Monday, May 1, 2017

The Concubine by Elechi Amadi: A Plot

The Concubine by Elechi Amadi

A 216-page story of the fantastically intriguing life of Ihuoma as she goes through life in ways too difficult for her to fathom, The Concubine by Elechi Amadi is a deep, detailed and traditionally enriching account of love and uncertainty of life.

The village of Omokachi is the centre of events; it is bordered by Chiolu, Aliji and Emigwe.

The Concubine by Elechi Amadi centres round the 22-year old Ihuoma, a beautiful, gentle and charming woman whose personality is second to none in the entire village of Omokachi and its environ.

Emenike, Ihuoma's husband has just had a scuffle with Madume over a land dispute. Even though Emenike beat the stubborn, egoistic Madume in the fight, he is later to suffer from what is regarded as 'lock-chest'. But after series of divinations and medicines by the highly regarded Anyika, the medicine man, Emenike passes on, leaving his wife, Ihuoma and their four children behind.

Quite naturally, the rumour has spread that Emenike could not have died naturally; that Madume must definitely have killed his enemy with the use of juju. Even, Okachi, Ihuoma's mother is not surprised by this rumour. Consoling her daughter in her compound, she has this conversation with her:

'Kaka, do you think that that fight caused his death?' Ihuoma asked in an undertone.
'What else caused it?'
'I thought it was "lock-chest.'
'But what brought about the lock-chest?'
'He worked too hard in the rain.'
'Was that the first time he had worked under the rain? No, my child, we know what happened to him. Amadioha will kill them one by one.' (page 21)

Now a widow, Ihuoma has metamorphosed into a full woman, in spite of her young age. Even though she has her doubts and fear of the unknown in the guise of nightmares and hallucinations, her doggedness and homely character through the lonely, dreadful period of widowhood has won many people to her side. Everywhere she goes, she is often regarded highly and is envied. But what seems to be so charming about her is her resourcefulness throughout the burial rites. It is such a huge ceremony that many believe will wear her out.

At the end of her mourning period, Ihuoma looks radiant, as before; her beauty is so enchanting, she has become the cynosure of all eyes in the entire village. The raining season approaches and Ihuoma's roofs need some thatching. His well-meaning brother-in-law, Nnadi alongside his friends: Wakiri and Ekwueme come to her aid. But unknown to Nnadi, Ekwe as he is fondly called by many, is interested in the widow. His first attempt at winning Ihuoma over fails; his guts to bear out his mind to her fail him and he goes home dejected. The next day he tells his mother about the nightmare he has had in the night: 'Emenike and others tried to drag me across a stream in a dream.' (page 50)

Even Madume, a man believed to have killed Emenike, is lusting after the beautiful woman. After a failed attempt to make his wife, Wolu, convey his message of love to Ihuoma, he goes arrogantly to tell the woman himself. But his mission is soon aborted and he comes home limping, with a badly injured toe. Anyika, the famous dibia, has barely helped him overcome the injury when again he decides to harass the young Ihuoma at her husband's farm. Threatening to cut down a branch of a banana in reaction to Nnadi's daring him to do so, he is spat into in the eyes by a spitting cobra. Then he transfers his aggression to everyone around him including his household and the elders. Frustrated and miserable, he commits suicide. As a tradition, his body is to be taken far away from the village and thrown into the deep forest. Worse, there will be no mourning, no second burial in his honour.

Madume's death notwithstanding, music, which has been a very potent medicine that heals every wound of worry and tribulations anyone might be dealing with in the village of Omokachi, cannot be stopped. It is a successful Dance Festival as Ekwueme, Mmam, Wakiri, the clown, treat everyone to sonorous and interesting songs to which people, man, and woman, young and old gyrate their body. After all, life is too serious an experience not to have some moment for pleasure. Amidst this fanfare, Ekwueme finally proposes to Ihuoma. But as a wise woman who is deeply rooted in the ways of the people, she declines because he is already betrothed to Ahurole, another girl from her own village, Omigwe.

Upon hearing the love affair between his son and the widow, Wigwe, Ekwe's father, cunningly asks Ihuoma on his son's behalf whether she will marry him. Expectedly, the answer is no. Wigwe along with his wife, Adaku, will not stop there. They must eliminate every obstacle in the way. So, the marriage ceremony that is supposed to take a year is speedily arranged in six months. Finally, the young man is successfully married to Ahurole. However, the marriage is soon short-lived, as Ekwueme cannot put up with his wife's consistent nagging and sulking. This makes him remember Ihuoma a lot. But the last straw that broke the camel's back is when Ahurole catches his husband inside Ihuoma's compound, pretending to be searching for the lost she-goat. This so anger Ahurole that she goes to her mother's and explains what has happened. She advises her to get a love potion from Anyika, if she must tie down her husband’s love to herself alone. But the expert medicine man warns her thus:
'I am sure you have seen active and intelligent men suddenly become passive, stupid and dependent. That is what love potion can do. So go and settle your differences with your husband peacefully. If you insist you must go somewhere else.' (page 159)

The mother is indeed persistent and she goes to Chiolu where she gets the love potion. But the resultant effect is devastating: rather than love Ahurole Ekwe goes berserk, to the extent that the entire village goes in search of him. He is later to be found on top of a tree armed with a cub daring anyone to disturb him. All efforts to make him come down from the tree proved futile until he starts to mumble Ihuoma's name. She is fetched and on seeing him, the troubled young man descends the tree.

Thereafter, Ekwueme will not take any medicine unless Ihuoma is present. In fact, she is the only one he talks to. After his recovery, he convinces his troubled parents of his intention to marry Ihuoma. Fearing that he might resort to his old self, and thinking the move worthwhile a reward for Ihuoma's assistance during their son's troubled moments, they give in.

Meanwhile, Ahurole has fled and has joined her parents. Wagbara, her father has to return the bride price paid on her.

But that is not the end of the trouble with the poor Ekwueme. Though Nnadi, Ihuoma's brother-in-law has consented to the marriage, Ekwueme has one more hurdle to cross: Anyika proposes divination before the bride price is paid.

Most shocking is the dibia's divination. Ekwueme is taken to Anyinka, the best medicine man in Omokachi who divines that the lover boy will be destroyed if he goes ahead to marry the widow. The reason is that Ihuoma is a sea-goddess from birth whom has been married to the proud and jealous Seak-King who kills anyone who marries her. However, if the Sea-King is appeased through powerful sacrifices he could still allow Ekwueme to be Ihuoma's concubine.

But Ekwueme and his parents will not believe this story entirely unless they try another medicine man. So off they go to Aliji, another village far away from Omokachi. There they meet Agwoturumbe, an equally powerful but boastful dibia, who tells them the same story as Anyika has done. However, unlike Anyika, he believes he possesses the powers to disarm the deadly Sea-King from harming Ekwueme. But this will be in the form of sacrifices that will involve himself, Ekwe and Wigwe.

All is set for the sacrifice except one thing -- the multi-coloured lizard. Even this Ekwe has sent for the little boys around to handle. As Agwoturumbe, the hired dibia, is getting set for the sacrifice, Nwonna's barbed arrow which has missed a lizard it was targeted at, hits Ekwueme in the belly as he stands from where he and his wife-to-be, Ihuoma, have been fondling each other, to see how well the preparation is going.

And then: ‘The Spirit of Death was known to take away people's souls shortly after midnight. That was when Ekwueme died.’ (page 216)

This closing of The Concubine by Elechi Amadi is particularly striking. It leaves the reader with thoughts on the irreversible power of destiny.

Did you enjoy this essay? What particularly interests you the most about The Concubine by Elechi Amadi?

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Monday, April 17, 2017

13 Unique Ways to an Exceptionally Successful Life

successful life

Of course we all want to be exceptionally successful, right? Sure. From being financially independent to getting married to the best woman in the world, our success is tied to the things that make us feel fulfilled in life. But the question is, what do you do that will lead you to discovering those things from which you can derive true happiness.   

Below is a list of 13 unique ways to live an exceptionally successful life.

1. Find Yourself
What brings you to life? What makes you glow with pride? What’s your passion? Look inward; know your strengths and weaknesses. Focus on your strengths and don't let your weaknesses weigh you down. When you do this, you have already set the ball in motion towards living an exceptionally successful life.

2. Set your goals
What’s your ambition in life? Put them into writing. Make a list of daily activities and follow it religiously. Note the things you enjoy doing consistently. Give yourself a plan: within five months, for instance, work hard on your plans and stick to them. When you do so, you’re on your way to living a successful life.

3. Personal growth
You can't be exceptionally successful if you don't develop yourself. Attend seminars and workshops where you will get ideas on how to do things differently.  And by doing so you get to meet successful people who will inspire you.

4. Align yourself with positive and like-minded people
Be with those that understand your dreams and your goals, those that will encourage you to go on. People that will put you back on track when you fail and those you can look up to.

5. Be productive
Try your best to work hard and be productive both at work and at home. Don't use the whole day to watch TV when you have things to do. Be innovative too, try new things and see what works best for you. Being productive entails doing what one knows how to do consistently without fear of failure.

6. Read always
Use at least an hour a day to read books that will develop you personally. But reading alone isn’t enough; learning from it is more important. When you read and imbibe the lessons from what you’ve read, you’re opening up a new world of opportunities for yourself. Read biographies of great men, especially in your own field. It will motivate you and make you live an exceptionally successful life.

7. Partner with people
You don't have to have the money to start that business. You also need the drive. You should be able to convince that person that has the money, write the business proposal, look for the best in the field, partner with them and rise through them. It's one of the unique ways to be exceptionally successful.

8. Take risks
You want to venture into that business but you’re scared to take the plunge? Come on, just do it. How would you know what you’re capable of when you haven’t tried. Make your findings and take the big leap. It's always worth it, and if it doesn't work that way, it doesn't mean you will relent. If you make mistakes, you try to learn from them.

9. Live within your means
Living within your means is the best thing to work towards the success ladder. You can't be earning less and be living large. How do you want to balance it up? Even if one has the money to spend, that doesn't mean you should spend it frivolously. Save for the rainy days, you will be glad you did.

10. Be generous and kind
Generosity takes you a long way. Don't be selfish in your act. Those you are generous to will look up to you. Find time to help people. At some points in our lives, we often realize that it's not all about money. Try help with the household chores if you are a man, help your kids, help people in your neighbourhood; bekind to people. Set up a water stand where you know people will pass to drink, plant a tree, lift people up, pay for someone's school fees, see life in other people's perspectives. The fulfillment in doing it is much better than the ‘thank you’ you'll receive. According to Albert Einstein, ‘only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.’

11. Have a good mentor
Have someone you will look up to, someone that can advise you, someone that will put you through life. I realized people that have mentors climb up the ladder of success very fast and are always exceptional.

12. Be honest
Be honest in your dealings. Honesty and success are inseparable. If both you and your partners agreed on something, don't go behind their back to do something else. If you really want to become exceptionally successful, you should try to protect your integrity. Nothing good comes after losing one’s dignity.

13. Take care of you
Taking good care of everything of yours is an indispensable ingredient for becoming successful. Charity begins at home, right? Chasing after success at the expense of your loved ones isn’t a great move. Keep friends and foes close. Without any of these, you won’t know how far nor how well you’ve fared. Your body is key: nourish and exercise it. Feed your mind with positive thoughts always. When you do this, you’re on your way to being successful.

We all want to become successful in life. But often times we think we must engage in tedious activities and surround ourselves with demigods to achieve this. But this is not the case. If we can only follow the unique ways to becoming exceptionally successful above, we would realize how close we are to our goals. 
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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Biography of Mariama Bâ

Senegalese author and feminist, Mariama Bâ, was born on the 29th of April 1929. Mariama's early life encompasses the struggle to get educated in an atmosphere where females were denied access to equal opportunities as their male counterparts. It is however ironic that young Mariama was born into a home of highly educated parents in Dakar, where she lived with her family. Her father was a civil servant who later became one of the first ministers of the State – Health Minister, in 1956. Her grandfather at that period interpreted for the French Occupation Regime.
However, Mariama’s privileged upbringing was cut short when her mother died. So she had to be groomed by her maternal grandparents who were steeped in the cultural and traditional way of living. All of these experiences restricted her exposure, little wonder she only spent her early years in French school, combining Quranic studies with the French studies. But through these times, 's father never left her. He became her second teacher. He made sure she was able to read French fluently, and took her on tour while he worked for sometimes in Dahomey, now Benin Republic.

Despite the countering forces of 's maternal grandparents, her father ensured he gave his best to see her presentable and fulfilled through education, the best legacy. Berthe Maubert, Mariama's French teacher, proved helpful too. She taught her the basics, the reading and writing, and was supportive throughout that period.

Throughout her Arabic school, was focused and determined to succeed despite apparent challenges. She excelled as the best student with the highest score in a West African competition, automatically gaining admission into one of the best French training schools – the Ecole Normale de Rufisque.

After her secondary studies, Mariama trained as a teacher. She taught for 12 years (1947 - 1959) before she was transferred to the Regional Inspectorate of teaching as an educational inspector. There her writing muse was born. In her early works, she acknowledged the efforts of her teachers and grandmother; all were great influence to her writing prowess.
Une si Longue Lettre, translated, as So Long a Letter, was 's first novel published in 1979. The novella expresses Mariama’s empathy for African women as they go through the unnecessary, overwhelming exercise of traditional superstitions. She depicts the sorrow a widow (Ramatoulaye), faces at the death of her husband (Moudou Fall) which forces her to resign and resume mourning with his younger wife. So Long a Letter, like twilight, became popular and widely accepted especially Africa women. Written in French, the novella was translated into English, Dutch, German, Japanese, Russian, and Swedish within a short time. Abiola Irele described the piece as "the most deeply felt presentation of the female condition in African fiction." In addition, the work also won the first prize in Noma for African Publishing in 1980.

Mariama Bâ was said to have strongly opposed feminism and supported women's empowerment instead. She wrote and spoke in local and international newspapers about this. Her immense contributions were felt in the nooks and crannies of African continent as issues treated in the novella resonated with an unimaginable number of people, mostly married women.    

Apart from So Long a Letter, Mariama also came up with Political Function of African Literature in 1981. She states firmly in it the strength of a woman in the development of Africa. She believes every woman contributes to the growth and welfare of the nation. Mariama would not have stopped at that, however, a prolonged health condition terminated her progress shortly before her second novel, The Scarlet Song, was published in 1986. At the time, she was mother of nine, married to Obeye Diop, a member of the parliament in Senegal whom she later divorced. So up till her death she was a dogged and focused single parent.

To recognise Mariama Bâ’s immense contributions to Senegalese literature, a school founded in 1977 by Leopold Sedar Senghor, first president of Senegal, was named after her. The school stood as a learning centre for selected Senegalese students who did excellently well in their entry examinations. Students from a11 regions of Senegal had the opportunity to attend the school all their remaining years.

Mariama Bâ, who died on August 17, 1981, was an epitome of courage and steadfastness, not only in her personal life, but also in her strategic contributions to Africa and particularly women's world.
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Monday, April 10, 2017

Biography of Ayi Kwei Armah

Biography of Ayi kwei Armah

Ayi Kwei Armah, one of Africa’s literary icons, a Ghanaian, was born on 28 October, 1939. He was born in the sea port of West Ghana, Sekondi Takoradi, to Fante-speaking royal parents from the Ga nation.You know what, Ayi is much more than a writer. Though he majored as a novelist, he also has written essays, poems, and short stories.

Armah attended Achimota School (1953 - 1958), a reputable learning institution in his time. Ayi Kwei was funded for school abroad through a scholarship he won. His stay in United States lasted four years (1958 - 1964). Within this period, he completed his secondary education in Groton Schools, in Groton, Massachusetts, enjoyed quality education at the world-class Harvard University where he received a degree in Sociology. Ayi later moved to Algeria, where he worked as a translator for a magazine, Revolution Africaine.

He returned to Ghana, where he was engaged in writing and teaching. He wrote scripts for Ghana Television, and taught English at Navarongo Schools. Ayi edited Paris's magazine of the Jeune Antique, after which he studied and obtained M. F. C in Creative Writing. When Armah was in his thirties, he taught through the College of National Education, Chamg'omge and the National University of Lesotho in East Africa. He once lived in Dakar, Senegal and taught at Amherst, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison respectively. This was in the 1980's, when Armah was in his forties.  

Arma's first novel, which threw him into limelight, was published in 1968. Not after many series of publishing short stories and poems in the Ghanaian and Harper's magazine, Atlantic monthly and New African magazine since 1960, did he emerge with The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born – a depiction and structural representation of the Ghanaian life with a nameless character struggling to realize the deeds of post-independence. This work was so much recognised nationally and internationally that it was controversially criticised by literary critics. The great Nigerian renowned novelist, Chinua Achebe commended his skill and literary efficacy, yet observed that there should be no specific home for the nameless character in the novel. In his words, "no name, no home." Armah got angry, and replied with abusive letters in angry tones to Achebe.

His second novel, Fragments, published in 1970 reflects his hatred for bribery and corruption. Ayi Kwei was able to contrast the world of corruption, imbalance and injustice to a life of genuine uprightness, integrity, and equity in the piece. In a style which wraps up the Ghanaian society of that day, the novel's character is a protagonist named Baako, who has lived in the United States and studied there. Upon returning home, he finds the highest level of moral decadence and a life governed by materialism, irreligious lifestyle, and apprehensive attitude towards wealth and fame.

Also in 1972, Armah published Why Are We So Blest? It is an interesting novel with its setting in an American University; its main character is a student of Harvard School, who later drops out. The novel ends in an unhappy note as Modin, the character, struggles to adapt to strange Western values and the reality of independence.

Armah continued with his literary activities and in 1973 came up with another novel titled Two Thousand Seasons, which centres on the cruelty of slave trade in those days. In the novel, Ayi Kwei excellently discusses the matters arising from the perspective of the oppressions from the leaders to the ruled masses, clamouring change.

In 1979, he appeared with yet another work titled The Healers. This book contains a mixture of facts and fictions about the fallen Ashanti Empire. Its title represents the traditionalists and occultists who are bent on procuring solution to fragmentation, because it was seen as a lethal disease in Africa. He published no novel until 1995, when he emerged with Orisis Rising, which narrates the Egyptians' ordeal and a group of reformist working to stabilize the look of things at the ancient Egypt.

Ayi Kwei Armah, a great novelist, essayist, story writer, and poet, was recognised as one whose prowess aligns with the likes of Great African writers such as Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka.
Most of his works were criticised destructively, for instance, Two Thousand Seasons, was noted for repetition and lack of clarity. However, Wole Soyinka praised its vision, sophistication and humane approach.

All through Armah's writings, he dealt with the plight and struggles of Africa. Mainly concerned with creating a Pan-African organisation, which will embrace diverse cultures and languages of the continent, he once requested the adoption of Kiswahili as a continental language. Obviously, Ayi Kwei Armah is a blessing to the African literary world, which embodies the characteristics of a patriotic citizen of no mean city, touching issues that affect all and sundry.

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Friday, February 3, 2017

Biography of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

Ngugi wa Thiong'o

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, a renowned writer from Kenya, whose literary pen speaks eloquently in both English and Gikuyu, was born on 5th of January 1938. Originally named James Thiong’o Ngugi, the prolific writer has penned down a great deal of plays, novels, short stories and essays - not only in the familiar English but also in Gikuyu his mother tongue.

Ngũgĩ was born in Kamiriithu, close to district of Kiambu in Kenya. The war of Mau Mau, which lasted ten years (1952 - 1962), affected him largely. Right from time, Ngugi was a fierce fighter against economic and social injustice, an attribute that he has demonstrated many times both in his country and in most of his writings.

Mnwagi, Thiongo's half-brother was member of the Land And Freedom Army in Kenya fighting the land war - a recurrent issue in most of Ngũgĩ's novels. Also, his mother was tortured during war time at Kamiriithu home guard post. With this, growing was not fun for the Young Ngũgĩ Wa Thiong'o. However, none of these would wear out Ngugi's love for writing. He started to write at an early age. His first play The Black Hermit produced in Kampala in 1962; he wrote it while a student.

As a critic, Ngũgĩ once wrote a controversial piece titled I Will Marry When I Want, which led to his arrest by the Kenyan President, Daniel Arap Moi in December 31, 1977.

Even in prison, Ngũgĩ's intense love for writing prompted him to write on toilet tissues, his first novel Caitaani mũtharaba-Inĩ in Gikiyu. This work was later published in English as Devil on the Cross. He was released in December 1978 after a strong international campaign against his arrest.

But his voice as a writer cum activist, renowned lecturer in colleges and universities was sored. He was barred to perform for the country under Moi's dictatorship. Thiong'o's life in Kenya during this trying period made him launch his novel Devil On The Cross in Britain. As if that's not enough, when the renowned African literary genius returned to Kenya, Moi's men were reportedly said to be after his head.

As a result, he remained in exile for 7 years (1982 - 1989) first in Britain, later in the U.S. He resided in America for 12 years (1989 - 2002). Still, Moi tracked him, traced him and schemed for his deport from London and other countries he visited.

In 1986, an effort to get him assassinated was foiled by the securities at the conference in Harere. Nonetheless, not all of these were enough to distract the indefatigable Kenyan novelist from continuing to engage I what he loves - writing. In short, he worked harder in exile. His novel Matigiri in Gikuyi was published in 1986 after he was saved from the claws of assassins.

Moi ordered his arrest a second time. He thought the novel's main character was non-fiction, which personalized a political feature. When Moi later realized this was true, he then banned the novel, not to be sold anywhere in Kenya. Moi went to the extent of removing all Ngũgĩ's books from educational institutions in the country.

He worked with the London Based Committee for 14 years (1982 - 1996). There he pursued the release of political prisoners in Kenya. He was determined to work tirelessly to put an end to constrained rulership in the country, for he longed to see a country in which freedom, human right and fairness will be established. Also, Ngugi shuffled between universities and colleges where he worked as professor and writer on visit. He first worked at Bayreuth University (1984), Borough of Islington, London (1985).

In 2006, Ngũgĩ published yet another novel titled Wizard of the Crow, an English translated version of Murogi wa Kagogo which instantly like many of his works became a hit.

Ngũgĩ is a gem as far as great work of literature is concerned, most especially one that documents the African heritage in its truest and most graphic form. 
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Friday, January 20, 2017

BIOGRAPHY – Chinua Achebe

Biography Chinua Achebe

Born Albert Chinụalụmọgụ Achebe on 16th November, 1930 in Ogidi town (now Anambra), east of Nigeria to the family of Isaiah Okafo and Janet Ilogbunam, Chinua Achebe, as he is often called, is a renowned Nigerian novelist. He is also an educationist, author, and poet.

The fifth of six children, Achebe’s childhood was traditional. His parents were Christian converts of the British representatives' Church Mission Society (CMS). Prior to this, they were deeply accustomed to the Igbo custom and tradition. But young Achebe was groomed in the Christian way, though he became interested in his ancestral ways of life.
He had his first education at St Philips Central School in 1936. Just six years of age, he was recognized as an intelligent and a skilled reader. Little wonder that in 1944 he sat for entrance exams and was admitted to the reputable Government College in Onitsha.
With the plan to dispose traditional languages, English was enforced in the British Public Schools. In standard school (now secondary), he was promoted for his brilliant performance in his studies. Because he was studious, he became one of the six outstanding students in class. As a result, he completed his standard education in 4 years instead of 5.

This was when he started to develop interest in ‘African’ and American literature. From Booker T Washington's book, Up From Slavery (1901) – an autobiography of the former African slave, a book which proffered solution to how the blacks can be freed from slavery, Achebe realised some realities about life. He also read notable novels such as Gulliver's Travel, David Copperfield, Treasured Island coupled with colonial tales from these books – H. Rider Haggard's Allan Quatermain (1887) and John Buchan's Prester John (1910). From these studies, he detected high level of reasoning and heroic qualities among the whites. As a result, he detested the degree of misunderstanding and attitude of the blacks, most especially, their crafty nature. Due to his excellent performance in his examonations, Achebe bagged a scholarship to study medicine in the first Nigeria University College, now University of Ibadan in 1994.

However, he changed his mind after he read a literature from the European, Joyce Cary, Mr Johnson, which presents Nigeria's culture with contempt and disrespect.

Moved by this unacceptable portrayal of his motherland, he crossed from medicine to studying English, theology and history, forfeited his scholarship to pay tuition for his new course and settled to commence what he really found delight in.

He started writing while in the University. His first work, which gained publicity was an article titled ‘Polar Undergraduate’ published in the University Herald in 1950. In this article Achebe portrayed with humor and irony the praise of his classmates' inventiveness and mental power. Since then, Achebe has not stopped writing.

Subsequently, he wrote letters and essays as regards academic issues like freedom and educational systems. He also served as editor of the University Herald publications from 1951 - 1952. Also, he wrote his first short story, ‘In a Village Church’, it narrated how the rural Nigeria contended with the new development of Christianity and new faith. He wrote some more, among which were ‘The Old Order in Conflict with the New’, and ‘Dead Men's Path’. These two detailed the struggles of modern traditions and how they affect cultural values.

After his studies at the University in 1953, he graduated with second class degree.
Confused of what to engage in, he returned to Ogidi his home town. There, he was convinced by a friend of his who came on a visit to enroll in teaching profession at Merchants of Lights School, Oba. He agreed, taught for four months before an opportunity to work at the NBS (Nigeria Broadcasting Service) arose in 1954. He wrote scripts for oral broadcast and this aided him to master the skill to write dialogues and conversational tones excellently.

He began work on his first novel during this time. He matched his experiences and vowed to present realistic cultural views, which has long been misinterpreted. He went as far as London to ensure the book was properly revised and edited.

In 1956, he was selected at the Staff school run by British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). He left Nigeria for England to develop his technical expertise on productions, and he was privileged to check progress on his work too. Finally, his Things Fall Apart was published.

In the award-winning novel, instruments of colonial rule and the struggle of a strict title-holder by the character, Okonkwo, to succumb to the new system brought to the clan in his absence clearly shows Chinua's competence in storytelling and traditional knowledge.

Things Fall Apart skyrocketed Chinua Achebe's writing career as the novel was well received in 
several countries of the world. It was also translated to various languages, which enhanced its publicity. Other novels which followed were No Longer at Ease (1960), The arrow of God (1964), The Man Of The People (1966).

In 1962, Chinua was promoted at the NBS, and he helped to boost the Voice of Nigeria network. The station had its first broadcast on New Year's Eve of 1962. In 1967, Achebe founded a Press company at Enugu, together with the renowned poet, Christopher Okigbo, who died in the Biafra war, which Chinua also supports. A few years later, Chinua published various children's book and short stories, which includes Chike and the River and How the Leopard Got his Claws (1973). He also collected poetry such as Beware, Soul Brother (1971) and Christmas in Biafra (1973). In addition, in 1975, he wrote an essay collection titled Morning Yet On Creation Day, and then he returned to the University of Nigeria in 1976 to continue his service. Later in 1982, the prolific writer retired.

In the 1980's, Chinua was busy attending conferences and meetings, giving speeches.
In 1987, Chinua Achebe released another thrilling novel, Anthills of the Savannah, a fictitious novel which tells the tale of a military coup in Africa. Following this was Hopes and Impediments, published in 1988.

1990 opens with a tragic incident of car accident, which nearly affected Chinua's progress as he was confined to a wheel chair all his remaining years of his life. Yet, he didn't relent, he moved to the United States, waxed stronger and became the Professor of languages and literature at Bard College, New York. He didn't stop to write. Despite his physical challenges this period, Achebe wrote another essay collection titled Home and Exile in 2000.

In 2009, he worked as a professor in Africanna Studies at Brown University as well as David and Marina Fisher University. Same year, he published a short piece with the title – “The Education of a British Protected Child.”  

Chinua Achebe's writing career won him several awards such as the Commonwealth Poetry Price (1982), Foreign Honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2002), Nigerian National Order of Merit, Peace Price of the German Book Trade (2002), Man Booker International Prize (2007), Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize (2010), to mention only the most prominent. He also received over thirty Honorary Awards from universities around the world.

China Achebe died on March 21, 2013 after a brief undisclosed illness. But before this time, the great Achebe – an iconic writer the literary world will forever miss – published one of his most controversial book, a memoir titled There Was A Country: A Personal History of Biafra. Months after months, rolling into a year the book was published, it generated fierce arguments among Nigerians home and abroad.

Indeed Chinua Achebe was more than a novelist; perhaps he was the conscience of our beloved country Nigeria – a great example of steadfastness in what one thought to be the truth.

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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Top 14 Facts About Wole Soyinka You Probably Didn't Know

The name, Wole Soyinka, is no doubt, phenomenal. It embodies many great things – activism, social crusade, satire, theatre, dramatization, literature, and the list is endless. In short, Wole Soyinka is a name associated with undying love for one’s country. And of course the man behind the name is a fierce, adamant social reformer whose literary prowess has been dedicated to the cause of social justice and cultural originality for years. He’s one of Nigeria’s finest writers, and sort of a jack of all – but of course Soyinka is a master of his trade. The iconic Literary Kongi transcends the written words; hear him speak and you’ll be amazed at how richly endowed a man could be – his speeches (one of which I was privileged to listen to live at the main auditorium at the University of Lagos) are electrifying. He is such a gem.

Now, how would hearing more of this great man of letters feel like? Great, right?


Below I’ve compiled 14 interesting facts about Oluwole Soyinka you probably never knew before.

1. Wole Soyinka is the First African to win the Nobel Prize for Literature

Yes, that was in 1986, a distinct era. What an awesome way to reward excellence!
Soyinka had written in virtually all genres of writing. His thought-provoking poems such as "The Interpreters", “Abiku” and “Night” are unique and powerfully aesthetic.
He also wrote while in prison, Season of Agony (1973) talks about his prison terms. Ake (1981) describes his early childhood.

All of these culminate in his being awarded the prestigious prize in 1986. After varieties of pieces of his literally works that affect and check even political issues, he was deemed fit to receive a Nobel Prize.

2. Wole was among the founders of the first Confraternity in Nigeria

In 1952, Wole Soyinka with six friends founded a Pyrate Confraternity in the University College, Ibadan.

This group aims to bridge the gap between elite college students and the middle class.
It also seeks to judge evil doers and minimize corruption. The group has survived and expanded, with its kinds in many countries today. Talk of Confraternities in Nigeria today and you’ll hear the name, Wole Soyinka as the brain behind its existence.

3. He is referred to as "the conscience of the nation"

Wole Soyinka is an active Nigerian who desires peace for the nation. He was ever ready to fight against injustice in the country. Even during the military regime, the literary icon was known for criticizing authorities, unfavourable policies and corrupt manners of the government would not have their ways where Wole Soyinka lives. No wonder he said in one of his books titled The Man Died, “The man dies in him who keeps silent in the face of tyranny.”

4. Wole Soyinka resigned from his University position as a protest

Wole Soyinka had to protest against the anti-people policy introduced by the government of the day. When he felt his position in the University would prevent him from achieving this aim, he resigned. What a man of courage!

5. Wole Soyinka is related to the family of Ransome Kuti

Wole's mother is a member of the notable Ransome Kuti’s family. The Ransome-Kutis are a prominent family in Nigeria. The renowned, fierce Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti was one of the few courageous women’s rights activities Nigeria has ever had. In short, the Kutis are known for their contribution to the nation in art, politics, music, and cultural values.

6. He served jail terms

Wole's love and patriotism for Nigeria earned him imprisonment, not once -- twice. In 1965, he was arrested due to his firm stand to prosecute the issue of election malpractice. Wole Soyinka forced a radio announcer to broadcast that the election was false, claiming that it was rigged. After three months, the campaign from the International Community of Writers prompted his release.

In 1967, during the Civil War, Soyinka was accused of supporting the Biafrans. For this too, he was imprisoned for 22 months.

7. He wrote in Prison

While in Prison, Wole Soyinka's Muse never forsook him. Though denied access to materials, he managed to smuggle in pieces of tissues and liters to write on. Even while in the prison, he continued to writes notes and never stopped speaking tough against the government for its injustice and violation of fundamental human rights.

8. He exiled himself

In a bid to mediate between the two elephants in the Nigerian Civil War of 1967-1970, Wole Soyinka secretly organized a meeting attended by himself, the then military governor Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu and others. He went into hiding after this event was later exposed. Also in 1994, during the rule of Gen. Sanni Abacha, he feared being arrested for advocating democracy in Nigeria. So, he fled the country for Paris. Later, he was to be seen living in the United States. However, when Sanni Abacha died in 1998, the indefatigable Soyinka returned home.

9. He's married three times, divorced twice.

Wole married his first wife Barbara Dixon in 1958, a British writer. And his second marriage was to Olaide Idowu, a Nigerian librarian in 1963. Both ended in a divorce.
His third wife Doherty Folake Soyinka was his student while he lectured at the University of Ife. Even though Folake's parents despised her idea to marry him due to his fame and especially his campus activities which were at the time considered ‘dangerous’, they later agreed when her siblings consented to the idea. He married her in 1989.

10. He is considered foremost a political activist

Nigerians value Wole Soyinka largely for his actions against injustice. What really made him famous was his criticism of successive governments. Most of his popular works, especially his plays, were a form of protest against societal injustice and exploitation of the people by the government.

11. He was named Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

In 1986, General Ibrahim Babangida awarded Wole Soyinka and named him the Commander of Federal Republic of Nigeria, an honour established in 1964 for citizens who have demonstrated immense positive contributions to the nation’s international image. It's one among the National Honors of Nigeria awarded to appreciate useful citizens of the country.

12. He's received other prestigious awards

He's widely known to have received a Nobel Prize in Literature. But the literary giant has aslo received other awards including Agip Prize in Literature (1986), ‘Honoris Causa’ doctorate from the University of Leeds (1972), Honorary doctorate from Harvard University (1993), UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for the Promotion of African culture, human rights, freedom of expression, media and communication (1994), Academy of Achievement Golden Plate Award (2009), to mention but a few.

13. Soyinka has an undying love for Nelson Mandela

Wole Soyinka displayed his love for the South African madiba Nelson Mandela when he dedicated his speech to him on the day of his award. Who knows, the Nobel Laureate winner must have got his lion-heartedness against injustice from the ‘husband’ of South African Apartheid system! Both Madiba and Soyinka had been imprisoned for fighting the cause of social justice and both remained unbroken and steadfast during their incarceration.  

14. Wole Soyinka condemns injustice not only in Nigeria, but in other countries too

Wole Soyinka does not limit his activities as an activist to Nigeria alone. He generally addresses other countries of the world too. Of course, Soyinka did not spare the likes of Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Idi Amin of Uganda and other chronically corrupt African leaders, of his literary koboko. Remember his brilliant satire, A Play of Giants.   

Now let’s face it: Wole Soyinka is one of the best writers the world has ever known. Well, many have compared this literary guru with William Shakespeare. But the truth is, none is like the other. To the great Shakespeare his world, to Soyinka his. Comparison or not, Soyinka is unique and literary feat should not be judged from a myopic lens – see him as not only an accomplished writer but also a fierce, never-say-never human rights activist. And the greatest voice the Nigerian literary scene has heard for many years. His latest work entitled Interinventions about which he himself said ‘My new book will draw blood’ is said to be – to be mild – mindboggling!

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Monday, November 7, 2016

Top 9 Time Management Tips for College Students

Time Management for College Students
Time lost can never be regained, the saying goes.

True, time management can be very difficult, especially when it comes to keeping up with so many tasks within a short time.

No wonder, everybody seems fond of the saying: 'There's no time!'

Between going to classes, doing assignments, taking tests, taking up a job and blending in some social activities, college students often stray and grow weary of keeping up with their schedules. As such, many have dropped out, others rusticated. Some even jeopardized their health.  No thanks to poor time management.

Fortunately, there's a way out. Below I've explained 9 effective ways you could manage your time to achieve success in your endeavours.

1.                       Make plans

As a student in college who wants to start on the right track, taking note of the semester's course calendar and making a to-do list on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, will help you know the due dates for some specific assignments, tests and will really help you avoid procrastination.

2.                      Break down projects

Being overwhelmed often leads to procrastination which eventually causes poor performance. Are you scared of a task, probably because it's too difficult? Or boring?

Yes, being scared or bored by a task often makes one lose the zeal to work, especially when the lecturer feels his course is indispensable.

But when you break down larger and complex projects, you are giving yourself more time for other things and you won't always have to get goosebumps by merely thinking about a task.

3.                    Beware of Time-wasters

One of the simplest yet efficient time management tips is by taking note of the things and people that drain your time. On realising the amount of time you spend on trivial things, you will be able to manage your time and fight distractions.

4.                   Be healthy

Going to school shouldn't make you neglect your wellbeing. Your school knows this much and that is why they ask for your health status in your first year. Likewise, you can't expect a person who is not in the right state of mind to perform effectively in both academic and social activities. So, by exercising your body regularly, eating a balanced diet, taking enough rest, you will increase your alertness and reduce stress. That way, you get things done faster and better.

5.                   Know yourself

Know your method and what works for you. If you're a social person, studying alone can be tiring and can hinder productivity. You can organise a reading group after lectures or in the later part of the day. But if you're a diehard lone reader, you have to discover the time of the day that works for you and use it to your advantage.

6.                     Be reflective

A simple way to improve your time management skill is to reflect on the things that you spend your time on. Knowing the task you didn't do well and the amount of time you devoted to it, would help you to reschedule your time for better result later.

7.                      Be flexible

Do not think you will always have to stick with the plan. No, I'm not saying you shouldn't be devoted or organised. I'm talking reality. Do make plans for unforeseen contingencies. To avoid getting disorganised on hearing that you have to submit an assignment faster than the due date, or maybe you fall sick two days to a test, then you need to have a plan-B and set aside time for these events.

8.                       Stay organised

In order to manage your time well and avoid disorganisation, you have to stick to your plans religiously. Don't bring in anything that doesn't belong except, maybe for something really important. Then, you have to adjust the time set for some easy tasks or you use part of your free time to achieve your aim.

9.                       Be disciplined

Yes, be disciplined! No one can achieve anything worthwhile if they aren't disciplined. Talk of making a plan, sticking to it, doing a particular thing continually. No! It won't be easy, but it takes self-discipline to turn a difficult task to an enjoyable one. It always turns out great in the end. In one word, being disciplined pays.

In sum, you need to always remind yourself that you are a college student. Try as much as you can to avoid distraction. And remember that a successful time manager will be less stressed, get more sleep and feel better about a job well done. Ultimately, he becomes a successful college student in the end. 
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Saturday, October 8, 2016

How To Be A Successful College Student

Being educated is so crucial nowadays that being properly schooled is not an option but a necessity. From the stress we go through to our parents' financial commitment, the sacrifices for acquisition of quality education should be made worthwhile. When you consider this, putting in your best effort to be a successful college student becomes necessary.

Below are 10 practical ways to become successful as a college student.

1. Be Convinced
The first thing to think about is, are you ready for this? Do you have what it takes to be a college student? When you think that through, and you have made up your mind, then you can start your studies with the determination to succeed. This is the most important point you have to hold on to. The mindset that you have to be successful; that you want to be the top of your class, you have to come out in flying colours, you want to make your parents and your country proud should adorn all your activities in school. This you will carry about throughout your studies. It will keep you going in case you want to deviate from your goals.

2. Make it a priority
To be a successful student, you have to make your studies a priority. In college, engaging in too many activities can distract you from focusing on your goals; from a night out with your friends, to a party going on, a dance and beauty contest, to different types of shows. All these make a part of a college student. Taking part in them is cool, but not to the extent that you neglect your studies. For instance, spending the whole night at a club when you have an exam coming up in two days can be costly, you know.

3. Be punctual in class
If you want to be a successful student, you have to be punctual in class. Come early before the lecturer comes in to the class. Don't be a type that always comes to class when the lecture has already started. You wouldn't want to be seen as a distraction, would you? Find a good seat in front and be attentive.

4. Be regular in class
To be punctual doesn't mean you’re regular, you can be punctual, but if you're not regular, you'll miss a lot.  That means you're always in class for all the lectures. That way, you'll gain a lot. Instead of collecting notes from a friend, that does not pay attention or that does not write well, you're well loaded with direct understanding of the course work. So exam stops being a monster.

5. Be attentive
Being attentive is very important to be a successful student, because you would not miss a thing your lecturer is saying. So before entering the classroom, you should sort out anything that will distract you. From a friend that wants to borrow your note, or your phone that will ring out distracting the peace of the class. Sort all these, set your mind at the lecture and concentrate fully.

6. Always take note
It's beneficial to jot down every little thing the lecturer says and don't miss a thing. By doing so, it will help your reading and you will know the area to concentrate on for your exams, and you will be successful doing this.

7. Study daily
After the close of the day in college, make a habit to study daily what you have been taught in the class. Even if it's just two hours per day. You will be able to recollect what you've been taught. Just dedicate the convenient hour for yourself and be consistent with it. And before you know it, success is yours.

8. Ask questions
When you're in class and the lecture is going on, but you're not clear about what the lecturer is saying, raise your hands and ask to clarify. Also, when you don't understand what the lecturer is saying, ask questions. Always ask questions and do not assume. Do not be discouraged by what other students might think of your inquisitiveness.

9. Have a study partner
It's a good thing to have a study partner. Both of you can devise a plan towards your goal, and set a table for reading which you must follow. You can even motivate each other and set penalties for anyone that deviates. For example, you can say anyone that does not study will do the laundry.

10. Create a study group
It's also important to have a study group, where all of you can brainstorm on what each person has covered. However, it is the best during the period of exams. You can share knowledge and solve questions together.

In conclusion, when you go by the points above, acquiring sound education through excellent academic performance will no longer be dreadful. That way, you not only make yourself proud, you also delight your sponsor. Most importantly, you're preparing yourself for a great future. In short, you'll become a successful college student.
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