Wednesday, 18 March 2009

A Nigerian wins commonwealth writers' prize

Akwa Ibom State born Jesuit priest; Father Uwem Akpan has won the Commonwealth writers' prize for his debut book: 'Say you're one of them.' 'Say you are one of them' is a collection of five short stories about the painful experiences of children in five different African countries: Kenya,Rwanda,Nigeria,Benin and Ethiopia. These horror experiences are all narated by children. One of the featured stories was shortisted for the Caine Prize. Uwem Akpan has received much praise for his work. Say you're one of them is published by Abacus.
Below is a full list of this year's winners;

Best Book
Jhumpa Lahiri (UK) Unaccustomed Earth

Marina Endicott (Canada) Good to a Fault

Mandla Langa (South Africa) The Lost Colours of the Chameleon

Christos Tsiolkas (Australia) The Slap

Best First Book
Mohammed Hanif (Pakistan) A Case of Exploding Mangoes

Joan Thomas (Canada) Reading by Lightning

Uwem Akpan (Nigeria) Say You're One of Them

Mo Zhi Hong (New Zealand) The Year of the Shanghai Shark

Friday, 6 March 2009

Still on Slumdog Millionaire

A friend of mine just drew my attention to Reuben Abati's article here- (sorry blogger wasnt accepting the link, had to copy and paste.)

I knew someone was going to make the comparison, I just didn't think it would be him. It is a well written piece as most of his articles are but what exactly do they mean by this:
'If the Indians can do it, Nigerians can do it too. If we want to rebrand Nigeria, that is what we should be doing. Slumdog Millionaire is a great branding opportunity for India.'

How exactly is Slumdog millionaire a branding opportunity for India? what is it branding? The slums? the crime? the abject poverty? the child prostitution? etc. I have never been to India but this is the image I now have of it,thanks to Slumdog millionaire. Is this the same way we want to brand Nigeria; to show the corruption, the crime, the juju, the lack of power supply, the inefficient police etc. Because we would have to show the dark side of Africa to win an Oscar. Tsotsi- the South African film to win one did and so did City of God-the Brazillian film.
While these things exist in these countries, they also exist in the West, but I am yet to see a movie depicting and possibly exagerating the teenage knife crime in the Uk.

To win an Oscar, dear Reuben Abati and Toyin Subair, while a good story, directing etc may be important, what would be most important would be to show the darkest side of us. Binyavanga Wainana puts it perfectly in his article 'How to write about Africa'.
Nollywood needs to up it's game as they very well will, but it won't be in an attempt to win an Oscar, it would be first to give its audience a better experience which they deserve.