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November 18, 2008


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Elie Smith

It is refreshing reading your article. But I want to point out that, Mr Soyinka is not Africa's first Nobel Laureate for Literature. Yes, he is Nigeria's first and only Nobel Laureate for Literature for now. But it doesn't mean another Nigerian won't be awarded, given Nigeria's many talented authors, it won't be long before another Nigerian is graced with the title. But to claim that, Mr Soyinka is the only African to be awarded the Nobel Laureate for Literature, is totally untrue. We have had an Eygptian and several South Africans who have been bestowed with the Nobel Laureate for Literature title. And they are equally Africans.


Wole Soyinka-1986 (Nigeria)
Naguib Mahfouz-1988 (Egypt)
Nadine Gordimer-1991 (S.A)
J.M. Coetzee-2003 (S.A)

Soyinka is indeed Africa's first nobel laureate.

Wrndzerem G. Barfee

Tolu Ogunlesi is a young poet/writer that has just really enchanted me with his fine, subtle, nuanced and stratified writing - crafting from an inspiration and expression that is a preserve of the unequivocally talented! His highly appetizing tribute to hunger reveals a treat that transcends gastronomic tables and hearths to distil this paean into films and realms of a socio-anthropological aesthetic: such fine mix of style, nostalgia, socio-anthropology and politics of food and hunger(s). The sub-layered feminist politics is not to be missed in this reading in order to identify and savour the undercurrent hungers as mapped by Tosi's geo-sexual and gendered matrices: mother(home/Abeokuta) and the relation to sympathetic/oedipean/positive maternal matrice; Mrs (Ibadan)indicates the matrimonial matrice which maps complexes of transitions/intersections of the 'secure(d)'as it grows from or shares with some conventional maternal valences. Then the negative
mondane seductions of Mistress Lagos and its libertinous/whorish matrices...are these indicative tropes of forbiden fruits/foods eaten by the voice in his peregrinations! What is the Asaba Madam? Is it a metaphorism of an initiating/baptismal experience of estrangement from the familiar maternal foods of home to the new foods and new hunger(s)? What patterns of alliances/parallels of places, experiences and values do surface in the end? Abeokuta/Ibadan and Asaba/Lagos? Ogunlesi in this satiating slice of a literary loaf throws to the critical table more than we may have bargained for...the delectation continues!
Wirndzerem G. Barfee.

denja abdullahi

Let me do you a poem i have on Iyan(pounded yam)still in the Soyinkian tradition of paying homage to the god of the gut:

Iyan,hard as stone in the land of the Tivs,
sleek and supple like a maiden in Idomaland,
fermented for three days before being eaten in Ekiti land,
a food warriors severed heads for in Igbo history,
Unknown in Hausaland yet given a sweet-sounding name,sakwarra!


Have Ogunlesi and other Nigerian writers embarked on a genre of nigerian cartographic aesthetics/poetics? Read this complementarily with Ogunlesi's piece:


It takes less the time in light years
From my evolving words to you
To find an Hausa bukateria in Ama Awusa
Serving tuwo shinkafi twice as good as any
Far away in Kano, Sokoto and Maiduguri
In worth, quality, semblance and content.
Yet come a swimsuit pageant in London
The proprietors and patrons are abandoned
At the mercy of their hosts’ inflexible ability
To turn their other cheeks to provocations
Concocted in the hotbed of blind faith
According to the dictates of a foreign belief
Even for the sake of the random slaughter
Of their brothers by relatives of a different type …

Just enough Yoruba
To find your way to the park
And you are at the doorsteps
Of the best akpu and bitter-leaf soup
In the good old protectorate
Where now only the sons of the soil
Are immune from property tax
Arrived at with unmitigated hatred
For the many stubborn immigrants
Who dared cross the Niger again
After the cannons fired their last
Because what they left as they fled
Were not also declared abandoned
Like somewhere else closer to them…

You’d a thought you were lost
From the train station wading in
Up until the gates into Sabon Geri
From where latent brotherhood
Rekindled by stretched distances
Enacted in lukewarm embraces
End with the inevitable sit out.
Never mind that alcohol is anathema
In the other parts of this walless city
Where god’s policemen are on prowl
Arresting believer and unbeliever alike
Here where laws are applicable to all
Irrespective of stand: left, right or centre
In the eternal Supreme-Being debate

First time around in this mercantile mess
You’d barely have crossed the bridge all
Or Azikiwe’s abandoned mausoleum
Than the tang of fellow strangers
In their country of birth
Brought you back to reality...
You are not alone, after all
In this land of wanderers
Who’d cast the first stone
At a competitor for their position
In this land as divided and standing
As none has ever managed
Since the annotated fall
Of the Holy Roman Empire…

By Isidore Emeka Uzoatu

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