Imaginary Conversations @ Ake by Chuma Nwokolo

Chuma Nwoloko, author of Diaries of a Dead African, and brilliant humorist, was at the Ake Arts and Book Festival. HE went with his camera, and he did not leave his wit behind. See below for a series of photos depicting the festival from another angle.

Warning: These pictures are real enough, but the conversations only occurred within the precincts of a writerly imagination.

Lola Shoneyin, Molara Wood, Lewis?, and a "CIA Agent".

Lola Shoneyin, Molara Wood, Lewis?, and a “CIA Agent”.

Richard Ali, Lola Shoneyin, Pius Adesanmi, Remi Raji.

Richard Ali, Lola Shoneyin, Pius Adesanmi, Remi Raji.

Toads for Supper!

Toads for Supper!

Presidential Plot!

“Oh come on, President Rem Raj, Your fellow writers will never sign up to a Third-Term-Agenda!”
“True, I don’t know what’s got into me. Must be this Abeokuta wine…”

Seriously. One Day I Will Also Write About This Airline ~ Binyavanga Wainaina

Seriously. One Day I Will Also Write About This Airline ~ Binyavanga Wainaina

"So I said to her: my name is Eghosa Imasuen, I am a Warripolitan, and she said to me: which kain Waripolitan? You dey drink red wine? Dem born you for New York Siri?"

“So I said to her: my name is Eghosa Imasuen, I am a Warripolitan, and she said to me: which kain Waripolitan? You dey drink red wine? Dem born you for New York Siri?”

Efe Paul Azino

Efe Paul Azino

Chuma Nwokolo & Ikhide Ikheloa.

Chuma Nwokolo & Ikhide Ikheloa.

Teju Cole & Tolu Ogunlesi

Teju Cole & Tolu Ogunlesi

Lolo Shoneyin, The Secret Lives of African Writers.

Lola Shoneyin, The Secret Lives of African Writers.

Eghosa Imasuen: On Fine Boys and Yellow Girls – A Review by Ikhide Ikheloa

“In mid-1992, CNN reported that sixteen-year-old Amy Fisher had just shot Mary Jo Buttafuoco, something about wanting the older woman dead so Joey – the bloody cradle snatcher – Buttafuoco could be free, I remember Amy was my age. Germany was unified, and British MPs had just elected a woman as speaker. The Soviet Union had been over for about two years, and the Russian-speaking part of Ukraine was threatening secession. The police officers who kicked Rodney King’s head in were getting acquitted for the first time. Grunge rockers were breaking their necks to that song, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – inspired by the smell of latrines, I think – and African reggae singers were in a panic, rewriting songs, rearranging LPs and pushing back release dates now that Mandela was really free. Fuel prices here increased for the first time past the one naira mark. We had civilian governors and a military president. I was awaiting my matriculation exam results, hoping to make it into the University of Benin to study medicine. I was learning to drive on the busy Warri Streets. I was being a good son.”

– Fine Boys by Eghosa Imasuen

Digital technology is poised to save Africa’s stories from the comatose printing presses of Africa’s “publishers.” Good writers still languish in Africa, staring at lovely stories trapped in the mediocrity of imitation books. But all that is changing. E-books are here for African writers who are savvy enough to port their books to the Kindle or the Nook and share with the world.  It is a good thing. I have been buying and downloading books by writers living in Nigeria, warts and all. I am happy because now I can read many more of our stories than ever before. The Internet has been a boon to our literature. Why do I like reading books by writers “on the ground” in Nigeria as they say? I pine for the stories of our people unvarnished.

One of those books is Fine Boys by Eghosa Imasuen. I heartily recommend this book. There are many reasons why you should read this coming of age story. It is an important book on many levels. I do not know of any Nigerian novel that has taken the time to record history in the 90s through university campus life as this novel has done. In this book, we follow the protagonist, Ewaen, and his siblings as they endure life under constantly feuding middle class parents and grow up amidst the drama that is Nigeria. We accompany Ewaen to the University of Benin and through his eyes we witness several issues that occurred in Nigeria in the 90s. There are so many issues: campus cults took youth peer pressure to violent and deadly lows, there were brutal military regimes, a thwarted attempt at democracy (June 12th 1993), deteriorating educational and social infrastructure, etc. All through the dysfunction, the reader is taken through a tour of numerous relationships, some touching, some banal, and many quite dysfunctional. Marital abuse in the protagonist’s home is a sobering reminder of the war that young children endure in many homes. I admire how Ewaen, the protagonist’s spirit remained unbroken; he continued to weave joy and adventure out of situations that should have broken him irreparably. The book is a fine reminder that every day children trudge bravely through wars that they did not ask for, many of them in their homes.

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