Writing in a socially challenged society: going the social commentary route
In a nation where many have come to view works of art, be they visual, auditory or the written word, as an escape from harsh reality, some have argued that making these problems the main thrust of works or art constitute a form of double torture. They argue that the man on the street would rather read about happy people, rich people, people in love and people having fun, rather than the problems that stare them in the face every day. They don’t want to read about poverty, sickness, corruption and the like, because they know all about it, these ills stare at them from their mirror, and from the eyes of every stranger they meet on the street.
No matter how plausible these arguments sound, the truth is that they are a very false premise with which to judge what one should write or should not write about. That people want an escape is something that everyone can readily agree with, but that they still have to come back to the same reality is another that should not be ignored. It is therefore of great import to record the society as it is, not to mock, but to show. And by showing, attention can be brought to these ills and perhaps a redress began.
Perhaps it is with this need to show and become a catalyst for the much needed societal change that a crop of new age Nigerian writers are shunning the urge to pander to the wishes of those who advocate for writers to provide escape for the average man on the street, by making social commentary an integral part of their work.
With the support of Coca-Cola’s “1 Billion Reasons to Believe in Africa” campaign, iRead will be hosting some of these young people whose writing have given ample voice to a new generation seeking to change their society for good. Four writers, drawn from across Nigeria, all with strong elements of social commentary in their works published this year will be reading from their work and interacting with the audience about the Nigeria they see now and the one they hope to usher in through their writing.
1: Ukamaka Olisakwe:
Ukamaka Olisakwe is a new generation Nigerian novelist with amazing talents. Her debut novel Eyes of a Goddess will draw tears out of her readers. She is a banker in Nigeria with a degree in Computer Science. Ukamaka is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Communication and Linguistic Studies at the University of Port Harcourt. She is a young mother of two daughters and one son, and lives with her husband in Eastern Nigeria.
2: Richard Ali:
Richard Ali is a lawyer who hails from Idah, Nigeria. He was born in Kano, lives in Jos, Nigeria, and is presently Publicity Secretary [North] of the Association of Nigerian Authors. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Sentinel Nigeria Magazine. His novel “City of Memories” was published this year.
3: Emmanuel Iduma:
Emmanuel Iduma was born in Akure, Nigeria. He obtained a degree in Law from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. His interests range widely, including web technology, digital art, visual art, and creative writing. Emmanuel works mainly as a writer of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, and has won awards and received recognition in each genre.
Emmanuel is the co-founder of Iroko Publishing, which has published Saraba as an electronic magazine since February 2009. His work in Saraba has been acclaimed globally, including in The Guardian (UK). He is currently the editor of 3bute.com an online mashable anthology of African modernity. He is the author of the novel “Farad”.
4: Sylva Nze Ifedigbo:
Sylva Ifedigbo is a Doctor of Veterinary medicine, a writer and a Corporate Communications professional. He is an award winning essayist and author of the novella, “Whispering Aloud” and collection of short stories “The Funeral Did Not End”.
Sylva’s Essays have appeared in The Punch, The Nation, 234Next, Nigeria Village Square, Nigeria Dialogue, amongst others. He manages a weekly column on Daily TimesNG. He is also the features & Reviews Editor of Sentinel Nigeria and an Ambassador for the Coca-Cola A Billion Reasons To Believe in Africa Campaign.
1st Floor 95 Bode Thomas Street
Date: Saturday 13th October 2012
This event is supported by Coca-Cola Nigeria, Dream Arts and Design Agency, Parresia Publishers and CORA Art & Cultural Foundation.