Nigerian poet, essayist, and novelist Ben Okri was asked by the UK's National Portrait Gallery in September 2013 to write a poem to serve as the caption for a 1733 painting of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo, a West African Muslim and former slave. The portrait, made by English painter William Hoare in oil on canvas, is part of a body of important cultural works which depict the lives of people of African descent in Europe prior to the 20th century, shows Diallo "as a man of intelligence, character and compassion – providing rare insight into the emergence of more tolerant values in Britain during the Enlightenment."
As the world comes to terms with the passing of Nelson Mandela, tributes from all corners of the globe continue to pour in, from South African citizens celebrating the life of their "Tata," to world leaders and iconic monuments. The national memorial service held in Soweto yesterday was attended by thousands paying their respects to a man who shaped the course of history and brought pride to the African continent.
We were especially moved by this powerful poem by Dr Maya Angelou, the American author and poet best known for her autobiographical book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, written as a tribute to the beloved anti-apartheid activist and elder statesman. Composed on behalf of the American people, the poem eloquently speaks to Mandela's importance to both South Africans and the rest of the world, referring to him as "David, armed with a mere stone, facing down the mighty Goliath."
Remember the Channels Book Club's book review competition for Nigerian teenagers we blogged about a few months ago? Eniola Oladipo, a 15 year-old student at Vivian Fowler Secondary School in Lagos, won the competition aimed at promoting a love of reading among young Nigerians with her essay on Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Along with the N50,000 worth of books and sponsored trip to the 2013 Frankfurt Book Fair Oladipo won for her writing, she also had the opportunity to meet international award-winning writer Sefi Atta at the Yellow Chilli Restaurant and Bar in Victoria Island. Oladipo, who was born in the UK and grew up in Nigeria, shows remarkable confidence and knowledge during her half-hour long conversation with Atta, which touches on topics such as the competition (which she kept a secret from her parents), Nigeria's current political situation, and the literary themes explored in Things Fall Apart:
Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace Prize nominee and winner of the Children's Peace Prize, recently opened a new library in Birmingham, England, where she was flown for medical treatment after she was shot in the head by the Taliban for promoting girls' education in her homeland of Pakistan. Speaking to a crowd of 300 people at the new library, Yousafzai spoke passionately about her love of reading and her belief in the power of books:
Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Nigeria's first and only Prime Minister, rose from humble beginnings to become one of the leading nationalist figures of the Nigerian anti-colonial movement. The wonderful Nigerian Nostalgia Project recently shared this video of Tafawa Balewa's visit to the United States a year after Nigeria's independence:
Nigerian filmmaker and photographer Andrew Dosunmu made a name for himself directing music videos for artists such as Isaac Hayes, Tracy Chapman and Common, after first working in fashion. His first feature film Restless City (2012) was praised for its strong visuals and his follow-up work Mother of George looks just as amazing:
Libraries aren't all silence and seriousness - we love that the Seattle Public Library embraced the fun of books by breaking the world record for the world's longest book domino chain. The video below captures the fall of the 2,131 books:
Who wants to help ZODML best their achievement?