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THE PEN LADIES BY ADAURE

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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.

Living & Celebrating the African Dream! Catch all the Scoop on www.bellanaija.com Follow us Twitter: @bellanaija Facebook: @bellanaija Instagram: @bellanaijaonline

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