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Farafina Releases Three New Books

Press Release

 

Kachifo Ltd is pleased to announce the release of three new books – What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky (Nigerian edition), How to Win Elections in Africa and Àníkẹ́ Ẹlẹ́kọ under its Farafina, Kamsi and Tuuti imprints.

The three titles were released on 13th November 2017 and are available on online platforms and in selected bookstores nationwide.

The Books

WHAT IT MEANS WHEN A MAN FALLS FROM THE SKY by Lesley Nneka Arimah

The collection of short stories, which was shortlisted for the 2017 Caine Prize for writing, boasts of powerful storytelling, unique female protagonists, and a world where women are depicted as the center of the society.

Reviews:

From Tendai Huchu, author of The Hairdresser of Harare, and The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician:

“Arimah has a gift of crafting intimate familial relationships . . . and the pressures and strains of those relationships form the most intricate and astonishing narratives. The powerful stories in this dark and affecting collection will show you that magic still exists in our world.”

From Chinelo Onwualu, editor of Omenana Magazine: “Masterfully moving between the speculative to the mundane, this is a riveting read that will stay with you long after you’ve put it down.”

From Igoni A. Barrett, author of Blackass and Love Is Power, or Something Like That:

“From the very first story in What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky this thunderstruck reader began to glean the answer to the question embedded in the book’s title. . . Lesley Nneka Arimah has landed in my rereading list like a blast of fresh air.”

About the Author

Lesley Nneka Arimah’s work has received grants and awards from Commonwealth Writers, AWP, the Elizabeth George Foundation, the Jerome Foundation and others. Her short story, What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky was shortlisted for the 2017 Caine Prize for African Writing. She currently lives in Minneapolis.

 

ÀNÍKẸ́ ẸLẸ́KỌ

Àníké has to hawk ẹ̀kọ every morning but that does not stop her from going to school. She loves school and wants to be a doctor. However, her mother has decided her fate: once she finishes primary school, she will join her Aunt Rẹ̀mí in the city as a tailor.

When a mystery guest visits Àníké’s school, she has the chance to win a scholarship that will change her fate. Will the help of her friends Oge, Ìlérí and Àríyọ̀ the cobbler be enough?

Written by Sandra Joubeaud and illustrated by Àlàbá Ònájìn, ÀNÍKÉ ELÉKO tells a colourful story of one girl’s courage in the face of opposition to her dreams.

 

About the Authors

Sandra Joubeaud is a French screenwriter and script doctor based in Paris, France. She has also worked on Choice of Ndeye, a comic book commissioned by UNESCO and inspired by the novel, So Long a Letter (Mariama Ba).

Àlàbá Ọ̀nájìn is a graphic novelist with a diploma of Cartooning and Illustration from Morris College of Journalism, Surrey Kent. His work includes The Adventures of Atioro, and other collaboration projects with UNESCO and Goethe Institut. He lives in Ondo State, Nigeria.

 

HOW TO WIN ELECTIONS IN AFRICA

Democracy involves the process of changing custodians of power from time to time in order to maintain a useful equilibrium of performance and accountability. But the post-colonial narrative in most African countries has been one of the strongmen and power brokers entrenching themselves deeply across the crucial levels of society. The past few years have however seen citizens become more aware, and some revolt against these systems.

How To Win Elections in Africa explores how citizens, through elections can uproot the power structures. Using examples from within and outside Africa, this book examines the past and present to map a future where the political playing field is level and citizens can rewrite existing narratives.

Politicians have been handed their notice: It is no longer business as usual.

 

About the Authors

Chude Jideonwo is the managing partner of RED, which brands include StateCraft Inc, Red Media Africa, Y!/YNaija.com and Church Culture. His work focuses on social movements shaking up and transforming nations through governance and faith, with the media as a tool. He teaches media and communication at the Pan-Atlantic University. In 2017, he was selected as a World Fellow at Yale University.

Adébọ́lá Williams is the co-founder of RED and chief executive officer of its communication companies – Red Media Africa and StateCraft Inc. A Mandela Washington Fellow under President Barack Obama, he has been a keynote and panel speaker at conferences across the world including at the London Business School, Wharton, Stern, Yale, Columbia, Oxford and Harvard.

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Buchi Emecheta Foundation and Omenela Press created to Preserve a Legacy

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Finding Chris Abani

To know Chris Abani is to love him. I spent about an hour today at the Lagos International Poetry Festival interrogating the affable Nigerian/British writer about his life, his work, his vocations, and a few other matters. It was our first ever sit-down conversation about anything, although I had known and admired him for a while, read his work, and exchanged pleasantries when we’ve met at other literary events (last year at the Aké Arts and Book Festival, for instance).

But this time, at a formal setting, I had looked forward to being able to learn a bit more about what motivates him as an artist, and to do it within the stipulated hour. It turned out to be a conversation that was as enjoyable as it was challenging. His reputation, drive, and breath of literary production span an impressive and sometimes intimidating stretch. He is a full-time writer in California, but also an apprentice babaláwo, publisher (and curator of a number of poetry competitions and chapbooks with Professor Kwame Dawes), and author of many award-winning books including Graceland (2004).

There were a number of questions, but one of the most enjoyable parts of the conversation for me was a detour on the true definition of literacy in an African environment. Too often, we have defined literary competence, and even a state of being culturally literate, as merely being able to understand the translation of terms from one language or culture to the other. Whereas, what is true literacy is being able to successfully occupy the full extent of being in that culture and maybe another as well. He mentioned an example of listening to a performance either of the chanting of the Odù Ifá or a poetry performance in Afikpo, where he was born and raised, and being able not just to understand what is being said, but successfully occupying the spiritual and mental state in which the work was conceived and performed. The nearest familiar example from my end would be a literate Yorùbá citizen, listening to a cultural performance with a dozen other not-as-literate people, and having a better, more enhanced experience of the same work of art just because of a capacity to understand the meaning of each talking drum pattern played under each public chant. In Yorùbá traditional art, there are sufficient depictions, as a satire on the importance of this skill, of novice or despised chiefs or kings dancing glibly to a drummer’s feverish patterns without knowing that the drummer was actually insulting them through the delightful ambiguity that the tonal patterns of the Yorùbá talking drums provide.

Chris Abani is a truly literate and competent artist in this way, which greatly helped the conversation along. One hour suddenly felt like a few good minutes. But the writer, in spite of his many achievements, also carries himself in a way that is relatable – which is what you’ll expect of someone still intent on learning the very many ways of being, and of existing as a true and competent artist.

I may have ruffled him a bit with an elephant-in-the-room question about a once controversial portion of his biography relating to his imprisonment in Nigeria in the eighties which, a few years ago, put him in the crosshairs of some Nigerian writers who accused him of not just fraud but sabotage: he was portraying Africa in a horrible light for foreigners for his own artistic advancement, and deserved censure. It was an argument that played into the big contemporary hoopla about poverty porn and the perception of Africa in world literature as a nest of ills. In Abani’s response, he gave as strong a defense as one can find for the freedom to be private about elements of one’s life story especially in the face of what he thought was an unfair and relentless attack, and anger at those who he said had tried, though unsuccessfully, to damage his name and livelihood in their blood lust for his scalp through a witch-hunt disguised as a defence of autobiographical fidelity, or the country’s honour. It made sense to me, and I was glad to have given him a chance to defend himself on the topic in a public forum.

What he is known for today, along with his impressive literary output, is his work with the African Poetry Book Fund with Professor Kwame Dawes where dozens of new African writers are discovered every year and published in chapbook and box sets which are sold all over the United States and around the world. His explanation on the breadth of work that the Fund does was thorough and detailed. How he is able to cope with that work along with every other thing he does is one of the wonders of his impressive career.

In the end, I was greatly impressed by the writer as an artist, an important and talented voice in the African writing space, as well as a bearer of important stories.

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The Person That Went to Nigeria is not The Same One That Came Back

Guest post by Anne Maabjerg Mikkelsen

 

Adunni Oloriṣa’s handwriting on the wall in her former gallery where I slept. Written in German: “Nun sind letztendlich die Vögel doch eingeladen”, English translation: “Now, the birds are yet finally invited.”

“Why do you have to travel so far, Anne?” This was the first reaction from my beloved grandmothers as I told them I would be travelling to Nigeria with the University of Potsdam in October.

I understand their fears. Nigeria does not have a positive reputation in Denmark because of reports of kidnappings, corruption, diseases, and terror. However, I had to go not just because of my master’s thesis about the Ọ̀ṣun-Òṣogbo Sacred Grove, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2005, in Ọ̀ṣun State south-western Nigeria, but because something in Nigeria had been calling my soul.

While writing my thesis about the Grove back in Europe, I struggled with the fact that I had not been there on my own. As I realized that the field trip had been organized, it seemed too good to be true. We were a group of ten people including our professor, who had gotten an invitation letter from the University of Ìbàdàn. Most of our program was scheduled on the University’s campus, and it was a relief to leave for Òṣogbo with the group during the second weekend, since I was longing to see the Grove.

Back home, I had already studied Yorùbá culture, and the playful universe of the Òrìṣàs; the deities of a traditional West African religion manifested as energies and natural forces on the earth. The work and worldview of Àdùnní Olóriṣà (1915-2009), the guardian of the Grove, also known as Susanne Wenger, an Austrian modernist artist who was resident in Nigeria and initiated into the Òrìṣà religion, had also caught my attention. I only expected my visit to the Grove to be overwhelmingly magical. And so it was.

Entering the Grove, I could feel my whole body vibrating and getting charged with the intense energy that flourishes around – the powers of Ọ̀ṣun, the Òrìṣà of fertility, beauty and wealth embodied as the Ọ̀ṣun River, who is in everything there, as she nourishes all.

As the group returned to Ìbàdàn the next day, I stayed in the house of Àdùnní Olórìṣà on Ìbòkun Road with her daughter Doyin Ọlọ́ṣun, an Ọ̀ṣun high priestess, for another three days.

Everything felt so natural, and it was more or less like meeting family. We went to the Grove every day and sat by the River listening to the water curving its way through the virgin forest, sharing dreams and beliefs as the sun made its way through the clouds and sent its warm rays to the surface of the river from where they were gently directed to us. We greeted the monkeys in the green trees around us and the fish that made their arrival as we sat down. Everything here is sacred; no fish can be caught, no animal hunted or tree cut down. No wonder that Àdùnní gave her life to protect this place and the Òrìṣà religion.

It was with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes that I had to leave Òṣogbo, Doyin and her family in the house.

Before Nigeria, I was told that, “the person that went to Nigeria is not the same one that came back.” I must agree. Knowing that I have gotten the permission from the closest people, I feel capable to write my thesis not just through my mind but also with my heart. Moreover, I had the feeling that my thesis was more than just a paper, which would allow me to finish my degree.

My trip to Nigeria reaffirmed that it is also a personal path of self-discovery, and I am certain that I will return. There is much more to tell, still so many questions to be asked, and so many people to thank, among others: Professor Hans-Georg Wolf for organizing the trip; Níke Davies-Okundaye for her open heart; Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún for his time; Dr Ọbáfẹ́mi Jẹ́gẹ́dẹ́ and the African Studies of University of Ìbàdàn; Robin Campbell from the Susanne Wenger Trust for helping me organize my stay; site manager of the Grove, Mr Olákúnlé Mákindé; and of course my deepest thanks to Doyin Ọlọ́ṣun and her family on Ìbòkun Road.

I am now back in Berlin. My beloved grandmothers are relieved and therefore, so am I. I will do my best to explain to them how magical my experience of Nigeria has been, and that not all Nigerians are bad but rather extremely welcoming and warm-hearted. Where I come from, we could learn from this place and from what the Grove represents: that spirituality is beyond race, that nature is divine and sacred, and the importance of cherishing the feminine principle.

This is exactly my answer to the question “Why do you have to travel so far, Anne?”

____

Anne Maabjerg Mikkelsen, pictured here with Ọ̀ṣun priestess Doyin, is from Denmark. She lives and studies in Berlin Germany, University of Potsdam. She spent two weeks in Nigeria as part of an academic visit.

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INVISIBLE BORDERS 2017: Mapping Nigeria’s Profound Diversity

by Ọmọ́túndé Kasali

The 2017 Participants at the Press Conference

On Saturday 14 October 2017, Invisible Borders, the Trans-African Art and Travel Project, held a press conference for the 7th edition of its road trip, termed Borders Within II. This will be the final leg of its trans-Nigerian road trip started with the previous edition in 2016. Since 2011, this group has organized road trips across long distances as a way of interrogating geographic boundaries while providing a means for writers and other visual artists to create new works on the road. We have supported the effort here at KTravula.com because we believe in travel as a way to expand mental, spiritual, and artistic horizons.

[Read our interview with its founders Emmanuel Iduma and Emeka Okereke here]

To begin on 15 October and to last for six weeks, the trip entails a group of artists travelling across 17 States and 21 cities and “mapping diversity across regions and states and ethnic formations in Nigeria” through their works.

The participants, who emerged following a selection procedure involving over 100 applications across Africa are Emeka Okereke, Founder and Artistic Director of Invisible Borders; Kechi Nomu, a culture writer and poet who was a finalist for the 2017 Brunel International African Poetry Prize; Kenechukwu Nwatu, a photographer and filmmaker; Yinka Elujoba, a writer and Director of Publications of Invisible Borders; Amara Nicole Okolo, a lawyer and writer already with two books to her name; James Bekenawei, a writer, photographer, and co-administrator of the IgersNigeria, the official Nigerian Instagrammer’s community; Nengi Nelson, a photographer and filmmaker; Innocent Ekejuiba, Project Manager of Invisible Borders; and Kemi Falodun, a writer and Head of Communications for Invisible Borders.

The artists will aim to produce works that represent their reflections on contemporary Nigeria, while attempting to answer the following questions: “Who am I in relation to the artificial map? How am I a product of what I have been inevitably named? And how do I interact across several visible and invisible borders I confront as a Nigerian?”

Following the road trip, the participating artists will be required to produce a major body of work – the writers a long travel essay of up to 7000 words, and the photographers at least an encompassing body of work. Additionally, a lengthy documentary containing narratives of Nigerians encountered on the trip will be produced, with the aim of “creating a crowd-sourced narrative of contemporary Nigeria.” In the meantime, the artists will, while on the trip, reflect on and share their experiences at their dedicated blog here.

Ọmọ́túndé Kasali is an aspiring educationist, with interests in language and in literature.

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