Look at the children of the land leaving in droves, leaving their own land with bleeding wounds on their bodies and shock on their faces and blood in their hearts and hunger in their stomachs and grief in their footsteps. Leaving their mothers and fathers and children behind, leaving their umbilical cords underneath the soil, leaving the bones of their ancestors in the earth, leaving everything that makes them who and what they are, leaving because it is no longer possible to stay. They will never be the same again because you cannot be the same once you leave behind who and what you are, you just cannot be the same.
NoViolet Bulawayo, "We Need New Names".
And these days it is worse, with the poverty of blackness on one side and the weight of womanhood on the other. Aiwa! What will help you, my child, is to learn to carry your burdens with strength.
…condemning Nyasha to whoredom, making her a victim of her femaleness, just as I had felt victimised at home in the days when Nhamo went to school and I grew my maize. The victimisation, I saw, was universal. It didn’t depend on poverty, on lack of education or on tradition. It didn’t depend on any of the things I had thought it depended on. Men took it everywhere with them. Even heroes like Babamukuru did it. And that was the problem…all conflicts came back to the question of femaleness. Femaleness as opposed and inferior to maleness.
A quote from Zimbabwean writer Tsitsi Dangarembga's debut novel Nervous Conditions, book I love more and more every time it’s brought up in conversation.
So many of the words in this book, and both Nyasha and Tambu’s lives, resonate so deeply with my experiences.
AUGUST: Celebrating African Women
When our tears are dry on the shore
and the fishermen carry their nets home
and the seagulls return to bird island
and the laughter of the children recedes at night
there shall still linger the communion we forged
the feast of oneness whose ritual we partook of
There shall still be the eternal gateman
who will close the cemetery doors
and send the late mourners away
It cannot be the music we heard that night
that still lingers in the chambers of memory
It is the new chorus of our forgotten comrades
and the halleluyahs of our second selves
Hey, do you have any recommendations for books about contemporary Nigeria or post-independence Nigeria?
Hey there! I have quite a few but I’ll only post the first ten that come to mind so as not to get carried away (listed in no particular order):
- A Man of the People - Chinua Achebe
- Purple Hibiscus - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- Everything Good Will Come - Sefi Atta
- The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives
- Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
- Looking for Transwonderland - Noo Saro-Wiwa
- A Month and a Day - Ken Saro-Wiwa
- The Spider King’s Daughter - Chibundu Onuzo
- Graceland - Chris Abani
- The Ghost of Sani Abacha - Chuma Nwokolo
Nothing was left beyond the necessity of digging oneself deeper and deeper into the holes in which there could never be anything like life. But perhaps the living dead could take some solace in the half-thought that there were so many others dead in life with them. So many, so frighteningly many, that maybe in the end even the efforts one made not to join them resulted only in another, more frustrating kind of living death.
Lines from Ghanaian writer Ayi Kwei Armah’s classic novel The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, which I’m currently reading,that resonated with me deeply on feelings of depression and aimless living.