Thursday, 30 June 2011

On Opening Up the Blog


When I chose the name "Adura Ojo Presents", I had initially wanted to look at all forms of African literature and performance arts but thought it too wide a concept. Three months on, I think my initial hunch about this is right. Although one of the main aims is to get more people interested in African fiction, there is a wider objective getting more recognition and appreciation of African literature and performance in its various forms. The reviews and interviews would continue but would now include Plays, Theatre, Poetry, TV shows, as well as Fiction. I'm also thinking of including non-fictional writing What do you readers think?

Friday, 17 June 2011

Ten Week Review: Feedback and Thank You!

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This blog was launched on the 1st of April this year. In the ten weeks of the life of "Adura Ojo Presents" there have been 7974 visitors and the top ten countries include the UK, USA, Nigeria, Australia and The Phillippines. I would like to say a big thank you to all commenters, readers and visitors. I would very much value your feedback on this blog. What do you make of the content and design? All ideas as to the improvement of this blog are welcome. I look forward to your continuing support and feedback.

To celebrate the ten week mark, kindly share with me your top three books of African fiction in the last 30 years. (1981 - present). The three books with the highest votes would be reviewed here in the next few weeks.*

*I will review the top three voted by you subject to availability of the books. Alternatively, someone who has read the book(s) could review as a guest writer on this blog. Books already reviewed here on "Adura Ojo Presents" still qualify for votes. If any of the books make the top three, we can discuss what makes them so special.

Please leave your votes in the comments. I look forward to hearing from you.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The Emotion Book Party (From Emotion Press, Ibadan)

 Emotion press, Ibadan hereby invites the general public to a literary event titled, 'The Emotion Book Party.'

The Emotion Book Party is a first of her kind, dedicated towards promoting the reading culture in Nigeria. The first edition will be held on the 17th of June, 2011, at SRC Chambers, University of Ibadan, Ibadan.
The epoch making event will be featuring The Emotion Book Club First meeting [exclusive to members of the book club], readings from Everything Good Will Come by Seffi Atta, A thorough discussion on a chosen societal topic, A solo music performance by our young artiste, Rap Jam, Poetry performance and so on and so forth.It promises to be fun-filled.

Interested members of the public, most especially bookaholics, are expected to reserve a seat for themselves.To reserve a seat, forward your Name, E-mail,Location and Mobile Phone Number to Emotionbookclub@gmail.com.
More details on the event:
Date: June 17, 2011
Time:1pm-4pm
Venue: SRC Chambers, S.U.B building, University of Ibadan, Ibadan.
Gate fee: Free of charge.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Voice of the Suppressed in Jude Dibia’s UNBRIDLED

Book: Unbridled
Author: Jude Dibia
Year of Publication: 2007
Source: Amazon

When I chatted with Jude Dibia here, I had not read any of his books. I had read a couple of interviews about him and was intrigued about the themes he chose to explore in his books. His first book Walking with Shadows - deals with the experiences of a gay man. Unbridled which won the Ken Saro Wiwa award for prose in 2007, explores the issue of incest and the devastating impact it has on the psyche and development of a particular young woman.

Unbridled is the story of Erika (Ngozi Akachi) as she struggles to firmly root herself in the present and at the same time make peace with and distance herself from her past.  For some inexplicable reason, I start reading from the middle of the book. I soon find out that it makes no difference where one starts because the story is told in a cyclical fashion. And like the journey Erika herself is on, the narrative rolls forwards and backwards with Erika’s stream of consciousness which becomes that of the reader while they are on this journey with her. Erika is on a train to Heathrow Airport via Kings Cross St Pancras when the reader first ‘encounters’ her. She has been in the UK for four years and is on her way to Nigeria, her first journey back. The reader is on this journey with Erica. Where she goes in her thoughts and observations, the reader goes too. 


At the beginning the narrative is off to a slow start - This would be my only criticism. The reader is kept entertained with Erika’s observations about other passengers on the train. Soon the reader finds themselves asking: “why is she there, what is this really about?” As the reader exercises more patience, the unravelling of Erika’s story pays dividends. They learn about Erika’s friends who also survive abuse in various forms, the men in Erika’s life and Erika’s journey back to the cruel truth: where it all began. Erika is confronted with the bitter truth about her mum’s knowledge. But Erika can take it because she has finally found her voice and she knows how far she has come. Dibia – in the voice of Erika - is critical of the way incest is handled in the African setting – in this case – the Igbo community.  Erika’s experience highlights the damaging habit of families who send their daughters to extended family to live in order to protect the family name rather than expose the shame of incest.  


The men who come into Erika’s life (with the exception of Providence - the symbolism of which is not lost on the astute reader ) - merely perpetuate what she has known up to that point. James is no more than a dream that turns out to be a disappointment and then a nightmare. There are some statements on racial prejudice and the interplay of race, gender and power. There is the sense that running away as Erika did to the UK is never the answer to unresolved issues. There is also the question of identity and detachment. After her woes, there is the promise of a future with Providence but Erika is not in a hurry. She wants to be accepted and respected for who she is. This marks the end of Erika’s suppression and the start of self empowerment. It is heart warming that soon after her ‘emancipation’ from James, Erika finds her voice while travelling to Heathrow Airport via Kings Cross St Pancras. Voice here symbolising courage, dignity and self esteem.  

Unbridled is well written and the storytelling so engaging in its stream of consciousness effect and style. I am particularly impressed with Dibia’s insight into Erika’s psyche as a female character. Dibia displays admirable empathy in his treatment of psychological issues related to the trauma of incest; the fragility as well as the strengths of Erika as a character. He probes her soul with telepathic prose. It is this stream of consciousness effect and the excellent skill shown by Dibia - in creating the point of view of his leading female character on a symbolic journey coming to terms with the trauma of incest - that marks out Unbridled as a unique piece of work in contemporary African fiction. I cannot wait to read Blackbird, Dibia’s latest novel and Walking With Shadows, his first book.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

On Accessibility: Improving the Global Reach of African Literature

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Forgive me for the rather lofty title - I am not leading up to an academic discourse here. In fact I do intend to keep the discussion on this blog as simple and as 'accessible' as possible. I see this as an integral part of the objective of getting more people to read African fiction. The purpose of my post today is to highlight some issues that in my opinion impinge on the global reach of African Literature.
  • Accessibility - I recently tried to purchase a few books by African authors online. Success varied depending on the author. Some African authors are quite visible online. It was easy for me to click on a few buttons to get some authors on Kindle for instance. Some African authors are unavailable on Kindle and other e-print outlets for reasons best known to them and their publishers. What I find difficult to understand is why in this day and age, some authors would not take advantage of the electronic print revolution. It is usually cheaper and better value for money and for some of the bookaholics among us, the best option. It is also a fact that if we are to encourage and build a  generation of African fiction readers - a potentially huge market of young Africans - including those in diaspora, who spend a lot of their time online - embracing the e-print option would be the way to go. There have been concerns about piracy but if the successes in the West are anything to go by, the benefits far outweigh the risks.
  • Still on the issue of accessibility, why would an African author not be on Amazon or some other globally accessible outlet like The Book Depository or the e-print outlet - Smashwords? In one case, I could not find a credible enough option to purchase the book of an African author who was recently shortlisted for a prestigious award. I was repeatedly frustated in my efforts to purchase her work. The only outlet I found was a website based in her country of origin and it did not deal in a currency that I understood. I have given up on getting her book and so would many other buyers in my position - that is a lot of sales lost! This author is not the only one. Although there are publishers like Farafina and Cassava Republic doing well at promoting the online presence of African authors; there are many African authors with no online presence and they are losing out on sales in a big way. Buyers of African fiction are African as well as non-Africans. They are spread all over the world and they would only buy from outlets that they trust. Many of us do buy online and it is sad that some African Authors are not doing enough to make their works accessible in this way. Buying online saves time and money. The times when I would visit a bookshop to buy or order a book are well and truly over and there are many more like me out there. Many of us lead busy lives - if I can't get your book the best way that I can, I wouldn't bother. It's as simple as that.    
Reviews coming up: Unbridled - Jude Dibia, Mr Fox - Helen Oyeyemi. I've missed you, dear readers. I was unwell for the most part of last week and beginning of this week, hence my absence. I'm ok now:)

A Message From Saraba Electronic Publishers

Saraba, an electronic literary magazine, currently based in Ile-Ife, Nigeria is in its 8th Issue. In these issues, we have exlpored themes as diverse as Family, City Life, Economy, Niger Delta, Religion/God,Technology, and Fashion. Our goal, from the onset, has been to encourage young emerging writers - although our contributors have ranged from unknown writers to well-known ones. We are proud to assert that our contributors are mainly young writers, whose writing are previously unknown, and whose talent and promise are overt in their works. We have published writers mostly from Nigeria. But in addition, our contributors are writers resident in London, Paris, South Africa, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Kenya, India, USA, Zimbabwe, Russia, Cameroun, Australia, and so forth.

Our 8th Issue, which is our most recent, was released on 15th April 2011. It is our proudest effort till date. In the Issue, we explore the knotty issue of fashion, and state that "... we failed in securing a unanimous perspective for fashion; how we succeeded in multiplying the richness, the effusiveness, the feverishness and sometimes agonizing details of fashion."

Writers in the issue include Yemi Soneye, Donald Molosi, Michael Lee Johnson, Chitzi Ogbumagba, Emmanuel Uweru Okoh, Luso Mnthali, Lauren Henley, Victor Olusanya, Yolanda Mabuto, Sokari Ekine, Damilola Ajayi, Tola Odejayi, Emmanuel Iduma, Karen Chandler, and Kesiena Eboh.

The issue can be downloaded from http://sarabamag.com/featured/issue-8-fashion/

Our Issue and Chapbooks are published on www.sarabamag.com and can be downloaded free. We call on literary enthusiasts and the general reading public to explore the wide talent on offer. More importantly,
we encourage readers to subscribe to the magazine. From our next issue, only subscribers would have access to the full content of the magazine. Subscription is free. We encourage reviews, links and critical acclaims of our work. Our site is compatible for discussion and sharing.

Join us in creating unending voices.
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publishers@sarabamag.com
www.sarabamag.com
+234 (0) 806 703 3738
+234 (0) 806 005 0835


Any publishers of African Literature interested in promoting their works and events on this blog, please email: adura.ojo@gmail.com