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Brunel Shortlist 2018 Controversy: The Politics Of Being Too Black

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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.

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#EndSARS: Ekiti state government declares 24-hour curfew

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Following the various attacks on #EndSARS protesters in the state, Governor Kayode Fayemi has imposed a 24-hour curfew on the state effective from 10pm on today, Tuesday, October 20.

In a statement released by the Secretary to the State Government, Biodun Oyebanji, the state government said the curfew became necessary following the state government’s observation of how the end SARS protest, which started as a peaceful protest against police brutality by youths in Ekiti State, has been hijacked by some hoodlums.

Read the statement below

1. The Government of Ekiti State has observed with growing concern how the ENDSARS protest, which started as a peaceful protest against police brutality by youths in Ekiti State, has been hijacked by some hoodlums.

2. The hoodlums have capitalised on the ENDSARS protest to rape, assault, rob and extort innocent citizens across the State. These are in addition to the wanton destruction of properties, particularly private properties.

3. Government is concerned that if this state of affairs is allowed to continue unabated, it will lead to a breakdown of law and order thereby threatening the wellbeing of the people of Ekiti State.

4. For the purpose of clarity Government continues to show understanding and responsiveness to the demands of the legitimate protesters.

5. On 16th October 2020, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi, Governor, Ekiti State met with the protesters in person. While identifying with the legitimacy of their protests, he assured them that the State Government will immediately put measures in place to respond to all their demands.

6. Government has since then constituted a Human Rights Investigation Panel to review all cases of abuse by Officers of the disbanded SARS. In addition, Government has enabled a Victims Compensation Fund to facilitate speedy remedial measures for victims of such abuse.

7. Furthermore, several officials of Government have engaged the protesters at multiple fora and platforms including the social media in order to ensure that concerns of protesters are properly identified and responded to in a prompt and efficient manner with necessary feedback.

8. Government had also at various times drawn the attention of the protesters to the troubling hijack of the protests by individuals whose only interest is to inflict violence on the people of the state.

9. In the past 48 hours there have been incidents of gang-rape, robberies, physical assaults on innocent people, looting and burning of a police station. These acts of brigandage are not in consonance with the legitimate aspirations of the protesters. It cannot be logical to seek to remedy impunity with impunity.

10. Government therefore cannot afford to watch a deliberate enthronement of anarchy by some bad elements who have hijacked the protest for some clandestine reasons.

11. Consequently, the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, hereby imposes a 24-hour curfew on all parts of the State starting from 10.00 pm tonight, Tuesday, October, 20, 2020.

12. Only essential workers and service providers with valid means of identifications are allowed to move around during the period of the curfew.

13. Any person found on the street that does not belong to this category, would be promptly arrested and prosecuted according to the laws of Ekiti State.

14. We seek the understanding of the good people of Ekiti State as we continue to take deliberate steps towards ensuring that peace and normalcy return to our state.”

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Davido speaks on the events of the past 48 hours

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Davido speaks on the events of the past 48 hours

Nigerian superstar, Davido has said criminals are responsible for the attack on two Correctional Centres in Benin City, Edo State.

Davido made the claim while absolving End SARS protesters of involvement in the attacks.

The singer pointed out that no amount of mischief would stop the protest against police brutality and bad governance.

Davido made the remark while condemning the attack on two Correctional Centres in Benin City, Edo State.

The hoodlums had attacked the facilities and freed some inmates.

Reacting, the singer in a series of tweets wrote: “After seeing all that’s gone on today I just want to say that from the beginning we have preached that the protest must remain peaceful and Law Abiding and as far as I know we have kept to that! And we will continue to keep to that so the narrative can NOT be switched up on us!

“The people they claim broke into prisons to free convicted criminals, burn police stations to steal weapons, damage police, government, and private vehicles are Criminals and everybody must condemn these acts. They are not part of our movement !

“#EndSars is a peaceful and law abiding protest that is going somewhere great! And no mischief can scatter it!”

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Address Nigerians over #EndSARS protests – Senate urges Buhari

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Address Nigerians over #EndSARS protests – Senate urges Buhari

The Nigerian Senate has called on President Buhari to urgently address the nation so as to douse the tension in the country.

This comes as hoodlums continue to carry out various attacks on #EndSARS protesters and others in some parts of the country.

The Senators made the call for President Buhari to speak to the Nation after a motion was moved by Senator Biodun Olujimi and co-sponsored by all Senators on the ongoing nationwide protests believed to have been hijacked by hoodlums.

Part of the resolution of the Senators after deliberation include:

-Urge all tiers of government to put in place and sustain policies of social economic reforms that raise the standard of lives of our people;

-Call upon the Police to operate strictly in accordance with the rules of engagement appropriate in a democratic environment;

-Urge the Inspector General of Police to ensure a holistic comprehensive reforms of the police to increase the overall welfare including training and medical insurance of all members of the Nigeria Police Force

-Appeal to all Nigerians to resort to use of legal institutions to resolve disputes and conflicts;

-Urge the Nigerian youths and the Nigerian citizens to approach the National Assembly Committees Constitution and Reforms in order to secure far-reaching holistic amendments that are vital to the restructuring of our federation

-Urge the Federal Government to faithfully and comprehensively implement all the five demands of the #EndSARS movement and protesters with necessary timelines to rekindle confidence in government

-Appeal to #EndSARS movement and protesters to kindly in the interest of everyone stop their actions and embrace genuine dialogue; 7. Urge Mr. President to address the nation as soon as possible on these issues.

-Police should make it a duty to accompany protesters and should be involved in protecting genuine protesters.

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