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Written By Izunna Okafor


It is no longer a novelty that every calendar year wakes up and sleeps off with a natural book of many pages. Pages of dreams and visions, pages of imaginations and realities, pages of successes and failures, pages of joy and sorrow, pages of progress and regress, pages of victories and losses, pages of smiles and tears, among many others. 

These pages indeed represent what the year holds for men.

       Among many others, Nigerian Literary Industry has been a silent character that has tasted a paragraph in virtually all the pages of the natural book in the year 2018. That is to say that a lot of pages have opened and closed to the literary industry as the year 2018 blinks away.

       Nigerian Literary industry has been one of the most highly revered industries in the country, owing to her gargantuan contributions towards the development of the country, coupled with the venerable caliber of people therein.

     Analytically speaking, the year 2018 was neither all white nor all black for the industry, as many writers recorded while many others were recorded in different books in the year.

For Nigerian writers, the year 2018 began with good news, following the long listing of a 30-year old Ayobami Adebayo in the 'Wellcome Book Prize' on 9th February, for her debut novel “Stay With Me” published in 2017, making her the only African Writer that made it to the list of the highly competitive annual British Literary Award.

      Shortly after this, sad news crawled in, following the shocking news of Akinwunmi Ishola's demise on Saturday, 17th February, being the first global sad news to surface from the corner of literary industry across the world in 2018. Prof. Ishola was a Yoruba literary scholar, novelist, playwright and culture icon whose works: Oleku, Efunsetan Aniwura, Koseegbe, Saworoide, Agogo Eewo and Campus Queen were widely regarded as among the best literary works produced by writers of his generation.

       This was followed by the death of Mr. Elizabeth Fagunwa, a renowned literary promoter and wife of foremost writer and author, late Chief Daniel O. Fagunwa. Her death was described as a great loss for the Nigerian literary community, owing to the great roles she played in advancing, peaking and championing the cause of literary activities in the country, especially through the Fagunwa Literary Foundation. 

Among these, the most recent and most unsavory of all the ugly news that elicited tears from the eyes of Nigerian writers in 2018 was the announcement of Ikeogu Oke's fall on 24th November. 

       Oke was a great Nigerian bard who, with his classic poem “The Heresiad", won the Africa’s biggest literary prize, the Nigerian Prize for Literature 2017, sponsored by the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) at the tune of $100,000 (N37m).

       On the laudatory flank of the journey, Nigerian creative industry recorded leviathan feats in the year 2018, as many Nigerian writers, both burgeoning and established, proved their worth in the field of pen this year both nationally and internationally, thereby emblazing and embellishing the hope for the advancement of literary arts in Nigeria. 

      If there is any set of people that have kept Nigeria's image alive and shinny for decades in the international community, it is Nigerian Writers. And this year is not an exception.

Several Nigerian writers toed their foot in the literary field this year while many others advanced in their echelons. 

          In her corner, a leading character in the Nigerian literary scene, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie indeed recorded some of her greatest achievements in the literary field this year, following her prodigious victories in various international and globally acclaimed literary contests, awards, coupled with other noble honours she received in the year.

      Adichie opened the award year with the 2018 Barnes & Nobel ‘Writers for Writers’ award which she received in the fall of the quarter of the year. Shortly after that, the literati has, within couple of months clasp several other awards and Honorary Degrees among which are: the 'Shorty Award 2018', Pen Pinter Prize 2018; 2018 Action Against Hunger Humanitarian Award; 2019 Everett M. Rogers Award; Thought Leadership Award from the Global Hope Coalition (GHC); 

Honorary Doctor of Literature (DLit) degree, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS); University of London, UK; Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree, Duke University, North Carolina, USA;

Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree, Amherst College, Massachusetts, USA;

Honorary Doctor of Letters Degree, Bowdoin College, Maine, USA, among others. 

      Other great and upcoming writers who recorded great feats with their pen in the year include: Anietie Isong whose debut novel "Radio Sunrise" won UK’S biggest literary prize, the 2018 McKItterick Prize; Nigerian-German Efua Traoré who emerged the African regional winner in the world's most global literary prize, the 2018 Commonwealth Short Story Prize; Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto who won the New Hampshire Institute of Art’s 2018 Writing Award, and the Castello di Duino Poesia International Prize 2018; Abimbola Dare who won the 2018 Bath Novel International Award among others. The highly coveted 2018 NLNG Prize for Literature which is the Africa’s biggest Literary Prize (worthing $100,000) went to Soji Cole for his drama 'Embers’. Be it as it may, this year's Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature went to an Ugandan writer Harriet Anena making her the first Ugandan to win the prize, while, with her 'Fanta Blackcurrant', a Kenyan writer Makena Onjerika won the 2018 Caine Prize, in which three Nigerian writers: Nonyelum Ekwempu, Olufunke Ogundimu and Wole Talabi were shortlisted out of 147 entrants from 20 African countries. 

     It is also worthy to recall that two Nigerian authors: Chimamanda Adichie and Nnedi Okorafor were this year 2018, nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature, for the first time in 36 years, after Wole Soyinka became the first black person to win the world's most coveted literary prize. 

Though, due to some circumstances challenging the public confidence in the members of the Swedish Academy hosting the award; the winner of prize was no longer announced this year, but postponed to next year. Nevertheless, one of the Caribbean most renowned authors, Maryse Conde was said to have won an alternative prize created to replace this year's Nobel Literature Prize. Hence, according to the organizers, who were being torn apart by kerfuffle evolving from certain claims and accusations, two Nobel Laureates will be announced next year, being for 2018 and 2019 respectively.

      Aside awards and recognitions, many Nigerian writers, especially the young ones published internationally acclaimed books this year. Nigerian literary industry  also welcomed new members this year, among whom were topnotch politicians who decided to 'test' their 'fortunes' in creative writing, and hence now wear the badge of 'author'.

      The most recent of these politicians turned authors include:

H.E. Sullivan Chime who authored

"An Honour to Serve: Enugu State in the Sullivan Years" and

Former President Goodluck Jonathan, who authored 'My Transition Hours'. Professionally as it may have been written, president Jonathan's book surprisingly made it to the list of 15 best books published in the year 2018. Other newly published books and Nigerian  authors who made it to the prestigious international list include: ‘Devil’s Pawn’ by Kukogho Iruesiri Samson; 'When Trouble Sleeps' by Leye Adenle; ‘When Day Breaks’ by Adamu Usman Garko (a secondary school student); ‘Children of Blood and Bone’ by Tomi Adeyemi ‘Embers’ by Soji Cole among others.

       Nnedi Okorafor, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Tochi Onyebuchi, Tomi Adeyemi, Lola Shoneyin, Roye Okupe, and Chika Unigwe had earlier in the year been listed by Pulse as among the authors currently setting the pace in the literary field.

      However interesting these may be, it is also more interesting to puff the sore truth that book piracy and plagiarism received great boost in Nigeria in 2018, as reports reveal several cases of the ugly act carried out this year. Even President Jonathan's new book was said to have been pirated by an unknown malignant, in just less than 48 hours after its launching.

     However, a number of individuals, groups and nongovernmental organizations in the country played great roles in waging war against this old-centuries global issue which has pauperized many writers across the world. A most recent of this brawl was the one waged by the Anti-Piracy Society of Nigeria in her 2018 annual convention in which the MD/Editor-in-chief of the National Light Newspaper, Sir Chuka Nnabuife, who is also a renowned author and poet lectured on: "Evolving Challenges-Innovative Responses".

It is generally believed that piracy and plagiarism trailed in the year despite the fierce campaigns truculently championed against it.

      On the aspect of activities, 2018 recorded the celebration of numerous literary events and activities by Nigerian writers. The outstanding among these literary activities and events include: the 37th Annual National Convention of the Association of Nigerian Authors; 2018 CORA Book Party; NSPP Awards Ceremony hosted by  Poets In Nigeria (PIN); Lagos Book and Art Festival 2018; Return To Idoto 2018 (in honour of late Poet Christopher Okigbo), hosted by Awka Literary Society; the 2018 Chinua Achebe Literary Festival, hosted by the Society of Young Nigerian Writers (Anambra Chapter); Northern Nigerian Writers’ Summit 2018; the 2018 Ake Arts and Book Festival; Anambra Book and Creativity Festival (ANBUKRAFT) 2018; first Poetry Slam in Anambra, hosted by Poets in Nigeria (PIN), Awka Connect Centre; 2018 Carter Literary Festival, Enugu; 2018 admission of writers into the Ebedi Writers Residency, Iseyi, the only writers residency in Nigeria; among other literary activities.

     Indeed, 2018 has been a historic year for the Nigeria's literary industry, given the bizarre feats and achievements recorded by the members/ Nigerian writers in the year in their quest to advance globally in the field promote Nigerian Literature and Nigeria's image in the international community. In fact, the industry is believed to be among the few sectors that have consistently projected and upheld the image and dignity of the country till today. Ipso facto, it is optimistically believe that the sector and the actors will take even more historic dives and achieve more selcouth feats before the fall of 2019.



About The Author:


Izunna Okafor is an award-wining creative Young Nigerian Novelist, Poet, Essayist, Journalist, Editor, Translator, Publicist , Igbo Language Activist and an Administrator who hails from Ebenator in Nnewi South L.G.A of Anambra State Nigeria. He has published seven novels, won over 25 awards, and has over 800 articles published online.

His awards include:

Nigerian Writers Award/Indigenous Writer of The Year 2015/2016

Pita Nwana Prize For Igbo Literature 2015

Society of Young Nigerian Writers Award Nigeria

Heritage Icon Award/Young Writer of the Year Federal Republic of Nigeria 2016;

Merit Award from The Society of Young Nigerian Writers (2016);

Award of Recognition From Students’ Union Government, Unizik (2017)

Nigerian Writers Award/Young Writer of The Year 2015/2016;

N.Y.S.C. Essay Competition 2012;

SLAM Hero Youth International Award/Innovative Youth of the Year 2016;

AEYC/Youth Writer of The Year 2016

Award of Academic Excellence from The National Association of Public Administration Students (2016);

Inspire Award /Outstanding Youth in Academics 2017.

NAPAS Academic Icon of The Year 2017;

Anambra Campus Award 2017/Campus Writer of The Year 2017

Award of Excellence from The Society of Young Nigerian Writers 2016;

Anambra Exclusive Youth Choice Award/Outstanding Youth of the Year 2017;

Youth Writer of The Year 2016 NAPAS Essay Competition 2017;

Starlett Entertainment Award/Creative Writer of the Year 2016;

LitraNation Indigenous Book of The Month (December) 2016

Ambassador TFA in Nigeria

Creative Crew Africa/ Young Talent of The Year 2018, among others;

Campus Best Writer 2018/Campus Journalist of The Year 2018

Best Secretary General of NAPAS (2018).

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Chinua Achebe, who died in Boston today at the age of eighty-two, was a few weeks shy of thirty years old when Nigeria was granted independence from the British Empire, on October 1, 1960, and he was already acclaimed, worldwide, as the preëminent novelist of black Africa. The British publisher Heinemann had brought out Achebe's first novel, Things Fall Apart, only two years earlier, and it had to have been the first African novel that many of his admirers on the continent and off had read. The sure tragedian's authority with which Achebe tells the story of Okonkwo, an Igbo elder of immense strength and pride, a figure of heroic qualities within the traditions of his culture, who is ill-served, brought low, and undone by those same qualities in his first violent encounters with colonial power, has ensured that still today, with more than ten million copies sold, Things Fall Apart remains the best-known work of African literature.
The great African novel? The book could as truly be called a great novel, period. Many writers would prefer to carry that badge of universality, but Achebe who has gone to his grave without ever receiving the Nobel Prize he deserved as much as any novelist of his era has said that to be called simply a writer, rather than an African writer, is a statement of defeat. Why? Because his project has always been to resist emphatically the notion that African identity must be erased as a prerequisite to being called civilized. Growing up as what he called a British-protected child in the colonial order, the young writer came to see that the Empire's claim that Africans had no history was a violent, if at times ignorant or unconscious, counter-factual effort to annihilate the history of his continent's peoples.
Achebe made his case in many forms essays and lectures, interviews and acts of protest, and as an ideologue and propagandist for the failed Igbo-nationalist secessionist state of Biafra but he made it most cogently on the final page of Things Fall Apart. With the reader in the full emotional grip of the many dimensions of Okonkwo's epic fate, the author boldly and deftly adds another, shifting to the perspective of a colonial governor who considers Okonkwo's story good material perhaps not a whole chapter but a reasonable paragraph for the book he is planning to write:  The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger.
Having, with his first effort, created a permanent place for the African novel in the world literary canon, Achebe continued to be a prolific imaginative writer, producing novels and stories that evoked, in a range of voices, the trials of Nigeria's pre-colonial and colonial history, and the traumas of its post-independence ordeals: from No Longer at Ease and A Man of the People in the sixties to Girls at War and Anthills of the Savannah in the aftermath of the Biafran war. But the fact that he must be remembered as not only the father but the godfather of modern African literature owes at least as much to the decades he spent as the editor of Heinemann's African Writers Series. In that capacity, Achebe served as the discoverer, mentor, patron, and presenter-to-the-world of so many of the now-classic African authors of the latter half of the twentieth century. The series's orange-spined, generously inexpensive paperbacks carried a stamp of excellence that drew readers everywhere to essential works by writers as varied as Kenneth Kaunda, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Dennis Brutus, Tayeb Salih, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Ousmane Sembène, Wole Soyinka, and Nadine Gordimer, to name but a few: it is an extraordinary legacy.
As a storyteller, as a voice of his nation, as a cultural impresario, an intellectual combatant and provocateur, Achebe gained with age the status in Nigeria of a bard and a sage that the modern world rarely affords to writers. After suffering terrible injuries in a car crash, he spent much of his time in the last decades of his life in America, where he settled into long-term professorships at Bard College and Brown University. But when he returned to Nigeria he was received as a national hero. Crowds of thousands sometimes tens of thousands gathered to pay tribute to him. The adoration hardly softened him, though. He was, in his old age, as much a scold to his compatriots as he had ever been in his youth.
I met Achebe a few times in his wheelchair-bound American years. When he gave you his hand it was at once firm and soft and notably warm. He had a gentle presence a man fully capable of wit and mischief and open laughter, but whose default expression, at ease, was one of sympathetic melancholy. His voice was another matter: low-pitched and rich and adamant. When he spoke, it was with great command and unmistakable music. In Boston, in 1999, at a celebration of the centennial of Ernest Hemingway s birth, I had the honor of sitting on a panel with Achebe, on the subject of writing about Africa. He was as cogently withering about Hemingway's Africa a place he could not recognize because there were no speaking Africans there as he was, in one of his most famous essays, about Joseph Conrad s. At the end of the session, the floor was opened to questions. An evidently confused woman in the audience took the opportunity to ask In what sense are you writers about Africa? The other panelists Nadine Gordimer and Kwame Anthony Appiah were too baffled to respond. Not Achebe. He leaned into his microphone, and very slowly and melodically, with rolling Rs and drawn out Os, roared: Read. Our. Books. The woman said, But I'm asking you. And Achebe said, I'm telling you: Read. Our. Books. 
What better epitaph for the man, and what better way to remember him today: read his books.
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