I went to sleep and woke up on fire. Naturally, I tried to douse the flames, so I rolled around screaming and tearing at myself. And they stood there watching me burn: my mother with arms crossed over her chest and lips turned up in sorrow at what I had turned into, my sisters looking on, helpless, shedding tears on my behalf, and my father, koboko whip in hand, adding fodder to my flames.
I had been sleeping when the bucket of peppered water was poured on me. My body had flown up in fiery pain. Someone had taken the time to slice fresh, red pepper and grounded dried pepper into a bucket of water and had quenched my sleep with it. The legendary pepper treatment was punishment reserved for the worst child offenders. It was more torture than a means of correction. It was mostly applied to the very incorrigible house helps, sales boys and other people’s children deemed to be without moral redemption. Most parents didn’t have the heart to inflict the pepper treatment on their biological children. But my parents were not most parents.
First published on ZODML, reproduced here for archival purposes
The year began on a bright and promising note when in January, the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) established the Nigerian Writers Series for “the encouragement of the emergence of new talents, the reactivation of quality publishing and the provision of literary materials for a healthy national reading culture.”
The first great literary loss of the year happened in March. Soon after his publication of the famed There was a Country, Chinua Achebe, one of Africa’s most revered authors died on the 21st of March in Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America. Achebe was best known for his 1959 classic Things Fall Apart.
First published on ZODML, reproduced here for archival purposes.
The cast of “The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives” on stage at the Ake Festival
There is hope yet for Nigerian literature. In the month of November alone, four largely successful book festivals took place across the country. There was the Garden City Literary Festival in Port Harcourt (the 2014 UNESCO World Book Capital), Enugu’s Coal City Book Convention, the Lagos Book and Arts Festival, and the Ake Book and Arts Festival. At all of these festivals there was a throng of books and book lovers, proving that writers are writing and Nigerians are reading. Continue Reading