The Toyin Falola Interviews Holds Panel Discussion on Rethinking African Literature In The Modern Era
Mwamwingila Goima Peter is an author/writer of children’s and adult literature using Kiswahili. He loves different arts, especially drama and music. Mwamwingila was born in Tanzania in 1981, the fourth of five children in a family of an economist father and an accountant mother.
Although his father played a great lot in molding him to become who he is today (literature man) by giving him bedtime stories during his childhood, he and his father did not enjoy that for quite long enough since his father wanted him to take mathematics in studies and to be like him. He could do something that led them to separate because he preferred art subjects, English and History. They were enemies until when it was declared that he could never turn out to be an economist or a mathematician but an artist. Finally, his father admitted him again as he was his favorite child.
Mwamwingila did several music performances on stage and studio recording sessions between 1996-2009 (bongo flavor music), as well as acting on stage and in a drama film known as OLAIBON and LAYON as one of the key characters, a film by DHAHABU ARTS GROUP, directed by Mashaka Mkeso also known as Robert Mashal. In 2004, the film was aired internationally on various channels, including Movie Magic in South Africa. Afterward, he became interested in film preparation and started learning about script writing before he turned to book writing.
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In 2009, he started putting his literature into writing. After ten years, he published his first children’s book Chifu Mtalimbo following a special request by his son Mtalimbo, who asked him for a gift on his birthday. The boy specifically mentioned to him that he wanted Waswahili tales and not otherwise.
Because of his love for children, he made one for him and, since that year, has been publishing one after another. His published literature works are Chifu Mtalimbo, Kisa cha Punda na Pundamilia, Kisa cha Simba Mtu and Babu yangu anajua kila kitu -1. All these he wrote to promote tourism in the country.
Kisa cha Gian na Siafu is a story that teaches children knowledge about ants. In contrast, Kisa cha Panzi na Kunguru explains the importance of good governance, a lesson that helps children and adults understand better why Africa has endless civil wars that lead to a lack of peace and security. This book is also in an audible version and the most listened to by children and adults on several patriotic occasions. Although some people described it as a political novella, he suggests that it should be used to encourage children to adhere to good behaviors in daily life, such as respecting one another and selecting friends to associate with.
He has also been facilitating other writers, encouraging them to pursue their ambitions, mentoring various independent writers and those under the Mtalimbo Books Project, and serving a contract with Tanzania Fasihi Fund – TAFF, a community-based organization to mentor children who learn to write stories. Under the children’s writer program, he managed to recruit six new talents and help them by molding their ideas into stories and later publishing their collection of stories in two different books.
In 2021, he was detained in the most dangerous prison in Tanzania as a civil prisoner. This act was a major setback to businesses and his career since he lost communication with different people and organizations. Still, to him, it was a rare opportunity to learn about life in prisons.
While in prison, he managed to start a class and spend his most precious time teaching local people and foreigners how to read and write. He also taught people how to write storybooks and entertained other prisoners with novels that his friend Husein Wamayma brought him. The writers under his incubation had lost hope of achieving their writing goals, and some even abandoned writing. Still, when he got out, he managed to assist in finishing his previous project. One of his students published a book titled for TUMAINI (HOPE) about inclusive education for children with special needs.
Life in prison was severely difficult for him as he was trying to set time to write, but few arrogant jailmen could not like the idea of him spending time writing. He fought and was wonderful. He managed to write about eight children’s stories and three adult novels within six months. He is recorded saying he has never done this, yet he doesn’t think it will ever happen again. He counts it a miracle of writing speed.
At the moment, he is on the special committee of which he is one of the appointees to mobilize more writers to join together for the national writers’ association. He has been one of the writers who keep on encouraging more people to write to further African literature.
Mwamwingila took several courses, including Database Management and Designing from the University of Dar es salaam, Business Management and Entrepreneurship, Sales and Marketing, Crime investigation, Service Marketing, Legal Studies, ISO Management System Audit Techniques and Best Practices Assessment from Alison College, UK.
Mwamwingila believes in achieving his goals by assisting other people in achieving the goals first. He is born to help others, and his happiness always comes after assisting the people in need, no matter how difficult.
Please join us for a panel discussion on Rethinking African Literature in the Modern Era by the Pan African Writers Association (PAWA):
Sunday, August 7, 2022
4:00 PM GMT
5:00 PM Nigeria
11:00AM Austin CST
6:00 PM SAT
7:00 PM EAT
Register and Watch:
Falola is a Nigerian historian and professor of African Studies. He is currently the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin.
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Interview With Beautiful Nubia
Please join us for a conversation with the renowned Nigerian Songwriter, Music Composer, and Band Leader, Olusegun Akinlolu (Beautiful Nubia).
Sunday, March 19, 2023
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Toyin Falola Interviews Holds Conversation With Kunle Afolayan
Touching Base With Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi’s Perspectives On Nigeria’s 2023 Elections
By Toyin Falola
Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi is a well-versed law professor, international relations activist, and commentator. It was delightful to have her join us, alongside Miriam Oke, Chido Onumah, and Jibrin Hussaini, at the last edition of the Toyin Falola Interviews, where we discussed Nigeria’s 2023 elections.
If anything, the primaries being organised in the nation’s two most influential parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress, are pointers to what should be expected of the 2023 Nigerian elections. As is customary, the primaries have been rife with electoral malpractices, vote-buying, and unscrupulous voting figures, and there is a shocking video posted on Twitter by Bashir Ahmad, former Personal Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on New Media, who lost his bid to secure the ticket of the APC to contest for a seat in the House of Representatives primaries in his home state of Kano. The video shows how supposed delegates are handed pre-ticked ballot boxes and are asked to put them in the ballot box without even batting an eyelid at the malpractice.
The ball is being set in motion. Atiku Abubakar is the People’s Democratic Party flag bearer for the presidential seat. The All Progressives Congress has recently screened its presidential hopefuls and will soon appoint its flagbearer. Peter Obi, who defected from the People’s Democratic Party to the Labour Party and has since been elected as the party’s flagbearer for the presidential seat, is a seeming third wheel in the routine two-dominant-party multi-party system practised in the country. The stage is set. Or is it?
This piece is not much of a sequel to the one on Chido Onumah’s perspectives on the 2023 elections because Dr Akiyode-Afolabi had her unique views on the questions asked. Nonetheless, it will follow a similar pattern, where we will examine points touched on by Dr Akiyode-Afolabi during the interview.
Electoral Violence and Nigeria’s 2023 Elections
Sad as it may seem, electoral violence is an immemorial issue rocking the Nigerian state. Throughout all its republics, Nigeria has witnessed killings and maiming during election periods — whether at the polling booths on election day or among political rivals setting targets on each other’s backs. Nigeria’s electoral process is peculiar, involving the recruitment of violent electoral mercenaries, often branded as party thugs. These thugs sign off their loyalty to a political party and wreak havoc on the party’s behalf — from ballot snatching to intimidating voters to bow to their party’s will.
In the Nigerian political scene, these party thugs sit with political kings. They are deemed crucial to the electoral process and candidates’ success. The recruitment and payment of these party thugs consume huge financial resources. However, political leaders and public officeholders fail to consider the expected uselessness of the party thugs within the governance period of three to four years that separate pre-election and election years. Having tasted ill-gotten wealth that far surpasses what they could have earned honestly, and without any honest and paying job, these party thugs resort to all sorts of vice to pay their bills and keep themselves in shape. Thus, it is not uncommon to find that party thugs become robbers, kidnappers, bandits, and street-terrorising thugs who incessantly cut holes through the state’s peace, security, and quiet.
In most cases, we would rather relate the incessant kidnappings and unrest to unknown gunmen or herdsmen-bandits rather than the true perpetrators of the evil — anarchical party thugs with weapons they were equipped with during the election period. Thus, the rivalry for power and politicians’ insatiable desire for control, regardless of the extent they go to get it, could be strongly linked to the violent crises that have rocked the country for a while now.
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For Dr Akiyode-Afolabi, violent political mercenaries in Nigeria and the political aspirants and parties who are their enablers act out of an abundant enjoyment of sheer impunity — the knowledge that they can do and undo, wreak whatever havoc they want to, without bearing the consequences. Although several of the perpetrators of this electoral violence are known, nothing is done to bring them to justice, further reinforcing the need to carry out their vice during the next election. Over the years, electoral violence has become a norm in Nigeria, and nothing is being done to curb the menace, especially in punishing the perpetrators. Thus, the electorate have joined the camp of political aspirants and political thugs who see electoral violence as part of the electioneering process in Nigeria. For members of the electorate who have difficulty processing electoral violence as a part of the electioneering process, the option of apathy kicks to the surface — especially among women and the youth who earnestly believe politics in Nigeria is a dirty game, and electoral violence is inevitable. Thus, it is not surprising that Nigeria has had a low voter turnout over the years.
The case of electoral violence and the state’s reaction to it is like several other policies in Nigeria. While the Electoral Act was proactively drafted to cover electoral violence and how to punish offenders and culprits, there has not been any action to make that part of the Act functional. It is akin to the numerous nation-improving policies whose existence has never gone beyond the paper. If we were to dig to the roots of why the aspect of the Nigerian Electoral Act that punishes electoral violence has not been enforced, we would be quick to find out that the average Nigerian politician is either directly or indirectly complicit. Thus, those at the helm and those willing to take over from them are all involved, making them reluctant to enforce the punishment for electoral violence, that is, if they consider punishing the crime at all.
Nigeria’s Three-faced Need and the Importance of a Long-term Agenda
The need for a long-term agenda should not be misconstrued as supporting the cabalistic unending Northern presidency agenda or any other agenda that does not mean well for Nigeria as a nation. Rather, it represents Dr Akiyode-Afolabi’s thoughts on what is truly needed to get Nigeria out of its current quagmire. The international relations activist considers the 2023 elections in Nigeria a big issue for the country, particularly because there are more people interested in the presidential position than we have had in quite a while. Nonetheless, most of these aspirants are people who have either held a political position or currently hold one. They are people we know so well. Given their deeds while in office, it will be difficult to convince any right-thinking Nigerian that there is hope for the country if any of the candidates being paraded were elected as president.
The double tragedy that is Buhari’s eight years in office has seen the country go from bad to worse. The country’s debts keep piling up, with no way of repaying them year after year. The people are impoverished, and the currency continually suffers a blow of worthlessness and devaluation, inflation, and the unemployment rate keeps rising. To make matters worse are the rife killings, banditry, and the near state of anarchy that the country has been thrown into. Has any of the numerous candidates aspiring for the presidential seat shown they are the visionary yet pragmatic leaders that can help Nigeria realise a remarkable positive change?
Careful consideration of the likeliest players at the 2023 polls, vis-à-vis the criterion above, would show that Nigeria is not prepared for an election. Dr Akiyode-Afolabi proposed a three-aspect strategy to help us discover a new Nigeria. These are aspects that cannot be fully realised within a four-year term. Thus, there is the need for Nigerian politicians, regardless of their differences—although there are no marked differences in Nigerian politics—to consider government as a continuum and treat it as such. This will help ensure that even if power falls to the opposition camp, the remarkable and change-focused plans that have been kicked into action by the previous government will continue to be nurtured by the new government. This is the only way we can fully realise the three-dimensional solution proposed by Dr Akiyode-Afolabi.
Dr Akiyode-Afolabi’s first proposed dimension is the need for an empowered political class. The Nigerian political field is riddled with whimsical people who are of the anything-goes breed as long as they get elected to office. That is why serial defection is nothing to them, and they can shamelessly befriend a foe today and betray a friend tomorrow. They are overly selfish lot who constantly put personal needs and gains before national needs and expected gains. The Nigerian political class needs to be empowered enough to engage the electorate in an ideological and issue-based manner. A look at the pre-campaign clamouring in the camps of the presidential aspirants will show that they think so little of Nigerians that they believe not much is needed in the way of plans and strategies to convince the people. It is also why Nyensom Wike, who lost his party’s presidential ticket, deemed it fit to incessantly chant, “give me power… power!” To him, that was enough to get him the ticket to become Nigeria’s next president.
The coming months will show us lamentable political campaigns with no depth, so shallow that every reasonable Nigerian would be too ashamed to identify with a country where such gimmicks pass as enough campaign to convince the people to vote for someone. There is a need to empower citizens and help kick structures in place to organise Nigerians and help them truly understand what they want. Nigeria has so much suffered from poor governance that asking the average electorate what they expect from the aspirants — what they look forward to hearing that could convince them to vote for an aspirant — would most likely render them stammering.
In Nigeria, constitutional reformation is of great necessity. The Nigerian Constitution has outlived its essence. What use is a constitution if it does not amply meet the state’s needs nor adequately answer its citizens’ burning questions? The systems of the constitution no longer effectively serve us as a nation, which is why there have been agitations and clamouring for secession, restructuring, regionalisation, and central policing, among other issues raised. In the end, until Nigeria intentionally kicks these three dimensions into action, and until there are successive tenures that consider the government as a continuum and reach a knowing agreement to nurture and not impede the realisation of the three-dimensional issue, a new and positive Nigeria will be anything but reality.
- *** This is the third and final report on the interview held on May 22, 2022, on the 2023 elections in Nigeria. The views of our distinguished panelists have traveled wide and have been reported in several newspapers.
For the transcript, see:
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