Wednesday, July 17, 2013

How I earned my copy of “We need new names” by NoViolet Bulawayo

“I will marry when I want” because “The beautyful ones are not yet born.” That’s a creative weave of the titles of two fiction books by the popular Kenyan writer, Ngugi Wa Thiongo and Ghana’s Ayi Kwei Armah. One day in the month of June 2013, big sister Noviolet Bulawayo put up a creative title wax of 2013 fiction books on her facebook wall. I’ve forgotten exactly what it was but it was something like this, “We need new names like Americannah, like Happiness, like Water and Ghana must go.” Her facebook friends started posting their waxes in the comments thread, about eight of them. But Noviolet wasn’t really impressed with their waxes and posted under the comments, “I’m still waiting for the one that will make me send that person a copy of “Names.” (her debut novel.) I nodded and marveled at the rain of creative waxes that followed her comment. But she didn’t post anything again, probably implying that she wasn’t still impressed. I didn’t post any creative wax that day, (though I’m very good at such things.) I went home and thought hard but no wonderful idea came to my mind. Then the next morning, I woke up and inspiration struck me. I picked up my pen. Slowly, steadily, I made my own weave by assembling these works,
“We need new names” Noviolet Bulawayo’s debut novel, “Happiness, like Water” Chinelo Okparanta’s debut collection of short stories, “Under the Udara Trees” Chinelo Okparanta’s forthcoming novel. “Americannah” Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie’s third novel, “Wahala” Chinelo Okparanta’s ’s short story, “The Hired man” Aminatta Forna’s third novel, “Ghana must go” Taiye Selasi’s debut novel. “Shadows” Novuyo Rosa Tshuma’s novella, “There was a country” Chinua Achebe’s last book, a memoir which he published in 2012. “Bombay’s Republic” Rotimi Babatunde’s 2012 Caine prize winning short story, “One day I will write about this place” Binyavanga Wainaina’s debut novel.
“We need new names” like NoViolet Bulawayo and Chinelo Okparanta who now feels “Happiness, like Water” because of her 2013 Caine prize nomination. It has triggered her younger ones in Port Harcourt to go celebrating “Under the Udara trees.” Maybe when she visits Nigeria soon to bask in her literary glory, some will start calling her, “Americannah” and she’ll unleash “Wahala” on them for it’s considered a derogatory word.
At the Caine Prize, they’ve hired a new Vice chairman. “The Hired man” is Ben Okri of “The famished road.” There was no Ghanaian Caine prize nominee this year so “Ghana must go” and hide in the “Shadows,” and Nigeria must come and win it back to back due to their unprecedented four nominee invasion. But in 2012, “There was a country” called “Bombay’s Republic,” and I swear to God, “One day I will write about this place.”
I loved what I’d come up with and posted it on NoViolet’s wall when I next surfed the internet. Only her reply now, reply, reply, reply, please God let her be impressed with this one!!! The next day, I checked and she had posted this comment beneath my post,
“You’ve just earned yourself a copy of “Names” little bro, you tried!”
“Yes, yes, Eureka!” (But she had earlier promised me a copy of the book. My weave just endorsed and enforced it.) I had also sent the weave to Chinelo Okparanta, since she was loaded in it. She clicked “like” on my post on Noviolet’s wall and next replied my message,
“Very clever use of titles, I like it very much." Such thumbs up from two great African writers with Caine prize appeal really encourages me to keep going!