DAMN YOU (LETTER TO NIGERIAN LITERATURE AND ALL INVOLVED)

(SMALL NOTE TO NIGERIAN LITERATURE AND ALL INVOLVED: DAMN YOU!)

__________________________________________________________________________

Yup, damn you!

I am usually conservative but even for that, damn me!

Nigerian writers and its literature is largely uncelebrated in the country – for most of that, damn Nigeria!

Nigerians prefer to read foreign books – damn Nigerians!

Readers would rather read a book by a known author than a least known one – well, I can’t blame them but damn both the readers and the unknown writer!

DAMN YOU WRITERS!

We all want to be taken seriously by the society and even government but are we even serious with ourselves?

Many times we rush off to print – without getting several things right –

No proper editors or editing

Shabby production with lots of typos and grammatical blunders plus the tense

inconsistencies! Grrrr….

Should we forget the horrible covers that adorn most of our books?

What about those stories that should rather be in a text book?

Furthering, we keep doing the same thing and expect something to get results that are different… Kai!

Damn us!

 

You don’t read at all or pay the price for writing and you expect to have something good? Hee hee hee – Damn you jor!

Other times, you don’t do anything to help other writers – no reviews, no good comments, and you expect that the reverse would be yours… this is more hilarious than the price issue! Yes, yes, damn you!

You put some exorbitant price on your book and would rather have them under your bed than sell affordably – damn you!

You refuse to buy a book by another writer – no matter how good and expect yours to be bought – haba, if you keep expecting to be dashed or don’t even buy, you should respect karma now… but still, damn you!

A book launch is called (and this is often) and if you do the mistake of going, you go only to drink the free mineral, buns or meat pie – faya your head!

Here now you find some others – yes, you who set up some awards just for the glory and then end up giving your cronies – damn you!

What about you who is selected as a judge and decide that it is time to give the favour to some pal… O! I guess I forgot to mention that other person who decided that only the one with a big name should get the prize to increase your prestige… Whether you are a judge, whether you are the organiser… hmm, need I say more? No, not damn you, have your head examined!

More, you as a literary association or its members are more political than literary – choi, go and join PDP, CPC, ACN or one of them parties! Literary associations should be L I T E R A R Y !! Shikena! Damn you!

You are in a literary association and your only aim is POSITION – nothing else… damn you!

Okay, you get the position and you can’t effect any change – damn you still.

You claim to be a publisher while you only print and get your full payment for the copies, at best collecting payments for the print job…The same you refuses to market the writers or pay royalties when you sell their work – whether it is one of these or all, Oga/Madam Printer, damn you!

In your academic circles, scorning any writing not from your literary circles, or flowing only those sent from high towers – keep those noses in the air, may mighty flies dance alanta inside! See your head – damn you!

Now, here we go with all these and we have to start to think about why this rant has come about but not to worry… It takes time and a lot of damns to get us into doing the right thing… It takes time to ignore the big names, it takes time to get to discover that we can make those small people to be big…it takes time to ensure that we make ourselves – polish ourselves right and give ourselves the utmost shine… it takes time to make people know our worth… It takes time to take time…and while we are taking all this time, why don’t we simply just damn time itself! Damn time! (If you agreed to this, damn you!) As the times grow, we have to give it its respect and let it slowly flow… After all, isn’t it with the passage of time that wine gets better? Well, you might be lucky and not need to go through all the wahala to get there… On behalf of us all who really do not have the luxury of that miracle, damn luck! Damn the luck that would make others to really suffer to make a name… Damn the pirates who help us spread our work but don’t give us pay… Come to think of it, maybe we should give them some commission for marketing … What happens to our hard work and labour? Damn you pirates! Damn! Damn! Damn! Double and double and quadruple damns to it all till it comes to a time when we have to even damn damn itself…

At that damning time, we would have to find a way to undamn ourselves in one or several ways…and if we don’t find a way to remove the damns…well, what more do I say?

Ouch! There’s a damning headache in my head and I just discovered that someone still hasn’t got this whole message – phew! Damn! Okay, here’s what I am saying and if you don’t get it still (do I need to say it? Damn you!)

 

IT takes one and all to bring all the change we want and we can do it…if we don’t, damn us all!

 

 

 

(First published in Conflate Magazine June 2012)



70 thoughts on “DAMN YOU (LETTER TO NIGERIAN LITERATURE AND ALL INVOLVED)” by Sueddie Agema (@sueddie)

  1. You didnt get my comment on your blog. No matter i will say it again.
    Damn you for thinking you hvave an opinion what reading. Damn you for having the guts to write a letter to anybody.

    Come, whats up with your MTN line? Do you use it as a land line or fax machine?

    1. ‘an opinion (worth) reading? @kaycee

      1. This is where if I was white, the pink would appear on my cheek ;)

        PS: @Kaycee: MTN is not the line – I have told you a million times over. Go with the Nigerian Glo…
        And yeah, damn us all bro. If we are to damn you, walahi, NS would keep damning to eternity… Hee hee hee. Yeah.

  2. Damn!!!!!! Damn those who read this and are too ashamed to put a comment. And double damn those who boycott this.

    1. @layrite: [singing] Go tell it on the mountain…

      Thanks!!

  3. And by this post.. Damn you too.

    This is good ish..

    1. @lachicabonita: I should mention here you have a way of dropping light warm-hearted comments to cheer. A few lines and yes, you do so. One day I hope to see you criticise someone’s work. I would sure get some pop-corn. ;) Thanks Lady. Thanks for reading, and thanks for being you – and commenting too.

      1. Oh….. Just pop-corn? I think I’ll pass.

        1. Hmm, okay, guess that wasn’t near tempting enough…
          C’mon @lachicabonita!! It would be something close to the movies – that enjoyable!
          Or do you think I should get buns and kankara [local ice-cream] :)
          Please, don’t pass – anything!

  4. True talk!

    Well done.

    1. @babyada: Da lu. @Shaifamily: Na wa o, da one na yab abi na wetin? ;) Smh for you too jare!

      1. @sueddie YES n NO. Still smh for you.

        1. Okay o! Me ma, I am still smh for you… Oh! Maybe you mean ‘singing my highest’ for you. Oh! Thank man. :)

          1. Unserious mind @sueddie
            And maybe I meant something more sinister…hahaha

            1. @shaifamily: ok, lay it out now or be ever mute & damned!

  5. Really serious ish on a light note.
    Damn you! Sueddie, and by the time I get yer freaking ears, you’ll be double damned…hehehe..

    This made a lot of sense since it damns every one of us. Hopefully the damning things would be set right.

    See you going on and on with the damns. lemme catch you accusing me of using them words. U go hear weee!.. Well written S’…$ß

    1. @babyada: Really, where have you been? Or is it me? ;)
      @sibbylwhyte: You know this is just fingers talking in anger over issues. It is not my normal speech pattern… Make I catch you talk rot, I go damn your head! ;) Don’t worry I wouldn’t accuse you. I would put you right when you do wrong. That’s what dads do.
      Thanks.

  6. cough cough cough…while we keep damning everything and everyone, I should mention that the piece nearly didn’t get to press since someone said ‘It wasn’t too clean’… Hee hee hee. Well, thanks everyone. Trust me, this piece came out of some deep thought and frustration from issues happening around. The sad part is everyone keeps complaining without doing anything… Sad, you know. Really sad and if after reading this, we think I only wrote it for fun, still damn you! ;)

  7. Very interesting rant. A good read, no matter what.

  8. @Sueddie I’m totally and utterly proud of you and this. In fact I love you for doing/writing this. May God continue bless you with wisdom and courage to always be truthful and dwell in truth.

    This is brilliant. It sees shit and calls it like it is and not a sweet smell flower.

    1. @tadethompson: Thank you Sir. Coincidentally, it was featured in a Rant column… ;)
      @aturmercy: Hmm, thanks for the love! [I probably should sharpen up to do more] You know, it is really evident for us all to see. The sad part is that most of us have decided to just let things keep going…Oh well. Hopefully, we would get rid of the ‘shit’ … Hee hee hee. Nice analogy jare!

  9. @Sueddie, interesting read.

    Unfortunately, the problem is multidimensional, which means that it will not be solved so easily.

    Let me comment on each of your ‘damnations’:

    Nigerians prefer to read foreign books – damn Nigerians!

    I won’t entirely blame Nigerians here. There have not historically been many accessible well-written works by Nigerians, so unfortunately, Nigerians are wary of reading books by Nigerians (believing them to be either hard to read or badly written). This will take a lot of time to fix, but with the quality of some of the writing I see on Naija Stories, it can happen.

    Readers would rather read a book by a known author than a least known one – well, I can’t blame them but damn both the readers and the unknown writer!

    See above.

    DAMN YOU WRITERS!

    We all want to be taken seriously by the society and even government but are we even serious with ourselves?

    Many times we rush off to print – without getting several things right –

    No proper editors or editing

    Shabby production with lots of typos and grammatical blunders plus the tense

    inconsistencies! Grrrr….

    Should we forget the horrible covers that adorn most of our books?

    What about those stories that should rather be in a text book?

    Furthering, we keep doing the same thing and expect something to get results that are different… Kai!

    Damn us!

    Unfortunately, I agree here. The primary focus should be on improving the quality of the product. I would not blame anyone who did not buy a poor quality product.

    Other times, you don’t do anything to help other writers – no reviews, no good comments, and you expect that the reverse would be yours… this is more hilarious than the price issue! Yes, yes, damn you!

    Well, it’s only now with the advent of the internet that there are opportunities for easily connecting with other writers and leaving comments/feedback/criticism. But even then, I agree with you that most writers are ‘solo operators’ – they would rather write in their rooms, send out their manuscripts and magically expect money and recognition to start rolling in. That’s not a realistic attitude to adopt in an environment with a weak reading culture.

    You put some exorbitant price on your book and would rather have them under your bed than sell affordably – damn you!

    Maybe the problem here is that writers are not always the best businessmen? Also, books ARE expensive to print, too.

    You refuse to buy a book by another writer – no matter how good and expect yours to be bought – haba, if you keep expecting to be dashed or don’t even buy, you should respect karma now… but still, damn you!
    I don’t know how true/false this is, so no comment. :)

    A book launch is called (and this is often) and if you do the mistake of going, you go only to drink the free mineral, buns or meat pie – faya your head!

    Any writer who does this should be ashamed of himself.

    What about you who is selected as a judge and decide that it is time to give the favour to some pal… O! I guess I forgot to mention that other person who decided that only the one with a big name should get the prize to increase your prestige… Whether you are a judge, whether you are the organiser… hmm, need I say more? No, not damn you, have your head examined!

    More, you as a literary association or its members are more political than literary – choi, go and join PDP, CPC, ACN or one of them parties! Literary associations should be L I T E R A R Y !! Shikena! Damn you!

    You are in a literary association and your only aim is POSITION – nothing else… damn you!

    Honestly, I would not look to literary associations, literary competitions, etc. to promote the reading/writing culture in Nigeria. It’s only when people WANT to buy books because they are entertaining, interesting, informative or otherwise enjoyable that we will be starting on the road to building a reading culture in Nigeria. If people are buying a book just because it was written by Mr or Ms. Famous Writer and not because they liked previous stories that the famous writer had told, then we have a love of writers, not a love of writing.

    You claim to be a publisher while you only print and get your full payment for the copies, at best collecting payments for the print job…The same you refuses to market the writers or pay royalties when you sell their work – whether it is one of these or all, Oga/Madam Printer, damn you!

    It is unrealistic to talk of real publishers of new books in Nigeria as long as the reading culture remains as weak as it is, thus making book publishing a risky venture. What will continue to have are printers who are unwilling to take any risk in the production of the book, or publishers who will only sell books that are guaranteed to sell with minimal risk

    But it’s not all hopeless. I believe another development that may change things is the widespread availability of e-commerce solutions and the internet. I still believe that people love hearing stories; the challenge is to make such stories easily available to them for consumption at a price they can afford.

  10. @TolaO: Brother mine, thanks for the comment. Really.
    @Kaycee would have yabbed me that this kind of comment is worth another post! Ha!
    Well, now I totally agree with most of the positions that you have raised over there. I think most of what you have said is captured in your last two paragraphs. Yes, the printers and ‘ego’ publishers [pun intended] would keep on being there. However, in between all these I think that there is something that we can do – as writers and business people. Chimamanda is always quick to mention her publishers for the revolution that they brought – Farafina, and Cassava Republic.
    Now, what are my thoughts on all these? I think that lots can be done. Most of what we wrote there can be changed. For literary associations, I think there is a great need for them. This is because they can help spur interest in writing and do several other things – create campaigns to help; give podiums and platforms where writers can offer or sell their craft to an audience; bring together groups of writers that would help to foster some innovations to the whole craft.
    In essence: I am really hopeful that something would be done. Maybe when we damn ourselves first of all, we would think deep and proffer solutions that would undamn us and take us to a higher level in our game. See the stories on Naija Stories. See @Raymond, @Seun-Odukoya, @howyoudey, @guywriterer, @sibbylwhyte @lade … wow, talk about them all – and even you, @TolaO… The stories we have here are great and page turning. They can be turned to something – well, there’s that collection already. What next? Promotion that can be done if we all put hands together and stuff. Much can be done – that’s the idea.
    Ouch! Here I go ranting once more… Well, I would be damned if after all I made no sense. But in the spirit of all the usual talk, damn you Tola for being so analytic as usual. Your comments sure make each post worth it… giving another dimension. Live long.

  11. Are we done yet or are we not damned?

    Hiphop 5fingers jor!

  12. @Ostar: Hopefully, there is hope…
    We never damn finish! 5fingers too – hopefully, it means well. Hee hee hee.

  13. Hilariously hitting the nail on the head..

    May we not all be damned!

    1. @teewah [long time o!] Well, we might be damned somewhat but gal, we search for salvation…and best of all, we would get there – I hope. ;)

  14. This good.Damn those that only read stories to see errors.

  15. @sueddie damn u for sayn d truth. Lies ate cjeaper. But sincerely, u really hit d head on the nail. Damn me still

    1. Damn me for mispelling lies are cheaper as lies ate cjeaper. Damn my keyboard too.

      1. @ichadgreat: Laughed at the first one of cjeaper… Jare…
        And the damnation continues… C’mon, someone talk about salvation!!

        1. @sueddie Seems people love DAMNATION more. Damn ’em All!!!

          1. @shaifamily: Walahi…if we had written ‘Save them’ nobody for tok…
            Damn this tok ma… and damn ’em (not all of them…the ones wey tok better, dem dey ‘comoted’ … ;) )

            1. @sueddie I do remember a very prominent political figure using ds same damned four letter word.

              1. @shaifamily: For those of us who haven’t seen a newspaper in forever nor watched TV…do tell: who?

                1. POLITICAL FIGURE! U want me to be BHed?

                  1. @shaifamily: Don’t you worry bro…Pol figures don’t do that … but if they do, we would simply damn them and write you flowing verses to last eternity and prose to only die for…
                    Haba na, talk jare!

  16. Damn the pen/keyboard that wrote/typed this. Damn Admin for allowing this. Damn the people damned in this post. Damn the commenters. But undamn the writer and undamn me for reading it. Hehehe!
    An unserious piece written unseriously by an unserious/serious individual to address a serious matter.
    Sueddie you rock jor!

  17. Capital damn you, man, for even conceiving this monstrous, outrageous, sacrilegious, obnoxious and atrocious piece. Boy, this is a shot to the arm. Look, man we gotta give people what they need lit wise and take books to the streets or we will go the way of the dinosaur.

  18. @francis: Bro…Seriously, the things plenty but as long as you undamn me from the damn wey even me put for myself: I salute you! But walahi, you sure say you no qualify for the damnation as you play safe no gree damn yourself? ;)
    @ezeakwukwo: Damn it!! Your grammar na real all the things wey you write!! If I didn’t know better, I would have said no commercial future for your craft except if you turn Soyinka literary twin brother…
    Yes, I think we need some serious revolution to our writing. People are warming to a writing tradition as seen in many cities but we need to ‘up’ our writing or else… We can cry our craft away and keep damning them all while we go the way of damnation.
    Thanks for dropping by and adding to the talk guys!

  19. Well, I guess there can be no ‘salvation’ if there be no ‘damnation’….we have to ‘work out our salvation with fear and trembling…’

    Nice one Bro.

  20. Thanks @scopeman60
    You are on point…First, damnation, then salvation. Hopefully, we would get there… Hopefully.

  21. Yeah…damn em and us all!!!

  22. Damn

    Damn

    Damn

    Darts on target………. But sueddie remember

    There are three kinds of people
    *those who see a problem and do nothing about it
    *those who see a problem and say something about it and hope that someday someone would do something about it
    *those that see a problem and contribute their own quota to solving it….

    Damn those who fall in the 1st and 2nd categories…..hehe

    1. @Xikay: We would be saved eventually…Amen.
      @kodeya: Yes o…I feel you on all those valid points…No be small matter. I can only pray that we get more people into that third group…
      Come to think of it, shei you know you can write a short story on these categories…? Or a sick realistic piece – And Nigerians would always take the day! Damn! We would surely change, someday – I pray.
      @louis: Yup, you on point too man! You are ;)
      @igweaj: What more do we say? We dey together for the points… Hopefully, some people ma go look decide say make the point no be their story again…

  23. Damn you niga. U’re right on point.

  24. On point bro! DAMN!!!

  25. @sueddie, seriously. Check out @jacobolisajones on his using of Youtube to promote his stuff. I wrote extensively about this moons ago, on how to get publicity, but it seemed to have gone over peep’s head, until this guy’s story here on NaijaStories.

    Point is we have to collectively find INNOVATIVE, GUERRILA, or OUT-OF-THE-BOX ways to promote ourselves. Just using the conventional ways (websites, highly-paid pr persons, FB) won’t cut it. It’s so…DONE already.

    Hint: Video, video, video! Landscape is populated by video babies, and you might want to draw them in first with a video tease, then BAM! hit them with your product. NaijaStories can start a Youtube channel, as the above-mentioned broda has done, and WITH PERMISSION from the writers, shoot, crisp, short videos of selected stories. Something we could take to film festivals, TV stations, etc. The video, however, MUST be top-notch, just as the editing of any writing we put out there must be beyond top-notch. This is one way to get them to NOTICE you, then BAM, hit them with your product (our Anthology). I think that @Eletrika was one of those NSers who supported the idea when I posited it a long time ago, but it was mostly poo-poo’ed because it was deemed expensive, which it is, if you want to go the conventional Nollywood way.

    The other way I mentioned was to get celebrities to help pitch the product. With a macro goal of getting Nigerians to READ (important for us as a society), celebrities could be used (with the NS Anthology in hand), urge Nigerians to READ.

    I know how to put out material, but I suck at publicity. If, however, I’m assigned a specific duty within a cluster of folks who know the heck what they’re doing (tech-wise), I’m game.

    Let’s stop complaining and damning ourselves (that in itself is not good, because our grandmothers always warn us about words that you assign to people), and get to DOING, collectively.

  26. Ol'snetwork (@jacobolisajones)

    @howyoudey , i really need to be checking my inbox more often, I only just saw the notification. Can u send me a link to the article u sed you posted let me read. Yeah it’s true, I studied youtube a bit and it is a strong force to be reckoned with. I watched a vidcon convention where popular youtubers meet and greet their fans and stuff. It was almost as if they were big time celebrities. They were selling t-shirts and merchandise with their channel name branded on it. WHy can’t writers/youtubers do the same. But it boils down to what @sueddie says. If we cannot support our own people, then why should others support us. @sueddie I could feel the anger coming out as i read this post. Nice one man. I UPLOADED A NEW VIDEO BY THE WAY. BE SURE TO CHECK IT OUT, JUST MAKE SURE U R NOT EATING ANYTHING PEPPERY BECAUSE YOU MIGHT CHOKE FROM LAUGHTER. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7T5wA_xnNQ&feature=plcp

  27. @howyoudey: I salute you!! I echo @jacobolisajones in asking for the link to your article. You know, it is really sad that most times we keep ranting over several issues. To be honest, we can write a million of these articles and have ourselves read and keep applauding. I had a feeling this article would get people to clap (as many others before it) but the general thrust as I put somewhere is for us to change. It is one thing to know the problem, complain about the problem and yet another to work towards resolving the problem. Read @kodeya ‘s statement above – he makes it very clear. I only hope that when we read more, we would be moved to do something. IT is a hope and yes, more than that, a prayer.
    Howyoudey, I enjoyed your comment and it would be a lie to say it didn’t give me new ideas. I am doing several things but the e-angle really isn’t much there. WE might have to catch JOJ to help us on that. Yes, you can be sure I would catch you on your word… There’s so much to be done and the best part is that we can all do it – together. I beg to be forgiven to keep on damning us all till that time comes when we get back to our senses. Till then… Damn.

  28. well all the damn- this is funny first but with a serious element of truth embedded in it . interesting piece bro

    1. @mikeeffa: thanks! Na hard talk o! Thanks…hopefully, it made some sense.

  29. Sunshine (@nicolebassey)

    To damn the unworthy or bless the devoted?
    Damnation leaves us lower,
    worse of than we are
    we need lifting,
    we need blessing
    or at least a helping
    hand.
    Damnation will do us no good.

  30. @nicolebassey: Dear Shine, Who really is worthy
    – or unworthy?
    By our actions and deeds, most times we tend to flow towards damnation.
    If we can be bold to correct ourselves when told
    We just might find that road towards sweet salvation.
    So, in this as in others, we do not curse,
    we just correct to change before things ultimately get worse…

  31. howyoudey, send me the link to that report on youtube too! and for the writer of this piece, good work.

    1. @howyoudey: See as all of us dey beg you to send us the report to the Youtube thing…haba!! What more do we have to say?
      @rapmike: Thanks, Sir. Thank you for reading. Hope it touched a spot…to bring change. It takes us all – one and all … No docility here o!

      1. @sueddie, I’m on my annual sojourn into the bush, so internet access is feast or famine. To your request: the “report” in question is not actually a report, but part of a slew of comments made in response to a question admin posed on how to improve the site. This was last year, I think. Will look for it and link you to it.

        1. @howyoudey: That would be mighty good of you if you do get that link…Always fun to find something to read to improve one’s knowledge.
          Come to think of it, why be say na ‘annual’ sojourn…? Sha, Don’t allow the animals eat you – whatever bush it is you sojourn!! *wink

  32. Change do change me too for good!
    This piece is hunting.

    1. @ostar: The piece is still with the spears! Woe betide anyone who comes across it!!
      PS: went to your blog and found it interesting. Nice picture of the nativity…hope the heavens don’t sue you…You sure got colour going there and humour working for you. But since February, nothing? Haba!

      1. DAM* me on, “…since February” if I don’t
        worry to do something @suedie. Sue?
        Oh what an intention so desired that heavens
        sue me, and I stand before all Baba people.
        If they no convict me, I no go gree come earth.

        1. @ostar: *whistling…. You go fear when you get summons!!

  33. Hmmm! Damn everyone and damn everything. The message was well passed.

    1. @sontel: C’mon…from the look of things, we are going pass damnation to salvation. May Aondo save us each day. Thanks…mind ‘inboxing’ your number to me?…Cheers!

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