Mabel Segun (Surrender and Other Stories)has some interesting things to say about feminism and the literary scene in her native Nigeria:
He said, "why don't you approach one of the female writers to do an article on you," as if women writers have to be written on by women themselves. I told him that, he sounded unreasonable, whether that was how it is done abroad. "Men can not review a woman's work". That was what he told me but, eventually, it was a man who reviewed my works, Funsho Ayejina. That singular action showed you the attitude of most of our male writers towards their female counterparts. As if reviewing a woman's work is something far below his dignity.

By refusing to talk about a woman's work, it amounts also to holding her hands from writing what is the use of writing if nobody gets identified with your works. So, this has been the problem with women's writing and that is what affected me as a person.
There is also a dialogue, available online, between Ms. Segun and Prof. Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo that took place in July 2003, sponsored by International PEN, Nigeria Centre. Hot topics discussed include women writers, government suppression, free speech, and self-publishing and contemporary trends in Nigerian literature. Noted,
Mabel Segun: Women now have opportunities for employment. In those days they could only be teachers, or nurses, or what else? Some very few ones became doctors or lawyers. But they were very few.

Prof. Femi Osofisan (moderator): Some people say that, in fact, they were happier then. What's your view?

MS: (giggles) That's what they want to hear. Those must be men, I'm sure.

FO: Some people say that women then might not have reached the material success…

MS: In other words, ignorance is bliss. Is that what you're saying?
Definitely worth a read. Also good, the Guardian's recent piece on 20-year old Helen Oyeyemi (The Icarus Girl), born in Nigeria and raised in London, who seems poised to be the next breakout novelist in the UK. One of the perks of her newfound success? Being mistaken for Purple Hibiscus author - and Cupcake alum - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nov. '04) at parties.


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