Asa has since 2004 been a tingling pop sensation to the ears of Nigerians, Africans and the world at large. Till date, she hasn’t ceased to bring smiles and meanings to lives with her music. Meet Asa;
Aṣa born Bukola Elemide 17 September 1982 is a Nigerian-French singer, songwriter, and recording artist. Aṣa was born in Paris to Nigerian parents who were working and studying cinematography in France. Her family returned to live in Nigeria when she was two. Aṣa grew up in Lagos city, in the south-western part of Nigeria, and 18 years later, returned to Paris, where her life as an artist took off.
Asa’s music influences grew over the years from the collection of great music her father had built up for his work as a cinematographer. These records featuring American, Nigerian and African soul classics, included musical greats such as Marvin Gaye, Fela Kuti, Bob Marley, Aretha Franklin, King Sunny Adé, Diana Ross, Nina Simone, Miriam Makeba. Aṣa went on to draw inspiration from them.
In 2004, Asa met her manager and friend, Janet Nwose, who introduced her to Cobhams Emmanuel Asuquo, who in turn became the producer of her first studio album Asa (Asha). Aṣa returned to France at the age of 20 to study at the IMFP school of Jazz music, where she was told by teachers that she should go ahead and become a recording artist because she was ready and needed no schooling. Back in Nigeria, her first single, “Eyé Adaba,” was beginning to get airplay. Aṣa soon signed to Naïve Records. Partnered with Cobhams Asuquo, and with the new involvement of Christophe Dupouy and Benjamin Constant, she produced her first platinum selling self-titled album, Aṣa.
The release of the album saw Aṣa charting radios across Europe, Asia and Africa and went on to win the prestigious French Constantin Award in 2008, when she was voted best fresh talent of 10 singers or groups by a jury of 19 music-industry specialists in Paris.
Her second album, Beautiful Imperfection, in collaboration with French composer Nicolas Mollard, was released on 25 October 2010, went platinum in 2011. The lead single from Beautiful Imperfection is titled “Be My Man” was released in late September 2010. It was reported that by 2014 Aṣa sold 400,000 albums worldwide. Asa’s third studio album, Bed of Stone, was released in August 2014. The singles are “Dead Again”, “Eyo”, “Satan Be Gone”, “The One That Never Comes” and “Moving On”. She went on a world tour from 2015 to 2017.
On 14 May 2019, she released a new single titled “The Beginning” and on 25 June 2019 she released the single “Good Thing”. On 11 September 2019, she announced on her Twitter page that her new album, Lucid, will be released on 11 October 2019. True to her words, the album was then released on 11 October 2019. In 2011, the award winning singer was nominated for the French Music Awards Victoires de la Musique in the “Female Artist of the Year” category.
Asa has continued to make Africa proud with her music making rounds around the world.
The African Innovator
Victor Ehighale Ehikhamenor is a Nigerian visual artist, writer, and photographer, once described as “undeniably one of Africa’s most innovative contemporary artists” and one of “42 African Innovators to Watch”. In 2017, he was selected (along with three other artists) to represent Nigeria at the Venice Biennale, the first time Nigeria would be represented in the event.
He was born in Udomi-Uwessan, Edo State, Nigeria. He was educated in Nigeria and in the United States. He returned from the United States in 2008 to work in Lagos.
His work is strongly influenced by work done by villagers especially his grandmother who was a cloth weaver. His uncle was also a photographer, his maternal grandfather a blacksmith, and his mother, a local artist.
He is also inspired by wall paintings and installation arts, mostly in community shrines. This has been an enduring feature of his work, which is abstract, symbolic and politically motivated; and influenced by the duality of African traditional religion and the interception of Western beliefs, memories and nostalgia.
Ehikhamenor’s art and photographs have been used for editorials as well as cover art on books by authors such as Chimamanda Adichie, Helon Habila and Chika Unigwe. They have also been illustrated on fabric and exhibited at international fashion parades.
Ehikhamenor has held numerous solo art exhibitions across the world. In 2016, he was one of 11 Nigerian artists invited to join twenty-three Indonesian artists in the grand exhibition at the Biennale. At the Jogja National Museum, he showed an installation titled “The Wealth of Nations.”
He has also published numerous fiction and critical essays with academic journals, mainstream magazines and newspapers from around the world including The New York Times, CNN Online, Washington Post, Farafina, AGNI Magazine and Wasafiri. His short story, “The Supreme Command”, won the Association of Commonwealth Broadcasters Award in 2003. His debut poetry collection, Sordid Rituals, was published in 2002.
His second book, Excuse Me! (2012), a satirical creative non-fiction view of life as an African both at home and abroad, is a recommended text in two Nigerian universities.
On May 8, 2017, while participating in the Venice Biennale, Ehikhamenor first called attention to what he describes as Damien Hirst cultural appropriation of Nigerian Yoruba art. The exhibition of the British artist, called “Treasures From the Wreck of the Unbelievable”, featured a variety of sculptures meant to be viewed as debris rescued from a shipwreck. But one of the displayed artefacts was a copy of “Ori Olokun”, a famous Ife bronze art from the 14th century now described as “Golden heads”. Of the appropriation, Ehikhamenor had posted on Instagram “For the thousands of viewers seeing this for the first time, they won’t think Ife, they won’t think Nigeria. Their young ones will grow up to know this work as Damien Hirst’s. As time passes it will pass for a Damien Hirst regardless of his small print caption. The narrative will shift and the young Ife or Nigerian contemporary artist will someday be told by a long nose critic “Your work reminds me of Damien Hirst’s Golden Head”. We need more biographers for our forgotten.”
His words brought the issue to the forefront on local and international media.
Ehikhamenor was one of the first artists invited to Art Dubai in March 2018. In July 2018, he was also one of the Nigerian artists selected to meet and exhibit work for visiting French President Emmanuel Macron. The exhibition, organised by ART X Lagos took place at the Afrika Shrine, the nightclub of Femi Kuti.
Why Humans walk upright; The Author
Africa is packed with great talented authors, authors with a difference. These authors are gifts to Africa. Meet one of the African gifts.
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o was born 5th January, 1938. He is a Kenyan writer and academic who writes primarily in Gikuyu. His work includes novels, plays, short stories, and essays, ranging from literary and social criticism to children’s literature. He is the founder and editor of the Gikuyu-language journal Mũtĩiri. His short story The Upright Revolution: Or Why Humans Walk Upright, is translated into 94 languages from around the world.
In 1977, Ngũgĩ embarked upon a novel form of theatre in his native Kenya that sought to liberate the theatrical process from what he held to be “the general bourgeois education system”, by encouraging spontaneity and audience participation in the performances. His project sought to “demystify” the theatrical process, and to avoid the “process of alienation [that] produces a gallery of active stars and an undifferentiated mass of grateful admirers” which, according to Ngũgĩ, encourages passivity in “ordinary people”. Although his landmark play, Ngaahika Ndeenda, co-written with Ngugi wa Mirii, was a commercial success, it was shut down by the authoritarian Kenyan regime six weeks after its opening.
Ngũgĩ was subsequently imprisoned for over a year. Adopted as an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, the artist was released from prison, and fled Kenya. In the United States, he taught at Yale University for some years, and has since also taught at New York University, with a dual professorship in Comparative literature and Performance Studies, and at the University of California, Irvine. Ngũgĩ has frequently been regarded as a likely candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Among his children is the author Mũkoma wa Ngũgĩ.
Ngũgĩ was born in Kamiriithu, near Limuru in Kiambu district, Kenya, of Kikuyu descent, and baptised James Ngugi. His family was caught up in the Mau Mau Uprising; his half-brother Mwangi was actively involved in the Kenya Land and Freedom Army, and his mother was tortured at Kamiriithu home guard post.
He went to the Alliance High School, and went on to study at Makerere University College in Kampala, Uganda. As a student he attended the African Writers Conference held at Makerere in June 1962, and his play The Black Hermit premiered as part of the event at The National Theatre. At the conference Ngũgĩ asked Chinua Achebe to read the manuscripts of his novels The River Between and Weep Not, Child, which would subsequently be published in Heinemann’s African Writers Series, launched in London that year, with Achebe as its first advisory editor. Ngũgĩ received his B.A. in English from Makerere University College in 1963.
His debut novel, Weep Not, Child, was published in May 1964, becoming the first novel in English to be published by a writer from East Africa. Later that year, having won a scholarship to the University of Leeds to study for an MA, Ngũgĩ travelled to England, where he was when his second novel, The River Between, came out in 1965.
The River Between, which has as its background the Mau Mau Uprising, and described an unhappy romance between Christians and non-Christians, was previously on Kenya’s national secondary school syllabus. He left Leeds without completing his thesis on Caribbean literature, for which his studies had focused on George Lamming, about whom Ngũgĩ said in his 1972 collection of essays Homecoming: “He evoked for me, an unforgettable picture of a peasant revolt in a white-dominated world. And suddenly I knew that a novel could be made to speak to me, could, with a compelling urgency, touch cords [sic] deep down in me. His world was not as strange to me as that of Fielding, Defoe, Smollett, Jane Austen, George Eliot, Dickens, D. H. Lawrence.”
Ngũgĩ’s 1967 novel A Grain of Wheat marked his embrace of Fanonist Marxism. He subsequently renounced Christianity, writing in English, and the name James Ngugi as colonialist; he changed his name to Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, and began to write in his native Gikuy. In 1967, Thiong’o also began teaching at the University of Nairobi as a professor of English literature. He continued to teach at the university for ten years while serving as a Fellow in Creative Writing at Makerere.
In 1976 he helped set up The Kamiriithu Community Education and Cultural Centre which, among other things, organised African Theatre in the area. The uncensored political message of his 1977 play Ngaahika Ndeenda (I Will Marry When I Want), co-written with Ngũgĩ wa Mirii, provoked the then Kenyan Vice-President Daniel arap Moi to order his arrest. While detained in the Kamiti Maximum Security Prison, Ngũgĩ wrote the first modern novel in Gikuyu, Devil on the Cross (Caitaani mũtharaba-Inĩ), on prison-issued toilet paper.
After his release in December 1978, he was not reinstated to his job as professor at Nairobi University, and his family was harassed. Due to his writing about the injustices of the dictatorial government at the time, Ngugi and his family were forced to live in exile. Only after Arap Moi retired after serving his second and last term in 2002, 22 years later, was it safe for them to return. Even in exile, Ngugi was making waves, he is a fighter.
His most recent books are Globalectics: Theory and the Politics of Knowing (2012), and Something Torn and New: An African Renaissance, a collection of essays published in 2009 making the argument for the crucial role of African languages in “the resurrection of African memory”, about which said: “Ngugi’s language is fresh; the questions he raises are profound, the argument he makes is clear: ‘To starve or kill a language is to starve and kill a people’s memory bank.'” This was followed by two well received autobiographical works: Dreams in a Time of War: a Childhood Memoir (2010) and In the House of the Interpreter: A Memoir (2012), which was described as “brilliant and essential” by the Los Angeles Times, among other positive reviews.
Some his awards include; Lotus Prize for Literature in (1973), Nonino International Prize for Literature (2001), He was Shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize in 2009. He also has the National Book Critics Circle Award (finalist Autobiography) for In the House of the Interpreter (2012), the 2014 Nicolás Guillén Lifetime Achievement Award for Philosophical Literature, the 2016 Park Kyong-ni Prize, Grand Prix des mécènes of the GPLA 2018, for his entire body of work and amidst others, the 2019, Premi Internacional de Catalunya Award for his Courageous work and Advocacy for African languages.
He deserves a Nobel prize.
South African Nobel Prize Essayist; J.M. Coetzee
John Maxwell Coetzee is a South African-born Australian novelist, essayist, linguist, translator and recipient of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature born 9th February, 1940. He has won the Booker Prize (twice), the CNA Prize (thrice), the Jerusalem Prize, the Prix Femina étranger, and The Irish Times International Fiction Prize, and holds a number of other awards and honorary doctorates.
Coetzee is one of the most critically acclaimed and decorated authors in the English language. He moved to Australia in 2002 and became an Australian citizen in 2006. He lives in Adelaide. Coetzee was born in Cape Town, Cape Province, Union of South Africa, on 9 February 1940 to Afrikaner parents. His father, Zacharias Coetzee (1912–1988), was an occasional attorney and government employee, and his mother, Vera Coetzee (née Wehmeyer; 1904–1986), a schoolteacher. The family mainly spoke English at home, but John spoke Afrikaans with other relatives. He is descended from 17th-century Dutch immigrants to South Africa on his father’s side, and from Dutch, German and Polish immigrants through his mother.
Coetzee spent most of his early life in Cape Town and in Worcester, a town in the Cape Province (modern-day Western Cape), as recounted in his fictionalised memoir, Boyhood (1997). His family moved to Worcester when he was eight, after his father lost his government job. He attended St. Joseph’s College, a Catholic school in the Cape Town suburb Rondebosch, later studying mathematics and English at the University of Cape Town and receiving his Bachelor of Arts with honours in English in 1960 and his Bachelor of Arts with honours in mathematics in 1961.
He moved to the United Kingdom in 1962 and worked as a computer programmer for IBM in London and ICT (International Computers and Tabulators) in Bracknell, staying until 1965. In 1963, the University of Cape Town awarded him a Master of Arts degree for his thesis “The Works of Ford Madox Ford with Particular Reference to the Novels” (1963). His experiences in England were later recounted in Youth (2002), his second volume of fictionalised memoirs.
In 1965 Coetzee went to the University of Texas at Austin, in the United States, on the Fulbright Program, receiving his doctorate in 1969. His PhD dissertation was a computer-aided stylistic analysis of Samuel Beckett’s English prose. In 1968, Coetzee began teaching English literature at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he stayed until 1971. At Buffalo he began his first novel, Dusklands. From as early as 1968 Coetzee sought permanent residence in the U.S., a process that was finally unsuccessful, in part due to his involvement in protests against the war in Vietnam. In March 1970, he was one of 45 faculty members who occupied the university’s Hayes Hall and were arrested for criminal trespass.
The charges against them were dropped in 1971. In 1972 Coetzee returned to South Africa and was appointed lecturer in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Cape Town. He was promoted to senior lecturer and associate professor before becoming Professor of General Literature in 1984. In 1994 Coetzee became Arderne Professor in English, and in 1999 he was appointed Distinguished Professor in the Faculty of Humanities. Upon retirement in 2002, he was awarded emeritus status. He served on the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago until 2003.
After relocating to Adelaide, Australia, Coetzee was made an honorary research fellow at the English Department of the University of Adelaide, where his partner, Dorothy Driver, is a fellow academic. As of May 2019, Coetzee is listed as Professor of Literature within English and Creative Writing at the school, and Driver as Visiting Research Fellow.
Coetzee’s first novel was Dusklands (1974) and he has continued to publish a novel about every three years. He has also written autobiographical novels, such as Boyhood, Youth and Summertime, short fiction, translations from Dutch and Afrikaans, and numerous essays and works of criticism.
Coetzee has received numerous awards throughout his career, although he has a reputation for avoiding award ceremonies. Coetzee was the first writer to be awarded the Booker Prize twice: for Life & Times of Michael K in 1983, and for Disgrace in 1999. As of 2020, four other authors have achieved this, J.G. Farrell, Peter Carey, Hilary Mantel, and Margaret Atwood.
Summertime, named on the 2009 longlist, was an early favourite to win Coetzee an unprecedented third Booker Prize. It made the shortlist, but lost to bookmakers’ favourite Wolf Hall, by Mantel. Coetzee was also longlisted in 2003 for Elizabeth Costello and in 2005 for Slow Man.
The Schooldays of Jesus, a follow up to his 2013 novel The Childhood of Jesus, was longlisted for the 2016 Booker Prize. On 2 October 2003, Horace Engdahl, head of the Swedish Academy, announced that Coetzee had been chosen as that year’s recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, making him the fourth African writer to be so honoured and the second South African, after Nadine Gordimer. When awarding the prize, the Swedish Academy stated that Coetzee “in innumerable guises portrays the surprising involvement of the outsider”.
The press release for the award also cited his “well-crafted composition, pregnant dialogue and analytical brilliance”, while focusing on the moral nature of his work. The prize ceremony was held in Stockholm on 10 December 2003. Coetzee is also a three-time winner of South Africa’s CNA Prize. His Waiting for the Barbarians received both the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, Age of Iron was awarded the Sunday Express Book of the Year award, and The Master of Petersburg was awarded The Irish Times International Fiction Prize in 1995. He has also won the French Prix Femina étranger and two Commonwealth Writers’ Prizes for the African region, for Master of St Petersburg in 1995 and for Disgrace in 2000 (the latter personally presented by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace), and the 1987 Jerusalem Prize for the Freedom of the Individual in Society.
He really is decorated.
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