Here are some ideas if you would like to…
…find out more about Nigeria
Consider reading some of the superb Nigerian fiction writers. ‘Things Fall Apart’ by Chinua Achebe, ‘The Famished Road’ by Ben Okri, anything by Chris Abani and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – all of these will give an idea of the depth and complexity of Nigeria. There is also a new generation of lesser-known Nigerian writers who are nonetheless excellent. One of my favourite recent novels is ‘I Do Not Come To You By Chance’, by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, which I review here.
Consider taking a look at Nigeria’s history. As with the history of any country, this is best done using multiple sources since it is very contentious. Online, for example, if you compare the historical sketches given in motherlandnigeria.com and wikipedia, you will begin to see how much is disputed. I have found the following books useful. For insights into colonial exploitation, even though not directly relating to Nigeria, ‘King Leopold’s Ghost’ by Adam Hochschild is very readable. ‘The Trouble With Nigeria’ by Chinua Achebe is a good history and present-state examination. ‘The Crippled Giant’ by Eghosa E Osaghae is excellent.
Best of all, it is enlightening to read the views of Nigerians, inside and outside Nigeria, talking about the country. The academic and blogger Bemgba Nyakuma got in touch through this website and I asked: “If you had to suggest some websites that someone who didn’t know Nigeria really ought to read, what would they be?”. He suggested the following, which I think are all excellent (the last one is Bemgba’s own):
If you have some more suggestions, please let me know.
This is a slideshow of photos of Nigeria from the NGflickr group on Flickr, which is certainly worth visiting. For more images of Nigeria, try searching Flickr by country or by city.
…find out more about oil drilling in the Niger Delta
|This is the part of Nigeria that Little Bee comes from.
First of all, take a look at this Flickr slideshow showing images of oil exploration in the Delta, or watch the video on the right, which was made by Friends of the Earth to highlight the environmental and human cost of Western oil companies’ exploitation of the region.
Next, visit this excellent website dedicated to keeping alive the memory and work of Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was executed by the Nigerian government in 1995 for campaigning against the rape of his homeland by Western oil companies. Saro-Wiwa’s writing, in particular ‘Sozaboy‘ and ‘A Month and a Day’, is an eye-opener to say the least.
…find out more about refugees and asylum seekers
For a chilling insight into the scale of immigration detention, take a look at the Global Detention Project. Next I recommend two extraordinary non-fiction books as a good entry point to start thinking about what it means to be a refugee, and what refugees from conflict can expect. The first is A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah, a veteran of the conflict in Sierra Leone. The second is Human Cargo: A Journey Among Refugees by Caroline Moorehead, an excellent and dedicated journalist.
And for fiction, What is the What by Dave Eggers is superb.
…help refugees and asylum seekers
If you would like to help refugees and asylum seekers, there is likely to be a group close to you. If there isn’t, you might consider starting one – you will certainly find help, encouragement and resources from existing groups in your country and around the world. Here are some good starting points to get involved:
In the UK, Refugee Action is a passionate and tireless group with excellent information to get you started.
In Australia, I’ve been told that Amnesty International’s refugee awareness program is very effective.
If readers in other countries could use the comments facility on this page to give links to their local organisations working with refugees and asylum seekers, I will gratefully incorporate them into this page. Many thanks.