A book by writer, artist, and former Daily Times Editor-in-Chief captures Nigeria.
The Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma and the University of Benin have in the last week adopted Victor Ehikhamenor’s new book, Excuse Me! for teaching in all relevant departments and faculties. At a time when there have been increasingly vociferous complaints about the distance between town and gown, this is a welcome development. Excuse Me! was published in November 2012 by Nigeria’s leading Parrésia Publishers Ltd.
Excuse Me!, variously described as “one of the most beautiful books in Nigeria”, is a collection of sixty-three short essays carefully selected from the very best of Ehikhamenor’s weekly article of the same name in various newspapers, chief among them NEXT, in the two years that the paper and it’s online version www.234next.com defined the pinnacle of Nigerian journalism. It contains such satirical pieces as the jaw-breaking Igodomigodo Must Not Comatose to irony laden ones like My Vote is for Sale. Deliriously funny pieces like Midlife Crisis and Honest Visa Application are gathered together with I Want a Private Jet, So Help Me God and The Iya Eba of Berkeley Street. The reader is also entertained by numerous sketches done by Ehikhamenor himself. Recognition for Excuse Me! has come thundering in from outside Nigeria; it recently made the Guardian UK “African Novels to Look Out for in 2013” list and has been featured on the BBC Focus on Africa programme as well as on CCTV—Chinese television.
Victor Ehikhamenor is an internationally known visual artist and writer born in Udomi-Uwessan, Edo State, Nigeria and he received his BA in English and Literary Studies from Ambrose Alli University. He also holds a masters degree in Technology Management as well as MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland, USA. Widely exhibited at home and abroad and avidly collected the world over, Ehikhamenor has also been a regular contributor to magazines and journals on literary and social matters since the early 90’s as well as a fiction writer. He won the 2008 Leon Forest Scholar Fiction Award and a Breadloaf Scholarship which he turned down to join Nigeria’s NEXT newspaper, owned by Pulitzer winning journalist, Dele Olojede in 2008. He served as NEXT’s first Creative Director and maintained a weekly column in the paper which has formed the bedrock of this new book. When NEXT folded up, he moved to Daily Times where he briefly served as the CEO and Editor-in-Chief before leaving to start his own creative and strategic communication company, VEE Global Concepts.
Where does Ehikhamenor’s tenacity and talent to write this book come from? Professor Okey Ndibe, one of Nigeria’s most outspoken public intellectuals, in his introduction to the book, says—“The man is a true Nigerian hero. And if you won’t take my word for it, fine. Read the harvest of his essays gathered here and see for yourself why I, like many, many others, rave about this young man.”
Ehikhamenor is a member of the Nigerian masses and it is the sensibility of the oppressed and repressed that he embodies in this book. What is even more interesting is that all the events related in the book are true events; Victor Ehikhamenor has brought his talent for Creative Writing to bear on them, making him the foremost writer of creative non-fiction in Nigeria.
When his publisher, Mrs. Azafi Omoluabi-Ogosi, was asked about the adoption of the book by these premier Universities, she said, “This is clearly a case of the prophet being recognized in his own home; Victor is a quality product of Ekpoma and we, his publishers, are delighted that Excuse Me! has been recognised for what it is in both Ekpoma and UNIBEN. Nigeria is fast changing and Victor’s book is at the forefront of this change.”
Omoluabi-Ogosi confirmed further information, as well as bookings for readings or speaking engagements, can be made by reaching the company’s Creative Director, Ms. Irene Nwoye at firstname.lastname@example.org . She also said that Excuse Me! is available online on www.amazon.com, downloadable for the Kindle format as well as online in Nigeria through Parrésia’s retail partners, www.konga.com .