By Duno Kogbara
LAST year, a landmark anthology to which I contributed was launched in London.
Titled “NEW DAUGHTERS OF AFRICA” and edited by the British-Ghanaian cultural icon, Margaret Busby, the book celebrates the work of 200 women writers of African descent and, as its publisher Myriad puts it, “charts a literary landscape as never before…
“…and brings together their achievements across a wealth of genres: autobiography, memoir, letters, short stories, novels, poetry, drama, humour, journalism, essays and speeches.”
My fellow contributors include pioneering black member of the British Parliament, Diane Abbott, award-winning Angolan author Djaimilia Pereira de Almeida and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nigeria’s very own global superstar.
“From Antigua to Zimbabwe and Uganda to the USA,” the Myriad blurb proudly announces, “overlooked artists of the past join key figures, popular contemporaries and emerging writers in paying tribute to the heritage that unites them, the strong links that endure from generation to generation, and their common obstacles around issues of race, gender and class.”
I am pleased to tell you that the weighty NEW DAUGHTERS OF AFRICA tome has been flatteringly reviewed in several countries and described in various distinguished publications as “bold,” “brilliant”, “insightful”, “marvellous,” a “behemoth of thought and reflection” and “a must read for aspiring young women writers.”
The book is selling very well internationally and being snapped up by libraries and academic institutions as well as individuals.
But I and other contributors have waived our right to royalties (writers’ fees), to enable the funding of a bursary in Ms Busby’s name; and, this week, the first recipient of Margaret’s New Daughters of Africa (NDOA) Award was disclosed.
Idza Luhumyo was born in Mombasa, works as a screenwriter and copywriter in Kenya and holds a law degree from Nairobi University.
Idza will be starting her NDOA-funded postgraduate studies at London University’s School of African and Oriental Studies in the autumn. And I’m sure that Vanguard readers will join me in warmly wishing her happiness, academic fulfilment and career success.
OK, so if you are interested in reading this book that I’m so glad to be part of, you can a) order it via the AMAZON app or website.
Alternatively, you can b) buy via Adedotun Eyinade, the owner of Roving Heights bookstores: Suite 4.1, Block B CVS Plaza, 145 Adetokunbo Ademola, Wuse 2, Abuja.
Lagos: 28, Ogunlana Drive, Surulere.
www.rhbooks.com.ng| Hello@rhbooks.com.ng| +234 810 979 5365| Twitter: @Rovingheights| Instagram: @Rovingheights
NDDC’s chronic image problem
THE cash-rich Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, intervention agency has been extremely controversial for ages. But the past couple of weeks have been especially dramatic and toxic, thanks to the no-holds-barred conflicts between the NDDC’s supervising Minister, Godswill Akpabio, and his enemies.
Enemy Number One is Ms Joi Nunieh, a feisty, outspoken onetime Acting Managing Director of the NDDC, who was sacked by Akpabio, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, in February.
Enemy Number Two is National Assembly legislators who have been nursing deep grudges against Akpabio for a number of reasons.
The senators and House of Reps members who want to bring Akpabio down a peg or fifty are numerous; but they appear to be acting together – or to at least be on exactly the same anti-Akpabio page – so I’m categorising them as a single hostile entity.
The tensions between Akpabio, his supporters and their antagonists have totally dominated news headlines in recent days; and onlookers – depending on where their sympathies lie – have been appalled or delighted by the scandalous revelations that have flowed from the standoff and the sensational developments that have occurred.
We have heard allegations of sexual harassment. We have been told about slaps and threats and oath demands and corruption.
We have seen the NDDC MD collapse while facing aggressive questioning, seen Ms Nunieh being hassled by police at her residence, seen the Minister saying that his tormentors are the main beneficiaries of the very NDDC contracts they claim to be honestly probing and seen House of Reps Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, daring the Minister to release a list of benefitting legislators.
A friend of mine told me that the entire spectacle is so entertaining that one might as well regard it as a cinematic experience and buy popcorn to enjoy as accusations, counter-accusations, etc, unfold.
Given the explosion of sarcastic comments and satirical memes that are flooding the internet, as online wits crack joke after joke about the MD’s collapse, for example, many Nigerians clearly share my friend’s somewhat irreverent voyeurism.
But there is one group of Nigerians that finds this unseemly circus and embarrassing comedy of errors utterly traumatic: Decent, law-abiding, God-fearing NDDC employees, contractors and consultants.
NDDC has such a massive reputational problem at the moment that anyone who works for NDDC – temporarily or on an ongoing basis – is regarded by NDDC’s critics as sleazy and Guilty By Association.
And yet, there are many NDDC employees, contractors and consultants who haven’t done anything wrong and try their best to fulfil their duties ethically and professionally.
I myself approached NDDC earlier on this year with a project idea based on my realisation that the average Nigerian did not, at that point in time, believe that coronavirus was a real danger.
This realisation hit me in early March when the girls who work in my house in Abuja – and look after me and my sick mother – told me that they were sure that “children of God cannot get corona.”
I was so alarmed by my domestic staff’s attitude that I cancelled a planned trip to the UK, fearing that they wouldn’t be able to protect themselves or my mother properly in my absence, if they didn’t believe that coronavirus was real.
Then it struck me that if relatively sophisticated Abuja househelps and caregivers were so deluded, completely unexposed folks in Niger Deltan villages might be similarly unaware of COVID-19 risks.
I, therefore, asked an NDDC consultant chum to partner with me to sensitise Niger Deltans at the grassroots level.
My consultant chum was able to sell this idea to NDDC management; and his company was awarded a public enlightenment contract.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to participate in the project as dynamically as I wanted to because of the nationwide lockdown that banned interstate travel.
But despite being stuck in Abuja while the project implementation team was based in Port Harcourt, I was still able to dish out some useful political, creative and media advice from afar; and my chum assured me that he and his team were heeding my recommendations, working hard in all 9 NDDC states and delivering value for money.
But I’m now hearing that mudslingers are describing me as a fraudulent NDDC consultant, simply because I earned a fee for initiating a project and providing expert implementation advice.