An Anthology of New Nigerian Short Stories

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Nazir Kallah

The Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Kano state branch, has formerly released its new anthology of new Nigerian short stories recently in Kaduna, during the International Convention of the Association that was held in November, 2015.

The book entitled, Telling Our Stories is a collection of thirty five short stories written by Nigerians about their country, their problems, their fears and their dreams. The anthology was edited by ANA-Chevron award winner Professor Aliyu Kamal, a short story writer; an academician, Dr. Rabi Abdulsalam Ibrahim and multiple awards winning writer, Zaharaddeen Ibrahim Kallah. Similarly, a renowned short story writer, novelist and politician, Dr. Wale Okediran wrote the beautiful introduction about the anthology, the genre of short story and his experience with the city of pyramid.

The anthology featured both prominent and emerging writers in Nigeria. The prominent writers included, Dr Wale Okediran, Professor Yusuf Adamu, Professor Aliyu Kamal, Ahmad Maiwada, Khalid Imam, Razinat T. Muhammad, Auwalu Yusuf Hamza, Ismail Bala, Abdulaziz Abdulaziz, Dr. Faruk Sarkinfada, Maryam Ali Ali and Zaharaddeen I. Kallah among others. While the young budding writers included Zahra Tabiu, Safiyya Ibrahim Abdulhamid, Yaseer Kallah, Bello Sagir Imam, Doohemba Gwa Aisha Umar Sanusi and Zainab Aminu.

It is a well-known fact short story has played an important role in the entire genres of literature, but unfortunately its popularity declined. A remarkable change has occurred in the genre of short story when the Swedish writer, Alice Munro was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013. As a result of that, short story is now back on its rightful track in the literary world. By this, I will say Telling Our Stories is therefore out at the appropriate time to attract readers.

The anthology attempts to give the readers interesting stories written in Nigeria, and it vividly reflect the contemporary social, cultural, economic and political situation in our country’s transition. It is categories into four chapters; namely Discoveries, Relationships, Life and Reflections respectively. Dr Wale Okediran in his introduction identified about half of the submissions written on Romance and Relationships. He listed titles such as Khalid Imam’s ‘The Imam’s Heir’, Abdulkadir Mukhtar’s ‘Academic Ladder’, Awal Idris Evuti’s ‘Badiya’ and Adamu Idris Tanko’s ‘Failure’s Infections’, among others.

Of course, I enjoyed such stories for their power of bringing the true nature of love in our day to day life. For instance Badsha’s ‘Academic Ladder’ is a true reflection of what is happening in our campuses where ladies used their counter males as a ladder to climb academic height. Similarly, Awal Evuti’s story a reality of love at first sight. In his story, a young man met a young and beautiful Badiya in transit. He was lucky they dismounted at a same time and lived in the same place he visited for a while. But, the only problem with the story is that Evuti failed to give us a clear conclusion so as to know if his character won Badiya.

Zainab Aminu’s ‘The Journey’ is somehow close to Evuti’s story where young people meet in a commercial vehicle. Zainab displayed a situation where her character tactically got the number of a female passenger by his side. Unknown to her, he engaged in a chat with her within same vehicle without her knowledge who could be the secret admirer.

In addition, witticism and poetry covered works of writers such as Ami Dido’s ‘Heading To Korruptia, Julius Bakoru’s ‘Adakaere’, Saddiq Dzukogi’s ‘Missteps’ and Ahmed Maiwada’s ‘Daddy Longegs’. Ami Dido’s story gave an account of the type of corruption that is happening in our roads, where police and Vehicle Inspection Officer (VIO) haunted drivers without considering what is supposed to be done, but ended up collecting bribes. The issue of bribe is among the severe diseases that is affecting the entire system of the country and it is worrying Nigerian writers.

Abdulaziz Abdulaziz short story titled, ‘Quagmire’ is another example of short stories that reflect the nature of corruption in the civil service of the nation. The short story earned first place position of literary competition organised by the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-corruption Commission in 2010. Abdulaziz built his story on a character called Halliru, who despite embargo on recruitment by the federal government was able to secure a job after he forfeited his first salary. But as he advanced in the civil service, he fell into the habit of corruption just as his predecessors. At the end of the day, Halliru was caught red handed. This led to his imprisonment and hard labour.

In the other part, the anthology brought together some contemporary issues in the society, especially the HIV/AIDS debacle that is affecting the growth of developing countries like Nigeria. This can be seen in Zaharaddeen Ibrahim Kallah’s ‘A Shocking Discovery’. Rabi A. Ibrahim’s ‘Secrets of Heart’ and Auwalu Yusuf Hamza’s ‘Letting the Cat out of the Bag’.

‘A Shocking Discovery’ by Zaharaddeen Kallah attempts to give us a true way where our young people get infected with HIV virus without their knowledge. The writer built his story in a remote area of Kano where people didn’t care of sexual infections and engage in risky behaviours. In the story, a teenage girl Lubabatu was tested HIV positive and that had led to her dismissal from her catering work by her madam. Her dismissal led her to share her story to a team of HIV counsellors that discovered her.

In the same, Yusuf Adamu tried to address another issue in the country which has to do with ethnicity in his story titled, ‘North or South? In his story, he shares a kind of experience young Nigerians, especially graduates, that come to National Youths Service Corps experienced in life. Adamu narrates a story of a medical graduate who was posted to North. Prior to that, he has his own perception about North and their people. At the end of the day, he realised that his knowledge about North is entire different.

Razinat Muhammad’s story ‘Siege Warfare’ is a type of story that comes at the right time. The story looks at the current insurgency the country is struggling with. The writer set up her story in Maiduguri where the insurgency of Boko Haram started. The story tries to give true account of insurgency in its initial stage, including how uniform men were set at target, but systematically changed to the general public.

Telling Our Stories is a must read book and national treasury that needs to be in all parts of the country. Its variety of themes and voices will surely attract readers, critics and students. Congratulations ANA Kano!

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