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Count down to Lagos Book and Arts festival 2017

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With its focus on the book as the star and not the writer, the Lagos Book and Arts festival (LABAF) has established for the book a pride of place, as the medium of ideas worthy of celebration. This year’s festival is not any different. With the theme ‘Eruptions: Global Fractures and Collective Humanism,’ books with explicit themes have been carefully chosen to stimulate the robust conversation the festival engenders. Below are some of the books festival goers should look out for as interpreters of a fractured global world order.
After They Left by Edify Yukussak (Kurdan publishing, Abuja; 2016)

The heart-rending story of how a somewhat dysfunctional family pulls through an inter-ethnic/religious crisis. After They Left is an intriguing tale, in which the author weaves in all the sides to the crises and survival in Northern Nigeria. The audience becomes more than just spectators, but follow in on a journey through massacre, an IDP camp, as well as a mega kidnapping/human trafficking syndicate.

America Their America by JP Clark (Bookcraft Publishers, Ibadan; 2016)
A personel journal and travelogue by eleder Arts Man, poet, dramatist, J. P. Clark, America, Their America was written in 1964 after Clark spent eight months in the United States studying at Princeton University (on a fellowship from which he was terminated). Upon its release, the book created controversy because of its perceived attack on American life-styles and values. It was also republished in 1968 as part of the influential Heinemann African Writers Series. Now reissued in 2016 by Bookcraft Publishers, it is well applauded for its fusion of autobiography and travelogue into what one critic called an “autotravography”. Today the book is sometimes taught in American college courses about West African literature and is cited in discussions about African perspectives on the United States.

Nigeria: The Unreported Genocide Against The Igbo by Jimanze Ego-Alowes (The Stone Press, Lagos; 2017)
The book details the unreported post-civil war genocide against the Igbo by past Nigerian rulers, especially Murtala Mohammed and Olusegun Obasanjo. It also traces the paterfamilias of the Igbo as Eshi. The author advances evidences to justify his claim that the military leaders committed further genocide against the Igbo after the civil war ended, especially with the introduction of local government reforms and autonomous communities in Igboland. He, therefore, calls for the abolition of kinship in Igboland for being opposed to the republican nature of the people. Ego-Alowes others books include How and Why the Yoruba Fought and Lost the Biafra-Nigeria Civil War, Corruption in Africa, and Minorities as Competitive Overlords.

And That’s Saying It The Way It Is by Tunde Fagbenle (Etchwise Consulting, Lagos; 2017)
A 630-page compendium of selections of the author’s weekly newspaper columns from 2010 – 2016, when the column was rested. The book is the third in the trilogy of such compilations. The book makes interesting and light reading here and there. The author says “I hope it reminds us of some of our past joys and pains, steps and missteps – as our country continues on her journey to nationhood.  The tributes/forewords in the book from a few notable personalities, including Pastor Tunde Bakare, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, and Dr. Kayode Fayemi, are great read in themselves, touching and enriching. And blurbs from great minds including professors Biodun Jeyifo, Femi Osofisan, Okey Ndibe, Wale Adebanwi and Odia Ofeimun appear on the back cover.

Are You Not A Nigerian? by Bayo Olupohunda (Narrative Landscape, Lagos; 2017)
Are you not a Nigerian? chronicles a country’s fourth attempt at democratic governance after many years of military dictatorship. Through his personal experiences and observations, Báyọ̀ Olúpohùndà captures the reality of Nigeria’s socio-political environment at the turn of the millennium, the collapse of dignity in service, and the ubiquitous “Nigerian factor” that creates entitlement. Are You Not A Nigerian? examines the lost opportunities, the disappointment of successive administrations, and the dilemma of a nation at crossroads.

Baron Of Broad Street by El Nukoya (ElNukoya, Lagos; 2016)
It chronicles the polarised worlds of the Lagos impoverished and the affluent, living side-by-side, yet a world apart. It captures the limited prospect for mobility in a negligent society, and the determination of a select crop of youths to take it upon themselves and change this seemingly rigid equation, by all means necessary.

How To Win Elections In Arica by Chude Jideonwo & Adebola Williams (Farafina; 2017)
Africa is standing at the cusp of remarkable change, as citizens discover their extensive powers, dictators losing their grip and establishments meeting their comeuppance. It is a time of great possibilities and opportunities like no other for citizenship and for political engineering. From their frontline role as consultants in two of these democratic revolutions (Nigeria 2015 and Ghana 2016), the authors highlight their experiences and draw parallels with global seismic events such as Brexit, and the election of Donald Trump.

If Only The Road Could Talk: Poetic Peregrinations In Africa, Asia, And Europe by Niyi Osundare (Africa World Press; 2017)
About two decades in the making, this is a new volume of poetry on Niyi Osundare’s journeys in Africa, Asia, and Europe. Running through the poems is the poet’s exploration of the ways places make people and people make places, and the primordial role of the road as agent of separation and connection. The poet’s peregrinations take him through an astounding array of the world’s landscapes, historical landmarks, and cultural particularities, producing a multiplicity of ideas, which demonstrate the essential similarities in the human experience. The local deepens the global; the global broadens the local as continents re-figure the oceans, which wash their feet, even in the face of the politics, which police socio-economic inequities in and across the nations. In this body of poems, some world cities tell their stories while the poet listens; the road walks ahead while the poet regards its footsteps. Diverse, passionate, colourful, irresistibly lyrical, and deeply humane, these are new, engaging offerings from one of the world’s most significant contemporary poets.

I Know The Smell Of My Lover’s Skin by Folu Agoi (Flag Books, Lagos; 2017)
A Special offering to the god of love, the collection is in the tradition of the author’s earlier works, a poetic installation instigated by a critical appraisal of the character of man against the framework of his political, economic and socio-cultural circumstances. The author pays attention to the issues of imperialism, tyranny, corruption and weak government – the realities that have kept humanity, especially the black world, bogged down over the centuries; and makes out a case for racial harmony, responsible leadership and ethical, civilised behaviour, reflected in fair and humane treatment of all human beings, regardless of race, nationality, tribe, culture, religion or gender. Running through the poetic veins of this special collection, linking the lines and verses in the volume, is love – that sacred fluid nourishing life.

Inside Nollywood: Issues And Perspectives On Nigerian Cinema (ed) by Sola Fosudo and Tunji Adebare Azeez (Franklin Publishing Company, Lagos; 2017)
A Collection of essays on the history and journeys of the current Nigeria film industry, otherwise called Nollywood. The editors say they believe that “the aggregation of opinions of scholars and practitioners of film would be a rich harvest that will impact on this enigmatic cinematic culture. Therefore, the essays in this book reflect the opinions of a wide crop of people: film scholars, film practitioners, film journalists, investors, and others.

The Extinction Of Menai by Chuma Nwokolo (Gwandustan Publishers; 2017)
The epic novel, The Extinction of Menai, explores the themes of language and culture loss in the genocidal aftermath of a multinational’s rogue drug trial on the Menai ethnic nation. Twin brothers, Zanda and Humphrey and a supporting cast of characters square up against state and corporate foes as the clock runs down on their civilization.

• Compiled by Amaka Felly Obioji



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