The New Face Of Nigerian/African Literature
By Omohan Ebhodaghe
Long before anything else in Nigerian literature, there was the oral literature or orature. This was in the form of tales by moonlight, storytelling, riddles, incantations, dirges, lullaby, eulogy, folk songs, chants, jokes and much more. The various activities of orature were practised throughout the length and breadth of hamlets, villages, towns and cities within Nigeria.
Pita Nwana, Daniel Olurunfemi Fagunwa, Amos Tutuola and Cyprian Ekwensi had all written and published what later came to be known and accepted as novels before the other members of the first generation of Nigerian writers. There was Pita Nwana’s Igbo language work OMENUKO of 1933. D. O. Fagunwa began with his own 1938 Yoruba fiction OGBOJU ODE NINU IGBO IRUNMALE that was later translated in 1986 by Wole Soyinka as THE FOREST OF A THOUSAND DAEMONS. Amos Tutuola originally wrote his first work THE PALMWINE DRINKARD in 1946 that was later published in London, UK, by Faber and Faber in 1952. Cyprian Ekwensi later on in 1954 published PEOPLE OF THE CITY.
Then it came the turn of Chinua Achebe with his slim novel THINGS FALL APART in 1958 and that Western European critics saw as marking the beginning of serious literary and fictional discourse in Nigeria. Other writers were soon to follow, including the 1986 first African Nobel prize winner Wole Soyinka. Fifty years later, the 148 page paperback novel THINGS FALL APART has proved remarkable and rather successful until the emergence of the long-awaited and expected GREAT Nigerian epic novel of 2011 titled IN THE MIDST OF LOAFERS, 945 pages, 46 lines per a page by Omohan Ebhodaghe. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/data/author/omohan-ebhodaghe. In fact, IN THE MIDST OF LOAFERS combines the five novels of Chinua Achebe namely: THINGS FALL APART, 148 pages, NO LONGER AT EASE, ARROW OF GOD, A MAN OF THE PEOPLE and ANTHILLS OF THE SAVANNAH. Or it combines together Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s 784 page novel WIZARD OF THE CROW and Dambudzo Marechera’s HOUSE OF HUNGER. It was originally completed in 2002. It thus marked the upward paradigm shift and progress in the development of old and new generational Nigerian literature as it made its author an overnight pillar of African literatures. In-between the novels THINGS FALL APART and IN THE MIDST OF LOAFERS, there have been two other novels of note. They are THE FAMISHED ROAD, 519 pages, 1991, by Ben Okri and HALF OF A YELLOW SUN, 448 pages, 2006, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Both of them won the then known Booker prize and the Orange Broadband prize respectively. Yet, the two cited works of previous and later generations were not to match the creative literary fiction of philosophical depth, poetic insights and prophetic undertones of the third generation gargantuan edifice of a novel IN THE MIDST OF LOAFERS that is about royal academic greatness and that easily compared favourably well with the novels DON QUIXOTE DE LA MANCHA by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra of Spain, ROMANCE OF THE THREE KINGDOMS by Luo Guanzhong of China, WAR AND PEACE by Leo Tolstoy of Russia, LES MISERABLES by Victor Hugo of France and A SUITABLE BOY by Vikram Seth of India in terms of size and quality. Africa World press at Trenton in New Jersey also published Omohan Ebhodaghe’s poetry collection in 2007 as HIGHTOWER: Ibhayu poetry. PHOTOCOPIES & ORIGINAL, 980 pages, 46 lines per a page is to be published in the UK by Chipmunka publishing in 2013. www.africaworldpressbooks.com/servlet/Detail?no=59. It is universally agreed that with or without literary prizes, great works of arts live on. The Russian writer Leo Tolstoy is a good example.
Omohan Ebhodaghe’s forthcoming projects are the novel manuscript A HEALING FREEDOM, 353 pages; ONLY FOOLS DIE and other stories, 210 pages; A HEART OF THEIR OWN and other stories, 141 pages; A CASUALTY OF TIME and other stories, 232 pages; THE WAY WE LIVED, 220 pages; DAYS WHEN WE WERE IGNORANT, 320 pages; A HOUSE FULL OF DREAMS, 180 pages; A FAMILY OF BEGGERS, 176 pages; RETIRE ME FROM POVERTY, 148 pages; OGUDE OBUKE, 166 pages; JANET AGOBOR JONES, 320 pages; EFE OGIDIGAN, 200 pages; and, GIFTS FROM HEAVEN, 315 pages.
If Chinua Achebe’s novel THINGS FALL APART, 148 pages, is a FOLK ballad of the first generation of Nigerian authors, and him an eagle on iroko tree that made him one of the fathers of modern African literatures, the epic novel IN THE MIDST OF LOAFERS, 945 pages, by Omohan Ebhodaghe, the anointed one and successor, is the LITERARY ballad equivalent and him the bald eagle on Mount Everest that made him the master of the game amongst generations of African writers.