Creative, courageous women who write in English, often in several genres: novels, short stories, children's books, poems and plays. Many are social media savvy, especially in Facebook, but also blogs and twitter. Nigeria is a giant in African literary production, with Chinua Achebe and Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, as well as Africa's first internationally published woman writer, Flora Nwapa, and world renowned Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. With over 100 women writers, Nigeria offers fertile ground for a better understanding of how African women use their literary voices to adress pertinent social issues and speak truth to power. These voices from within also help nuance common misrepresentations in media portrayals of Nigeria. Through this page I highlight some of the findings from my fieldwork, which started in November-December 2016, in conjunction with the Efuru@50 celebrations.
"Incredible encounters! Women are traditional griots and chroniclers of communal experiences no matter how marginal their voices. To be feminist is to regain the spiritual space for community consciousness." Lizi Ben-Iheanacho, Facebook 22/12/2016
A nationwide celebration of Efuru by Flora Nwapa, the first internationally published novel in English by an African woman writer (Heinemann, London 1966). A 5-city tour in Lagos, Maiduguri, Abuja, Enugu and Owerri, over 10 days from 29 November to 11 December 2016. Events included paper presentations, scholarly debates, school competitions and student dramatizations of Efuru. Keynotes delivered by iconic women like Bolanle Awe and Zaynab Alkali, who knew Flora Nwapa personally. Flora Nwapa's children - Ejine Olga Nzeribe, Uzoma Nwakuche, and Amede Nzeribe - participated in the nationwide celebrations of their Mom. Dr Wale Okediran, former President of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) led the work of a National Organizing Committee, which persevered despite insufficient funding. I was the only non-African scholar attending the event and very warmly hosted by all involved.
Trailer for Efuru@50 Documentary Film
Meet women like Razinat Mohammed in Maiduguri, Safiya Ismaila in Abuja, and Tope Olaifa in Ibadan, writers who also work as scholars in Nigerian universities. Or Salamatu Sule, the entrepreneurial young writer who is establishing herself as the country's first literary agent. Not to mention Lizi Ashimole who loves folktales, Cecilia Kato who gives a voice to Kagoro and Gertrude Uzoh who self-published her first novel. These are some of the women featured in my research.
These are some of the books that I received as gifts by the authors during fieldwork in 2016. Published novels, poems, children's books and plays. Dealing with a variety of pertinent topics, from painful rituals and stigmatized disease, to polygamy, love and relationships, as well as tales for children.