Challenges of Nigerian Writers in English Essay

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Through this paper, I will present my personal response to Ayoola's article, 'Challenges to a new generation of Nigerian writers in English', which was first printed in Cambridge University Press's English Today, 85th Edition, Vol. 22, Issue 1, dated January, 2006.

The article's author narrates the challenges new Nigerian writers encounter in an atmosphere that treats rising authors in an unfriendly way. The experiences that are portrayed and analyzed in the article typify the experiences as well as predicament of these new creative writers. Language choice issues -- native tongue or English -- are reviewed, in addition to the many justifications, whether noble or not, presented for aspects like genre choice, audience recognition issues, the writer's reactions to the phenomena of globalization and democracy, and ineffective do-it-yourself (DIY) marketing/promotion and publishing (Kehinde Ayoola, 2006). Through this response paper, I will articulate my standpoint, in writing, with regard to the abovementioned article, and the values and concepts expressed in it by the writer. My aim is connecting personal experiences with the topic of the essay. It is my sincere hope that this reaction paper will offer readers a meaningful and transformative reading experience, arising from the interaction between the meanings I construed from the article and my readers' meanings (WHAT A RESPONSE PAPER IS AND IS NOT, 2016). This paper won't forthrightly refute Kehinde's views; rather, it will look into the factors contributing to Nigerian literature's current state.

The Journey So Far

English literature by Nigerian writers has seen extraordinary headway over the last fifteen years, expressing the struggles faced by a nation that is transitioning from colonialism to independence to democracy. Following a long-drawn-out 1967-70 fratricidal internal conflict and the oil-boom-turned-oil-doom that led to political and social upsets, the country has still not recovered from, Nigerian writers would inevitably accept a challenge, in my opinion. They have developed the different forms of Nigerian literature into a societal act against new Nigerian society's 'wantonness' (Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, 2014).

The Northern Nigerian literary conference saw the country's writers brainstorming on how they could establish institutions aimed at promoting Hausa literature. These entities, especially those geared at supporting publishers, translators, scholars and reviewers ready to teach, are vital to making Nigerian readers as well as readers across the globe aware of the thriving Hausa literature. People should be given no reason to believe the north remains quiet (Carmen Mccain, 2012), and such negativity may be redirected by good literature, projecting a positive image of the nation's people. Within the country, literature addressing the most effective means to place Nigeria on proper footing would serve to be a motivating catalyst to propel everyone in the nation towards sound nation-building. Lastly, I can see Nigeria's literature improving beyond inadequate sponsorship, absence of publishing houses and publishers, poor reading culture and other challenges. Adding to this is the need for new literature and authors, especially in the children- and gender- focused genres, for enabling the nation to achieve an enviable global techno-literary position (Taye Awoyemi-Arayela, 2013).

Though publishing is considered rather unimportant from an economic standpoint, it is highly vital to a nation's academic, cultural, and intellectual life. Further, knowledge products' creation and distribution is crucial to all civilizations.

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I believe it forms a central component of the emerging knowledge sector network as well, which proves highly valuable to postindustrial nations. It is, therefore, unsurprising that the WHO's (World Trade Organization's) latest trade negotiations debated and focused on the knowledge sector's regulation on an international level. Knowledge product conception and ownership are becoming increasingly important, owing to the significance of knowledge and information to postindustrial nations. Books continue to be a pivotal aspect of knowledge conception and ownership. Despite all this, the publishing sector is marked by major inequities, with most parts of Africa and the rest of the globe being sidelined by leading North American and European publishing centers (K.O. Darko-Ampem, 2000).

A Typical Nigerian Writer

Nigerian authors, being products of a blend of cultures, firstly belong to a society wherein oral traditions form their routine lifestyle. But, in my view, such integration of conventional spoken sources relies on their closeness to the source, the setting, their writings' ideological patterns, and their stylistic engagement. Moreover, as they form part of Nigeria's society, I feel their material will be sourced from Nigerian culture and, hence, their literary works will be guided by their social life. As suggested previously, Nigerians (in fact, all Africans in general), are the product of two different universes: the dual instruments of formal education and colonialism have trained them in European economic and social class systems. Such contact, owing to a historical accident, exposed foreign cultural values, beliefs, taste and philosophy to them. The outcome of such exposure was: absorption of many Western concepts by colonialized Nigerian people. Undoubtedly, the learned Africans of the colonial era considered the Whites as examples of civilization, as well as contemporary existence's leaders. To the colonized mind of Nigerians, English literature would then denote the standard, which would accord 'eternal value' to all kinds of literary works. At this juncture in the paper, one should bear in mind the fact that English literary works were a weapon employed to colonize and apparently "civilize" the illiterate people of Africa. The Europeans believed the "Dark Continent's" inhabitants were dark on a cultural, mental, and spiritual level as well, and required European "finesse" for becoming humans from the "beasts" that they originally were! Hence, imperialists relied heavily on colonial literature as an instrument for accelerating their self-assumed responsibility of 'taming' and refining Africa's people. Taking the above fact into account, I think one may be able to envisage the conditions, which created the Nigerian country as well as its literature (Taye Awoyemi-Arayela, 2013).

Publishers of English Writing

The origins of Nigerian reading culture's downturn and, as a result, the closure of its publishing centers may be traced back to somewhere around the mid-1980s to early-1990s. However, surprisingly, this was just preceded by remarkable novels like Bloodbath at Lobster Close, Mark of the Cobra, The Worshippers, The Black Temple, Stop Press: Murder, Angel of Death, State Secret and other notable Macmillan titles, from the Pacesetters African Series,….....

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Dennis Abrams. (2015, July 9). Is a Lack of Blockbusters Crippling African Publishing? Retrieved from Publishing Perspectives:

Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma. (2014). Nigerian Literature: Beyond Languages and Borders. 20th International Publishing & Book Fair. Morocco: National Institute for Cultural Orientation.

Carmen Mccain. (2012). The Silent North? Problems in Studies of Northern Nigerian Literature. Daily Trust.

Dr Yemi Ogunsiji. (2012). The Challenges and Prospects of Hybridizing Aspects of L1 & L2 in the Teaching of Language and Literature in Nigeria. British Journal of Arts and Social Sciences, 6-12.

Emma Shercliff. (2015, December 9). The changing face of Nigerian literature. Retrieved from British Council:

K.O. Darko-Ampem. (2000, April). Indigenous publishing in Africa: An overview of accelerated training and research, and African self-help efforts. Retrieved from Mots pluriels:

Kehinde Ayoola. (2006, January). Challenges to a new generation of Nigerian writers in English. English Today.

Ofodu Graceful Onovughe. (2014). Governance and Language Loss among Youths in Nigeria. IOSR Journal Of Humanities And Social Science, 42-49.

Taye Awoyemi-Arayela. (2013). Nigerian Literature In English: The Journey So Far? International Journal of Humanities and Social Science Invention, 29-36.

Timothy T. Ajani. (2007). Is There Indeed A "Nigerian English"? Journal of Humanities and Cosial Sciences.


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