Those who think that the literary intervention in Nigerian politics started and stopped with the Chinua Achebes, Wole Soyinkas, JP Clark, Vincent Ike, Elechi Amadi and so on had better go for a hard or digital copy of this pleasant surprise from a successor generation of Nigerian writers. The nation may not be blamed if it thought they were not there. Life at a time of political and security cholera as is plaguing Nigeria excuses that. However, the big news is that they have compelled us to take note of them with the updated version of Camouflage: Best Of Contemporary Writing From Nigeria.
‘They’ under reference speaks to a list of writers named in the press release from the master minds as follows: * Afam Akeh * Adeiza Atureta * Ekene Atusiubah* Omale Allen Abdul-jab bar* Denja Abdullahi * Al-kasim Abdulkadir * Bolaji Adekeye * Wisdom Anierobi * Toyin Alli * Maryam Ali Ali * Felix Obi Abrahams * Pius Adesanmi * Nike Adesuyi * Chimanada Ngozi Adichie * Adolphus II Amasiatu * Amu Nnadi * Seyi Akinlolu * Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima* B. M. Dzukogi* David Diai * Amatoritsero Ede * Victor Ehikhamenor* James Eze * Chiedu Ezeanah* Ismail Bala Garba* Helon Habila* Kamar Hamza* Ogaga lfowodo * Nengi Josef Ilagha * Bina Nengi-Ilagha * Uduma Kalu * Victoria Sylvia Kankara * Toni Kan * Akeem Lasisi * Halima Lawal * Ahmed Maiwada * Mu’azu Maiwada * Razinat T. Mohammed * David Odinaka Nwamadi * Obi Nwakanma* Simeon Chibiko Nwakaudu * Uche Nduka* Angela Nwosu* Maik Nwosu * Nkechi Nwosu-igbo * Onyebuchi Nwosu *Uchechukwu G. Nwosu * Chinyere Obiobasi * Nonye Bethel Obiukwu * Sunday Enessi Ododo * Crispin Oduobok * Patrick Tagbo Oguejiofor * Tolu Gbenga Ogunlesi * Chux Okei Ohai * Sylvester Urdeen Omosun * Ernest Onuoha” Promise Okekwe * Onookome Okome * Pita Okute * Bolaji St Ramos* Lola Shoneyin * E. E. Sule * Benjamin Ubiri * Sumaila lsah Umaisha * Uche Peter Umez * Chika Unigwe * Uzor Maxim Uzoatu * Emmanuel Onyedi Wingate * Ike Okonta.
The collection did not accompany the press release, not even for reviewers as for us to be precise about whose voice is most piercing and on which theme, for example. For now, the blanket name of literature is what we can just refer to. It promises to be fascinating. This claim rests on a preceding claim offered by the late Justice Acheme P. Anyebe, a former Chairman of the Benue State chapter of the Association of Nigerian Authors, (ANA) who equate writers with seers. If the late judge and traditionalist is correct, then most readers would be combing this collection to find evidence that writers sniffed the horrifying experience of insecurity aggravated by utter helplessness of the Nigerian State.
It will not be surprising if they did. According to the press release thereon, “It is an anthology of who is who in postmodern Nigerian writing curated by some of the finest amongst the breeds. Some of the contributors include: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Helon Habila, Afam Akeh, Pius Adesanmi, Unoma Azuah, Chika Unigwe, Ahmed Maiwada, Uzor Maxim Uzoatu, Lola Shoneyin, E.E. Sule, Chiedu Ezeanah, Nengi and Bina Ilagha, Uche Nduka, Maik Nwosu, and Obi Nwakanma, to mention but a few. It would be interesting to look at what Maik Nwosu and Obi Nwakanma, the last two names on this list, are offering this time. In the days gone by, they were some of the most rebellious writers in ferment. The only question is how the postmodernist temperament could have so successfully captured all these seers!
Of course, the domain of writing is not unaffected in terms of competing notions of the Nigerian State. Some of the writers on the above list are so angry with the state of the nation that they no longer even pretend to maintain any ‘critical distance’ between themselves and the option of dismantling the state entirely. Others are nestling at the core of the same state. How the conversation went on between this diverse streams in the book is what readers would also be watching out for.
A decade and half of gestation suggests the collection must be carrying so much on board. A few of the writers have gone to meet their maker. Among them are Pius Adesanmi, Nike Adesuyi, Adolphus Amasiatu, Halima Lawal, and Simeon Chibiko Nwakaudu. ‘May their souls rest in power’ is the obstinate prayer by the editors of the collection, obviously their own way of saying that writers do not actually die in that they have already secured a place in the unending conversation that oils the possibility of humanity. Voice is power!
By the editors is meant Nduka Otiono, a Professor of African Studies and English at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada who once served as General Secretary of ANA and Odoh Diego Okenyodo, the Abuja based literary journalist and Development Communications Expert who also once served as Public Relations Officer of the Association. They are happy with the outcome of their efforts, what with Otiono declaring: “This has been a labour of love that is worth the huge personal financial commitment Diego and I have made to this project”