Why Literary Organisations Ask For Previously Unpublished Entries


A number of people still view publications from the stand point of what it was some years back when the only thing considered as published are those ones put down in black and white as hard copies. This would still remain the truth in the absence of evolving technology.
The evolution of technology has undeniably changed the face of everything we do as humans. Over time, technology has become the measure of value for our thoughts, actions, decisions and even our ability to be creative as writers.
Publication is a noun derived from the Latin word “publicare” which means to make something public. Vocabulary.com defines a publication as something made to communicate with the public. This explains that works posted on a website, blog, social media page, an open e-literary journal or any other media, which is accessible by the public, is a published work.
It is no news that most literary organizations clamor for unpublished entries when they call for submissions. Most people wonder why this is now a governing principle in the literary world.

Read also: How To Win A Literary Competition

Why Do Literary Organisations Call For Unpublished Entries

Imagine a situation where your aunt promised to get you a pair of shoes. I’m sure you will be excited. Now, imagine her giving you the same shoe your cousin wears or the exact shoe you got two months ago. That will definitely be way lower than what you expected. Just like you, organizations need spanking new, unconventional, exclusive, and original entries.

An unpublished entry is a test of creativity. Literary organizations believe that you as a creative should be able to prove and defend your creativity at any given time.

The need to stay away from copyright infringement is one major reason why any literary organization will insist on having a piece that has never been published.

Nobody goes after what he already has, we only go after things that aren’t within our reach. A reader who has read your already published entry will not be enthusiastic about seeing the same thing on another space. Literary organizations believes readers are hungry men and they want to feed their hunger with something unusual every time readers turn to them for milk.

Thanks for reading through!

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Poet Laureate Interviews 2020: Meet Esther Mbabie

Tell us more about you?

I am a final year student at the University of Ibadan. I am also a radio presenter for both English and Pidgin programs, a content creator, a creative writer, a Spoken word artist, and a passionate volunteer. I am passionate about God and people, especially children. I am the Executive Director of Chrysolite Foundation, an NGO aimed at advancing the welfare of future generations through empowerment and education. I am a big fan of the statement “live full, die empty“.

How long have you been writing for?

 Since I knew how to hold a pencil (at least so I was told) but I have been writing for as long as I can remember.

What was the first thing you thought of when you saw the ad for the contest?

 I read the word “SANKOFA” over and over and thought “I will like to see what new ideas my head will supply for this theme.”

What does Sankofa mean to you?

Just as it means in English, SANKOFA to me means accepting that there is a past, where good and bad things took place and all I can take from the past are lessons but thankfully there is also a future to work towards and that’s what matters.

Tell us about your entry

Although my entry speaks on the sacrifices a daughter has had to pay for her mother’s mistakes before eventually learning that she is in charge of her own story, the idea of the concept is to tell a story of how too many times we carry the mistakes from the past along with us until it begins to ruin every chance of a better future.

Did you have any challenges in writing your piece?

I had the first line almost immediately but it took a long time to figure out what story I wanted to build up to.

What is the future of literature in Africa?

I love being a tribesman. In the short time that I have been following the TVO tribe, I have loved every content that has been put out as they have all been constantly reminding me of the power of the pen.

What does being a tribesman mean to you, and how do you think being part of a community will influence African literature?

I think being part of a community will keep the African Literature spirit alive because we can always get inspired by the struggles and victories of the people in our community.

Sound bite, anyone?

They say writing a book is as easy as writing A-B-C but I am not sure anybody is willing to read 275 pages of ABC. So eventually, it’s never that simple.

Read Esther’s entry here now!

See how to vote here!

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Poet Laureate Interviews 2020: Meet Ogunkeye Tobi

• Tell us more about you?

I’m a simple, quiet, and collected person; my hands and brain speak more than my mouth does.

• How long have you been writing for?

About 8 or 9 years now. I started with prose, now I’m basically into poetry. I am looking forward to simulating the three forms of literature though.

• What was the first thing you thought of when you saw the ad for the contest?

 I felt a “this is meant for me” kind of thing. I was absorbed by the title.

•  What does Sankofa mean to you?

 “He who knows not his past has no fuel for the drive to future” -Ogunkeye Tobi.

Tell us about your entry?

 The poetic piece centers around Africa’s fall as a sweet continent, her toil through the ruins caused by her own ignorance; and the solution to her ordeal.

• Did you have any challenges in writing your piece?

 Yes, I did. I got to know about it late; about 3 days to the closure. I could’ve done much research on the topic, but I didn’t doubt the potency of my entry

• What is the future of literature in Africa?

The future of African Literature is like the sun which rises every morning, and goes home at night only to repeat the cycle again. The people it shines on feels its impact and grow old, but it doesn’t.

•  What does being a tribesman mean to you, and how do you think being part of a community will influence African literature.

One of my goals in life is to die empty. I believe pouring out my all, adding to everyone who has an affinity for knowledge and beatification of African minds will make me close to achieving this goal.

Sound bite, anyone?

??

Read Tobi’s post here now!

See how to vote here!

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Poet Laureate Interviews 2020: Meet Azeeza Adeowu

Tell us more about you?

 I am a graduate of Biochemistry and I think I’m as passionate about science as I am about literature.

For how long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since my primary school days, lol. There’s a composition I wrote then that my father still makes reference to. I started calling myself a writer in 2015 though, that was the year I began to focus on my writing.

What was the first thing you thought of when you saw the ad for the contest?

I thought about a book that has a similar title to the theme. I haven’t read it yet but I listened to a podcast where the author spoke about the book and the meaning behind the title.

What does Sankofa mean to you?

Sankofa to me means reaching back to the past in order to make progress in the present.

Tell us about your entry

My story, “Mide is a Good Girl”,  is about 2 sisters who grew apart after they lost their mom. The elder sister, Mide was tired of trying to get her younger sister, Shalewa to behave properly and open up to her.

Did you have any challenges in writing your piece?

 I always find it difficult to write a story with a theme or subject in mind. I love when my stories take their own forms and themes. So, I had to start and restart several stories until I came up with this.

What is the future of literature in Africa?

 It’s quite promising. I’m a Bookstagrammer and the way people consume and push African literature is impressive. In the future, I believe we will have even more amazing writers and opportunities.

What does being a tribesman mean to you, and how do you think being part of a community will influence African literature?

Having a community allows people to connect with others; that’s a great way to grow together, learn to perfect your craft, and uncover new talents.

Sound bite, anyone?

 “If you don’t write about yourself, someone else will write about you and you will not like it.” –M.G. Vassanji

Read Azeeza’s entry here now!

See how to vote here!

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Poet Laureate Q & A: Get Your Answers Now!

What is Poet Laureate?

Poet Laureate is an honorary position conferred by Tribesmen as an institution. After a season of featuring some amazing creatives on our community, this is a season for us to vote for the most outspoken creative. Poet Laureate is translated “The People’s Poet”, to bring creatives together, tribesmen by tribesmen.

Who can participate in Poet Laureate?

Every tribesman can participate in this competition. Every creative is allowed to showcase their art and compete.

What are the categories in Poet Laureate?

There are five categories for submissions:

Prose fiction (1000 words max)

Poetry (1 poem)

Short Story (Non-Fiction) (1000 words max)

Spoken word artistry. (1 minute video)

Art & Photography ( 3-5 pieces)

Note: Art & Photography Submissions are welcome but can’t participate in the competition. We will share it on our visual platforms for appraisal. (Submit to tvotribe@gmail.com)

Also Note: Spoken word submissions can be posted on the creative’s Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter account, please ensure you tag us and we acknowledge receipt.

What are the criteria to submit entries for Poet Laureate?

Make sure you meet the following criteria to be eligible.

– You are a tribesman (to join visit bit.ly/JOINTVO)

– You have your entry previously unpublished.

– Your entry fits the theme for this year’s Poet Laureate (SANKOFA).

– You follow the community on all social media platforms (so you don’t miss out on important information.

Can I submit more than one entry?

Only one entry in one submission category is allowed.

Is Poet Laureate open to only Nigerians?

Poet Laureate is open to Africans within Africa, Africans in the diaspora, and those who identify as Africans.

Is there any age limit to participate in poet laureate?

There’s no registered age limit for Poet Laureate. We appreciate creativity from any age group.

There you go! Get to work now! We can not wait to receive your entries, so get to creating!

religion and spirituality in african literature

Religion And Spirituality In African Literature

by Testimony Soyoye

African spirituality simply acknowledges that beliefs and practices touch on and inform every facet of human life, and therefore African religion cannot be separated from the everyday or mundane.”  – Jacob Olupona.

The theme of religion and spirituality in Africa has been amongst the most recurring themes in precolonial, colonial, and post-colonial literature. Religion and spirituality though intertwined are two distinct entities.

Religion is a set of beliefs and practices that individuals believe in and adhere to the belief that practicing such religion would mold one into a better person. Spirituality, as defined by The Cambridge Dictionary is “the quality that involves deep feelings and beliefs of a religious nature, rather than the physical parts of life.”

How do religion and spirituality feature in African literature?

A few African writers like Ngugi Wa Thiong’o have attempted to feature the themes of religion and spirituality in their books. Ngugi Wa Thiong’o in his book The River Between explained that though colonialism has brought about a different religion and way of life, we are still enjoined to hold fast to our religious values.

Are African religious practices as barbaric as people think?

It is quite unfortunate that most Africans believe that practicing their own religion would be tantamount to being involved in barbaric practices. We can see this exemplified by Joshua, Nyamburi’s father in the book, The River Between. He secludes his children to keep them from being influenced by the people practicing the religion of the Gukuyi tribe. It might be true that some of our cultural norms might not be necessary. However, we do not have to deny that our religion is an integral part of our society.

Read here: Immigration in African literature; the good, the bad and the ugly

Whatever choices we make, whatever religious path we might choose to walk, let us all remember that we are Africans and the blood of our ancestors runs through our veins; from the first worshippers of Obatala, a  Yoruba god to Zuku worshippers, a god that is believed to originate from Southern Africa. We all have a duty to end the downplay of our religion and spirituality in our stories, in our collective narrative.

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Immigration in African Literature: the African narrative

by Peace Osemwengie

African literature may be divided into three phases: pre-colonial, colonial, post-colonial. All of these phases have influenced how African literature is seen, read, and understood. These phases have also affected the various themes that are constituent to African literature. Some of these themes include immigration, government, gender equality, feminism, poverty, etc.

Immigration may have arisen as a theme in African literature because of the experiences of African authors who had to leave their native homes and face what it means to be black in a white world. Immigration in African literature may have become a theme as a result of the disconnect that second generation Africans in diaspora feel when they visit the motherland. It may also have risen as a result of the absence of books that accurately explain the African experience on the global scene.

This theme, immigration, may be called a sister to negritude, may also be known as migritude, but some regard it as an opposition to Pan- Africanism. In the reality of it, it is not. Afrodiasporic literature proves this. During the later years of colonial literature, Soyinka, Achebe, and Ngugi wrote about how the white man’s forceful introduction into African regions dispossessed the people of their traditions, their culture, and essentially, their life. Their writings attempted to tell the story of Africa from the African perspective, and they did so, successfully. Yes, they were educated by the white man, but their art reflected the true nature of themselves, Africans.

Read also: gender and sexuality in African literature

Today, afrodiasporic literature, or as we want to call it, the immigrant theme in African literature attempts to explain the struggles, the disconnect, the elusiveness of balance, that Africans experience in their new global home. There are a great many afrodisaporic authors today, who have, in their various ways, celebrated their Africanness in their writings. Some of them include Alain Mabanckou, Fatou Diome, Chigozie Obioma, Chimamanda Adichie, NoViolet Bulawayo, among others. It should also be mentioned some of these authors have a love-hate relationship with Africa.

Some have said afropolitanism is perhaps too simple in its approach to the acceptance of Africans globally. While this is subject to debate, the writings of authors like Okey Ndibe, Chika Unigwe, NoViolet Bulawayo, and Chimamanda Adichie show that immigration is not as glamorous as it seems. There are questions that may not have answers, and then there’s the question of identity: who is the black person in the middle of this?

Chigozie Obioma injects the metaphysical into his narration of immigrant experiences in his book, An Orchestra of Minorities. Binyavanga Wainana’s How to write about Africa is sarcastic in its delivery of the African narrative from the non–African perspective. In Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi tells how balance is often skewered and how that balance must be achieved. Taiye Selasie in Ghana Must Go shows how the heart longs for home, even when home is inaccessible, and how this may cause rifts in the family system. Adichie in Americanah chronicles what it means to be a black immigrant and how cultures clash, and how often black questions are left unanswered.

Immigration in African literature is an important theme in the current phase of African literature that we are in. It is the training, and retraining of African passions and the telling of African stories to global ears.

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Gender and Sexuality in African Literature

by Peace Osemwengie

Before Flora Nwapa wrote Efuru in 1966, there were no books in African literature that reflected the woman as a force to be reckoned with.  In the books that were written before that time, the woman was the one saddled with the duty of bearing children, nursing them, and telling them their ultimate duty: to never risk the displeasure of their father. It was the woman that was being punished for her ills in her previous life, so she could not give birth to children in the present. It was the woman that was the bad egg, a bad wife was equal to poison. A woman was useless if she did not center her life around her husband. She was forbidden, as though it were a grievous sin, to resist his efforts to getting more children to secure his lineage, her job was to keep quiet and herd the other women around. She was to be grateful if her husband came into her hut at all, and be content if he bothered to show up once a week. Her menstrual cycle was a taboo subject, much like in the bible, she’d bear the plague alone, and termed unclean.

Were this portrayal of the female gender and the sexuality of women a deliberate attempt?

Some experts argue against and some say yes. Some say that it was this portrayal of women as weak that gave rise to feminist literature. Feminist literature, which some consider a genre or sub-genre of literature is neither a genre nor sub-genre. It is rather a form of literature that is written by feminists to correct the impressions that male writers, sadly in their explanation of the female gender, lent weight to the evils of and dominance of patriarchy.

Does this mean that women were not at all revered in African literature?

Quite the contrary. In Africa’s oral traditions, or what some prefer to call pre-colonial literature, women were highly respected, women were revered as queens, as warriors. Examples include Queen Amina of Zaria, Idia of the Bini Kingdom, and Queen Moremi of Ife. Women determined if other women gave birth as in the case of fertility goddesses, women determined if the harvest would be fruitful or not, as in the case of Ala, the Igbo goddess of the earth. It leaves us the question,

what happened in the colonial years?

We do not know. Perhaps the worship of goddesses declined as organized and foreign religion spread. Perhaps the religions that came and interpreted the role of women to the background began the disregard of women across all spheres. We know, however, that if something was hard for men, it was twice as hard for women. In the dying days of the colonial era, when Achebe decided to tell Africa’s story from Africa’s perspective, he told it as it were. Not deliberately kicking women to the curb, but only emphasizing their role as he could. Perhaps this was the beginning of the portrayal of women as beings who could not find themselves unless they were tied to a man. Women whose sun rose and set on the heels of a man. Perhaps it was tradition, perhaps it was a deeply set form of patriarchy, we cannot say for sure.

Read also: 7 contemporary authors that are changing the face of African literature

The Awakening

But, soon enough, after most African countries gained their independence, the tides began to turn. Even as the feminist wave and the civil rights era kicked in around the world and activism began to knock on the doors of writers. Women realized that their stories had to be told from their own perspective. Women had to crucify themselves, bury themselves, and raise themselves healed. Women knew that if they allowed men to write their stories, their daughters, and indeed the daughters of Africa would not be the force that they are today.

The Women Coalition

This awakening birthed Flora Nwapa, Mariama Ba, Buchi Emecheta, Nadine Gordimer, Ama Ata Aidoo, Chimamanda Adichie, Marguerite Abouet, Lola Shoneyin, Yaa Gyasi,  NoViolet Bulawayo, Jennifer Makumbi, Nawal El Sadaawi, and all the other women who have defined African literature. These women have defined women by women for the world to see. Because of them, women are not afraid to be themselves anymore. Some might call it a feminist coalition, but it is indeed because of these women that girls from Africa can own themselves, can be their full selves without shame or remorse.

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African Authors: Our Stories Have Been Told Truthfully (2)

by Testimony Soyoye

When we read books telling stories about Africa, we are eager to learn about our continent and our history. It is however more beautiful when we see our true stories, our history in print. Female African authors are fulfilling the purpose of African literature; to show the world Africa as she truly is. Amongst them are:

BUCHI EMECHETA

Buchi Emecheta, whose full name is Florence Onyebuchi Emecheta was a novelist although she also wrote plays. Emecheta’s works resonate with the themes of motherhood, child slavery, and female independence. Her first published book was Dutch written in 1972 after which she wrote her second novel Second Class Citizen, which is among her most notable works. She also wrote The Joys Of Motherhood which ironically describes the struggle of women in African society. She won the Jock Campbell Prize of 1978 for her novel The Slave Girl.

MARIAMA BÁ

Mariama Ba was a Senegalese author and feminist. She expressed her frustration and the fate of African women in her works. Mariama described the struggle of women and their continued fight for survival and recognition in African society. She wrote only three books which include her first book So Long A Letter written in 1981, Scarlet Songs in 1986, and La Fonction Politique Des Littératures Africaines Écrite in 1981. She was awarded the First Nomu Prize For Une Si Longue Lettre in 1980.

NADINE GORDIMER

She was a South African writer and political activist. Her works dealt with issues like racism and the apartheid era in South Africa. Her works have global recognition, and she was also described by Alfred Nobel as “a woman whose writing is beneficial to humanity“. Her work centered on racism, love, and politics. She wrote The Conversationist, Burger’s Daughter, and July’s People. She was awarded the Nobel Prize For Literature in 1991.

Read also: African authors: our stories have been told truthfully (1)

MARGUERITE ABOUET

Marguerite Abouet is an Ivorian writer who is widely known for her graphic novel Aya. She also wrote Bande Dessinées. Her graphic novel was published in a bid to paint a different picture of Africa asides from that of the recurrent war and famine. She was awarded the Angouléme International Comic Festival Prize For Best First Album in 2006 and the Rising Star Award For The Best Self Publisher Glyph Comic Award.

CHIMAMANDA ADICHIE

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Chimamanda Adichie is a Nigerian writer who most people like to describe as a product of Chinua Achebe. She writes novels, short stories, and fiction. She wrote her first novel Purple Hibiscus in 2003 after being inspired by Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. She also wrote Half Of A Yellow Sun and Americanah. The latter was inspired by her experiences as a black woman in America. Chimamanda’s most notable award is the MacArthur Fellowship (2008). She is sometimes described as a feminist but most importantly she through her works, voiced her opinion on the Biafran War in Nigeria and other issues facing the African continent.

NNEDI OKORAFOR

Nnedinma Nkemdilli Okorafor, also known as “Nnedi” is a Nigerian-American writer. Nnedi is best known for her development of the magical realism genre into what it is today- a blend of African mythology and space fiction, appropriately called Afrofuturism. She writes fantasy and science fiction for children and adults. her works include Akata Witch, Who Fears Death, Zahrah the Windseeker, and Binti. She also writes comics. Nnedi has won many awards including the Nebula Award for Binti, the 2012 Black Excellence Award for Outstanding Achievement in Literature, The Locus Award, The Lodestar Award, and the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story for LaGuardia.

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African Actors: Changing the narrative

by Peace Osemwengie

Pearl Thusi

Born Sithembile Xola Pearl Thusi on the 13th of May 1988, Thusi has done her native country of South Africa proud. Thusi is best known for her portrayal of Patricia Kopong in the BBC/HBO comedy-drama series, The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Dayana Mampari in Quantico, and Samkelo in the romantic drama, Catching Feelings. She also played the role of Tala in The Scorpion King: Book of Souls. Thusi is currently playing a lead role in the Netflix crime drama series, Queen Sono. She is one of South Africa’s most influential actresses.

Lupita Nyong’o

Is undoubtedly one of the best actors to come out of Africa. The Kenyan-Mexican actress has starred in blockbusters such as Black Panther, Us, 12 Years a Slave, and Queen of Katwe. She is also an award-winning stage actress. Nyong’o is the first African, and first Kenyan-Mexican to win an Academy Award. She won it for her role as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave. Lupita has also written a children’s book, Sulwe, which became a New York Times bestseller. She was named among Africa’s “50 most powerful women” by Forbes in 2020.

Read also: African authors; our stories have been told truthfully

Chiwetel Ejiofor

Has enjoyed and is enjoying a long and illustrious career. He has received numerous awards and nominations for acting, including the BAFTA Orange Rising Star Award in 2006, two Golden Globe Awards nominations, and the Laurence Olivier Best Actor Award for his performance in Othello in 2008. Ejiofor was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth 11 for services to the arts and was elevated to Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2015. Some of his best-known movies include 12 Years a Slave, Half of a Yellow Sun, Doctor Strange, and The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind.

Djimon Hounsou

If you have watched Blood Diamond, Gladiators, The Legend of Tarzan, Furious 7, and Captain Marvel, you’d be familiar with Djimon Hounsou. The Beninese-American actor and model began his career by appearing in music videos. Hounsou came into the limelight for his role as Cinque` in the movie Amistad, in 1997. He began modeling in Paris in 1987 after he was encouraged by Thierry Mugler, and the rest, as they say, is history. He has received a Golden Globe Award nomination and three Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations. He was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the movie, In America. That nomination made him the fourth African male to be nominated for an Oscar.

These actors are proof that anything can be done by Africans. They have shown that hardwork and dedication to the craft will trump adversity everytime, and for this, we celebrate them in our Black History feature.