Ake: Reality Distortion In a Post-Colonial But Modern Nigeria

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oilseed-rape-383279_960_720If you attended this years Ake festival, you would for a few moments forget that Nigeria is in a deep recession and that FOREX is bitch slapping our publishing industry to the point of submission …

I mean, I have no problems with the multiple book chats or the discussions on sexuality or the super star authors that show up and blow us away with their intelligence on sexy world topics.

But to me it ends up becoming one long repetitive literature class, where the current realities of the Nigerian publishing industry is temporarily ignored … like a sort of reality distortion.

For a second, you will think that publishing in Nigeria is sweet, that we have a plethora of local authors killing it in the industry, that book sales are just off the charts, that the recession is not taking a toll on our already dwindling revenue and that things are frankly rosy when it comes to publishing in Nigeria!

So rosy that we can afford to discuss European social issues from the African perspective, like “exploring horror fiction in Africa” when we should actually be discussing “The Horror of Selling Fiction in Nigeria: A True Life Story!”

It’s like that Nigerian man with the loud heavy diesel generator screaming in his backyard, trying to engage in deep conversations about the effects of Wind Mills on the migration patterns of birds in Surulere. Who bird help?

It’s not that the migration patterns of birds are not important, it is important, but we have not yet earned the qualification to engage in that level of discussion in Nigeria, when we are still struggling with basic NEPA.

In the same way the dying screams of the Nigerian publishing industry can be heard every day in the background of Ake, but yet we gather to talk about “Sexuality in a Post Modern Africa.”

Like bird migration, Sexuality is important to write about, but we have not yet earned the qualification to engage in just that conversation … especially when we cannot yet print common book in our country!

I mean if you write a book that explores sexuality from a neo-colonial afro perspective (I made it up) but cannot find printer to print the book, or a distributor to distribute the book, or editor to edit the book, or publisher to publish the book, you are just word masturbating, your words will die in your hands.

Sexuality aside, I really love Ake and what it’s doing.

Especially its power to attract our most talented and intelligent people from all across the world into one room. But instead of just using our cumulative talents to talk about the migrating patterns of birds in a pseudo-dystopian society … let’s also use our talents to address the Generator in the room … the loud screaming Generator of our post-colonial publishing reality!



Words by Okechukwu Ofili of ofilispeaks.com
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3 comments on “Ake: Reality Distortion In a Post-Colonial But Modern Nigeria

  1. Nnamdi on said:

    This doesn’t add up. Firstly , Ake is a festival to celebrate the art of books, emphasis on celebrate. Both commercially successful and commercially mehhh works were discussed and celebrated. It was a centered largely on African writing as a whole as well. Discussing the particularly Nigerian recession issue is not at all an issue. But how does that negate the validity of all other discussions held? How does our economic recession make us unqualified to discuss sexuality as we please ? How does it hold us back from dreaming up horror stories? How can horror stories even be described as European?

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