The world is in awe. Pundits have for long wondered what is in the air we breathe or the water we drink in these parts, that spurs the depth and variety of stories we tell. What with the number of new Nigerian writers who have emerged in the last decade-walking the path of greats like Achebe, Soyinka, Okigbo and Okri-telling their stories, garnering literary prizes, headlining international literary festivals and imprinting the country in the global literary map.
The secret is simple. Our lives, our history are a rich story that has been waiting to be told. We have come to the realization that for our country to remain significant in a globalised world, we need to tell our stories and show the world the other side of us; the side Western news reports have ignored.
This task is made simple by the fact that we do not need to go off in search of the stories. They are all around us. They come to us; these stories. We find them in the loud honking by danfo drivers which to the untrained ear is noise, but which indicates drivers conversing with themselves. We find them in the screams of the bus conductor as he chants his routes, poetry and rap fused into one. We find them as we sit by the bus window in traffic, the child hawker and the teenage Gala seller whose sprint in pursuit of a bus and potential sale rivals Usain Bolt’s. The stories meet us at our colourful ceremonies in celebration of marriages, births and deaths. They gnaw at us. They wish us to tell them. We oblige.
These stories, these expressions of our humanness, these testimonies to our creativity and ingenuity find expression in the group of men and women who with handheld cameras and sparse budgets have shot movies seen in homes all over the globe. It glows in the young men and women doing menial day jobs to save money for studio time at night, recording beats the world now dances to. It is brought to life in the creativity of techies who do not agree with the widely held belief that Nigerians have no other use for the computer but for crime and are writing complex programmes and moving startups to profitability in record time. These stories are us and we are the stories.
I recently published a collection of some of these stories titled The Funeral Did Not End, twenty stories which peer into the fabric of the Nigerian society, offering a delightful insight into the daily lives of our people. The stories are a product of my conversations with my country and an effort to demonstrate through words, the potential of greatness embedded in the Nigerian Spirit. I am only one out of a generation who have resolved to write their nation back into reckoning and preserve in the process, the rich heritage of their people. The stories are begging to be told. The world cannot read enough of us.