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International Sisi Eko and the Lagos narrative

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The complexity of Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous city has been captured by a series of authors in a new book titled, International Sisi Eko and other short stories.

Published by the Department of English University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka and Farafina Books, the collection was recently presented to the public at a reading event held in the institution’s Faculty of Arts’ boardroom.

At the event, some of the authors, who are students, friends and workers of the Department of English, UNILAG, recounted their experiences of Lagos in its mélange. These authors read out their subconscious thought of the City of Excellence with rapt attention, meandering through the preoccupation of life and survival.

The 115-page collection, with 16 short stories, describes the shades of colours that Lagos portrays to different people, whilst showcasing Lagos as a boundless city for all with the capacity to retain people from all nook and cranny of not just the country but also the world, especially those who chose to hold on to the populous urban agglomeration in spite of the common shortfalls of the city.

The authors bring to limelight, issues peculiar to the city such as: infidelity, landlord’s exploitive tactics and unruly attitude towards their tenants, exploitations from religion leaders and hoodlums at every bus-stop of Lagos (Agbero), unbecoming personality and character of commercial bus drivers (danfo drivers) and others, the central ideology of the collections is to depict the common facts that Lagos is a place of diverse life experiences and everyone who lives in the city has a story to tell about the good, bad and not so good.

In his review of the collection, Abiodun Adedeji says Lagos is unique in its kaleidoscopic interrogation of issues – good, bad and not so good that constitute the Lagos experience.

According to Adedeji, the book is well edited and the English language of the stories is enriched by the code mixing of Yoruba words and expressions whose meanings are apparent in the contexts. This book is a thematic engagements and deployment of various fictional conventions of the Lagos experience

In I Fixed It, Lola Akande describes the ‘mental insalubrity’ that sometimes accompanies infidelity, a moral rectitude that has become the norm in a city like Lagos where things have fallen apart and the centre makes no attempt to hold them together.”

While commending the students who contributed to the volume, the poet Odia Ofeimun, said: “The Department of English should always be a workshop for writers. We hope the students who contributed to the book won’t stop there. Also, the women who contributed to this book are special, because in spite of their numerous tasks, they still made out time to make qualitative contribution to the collection.”

Ofeimun added that these writers should ensure that it is not a one-off-thing. “I expect more write-ups from them. Telling the Lagos experiences is a captivating attempt because being a Lagosian has it peculiarity, the ethnicity does not matter because once you’re in Lagos you’re a part of everything Lagos entails,” he said.

He further sighted that the publishing gap is not filled and writers should be given accolade for their works in the country. “Writers now experience setback because Nigeria has deviated from a culture that pays for what its enjoys. The best selling books now are the ones published abroad,” he said.


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