Saturday 15 October 2011

African Roar 2011 (An anthology of 14 short stories)

© Joseph Omotayo

In a protean undulation of writing mastery, African Roar 2011 guides you through the labyrinth of issues its collective fourteen African writers are laden with. Africa is a complex geographic mass of confusing and diverse matters that cannot be relayed by the artistry of a single pen and African Roar 2011 draws on the unequaled strength of literature in varied contributions to orderly piece together the mosaic of African realities. African Roar 2011 is not a demagogic rabble-rousing endeavour gearing towards hypocritical promises of political equality. It isn't also the misdirected restlessness of some literati's drool. This collection of fourteen short stories is a race-card of matters; rotting and stinking, and problems; beguiling and catastrophic.

Real stories are told. The views are bloody and grim. None is suffused with nothingness of opinion. The writers assuredly balance their canvasses on the tottery situations the continent is perennially plunged into. Their words are the paints. The colours are blacks. Africa may not be as dark as in the myopic journals of misinformed research buffoons, but truth be simplified, her leaders still delight in the evil their accused heads revile the governed with. In this collection, the reader navigates from commonplace seriousness to routine issues written in a refreshing perspective. En route the horrific instances that lie behind each author's nation's shroud, you are riveted to the pages by the succinctness of words that clearly express human struggles with life, societies and untamed forces.

It is a literary constant; anthologies of this nature are invariably known for flecks of imperfections that can only be accorded to the shades of individual writing techniques. African Roar 2011 can't be said to be perfect in its array of masterpieces. There are flaws that are only caused by the artistic degree some submissions sequence their stories to. Nevertheless, what engrosses you most is the aptness that goes into each work. A composite of catholic sort, the collection may arguably be the best compilation I have read so far this year.

In the African tradition and sacredness of figures; 'one' connotes a promising attempt, 'two' paves the path for certainty. African Roar 2010 was well manicured. This 2011 edition comes with the impress of certitude and unmatched exhibitions. The annual African Roar anthologies are not just a flash of a welcome development to African writing, it has mainstreamed itself to be a voice that melds the howls, echoes and cackles African writers use to bare their complaints about human disorder.

The African Roar 2011 anthology is a wreath placed at the tomb of Ruzvidzo Stanley Mupfudza, a Zimbabwean writer who died in 2010. In this collection, an epitaph is raised for his departed soul in Memory Chirere's tribute of him and in 'Witch's Brew', a piece written by him before his departure. Rest in Peace Ruzvidzo Stanley Mupfudza. You will still be remembered even as we read this anthology.



"Longing for Home" – Hajira Amla

Grace is from an extended family in Zimbabwe. Hers is a kind of family structure that shows African communality within families. She is bright and sound. Her A-level result is astoundingly excellent. Grace Chirma begins studying in England. The frostiness of race-segregation she witnesses in England is the initial problem she combats with. As her country back home is ridden into Armageddon, her responsibilities pile up. In the first instance, her family's wish is to see her bring pride home to the family from England. But as Sekuru's – her sole sponsor and grandfather – health starts failing; she becomes the breadwinner of the family as she also struggles for her personal needs.


"Main" – NoViolet Bulawayo

This author's eye for details is uncanny and gruelling. She draws with words the austerity that once befalls the Zimbabweans. Main is the account of a country's citizens under the harshness of their leaders and the economy. The reader easily relates with the gory pictures this story portrays. It is simply the battles the common people are left to fight while their leaders face other selfish ventures aside governing. Meaningful brevity is good for a short story. Main is brief but moving.


"Silent Night, Bloody Night" – Ayodele Morocco-Clarke

Morocco-Clarke's piece's title is suggestive of what is to be expected in the story. You know it will be gloomy and that the storyline will be doom filled. In this piece, no word is wasted. Osadolor is a liege over his family and kinfolks. The whole Benin town (his hometown) always awaits his homecoming. Every festive season is filled with grandeur by his visit. He cuts a typical image of an African privileged class. The last visit Osadolor pays home becomes the story Ameze Obaze, his daughter tells. In his last visit, he faces karma. He is compelled to live with the consequences of a despicable act the robbers force him to perform.


"Water Wahala" – Isaac Ncequaye

Necessities are not the trivialities of human affairs. There are our breath and life. This work enhances the indispensability of water. The scarcity of it is the conflict Kweku Kyere and Agyapomaa confront at Adentan estate. The Kweku's household and neighborhood ration water. In Kweku's family, roles are performed as to who monitors water usage. When it is Agyapomaa, Kweku wife's turn, things could get messy. In the weekend that leaves Kweku's family dependant on two buckets of water, the survival of his family will be dictated by the caprices of Danso, the water tanker driver and water deliverer.


Writing; as it should be

I wouldn't want to read creative works that preach the way religion mundanely does. Some authors in this collection fall fault to this. Morocco-Clarke's piece reels lessons at a rushed pace. It doesn't work. It only bores. Whatever lesson needs to be impressed shouldn't be foisted on the reader. The revelation the robbers made at Osadolor's house is laboured and too instant. The lessons should have been in an implied lining. This will still reel in the reader's attention.

The art of imaginative writing is messianic. It is to pass whatever bugs the writer to an imagined audience/reader. It couches message(s) in the creative embroidery of expressions. Creative writing is a didactic trident that dips into the cauldron of human living. It is always a medium to advance, to redress and to sustain societal structures and human evanescent cycle. African Roar 2011 mixes fourteen short stories of high substances in the height of the concerns they are written on. How they solve their individual conundrum will be left to the readers to judge. African Roar 2011 is a collection to read if one would really want to feel the pulsating power of various budding and moulting African writers.



  1. Thanks for this link. Great review you have.

    1. Thank you so much, Nana. Your comment is encouraging. You did a great review of the anthology on your blog too.

      Hope CLR sees you around soon.