Last year, a young American scholar, Hefzibah Israel threw a challenge to Nigerian and African writers. It happened that Hefzibah connected with some Nigerian writers on Facebook and while acknowledging their dexterity with fiction, wondered why that skill was not being applied to the wide gap of knowledge about the continent. The challenge from Hefzibah was simple: there is a serious dearth of information about you, why don’t you provide it.
Ms. Israel, like many others, had tried before to get information about the continent, and aside from bits here and there, drew several blanks, especially when the search goes beyond flora and fauna.
This is not to say that nothing is being written about the continent, but to stress that what we have out there is like a drop of water in a very thirsty Sahara. Beyond the challenge of the American scholar, we acknowledge that though we tell our stories, or are trying to tell our stories, we urgently need to tell more.
Writers of fiction abound here, writers with great promise. However, very few of them are willing to use this literary skill to tell the stories of our people, the historical narratives, the cultural narratives, the philosophies, etc, from our own angle. It is a pity that even today with all the tools that social media avails us; we mostly still look to the west to tell the most in-depth versions of our own story, to write compelling obituaries of our fallen greats—as Pa Ikhide is forever telling us—to expose the tragedy that is Baga.
We know there is a need to encourage more writers to take up non-fiction, but first there is the need to have that conversation about the place of non-fiction in Nigeria’s literary sphere—the need to ask the “why” it is important and “how” we can begin and “where” we can publish such stories. It is the May edition of iRead and we are talking about the non-fiction narrative.
To talk about this we have writers Adebola Rayo, Sylva Nze Ifedigbo, Onyeka Nwelue, Toyin Akinosho and Mazi Nwonwu.
Adebola Rayo is a writer and copy editor born in Ibadan, Nigeria. She holds an LL.B from the University of Lagos and a B.L from the Nigerian Law School. She fell in love with books at an early age and began writing her own stories as a teenager trying to sort out her thoughts and experiences, and make sense of the world. She believes the Arts should, beyond providing entertainment and beauty, be a medium for inspiring social change and development. That belief fuels her work.
Sylva Nze Ifedigbo:
Sylva Nze Ifedigbo is a Doctor of Veterinary medicine, a writer and a Corporate Communications professional. He is an award-winning essayist and author of the novella, “Whispering Aloud” and collection of short stories “The Funeral Did Not End”.Sylva’s Essays have appeared in The Punch, The Nation, 234Next, Nigeria Village Square, Nigeria Dialogue, amongst others. He manages a weekly column on Daily TimesNG. He is also the features & Reviews Editor of Sentinel Nigeria and an Ambassador for the Coca-Cola ‘A Billion Reasons To Believe in Africa’ Campaign.
Onyeka Nwelue has contributed reviews to Farafina magazine and other publications. His writings have appeared in The Sun, Wild Goose Poetry Review, Kafla Inter-Continental and The Guardian. He is the editor of Film Afrique, a primer on African film initiatives, he manages Blues and Hills Consultancy and was nominated as artist of the year for The 2009 and 2011 Future Awards. The Abyssinian Boy is his first novel.
Toyin Akinosho, geologist and former employee of an international oil company is the Publisher of the highly rated Africa Oil and Gas Report and is reputed for his deep knowledge of the Nigerian oil industry. Toyin Akinosho won the Economics & Business Award at the CNN/Multichoice African Journalist Awards 2007.
Chiagozie Fred Nwonwu is an editor and freelance writer with bias for speculative fiction. His articles and reviews have appeared in DailyTimes, Guardian, 234Next, Nigeria Village Square among others and his fiction has appeared in AfricanWriter, Sentinel Nigeria, Naijastories, Storytime and some international anthologies. He is awaiting the publication of his collection of short stories and working on his novel.
Date: Saturday 11 May, 2013
Place: CORA House, 95 Bode Thomas, Surulere (Opposite Thermcool building)
Time: 2-6 pm