Achebe and Friends: The Making of a Literary Elite (2015)

by Terri Ochiagha (James Currey 2015)

WINNER OF THE ASAUK FAGE & OLIVER PRIZE 2016

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The first in-depth scholarly study of the literary awakening in the 1940s and ’50s of Nigeria’s “first-generation” writers Chinua Achebe, Elechi Amadi, Chike Momah, Christopher Okigbo and Chukwuemeka Ike in the context of their education at Government College, Umuahia, an elite colonial boarding school. The author provides fresh perspectives on Postcolonial and World literary processes, colonial education in British Africa, literary representations of colonialism, Chinua Achebe’s seminal position as a writer and the implications of this very particular education for African literature as a whole.

 

 Reviews

‘Focusing on the emergence of an African elite at Government College Umuahia and their turn to literature as a mode of self-expression, Terri Ochiagha’s Achebe and Friends answers one of the outstanding questions in African literary history: Why did the most important group of pioneer writers emerge from one institution in Eastern Nigeria in the last decades of colonial rule? Ochiagha combines the archival skills of a cultural historian with the sensibilities of a literary critic to produce perhaps one of the most important commentaries on African literature in recent years. This is a remarkable book on the origins of African literature and an unmatched model of how to do the literary history of the postcolonial world.’  –  SIMON GIKANDI, Robert Schirmer Professor of English (Princeton)

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Chinua Achebe

‘Offers compelling insights into the development of Nigeria’s most celebrated writers, and provides a much-needed account of how their education at Umuahia contributed to their success.’  – TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

‘A major study….this book is a new perspective on British colonial education in Nigeria and the development of Nigeria’s modern literature, especially in the way the writers’ visions were shaped to re-inscribe African literature.’ – AFRICA BOOK LINK

‘Groundbreaking on many fronts. Not only is it “the first in-depth scholarly study of the literary awakening of the young intellectuals who became known as Nigeria’s ‘first-generation’ writers in the post-colonial period”; it also, subtly, proposes a new framework for receiving and interrogating the works of said writers.’ – TORCH

About the Author

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Terri Ochiagha being awarded the ASAUK Fage & Oliver Prize 2016 by Prof Karin Barber.

 

Terri Ochiagha holds one of the prestigious British Academy Newton International Fellowships (2014-16) hosted by the School of English, University of Sussex. She was previously a Senior Associate Member of St Antony’s College, University of Oxford.

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Sol Plaatje’s Native Life in South Africa: Past and Present (2016)

Edited by Janet Remmington, Brian Willan and Bhekizizwe Peterson
Foreword by Njabulo Ndebele

First published in 1916, Sol Plaatje’s Native Life in South Africa was written by one of the South Africa’s most talented early 20th-century black leaders and journalists. Plaatje’s pioneering book arose out of an early African National Congress campaign to protest against the discriminatory 1913 Natives Land Act. Native Life vividly narrates Plaatje’s investigative journeying into South Africa’s rural heartlands to report on the effects of the Act and his involvement in the deputation to the British imperial government. At the same time it tells the bigger story of the assault on black rights and opportunities in the newly consolidated Union of South Africa – and the resistance to it.

plaatjeOriginally published in war-time London, but about South Africa and its place in the world, Native Life travelled far and wide, being distributed in the United States under the auspices of prominent African-American WEB Du Bois. South African editions were to follow only in the late apartheid period and beyond.

The aim of this multi-authored volume is to shed new light on how and why Native Life came into being at a critical historical juncture, and to reflect on how it can be read in relation to South Africa’s heightened challenges today. Crucial areas that come under the spotlight in this collection include land, race, history, mobility, belonging, war, the press, law, literature, language, gender, politics, and the state.

 

“This superb collection of essays, photos, poems, and stories – some delightfully at odds with each other – focuses on a remarkable individual, but is about so much more than one man. It opens up conversations about the core issues of our times – a critical reclaiming of the value of liberalism, the politics of belonging, the meaning of democracy, the possibilities of land reform, control by hereditary elites over communal land, the complexities of gender and nationalism, the decolonisation of the curriculum, and what constitutes ‘real’ history, citizenship, personal mobility and press freedom.”

Prof Sandra Swart,  History (Stellenbosch University) 

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Solomon Tshekisho Plaatje (1876-1932)

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A Death Retold In Truth And Rumour: Kenya, Britain and the Julie Ward Murder (2015)

by Grace A. Musila 

(James Currey 2015)

Cover smallJulie Ann Ward was a British tourist and wildlife photographer who went missing in Kenya’s Maasai Mara Game Reserve in 1988 and was eventually found to have been murdered. Her death and the protracted search for her killers, still at large, were hotly contested in the media. Many theories emerged as to how and why she died, generating three trials, several ‘true crime’ books, and much speculation and rumour.

At the core of Grace A. Musila’s study are the following questions: why would this young woman’s death be the subject of such strong contestations of ideas and multiple truths? And what does this reveal about cultural productions of truth and knowledge in Kenya and Britain, particularly in the light of the responses to her disappearance of the Kenyan police, the British Foreign Office, and the British High Commission in Nairobi.

Building on existing scholarship on African history, narrative, gender and postcolonial studies, the author reveals how the Julie Ward murder and its attendant discourses o er insights into the journeys of ideas, and how these traverse the porous boundaries of the relationship between Kenya and Britain, and by extension, Africa and the Global North.

 

Screen Shot 2016-08-21 at 1.55.48 AMAnnie Gagiano in Safundi