Of This Our Country: An Anthology | Book Review

“… I am filled with hope that a new and urgent generation of Nigerians is emerging. An impassioned group of people who have been set on fire by the determinate and incessant demand for change. A people who will not be silenced.”

To define Nigeria is to tell a half-truth. Many have tried, but most have concluded that it is impossible to capture the true scope and significance of Africa’s most populous nation through words or images.

And yet here, through personal essays from 24 of its writers, a more accurate picture comes into view: one that details the realities and contradictions of patriotism, examines the role of class and privilege in Nigerian society, juxtaposes inherited tradition with the diasporic experience and explores the power of storytelling and its intrinsic link to Nigeria’s history.

Within these pages, acclaimed and award-winning writers share memories and experiences of Nigeria that can be found nowhere else, bringing to the fore a country whose influence can be found everywhere.

44. Of This Our Country

Nigeria is more than scams and con artists claiming to be Nigerian royalty asking you to help by wiring funds. Nigerians are making their mark in the fields of performing arts, creative arts, fashion, human rights activism, sports, medicine, and media, to name a few. As I’ve noticed in the last two years, many Nigerian writers are being recognised globally in the world of publishing. This is my third book by a Nigerian author and I have a few more lined up on my TBR.

This anthology, bringing together 24 established and emerging writers from Nigeria, explores the country through their pen. The authors reflect on the Nigeria they know and remember. They relive the memories significant to their Nigerian heritage and share the experiences that bind them to their culture and traditions.

The essays tell a powerful story of a country pulled in opposite directions. They weave deeply personal experiences of living in Nigeria, visiting Nigeria, or meeting other Nigerians away from home.

I am sharing an excerpt from Abi Daré’s essay titled You Are Not Going Back:

And as the wind of change blows, the tide is beginning to turn. In it, I see a future where the patriarchy pyramid is dismantled, where accountability is demanded and given by those in leadership positions, where there is equitable distribution of wealth, and where our voices are not allowed to be silenced by threats of citizen arrest and violence. I look forward to constant and stable electricity, to swift justice for perpetrators of crime and corruption, to affordable education for all. This wind, fuelled by the power of social media, is quickly becoming a tornado. It is whipping up a storm and sweeping across the nation, and bringing along with it, the possibility of a revived and reconstructed Nigeria, one which a mother, full of the promise of a bright future, can someday tell her child with confidence : ‘This is home now. You are not going back.’

I recommend this beautiful, yet complex portrait of a country relatively unknown to outsiders. Profound, hardhitting, these essays will tear at your heart for the joy and pain behind them.

Of This Our Country: Acclaimed Nigerian writers on the home, identity and culture they know. An anthology edited by Nancy Adimora and Ore Agbaje-Williams. Due to be published on 30th September 2021 by Borough Press, an imprint of HarperCollins UK. This ARC courtesy of NetGalley and HarperCollins UK.

Book 44 of 2021.

Aquamarine Flavours Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟1/2.

Available on Amazon.

About Photo: I have always loved the brightly patterned African headwraps and in looking up Nigerian headwraps discovered the gele with their unique pleated form.
This paper art silhouette of a woman wearing a gele is cut from 200gsm cardstock in nine colours.

44. Of This Our Countryb

About the Authors: This anthology includes essays by Nels Abbey, Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀, Yomi Adegoke, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Oyinkan Akande, Ike Anya, Sefi Atta, Bolu Babalola, J K Chukwu, Abi Daré, Inua Ellams, Chịkọdịlị Emelụmadụ, Caleb Femi, Helon Habila, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, Anietie Isong, Okey Ndibe, Chigozie Obioma, Irenosen Okojie, Cheluchi Onyemelukwe, Lola Shoneyin, Umar Turaki, Chika Unigwe, Hafsa Zayyan.
It is edited by Nancy Adimora, founding editor of AFREADA and Talent and Audience Development Manager at HarperCollins, and Ore Agbaje-Williams, a fiction and non-fiction editor at HarperCollins.

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