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Monthly Archives: January 2014

If man knew for…

Juju Films

If man knew for a fact that there is a heaven we will all be killing ourselves to get there.

Ogbeni Ayotunde

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Posted by on 28/01/2014 in Uncategorized

 

CONTEMPORARY NIGERIAN AUTHOR: AMOS TUTUOLA

The name of a detective on the American television show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is Odafin ‘Fin’ Tutuola. If you have read the Nigerian novel The Palm Wine Drinkard, the name sure rings a bell, Michael Thelwell writes that the author’s grandfather was an odafin, a spiritual leader, and Fin Tutuola was the given name of Amos Tutuola‘s father.

Amos Tutuola

Amos Tutuola (20 June 1920 – 8 June 1997), aged 76 was a Nigerian writer famous for his books based in part on Yoruba folk-tales.

Early history

Tutuola was born in Abeokuta, Nigeria, in 1920, where his parents Charles and Esther were Yoruba Christian cocoa farmers. When about seven years old, he became a servant for F. O. Monu, an Igbo man, who sent Tutuola to the Salvation Army primary school in lieu of wages. At age 12 he attended the Anglican Central School in Abeokuta. His brief education was limited to six years (from 1934 to 1939). When his father died in 1939, Tutuola left school to train as a blacksmith, which trade he practised from 1942 to 1945 for the Royal Air Force in Nigeria. He subsequently tried a number of other vocations, including selling bread and acting as messenger for the Nigerian Department of Labor. In 1946, Tutuola completed his first full-length book, The Palm-Wine Drinkard, within a few days. In 1947 he married Victoria Alake, with whom he had four sons and four daughters.

Writing

Despite his short formal education, Tutuola wrote his novels in English. After he had written his first three books and become internationally famous, he joined the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation in 1956 as a storekeeper in Ibadan, Western Nigeria. Tutuola became also one of the founders of Mbari Club, the writers’ and publishers’ organization. In 1979, he held a visiting research fellowship at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) at Ile-Ife, Nigeria, and in 1983 he was an associate of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. In retirement he divided his time between residences at Ibadan and Ago-Odo. His works include:

The Palm-Wine Drinkard (1946, published 1952)

My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (1954)

Simbi and the Satyr of the Dark Jungle (1955)

The Brave African Huntress (1958)

Feather Woman of the Jungle (1962)

Ajayi and his Inherited Poverty (1967)

The Witch-Herbalist of the Remote Town (1981)

The Wild Hunter in the Bush of the Ghosts (1982)

Yoruba Folktales (1986)

Pauper, Brawler and Slanderer (1987)

The Village Witch Doctor and Other Stories (1990)

Tributes

The name of a detective on the television show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is Odafin Tutuola. In the first pages of the introduction of The Palm Wine Drinkard, Michael Thelwell writes that the author’s grandfather was an odafin, a spiritual leader, and Tutuola was the given name of Amos Tutuola’s father.

Brian Eno and David Byrne took the title of the novel My Life in the Bush of Ghosts for their 1981 album.

One of the characters of the gamebook The Race Forever, from the Choose Your Own Adventure collection, is named after Amos Tutuola.

Tutuola died at the age of 77 on 8 June 1997 from hypertension and diabetes.

Many of his papers, letters, and holographic manuscripts have been collected at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas, Austin.

 
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Posted by on 23/01/2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Piercing Blue

Piercing Blue.

 
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Posted by on 23/01/2014 in Poems

 

IS IT REALLY AFRICAN LITERATURE?

The question has risen several times if what we read and what Africans themselves publish can be considered genuine African literature. There are several schools of thought when it comes to the issue of categorizing literary works.

My first attraction to literature was that ‘‘it’s simply literature’’; its origins never interested me. I’ve read American books like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Arabian poetry like The Rubayya of Omar Khayyam, European books like Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales and they all captivated me and stirred up various emotions within me. I first read William Shakespeare’s plays when I was nine; The Tempest, The Merchant of Venice and a host of others. All these books, at the time, were just books and stories to me.

Thinking back, now that I’ve picked up a pen to write, my mind goes back to several popular debates on what is considered genuine African literature and should African books written in foreign languages be considered authentic. Chinua Achebe’s books were written in English language and he is popularly referred to as ‘‘The Father of African Literature’’. Beyond the seeming vanity of titles that bloats a man’s ego, Chinua Achebe was really a great story teller and he gave a good defence for his choice of English language as a means of writing his novels. The same applies to Wole Soyinka. Everyone has a good reason for doing something. However, I am forced to think differently. Language is the conveyor of thought and a French man instinctively thinks in French and when trying to get his point to an audience, the French language is naturally the first choice guaranteed to deliver his message with the intended precision but let’s assume he has an English speaking audience that doesn’t understand French, he has to convey his message in English but no matter how learned he is in the English language, he’ll miss some of the rhetorics, puns and pictures he intended to put in his audience. As much as we can not do without publishing our literary works in English language, I’ve often wondered why Nigerian and African writers seem to have totally abandoned the use of the native language for full publication. Apart from being a conveyor of art, language is a conveyor of culture. Take a man’s tongue and you’ve taken his means of ever being fully understood, his personality. Drawing from the words of the famous Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, ‘‘the best way to imprison a people is to write their story and begin it with secondly’’. Africans are writing their own stories but habitually beginning it with secondly(the second language). That’s why I believe Onyeka Nwelue may have a point when he said ‘‘Things fall Apart was the worst story to come out of Africa’’. It was a great story and a great writing but it set a precedence of writing that is putting the continent in slavery. Shakespeare’s writings in English language forms a major means through which the English language became a dominant literary force but several other languages have not been totally crippled by it because the writers wrote in their native languages (check Le Monde’s list of the 100 best books of the 20th century and the 100 best books of all time by the world library) and had the translations made into English for English audiences. African languages make up about 60% of the world’s fastest disappearing languages and nobody attributes it to the fact that we’ve stopped telling our stories with our own tongue. J. P. Sartre, contrasting poetry in French by Frenchmen and Africans, had this to say:

It is almost impossible for our poets (African) to realign themselves with popular tradition. Ten centuries of erudite poetry separate them from it. And, further, the folkloric inspiration is dried up: at most we could merely contrive a sterile facsimile.

Even Wole Soyinka could not match D.O. Fagunwa’s imagery when he rewrote Fagunwa’s novel, Ogboju Ode ninu Igbo Irunmale written in Yoruba language, he had to coin a new English semblance for the title as, The Forest of a Thousand Daemons. . So the next time you pick a book off the shelves by a writer of African origin, ask yourself, Is it really African literature? Because you can never know the man’s innermost mind except through his tongue.

 
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Posted by on 22/01/2014 in Uncategorized

 

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DESTINY’S CHILD, ARE WE?

Monday’s Child is fair of face,

Tuesday’s Child is full of grace,

Wednesday’s Child is full of woe,

Thursday’s Child has far to go,

Friday’s Child is loving and giving,

Saturday’s Child works hard for a living

But the Child who is born on the Sabbath Day

Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

This timeless traditional poem is something I find quite simple and daring in its wit and humour. It subtly plays on man’s thirst to know his fate. I remember first reading it when I was about six years old and despite my young age I discovered my willingness to know what the future may hold or even what I’m made of. We’re made to find the reason for things and to find out the secret of things. Have you ever sat wondering how true the words of this poem are? I bet you’ve done such several times and if you were born on a Wednesday, you probably disputed the poems authenticity. Then you discovered that as much as you’d have loved the script of your life fully prepared before your birth, you’ll definitely love to have the opportunity to change some things. Well, I seem to think you do have it. Fortunately, I was born on a Sunday. And having read it now, do you mind sharing your day of birth and what you feel about the words written about it.

 

 
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Posted by on 22/01/2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Cristian Mihai: Witty Wonderful Source of Inspiration

I just got on wordpress about 2 months and 2 weeks ago, precisely November 2, 2013. My fourth post was a brief description on the poetry of an Arab, the quite popular Rubai’yat of Omar Khayyam. I chose that as a post because I had just read it and I was captivated by it. I was quite new on the blogosphere and didn’t know much (I’m still learning now, though). Suddenly, while I was observing the open page and what I had just posted. I noticed the blinking of a notifier. I clicked and there it was, the face of a little boy, quite looking up at me. Beside it was the name of the first person to follow my blog, Cristian Mihai. Normally, if you’re like me, the first thing you think of is: Wow, what kind of person instantly thinks of following my blog. Especially, when I’d simply written of a poet I had just encountered his writing, nothing personal. So I clicked and was led to www.cristianmihai.net and voila

Here’s how he describes himself:

Cristian Mihai (born 25 December 1990) grew up in Constanta, Romania. And he’s still growing up, or at least trying to. Sometimes he writes. Sometimes he gets lucky and writes something good.  He can’t, however, draw a straight line. No matter how much he tries. Not even with a ruler. And, please, don’t ever ask him to sing.

The simplicity of the description struck me and the humour and of course, the fullness of the birthdate in a world where many people will not give a full age. Let’s just say I’m not used to people giving the full details of their age (for whatever reasons, and that includes me). And then I read the content of the blog. I discovered he likes art and paintings, I really don’t because I just never got round to seeing much classical paintings while growing up except the popular ones like the Monalisa (which I adore). Rather, I’m a lover of books, poetry, dancing and technical drawings (did you notice he says he can’t make a straight line).

I discovered he is a published author, a challenge for me because I actually tore up my first two attempts at writing years ago (now I’m better but still with no published works). I instantly loved his writing as I went through the blog. He has a way with words that makes it humorous, simple, instructive and inspirational and he never seemed at a loss for what to write. I really think the person is a good model and inspiration for young people who need to believe more in the power of their own creativity. That’s something else I noticed, he didn’t seem like he was hoarding any information that made him special. Rather, he gave practical tips to help ‘‘wannabes’’ like his ‘‘Seven Golden Rules of Blogging’’. The inspiration many people get from this young man’s blog is so awesome and he’s won numerous awards for his blog, I couldn’t list them all in a page if I tried to and if I knew how to, I’d have nominated him for more. However, this is one young man and his writings that I will readily recommend the energy of his creativity to all other young people especially if you’re considering writing as an art.

Here’s what people have said about him:

naughtynefarious says:

Cristian, I have nominated you for the Inspiring Blogger Award. I’d explain why, but that would be unnecessary because I think a lot of people will agree when I say your posts are awesomely inspirational and filled with knowledge that can quench one’s thirst for information.

mckinleyproductions says:

Cristian I liked your Jazz Excerpt. I was surprised, you write older than your age. It could be sit back 40 years. But not just time wise, you write like an older person. What I like about your writing is what I like about all good writers; it puts me in a different place and time, and keeps me there. Thanks.

 

Retro Eco Chic says:

You are an excellent writer. Only 22 years old. Such insightful thoughts so succinctly expressed. Very impressive. You have a gift. Keep using it!

Felipe Zapata says:

 For someone whose first language was not English and who is still quite young, your writing is very impressive. A tip of my sombrero to you.

hopetolerdougherty says:

 Thanks for visiting my blog. I especially like this paragraph from your Never Give up Your Dream blog. “Writing is all about finding the courage to write. And courage is all about realizing that some things are more important than fear.” Thanks for that thought.

JaneSirius says:

There’s something about the way you write that keeps me coming back for more. I recently stumbled on your blog and it appears I have something other than mine to keep me entertained. Keep up with the good work!

FlutterbyBear says:

 You’ve just taken me back 20 years when I would spend literally hours writing. As a teenager I was going to be a writer. What happened? I grew up. It’s so sad that we bury our dreams for “reality”. Just beginning the writing journey again and this post has hit a nerve. Thanks Cristian.

If you’ve read this far, you’ll probably wonder what makes him special and his works I guess I now have the answer to my question about what kind of person instantly wants to follow a beginner’s blog because of one great post. I’m glad to have met him on the blogosphere. He’s a wonderful source of inspiration.

His Published Books include:

Dream City (Novel, Fiction, a New Release)

The Writer

Jazz (Novel, Fiction, Published July 24, 2012)

A sad, sad symphony ( Novel, Fiction, Published May 18, 2012)

Happiness (Novel, Fiction, a New Release)

One Third of A Wheel (Novel, Fiction, November 15,2013)

One (Short Story, Fiction, Published: May 2, 2012)

Memento Mori (Short Story,Fiction, Published: May 2, 2012)

Crossroads (Short Story, Fiction, Published: May 10, 2012)

Strangers (Novel, Fiction, October 15, 2013)

 
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Posted by on 22/01/2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Simple is the more Powerful

Simple: The More Powerful

I’ve observed how close to helplessness a normal human being is without him knowing. There’s a situation where you experience the dislocation or sprain of a finger and the whole hand becomes incapacitated. It’s illogical to design a machine and make very huge parts almost extremely dependent on the tiniest ones. At least that’s what I thought. Conventionally though, it’s very reasonable to design huge parts to be made up of a combination of a lot of smaller parts. I’ve heard of a place on the human body-a small knob of bone on the chest called the solar plexus. A blow on it knocks an individual down and maybe out, even perpetually and I wondered why the designer will put so much into such a small knob. A little malfunctioning of a small component of the human body causes so much discomfort. Medical science had no answer for many years to the question of the function of a small human part called the appendix in the human body. All they knew was that it could get inflamed and cause a dangerous condition called Appendicitis. The tiniest bone in the human body is in the ear and when it’s not there, the whole system can’t hear a thing. I’ve tried to phantom out a reason for these, but really, I think it’s just the designers way of saying ”simple is the most powerful”.

As an engineer, it’s not strange to me that science has also adopted this philosophy in the design of things. A small spark plug powers a big engine. I’ll want to believe the same applies to writing. When I used to fall into the temptation of trying to write some big philosophical  book. It never came together but when I wrote from my heart how I felt, somehow people saw the mystery of it and commended it. A writing devoid of heart is a helpless baby missing a small part.

 
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Posted by on 20/01/2014 in Uncategorized

 
 
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