Posts

Vitabu Reads | Sierra Leone Higher Education: At the Crossroads of Change

Image
Kosonike Koso-Thomas's book, Sierra Leone Higher Education: At the Crossroads of Change, traces the establishment of an engineering faculty in a traditional liberal arts university, but the story is also about how an extraordinary graduate in fast-track leadership started out in his academic career and advanced to success in college administration.

In September 1962, Koso-Thomas arrived in Sierra Leone from England and moved into his new job as head of a fledgling Engineering Department. He had been preparing for the moment for over six months.

“Who else do we have in the department? He quizzed the college principal at the meet and greet.
 “We expect a new staff member to join us during the session,” came the conciliatory response.
“I shifted in the chair thinking I might be gray by the time this [person] arrives,” the young and restless Koso-Thomas thought. 

Organization and culture
Still, there was a lot about the campus organization and culture that the young agent of change had y…

Vitabu Reads: Contemporary Fireside Stories

Image
Tony Jordan might not have been the first to get the idea of “building literary tunnels through which to liberate characters from the constraints of Dickensian novels,” but the thought was on my mind after reading Contemporary Fireside Stories during Banned Books Week.

Let me explain.

Banned Books Week is promoted by the American Library Association and Amnesty International.

The annual campaign "stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them" and the requirement to keep material publicly available so that people can develop their own conclusions and opinions.

The campaign notes those individuals "persecuted because of the writings that they produce, circulate, or read." The 2017 date is September 24–30.

Tony Jordan created new lives for Charles Dickens’s greatest characters in a British television series Dickensian, which I watched back to back recently. Contemporary Fireside Stories is a volume of short …

Vitabu Reads: Ponder My Thoughts Vol. 1 by Andrew Keili

Image
Andrew Keili's shrewd, introspective, oftentimes hilarious commentaries in Ponder My Thoughts Vol. 1 are much like the opinion articles he wrote in the mid-2000s, when he explained post-war Sierra Leone, its management, or lack of it, in local, regional, and national government.  How we see things depends on where we stand on Sierra Leonean--ness, society, and politics.

Keili's book, Ponder My Thoughts, captures a year (2013) in observations and stories, but it's not a time capsule. It's information you can use—contemporary Sierra Leonean history pieced together one op-ed at a time.

Remember that debate surrounding misuse of funds from GAVI?  The global vaccine alliance that buys vaccines with Gavi funding, procured through UNICEF directly with the manufacturer, and delivered to low-income countries like Sierra Leone?

Keili's columns start with the uncompromising subject of misuse of funds in public life and how Sierra Leone doesn't learn from mistakes.

Althou…

Vitabu Reads: Tiger Fist (Two Stories) A novella

Image
Nnamdi Carew was fourteen years old when his science fiction meet fantasy was first published in 2013.

The two stories that make up his colorful novella, Tiger Fist One and Tiger Fist Two, superbly blend superheroes like old Marvel, Captain America, and Superman, while blurring the lines of video game icons in "The "Legend of Zelda" and "World of War craft" with modern-day battles.

Tiger Fist's story starts with how a baby boy, the main protagonist, became Tigerton – a huge cat-like creature with orange stripes and a menacing tail.

Soon after the boy in Nnamdi's story was born to anthropologists Austin and Bianca Blake, the couple was killed by Tigerton, a hybrid of a tiger and a human similar to the mythical Minotaur, which Ovid the Roman poet described as being part man and part bull.

Austin and Bianca had traveled to China to look for fossils and conduct studies into ancient beings and creatures.

Intrigued by the hapless toddler, who had somehow go…

How Sugar Loaf Got Its Name, and Other Stories | Fantasy History 13

Image
From the harbour, a long sand-bank stretches across the entrance, or rather estuary, and it must be approached on the south point, on which is Carpenter's rock, to be seen at low water but covered at high, which ships safely avoid by taking a wide berth...The only danger to be apprehended is during the Tornado season, when such is its violence that ships are frequently driven from their anchors.
The appearance of the Colony from sea is particularly marked by a high-peaked mountain, which, from its conical shape, is commonly called the “sugar-loaf” in the neighborhood of which are three other hills of minor attraction. The most elevated is seen above the clouds, and may be described at the distance of thirty or forty miles, perhaps more, long before the low land. (William Whitaker Shreeve. Sierra Leone: The Principal British Colony on the Western Coast of Africa, 1847 pp 21.).

Freetown's peninsula is about 18 miles long from north-west to south-east by about 12 broad. It lies bet…

A Big-headed Boy Confesses in Mohamed Gibril Sesay's Latest Novel

Image
No doubt about it the book's title is a great hook. The Fate of the Foetus draws in the reader with its striking, blood -red cover.  But it's not till you get to the chapter with the same headline as the title that the novel really begins to find its focus.

Mohamed Gibril Sesay's new novel was published early in 2017.

First impressions are always in the eye of the beholder, but I found the book cover quite similar to a National Geographic Channel photo, published by The Guardian in the review of Ian McEwan's new book.

McEwan's “Nutshell” is described as an adaptation of  Shakespeare's Hamlet from the perspective of a fetus. In Sesay's comparably-sized novel, however,  the fetus isn't the narrator at all.

The spirit talking to us in first-person halfway through Sesay's new book is roaming the universe looking for birth as a human. I dubbed the unidentified spirit a lifetron, a word reportedly coined by Hindu yogi Paramahansa Yogananda to describe the…

Vitabu Reads | Kinship Bonds by Shek Gibril Kamara

Image
Shek Gibril Kamara's landmark book “Kinship Bonds” is an all West African story.

Compressed into about 180 pages, the book's storyteller frames the empires of the past against Bamako, Mali.

No doubt, the narrator is teaching history. Told for you, me, and West Africa's population today of over 335 million people.

Kamara's narrative voice and griot in “Kinship Bonds” is omniscient; an interpreter/superlative source of information.

One problem though is the book's confusing estimation of time; although we get copious examples of location.

Iconic villages such as Kindiaso, Sokudala, Kurudala, and bigger towns like Makeni drive or influence the nostalgic theme of the book.

Compared to similar literature in Sierra Leonean Writers Series, “Kinship Bonds” informs about rural life in the Mano River basin and the empires of medieval West Africa.

Of note, Kamara's previous work, The Spirit of Badenia, is a university textbook on African Studies and Cultural Anthropology…