Right from the days of Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka, writers have always lent their voices to issues regarding the society. These days, our writers are not holding back as they have taken their fight for social justice beyond the shores of Nigeria.
Their brilliant approach to presenting words and plots has earned them various awards and set them as the standard for others to follow.
Here are some of the Nigerian authors making a difference.
Nnedi Okorafor‘s works, which are a unique blend of Science Fiction and African culture, are considered to be some of the most futuristic written works of art that have ever come from a Nigerian author. Her genius way with words has popularised Science Fiction as an acceptable genre in Africa and has earned her multiple awards including the Hugo and Nebula – stellar awards given for the best works of science fiction or fantasy published in the United States.
Perhaps, one may assume Nnedi always had a flair for writing science fiction stories from childhood but that is not how the story goes; her venture into the science fiction world can be described as an accidental career path of some sort. After being diagnosed with scoliosis – a condition of the spine that worsened as she grew older – at the age of 13, Nnedi underwent surgery at age 19 to straighten and fuse her spine but due to a rare complication, she suffered a paralysis from the waist down.
Confined to a sedentary life, she resorted to writing short stories in the margins of a science fiction book and after getting better due to intense physical therapy she went on to take a creative writing class and was soon writing her first novel. Her work is not just bland Science Fiction but it throws light on social issues prevalent in the society. These issues range from gender inequality to racial prejudice and environmental hazards to genocide and corruption. Some of her greatest works include Who Fears Death and the Binti trilogy. Owing to the comic appeal of her works, Who Fears Death was picked by HBO to become a TV series with George R.R. Martin & Michael Lombardo as producers and she has also written for Marvel’s Black Panther Series and Venomverse.
Pioneer of a new age of writers and hardcore crusader for feminism, Chimamanda‘s work delves into gender inequality and racial discrimination: two issues she faced respectively in Nigeria and in the US where she currently resides. Her work which like her mentor, the late Chinua Achebe, conceptualizes the “Nigerian experience” especially the Igbo culture which she herself identifies with, has earned her so many awards and set her as the gold standard for so many budding writers in Nigeria.
Chimamanda’s venture into prose writing can be likened to a mantle of some sort being passed from mentor to protege. She affirms to growing up in the house where Chinua Achebe once lived and also credits him for having a major impact on her writing. Her first book, Purple Hibiscus, was published in 2003 and awarded the Commonwealth’s Writers’ prize for Best First Book. Her follow-up books, Half Of A Yellow Sun and Americanah, have also won awards and have been read by so many both home and abroad.
Chimamanda also identifies as a feminist and has given a number of famous talks about feminism. Her most famous talk, We Should All Be Feminists, which she delivered at a TED talk, enjoyed so much wide critical acclaim that excerpts from the speech were reportedly distributed to every 16-year-old high-school student in Sweden. Chimamanda has used her work to promote her idea of feminism and racial injustice on a global scale.
Like most new age writers, Tochi‘s work was inspired by the need to depict people of his culture in the pages of a book. This led him to write his most popular book Beast Made Of Night – a rich work of fantasy fiction about a city Kos in which a group of young outcasts are indentured by corrupt elites to consume their sins and bear the consequences that come with it while the elites go scot free. This doesn’t go quite well for Taj, the most talented and rebellious member of the group, as he discovers a dark secret and must now save himself and those he loves.
With books like Beast Made Of Night, Tochi seeks to change the narrative in young adult-fiction where the protagonists are rarely people of colour. He applauds movies like Black Panther and A Wrinkle In Time whose respective hero and heroine are both African-Americans and hopes movie lovers will come to embrace movies that have people of colour for protagonists.
Like some of her contemporaries, Tomi Adeyemi got her own fair share of racial injustice as a teenager, which led her to tune her writing to address this issue. From writing fictitious stories of her favourite movies, she began penning stories inspired by real-life events such as the Black Lives Matter movement. Her stories, though in the realm of fantasy, dissect the injustice that has been meted out to black people over a period of time and change the stereotypical standards that they are held to.
At the young age of 25, Tomi’s debut novel Children Of Blood And Bone, which has black characters and borrows from West-African culture, has become a bestseller in the New York Times list. The book is the first part of a fantasy trilogy, Legacy Of Orisha, which she reportedly sold to publishers for a seven-figure amount and has been adapted to a TV series by Fox 2000.
For Roye, it has always been about comics. Just by keeping up with the Saturday morning cartoons such as Transformers and X-Men, he got captivated by the superheroes shown on TV and would later create his own superhero the Nigerian way. After leaving his 9 to 5 where he worked as a web developer, he founded YouNeek Studios, the company through which he would debut his futuristic comic book: E.X.O The Legend Of Wale Williams.
The book’s timeline is set in 2025 and portrays the current situation of Nigeria as well as its beautiful culture and traditions. Wale, the protagonist of the book, must protect his country and those he loves from corrupt leaders and exoskeletal drones known as DREDS. Using an inherited Nanosuit which gives him superpowers, Wale protects his city, Lagoon City (inspired by Lagos Island), from the C.R.E.E.D, an extremist group with a sinister agenda. S
ome of the superheroes Roye has added to his YouNeek universe include Fury, a female superhero; Windmaker, a comic character with the ability to manipulate the weather and Malika: the warrior queen that was inspired by Queen Amina Of Zazzau – a real life queen warrior who lived in the ancient North-West region of Nigeria. Roye’s work has the earned the recognition of CNN and Forbes.