THE PEN LADIES BY ADAURE

Today, my dearie Adaure is blogging! I luv her piece. Its so inspiring! Please show her some luv!
Oh…today is my mum’s birthday so its extra-special….she instilled my luv of books so Adaure’s piece is so perfect for today!

Celebrating Nigeria’s Women Writers
By Adaure

By now you all know that I love books, especially those written by Africans. It pleases me to walk into a room and find a title by an African on a book shelf. I am most excited when it’s one by a Nigerian, particularly a woman. Nigerian women have proven themselves to be great story tellers. You see and hear them in action every day. From the kitchen to the office and school, the market place to the river bank, the beer parlor-canteen to the hair and nail salon. They are telling all sorts of stories be it about love, money, sex, religion or tradition. It is no wonder there are more Nigerian women blogging, and that number keeps growing daily. We have even coined a distinctly Nigerian hobby called gisting, not to be confused with gossiping. While men have dominated the literary and publishing field, some women have certainly made their mark, both in the past and present. The 21 century has also seen a new wave of Nigerian women writers many of whom are young, possess a freshness that had been lacking and are fearless in the approach. Today’s post is celebrating these women, past and present, who are giving a voice to Nigerian women. Perhaps their stories will inspire you to let your voice be heard and read as well.

The Trailblazers

Mabel Segun

This 76 year old veteran radio broadcaster, teacher and athlete is still waxing strong. Mabel Segun is one of the first writers of Nigerian childrens books and the first Nigerian woman to play Table Tennis. Visit her website to learn more about her.

Below is a clip from MNET’s Studio 53. Nigerian presenter IK sat down for a one-on-one with the literary legend. We also get to meet her daughter who is closely following in her mother’s footsteps.

Buchi Emecheta

I am sure many of you at some point in your University years read one or two books by Buchi Emecheta. At UNC Chapel Hill alone, 8 of her titles were used in various classes. Buchi Emecheta is practically the Chinua Achebe of Nigerian women writers. Her most popular novels include Second Class Citizen, The Bride Price. The Slave Girl, The Joys of Motherhood and The Rape of Shavi ( I remember once when we were shopping for books at Unilag bookstore and I picked that one up and got a konk from my dad. Apparently the title of the book was too corrupt for my young mind (I still haven’t read it!)

Flora Nwapa (1931-1993)
Best known for her 1966 novel Efuru, Flora Nwapawas not afraid to use mythical elements from traditional folk tales such as ‘Mammywater’. Nwapa is Nigeria’s first (if not Africa’s first according to some bios) woman to publish in English. Chinua Achebe was the one who sent her manuscript for Efuru to the publishers after he reviewed it. In 1982 she was awarded one of Nigeria’s highest honors, the OON (Order of Niger). Because of her achievements she was also conferred the title, Ogbuefi in her hometown of Oguta. That title is usually reserved for men. Some of her titles include Idu (1970), This is Lagos and other Stories (1971), Wives at War and Other Stories (1980)

Zulu Sofola

Does anyone remember those children’s plays that came on during Telefest way back in the day (whatever happened to Telefest). I saw the performance of Zulu Sofola’s ‘Wedlock of the Gods’ and absolutely swear that next to Ola Rotimi, she is my most favorite Nigerian playwright. King Emene was another one of her works that is widely read in Nigerian schools.

Others include Zainab Alkali who wrote ‘Stillborn’ and Helen Ovbiagele of the Pacesetter fame. I swear there has to be a cult following for her book ‘Evbu My Love’. Does any one also remember reading ‘Sisi’ by Yemi Sikuade.
The Newbies
Sefi Atta
This QCOG (Queen’s College Old Girl) quit her day job to become a writer and definitely tells a great story in her debut novel ‘Everything Good Will Come‘. She is definitely one to watch out for and get inspired by.
Read my article about Sefi Atta in the May Issue of NE Online
Listen to Sefi Atta on Wome’s Hour on BBC Radio 4

Her follow up title ‘Swallow’ is coming out soon. Look out for it.

Chimamanda Adichie
This Yale University graduate student is bound to have more titles gracing bookshelves. Here debut novel ‘Purple Hibiscus’ was a pleasure to read. I am currently reading her second book ‘Half of A Yellow Sun’ and it is fantastic. I am actually taking my time on it because I want to save it for my flight and the drive to the village.

In case you missed it, here’s my article on Adichie on NE Online

Hear Chimamanda discuss her new novel on Open Book , a BBC Radio program that aired in August.
Helen Oyeyemi
Helen Oyeyemi wrote her first novel when she was 16. Now 20 this barely legal Cambridge graduate doesn’t need anyone to employ her because she is a prolific writer. Two of her plays have already been performed at the University and her second novel ‘The Opposite House’ is expected to be released in 2007.

Listen to this NPR program about Helen’s book Icarus Girl

Abidemi Sanusi

I have not read Abidemi Sanusi yet but from what I have read about her book Kemi’s Journal, I am interested in checking her out. You can too by visiting her blog.
Click here to read samples of God Has Daughters Too and Zacks Story. She happens to be one of the writers listed with Cassava Republic Press which is co-owned by Jeremy ‘j-dub’ Weate of Naija Blog and his partner, Bibi Bakare-Yusuf.

Another writer to look out for is Unoma Nguemo-Azuah whose book Sky-High Flames just won the Association of Nigerian Authors Flora Nwapa Award for women writers. See event article

Now here’s the home work.
Did I miss anyone and have you read any good books or manuscripts lately? Do you guys think there is still a reading culture in Nigeria or has Nollywood totally destroyed it?
Do you think Nigerian kids of today have an appreciation for the classic titles or could even become good writers if they don’t read?

Speaking of young Nigerian writers, I will now shamelessly plug my 8 year old cousin Patrick Emerem who just recently had a launch party for his first book title ‘Zak’s Adventures and Other Stories’. I’ll let you know when it gets on Amazon.

It’s been real. Hope I served a purpose in your life today. Now go buy a book and give to someone for Christmas.

51 Comments on THE PEN LADIES BY ADAURE
  • Bola November 28, 2006 at 2:28 pm

    Waking up this morning to your blog on Nigerian Women writers was truly an inspiration for me. You did a great job Adaure.

  • Mona November 28, 2006 at 2:50 pm

    not bad Adaure :o) you left my aunty out though :( Mobolaji Adenubi

  • Angie November 28, 2006 at 3:50 pm

    Nice post Adaure. I actually hardly read Nigerian authors, but now i will make it a must to read all the ones u have featured today. I remember reading Evbu My Love’and wedlocks of the gods.
    There really are a lot of wonderful Nigerian females writers comin up. i remember watching an interview of Chimamanda Adichie on TV.
    Aduare u forgot to add a very talented writer, she is (a blogger), VERA!!!Her writing is wonderful!!!

  • naijagal November 28, 2006 at 4:01 pm

    nice post adaure as always! hey how about isoken john? Her books are sold in japan, london barnes and nobles and amazon!

    here is the title

    unfinished issues and check out the link

    http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?z=y&EAN=9780595238354&itm=4

    fyi we are related :)

  • didi November 28, 2006 at 4:17 pm

    good job.i have to seriously start reading and supporting my nig peeps.u forgot chika unigwe http://www.chikaunigwe.com

  • Uzo November 28, 2006 at 4:24 pm

    Nice one Adaure. I loved this post. I am an avid reader and i actually just bought Diane Evans’26a. diane is half nigerian so she might be worth adding to your list. I remember the ladies – Flora Nwapa being one of my favs…

    Happy bday to your mom Bella.

  • Anonymous November 28, 2006 at 5:37 pm

    Hi Adaure–Great post. Avid reader and writeR. Flora Nwapa definitely a big one on my list and has achieved A LOT particularly in creating a visible voice for women in Nigerian Literature.

    Other writers
    Eno Obong
    Funmilayo Fakunle,
    Ifeoma Okoye

    Will get Chimimamanda Adichie’s book soon. It’ll will make a great plane read on my way to the motherland :)

    Cheers n great job!

  • mystoriesmytestimonies November 28, 2006 at 5:51 pm

    @bella ..happy birthday to your mum.
    @adaure… great job… i love flora nwapa’s work…
    deka

  • Anonymous November 28, 2006 at 6:35 pm

    omg mobolaji adenubi is your aunty! how awesome, she came to my school and talked about writing and women stuff lol, it was only for girls. seriously one of my favourite books is the one where the guy with low sperm count wonders if his dad finished his quota of sperm lmao.

    so i guess i’ve read most all these books, err you forgot that lady that wrote is it the water lily now…about some modern woman wanting her husband to marry another woman for kids

    mabel segun had one hot like fiyah sex scene in her book ‘the third dimple’ lol

    efuru was really good too

    err unfortunately i do not like buchi emecheta…too much danielle steel but whatever floats your boat

    i know chinua achebe is not a woman but anthills of the savannah is the bomb!

  • same anon as above November 28, 2006 at 6:36 pm

    omigod and i SO LOVED wedlock of the gods…that was like my first M&B lol

  • Icy November 28, 2006 at 7:49 pm

    Awww that was noiceee. kudus Zulu Sofola was one onf my favs.. RAWK ON!

  • ToyinE November 28, 2006 at 8:31 pm

    Nice one Adaure, ive heard a lot about Purple Hibiscus and saw Chimamanda Adichie’s pic and profile in October’s Elle. Def. on my ‘to read’ list!

  • yankeenaijachick November 28, 2006 at 10:05 pm

    Sup bella, how are u today? Anyways, l must say l loved the one of mabel segun. The stories remind me of my childhood days, watching story land story land and also tales by moonlight. I would lover our kids of this generations to still read books that reflect an innocent childhood days. Am touched.

  • Dammie November 29, 2006 at 1:11 am

    This is too inspiring!!…Lovely.

  • Adaure November 29, 2006 at 3:07 am

    Cool…Thanks guys… glad you all like it. I am sure there wil be a part two soon with the writers I missed or new names. I know for some of you it’s one of those posts that you have to skim through and come back to because you actually have to click on the links to read and listen to stuff. Do come back to the post on a lazy day though and ya’ll still have not completed the homework that I gave you. Go back and read the questions and give us your great and well thought out opinion.

    Whoever gives the best answers will get one single stick of suya from Suya Spot…:)

  • BGTLIVE November 29, 2006 at 5:35 am

    Which flight and drive to the village are you talking about.

    PHONE ME RIGHTAWAY!

  • olubukola abimbola November 29, 2006 at 9:06 am

    good job adaure , ive read some of the books mentioned and must say they are good reads, as for ur 8 yr old cousin wowwwwwww!!!!!

  • Aba Boy November 29, 2006 at 9:20 am

    Excellent post.

    The Nwapa writing tradition is still alive. My friend and classmate, Njideka (niece to Flora) recently wrote Tales From The Animal Kingdom

  • Anonymous November 29, 2006 at 10:18 am

    Nice post but I just had to point out that Chimamanda did NOT graduate from Yale. She had a one year fellowship there which ended this year. She is an amazing author and I follow her work closely, just had to clear that up. She started at Nsukka but finished at Eastern Conneticut State University where she graduated summa cum laude.

  • Dimples November 29, 2006 at 11:05 am

    Nice one Adaure…felt like Bella wasn’t even missed.
    You have educated me sha…didn’t realise there were that many female writers.

  • Daddy’s Girl November 29, 2006 at 11:34 am

    Nice post. These women wrote some beautiful stories and it’s great to see the younger generation keeping it going.

    Does anyone remember a book we had to read in junior secondary school about a couple: a fine bloke who was a single dad, and Kofo (a pretty teacher or so)? I think there was someone called Enitan Browne or something. And then there twins called Ebibindo (Bindo for short) and Toboulayefa or something like that.. who were separated or something. Hmm.. I think I’m now putting two books together. Somebody save me please. I can’t remember the book properly, not to mention the author.

    Araceli Aipoh is not Nigerian by birth but she lives here and is married to a Nigerian. She recently published a book ‘No Sense of Limits’ which (haven’t read it yet) is getting good reviews. She’s also a blogger and her blog is really lovely: http://www.araceliaipoh2.blogspot.com.

  • PSB November 29, 2006 at 1:48 pm

    Great post Adaure! These women mentioned are trully inspiring!

  • temmy tayo November 29, 2006 at 2:23 pm

    Those women are good with what they love doing. Enjoyed reading all of Flora Nwapa’s books.

    Nice and educative post on Nigerian women.

    @Bella: Happy birthday to your mum.

  • Adaure November 29, 2006 at 2:41 pm

    @anonymous…i did not say she graduated…read what i wrote…she is currentlt attending Yale…my source for that info is in the same program as she is

  • Adaure November 29, 2006 at 2:49 pm

    —A COMMENT FROM SOKARI THAT WAS LEFT ON MY BLOG– REPOSTING IT HERE BECAUSE SHE RAISES AN INTERESTING POINT—-

    I posted a comment on Bella Naija yesterday in response to Uzo’s statement “I am an avid reader and i actually just bought Diane Evans’26a. diane is half nigerian so she might be worth adding to your list”. My comment doesnt appear on the comments list – it is possible I made an error in posting or it hasnt yet been checked for approval so just in case I will repeat here what I said. I took issue with the statement “Diane is half Nigerian so SHE MIGHT be WORTH adding to your list”. I find this statement offensive and undermines Diana Evans who has recently visited Nigeria and has had her book launched in the country. I do not know Ms Evans but I do know myself. I spent the first 20 years plus of my life in Nigeria and continue to visit there regularly. Nonetheless it is this attitude that somehow because you have one parent who is non-Nigerian you have to justify yourself as Nigerian and face constant questioning on the issue such as “she might be worth….”. I happen to have dual nationality but even if I did not and only had a “foreign” passport, does that make me any the less Nigerian than my father? Personally I dont see myself as half of anything and would like to know how I should divide myself into any two halves. In this instance it is divisive and non-inclusive and that is the issue. It saddens me that something I went through 20 years ago still continues today and people still have to question peoples nationalities and identities. On the basis of Uzo’s comments then it becomes a debate whether or not I “might be worth” including myself as part of the Nigerian or even African blogosphere!

  • Anonymous November 29, 2006 at 4:43 pm

    Sokari–I honestly don’t see what the fuss is on that issue. I think Uzo was being inclusive by even suggesting the half Nigerian author be included. This is not about you. The fact of the matter is there are persons who are mixed who define themselves one dimensionally to be ONLY black/African or sometimes reject the black/African side. In recent times, I have seen mixed of anything embracing the duality of being both of what their parents are. I think that’s great because I have lots of mixed firends and I have always hated when they limited their identity to only one view, thereby denying the other half that made them.

    Nonetheless, as to Uzo’s statement, let the author referenced take beef with it, if applicable. She might very well define herself as everything BUT Nigerian. The subject heading of the post was focused on Nigerian Women. How we define “Nigerian” to me exceeds the scope of what the post was trying to accomplish.

    Uzo saying, hey this Lady is “half Nigerian” to me created context for why her book should be read. For example, another reader created context by saying a certain author is not Nigerian but she is married to Nigerian, so she might be worth reading. Big deal? No. Again falling in line with the subject heading.

    I think sometimes, when we have held certain issues, such as in your case mixed race identity, so close to heart, we tend to be so reactionary, even when it seems inapplicable. I suggest you relax, continue to define yourself as one who is both Naija and whatever and let Uzo suggest that a half Nigerian and whatever is worth being a part of a Nigerian Women’s Awesome authors category; afterall, the referenced author is partly Nigerian so she should be included.

  • Adaure November 29, 2006 at 6:24 pm

    –THIS IS MY RESPONSE TO SOKARI AS POSTED ON MY BLOG–EXCUSE THE TYPOS—

    Sokari– thanks for your comment it is quite an interesting POV. I will have to disagree with you on some points. I am sure Uzo did not men that statement in a dereogatory sense, I am sure he/she just wanted to give a valid reason (one that was not obvious to me without stating the facts) to include her on the list of ‘Nigerian WOmen Writers’. I don’t know Diana Evans, never read her book or heard of her but I stumbled upon her profile on Cassava Republic. I read the blurb on her book and contemplated adding it based on that– but no where on there did a bio indicate whether she was Nigerian (quarter, half or otherwise) or even lived in Nigeria or had Nigerian parents. I didn’t want to assume she was Nigerian just because she was on a Nigerian publisher’s website. Hence my flippant dismissal since my article was about ‘Nigerian Women Writers.’ There is a place and time for everything. Not that it should matter or that it takes anything away, but there are times that call for people to educate the world on their diversity and there are times where it is not neccessary and speaks for itself. In my opinion if I had read something that suggested to me during my scouring the net that Diana Evans had any link to Nigeria (and didn’t just write a book about biracial nigerian in london, which could have been entirely made up or based on a friends experience)perhaps I would have listed her as someone to watch out for or say something to that effect to make raise curiosity about her book. In this case it was neccessary to find a link not just assume and if that is not celebrated how are people to know. If i go by what you prescribe, then writers need not explain on their book-cover that they are this and that and went to school here and there and lived here and there and all that should not factor because their book is good. That is just plain boring and as i am now, unless (even if) it is a school assignment, I will never read a book without knowing first the back ground of the writer or where he is coming from (i’ll only make an exception when it comes to M&B.. i don’t care about the writers, just the drama). I don’t understand what it is like to have people guessing what race you are or who your parents are. I couldn’t imagine how distressing it is but I have heard storeis. The same applies when I know that people try to guess and place my accent or my country when I am just as American as they are (by legal definition). It is not the same thing but sometimes it is worth explaining that I my diversity. Does it take anything away from me…NO. But it may raise interest (and since this is america, might be a turn off to close minded, prejudist, bigots of which there are plenty) but intrest all the same. Now that we have had this exchange and I have looked her up, I am quite interested in Diana Evans and will add her to my booklist. I’ll read the book and may be talk about it in PART TWO of this post. That’s my two cents

  • Anonymous November 29, 2006 at 6:29 pm

    @daddy’s girl: the book you’re looking for is “Time changes yesterday”.Dont remeber the name of the author
    Neyenwa nwajei

  • Daddy’s Girl November 29, 2006 at 7:46 pm

    Times Changes Yesterday! Thanks so much for that, it’s been gnawing at my mind all day.

    I agree with Anon, Sokari, I think you’re reading too much into Uzo’s comment.

  • Anonymous November 29, 2006 at 8:03 pm

    the name of the author is nyengi koin-time changes yesterday…loved that book too

  • Vera Ezimora November 29, 2006 at 8:26 pm

    Bella Naija, pray for me that I make that list of yours.

  • Anonymous November 29, 2006 at 10:10 pm

    BELLA COME BACK. I MISS YOU! I can’t stand Adaure’s writing so I don’t read her blog but to be subjected to it on my best blog is harsh. Please come back.

  • Confessions of a moody crab November 29, 2006 at 10:37 pm

    Buchi Emecheta and Adichie are my faves. Read almost all the book in the list….
    The next on one my list is Sefi Atta’s book.I can’t wait to hand in these essays so i can dive in!

    I think Nigerians are stepping up in the literary world and it is good women are flying the flag. As for children of these days, I really don’t know…my young cousins for starters don’t read. They would rather surf the net all day and watch MTV and co. This is what you get in the Age of Technology!!

    How sad!

  • Omosewa November 29, 2006 at 10:56 pm

    Nice one Adaure, i’m on a mission to read all the books in this post, hehehe.

    Happy Birthday Bella Naija’s mom, longlife and prosperity ma!:)

  • LondonBuki November 30, 2006 at 11:03 am

    Can’t believe I missed this – Good post Adaure!

    I am going to get my hands on a few of these books soon.
    I read CN Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun and it was really good.

    Wow your 8 year old cousin? Wow!!!

    Happy Belated B’day Mama Bella Naija :-)

  • Uzo November 30, 2006 at 6:26 pm

    Oh…I have calmed down and realise that Sokari made the comment..so response is for Sokari

  • TP December 1, 2006 at 12:46 am

    Great post! One day I dream of publishing my own writings. I am inspired by this post. Thanks!

  • Anonymous December 1, 2006 at 9:41 pm

    fantastic post Adaure. I also have read and did love Time Changes Yesterday, Sisi and most of the Pace Setters.

  • Morountodun December 2, 2006 at 3:46 pm

    Bella of course the newbies ae too many to mention but you left out chika unigwe :(

    http://www.chikaunigwe.com

  • yemisi. December 3, 2006 at 3:13 pm

    Another Nigerian woman writer that I’ve really loved and found inspiring is: Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo. I’ve only read two books by her so far: Last of the Strong Ones, and House of Symbols. They are part of a trilogy.

  • The Life of a Stranger called me December 3, 2006 at 9:26 pm

    Very Inspiring Post – Enjoying

  • GWA December 18, 2006 at 8:13 pm

    Vera, you’re are good too I’ve read some of your work. Just keep up with the hard work, you’re in our prayers.

    Adaure, abeg chill for Uzo now, I don’t think it was meant like that. Nice write-up though, good job. I was in the “Evbu My Love” club o, in JSS, I feel ya on that one, Helen Ovbiagale really rocked with that pacesetters novel.

  • Anonymous December 22, 2006 at 12:44 am

    Memories…Memories…

    yes, i remember that rich gal-poor guy story…I read that book over and over and overrrrrrrrrrr again.

    Well, the last naija novel i read was in my undergrad but i am trying to get back into reading african particularly NIGERIAN writers. There has been a lot of hype about purple hibiscus.

    Now about our nigerian youngstars – Well, i believe a love for books starts from the home – so if our youths are reading less, blame it on their parents not nollywood.

    I remember growing up, my gift for doing well in school was a book. Yes, so i had and still have a positive association with books…

    later,
    pamela stitch

  • t December 28, 2006 at 10:27 pm

    Long ago, I wanted to do an encyclopedia of African literature – see here: http://www.geocities.com/dancingbeavers.
    The project didn’t take off, and I’m looking for people who will like to help work on it or who have ideas on how to go about it. Depending on my financial situation at the time, it may be a paid position. If this is your thing, just make it happen, or let’s talk. Cheers.
    Adaure, I’m a fan. Thanks for giving us info about our writer sisters.

  • Anonymous January 30, 2007 at 4:41 pm

    Came across your page while browsing the net. You are doing a great job here.

    I think you should read THE AIREGINAN DREAM by Dupe Olorunjo. I read it and thoroughly enjoyed it. There is a sample chapter on her website to stimulate anyone’s literary appetite. I hope to stop by here again sometime soon.

  • Anonymous February 6, 2007 at 1:42 am

    oh my gosh!!

    Finished reading, Half of a yellow sun (miss adichie), purple hibiscus (miss adichie) and everything good will come (sefi atta). So good!!! I am so impressed.

    The next book on my list is Icarus gal by Helen oyeyemi. Will tell you guys how that goes.

    but i am really loving this…

    pamela stitch

  • Chichi July 16, 2007 at 8:04 pm

    I enjoyed reading your post – very interesting. You didn’t, however, mention the award-winning writer Ifeoma Okoye, whose works include “Behind the Clouds”, “Men Without Ears” (this won the Association of Nigeria’s Best Fiction of the Year award 1984) and, more recently, “The Trial and Other Stories”.

    Full disclosure: Ifeoma Okoye is my mother.

    Feel free to visit my blog, “Far from the Fattening Crowd” at http://chichiblogs.blogspot.com

  • Njideka Nwapa-Ibuaka May 3, 2009 at 11:18 pm

    Hi,
    I am Njideka Nwapa-Ibuaka. I have also written other titles like; Valley Boy. I am based in the united States of America. Thanks for recognizing me,
    Respectfully,
    Njideka

  • iyome May 4, 2009 at 3:01 am

    Daddy’s girl the book about Kofo (she was a teacher that was hooked up with her pupil’s dad) was called Time changes yesterday…
    i rem the second book it was called Second chance…Richard Pepple & Mina met during NYSC and had those twins wh owere seperated!!! very nice books

  • Chydee October 30, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Oh i miss home*sobbing my eyes out*…Till tomorrow,Nigerian writers are still the best…Ill join them soon.My best book by Buchi Emecheta is the Joys of Motherhood.Awesome book

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