African Library – Book Reviews

Renowned Nigerian Author Chimamanda Hosts Book Launch.

Famous Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie launched “Mama’s Sleeping Scarf,” her first children’s book, at the Alliance Française in Ikoyi, Lagos State.

 

Literary lovers and well-known individuals attended the event, including Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Obiageli Ezekwesili, the former vice president of the World Bank’s Africa zone, and former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Speakers at the literacy-focused event included Harvard Business School Senior Lecturer in Business Administration Hakim Belo-Osagie, former vice president Yemi Osibanjo, and several other well-known people.

 

 Being an avid reader is essential for becoming a successful leader. During his speech, former Nigerian President Obasanjo stated, “Read what will make you wise.”

 

Prominent Nigerian businesswoman and art enthusiast Bella Disu was also there and gave a speech on the value of reading culture. The event, which was emceed by author and book critic Kunle Kasumu, featured a Q&A session, book signings, and—most importantly—a setting that encouraged kids to play and, of course, read.

Nigerian Man Sets to Translate Physics Textbook to Igbo Language.

An Igbo linguistic expert recently commenced the translation of a physics textbook into the Igbo language. The Igbo linguistic expert, Maazi Ogbonnaya Okoro made this known in a Twitter post on Sunday, the 10th of December. 

  • The translation is in progress and will be completed in 2024.
  • Mazi Okoro said that once he is done with Physics, he will begin the translation of Chemistry and Biology.
  • He has written over 58 books in Igbo, some of which are approved in all secondary schools in Igbo-speaking communities. 

Mazi Okoro took to his Twitter page to announce that the work will be ready in 2024 and also stated that once he is done with that, he will translate Chemistry, Biology, and other STEM subjects. He tweeted, “By 2024, I should be done translating Physics textbook into the Igbo Language. Once I am done with Physics, I will go over to Chemistry, Biology, and other STEM subjects.” 

He also stated in a separate post that was made in 2021, that he had done other major works in the Igbo Language. In his words “Now I have over 25 published books in Igbo and a total of 58 published and unpublished manuscripts in Igbo Language. Translated the BBC guidelines in Igbo before the launching of BBC Igbo Service; translated Igbo for the UNESCO.”

Mazi Ogbonnaya Okoro is experienced in teaching and researching the Igbo language, literature, history, and culture and has been for over 15 years. He is also a professional tutor of the first language, second language, and foreign language learners of Igbo. Mazi Okoro studied Linguistics and Igbo Language at the University of Nsukka and later on went on to study  Translation and Movie Subtitles at Newcastle University and the University of the West of Scotland, UK. He has written over 58 books and The Ministries of  Education has approved his Igbo books for all the secondary schools in Ebonyi, Imo, Anambra, Enugwu, Abịa, and Delta. He also has books that have been approved for undergraduate, Master, and PhD students of Igbo Literature in various universities and Colleges of Education across Igbo land.

Mazi Okoro was the BBC Igbo’s first translator. He has translated works for different national and international organizations such as UNESCO and the United Nations, in Igbo. Currently, Igbo Translations Director, Abibiman Publishers, UK. His book in Igbo was signed to be published by the Griots Lounge Publishers, Canada to have Igbo content for North Americans. He is passionate about the Igbo language and its sustainability as well as preservation against extinction as predicted by UNESCO. He is an Igbo Language and Cultural Advocate. He has taught many African-Americans, Africans, whites, children, and adults the Igbo language.

There were mixed reactions to this innovation Mr. Nize said “While it is good to do these translations, I am wondering how we can make it useable in our schools. We have the Igbo bible and many Igbo people either don’t know how to read it or find it difficult and uninteresting. How can we make sure your efforts are not wasted?” Mr. Victorsmog also said, “This is awesome. Physics will be easier to learn.”

Even though curiosity is the leading emotion about how this will eventually turn out, the initiative is highly welcome and it will make learning more fun.

Renowned Ghanaian Author Passes On.

Renowned Ghanaian author and playwright, Ama Ata Aidoo, known for celebrating African women and challenging Western stereotypes, has passed away at the age of 81.

Through works like The Dilemma of a Ghost, Our Sister Killjoy, and Changes, Aidoo depicted and honored the experiences of African women, she countered the perception of them as downtrodden. She rejected the notion that the African female is a victim.

In addition to her literary contributions, Aidoo served as an education minister in the early 1980s. She tried to make education free but she encountered some obstacles which made her resign from the position.

Her family released a statement expressing their grief and requesting privacy following her passing after a brief illness.

As a university professor, Ata Aidoo received numerous literary accolades, including the 1992 Commonwealth Writers Prize for her novel Changes, a poignant love story exploring a statistician’s journey through divorce and polygamy.

Her works, such as Anowa, have been widely studied in West African schools alongside the writings of other literary giants like Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe.

When asked in a 2014 interview if she saw herself as a writer with a mission, Aidoo responded, “In retrospect, I suppose I could describe myself as a writer with a mission. But I never was aware that I had a mission when I started to write. People sometimes question me, for instance, why are your women so strong? And I say, that is the only woman I know.”

Ama Ata Aidoo had a profound influence on the younger generation of writers, including the acclaimed Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

In a tribute piece published in The Africa Report in 2011, Adichie wrote, “When I first discovered Ama Ata Aidoo’s work… I was stunned by the believability of her characters, the sureness of her touch, and what I like to call the validating presence of complex femaleness.”

Nigerian Afrobeats star Burna Boy featured Aidoo’s powerful critique of colonialism and the exploitation of Africa’s resources in his song “Monsters You Made” in 2020.

Ama Ata Aidoo was born in 1942 in a small village in Ghana’s Fanti-speaking region. Her father, who had established the village’s first school, played a significant role in shaping her life.

At the age of 15, she aspired to become a writer, and within a short period, her dream was realized when she won a short story competition. Seeing her name in print affirmed her path as a writer.

After studying literature at the University of Ghana and briefly engaging in politics, Aidoo embarked on a self-imposed exile in Zimbabwe, dedicating herself to writing full-time.”

 

Africans earn world’s biggest financial reward, recognition in history discipline.

  • Two Africans stood out in the 2023 Dan David Prize – Saheed Aderinto and Chao Tayiana Maina.
  • Both scholars have done significant and recognition-worthy works in the discipline of history.
  • Each of them is to receive a financial reward of $300,000.

 

Nigeria’s Saheed Aderinto and Kenya’s Chao Tayiana Maina have earned additional labels that consolidate their achievements; both the Nigerian professor of History and African Diaspora Studies and the founder of the African Digital Heritage, this February, won foremost global award that distinguishes and supports outstanding contributions to the study of history and other disciplines that shed light on the human past, a recognition considered the biggest history prize in the world – the Dan David Prize.

 

Aderinto, 44-year-old professor of History and African Diaspora Studies at the Florida International University, and Maina, emerged as two from the nine winners announced on the 28th of February as recipients of $300,000 each, for their respective contributions to history research and to support their future works in the discipline. The Prize, described by The Washington Post as “the new MacArthur-style ‘genius grant’ for history”, and its financial attachment, which is an integral part of it, sits huge as the biggest history prize in the world.

 

 

Maina, a Kenyan historian and digital humanities scholar working at connecting culture and technology, focuses her work principally on using technology to preserve, engage, and disseminate African heritage.

Professor Ariel Porat, President of the Tel Aviv University, and Chairman of the Dan David Prize Board, while announcing the winners, said “the nine recipients exemplify outstanding research in history and related fields. They were chosen by a committee of international experts, following an open nomination process. Their scholarship reflects the interests of Dan David, the founder of the prize who was a businessman with a passion for archaeology and history.”

Porat clarified that the prize had since 2022 focused exclusively on history in its many facets. He continued, “giving this annual prize provides the opportunity to celebrate the exceptional work of scholars and practitioners who surprise us with insights into people, places and ideas that might otherwise remain forgotten or misunderstood.”

 

About the winners, Porat held that “they are scholars and practitioners who have the potential to reshape their fields in the future, and it is our hope that this prize will assist them to do so.”

The selection board applauded the winners’ work “for situating African history at the cutting edge of diverse literatures in the history of sexuality, nonhumans, and violence, noting that it is exceptional to see a single person leading scholarship in all of these fields.”

 

Aderinto took his celebration to facebook, he wrote: “Yes! I just won the largest history prize in the world. It’s $300,000. For me, alone. One lump sum. 220 million, in Nigerian currency. I have just received the highest financial reward for excellence in the historical discipline, on planet earth. It’s a Prize, not a grant. I don’t think there is any history prize worth $100,000 in cash—much less $300,000. While 300k is a lot of money in any strong global currency, the true value of the Dan David Prize is not the cash per se but what it would help me do for my students and mentees, institutions, global infrastructure of knowledge, and communities of practice. Hence, the award is about my scholarly achievement as much as about the people, institutions, and communities I represent.”

 

On the award he wrote: “The Dan David Prize was founded in 2000 with an endowment by Romanian-born Israeli businessman and philanthropist Dan David. Between 2001 and 2021, it awarded $1 million, each, to three very senior extraordinary humans in science, medicine, public health, politics, economics, art, and literature. Past recipients include Dr. Anthony Fauci, the public face of the US fight against COVID-19, former American Vice-President Al Gore, and MIT economics professor and Nobel Prize Winner Esther Duflo, among others. In 2022, the Dan David Prize was redesigned to become the largest history prize on earth to recognize nine exceptional historians with $300,000, each. $ 2.7 million in total. Recipients’ Ph.D. mustn’t be older than 15 years. I received my Ph.D. 13 years ago. I’m among the second cohort of the new history-focused Dan David Prize.”

 

It “recognizes outstanding scholarship that illuminates the past and seeks to anchor public discourse in a deeper understanding of history.” Recipients must be engaged in “outstanding and original work related to the study of the human past, employing any chronological, geographical and methodological focus.” They “should exhibit strong potential for future excellence, innovation and leadership that will help shape the study of the past for years to come.” While the Prize winners “must have completed at least one major project, the prize is not given for that project, but rather in recognition of the winner’s overall achievements as well as their potential for future excellence.”

 

 

He went ahead to admonish younger folks, he penned: “To all young and up-and-coming people out there—how hard are you working towards extraordinary rewards that don’t exist today, but will emerge tomorrow? Do you spend more on depreciables like cars, owambe, clothes, and phones, than on appreciables like knowledge, technology, skills, or a living condition that would enhance your creativity, increase your productivity, and strengthen your problem-solving abilities?

Are you seeking selfless mentors/sponsors who would help you get off the ground so you can fly beyond limits—with your own wings, on your own terms, at your own pace? Are you investing selflessly in your subordinates? Do you believe in and work for a cause that is bigger than you and your name, and that places people and institutions at the center of collective growth, shared honor, and democratized progress? Are you real to yourself, people, and circumstances? Are you building sustainable personal and professional relationships across gender and sexual orientation, nationality, religion, ideology, race, ethnicity, generation, e.t.c.? Are you learning the art of leadership within your community, profession, or network?

 

How strong is your faith in God or whatever you believe in? Do you have the discipline to wait, and wait, and wait—while also maintaining consistently high productivity—until your labor and investment begin to yield the best results? Do you believe in an instant or delayed gratification? How intentional, audacious, conscientious, and gritty are you? Do you have friends, colleagues, and family who would say—Mafo, mo wa pelu e (meaning ‘don’t relent, I am with you’ in Yoruba language) —even at the peak of your failures and vulnerabilities? If you have honest and self-reflective responses to these questions, then you can achieve something bigger than the largest history prize on planet earth”.

 

Aderinto, born in Ibadan in 1979, received his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Ibadan in 2004 and his Ph.D. from the University of Texas, Austin in 2010. Later that year his teaching career took off at Western Carolina University where he became a full Professor of History in 2021. In 2022, he moved to Florida International University.

 

The professor has published 8 books, 41 encyclopedia articles, 37 journal articles and book chapters, and 21 book reviews. His new book ‘Animality and Colonial Subjecthood in Africa’ inspects the roles of animals in Nigerian history. Also, he is currently writing a book as well as creating a documentary on Fuji music.

Aderinto is also the founding president of the Lagos Studies Association and a senior research fellow of the French Institute for Research in Africa.

 

Chao Tayiana Maina holds an MSc in International Heritage Visualisation and a BSc in Mathematics and Computer Science. Her research work explored the possibilities of implanting intangible histories in 3D digital environments. She is widely acknowledged for her bright work in documenting Kenyan history in innovative ways.

Maina, also the co-founder of Museum of British Colonialism and Open Restitution Africa project, and she specializes in using digital technologies to study unseen historical narratives with the intent to make them reachable to broader audiences. Her work centers on supporting African and Afro-diaspora communities to regain their identities and cultural heritage.

She is renowned for successfully upholding collaborative and interactive histories, where communities are invited to join the process of historical examination and findings.

 

The two awardees have since been collecting congratulations from different quarters.

 

FIRST JOHANNESBURG WOMEN WRITER FESTIVAL.

  • The first women writers festival took place on the 12th of February, 2023.
  • The primary objective is to showcase the work of female writers
  • The secondary objective is to promote a culture of reading.

On the 12th of February, an event that celebrated and showcased the works of female writers took place. This is an initiative hosted by the University of Johannesburg’s Johannesburg Institute of Advance Studies.

The event was a free event that aimed to foster integrational conversations between writers and to also create a platform for new writers.

The culture of reading is lacking among the youths of so many countries and the direct effect of this is backwardness. The organizers of this event intended to bridge that gap and develop a culture of reading by creating dynamic and interactive links between writers, readers and publishers.

The event also chartered for children, created entertainment and a storytelling space. Books were also on sales.

Even though the event was for books and reading, the organizer of the festival, Lorraine Sithole explained how it wasn’t focused on titles of specific books but the festival encapsulated the book value chain space. She said, “This festival is not a book-based festival. We are not zooming into various titles, but we are looking at the book value chain space as a whole.” She further stated, “We are also going to look at the production of the book. What does it take from writing your manuscript, right up until seeing your book in a finished form.”

In her address regarding the creation of this event and its intention, she said “Reading is such an individual and lonely thing. It’s important to keep a community of readers going, a network of friends that you can touch base with once or twice a month.”

This is the first ever Johannesburg Festival of Women Writers.

GAMBIA STUDENTS SET OUT TO USE ART TO EXAMINE HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES.

Ebunjan Performing Arts Association Theatre and Troupe have decided to use arts to bring positive change with the issues of human rights especially among children. This project came into existence following an in-depth study on the human rights situation, particularly of children. 

 

Some selected teachers who are graduates from the department of English in the school of arts and sciences in the university of Gambia currently teaching at the upper and lower basic schools in the Greater Banjul Area underwent rigorous training for 12 months for this project. 

 

The project is called “Theater arts- an effective tool for human rights education.” They are set to present “one act play” written by the students of the University of The Gambia.

 

Among the plays selected for the presentation are “A bright light turned off” by Raki Jallow and “Deception” by Mariam Sarr. They shone light on the problem of early marriage and female genital mutilation respectively.

 

Both authors are students of University of The Gambia while the actors in these performances are students from Zenith International West African International Interior Academy and Banjuliding Upper Secondary Schools respectively. The actors are selected by Ms. Grace Chapman, lecturer and director of University of the Gambia’s theater in education programme

 

The performance is slated to hold on the 20th of November by 5:00pm at Ebunjan Theater opposite American International University West Africa, Kanifing and entry is totally free of charge.

 

The main aim is to use theater, plays, music, dance and poetry; a combination of the arts to educate the public. It is used to examine human rights issues with the focus on children.

 

Several plays were read and analyzed for this project and one of the plays is “hand of fate” based on a true Gambian story about early marriage. Some of the plays written by the University of The Gambia students are still in progress.

 

Madam Janet Badjan-Young, the artistic director and chairperson of Ebunjan Performing Arts Association said the project is funded by the Netherlands Embassy in Senegal.

 

The artistic director commended Dr. Cherno Barry, former executive secretary at the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), who had provided them with in-depth information on the human rights situation, particularly of children in The Gambia.