We were at the Sarah Ladipo Manyika's reading of her new book In Dependence published by Cassava Republic. Shame we will not be able to do you a proper review but something within me says that you don't want to be subjected to reading a two-paged piece about a reading. Instead, we decided to bring you words from the event and continue a debate that started there.
Here's little on the writer. She is half-Nigerian, half-British, now that's not by choice obviously. She is married to a Zimbabwean, so Nana Fred-Agyeman is right afterall. In Dependence is her first novel and it spans four decades. The book took her about seven years to write. She's a brilliant writer, beautiful woman and she reads very well; you can literally imagine the words coming from the characters right there on your seat.
And there was a young man that caught my attention. "Half British, half-Nigerian" he replied when asked for his age (apparently he didn't understand the question), and when he finally does, he answers 8,3/4 years old. "Was I attending readings at that age?" I asked myself. The crowd couldn't help but burst out in laughter. Then his question: why did you write this novel? And her response: "I wrote it for my son. To show him what Nigeria used to be." (paraphrased)
So here are some quotes from the reading, enjoy:
- "There are stories in Nigeria; there are stories everywhere and we love to tell stories."
- "People see and perceive you in different ways, there are always questions of belonging to answer."
- "A writer needs to write a story they are passionate about. The writer's best works come from deep within"
- "In the past, our leaders were readers and writers--Senghor, Nkrumah, Awolowo, you name them. (And Obama, she's a fan of course!)
- "I am surprised when my son says he wants to be published in a year."
- 'I love the continent of Africa."
Here's the debate: what's the role of a writer in the society? To portray the society or try to correct it? What's wrong with a writer writing a story about the 'Rebrand Nigeria' exercise for one? (Now, this is from us!) To what extent is the writer responsible to his/her society? Should literature be a manual to guide the society? When do you draw the line between literature and propaganda? These are some of the questions.
We have no answers, so let's talk about these issues.