Diaries of A Dead African
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Diaries of a Dead African is a merciless comedy that explores the life-threatening situations of three protagonists, the farmer Meme Jumai and his two sons – Abel (failed writer) and Calamatus (aspiring conman).
Meme’s wife has left him with the bulk of his barn. He has a few tubers to last until harvest. Can he stretch it? Will his friends and relatives help out? Calamatus’ break has finally come after an apprenticeship to a con-artist. Can he survive wealth as readily as he did, poverty? Finally Abel’s manuscripts are attracting attention, but not, as he discovers, for their literary value… his fondest dreams were on the verge of realization, yet his father had died at 50 and his brother at 25. How to outlive them both, without fleeing the very opportunities he had craved all his life…
I am Chuma Nwokolo, and I tell stories.
I was born in Jos, in 1963, although I have no full recollection of the event. I graduated from the University of Nigeria Nsukka in 1983 and was called to the bar in 1984. I was managing partner of the C&G Chambers in Lagos and writer-in-residence at The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. I founded the literary magazine African Writing with my old friend, Afam Akeh. My first novels, The Extortionist (1983) and Dangerous Inheritance (1988), were published by Macmillan in the Pacesetter Novels. My stories have found foster homes in the London Review of Books, La Internazionale, AGNI, MTLS, Arzenal, and Sentinel, among places.
I am really a short story writer, although I am not above stitching tales together into more garrulous novels. Thus, African Tales at Jailpoint (1999), One More Tale for the Road (2003), and – truth be told – Diaries of a Dead African (2003). My more honest anthologies consist of The Ghost of Sani Abacha (2012), How to Spell Naija in 100 Short Stories Volumes 1 (2013), and 2 (2016).
I am guilty of poetry, some of which have been collected in Memories of Stone (2006) and The Final Testament of a Minor God (2014), but without question, the most difficult, sustained, and in a sense satisfying thing I have ever done is my imminent novel, The Extinction of Menai.
Great stories can change us… if we ever get around to reading them. Yet, there is another type of writing that can change the world, whether they are widely read or not: Law. Literature rolls up into a scroll; the law rolls up into a baton for the stubborn, and often, that makes all the difference. After the gentler persuasions of literature, society is eventually renewed by the agency of transformative law, think the abolition of slavery, of Apartheid.