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the-sail-whitesands-schoolThe Sail is a collection of stories, poems, essays, artwork, and play written by students at Whitesands School.

The project is revolutionary for the simple reason that it carves out a literary space for very young writers—in this case students in a Lagos secondary school.

Working with Tade Ipadeola and Chika Unigwe—both award winning authors—Kola Tubosun, who is also an English teacher at Whitesands, assembled a strong suite of writings that are so beautifully crafted that the reader quickly forgets that they were written by students under the age of 16.

The collection kicks off with the illustration of an ebony skinned girl deep in thought. It is aptly titled Black Innocence and is one of two artworks featured by final year student Omedele Adefala. This young artist has undeniable talent, and his work exudes raw emotion and intellectual depth.

It’s no surprise that “Beserk,” written by Elton Odoemenam, was selected as the winning fiction piece. The story follows a white adventurer who visits an African jungle while ignoring warnings from his indigenous tour guide. Animals, Man-eaters, the thick jungle, and the African heat combine to conjure a mesmerizing tale of mystery and adventure.

Some of the stories are inspired by current events and topical issues. A worthy mention is a story about the Chibok girls told from the point of view of a parent. As you can imagine, the story is suffused with emotions. Another story titled, Nigeriancracy, captures a good bit of the underhanded practices that occur under a supposed democracy.

My favorite story in the fiction category would have to be The Sail, which also doubles as the title for the entire publication. It is such a breath of fresh air especially coming from such a young author.  The story takes the form of succinct journal entries documented over the course of two weeks. A young man suffering from asthma is shipwrecked and struggles to survive at sea on limited medication and unpalatable food. Defying the elements and a nearly fatal shark attack, he is rescued by a Japanese boat crew. To the dismay of his rescuers, he elopes with the woman he falls in love with during his recovery period. I like how this story reminds me of Yann Martel’s Life of Pi and wouldn’t be surprised to discover that Fikayomi Olagbami, the 8th grader behind this piece is equally a fan.

The essays in the collection cover a wide variety of issues that includes racism, bullying, and ebola. In  Tomorrow, Uche Chukwuejekwe looks at how the task of choosing a career is often complicated by parental expectations. He explores the conflict between his passion for football and his desire to please his parents. The humor in this piece balances out the heavy-handedness of some other essays in the collection.

The Sail is such an exciting project. We love the Adichies and Teju Coles of the world, but we also know that there is an untapped community of young, aspiring writers and that the future of African writing depends on them. This anthology provides the perfect platform where young writers can try their hands at writing, engage a literary audience, and gain confidence.

[You can read the 86-page collection HERE.]

Nma rarely forgets the books she has read and attributes the reading bug to the moment she read Kofi Bentum Quantson’s two part novel, Mama Don’t Die. Ever a literary enthusiast, Nma is also a storyteller. She reveals extraordinary details in the lives of ordinary people and creates narratives for imagined stories.

10 Responses to “Review of The Sail | An Anthology of Writings by Students in a Lagos Secondary School” Subscribe

  1. Celestine Chimmumunefenwuanya Victorson 2015/08/25 at 01:48 #

    It’s the best of things you would do for an aspiring writer.To catch him while young and tell him his voice matters. But,i’d have to say it shouldn’t be a Lagos project alone. If it incoporated the best minds from all the Nigerian secondary schools it would have been a bit Nigerian students project and the whole of Nigeria students would have looked up to it. Nigerian remote students have even more good stories to tell.something should be done to tap them. All the same,BP’s review of Sail so motivated me and i look forward to reading the young minds.

  2. Nmadiuto Uche 2015/08/25 at 03:09 #

    Hello Celestine,

    We agree with you that catching writers young is the best way to go.

    Actually, The Sail is an idea introduced by a teacher to engage his students, pitched to and approved by the management of Whitesands School.

    It would be amazing to read stories written by students from all parts of the country and continent. So, let’s see who would pick this idea up 🙂

    In the meantime, organisations such as the Association of Nigerian Authors and The Golden Baobab compile anthologies from Nigeria and the continent respectively.

  3. Celestine Chimmumunefenwuanya Victorson 2015/08/25 at 06:00 #

    Mrs Nwadiuto Uche
    ,thanks a lot for your swift response. Nigerian creative children cum students to the best of my observation,when it comes to the aspect of creative writting compared to the Trinidad and Chinese American students presently suffered a huge neglect. What happens if in Nigeria we have an antology that sustained the dreams,imaginations,stories and emotions of a Nigerian child anually.Our students will relish and call it theirs and other African countries definitly must take suit.Dear,ANA will simply not dream it. they are interest in the literary bigwigs who studied in diaspora. A fiction must come from a graduate before it’s deemed a ‘novel’ That’s the mentality. And of course a dowright neglection of the imaginative cum creative Nigerian Child. Mrs. Uche,thanks a lot for Sail. Dig the hearts of the puplished youngs.You’d observe a surge of ephoria and pride. This is of course the duo the neglected Nigeria child-writer hoped. thumbs up 4 Whitesand for this eye-opening project

  4. Nmadiuto Uche 2015/08/25 at 08:40 #

    The Golden Baobab and ANA were both mentioned for their work in compiling anthologies by young authors and related literary prizes, although publishing in Africa for both young and old still has a long way to go.

    Kola Tubosun, the English teacher who came up with the idea for The Sail would be happy to read your appreciative comments.

    Who knows, a conversation like this can stir up someone’s creative juices to do more in closing the young, African authors publication gap.

  5. Celestine Chimmumunefenwuanya Victorson 2015/08/25 at 09:33 #

    Thanks once more, it isn’t my wish to be unessessarily noisy. i simply hoped the right people would see reasons with me and understands the entralling impress filling this gap would smear in the minds of the Nigerian creative students. Finally, Mrs. Uche. thanks 4 ur understanding and time i hope,a saviour would emit from somewhere and pitch the dynamite that’d change the status quo.

  6. Chima 2015/08/25 at 11:41 #

    Is this anthology of several promising talents available anywhere for free download, please?

  7. Nmadiuto Uche 2015/08/25 at 13:48 #

    Hello Chima,

    Yes it is

  8. Cay 2015/09/15 at 16:39 #

    Thanks for the avant-goût! 🙂 Can’t wait to read them.


  1. Jeremy Grange and the Boys « ktravula – a travelogue! - 2015/10/02

    […] eventually led to the work done by my students as well whose creative writing and art works were published earlier in the year in an anthology that we called The Sail. The journalist wanted to speak with some of the boys whose work appeared […]

  2. At Strathmore School, Nairobi « ktravula – a travelogue! - 2015/10/18

    […] passion, and persistence. I referred to our publication of students’ creative work called The Sail, and hope that something similar will take root at Strathmore at some point in the future. My […]

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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