“THE NEED TO SEE LITERATURE DIFFERENTLY”…Badiru Kehinde

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Just yesterday when American singer and songwriter Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature, questions have been raised on the basis of selection which traditionally is supposed to be focused on fiction writers, poets and playwrights. These were literary expressions which used to be criterias for awarding this prize.

PM News wrote, “He is the first American to win since the novelist Toni Morrison, in 1993. The announcement, in Stockholm, came as something of a surprise. Although Mr. Dylan, 75, has been mentioned often as having an outside shot at the prize, his work does not fit into the literary canons of novels, poetry and short stories that the prize has traditionally recognized”. Although, the award has had its way into Africa through winners like our very own Wole Soyinka, Nigeria (1986) with Camus, Albert Algeria (1957), Maathai, Wangari Kenya (2004)
Theiler, Max South Africa (1951, Luthuli, Albert John South Africa (1960). However, Senior research fellow at The University of Ibadan, Institute of African studies, Dr. Senayon Olaoluwa wrote, “The Nobel Prize for Literature has refused to come Africa’s way again…wahala no dey…It’s good news for popular culture, anyway. Congratulations to Bob Dylan!”.

Similarly Literary scholar, Dr. Rotimi Fasan  has this to say; “Do you still wonder whether it’s scholarly to see poetry in Dagrin, 9ice or P Square to say nothing of Sunny Ade?  When some wondered if African oral forms are worthy of the name literature, can such people tell us why an American folk singer can or  should be awarded a major prize in literature. Expand your definition of literature and the literary which is not necessarily only what you were taught inside the four walls of a school”

This goes to say that literature today is changing and the walls which it used to be trapped are basically expanding. If a folk singer can be awarded a Nobel Prize, an Hip-hop artist,Country, soul,smoothjazz or jazz music could also someday. One battle the African continent had to fight was the renegotiation of the fact that Africa had her indigenous oral forms which the west have tried on several occasions to debunk. Well  I’m watching out for the likes of Brenda Russel, Drake, Adele, The Weekend, Solange, Rihana, Brian Cubertson, John Mayer, Jonathan Butler, Anita Baker,  etc to probably get an award someday. LOL just a take. Consider our very own Sunny Ade, the musical legend who just celebrated his 70th birthday. Essays are being received by the centre of African studies, University of Ibadan in order to celebrate the legend.  It’s an exploration of the intersection between Juju music and literature and the aesthetics each of these artises dedicate to their musical art. This supports the claim that there is a need to see literature differently.

It’s not new that the study of literature in the scholarly sense of it has left the pages of the three genres, what we have today is a cross breed of genres, a mix of these traditional forms even with the recent digital and new media devices which we have at our finger tips today. The study of literature today is becoming a honeymoon, a bed of roses and really something to live with, in and for.

©Badiru Kehinde
(Poet, Essayist, Fiction Writer, Grad. Student, Osun Student University)
(Badagry) 14/10/16
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Contact: Badirukehinde@gmail.com

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