Over the years, I had thought that Brunel International African poetry prize was meant to project African voices in their raw awesomeness no matter which part of the world you live, without discrimination so far as you are African and the poems meet the required standard.
But, events of the past few days have convinced me to believe that Brunel is a pseudo-African platform commercialised by blacks living in diaspora with a twisted view to ridicule, re-colonise and downgrade African writers domiciled in Africa.
If a poetry competition as Brunel (I had rated as impressive) stoops so low as to shortlist poems for its poetry prize not on the basis of excellence but who has had “access to a creative writing education and a literature development culture outside of the continent, especially in the US and UK”, according to a statement by its founder, British-Nigerian writer Bernardino Evaristo, then African poetry is dead on arrival.
The popularization of the whacked mentality by Evaristo and to an extent, her judges that the so-called Africans exposed to creative writing education and literature development culture outside of the continent, especially in the US and UK are better off is not just a delirious thinking pattern but also an insult to all Africans living in Africa who have not left the continent before.
What it means in a layman’s language is that a majority of African writers who are talented will be ignored for the fact that they are not privileged to have access to creative writing education abroad – they are considered inferior to their counterparts abroad. Those who live abroad and exposed to the ‘almighty creative writing education’ bla bla bla are chosen over their contemporaries who live in Africa.
And that is exactly what happened this year.
6 of the poets shortlisted this year do not live in Africa (and may never have stepped foot in the continent). For the remaining two: one lives in Cairo and studied at the University of Mississippi (she’s got the abroad connection), while the other is a Nigerian (chosen obviously to save face).
This toxic reasoning introduced by the organisers who should know better might set off a catastrophic precedent for the future. When discrimination is spelt out openly in this fashion without remorse, it is a clarion call for all those living in Africa who have ‘sense’ to count their teeth with their tongues as you are now considered as second class contestants.
‘Nwanne m, jiri ire gi guo eze gi onu’.
Evaristo has made it clear that Brunel is to big for African poets living in Africa as they are considered ‘not good enough’.
Even if Brunel has now become a UK/US affair as the organisers want to make it seem, the transition should’ve taken a gradual process.
Moreover, this new trend will spell doom for the future of African literature as those given the mantle to represent Africa are nothing but pretenders who do not carry the conscience of Africa. This favouritism is unacceptable.
Betterstill, the organisers should create a competition only for people living in Africa, as this will see to it that African talents are given the recognition they deserve.
How do you call this ‘Brunel International African poetry prize’ and yet expect people who do not live or probably have not been to Africa before to tell the story of Africa (after reading books and watching movies innit?) from UK and US after muting the original voices of those who live in Africa? That is preposterous!
The name should be rightly changed to ‘Brunel International poetry prize for Africans Living Abroad’ to reflect its new role.
Again, how convenient was it for the organisers to have shortlisted 6 women for this year’s prize? Out of all the thousands of applicants, only two men were considered worthy to be shortlisted. The gender bias showed by organisers of this poetry prize is a shameful attempt to favour a gender over another which no reasonable person can take.
Such discriminatory and unfair practice should have no place in a competition of this standard in this day and time. If the table was to be turned, everyone would have run mad by now.
My advice to African poets living in Africa concerning Brunel is this: please stop wasting your time applying for Brunel poetry competition because you are seen as inferior just because you have not attended any creative writing education outside Africa.
Unless you know the judges or have someone within to fight your battle, then don’t waste your time waiting for a Brunel miracle no matter how good you are. Well, if you think otherwise, goodluck to you.
If you have not traveled/studied outside of Africa, you are mostly considered incompetent and incapable of writing poetry to meet their standard. Of course that insinuation is dumb because many poets I know here are in a different class far above the writers of some of the tasteless poems shortlisted this year.
Evaristo owes all Africans in Africa an unreserved apology for the ludicrous, ill-informed and discriminatory statement (you can visit the Brunel page to read her full statement). If this issue is not addressed and apology tendered, I will write a protest letter to the Commonwealth Foundation for sponsoring such a dishonourably shameful campaign.
May we all be successful.
Alexander Thandi Ubani.
Stay updated with the latest Nigerian news from Information Nigeria
Criminal minds threatening Army with travel ban: Buratai
Tukur Buratai, Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff has disclosed that he does not mind living in Nigeria for the rest of his life.
Buratai made this statement on Monday in a meeting with Army Commanders in Abuja, where they deliberated on the recent End SARS protest and pockets of violence across the country.
Information Nigeria recalls there have been calls by International bodies calling for a travel ban to be placed on some military officers accused of human rights abuses in Nigeria.
Buratai attacked the international organizations clamoring for a ban on top personnel and soldiers over rights abuses. According to him, his first trip outside Nigeria was when he was 50 and that he doesn’t mind if he has to live in Nigeria for the rest of his life.
“Criminal elements are threatening us with travel ban but we are not worried because we must remain in this country to make it better. The first time I travelled outside of this country, I was already 50 years and a General, so I don’t mind if I live the rest of my life here” The Cable quoted him as saying
At the meeting, the Army chief said recent events across the country have shown the determination of unscrupulous individuals and groups to cause chaos by all means.
“The events of the past few days in our dear nation have shown the determination of some unscrupulous individuals and groups to destabilise Nigeria by all means,” he said.
These individuals, groups and other undesirable elements have hijacked the peaceful #EndSARS protest marches resulting to widespread violence, acts of wanton destruction and looting of public and private properties in many parts of the country. These acts led to the imposition of curfew in several states of the federation.
Despite all these, the army has continued to exercise restraint applied all the principles of internal security operations and fully abided by the internationally recognised rules of engagement as contained in our published standard operating procedures for internal security operations which are derived from the International human rights laws and are in accordance with the international principles guiding the use of force.” he said.
How iron protector prevented my shop from being robbed: Business man
Chima Smart Nwaneri, a businessman who operates in Owerri, Imo state has disclosed how suspected robbers were unable to burgle his office due to an iron protector.
Nwaneri thanked God for wisdom saying they couldn’t access his goods because of the protector on his ceiling.
Chima wrote on his Twitter account;
“So robbers visited my office where i do my business, but I thank God for wisdom, they couldn’t enter because of the protector on the ceiling..
Help me thank God….”
#EndSARS: We are not collection of angels, Nigerian Police says
The Nigerian police have said its officers are not angels, but the force is doing its best to serve Nigerians better.
This was disclosed in a statement posted on Twitter by the force. This comes after several unrest and pockets of violence that greeted the endsSARS protest against police brutality.
The Nigerian police appear to have started an online campaign to redeem their image and rebuild trust with Nigerian citizens, following the nationwide #EndSARS protests and its devastating fallout.
The security agency which admitted that it is not a collection of angels, however told Nigerians that it is doing its best to ensure better services.
The police, Monday night, uploaded a campaign flyer on Twitter, via their official handle @PoliceNG.
“We are not a collection of angels, but we are doing our best to serve you better,” said the flyer which was produced by the police public relations department, Force Headquarters, Abuja.
— Nigeria Police Force (@PoliceNG) October 26, 2020
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