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13 Historical Facts on Nigerian Literature

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Source: lacrosselibrary.org

 

1.      Written literature was introduced to Northern Nigeria in the 15th century by Arab scholars and traders; and Southern Nigeria, via missionary activities in the 1840s. 2.      The need to translate the bible for the new converts in Southern Nigeria led to some of the first publications in the country: A Grammar of the Ibo Language (1840) by pioneer missionary, Rev. J.F. Schon and A Vocabulary of the Yoruba Language (1843) by Samuel Ajayi Crowther, an ex-slave and the first African Bishop of the Niger Diocese of the Church Missionary Society. 3.      The first literature in English by a Nigerian was titled “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano” aka “Gustava, the African” (1789) by Olaudah Equiano, an ex-slave. The book was an autobiography detailing how he was kidnapped as a boy of 12 from his village of Essaka near Benin and sold to a white slave trader, and how he eventually obtained his freedom. It became an instant best-seller, running into its ninth edition by the time of the author’s death in 1797. The Palmwine Drinkard 4.      The first indigenous novel in English was titled “The Palm-Wine Drinkard” (1952) by the legendary Amos Tutuola, a drop-out, as a result of the death of his father. Before his death in June 1997, he was a visiting fellow of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, an honour that confirmed his international recognition. 5.      The Nigerian Civil War (1967 – 1970), which is said to have claimed the lives of over 100,000 soldiers, also claimed the life of one of the country’s most celebrated poets, Christopher Okigbo, and caused untold hardship to other writers like Wole Soyinka, who was detained for crying out against the atrocities perpetrated in the war. 6.      The War also provided inspiration for many writers, particularly those directly involved; it led to the birth Elechi Amadi’s Sunset in Biafra (1973), Wole Soyinka’s The Man Died (1972), Chukuemeka Ike’s Sunset at Dawn (1976), Ken SaroWiwa’s Sozaboy (1985), and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun (2007). Efuru 7.      Flora Nwapa, author of Efuru (1966), was the first published Nigerian female novelist and the first woman in Africa to have her work published in London. 8.      The first writing competition in Nigeria held in 1963 sponsored by the Ministry of Education 9.      The first novel in Igbo, Omenuko, was published in 1933 by Pita Nwana. 10.  While Yoruba became a written language in 1842. The earliest Yoruba book of poetry written by a Nigerian was “Kekere Iwe Orin Aribiloso” (1886) by Moses Lijadu. Ogboju Ode Ninu Igbo Irunmole 11.  The first Yoruba novel was “Itan Emi Segilola Eleyinjuege, Elegberun oko laiye” (1930) by Isaac B. Thomas. While Daniel Olurunfemi Fagunwa’s (who is said to be the best known Yoruba novelist) “Ogboju Ode Ninu Igbo Irunmale” (1938), is arguably the most popular literary work in Yoruba, which has been translated into English by Wole Soyinka as The Forest of a Thousand Daemons (1968). 12.  Zaynab Alkali is the first Nigerian female writer in English to emerge from the North. Her debut novel “The Stillborn” was published in 1984. 13.  Chinua Achebe’s legendary novel, Things Fall Apart (1958), has been translated into about 50 languages globally and has sold more than 12 million copies.   By Olusola Agbaje

The post 13 Historical Facts on Nigerian Literature appeared first on Aphroden.

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