Interview 001: “Structures improve our literature, not prizes.” – Chuma Nwokolo

by Troy Onyango

With about a dozen novels to his name, Chuma Nwokolo is one of the most prolific Nigerian writers of his generation. His trademark writing style, injecting humour into even the most tragic of situations, is one he says is elemental to him as life is grim already. A slender man, with a height that dwarfs everyone else’s in the room, grey hair and a dress code that places him firmly in his West African origin, he is difficult to miss. When he speaks, his voice booms, his eyes radiate and his hands and body are not left behind, something that draws you to listen to him.

His first novels, The Extortionist and Dangerous Inheritance were published in 1983 and 1988 respectively. These were then to be followed by African Tales at Jailpoint (1999), Diaries of a Dead African (2003), One More Tale for the Road (also in 2003), Memories of Stone (a poetry collection published in 2006), The Ghost of Sani Abacha (Short stories, 2012), How to Spell Naija in 100 Short Stories (2013), The Final Testament of a Minor God(Poetry, 2014), The Extinction of Minai (TBA) and How to Spell Naija in 100 Short Stories, Vol II which he was in Nairobi to launch.

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Writivism 2016 Shortlist: A Review

by Troy Onyango

The five entries shortlisted for the 2016 Writivism Short Story Prize (available on Munyori Literary journal) are stories we should all be eager to read since they explore an array of pertinent issues. Each of the stories boasts of a certain singularity and portrays the individual styles of the writers as they bring to us tales that leave us both in admiration and jealous of their talents.

Gloria Mwaniga’s “Boyi”, is a beautifully penned story that reminds us of the ravaging violence meted out on the people of the Mount Elgon region in Kenya by the militia group known as the Sabaot Land Defence Force (SALADEF). The story, narrated in first person by Boyi’s sister, follows Boyi’s family as it grapples with pain after their father, accused of betrayal when he lends the government surveyor a machete, hands over Boyi to the militia leader so as to save his family. And that is where the story begins. Grief engulfs the protagonist’s home and through this limbo and uncertainty as to whether Boyi is alive or not, we get to know more about his family.

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