Friday, 22 June 2012

Nwokolo’s satire for dictatorship

By Anote Ajeluorou

Chuma Nwokolo is a lawyer, but a consummate writer, whose short stories have a huge appeal, especially with a natural humour built into them that beguiles. He has written many works, but his two most recent, Diaries of a Dead African and The Ghost of Sanni Abacha explore the many contradictions that character Nigeria’s modern-day society. In this online conversation, he gives an insight into the short fiction and how he has deplored it to analyse what he termed Post-Autocratic Stress Syndrome (PASS) among Nigeria’s political elite.

IT is simple really: I looked for a rational explanation for our contradictions. We have an open, democratic society but autocratic election heists like 'June 12' are still rampant. We have a society governed by the Rule of Law, but well-connected plutocrats routinely get away with murder. We have a society where constitutionally guaranteed human rights are aborted every time 'Might' collides with 'Right' — or a soldier pulls out another citizen from a car for a public flogging.
  The Post Autocratic Stress Syndrome explains it to my mind. I am obviously paralleling the well-known Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSDs), which are anxiety disorders that often cause behavioural problems. So soldiers, for instance, could suffer PTSD after leaving a war zone, making them unable to fit properly into normal society.
  In a similar way, I am suggesting that as a society, we have emerged from three decades of dictatorship with serious problems. Our society's Post Autocratic Stress Syndrome affects different people in different ways. A politician with a bad case of PASS will play the dictator lording it over his subjects. He will think that ordinary laws do not apply to him, that he is above the constitution.
  As a governor, he might go a bit mental — try to steal more than the dictators themselves. He will forget he is a servant who is accountable to his employers. Individuals suffering from PASS will meekly accept all manner of humiliations from 'public servants'. They have a 'head knowledge' of their constitutional rights, but they are so psychologically damaged by their lives under the dictators that they have a permanent inferiority complex. They have no heart knowledge of their own authority.
  It is a whole spectrum of dysfunction and it is possible to locate sufferers on the scale, based on their behaviour. Yet, by focusing on appropriate behaviour, we can also begin to turn things around.
  So in my book, The Ghost of Sani Abacha, I present a collection of 26 stories set in the aftermath of dictatorship. They are today's stories; so they are not dominated by politics and oppression and dictatorships… Politics is there in the background alright, but our characters live and love in a free society, with varying shades of that emasculation that is the legacy of the Post Autocratic Stress Syndrome.

The short story magic
I do love the short story format. I think it is closest to the folktale, the bedtime story, the barbershop anecdote. I love the small canvass, and the discipline required to elaborate a competent tale within its petite frame. I have a natural instinct for concision. I don't always achieve it, but a great story emerges from the tension between the few words you do use and the mood evoked in the worlds between your words.
  Picking up a short story is no guarantee that you will read a 'short' story, or that the story you are about to read will be told in the most succinct, attractive and striking manner. That, I think, is the challenge of a short story writer: to take a single idea and polish it to perfection; to practice almost poetic economy with language, such that the story cannot be boiled down further without damage to the fabric of the tale, or the felicity of the telling.
  Frankly, it is the challenge of every literary writer.
  I have also benefited from, well, writing the short story. The actual process of writing is the writer's best training school. So you gain your equivalent of a degree in the Short Story by creating a library of decent enough stories, which you will never publish, in much the same way that a Marathoner chalks up practice Marathons before his actual competitions.
  The short story is a vast territory on its own: from flash fiction to novella, it can be read in a minute or a couple of hours. It can be written in a day or a couple of months of furious rewrites. It also has a diverse audience — from children to egg-heads, from house-wives, through literary types, to the business executive — the short story seems best adapted to our modern lifestyle.
  However fast-paced your day is, you can restore your cultural balance with a good story consumed over dinner or just before bed. Not a chapter of a book... but the complete universe of a tale fully told at a sitting.
  (Okay, now I'm sounding like a bad short story commercial!) That is the short story for you.
  There is also another facet to the short story and that is its relationship to the oral tale. We have a powerful story telling tradition in Nigeria which is often misused when we put traditional inspiration into the strictures of 'literature' that are alien to that tradition. So, our oratorical forms: the songs, the narrative poems, the oral tales and the legends… they are often discomfited by the written page whereas they are re-energized as you rise to address a waiting audience.
  The short story bridges that, and not just in its brevity. So you have on one hand, the story teller and on the other hand, the story writer. The true story teller does not read his story to his audience. He 'performs' it. Neither does he memorize a story, which he recites to his listeners. He 'tells' it, with his notebooks, Ipads and notepads packed away, so that each telling is different from the last… each rendition, performance has a life of its own...
  Such a tale has its roots in orature. Such a tale is different from the short story, which has its roots in literature. Some stories are more visual than others… designed to be read, others are optimised by a hearing. But the short story writer, I think, stands there at the cusp of both forms, doesn't he? While catering to a hopeful audience of hundreds of thousands, his stories are often consumed at a session, like the storyteller's fare. Striving for the spontaneity of oral delivery, the stories are also frozen in text — and now, in e-books and audio-books as well. And the versatile practitioner of the short story can aspire, to be both writer, and teller!

Political engagement in Nigeria’s literature
THE story, Accidental Man, features politicians who delegate violence to their followers and push the community into a bloodbath, while keeping their own families safe and their lace babarigas white. But it does end on a hopeful note, with a one-time political thug bringing peace to his community by breaking with his erstwhile boss. This is the story that ends the collection.
  At the other end of the collection is the political story, Bullfight, where the uncommon courage of a young lad brings a previously 'PASSified' community out to the picket lines. These species of stories engage the reader from an inspirational angle. They show their protagonists not merely as victims, but as change agents engaging their political crises head on, and making a realistic sort of headway.
  Other stories, such as The Ghost of Sani Abacha, and The Provocation of Jay Galamba are political satires. We will have a laugh at the circumstances of our hapless protagonists, and leave it at that. So there is this 'realistic' depiction of political anomy on the one hand in The Ghost of Sani Abacha and The Provocation of Jay Galamba and the feel-good tales that empower the little man at the expense of the entrenched big man - tales like Accidental Man and Bullfight.
  I suspect that we have enough 'literary engagement' of the first variety, not quite enough of the latter. You might ask what difference it makes - these are all political stories after all? I'd say that a generation that grows up on a relentless diet of 'realistic' political tales that reiterate the miserable, relentless status quo will bring that resignation to their interface with their body politics.

Translation: no change agents. Whereas a generation weaned on a staple of up-beat literature will wear their can-do optimism everywhere. That is an outcome worth writing about!
  I’d say it depends on the ambitions of those who write the literature. Literature is part of our cultural furniture, and so it is exceptionally powerful in shaping both our sense of self as a people, and our perception of others. But like most cultural changes, it often takes time. Literature (unless it is of the statutory variety of a Decree No. 1 that sacks a parliament!) is rarely the axe that brings down the tree. It is more usually the water that wears a river down into a waterfall.
  Often, the change is imperceptible, and happens over decades, even generations.
  But having said that, where our literary producers match their abilities to towering ambition, change - transformative change - can certainly be midwifed within a revolutionary season. For literature to midwife change in Nigeria on a revolutionary scale, a few things have to fall into place. A transformational book that arrives in Nigerian literature today will be rather like a 'Crocodile Warning' sign written in Chinese and nailed up by a river full of English speakers.
  For signal literature to transform people, it has to be read and consumed in the first place. So this brings us to that old chestnut - the broken book-chain. We have to finesse every step of our book chain: writer-editor-publisher-distributor-library-bookseller-bookclub-reader...'
  In the absence of a revamped system, Literature must align itself with the personal charisma of its creators or change agents. Under such circumstances, it can have transformational impact.
  On Prof. Kole Omotoso charge that Nigerian writers are not doing enough of taking on political issues in their writing, I plead guilty as charged. - But I would be pleading guilty to a far wider charge than the one framed by Prof. Omotoso. We are not creatively engaging the political, social, economic, cultural issues at the appropriate depth. Besides, it is one thing to bore the hapless reader to tears with political screed after screeds, with tomes that will not be read, and which will gather dust after de rigueur launch events. What is required is for us to widen the literary space by writing our themes so engagingly, so creatively that we capture the imagination of our publics.

Humour as vehicle
THERE is, of course, only so much deliberation one can put into the development of a personal style.
  I think that the reader I had in mind when I started to write was... myself. There were many years in which I did not send out any work to publishers, but through them all, I continued to write compulsively. Throughout those periods, my only consumer was myself. As every writer knows, the hardest audience for a joke is... yourself. That makes sense: since you know the joke already it is harder to make yourself laugh just by reading it.
  So, in order for my writing to remain funny on the twentieth reread or revision, the humour had to be that more savage, the timing that more ruthless. That much was a deliberate goal.
  As to the purpose of the humour, well, I think that entertainment is a principal purpose for writing, and not just genre or literary writing for that matter. You only need to read the Psalms, for instance, to appreciate the poetry of the lines, and to see that though the plainness of a verse cannot detract from its holiness, the writers of the Bible seemed to feel that the Holy Book should also be read for its beauty.
  Which brings me to the deliberation of my humour. I think that the level of sedation that a surgeon uses during surgery will determine just how deeply he can dig into a patient's body. With local anaesthesia perhaps he can take out a mole or two. To open up a stomach and bring out an appendix he had better use a general anaesthesia. Beyond sheer pleasure, humour, I think, plays a similar ‘sedative’ role in literature. Humour becomes 'black' when the subject veers into the grim.
  A writer with grim subjects on his mind can utilise the anaesthesia of humour to probe deeper into a reader's psyche, or conscience, or emotions without unduly distressing him. Like the surgery patient, a properly humorous book will keep the reader in the writer's 'surgery' until the book is done. Of course, the anaesthesia eventually wears off - the book is closed, the patient is roused - and we can find out if the surgeon, or writer, was any good at all.  

Beyond the grimness
OF course; I am a Naijoptimist. If you look at the basic themes of the three diarists in Diaries of a Dead African, you will see that their issues are easily solved. Meme wanted a more caring society; a society in which people looked out for each other. A society in which a broken man will be healed, nurtured, mentored, by his fellows. Our society is getting richer everyday.
  For all the anomy, as a country, we are richer now than we have ever been before. You only need to count the cars, the houses, the roads - even the satellite dishes sticking out of our shanty towns - and extrapolate. Yet, I doubt that we are, for all our greater wealth, as caring as the generations before us. It would seem instead that the richer we get as a people, the more self-centred, self-indulgent and narcissistic we are. And I think that this cultural change, from self-centredness to selflessness is something that we can easily begin to address. We don't need to wait for a billion naira government contract award. This is primarily the province of civil society.
  Meme's sons, our second and third diarists, were living a lie. The first son graduated from prison, but was living the lie of a first class university graduate. Naturally, his job prospects are permanently in conflict with his actual qualifications. The second son passed off his sexual incompetence as a blanket disdain of women. The day of exposure shook him to his roots.
  Most of our social vices in Nigeria can be eliminated in one fell swoop if we began to level, one with another, to strip off artifice and the false, unsustainable lifestyles. Most of our middle-class criminality, and the endemic corruption appurtenant to the public services can be linked to the servicing of the various lies that we live as a people.
  So to avoid the grim realities of the protagonists of Diaries of a Dead African, I think that we have a cultural work that is by no means impossible. On the contrary, I am excited by the transformational potential of that work, bearing in mind the youthful component of our population.

PANAFEST… the lift Africa’s culture, tourism needs

By Anote Ajeluorou

The Pan-African Culture and Tourism Festival, PANAFEST, had its second outing last week at MUSON Centre, Lagos, with eminent personalities drawn from three West African countries and beyond. What resonated at the colloquium and exhibition was the commitment by stakeholders to use Africa’s vibrant culture and tourism potentials to bridge the socio-economic and political gap amongst peoples of the continent.

WHEN Nigeria’s Taiwo and Kehinde Oluwafunsho, twins with an untiring spirit, had inspiration to summon people of African descent to a town hall meeting to celebrate their richly endowed culture as tool to promote their culture and tourism, little did they know how far-reaching their novel idea would go. At the hugely decorated Shell Hall of MUSON Centre, Thursday, last week, the immensity of their pan-African cultural feast played itself out in multi-colours. PANAFEST now alternates its activities between Nigeria and Ghana. The Ghana edition of the festival holds in July.
  The guest list was an impressive fusion of political and cultural heavy-weights from across divides. In attendance were former Commonwealth Secretary, Chief Emeka Anyaoku; Governor of Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola; his deputy, Titilayo Laoye-Tomori; Ghana High Commissioner in Nigeria, Alhaji Abdulkareem; Trinidad and Tobago High Commissioner, Nyahuma Mentuhotep Obika; The Gambia High Commissioner, Mrs. Angela B. Colley; Oba Gbenga Sonuga; Chief Frank Okonta; mater print maker, Bruce Onobrakpeya; renowned artiste, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett; and Prof. Ropo Sekoni among others.
  In setting the tone for the festival colloquium, the organisers, Taiwo and Kehinde Oluwafunso, said the festival was a cultural event that came into being in Ghana and designed for the enhancement of Africa, with the gathering of the best brains on the continent to chart new visions for Africa through robust debates.
  They stressed that integration of the continent was key to its future and development quest and tasked leaders to take immediate action in using culture and tourism as effective tools to drive the continent’s growth.
  They argued that it was not enough to knock on doors of foreign institution donors to beg for money if only Africa could apply itself to processes of economic development by looking inwards and harnessing available local ideas and resources. They said now, more than ever before, had the need for Africa’s integration, tourism, and rebirth become imperative for the continent’s future.
  With African Economic and Social Integration, the Experience of Ghana and Nigeria as theme, it was clear the festival was out to set a clear mandate that would take Africa from the backwoods of under-development.
  Also, with Trinidad and Tobago High Commissioner in attendance, PANAFEST would seem to have its eyes set on the over 250 million Africans in the Diaspora as a potent force in the transformation that the continent must make to reinvent itself.

Africa’s economic woes
FOR keynote speaker, Aregbesola, Governor of Osun State, Africa’s economic woes was traceable to the continent’s checkered history of slave trade, colonialism, post- and neo-colonialism and the unending political crises that continue to bedevil it. A combination of these, he stated, had pushed the continent to a marginal position from which it must break free. He noted that concrete action was needed to reverse the continent’s disadvantageous position in the era of global capitalism so Africa could be better served.
  Aregbesola posited, “As things are, Africa is delinked from the world in many respects, more importantly in economic terms, which means it is largely disconnected from the many benefits that accrue from the process of economic globalisation.
    “I’m an unrepentant advocate of regional integration. It is commonsensical, for instance, that the contiguous states of the South West maximise their proximity to Lagos and take a huge chunk of the sprawling city’s N3.5 billion daily food market. Given our common history, culture and heritage, it is in our interest to cooperate maximally in the diverse areas of economy, education, infrastructure, arts and culture, and social interactions.
  “The first stage of integration is progressive political platform. This is why the progressive states of the South West were quick to embrace, promote and work towards regional integration the moment they came to power. It is our vision to re-enact the regional economic integration framework, which effectively enhanced great socio-economic developments of the autonomous regions of First Republic.”
  On his part, guest of honour, Anyaoku, who flew into the country just to attend the festival, commended PANAFEST initiative, and noted its significance to the continent’s quest for a better future. He noted, “people often forget that human history began in Africa; it’s been proven through historical evidence. The history of our continent is the history of the world, but it is regarded as the least one to be developed. Our generation that is passing away for a new one is looking up to it to make Nigeria what Nigeria should be. I’m very encouraged by the integration in the South West zone of Nigeria. It’s a great example for the rest of the country.
  “If our country is to realise the hopes of our founding fathers, we need to restructure our existing structures of governance. We need true federalism. The kind of federalism we practice today cannot develop this country the way we want it. We must go back to the six units. The example of the South West regional integration should set the pace for this country.
  “Ghana has been one of the beacons for this continent; successive governments have kept Nkrumah’s flame alive. We all must keep the flame alive. I wish the organisers every success.”

Tourism in The Gambia
HIGH Commissioner of The Gambia, Colley, in recounting her country’s tourism development infrastructure, would seem to be indicting Nigeria that was yet to decide what to do in that regard. And Nigeria’s inaction in taking the lead would later infuriate Trinidad and Tobago High Commissioner, who was to express his dissatisfaction with the abandoned and undeveloped slavery sites in Badagry.
  Commending theorganisers, Madam Colley said, “We are here to add our weight in organisers’ endeavour to put the African culture back to its rightful place. The legacy of slavery and colonialism had kept us at odds with our true history, cultural identity and prevented unity and growth amongst our people and within the continent. PANAFEST is trying to address the most traumatic interruptions that ever occurred in the natural evolution of Africa societies, which among other forms of trauma, profoundly eroded our self-determination, esteem and freedom.
  “But what the festival is doing is not only creating an environment for a productive healing process for those whose ancestors where taken away from the continent years ago to re-unite and forge a positive future in the present dispensation of global development, but PANAFEST is also celebrating the strength and resilience of Africa’s culture and achievements of Africans in spite of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, colonialism and their aftermath”.
  With a population of only 1.7 million people, Colley said, The Gambia is a multi-cultural country with a vibrant tourism industry, widely referred to as ‘The Smiling Coast of Africa’. Among the heritage sites that The Gambia boasts include Kunta Kinteh Island, formerly known as James Island, the Stone Circles in Wassu, the Slave House in Janjangbureh and Fort Bullen in Barra.
  Two biennial cultural festivals celebrated in The Gambia are designed to bridge the gap between Africa and sons and daughters of Africa stolen during the Slave Trade era. Colley said the first one is known as ‘Roots Homecoming Festival’, “which creates the opportunity for people of African descent to further discover, re-affirm and re-embrace their ancestral identity as well as enjoy the tranquility of The Gambian environment.
  “The second one is the ‘Kanilai International Festival’, which has been gaining momentum since its inception a decade ago. It creates opportunity for Africans and those of African descent from all over the globe to unite as a people, share their cultural talents, appreciate each other’s cultural values in an effort to foster better understanding among nations and peoples in order for us to live in peace”. She extended the invitation of The Gambian Government to organisers of PANAFEST to these two festivals in her country.

Pilgrimage to Ile-Ife
STILL on maximasing the abundant tourism potentials in Nigeria, Aregbesola lamented the neglect the sector had suffered in the country, and said it was indefensible that such a valuable economic resource should suffer such dire fate. He stated that Osun State has mapped out a tourism policy soon to be implemented as a viable economic tool to generate employment and wealth creation. His approach, if implemented, has the potential of causing a revolution in tourism industry in the country.
  According to him, “It’s quite ironic that tourism, one of the most auspicious industries on the African continent, has not been fully explored to the level that it can be used as part of the resources with which the continent can trade itself out of poverty, as is the case with the many countries in America, Europe and Asia.
  “Consequently, we have designed a practicable culture and tourism policy whose main objective is to attract the attention of the world as well as making tourism a worthwhile venture. We are developing the tourist attractions in the state because we want to attract investments there. We have identified about 67 notable tourist sites and monuments for this business.
  “Ile-Ife alone as the spiritual origin of the Yoruba people is being packaged for pilgrimage by millions of Diaspora Yoruba people in West Africa, the Americas, Caribbean and Europe. We are putting infrastructure in place to make it worthwhile for all. The point has been made repeatedly that tourism can help stem the tide of poverty, preserve Africa’s cultural heritage, provide employment for its increasingly large army of unemployed youth, create long-lasting opportunities for entrepreneurship and promote stability”.
  Aregbesola restated his conviction that Africa has the capacity to reinvent itself from the position of a marginalised continent to one that can “transform itself, unite its peoples, and contribute quite significantly to the development of world economy. What is required is visionary leadership that will encourage the formation of useful economic ties and harness the huge available potentials for development of our various interests…
  “The role of a nation like Nigeria is to lead the sub-region, lead Africa and the Diaspora. We must rework Nigeria into meeting its historic duty. Nothing lacking outside of leadership for Nigeria to take the historic role of taking Africa to the next level of development”.

HIGH Commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago, Obika, a Diaspora African, could not understand why Africa has continued to wear the tag of under-development in spite of its huge potentials in material and human resources. With a population of just about 1.2 million people, Obika said his country has long mastered the oil and gas industry and wondered why Nigeria could not power itself on its abundant oil and gas resources. He stressed the need for Nigeria to develop its infrastructure and strengthen intra-regional trade.
  Obika noted that with a population of about 250 million people, Africa’s Diaspora could emerge as a regional power in the world, and enjoined Africa to position itself properly to benefit from such huge economic block. Obika affirmed that Africa’s children in the Diaspora had not deserted the continent, but stressed that Africa needed to move forward with its Diaspora people.
  With an overwhelming passion in his voice that rose in cadence, Obika declared, “My heart bled when I paid a visit to Badagry recently. Something needs to be done about the historical sites in Badagry. We have to take back control of our history. We cannot allow the historical sites in Badagry to be left unattended to”.

WHILE responding to the colloquium theme, Onobrakpeya and Sonuga restated the place of culture in a people’s life as a viable tool for integration, unity and peace. They both stressed Africa’s historic place as the cradle of world’s civilization, and charged the continent to shake off the negative tag given it by the West and be determined to forge ahead as a people with a common identity, with one destiny!

Performances and exhibition
OSUN Cultural Troupe opened proceedings with a dance performance and drumming. The performance from Lagos State Cultural Troupe thrilled the audience, with the theatrics of the dancer with a bottle balanced on his head. Jojo Beats, too, thrilled with his eccentric beating on his cheeks and mouth to produce a unique xylophonic sound and rhythm.
  With his beats, he got the Yoruba audience, especially the elderly ones, to respond to the folk songs he pelted out, as he beat his cheeks to produce the rhythm in a manner similar to the talking drums. Aregbesola was so enthralled that he made him a discrete donation.
  Murhi Amulepoja also did his chants. The duo of Exodus also did their stuff before the fashion parade took place. Art and crafts makers, who were mainly girls, showed off the beauty of locally, hand-made and hand-woven fabrics of adire, aso oke and others. It was a graceful moment that showed that the power of Africa textiles that had long been neglected for foreign ones. Lere Paimo, too, thrilled with his African, earthy rhythms. When he fetched the young protégé he is nurturing to the microphone, everyone recognised a child-prodigy in the making; his pulsating vocal power and inflexion gripped the audience that applauded non-stop.
  Performances from ATM and Sky also spiced up the festival. Although handicapped, Sky’s velvety, R&B voice got the audience rocking on its seat, as he gyrated and stumped to the power and passion of the American R&B music he mimed.
  Eventually, dignitaries were conducted round the exhibition stand of assorted artworks on display. They ranged from sculptural pieces, bronze and clay works, painting, textiles of various make – adire, batik, aso oke and other hand woven materials, both ready-made dresses and those yet to be made.

INDEED, the duo of Taiwo and Kehinde Oluwafunsho, pulled off a remarkable cultural fiesta. Although held indoors, it did not weaken the spectacle expected of a festival, especially with a colloquium from which unique ideas of growth were spawn.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Adenubi’s passion for children’s literature takes flight

By Anote Ajeluorou

FROM being an author of several literature books focusing on children, Mrs. Mobolaji Adenubi has taken a big step forward in realising her dreams of making children writing books for their kind. To realise this, she set up Splendid Literature & Culture Foundation late last year. Now, children with creative ability in writing can craft interesting stories for fellow children to devour.
  She anchored her new initiative on a complaint from most Nigerian parents that goes thus about locally produced children’s books: “We continue to buy these foreign books for our children because we can’t find good quality books for them written by Nigerian authors.”
  Taking the argument forward, she asserted, “Foreign story books for children are admittedly attractively produced, with colourful covers, inviting illustrations and sharp and clean print. The stories, though no better than those written by Nigerian writers, are error free, flow smoothly, with vocabulary appropriate for the age grades they are intended for. These imported books are affordably priced.
  “However, it is not impossible for Nigerian writers to produce qualitative, legible, colourful, well written and culturally acceptable children’s literature.
  “The assertion that Nigerians lack a reading culture is false. What is more correct is that Nigerian adults and children do not read much literary works. Children consume cartoons. Adult Nigerians buy and read the many magazines published weekly and monthly; and new ones that come into the market regularly are sold. So we read!
  “However, there is worsening use of the English Language, the country’s official and commercial language. The inability of the young to write well in English is linked to their lack of reading edifying books in that language, usually storybooks”.
  It is her drive to correct this anomaly that she has set up Splendid Literature & Culture Foundation, named after her first work Splendid, which she wrote back in the 1990s. For Adenubi, “The Splendid Literature & Culture Foundation aims to ensure that books written by young writers for children readers satisfy parents who continue to buy books for their children, and the children who read them. The Foundation will encourage the production of children’s stories for ages 8 to 12 years that will entertain, enlighten, ignite their interest in reading and stimulate their imagination.
  “Above all, stories that stimulate the imagination of readers will be encouraged. Children’s regular use of their imagination will help them develop HOW to think, not what to think. Imagination is everything. No invention is possible without imagination. A thing has to be imagined before it can be made. This applies to solutions and improvement. The use of imagination will help children think up different ways that things can be done in any circumstance. In this fast-changing world, this is an important skill to develop and use.
  “As a sub-project, the foundation will run English Language and writing workshops for students in public schools in the long holidays in centres designated by each state. Able, retired English language teachers will be engaged to make these classes imaginative and fun. Much learning takes place in playful environment!”
  “The foundation will annually call for submission of imaginative works by young Nigerian writers of children’s literature. A body of Judges, including renowned writers, literary critics, book sellers, children readers and publishers will be instituted to select stories that satisfy the above requirement. The Judges will also select the illustrators for the production of the works.
  “Each year, a call for entries from young authors (11-21) will be made for unpublished works of children’s literature. The scripts received will be reviewed by the panel of judges and six (6) will be selected for publication under the grant arrangement. Every author thus published will be identified as a Splendid Young Writer and each book thus published will be under the Splendid Young Writers Series.
  “Splendid Literature & Culture Foundation will carry out the publishing activities inclusive of editing, illustration, book design, printing, promotion and distribution of the books published by the Foundation.
  “The authors whose works are published by the foundation will have public presentations of their works, with readings, book signings and tours arranged for them. They will receive adequate and regular royalties for their works. The illustrators, whose contributions embellish the stories and expand the imagination of the readers, will also be publicly recognized and adequately remunerated.
  “The foundation will ensure that its children’s books will be published in time for these to be available for entry for the literary prizes for children’s literature, annually awarded by the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), NLNG Prize for Children’s Literature awarded every three years, and other similar prizes. Thus, our authors will have opportunities for validation as serious writers!
 “The Foundation plans to operate nationwide to reach all Nigerian children. Writers, and illustrators in each State will be involved in the work of the Foundation, introducing the flavour of the cultures of their peoples. The imagination ethos of the Foundation will permeate its work everywhere.
  “Of course, the Foundation’s books will circulate countrywide entertaining, educating and engaging children everywhere. Because these books will be produced in large quantities production cost will be reduced and they will be as affordable as foreign books sold worldwide. The Foundation will establish a distribution network, first in each State, and will link these with those established in the other States.
  “As the Foundation plans to operate in each State of the Federation the Foundation aims to solicit government grant to encourage reading and writing among the young there. Corporate bodies and institutions all over the Federation will also be approached for support of this mission that will help develop highly adaptive adult workers”.
  Splendid Literature & Culture Foundation is a not for profit company. The administration of the Foundation is vested in a Board of Trustees that will formulate its policies. The members include an accountant, Mr. Dotun Sulaiman, an award winning author and literary administrator, Odia Ofeimun, and a brilliant lawyer, Mr. Lanre Adebayo.
  Others are veteran publisher, Mr. Lanre Idowu, a book marketing professional, Mrs. Ronke Orimalade, a civil engineer and IT specialist, Kemi Adenubi (Mrs. Lemon), a medical doctor and writer, Dr. Mariam Onuzo, and a seasoned educationist, writer and founder, Mobolaji Adenubi.

Splendid Literature calls for entries
Young Nigerian writers from ages 11 to 21 are invited to submit manuscripts for children’s literature from all over the country for the Splendid Literature and Culture Foundation Series.
  According to Splendid Literature and Culture Foundation, organisers of the contest, the aim is to produce imaginative children’s stories that will entertain, enlighten and appeal to children of ages 8 to 12, and encourage them to read. These stories should also stimulate the imagination of the readers to help them think in novel ways to do things.
  An initiative of Mrs. Mobolaji Adenubi, who is herself a prolific author of children’s stories, the series is designed for young writers resident in Nigeria and that their stories should have strong Nigerian/African content or flavour. Entries must also be original works, unaided and unpublished fiction in English. Plays and poems are not eligible.
  The work to be submitted should be between 3000 and 3,500 words long, typed written, double spaced or legibly hand written on numbered pages. Illegible entries will be disqualified. Deadline is July 31, 2012. Six (6) copies of the story together with evidence of Nigerian citizenship (photocopies of birth certificate or Nigeria passport or Nigerian ID card) should be submitted to Splendid Literature and Culture Foundation at 31 Alhaji Tokan Street, Alaka Estate, Surulere, Lagos.
  Submissions will be assessed by the foundation’s judges and six suitable stories will be selected and published annually. She also said the usual royalties and publication terms will apply to every story published.
  Interested children’s authors should include their names, address and telephone numbers and email address if possible on the title page of the manuscript, with only the full name of entrant on each number page of the submission. Entries must be submitted under the real name of the entrant; pseudonyms may not be used. Entrant must submit only one entry