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100 year-search for national literature, a failure — Falola

By UDUMA KALU
One serious issue that occupied the mind of many at the just concluded Association of Nigerian Authors ANA 23rdinternational conference held in Akure recently was the issue of cultural homology.
As usual, the conference which was well attended by writers from all over the country afforded them, the opportunity to reflect on some issues bothering the development of writers in the country.

The issue was echoed by many, even in their stories, many of them talked about what they described as a cultural gulf between the Nigerian writers and their readers. From the way the issue took the centre stage, it can be said that it was the essence of the conference.

The confab with the theme, Literary Imaginations and National Building in Nigeria since 1914, mirrored the search for Nigeria’s unity this past 100 years in literature.
The keynote address was delivered by Prof. Toyin Falola, a leading Nigerian professor of History in the United States.

In his paper, “Nigeria’s Centenary: Literary Imagination and National Development”, The Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker chair in the Humanities and  Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of of Texas at Austin, accused the writers of not practising cultural homology as they have not created a national literature almost a century. “Literary imagination is yet to create a powerful mythology for a common Nigerian nationality.

The political leaders have borrowed the symbolisms and “cultures” of the nation in other places, such as the anthem, the pledge, and flag, but these are not necessarily grounded in sustainable collective mythologies,” he preached.
He accused the writers of failing, for 100 years, to write a national literature. All they have done all this time, he said, is to write from the regional or ethnic perspectives.

He therefore urged the writers,saying, “We cannot prescribe to authors how they will manage their talents and creativity; neither can we always predict with certainty how their texts will be used. We can only hope that their texts, words, and images will promote peace and unify the people.”

Governor Olusegun Mimiko, who was represented by the Executive Secretary National Institute of Cultural Orientation, Mr. Backlays Oyakoroma, expressed gratitude to ANA for choosing Ondo State as the host of this year’s convention and promised to ensure the comfort and security of the delegates.

Governor Mimiko  while addressing the writers disclosed that no society can rise above the ideas of its writers. “We read your books to find what can change the society. Yours is a thankless job. When people envisage a great future, you are not appreciated till the future is realized. But we appreciate you. You must continue to challenge capitalists who impoverish the poor.”


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