Showing posts with label literature. Show all posts
Showing posts with label literature. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

The Nigeria Prize for Literature Has Not Improved the Literary Culture of Nigeria

The Nigeria Prize for Literature is the biggest prize in African literature worth US$100,000 to the winner. It is fully sponsored by the Nigeria LNG Limited, that founded it in 2004 for outstanding literary works  by Nigerian authors in Nigeria. 

The prize rotates among four genres; fiction, poetry, drama and children’s literature: repeating the cycle every four years.

I was opportuned to be with the inaugural members of the organising committee during their meeting in 2004, at the Federal Palace Hotel & Casino on Victoria Island, Lagos. I went there to meet with the famous Nigerian novelist, Eddie Iroh and Ms. Siene Allwell-Brown, the famous broadcaster at the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) who was now, the General Manager for External Affairs of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Limited. The Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Nigeria Prize for Literature, Emeritus Professor Ayo Banjo was there. His beautiful daughter, Elizabeth Banjo came second to me when I won the first prize in a national essay competition sponsored by the Pop Magazine for children and teens in 1976.

The Nigeria Prize for Literature is laudable for improving the welfare of the winners. But it has not improved the literary culture of Nigeria. It has failed to achieve what other coveted literary prizes have achieved in America, Europe, Asia and Australia where winning a major prize for literature makes the winner a bestselling author by boosting the celebrity status, increasing the popularity and increasing the demand for the winning author and the winning book like the Pulitzer Prize in America and the Booker Prize in the UK. The news will make local and international headlines and will increase the public appreciation and sales of the books among readers. But contrary to our expectations, majority of literate people in Nigeria don't even know the titles of the winning books of the Nigeria Prize for Literature. If you doubt me, do a public opinion on radio and TV on the streets of Lagos, Abuja and other cities in the country, and you will see how clueless and ignorant majority of Nigerians are about the so called most prestigious literary prize in Africa and the winning books.

What makes it prestigious? The prestige of the worth of the cash prize of US$100, 000 or the intellectual esteem of the winning authors?

The sponsor of the Nigeria Prize for Literature and their public relations company have failed to use the prize for the appreciation of the reading culture which is most vital to the improvement of the literary culture of Nigeria where majority of Nigerians don't read books, except for the  recommended text books for pupils and students. Majority of Nigerians stop reading after graduation and after their professional examinations.

Just handing out US$100, 000 to the author of the book selected as best entry in the national competition is not enough to improve the lives of Nigerian authors and improve the literary culture of Nigeria without making sure that Nigerians read their books and celebrate their literary achievements as examplary role models worthy of emulation in the inspiration for outstanding success in human development and the  advancement of modern civilisation in Nigeria.

Nobel laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka sitting with Adeleke Adeyemi and his wife Wosilat Adeyemi at the event of The Nigeria Prize for Literature award ceremony on February 6, 2012, at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) on Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria. 

The Federal Ministry of Education and ministries of education in the 36 states and Abuja should be involved in the appreciation of the Nigeria Prize for Literature to make recommendations for the winning books to be included in the selections for reading booklists of primary and secondary schools and tertiary institutions. For example, I recommended that Adeleke Adeyemi's Children's story book, "The Missing Clock", that won the Nigeria Prize for Literature in 2011 should be on the reading list for primary schools in Nigeria and in particularly in Ekiti state, the state of origin of the author. And the Federal Ministry of Education should purchase as many copies as possible for distribution to all the public schools in the country. The prize winning authors should have interviews on radio and TV and the governors of their states should celebrate them. 

There should be reading and book signing tours for the winning authors to selected schools and tertiary institutions; to clubs like the Ikoyi Club, Metropolitan Club, Capital Club, Ikeja Country Club and other locations that will increase the appreciation and cultivation of literary culture in the Nigerian society.

- By  Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima,

Founder/CEO, WEREADđź’•đź’‹



247 Nigeriia) / Twitter

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Nigeria: Where they do not read books

Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa with over 150 million people of different ethnic groups of which the majorities are Hausas, Igbos and Yorubas.

Nigeria: Where they do not read books

Do you know that more Nigerians in Nigeria are no longer excited about reading and even writing?

Do you know that majority of the members of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) do not buy or read the books written by fellow members?

Do you know that majority of the Nigerian publishers of magazines do not buy or read the magazines published by other Nigerian publishers?

Do you know that none of the authors who won the much coveted Nigeria LNG Prize or other local prizes has become bestselling authors in Nigeria?

Do you know that Nigerians spend millions of dollars monthly on sms and most of the SMS/TXT messages are unprofitable gossip?

Do you know that poverty is not the cause of poor reading culture in Nigeria but intellectual illiteracy and intellectual hypocrisy?

Do you know that majority of youths in Nigeria do not know who is Ben Okri, the youngest winner of the Booker Prize in in 1991 at 32?

Ben Okri

I have seen the book gathering dust abandoned in-between files and other items on the table. The book has not been read for months. I have read my own copy immediately the author gave it to me and I reviewed it on Bookalleria, a literary blog. Bookalleria is one of the few Nigerian literary websites owned by writers who love books, but most of the Nigerian writers hardly visit them. They would rather visit the social gossip blogs or frequent their Facebook that does not have any feature for their writings. Majority of Nigerian writers should be blogging and not wasting quality time posting tissues of the issues of their minutiae on Facebook.

Nigerians now prefer to browse more on the Internet.

Blogging is another form of writing and sharpening the craft of writing as the blog offers more space to express your feeling, thoughts and share them with the rest of the world. Molara Wood, Myne White and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie are Nigerian writers with active blogs and a visit to any of these blogs is worth it, because they are filled with refreshing prose, poetry and drama written and posted by the authors and with interactive conversations with their readers. Unfortunately millions of Nigerians on Facebook and Twitter are ignorant of these blogs and have been missing the most original writings of these writers.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Over 800, 000 copies of the books of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie have been sold so far and translated into many languages, but less than 50, 000 copies of the bestselling books have been sold in her native Nigeria the most populous country in Africa with a population of over 150 million and over 20 million are graduates of tertiary institutions. Why have these millions failed to read the books of one of the most bestselling Nigerian writers? Intellectual laziness is common in Nigeria.

Majority of Nigerians do more talking than reading books.

Majority of the literate population only read the compulsory textbooks required to pass their compulsory examinations to acquire the paper qualifications they need to get their dream jobs. After getting these qualifications, they abandon their textbooks and rush into the rat race to catch up with the Joneses of their society.

The next publications they read are the daily newspapers, social gossip magazines and porn magazines. Then they go on Facebook to post the tidbits of their daily routines of their perishable pursuits. They spend hours chatting on the phone, gossiping and spreading rumours on the street, at home and in the workplace.

Many Nigerians love reading newspapers and society magazines and they are often seen crowding news vendors on the street.

Nigerians spend billions of naira on phone calls and text messages, so they cannot claim that they cannot afford to buy the few books written and published by Nigerian authors.

The increasing population of illiterates in Nigeria is caused the intellectual laziness of the majority who do not read books. Because how can people become literate when they hate to read and if they do not read, how can they write? So, the population of those who cannot read and write keeps on increasing daily. And how can they learn when they do not read? How much will they learn from sharing the badly written updates on their walls on Facebook or viewing TV comedies, reality shows or music videos that do not teach them how to read or write, but programmed to entertain more than to educate.

Nigerian pupils and students read for their studies and to pass examinations for the qualifications they need to get their dream jobs and to catch up with the Joneses in their rat race.

We are now embarrassed by appalling reports of mass failures recorded in the secondary school examinations and cases of graduates of tertiary schools who cannot write essays and are not better than graduates of high schools. One scholar said most of the universities are glorified secondary schools.

How can we revive the reading culture in Nigeria?

I remember the late 1970s and 1980s when hundreds of thousands of young and old people discussed and shared thrilling stories from the novels in the popular Macmillan’s Pacesetter series, Longman Drumbeat and Heinemann African Writers series.

“There were no GSM phones then,” said a friend.
“Mobile phones have not stopped American and Europeans from buying and reading over 600, 000 copies of the Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun written by our own Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,” I said.

I also mentioned that millions of copies of the phenomenal Harry Potter novels of J. K. Rowling have been sold in developed countries where mobile phones and social network sites are not excuses for not reading books!

“Millions of Nigerians copy Western haute couture, music and surfing social network sites, but fail to copy their reading culture,” I said.
My friend was speechless.

Using computers should not stop Nigerians from reading books.

The intellectual disorientation of our youths can be corrected by using the same media of mobile phones and social network sites to make them change their negative attitude to reading. We can use hype to motivate and stimulate their intellectual traits and gradually they will appreciate reading as they see the awesome benefits of a vibrant reading culture.

If over 13, 000 copies of the novels of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie can be sold in Nigeria, and then more thousands can be sold when others are motivated and stimulated to join those who are enjoying the passion of reading her books and they will soon be adding more books on their reading list.

Now, 75 years later in an abundant society where people have laptops, cell phones, iPods and minds like empty rooms, I still plod along with books.
~ Harper Lee, author of "To Kill A Mockingbird" on May 7, 2006

~ By Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chinua Achebe Celebrates 80th Birthday

Chinua Achebe

The most celebrated Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe marked his 80th birthday on November 16.

The literary achievements of Achebe have made him one of the most outstanding humans on earth and his historical novel Things Fall Apart rated as one of the best novels of all time.

He has won more laurels than any African writer and he is the only Nigerian writer with over 30 honorary doctorate degrees. The only significant laurel he is yet to win is the highly coveted Nobel Prize for Literature.

Nigerians Report wishes Pa Chinua Achebe Happy 80th Birthday and many more happy returns of the day.


Things Fall Apart (1958)
No Longer at Ease (1960)
Arrow of God (1964)
A Man of the People (1966)
Anthills of the Savannah (1987)

Short Stories
"Marriage Is A Private Affair" (1952)
"Dead Men's Path" (1953)
The Sacrificial Egg and Other Stories (1953)
"Civil Peace" (1971)
Girls at War and Other Stories (1973)
African Short Stories (editor, with C.L. Innes) (1985)
Heinemann Book of Contemporary African Short Stories (editor, with C.L. Innes) (1992)
The Voter

Beware, Soul-Brother, and Other Poems (1971) (published in the US as Christmas at Biafra, and Other Poems, 1973)
Don't let him die: An anthology of memorial poems for Christopher Okigbo (editor, with Dubem Okafor) (1978)
Another Africa (1998)
Collected Poems Carcanet Press (2005)
Refugee Mother And Child

Essays, Criticism and Political Commentary
The Novelist as Teacher (1965)
An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" (1975)
Morning Yet on Creation Day (1975)
The Trouble With Nigeria (1984)
Hopes and Impediments (1988)
Home and Exile (2000)
Education of a British protected Child (October 6, 2009)
“The Igbo and their Perception of God, Human Beings and Creation,” (2010) (forthcoming)

Children's Books
Chike and the River (1966)
How the Leopard Got His Claws (with John Iroaganachi) (1972)
The Flute (1975)
The Drum (1978)

You can buy any one the books by Chinua Achebe from AMAZON.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Nigerian Poet Publishes Collection Illustrating Life in the African Continent

9 Sep 2009 12:45 Africa/Lagos

Nigerian Poet Publishes Collection Illustrating Life in the African Continent

His Message Offers Hope in Spite of Dismal Circumstances

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria, Sept. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- "Shadows of Existence" (published by iUniverse), by Nigerian poet Jekwu Ozoemene, depicts images of the African continent, its people and the universal love that surrounds them in a powerful collection of 46 poems.

Ozoemene became inspired to write his first collection of poetry after listening to Professor Karen King-Aribisala's reading of D.H. Lawrence's "Snake" at the University of Lagos, Nigeria in 1993. That reading instigated his literary creativity and introduced him to poetry as an art form -- with its distinctive sounds, rhythms and metaphors.

"Shadows of Existence" showcases the thoughts of a young man who matured much faster than others and struggles with the challenges and frustrations of the adult world: the abuse of women, bigotry, religious differences and marriage. In his attempt to digest the difficulties of adult life, Ozoemene found many of the answers he was looking for in his poetry.

"It's a continent of 53 countries, I scream in my head

Her response, a tilted lgbo babble I barely heard

Like a confluence of a thousand indigenous African tongues

Spoken from the matrix of humanity, voice of all songs

Africa's womb of which bore the womb that bore her grand mum"

- Africa Is Not a Country, Lagos Is My Song

With profound and moving words, Ozoemene discusses the controversial topics that consumed his thoughts, while sharing an inspiring message of hope and tolerance for his homeland.

About the Author

Jekwu Ozoemene is a poet and playwright, who earned an English degree from the University of Lagos, Nigeria, and his specialist MBA in Finance from the University of Leicester, United Kingdom. Ozoemene currently resides with his wife and children in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, where he works as a senior manager with a bank.

"Shadows of Existence: An Anthology of Poetry"

Available from:,, and

iUniverse is the premier book publisher for emerging, self-published authors. For more information, please visit

EDITORS: For review copies or interview requests, contact:

Promotional Services Department
Tel: 1-800-AUTHORS
Fax: 812-355-4078
(When requesting a review copy, please provide a street address.)

This release was issued through eReleases(TM). For more information, visit

Source: iUniverse

CONTACT: Promotional Services Department of iUniverse, +1-800-AUTHORS,
or Fax, +1-812-355-4078,

Web Site:

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