Sentinel Literary Quarterly

Vol.2 No.2, January 2009. ISSN 1753-6499 (Online). www.sentinelquarterly.com

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Bernard Gieske
Genna Gardini
Helena Carolinska
Michael Lee Rattigan
Nnorom Azuonye
Ramesh Dohan
Sholeh Wolpé
Terri Ochiagha
Tolu Ogunlesi
Uche Nduka
Uchechukwu Umezurike
William Stephenson
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Editor's Note

 

The Audacity of Wakefulness

 

A man wins an election. Is there any news in that? Not really. Then you hear it again. You learn something more: the man is a black man. His mother was white. But he definitely is not a white man. However, because he has to be something, we say black. OK, maybe not exactly black. No need to get all those African-Americans, Africans in the Diaspora and Africans in Africa excited. That level of excitement must come with a health warning for the world. His name is Barack Obama and he has just been sworn in as the 44th president of the United States of America.

 

You are almost irritated by the implausibility of it. The audacity of even imagining it. That's why I grab you by the collar of your nicely-pressed shirt and say it slowly, frothing at the corners of my mouth, my eyes red - as hot embers of wood, “If you don’t believe what I say is true, maybe you should call the goddamn White House.”

 

I am sorry papa, I am not making this up. I recall how you used to tell me stories about the Civil Rights Movements in America, about the marches in Montgomery. You told the stories as if you had been there yourself. There is a black man in the White House and it is true. Once again, I am sorry papa, if only you'd hung around for another twenty-seven years, you would have heard the news yourself. So now I wonder if you have managed to meet up with people like Martin Luther King Jr and Rosa Parks on the other side. Do you all gather for tea at sunrise and imagine what it feels like to be alive on this side at a time like this? Well I can tell you. It feels rather surreal. Even though we've had since November to get used to it. It still does not feel real...yet.

 

Anyway, talking about what is real and what is not, let me say one or two things about some other stuff other than American politics.

 

That word audacity has become like a virus since Obama published The Audacity of Hope. Suddenly people are getting bolder. Look at a guy like Tolu Ogunlesi, a Nigerian writer who was born only in 1982. How he has fearlessly pursued his dreams as a writer and has just published a novella titled Conquest and Conviviality among other publishing conquests. In the Sentinel Literary Quarterly interview he makes this statement; “I have profusely submitted my writing to magazines, journals, contests and mailed off applications for writing residencies and fellowships. Every now and then I succeed.” What an attitude! This attitude reminds me of another young man, much younger than Tolu, a chap called Onyeka Nwelue. That kid was born in 1988. Do the sum. An irritatingly-ambitious young man. Onyeka Nwelue hounded me by e-mail and Yahoo messenger a few years ago that I had to block him to preserve my sanity. I thought he had something going for him and I am excited for him at the publication of his first novel “The Abyssinian Boy” which will be launched on Saturday 24th January 2009 at the National Library opposite Casino Cinema, Alagomeji, Lagos, Nigeria. Congratulations to Mr Nwelue. Back in England, Alexandra Burke had the audacity of returning to the X-Factor three years after being booted off the show, and you know what she won and finally sang her Halleluyah to the Number One spot on the British charts. Still on living without fear, on the fast lane, Lewis Hamilton won the Formula One world championship.

 

All these things are happening against a backdrop of the worst financial crisis of our time. Talk about audacity and think about Bernard Madoff. Jeez, a man has got to have some massive balls to become a fifty billion dollar crook. Now that's what one means about eating a fat toad! So before our eyes Lehman Brothers collapsed, Woolworths and MFI fell off the wagon and Land of Leather has called in the Administrators. Mind you, sharp bankers have still got their Ferraris and the getaway homes in the Bahamas and the South of France whilst governments are falling over themselves to bail out banks with taxpayers’ cheese. I nearly choke on my Guinness Drought when I read that even Nigeria has joined the bandwagon and may be helping banks out with One Trillion Naira. No need to get excited that is only about Five Billion Pounds.

 

If a writer had written about all that has happened in the world since 2008, he would certainly be dismissed as incompetent, as a person possessing a warped imagination. None of it makes sense! But I think the situation provides ample scenarios that writers of all genres may capitalise on and write great literature that will sustain the world for another one hundred years or more. So we must all have the boldness to stay awake and milk every lactating, still unbelievable moment of our time, from the joyful tears of Jesse Jackson, bless him, after Barack Obama won the election, to the sad tale of Madoff victim Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet who slashed his wrists after more than one billion dollars of his clients’ money went walkabout. We must stay awake, lest we fall asleep only to wake up to find that heck, a black man has not won the American presidential elections, and every other great thing that has happened actually did not.

 

Enjoy the January issue of the SLQ.

 

Nnorom Azuonye

21 January, 2009

 

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Sentinel Literary Quarterly

 Published by Sentinel Poetry Movement

Editor: Nnorom Azuonye

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