy and Economic Justice in Africa. The sleeping Giant must rise with this (having cognitively and constructively dreamt) by creating a strong immunity against the monster of IMPERIALISM via the Mobilization of Billions of Down-trodden masses in America, Europe, Asia and Oceania for the purpose of killing the culture of Self-Centeredness, Individualism, “Dog eats Dog” syndromes… all for Enthronement of Economic Egalitarianism Entirely on Earth”. At this juncture, while appreciating your Patience for painstakingly reading this Note to this level, I leave you to reflect on these words of Oduwale TaiwoLET THE LION PRIDE HIMSELF AS THE KING AND WE WILL REMIND HIM OF THOSE TIMES THE HYENA DISPOSSESSED HIM OF HIS PREY 

''The truth might be hard to say, painful to bear or even drastic for the truth sayer but still needed to be said''. ALISON.