image The Statecraft of Winning Elections in Africa

By Seye Bassir


  • Title: How to Win Elections in Africa
  • Author: Chude Jideonwo with Adebola Williams
  • Publisher: Kamsi Farafina
  • Number of pages: 280
  • Year of publication: 2017
  • Category: Politics

How does one win elections in Africa? A humorous answer to this question might be that you do not. Chude Jideonwo in his book, How to Win Elections in Africa, writes that the African continent is ‘mostly defined by dictatorship’, despite an ‘exceptionally high number of elections’ having held in recent years. A good extension of this point would be that several recent elections across Africa have been flawed or have been smokescreens to create false legitimacy for undemocratic governments. More…

image Dead on Arrival

By Tunji Olalere 


  • Title: Class, Ethnicity and Democracy in Nigeria: The Failure of the First Republic
  • Author: Larry Diamond
  • Publisher: Nigeria Next Quarter
  • Number of pages: 376
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Politics

‘If all moral and material advantages depend on those who hold power, there is no baseness that will not be resorted to in order to please them; just as there is no act of chicanery or violence that will not be resorted to in order to attain power’ – Gaetano Mosca, The Ruling Class.

The story of Nigeria is one of the great tragedies of the 20th century. Captured in verse, in plays and prose, polemics and paintings, it has intrigued generation after generation of thinkers and players how a geographically endowed country, with one of the richest deposits of natural and human resources, has stumbled from misfortune to disaster, from self-mutilation to near-annihilation, and continues to totter on, swaying from the intoxication of empty vainglory, on a path of under-achievement. More…

image The Primacy of Life: A Review of Ikeogu Oke’s The Heresiad

By Uchenna Ekweremadu


  • Title: The Heresiad 
  • Author: Ikeogu Oke
  • Publisher: Kraft Books Ltd
  • Number of pages: 105
  • Year of publication: 2017
  • Category: Poetry

‘I felt my standpoint shaken
In the universal crises.
But with one step backward taken
I saved myself from going’ – Robert Frost, ‘One Step Backward Taken’

The poet’s mind jumps about from the important to the trivial, from the savoury to the unsavoury, gathering ingredients, the type that T S Eliot refers to as ‘disparate experiences’. These ingredients, when collected proportionately and blended, result in honey. This analogy is reinforced in Ikeogu Oke’s The Heresiad where the discerning reader finds sufficient traces of the classics, history, religion and myth.

More…

image The Animist Swath

By Tade Ipadeola


  • Title: Animist Chants and Memorials 
  • Author: Harry Garuba
  • Publisher: Kraft Books Ltd
  • Number of pages: 79
  • Year of publication: 2018
  • Category: Poetry

‘Can we ever again shred the drapery of the word

and return to the fullness of the spell and the chant?’ – Harry Garuba, ‘In the House of the Tongue’

‘What heart is large enough to store a question so long

it troubles every answer that history trades and analysts provide’ – Harry Garuba, ‘Girl and the Dancing Hoop’

The poet Harry Garuba has now published two volumes of poetry 35 years apart. The first of the volumes came from a 24-year-old mind and the second a 59-year-old consciousness, if consciousness can be reckoned by the calendar. Again, installing an eskhatos of any sort to benchmark the poetic output of Harry Garuba may not be a terribly useful undertaking because, like Rilke, even when Harry Garuba is washing his hands, he cannot help being a poet. In the annals of African poetry, the two events matter all the same because they touch – tangentially at first and then emphatically, on a way of seeing, and a way of reckoning and rendering reality that is closer to the geologic than it is to the chronologic – on ‘modern’ temper. More…

image A Review of Abdilatif Abdalla: Poet in Politics

By Agatha Aduro


  • Title: Abdilatif Abdalla: Poet in Politics
  • Editors: Rose Marie Beck and Kai Kresse
  • Publisher: Mkuki na Nyota Publishers Ltd
  • Number of pages: 147
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Essays

Abdilatif Abdalla: Poet in Politics is a collection of essays in honour of the Kenyan poet. It is composed mainly of papers that were presented at a symposium in honour of Abdilatif Abdalla on the occasion of his retirement from the University of Leipzig at the end of a fifteen-year teaching stint. The book is divided into four sections preceded by a preface and the editors’ acknowledgment. The papers are authored by a wide range of contributors, from renowned authors Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and Said Ahmed Khamis to Sheik Abdillahi Nassir, a noted Islamic scholar, translator and political activist who is also Abdalla’s elder brother. More…

image The Longing of the Dervish Served on a Platter of Love and Revenge

By Agatha Aduro


  • Title: The Longing of the Dervish
  • Author: Hammour Ziada
  • Translator: Jonathan Wright
  • Publisher: Hoopoe
  • Number of pages: 297
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Fiction

What happens when you put a freed slave with strong leanings towards Jihadism and an impressionable, young, Christian nun, filled with a zeal to convert ‘African barbarians’, together in the midst of a Sudan that is embroiled in politico-religious turbulence? The result is what forms the core of The Longing of the Dervish, a novel by Hammour Ziada that in its Arabic original won the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature in 2014. More…

image Striking an Oasis: A Review of A Gecko’s Farewell

By Kemi Falodun


  • Title: A Gecko’s Farewell
  • Author: Maik Nwosu
  • Publisher: Parrésia Publishers Ltd
  • Number of pages: 256
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Fiction

There have been different narratives dealing with the themes of migration, displacement and home by many African writers. However, Maik Nwosu’s ability to weave different worlds into this novel makes A Gecko’s Farewell an unusual read. ‘A Gecko’s Farewell’ is also the title of an essay and the personal narrative of Mzilikazi, one of the three central characters of this novel and a core member of the Gecko X organisation. Etiaba and Nadia are the other two. These three young Africans, who are on different paths of struggle and discovery, meet on the internet via a platform created for Africans to tell their own stories. In Chimamanda Adichie’s Americanah, Ifemelu creates a community on the blogosphere for people with similar experiences. Etiaba does something similar, Gecko X. The reader will later learn, as the story progresses, how the lives of these three characters intersect. More…

image Our Poet for the Ages

By Tade Ipadeola


  • Title: Remains of a Tide (Poems 2014–2017)
  • Author: J P Clark
  • Publisher: Mosuro Publishers
  • Number of pages: 70
  • Year of publication: 2018
  • Category: Poetry

‘Yes, calls will come of all kinds in the course

Of the day; some on notice; others

At random, the nice with the nasty; then

Finally, of course, the call, that will be

Recorded missed, the caller, having come

And gone away with the one for whom it rang’. – ‘Waiting for the Call’, J P Clark

 

Though praised early for his lyricism and by mid-career lauded for his stunning mastery of idiom, what stands the poetry of J P Clark apart has always consisted of a certain je ne sais quoi. The scholars search for it in his syntax and rhythm, exercise themselves in mapping it throughout his staggeringly varied oeuvre and now have a chance to plumb for it in Remains of a Tide (Poems 2014–2017), coming out of his octogenarian years and as stalwartly Clark as any collection from his youth. You will not find him changed from the man you knew, only surer of what he always held true as man and artist. More…

image A Loom and Star-Crossed Love

By Tade Ipadeola


  • Title: Between Two Worlds
  • Author: Amma Darko
  • Publisher: Sub-Saharan Publishers
  • Number of pages: 524
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

Generations of novelists from Ghana have added to the variety of styles and substance of African fiction in many ways. From Ama Ata Aidoo to Ayi Kwei Armah to Kojo Laing and Amma Darko, no two styles of writing are even remotely the same and the paths each have chosen have found followers from all over the continent. A certain pith, a certain depth and scope characterise the best fiction from Ghana and the land has not failed to yield new discoveries to date. More…

image A Toss between Loss and Love in the Spirit of Time

By Su’eddie Vershima Agema


  • Title: A Rare Blue Bird Flies with Me
  • Author: Youssef Fadel
  • Translator: Jonathan Smolin
  • Publisher: Hoopoe
  • Number of pages: 235
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Fiction

Youssef Fadel’s A Rare Blue Bird Flies with Me is a postcolonial novel and part of a prison literature set in the period of Moroccan history known as the Years of Lead (1961–1999), the reign of King Hassan II. It is the second part of a trilogy that explores that country’s history and culture during the ‘70s and ‘80s. The novel covers a season of imprisonments, maltreatment and murder in Morocco, which was the aftermath of the 1971 and 1972 coups against King Hassan II. More…