According to various online sources, Nigeria has a long history of story- and tale-telling. It was more like a deeply woven tradition endured and practiced by the earliest Nigerian civilization during the Precolonial era. As education levels grew alongside publishing firms, written works became more prominent, giving rise to a more prominent literary scene.
Over the years, Nigerian literature has grown in leaps and bounds, with renewed and acclaimed authors coming out of the country, putting our literary prowess into prominence and recognition.
Nigerian literature has mostly centered on prevailing themes such as leadership and political issues within the country, gender related issues, romance and love, cultural and traditional themes, and a host of others. These are very pertinent themes that cannot be taken away from our society.
But a lot can still be done; in terms of
openness and less prejudice from writers and ardent followers of Nigerian literature—home and abroad. Because I feel this puts a little bit of unnecessary pressure on upcoming authors to fit into these recognized and accepted themes or subgenres mentioned above. A more dynamic approach could be taken to bring other themes and storylines that might not be recognized into the limelight. Perhaps a more courageous step by authors and writers to break free and explore un-popular storylines that could possible center on genres such as thrillers, adventures, horror, science fiction etc. Not that these genres do not exist in our literary scene, but rather they appear to be dormant.
Much of our literature centers around a fictionalized version of our reality and immediate environment. The most recognized stories appear to be the ones frequently pronounced on our news headline. Even though these themes are powerful and important, they could easily become redundant. There are millions of Nigerians with different stories revolving around their lives—though unpopular, they have the potentials to give our literary scene more dynamism, complexity and openness.
Maybe writers could focus on finding their own voice—instead of trying to fit themselves into the box of running along with the more accepted storylines or themes.
Also, writers have to know that what made our most acclaimed writers famous and recognized would not necessarily make them famous and recognized. The world is changing and evolving rapidly, so is our country, and so should our ideas and perceptions about our literature. We can always grow, as we have done in the past.