All posts by Emeka Ugwu

The King’s Wages: The Semiotics of Trust in a Matrilineal Society

By Emeka Ugwu


  • Title: The King’s Wages
  • Author: Augustine Brempong
  • Publisher: Langaa RPCIG
  • Number of pages: 140
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Drama

‘Literature is, for us, in fact, a social discourse, (because it) is in varying degrees, defined and controlled by the social institutions within which it is embedded’. – A L Oyeleye

‘Trust, by which I mean confidence that others will do the “right” thing despite a clear balance of incentives to the contrary, emerges, if it does, in the context of a social network’. – Mark Gravonetter

Impelled in part by his ‘own struggle to make sense of the persistent and apparently insoluble political and economic problem’ that Italy faced over the century after it became a politically united nation, the social scientist, Diego Gambetta, talks about ‘a series of seminars – held in King’s College, Cambridge – to discuss the elusive nature of trust’. These seminars, involving scholars from the various social sciences, were held between 1985 and 1986. More…

The Naguib Mahfouz Reader: Portrait of a Novelist as a Historian

By Emeka Ugwu


  • Title: The Naguib Mahfouz Reader
  • Editor: Denys Johnson-Davies
  • Publisher: The American University in Cairo Press
  • Number of pages: 327
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Fiction and Autobiography

‘You can’t understand Egypt without Mahfouz – without his characters, with whom every reader, Arab or not, can identify’. – Tahar Ben Jelloun

‘The older distinction between fiction and history [must] give place to the recognition that we can only know the actual by contrasting it with or likening it to the imaginable’. – Hayden White

Edited by Denys Johnson-Davies, whom the cultural critic and public intellectual Edward Said described as ‘the leading Arabic-English translator of our time’, The Naguib Mahfouz Reader starts an unwitting reader out on a heady journey straight into the heart of modern Egypt. It is a book that houses English translations of a small selection of short stories, excerpts of novels and autobiographical works by the Egyptian Nobel Laureate, Naguib Mahfouz. The collection showcases writings that span six decades, from 1944 to 2004. More…

Igbobi Boy: The Crisis of Education in Nigeria

By Emeka Ugwu


  • Title: Igbobi Boy
  • Author: Adebayo Lamikanra
  • Publisher: Amkra Books
  • Number of pages: 307
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Memoir

‘[T]he ‘default setting’ of nine out of ten is primordial, no doubt. But as W E B DuBois says, we are after the talented tenth’. – Tade Ipadeola

‘Traditions are extremely difficult to establish and more difficult to maintain because once they begin to unravel, the whole edifice comes crashing down and is lost without a trace within a short period of time’. – Adebayo Lamikanra

Adebayo Lamikanra’s Igbobi Boy would appeal to any dyed-in-the-wool rascal. To be certain, Igbobi Boy is more than a delicately written story about life as a student at the elite, missionary secondary school, Igbobi College in the ‘60s. It is also a book that draws considerable attention to the hapless state of Nigeria’s dysfunctional education system. The book challenges the unfounded notion that quality education in Nigeria only began a nosedive from the mid-’80s. More…

The Ghosts of 1894: Revisiting the Rwandan Genocide

By Emeka Ugwu


  • Title: The Ghosts of 1894
  • Author: Oduor Jagero
  • Publisher: KoaMedia
  • Number of pages: 254
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

‘What happened in Rwanda happened to us all – humanity was wounded by the genocide’. – Immaculée Ilibagiza, Rwandan author

‘The Rwandan Liberation Front, Tutsi-dominated, has demonstrated that its cadres are not above acts of vengeance. A vicious cycle is the inevitable legacy of generations yet unborn’. – The Open Sore of a Continent, Wole Soyinka

In The Ghosts of 1894, Oduor Jagero does not only revisit the scene of what is perhaps Africa’s most brutal event of human rights violation, he also examines its root causes. It is a tragic story told mostly through the eyes of the characters Habineza, Vestine and Sandra, survivors of the Rwandan genocide. Given the novel’s title, students of African history will instantly deduce that the book fingers 1894 – the year in which explorers led by the German Count Gustav Adolf von Gotzen set foot in Rwanda – as the exact point in history when the country’s ghosts came into being. More…

Melancholia and the Nigerian State

By Emeka Ugwu


  • Title: Melancholia
  • Author: Dul Johnson
  • Publisher: Sevhage Publishers
  • Number of pages: 73
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Drama

‘The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership’. – Chinua Achebe

Melancholia is a play written by the Nigerian playwright Dul Johnson, who has been writing radio and television plays since the ‘80s, although at times under the pen name Jim Rogers. He is also a scholar who has held teaching positions at the University of Jos as well as National Film Institute, Jos. In a play that plumbs the depths of satire, the playwright tackles head-on the political scene in Nigeria, pre- and post-election, dramatising it in two acts with four and five scenes respectively. It is a play festooned with the physiological ideas of the ancients in such striking manner, the sort that most distinctively disentangles ‘the doctrine of the four temperaments’. More…

Of Crimson Blossoms: How Much of the Nigerian Society Do You Understand?

By Emeka Ugwu


  • Title: Season of Crimson Blossoms
  • Author: Abubakar Adam Ibrahim
  • Publisher: Parrésia Publishers Ltd
  • Number of pages: 347
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

‘The correlation of melancholia and mourning seems justified by the general picture of the two conditions. Moreover, the exciting causes due to environmental influences are, so far as we can discern them at all, the same for both conditions’. – Mourning and Melancholia, Sigmund Freud

‘Nobody is questioned; nobody is questioning; the poet is absent. And the question involves no answer, or rather it is its own answer. Is it therefore a false question?’ – What Is Literature?, Jean-Paul Sartre

In what is arguably his most insightful work, Economic Agenda for Nigeria, published in 1992, Uchenna Nwankwo expatiates convincingly, in very modest but clear terms, on how Nigeria’s ‘bleak and desperate economic situation’, by and large, ‘has had serious implications for the nation’. More…

The Play with a Dual Mandate

By Emeka Ugwu


  • Title: Silencing the Songbird
  • Author: Bouchaib El Idrissi
  • Publisher: Editions Ennawrass
  • Number of pages: 133
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Drama

 

‘Marrakesh is a hummingbird standing still in the sun/ A thesis in motion, stilling tongues and dialects./ I have watched as her streets dissolved in fun/ At night, a Möbius rendering of joy’s analects’. – The Sahara Testaments, Tade Ipadeola

‘Bad playwrights in every epoch fail to understand the enormous efficacy of the transformations that take place before the spectators’ eyes. Theatre is change and not simple presentation of what exists; it is becoming and not being’. – Theatre of the Oppressed, Augusto Boal

Silencing the Songbird is the playwright Bouchaib El Idrissi’s artistic response to a popular myth that was created around the real life of a very popular singer, Huidda Al Ghiata, who also went by the moniker Kharboucha. More…

These Streets: Our Slum Dwellers Demand the Key to the City

By Emeka Ugwu


  • Title: True Citizen
  • Author: Oduor Jagero
  • Publisher: KoaMedia
  • Number of pages: 248
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Fiction

‘The street hadn’t changed. And I was raised on these streets, on kindness and loot’. – Roots in the Sky, Akin Adesokan.

‘A slum is not a chaotic collection of structures; it is a dynamic collection of individuals who have figured out how to survive in the most adverse of circumstances’. – Rediscovering Dharavi, Kalpana Sharma.

Nairobi, popularly known as ‘Green City in the Sun’, is both the largest city in and capital of Kenya. Nairobi is also home to the headquarters of UN-Habitat as well as an estimated two hundred slums and squatter settlements. It seems the perfect setting for Oduor Jagero’s pulsating, satirical thriller, True Citizen. More…

Taxi Wars: Is It Anybody’s Business Whose Violent Stakeout It Is?

By Emeka Ugwu


  • Title: Nobody’s Business
  • Author: Thabo Jijana
  • Publisher: Jacana Media (Pty) Ltd
  • Number of pages: 180
  • Year of publication: 2014
  • Category: Faction

‘The tragedy is not that things are broken. The tragedy is that they are not mended again’. – Alan Paton.

Thabo Jijana, budding writer and author of Nobody’s Business, does not belong to the Rainbow Coalition’s so-called ‘born free’ generation. Nonetheless, he tells a very vital story in his memoir, not only about the rather untimely death of his father, Fundisile Jijana, but also of the ongoing strife that has plagued attempts by the government of South Africa to formalise its multi-million rand taxi industry. More…