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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

7 Books, 21 Days: Back to School

If you’ve been waiting to read how I accomplished reading those books in those number of days, sorry, now you’ll be disappointed. I couldn’t get that task done. So many things were flooding my schedules, and at most times, I regretted ever going on that adventure. It was a holiday when all things academic were to be shoved off and spat upon. I’ve had so much bookie stuff to deal with when the semester was on. Going on that nerdy venture was just pure bane to relaxation. Now, I am starting to question those that do reading for relaxation.  As for me, I really don’t find reading as such.

However, if we consider there are different types of reading, one may agree that reading could also be used to unwind. I have just never been a passive reader. I think I am a freak. You may not understand. But when I tell you reading something as trivial as an sms could trigger my intellect up, you may begin to see why. 

You should now know I take reading a little bit hard. At least, I now know why I don’t have a girlfriend. I am a boring book lover. Ladies don’t fall in love with book lovers anymore. The last time that happened was in the century without swaggerlicious nonsense. But the boring is now what you must put a quote on. When I use boring, I mean it in the restricted sense. At least, my thoughts on books are not dreary. You will soon know why.

I was able to read even more than I bargained for. Talk of the magic of the internet. And the experiences in sum are what I wouldn't easily substitute for some best memories. It was also a holiday for writing. Above all, I had my writing space back; away from the maze of campus frenzy. Sometimes, I do wonder, if, whoever invented Nigerian education had me in mind. I simply repulse this system of education. I wouldn't call it that though; education. For education is the sustaining learning that fits into reality. The learning system obtainable here, on this campus that I am back on now, is far away from that. I would only call it education in the boring and uncreative sense of it. At many times during lectures, I would wonder at the relevance of what was being taught outside the campus border. They call it education. I call this a necessary process of belonging to a blurry educated class of citizens. Most of the things taught in our Universities do not speak reality. I can confidently say that because I am becoming a victim. But I will survive.

You must know the reasons why I set out on that reading adventure. I said I would write reviews on them. More than the 7 books I planned reading within 21 days, I read 10, but not within the limit of the set out 21 days. The days clearly caught up with me. I read more though and that paid off. That taught me a new life lesson: that flexibility works better; that schedules could be creatively broken for better additions; that what matters is the interest and not really the strength the task demands. I have done some reviews and writings. Some of which I have received burning coals, a prize and some commendations for. This is why I love reading, even if no beautiful lady may fall for that; reading is my rewarding travel and the fulfilling journey that is life. You encounter all sorts reading. I have once taken a pretty lady out on a date in books. Now, don’t laugh me for that! Lol.

Get hooked with my review of Iduma’s Farad here. I read Chuma’s The Ghost of Sani Abacha, I had some disinterests about it and I made them known here (but some didn’t like it though. Catch the yabis and yelling here). Abubakar’s The Whispering Trees is one promising books with its weakness, I did the review first here.  I found Doreen’s Tropical Fish more of a hard kick on Idi Amin. I didn't like that. There are so much fury in that book for its pages to carry. I pointed that out too. And there is Richard’s City of Memories. I liked the book but my concerns on it were not hidden. Find that out too here.

There are still some to come. There are Eghosa’s Fine Boys and Unoma’s Edible Bones. Those are upcoming reviews I would be posting on CLR soon.

Yepa! Now I’ve got to finish that assignment. School palaver!!! Save me!!!

SOS something for me joor. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Of Literary Cabalism

Fed up...

Guest-blogged:  Chika Nwakanma

There seems to be a poisonous gas circulating the lungs of the Nigerian literati. There is also a bad blood flowing through its veins, which if left unchecked would result in a heart attack, a literary anomie. This vice is called Cabalism. In whatever word or concept; cabal, faction, group or section, has been a direct natural consequence of the aggregation of humans. Wherever humans have co-existed as a group, bound together by a common sense of identity and destiny, hierarchical formations are put up to maintain law and order in such society. Classes, groups and hierarchical formations are the food chain of society, as one cannot do without the other, like the way a cow cannot do without an egret or an urban city cannot do without the slums on its boundary. Each exists to meet the needs of the other.

However, classes, groups, cabals et al, have been known to be the root cause of agitation in society. Splinter groups break-up as a result of deprivation, oppression and marginalization. This inability to sum up interests into a common bowl, results in a fragmentation of the whole group. Marx in his 'Communist Manifesto' buttresses this assertion with an opening statement;

"The history of all societies is the history of class struggles."

This implies that class struggles are the catalyst for elevating and destroying societies. Cabalism occurs when certain individuals within a group decide to bestow on themselves, a higher status than other members of the group. This ascriptive status is borne out of the selfish desire to control and dominate the group. Such exclusivity is exemplified in royalty, secret societies, exclusive clubs etc. Cabalism is the personification of the Orwellian dogma where;

“All animals are equal, but some are more
equal than others”

One would have thought that the Nigerian literati which draw intelligentsia from different spheres of the society would be immune to this social pathogen; that writers would be able to enshrine the virtues of equality in the literary world. Alas, the contrast is the obvious reality, as writers like mirrors, are reflecting the image of the wider society. Nigerian writers have now factionalized their pens, each group struggling for a utopic supremacy.

Recently, a writer who was scheduled for a book reading in Ibadan was later dropped because he held an opposing view with another author, who was in the same “camp” with the organizers. The organizers in their blind “wisdom” thought it good not to allow the writer come to “their” book event. We have also seen workshops which should be promoting raw, undiscovered talents evolve into a circus for established (some, award winning) writers. The Association of Nigerian Authors - ANA - is also trapped in the same murky waters of cabalism. Some have even established literary cults in the guise of groups, yet barring other writers from being members.

The imperative question to ask now is; what would be the aftereffect of such cabalism? As earlier pointed out, groups have been the root causes of social agitations and unrests. Each group fights for its interests. Cabalism is a potential destructive force of Nigerian literature, nibbling slowly but surely at the fragile fabric which binds writers. It erodes literary cohesion, blinds vision with sentiments and defeats the spirit of altruism. The statements of writers and critics would not be interpreted from a literary standpoint, but from a jingoistic one.

In Nigeria, we have all been witnesses to what groups in whatever form (tribal, political, linguistic and religious) have done to the functionality of society. Is this the same fate that awaits Nigerian literature? Writers should complement rather than compete with each other. Durkheim's orgamismic analogy which compared society to the human body, stressed on the interrelatedness of all parts for the survival of the whole. Each part of the society, just like the body, though unique, functions for the survival of the whole. Such interrelatedness is necessary for the survival of Nigerian literature. If we form cabals and sectionalize our pens, then as someone rightly asked, how do we get Nigerians to read?


Chika Nwakanma is a poet, writer and literary enthusiast who resides in Lagos. He currently writes for Baobab Magazine. He sees his articles and poems as a prism which reflects the social realities of his society. He could be reached via;  

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