image Grieving with Sunken Eyes

By Tunji Olalere


  • Title: Sorrow’s Joy
  • Author: Ogochukwu Promise
  • Publisher: Bookcraft Ltd
  • Number of pages: 387
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars
But in ourselves, that we are underlings’ – Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 2

There are worse fates than cuckqueanry. Of the grim list, having one’s grief questioned by those who know nothing of one’s pain must rank high. In the wake of the abduction of the Chibok girls, a national cancer fungating in our breast, one social media commentator wondered if the grieving of the mothers was not exaggerated for television. A mother herself, she must have found the exhibitionism of prolonged mourning too strident for her ears. More…

image Dissections in the Anatomy of Crime

By Tomiwa Ilori


  • Title: Easy Motion Tourist
  • Author: Leye Adenle
  • Publisher: Cassava Republic Press
  • Number of pages: 327
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Fiction

Although the perennial perpetuation of untruths about Nigeria can overwhelm, Easy Motion Tourist is a fair depiction of the mass hysteria and genuine fears of Nigerian society in the ’90s. Easy Motion Tourist is a tale of human savagery, a narrative dripping with sordid details. It explores the limits of human capacity to evoke horror and, surprisingly, love. More…

image Prisoners of Jebs: Satire and the Clichés of History

By Benson Eluma


  • Title: Prisoners of Jebs
  • Author: Ken Saro-Wiwa
  • Publisher: Saros International Publishers
  • Number of pages: 178
  • Year of publication: 1988
  • Category: Fiction

Ken Saro-Wiwa’s Prisoners of Jebs does not spare anybody or anything. In the finest tradition of satire, Saro-Wiwa does not spare himself. His dramatis personae make up a bewildering gallery. Figures of world-historical stature share a platform with puny potentates. Stock characters taken straight from Nigerian life jostle for a place alongside sheer monsters conjured up by the fertile and unforgiving imagination of the writer. First appearing in Vanguard, from January 1986 to January 1987, in weekly instalments of mocking guffaws at events of the day and of recent history, the publication in 1988 of Saro-Wiwa’s yearlong offering of jibes at the failures and foibles of Nigerian society, its leaders and citizens alike, must have been the occasion of much laughter at the time, and, needless to add, much offence, more than doubling the effects of instantaneous reactions that had earlier followed in the wake of his Vanguard column. More…

image Sector IV: A Dive into Nigeria’s Divisive History

By Agbonmire Ifeh


  • Title: Sector IV
  • Author: Abigail Anaba
  • Publisher: El-jara Connections
  • Number of pages: 232
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

Countries that take History seriously teach it to their children. Some other countries, like Nigeria, dump History off their school curricula, cover it up like excreta and run far from it. That is why Nigerian secondary schools largely ignore the pivotal and contentious history of the Civil War. We must not forget that history has the potential to repeat itself, and the defence against the recurrence of unpleasant events is knowledge and understanding. More…

image Life and Living It: Reflections and Contradictions

By Kwabena Agyare Yeboah


  • Title: Life, Love, Lies
  • Author: Fonkeng E f
  • Publisher: Langaa RPCIG
  • Number of pages: 32
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Essays

Life, Love, Lies reads like a Twitter rant. What is contained in the book is the conclusion of a thought process, but we are not privy to the thought process itself. This makes the conclusion both difficult and easy to disagree with. At the end of it, the meaning-making of the book is subjective, just as our meaning-making, everyone of us, is subjective.

Life, Love, Lies is a book full of contradictions. The introductory note first warns that these ‘reflections are not presented as philosophy, nay theology’ and then it cautions the reader to ‘stay off the more or less mysterious path even if a number of reflections might end up projecting that (Socratic-Aristotelian-Platonic) aura’. More…

image The Event of Song of Lawino

By Benson Eluma


  • Title: Song of Lawino
  • Author: Okot p’Bitek
  • Publisher: East African Publishing House
  • Number of pages: 216
  • Year of publication: 1966
  • Category: Poetry

A popular event, yes. A great event? Yes. Since there is literary drought’. – Taban lo Liyong

But the text exists as linguistic, as historical, as commercial, as political event. And while each of these ways of conceiving the very same object provides opportunities for pedagogy, each provides different opportunities – opportunities between which we must choose’. – Kwame Anthony Appiah

Yes, of course, the text can exist as an event in any of those dimensions. Sometimes in all of them at once, thus ensuring that certain texts, for all the bravura they may display or conceal, confront us as multidimensional entities, larger than mere rhetorical projects. They exist, as it were, as assemblages of artefacts, as archaeological precincts inhabited by transactions of social life which may coalesce into a pattern. And they, according to established formula, may over time come to accrete into that complex of ruins which every literary archaeologist knows she has to preserve with the care of attentive criticism. Otherwise, what would be the point? More…

image Cruel Bites of Insanity

By Su’eddie Vershima Agema


  • Title: Bites of Insanity
  • Author: Nsah Mala
  • Publisher: Langaa RPCIG
  • Number of pages: 115
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Poetry

The African pen is a weapon of protest against societal ills. Many times, it seems that writers place the passion for their nations above other considerations.

In Bites of Insanity, Nsah Mala, a Cameroonian poet, reveals his fury at the rot of life, at evil and at the dehumanising drama of living in most parts of contemporary Africa. Indeed, he follows in the social commitment tradition of writers like Chinua Achebe, Oswald Mtshali, Servio Gbadamosi, hitting at government, religion, and ‘bad’ people. In the collection, there are tales of betrayal, disturbing tales like that of a boy who beheads his father. There is also a devotion to the environment, philosophy and blows struck at government’s inadequacy. More…

image Reassessing African Poetry Fifty Years after Song of Lawino

By Jumoke Verissimo


  • Title: Song of Lawino
  • Author: Okot p’Bitek
  • Publisher: East African Publishing House
  • Number of pages: 216
  • Year of publication: 1966
  • Category: Poetry

It is fifty years since the book Song of Lawino first got published. The volume of poetry by the legendary Ugandan poet was one of the first widely accepted attempts to authenticate African oral tradition in the language of the colonialists. It is also a product of the school of writers who experimented with the concept of mirroring themselves in literature, who grappled with creating conceivable bridges between the traditional oral forms and the acquired language of the colonialist, who would not wipe the stock of images with which they were familiar off the face of the earth but preferred to distort it. This issue of ideological distortion of the African experience, this discourse, the discourse, still hovers above literature written by Africans. More…

image The Purchase of Song: Ṣẹnwẹlẹ Lawino at Fifty

By Tade Ipadeola


  • Title: Song of Lawino
  • Author: Okot p’Bitek
  • Publisher: East African Publishing House
  • Number of pages: 216
  • Year of publication: 1966
  • Category: Poetry

‘A song is a form of linguistic disobedience, and its sound casts doubt on more than a concrete philosophical system: it questions the entire philosophical order’. – Joseph Brodsky

In 1966, Okot p’Bitek, who wrote first in Acoli, then English – who made his mother his main muse – published Wer pa Lawino or Song of Lawino to wide acclaim, in Africa, by the East African Publishing House. At the time, there was no way of telling just how far Song of Lawino would travel. What was evident was that the poet had inaugurated a practice which defied easy categorisation and which ruptured the established conventions of poetry written in English or French or Portuguese and published on the continent. More…

image The Dissolution of the Fouries

By Agbonmire Ifeh


  • Title: What Will People Say?
  • Author: Rehana Rossouw
  • Publisher: Jacana Media (Pty) Ltd
  • Number of pages: 332
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

Rehana Rossouw’s What Will People Say? is primarily about the dissolution of a household. The book shows that every family is besieged by forces ready to destroy it, and it takes a large counter-force to prevent that from happening. In addition, the book shows that, sadly, the managing of a home can be a losing game. One may try very hard to be a good parent yet one’s children will turn out bad. More…