Want to Start a Book Club?

Have you ever read a great book and wished you could talk to someone about it?  Or maybe you’ve thought about starting a book club before?  We’ve got news for you!

If you or anyone you know are interested in putting together a Book Club, or if you already run a book club, then I’m pleased to announce Farafina’s Book Club Program.  We are proud to work with and encourage different book clubs across the country.  As a registered affiliate in the Farafina Book Club Program, we will offer your members 10% off any of our titles that you chose and the official coordinator will receive a complimentary copy of the selected title.  Your book club will also receive alerts on Farafina events, special offers and discounts on books, and invites to some of our special programs when available.

To receive these benefits and more, all you have to do is formally register your Book Club with us by providing your book club name, location (s) where you generally meet, frequency of meeting, how many members you have, and the names and email addresses of your members.  Once you send your information to bookclub@kachifo.com, we will send you a catalogue of our books so you can get started!

Kingdom of Ife Storms the British Museum

Seated Figure, Bronze - Ife. c. Karin L. Willis/Museum for African Art/Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments

The British Museum in the UK is currently exhibiting about 100 sculptures in its Kingdom of Ife Exhibition.  It is of course lovely to experience these pieces of art upfront but some have been asking the questions that nobody seems comfortable to answer just yet about African treasures showing up for display everywhere else but in Africa.

It is said that the curators of the exhibition are very keen on pointing out that the pieces on display are mostly on loan from the National Museum in Lagos.  We keep hearing of all the great pieces the National Museum has in its possession but can we ask how come they are never shown right here in Lagos?

Either way, if this is right up your alley, go take a look at the British Museum.  The Kingdom of Ife exhibition runs until June 6, 2010.  Tell us what you think!

Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop

Farafina Trust will be holding a creative writing workshop in Lagos, organized by award-winning writer and creative director of Farafina Trust, Chimamanda Adichie, from May 20 to May 29 2010. The workshop is sponsored by Nigerian Breweries Plc. Guest writers who will co-teach the workshop alongside Adichie are the Caine Prize Winning Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina, Chika Unigwe winner of a Rockefeller Foundation fellowship for creative writing, South African writer Niq Mhlongo and celebrated Ghanaian writer Ama Ata Aidoo. The workshop will take the form of a class. Participants will be assigned a wide range of reading exercises, as well as daily writing exercises. The aim of the workshop is to improve the craft of Nigerian writers and to encourage published and unpublished writers by bringing different perspectives to the art of storytelling. Participation is limited only to those who apply and are accepted.

To apply, send an e-mail to Udonandu2010@gmail.com Your e-mail subject should read ‘Workshop Application.’ The body of the e-mail should contain the following:

1. Your Name

2. Your address

3. A few sentences about yourself

4. A writing sample of between 200 and 800 words. The sample must be either fiction or non-fiction.

All material must be pasted or written in the body of the e-mail. Please Do NOT include any attachments in your e-mail. Applications with attachments will be automatically disqualified. Deadline for submissions is April 22 2010. Only those accepted to the workshop will be notified by May 6 2010. Accommodation in Lagos will be provided for all accepted applicants who are able to attend for the ten-day duration of the workshop. A literary evening of readings, open to the public, will be held at the end of the workshop.

Okey Adichie

Programme Officer

Farafina Trust

Wordless Post: BookJam Picture Show

Cross-section of guests

Unoma Giese - the moderator of BookJam 2

Father Uwem Akpan, author "Say You're One of Them" signing a book for an eager reader.

Joy Isi Bewaji, author Eko Dialogue listening in on a question

Adewale Maja Pearce authographing a book.

Congrats Igoni!!!! - Uwem Akpan with Igoni Barrett @BookJam 2

It was lovely seeing everyone there and to those who couldn’t make it…you missed out!!!  Okay, okay, look forward to seeing you at the next one!  (Not quite wordless but forgive us)

Is Africa Ready for Science Fiction?

So in light of all the bruhaha surrounding the film District 9 and the subsequent ban by the Ministry of Information (seems so long ago now), we found the following piece even more fascinating.  Also seeing that the recently announced Penguin Books Prize for African Literature leaves out authors of science fiction works, it is easy to see how one can come to wonder whether African Literature is ready for science fiction.  In the piece below, writer Nnedi Okorafor (and Farafina author) ponders on how science fiction fits into the African literary scene.  The piece was first published on the Nebula Awards blog as a guest blog post last year but it is still a very relevant discussion:  “Is Africa Ready for Science Fiction?”

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had some interesting conversations with award-winning Nollywood director Tchidi Chikere about science fiction (Nollywood is Nigeria’s oh-so-popular film industry. The term “Nollywood” is a play on “Hollywood”, much the same way as India’s “Bollywood”).

Chikere has written, produced, and directed over 50 films. He also published a collection of rather chilling short stories titled Strangers in Paradise. The collection includes a novella called “Daughter of the Cave,” which is essentially a fantasy piece. Chikere sought me out after my novel, Zahrah the Windseeker [a Farafina title available at Kachifo.com and at your local bookstore!], piqued his interest. Needless to say, I was delighted and honored to hear from him.

During one of our conversations, we discussed my own work and whether it could be translated to film, particularly African film. “Is Africa ready for science fiction?” he asked me. We debated this for a while. Naturally, I believed Africa was ready…ready enough, at least. Notwithstanding my own contentions, Chikere had other ideas.

“I don t think we’re ready in the primary sense of the word,” Chikere said. “We can hide it in other categories like magic realism, allegory, etc, but we’re not ready for pure science fiction.”

“Science fiction films from the West are failures here. Even Star Wars!” he said. “The themes aren’t taken seriously. Science fiction will come here when it is relevant to the people of Africa. Right now, Africans are bothered about issues of bad leadership, the food crisis in East Africa, refugees in the Congo, militants here in Nigeria. Africans are bothered about food, roads, electricity, water wars, famine, etc, not spacecrafts and spaceships. Only stories that explore these everyday realities are considered relevant to us for now.”

Read the rest here.

Lost in Translation

So, a literary storm has been brewing recently with Cameroonian novelist Leonora Miano outrightly lashing out at her publishers, the University of Nebraska Press, against the Foreword included in the American version of her novel “L’interieur de la nuit”.  She sent in her grievances to the Complete Review and we have her note verbatim here for our readers!

Dear the Complete Review,

Thank you for giving me some space to express myself, and to say why the foreword added to my novel should be removed.

In sub-Saharan Africa, we’re used to be despised by the rest of the world and to be treated as mere animals. I knew, when L’intérieur de la nuit (Dark Heart of the Night) was published, that some would use the novel in order to reinforce their views on Africa and its peoples. Really, I didn’t care and still don’t care about that. What I’m interested in, is the African point of view on the topics I work on. I think we’ve spent too much time hoping for understanding and recognition from people other than ourselves. It’s time we focus on our problems and deal with them, no matter how painful it is. I’m confident in our ability to do so. I’m confident in our desire to no more take lessons in humanity from people who created and used the atomic bomb, and who still have death penalty in their country. Things would be so cool if people could just clean their front door …
When University of Nebraska Press bought the rights of the book, I was happy because it’s important for me to be translated into English, and to make my work available for the many Africans (and people of African descent as well) who actually speak English. I started to ask myself questions when I saw which title had been chosen for the American translation of L’intérieur de la nuit. Dark Heart of the Night has nothing to do with the original title. It resembles Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, and voluntarily sends wrong messages. But all right. The contract had been signed, and UN Press could use a title betraying my work without me having a say in this. They could even create that ugly cover if they thought it would help them sell the book. I know nothing about the American taste as far as covers are concerned.
But now, UN Press also felt entitled to add a foreword. Why not, if the aim was to help the readers know the writer and understand the novel? The problem is that the foreword is full of misleading information. Let’s say it frankly, it’s full of lies:

1/ Cameroon does not have the worse human rights record in Africa. We have a lot of issues to face, but our country is not more violent than the USA where people are killed on a daily basis for all kinds of reasons. I don’t understand why the author of that foreword, who never bothered to contact me, made up stories like that. She is insulting a country and its people. Cameroonians will certainly not allow it.

2/ Cameroon is not the setting of the novel which was, as I’ve said it many times, inspired by a documentary that I saw on children at war. We don’t have those in Cameroon nowadays, and if we ever had, I never heard about it.

3/ I discovered the so called “Hashish Massacre” in the foreword. I had never heard of that, even if I knew about the armed conflicts we had in the country during the late fifties, when our people were fighting for their independence.

4/ I did not leave Cameroon to France to flee from a violent place. I live in France because I’m both selfish and down to earth. France is still the place where you need to be when you’re an African French speaking writer. It’s what allows you to be published and correctly distributed. My fellow Cameroonians don’t know the many talented writers who live in the country and whose books are published there. They know me. And L’intérieur de la nuit was awarded the Prize of Cameroonian Excellency in 2007.

5/ My novel is not a criticism of Negritude or Panafricanism. I’m deeply attached to Negritude whose authors have nurtured and freed my mind. If it was not for what they did, I would not be such a bold and fierce voice. They made me. Isn’t it a pity to see that the author of the foreword cannot even write Aimé C&eacutesaire’s name properly?
I’m a strong advocate of Panafricanism, which I view as the only way to solve some of our problems. L’intérieur de la nuit deals with fascistic views of the African identity, and this has nothing to do with Negritude or Panafricanism.

6/ I’ve not just written another novel. Three more have actually been published, in addition with one collection of short stories and a collection of creative non fiction. The latter, entitled Soulfood Equatoriale, is my only book really talking about Cameroon. And you know what? Nobody dies in the book. If the foreword was to be informative, it would have said all this. It would also have said that L’intérieur de la nuit is part of a trilogy. Even if those novels were written so they could be read separately, they form an ensemble.

7/ There is only one child killed in L’intérieur de la nuit, and that child is an orphan (it doesn’t make it good to kill him, but we’re talking about what is in the novel). I don’t understand why the author of the foreword talks about the women whose children are slaughtered. Can the lady actually read? Has she read? I think she must have been given an oral summary of the novel, plus two or three sentences to place here and there. This is not serious.

Complete Review, I could also say a few things on the way you read and understood the book. I won’t. I’m glad you read it and said something about it.

We’ve asked UN Press to withdraw the foreword. If they cannot do it because the books are already out, they’ll have to send them with a letter explaining everything I’ve just told you.

Léonora Miano

What do you guys think?  Should Miano have handled her disagreement in another manner or should the publisher have included her more in the process of translating her work?  How about the angle of the west seeing Africa as the “DARK HEART”?

Supporting These Genes

Here are ten things to note about JEANS FOR GENES, the upcoming fashion party market to raise awareness about sickle cell!

  1. Jeans for Genes is a fashion show/party and market! IT is scheduled to hold on Sat March 27th, at the swanky SWE BAR, City Mall, Onikan, 3pm. Jeans for Genes is brought to you by THESE GENES, a sickle cell project run by Tosyn Bucknor. These Genes aims to create awareness-based social programmes, for people to be able to hang out, have some fun, and ultimately, speak and learn about sickle cell disorder.
  2. The first edition of JEANS FOR GENES held in 2008 and featured lovely designs by Byge, Beampeh and My Q, with music performances by Bez, M.I, Etcetera and so on.  (Notice how big they’ve become now?!)
  3. This year, JEANS FOR GENES is all about TEESHIRTS! Nigerians love teeshirts, which truly are multi-purpose when you think about it. Teeshirts are used for awareness campaigns, as fashion apparels, and to create a bond. JEANS FOR GENES 2 would like to show what Nigerian designers are now doing with teeshirts on their mind!
  4. Jeans for Genes is three things in one- an awareness fashion show, which will feature sickle-cell awareness and a fashion show, a teeshirt party with music, drinks (bought by you o), and networking, and a market! Yes o! There will be teeshirts, accessories and more on sale on that day, and the prices will be so good, you’d wish Jeans for Genes was a monthly event!
  5. It’s JUST a teeshirt right? Not when you see what TONI PAYNE, STRICTLY NAIJA CLOTHING, OUCH! HAPPY FACEZ and IMAGINE CLOTHING do with it! These are five of some of the proudly Nigerian companies whose designs you will see on the runway come Sat Mar 27th! Each of these companies brings something unique to the table, and we are very pleased and excited to have them on board! They have also promised to donate items to the cause, so that proceeds from the sale of same, will go into the final pot at the end of the day!
  6. The models that will walk the runway will be beautifully made up by LABELLE’s TOUCH. So expect them to look glam! They will also exhibit accessories designed by BUCKSTONE VENTURES, T.T DALK FOOTWEAR, AKIN BEADS, and MY DAZZLE. And everything they model, will be available for sale! (We emphasise that. Forgive us!)
  7. It’s not just fashion though! We have to have music! And when we say music! We mean an OVERDOSE of music! We mean SKUKI and LOOSE KAYNON, WIZKID and LAMI, ZARA and HAKYM THE DREAM, MODE NINE and SKALES, DIPP and MO CHEDDAH… And the very pretty DOOSHIMA DABO’ADZUANA as the m.c on the day!
  8. Jeans for Genes is a teeshirt party so OF COURSE, the dress code is TEES AND THESE GENES! The question is… how creative will YOU get with this dress code?! Tees can be dressed up or down, they can be sexy, cute or classic, they can be zany or simple… So which direction are you thinking of going? NIGEZIE, SOUNDCITY,MTV, HIP ON TV, QUEST TV, STV, BELLA NAIJA, GUARDIAN, and more, will be on the Red Carpet, hoping to capture sexy and creative interpretations of the dress code. Remember, its TEES AND THESE GENES!
  9. But we couldn’t have put this event together without support from s.h.a.r.e, Zapphaire Events, X3M Music, YAT, and our lovely volunteers like Bolaji Ajayi! Youth Are Talking (YAT) will tell us a bit about H.I.V/AIDS so please watch out for their stand, and runway!
  10. Of course Farafina Books will be there in full effect!!!  You’ll have an opportunity to buy all our titles at this event with 20% of sales going to support the sickle cell project These Genes!

So there you have it!  We do hope we will see you on SAT March 27th at Swe for 3pm, armed with enough cash to bargain shop and your phones to network?! Wait though! Is your name on the guest list yet? Not sure? Well, let me break it down! To get an invite to the Jeans for Genes fashion party/market/show, please get a specially designed THESE GENES teeshirt! There are two style, ‘THESE GENES CELEB’ and ‘ROCK THESE GENES’. The tees are available now and cost N4000! Please call or text 08023066252 to get your name on the Guest List o o o o o o o

Hope to see you there!