Delivered right on time for Nigerian Independence Day (October 1st, Happy Belated Independence Day!), Of This Our Country: Acclaimed Nigerian Writers on the Home, Identity and Culture They Know was published by The Borough Press, an imprint of HarperCollins, on September 30th. The anthology was edited by Nancy Adimora and Ore Agbaje-Williams and contains essays by Nigerian authors across the globe on their memories, experiences, and reflections on Nigeria.
The collection contains 24 essays that ask readers to consider how they encounter Nigeria: as a reflection of the contemporary state, a valued memory, or as a particular experience with Nigeria, whether in the country or abroad. The essays range across topics: from defining and returning home, Nigerian history, politics, and food, to pop culture.
In “Of Country and Reverie,” Irenosen Okojie endearingly describes various cities in Nigeria through the warmth, love, and care of her interactions with her father. The essay is deeply personal. Okojie discusses the sights and sounds of the Nigeria she missed, like longing for suya, her favorite childhood snack. She also notes the somewhat uncomfortable things she forgot, things like class disparities as seen through her description of the house staff at her uncle’s home.
Oyinkan Akande describes Nigerian joy and resilience, beginning with a Yoruba wedding she remembers as a six year old girl, and continuing to more recent encounters with Nigerian parties, weddings, and celebrations in her essay “Elephants and Giraffes.” I enjoyed Akande’s memories of her childhood as well as her connections to more contemporary Nigerian pop-culture, like her discussion of Nollywood’s highest grossing film The Wedding Party.
With essays from familiar names such as Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀, Chimamanda Adichie, Ike Anya, Sefi Atta, Abi Daré, Okey Ndibe, Chigozie Obioma, Lola Shoneyin, Chika Unigwe and many more, the collection captures the diversity of voices in the Nigerian literary scene.
Readers who share a deep love and passion for Nigeria and also those interested in what their favorite writers think of their country will enjoy this book. The wide range of stories will make you think, laugh, tear up, and above all engage with Nigerian culture in a meaningful and intimate way.
Buy Of This Our Country: Amazon
Meet the authors at the 2021 Africa Writes Festival. Details below.
Sunday 24 October, 12:00 – 13:30 BST
Venue: Knowledge Centre Theatre and British Library Player
Tickets: Included in Sunday Day Pass