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Diallo’s Testament: Ben Okri's Poem for 1733 Painting of Former Slave

By ZODML on Wed, 21/05/2014 - 23:20


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."

"His Day is Done" - A Poem for Mandela by Maya Angelou

By ZODML on Wed, 11/12/2013 - 19:30


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."

WATCH: Sefi Atta Meets Channels Book Club Competition Winner by Dave Agboola

By ZODML on Tue, 08/10/2013 - 17:27

sefi atta channels tv eniola oladipo
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 ApartAlong 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: "A City Without a Library is Like a Graveyard"

By ZODML on Wed, 11/09/2013 - 17:44

Malala Yousafzai - Library

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: 


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