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Table of contents
That did not come to me until much later. Once I realized that, I had to be a writer.
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I had to be that historian. But it is something we have to do, so that the story of the hunt will also reflect the agony, the travail—the bravery, even, of the lions. You were among the first graduates of the great University of Ibadan. What was it like in the early years of that university, and what did you study there? Has it stuck with you in your writing? Ibadan was, in retrospect, a great institution.
Complete fiction: why 'the short story renaissance' is a myth
In a way, it revealed the paradox of the colonial situation, because this university college was founded towards the end of British colonial rule in Nigeria. If they did any good things, Ibadan was one of them. You start off as an appendage of somebody else. You go through a period of tutelage.
We were the University College of Ibadan of London. So I took a degree from London University.
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That was the way it was organized in those days. One of the signs of independence, when it came, was for Ibadan to become a full-fledged university. I began with science, then English, history, and religion. I found these subjects exciting and very useful. My teacher there, Dr.
Parrinder, now an emeritus professor of London University, was a pioneer in the area. He had done extensive research in West Africa, in Dahomey.
For the first time, I was able to see the systems—including my own—compared and placed side by side, which was really exciting. I also encountered a professor, James Welch, in that department, an extraordinary man, who had been chaplain to King George VI, chaplain to the BBC, and all kinds of high powered things before he came to us. He was a very eloquent preacher. On one occasion, he said to me, We may not be able to teach you what you need or what you want.
We can only teach you what we know. I thought that was wonderful. That was really the best education I had. I have had to go out on my own. The English department was a very good example of what I mean. The people there would have laughed at the idea that any of us would become a writer. I remember on one occasion a departmental prize was offered.
They put up a notice—write a short story over the long vacation for the departmental prize. So I wrote one and submitted it. Months passed; then finally one day there was a notice on the board announcing the result. It said that no prize was awarded because no entry was up to the standard. They named me, said that my story deserved mention.
Ibadan in those days was not a dance you danced with snuff in one palm. It was a dance you danced with all your body.
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So when Ibadan said you deserved mention, that was very high praise. Now what was wrong with it? So I said, Ah, can you tell me about this? She said, Yes, but not now. This went on for a whole term. So that was it! That was all I learned from the English department about writing short stories. You really have to go out on your own and do it. When you finished university, one of the first careers you embarked upon was broadcasting with the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation.
I got into it through the intervention of Professor Welch. So the next thing was the broadcasting department, which was newly started in Nigeria, with a lot of BBC people.
I really had no idea what I was going to do when I left college. They know from day one what they are going to be. We just coasted. We just knew that things would work out. There were not too many of us. It was just the thing I wanted. You edited scripts. Then short stories.
The fallout from this approach is that short story writers must address endless questions about The Short Story as opposed to short stories. What is a short story? Why should we read them? Are they coming back? Did they ever go away?
And on and on and on. But you know what? Facebook Twitter Pinterest. Topics Short stories. Reuse this content. Order by newest oldest recommendations. Show 25 25 50 All. Threads collapsed expanded unthreaded. Loading comments… Trouble loading?