ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
A one-character playlet written by Chidozie Chubuike, and performed
by Emeka Njoku . . . was so moving, and its message so pointed, poignant
and penetrating, that the audience became really sobered.
Books by Charles E. Nnolim
Melville’s “Benito Cereno”: A study in meaning of name symbolism. New Voices Pub. Co., 1974.
Approaches to the African novel: Essays in analysis. Saros International Publishers, 1992.
Role of Education in Contemporary Africa: Proceedings. Pwpa Books, April 1988
Critical Essays on Ken Saro-Wiwa’s Sozaboy. Saros International Publishers, April 1992
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Association of Nigerian Authors Targets Young Minds
By Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye
Penultimate Saturday (February 10, 2007), I was at the maiden Secondary School Reading Outreach organized by the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Imo State Chapter, which held at the Logos International Secondary School (LOGISS), Kilometer 24, Owerri-Onitsha Highway, Awo Omamma, Imo State. LOGISS, a high-flying mission school, which has as its motto: Academic Excellence And Godliness Of The Youth aims at combining sound academic knowledge with a strong moral foundation to turn out exceptional youths with sufficient intellectual and moral properties to face the challenges of industry and leadership in this our increasingly difficult and perilous world. Located on a very large expanse of land, its very serene and clean environment, solid, exquisite structures, and very aesthetically rich, well-kept, natural surroundings, provide generous incentive for beneficial teaching and learning.
Mannu Enyiegbulem, an accomplished poet and Professor of Polymer Engineering, Federal University of Technology (FUTO), Owerri, who chaired the occasion, (and who, like several others, was visiting the school for the first time), could not help expressing the pleasant feelings the school had provoked in him. He told the gathering that because of the special interest he had suddenly developed in LOGISS, he would endeavour to maintain a very good relationship with the school and would be most glad to make any contributions he could to ensure the school continued to soar.
Prof Enyiegbulems speech that day centred on the importance of avid, wide reading as a prerequisite for success in writing and scholarship. The students, he advised, must cultivate the habit of writing always, stressing that they can write on any topic, even on animals or insects. Go on writing. Dont be afraid of making mistakes. When you do, your teachers are there to correct you, he counseled with his benevolent fatherly mien and voice.
I was told that Prof Enyiegbulem (probably in his sixties) had single-handedly set up the Department of Polymer Technology at FUTO, in fact, the first of its kind in the country. Although a scientist, his interest in literary explorations is most challenging, and even at his age, he has remained very active in ANA activities. He has written several poems, and published three books of poetry, but I am ashamed to say that I am yet to encounter any of his works. He read three of his poems at the event to the delight of the audience, and volunteered informed comments as the others read their own works.
The Chairman of ANA, Imo State Chapter, Mr. Camillus Ukah, said that the Reading Outreach taking place in LOGISS that Saturday afternoon was the first the association was organizing in the state, and in fact, in the whole country. He said that since 2005, ANA, Imo State, had been organizing several programmes and LOGISS had been participating actively. Because the LOGISS students who had taken part in those programmes had performed excellently, ANA had come to the school for the Reading Outreach so that more talents could be discovered. Mr. Ukah revealed that what they had begun to do in secondary schools (starting with LOGISS) had not been done by any other chapter of ANA, except, perhaps, the Niger State Chapter, which was doing something somehow similar, but not as profound and far-reaching as what they were doing in Imo State.
It is difficult not to be highly impressed by what ANA, Imo State, is doing in secondary schools, and I wish other state chapters can emulate them. I have been greatly pained by the diminishing reading culture and lack of enthusiasm towards writing in our youths. It needs no stressing that this is what accounts for the poor scripts many of them turn out today any time they are required to write anything. I am sure you must have been part of a job interview panel before now, and would recall how demoralized you were by the horrible application letters many of the University graduates had submitted. Many years ago, I had gone to an International School in Maiduguri to teach English Language and Literature in English and was shocked that only about five students were offering Literature in the SS3 Class. The other more serious students who offered more serious subjects made mockery of the others who did literature. It was simply unbelievable.
What ANA in Imo State is doing today represents a very effective way of recovering what we have lost, by awakening the interest of the young people in reading and writing literary works.
Earlier in the programme, the Director of Logos International Schools, Mr. Bede Oguh, in his welcome address, had described the event as an enriching academic programme, a day for talent hunt and an event that would further galvanize the interest of the students in literary studies. He hoped that after the programme, many of the students would be drawn into literary writing. Certainly, that expectation would not take long to materialize. The immense excitement the programme excited in the pupils, and the enthusiasm with which they read their works or responded to the ones read by others, speak volumes about the degree of impact already being achieved in their young minds.
The event was, however, not all about reading and writing. The JSS1 students thrilled everyone with a very enchanting song presented in several languages. As they sang, the audience came alive with cheers and loud clapping, and very soon, moderated their clapping to constitute matching melodious back-up sound for the song.
More readings were to come after this song. The students presented more poems than stories, an indication that Nigerian literature may be carrying in its womb more poets than novelists. A poem on Nigeria read by Miss Akam Toochukwu (SS2) attracted acclaim because of its careful choice of words, social consciousness and political statement. Indeed, the young pupils were also informed about the state of the nations politics and its social conditions, and are beginning to demonstrate through their literary output that they have a viewpoint, and may not be wanting in the will and capacity to express it without equivocation.
A one-character playlet written by Chidozie Chubuike, and performed by Emeka Njoku, an ANA member, was so moving, and its message so pointed, poignant and penetrating, that the audience became really sobered. The character, in tattered clothes, tells the pathetic story of his misspent youth, how he joined bad gangs, did drugs, got rusticated from the university, caused the death of his parents who had died in a motor accident on their way to secure his release from a police cell, and how he had ended up a mental wreck. The play was accompanied by an intermittent rendition of soft choral songs, reminiscent of the Chorus of Theban Elders made prominent by Sophocles, which passed incisive moral comments, that helped to drive home the message. It was also a sobering reminder of the piercing dirge rendered by Ekwefi (late Nelly Uchendu), one of Okonkwos wives, after the killing of Ikemefuna, in one of the earliest productions of Chinua Achebes Things Fall Apart. In fact, the song helped to set the right mood for the play to flow.
I was so impressed with the young mans performance that I had to immediately call him when he was through to take his particulars, with the hope of doing something on him to spotlight him. I plan to interview him, and put him on these pages. Talents like that need all the exposure they can get, to go places!
There were also lectures for the students, and one was on the use of the library, and the other on reading. Prizes were awarded to students who were the first to answer correctly the questions thrown after each of the lectures.
Another high point of excitement for the students was the debate between a group of boys and girls, captioned: Television Has Done More Harm Than Good, with three girls opposing, while three boys supported the motion. At the end of day, the girls won convincingly.
Complete honesty demands that I confess that for a long time now, I have been nursing serious worries about the quality of (and the motive behind) many of the programmes beamed into our living rooms by the various TV stations. There appears to be a sickening obsession with immorality and nudity. In fact, almost every advert now, including even those of vehicles, beverages and tooth-pastes, would either extravagantly flaunt nudity or reek an immoral emission. As the girls hammered home their message during the debate, my worry about the pernicious influence of what they referred to as the devils box continued to grow. Although the boys put up a gallant fight, the girls easily carried the day. Take heart, young brothers.
As the evening wore on, and the ANA members wanted to terminate the programme, it was clear from their reaction that the students would rather the event continued interminably. I wont blame them. It was a most interesting moment, and I must thank ANA Imo State, for such a great initiative. They must not relent. I can imagine what the opportunity to read their works before such an audience would do in the literary development of those pupils. Yes, I can imagine the incentive programmes of this nature, can constitute to their young minds.
We need more of these programmes, targeted at Nigerian youths, because the future really looks bleak if the Book is allowed to die in Nigeria, and if our youths inherit the fatal apathy towards reading and writing. In 1962, Professor Chinua Achebe (incidentally, the founding father of ANA), worried by the declining reading culture in Nigeria published an essay in Times Literary Supplement (London) entitled: What Do African Intellectuals Read, and almost answered his own question with just one word: Nothing! I am pretty sure that the situation that gave rise to that essay, rather than go away, may have even grown worse. That is why what ANA, Imo State, is doing deserves the commendation and support of all that cherish reading and writing.
In his closing remarks, Mr. Ukah, said LOGISS has remained a wonderful partner in their crusade to revive reading and writing culture among young people. He said that based on what they had come to know about the school since 2005 when its students began to participate in their programmes, ANA Imo State, was most glad to declare Logos International Secondary School, a Centre For Excellence. He proceeded to present, on behalf of ANA, Imo State Chapter, a certificate for the award. He also presented a beautiful plaque to the Director of Logos International Schools, Mr. Bede Oguh, for his support for the development of young creative minds.
As the programme came to a close, I shook hands Austine Amanze-Akpuda, a lecturer in the Department of English, Abia State University, Uturu, who had walked up to me to know who I was, and whose book, Reconstructing The Canon: Festschrift In Honour Of Professor Charles Nnolim, I had once encountered in Lagos. We were meeting for the first, although he told me he was an ardent reader of my newspaper column. After we had discussed for sometime, he changed his programme and decided to spend the night with me at the place I was staying.
We spent the whole evening, and most of the night discussing literature, literary personalities, old and new controversies in the literary world, and the state of criticism in out literature – a matter I had lamented when I addressed the gathering earlier in the day. We slept late and woke up again to resume our discussion, so much so, that I was almost late for my return trip to Lagos that morning. I am sure it is easy to agree that literature is a most inexhaustible subject. It is even more interesting when you meet someone who not only knows it well, but cherishes it with equal fervour. Austine gave me another of his books Celebrating Gods Own Robot: Nigerian Poets And The Gani Fawehinmi Phenomenon. When I finish reading it, I will bare my mind in a review.
Director of Logos International Secondary Schools, Mr. Bede Oguh (left), Professor Mannu Enyiegbulem (standing) and other ANA, Imo State, Executives
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Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye writes a weekly column in the Independent (www.independentngonline.com )
posted 23 February 2007
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#15 – Homemade Loves by J. California Cooper
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By Russell Simmons
Russell Simmons knows firsthand that wealth is rooted in much more than the stock market. True wealth has more to do with what’s in your heart than what’s in your wallet. Using this knowledge, Simmons became one of America’s shrewdest entrepreneurs, achieving a level of success that most investors only dream about. No matter how much material gain he accumulated, he never stopped lending a hand to those less fortunate. In Super Rich, Simmons uses his rare blend of spiritual savvy and street-smart wisdom to offer a new definition of wealth-and share timeless principles for developing an unshakable sense of self that can weather any financial storm. As Simmons says, “Happy can make you money, but money can’t make you happy.”
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By Noam Chomsky
In this urgent new book, Noam Chomsky surveys the dangers and prospects of our early twenty-first century. Exploring challenges such as the growing gap between North and South, American exceptionalism (including under President Barack Obama), the fiascos of Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S.-Israeli assault on Gaza, and the recent financial bailouts, he also sees hope for the future and a way to move forwardin the democratic wave in Latin America and in the global solidarity movements that suggest “real progress toward freedom and justice.” Hopes and Prospects is essential reading for anyone who is concerned about the primary challenges still facing the human race. “This is a classic Chomsky work: a bonfire of myths and lies, sophistries and delusions. Noam Chomsky is an enduring inspiration all over the worldto millions, I suspectfor the simple reason that he is a truth-teller on an epic scale. I salute him.” John Pilger In dissecting the rhetoric and logic of American empire and class domination, at home and abroad, Chomsky continues a longstanding and crucial work of elucidation and activism . . .the writing remains unswervingly rational and principled throughout, and lends bracing impetus to the real alternatives before us.Publisher’s Weekly
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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update5 January 2012