Ben Okri in one of his notable interviews stated that “Africa is the Future of World Literature.” This is perhaps not a make-you-feel-happy statement but a reality and a testament to the growth of literature within the last decades which has seen the emergence of writers with great depth of storytelling, dexterity in the use of language, ease of creativity and passion for profound artistic creation.
From another point of view, his statement also covers the ideological renaissance and the adoption of teenagers into the highly esteemed fraternity of writers.
Through the Hill-Top Creative Arts Foundation, Teen Authorship was institutionalized and fostered since 2004. It has seen the emergence of Saddiq Dzukogi, Maryam Bobi, David Ishaya, Halima Aliyu and others even to the contemporary generation of Victor Ugwu, Yusuf BM, Khadeejah Jagaba, Amina Umar, Miracle Attah, Zakiyyah Dzukogi, Mustapha Gimba and a host of others.
This is not just a movement, it is a whirlwind and it is sweeping across the nooks and crannies of Nigeria from Isaiah Adepoju in Osun State to Akpoveta in Bayelsa; to Adamu Usman Garko in Gombe; to Sunday Saheed in Ogun to Mahmoodah Oyeleye in Lagos; to Ibrahim Uthmaan in Niger; to Mujaheed Lilo in Kano and elsewhere, and this wind of literary consciousness, writing and publication is sweeping across Nigeria; remember, whatever is built around young people owns a future already and cannot die.
It is also relevant to state that other Arts Organisations in Nigeria are embracing these young ones by providing them with supports, publications and guest features.
In the year 2021, several books were published by The Hill-Top Creative Arts Foundation which is the motherbody for Teen Arts in Nigeria. Other organisations also published teen writers in Nigeria which has also helped in expanding the drive towards establishing a strong community of teenage writers in Nigeria who would grow to become excellent authors in the future. Here is a list of ten top teen books published in 2021:
1. Alagemo by Isaiah Adepoju
Isaiah is an exquisite poet whose mastery of the word, dexterity and experimental energies in poetry leaves one in awe. His debut chapbook “Alagemo” or Chameleon, in English, was published by Poemify Inc. It is one of the Teen books that graced 2021.
2. Faded Blues by Oyeleye Mahmoodah Temitope
One of the talents that HIASFEST 2021 brought to limelight is Mahmoodah. Having won the Nigerian Prize for Teen Authors (Prose Category), her debut entry “Faded Blues” is an absorbing prose, foistered on the mount of great artistry. She tells her story with ease, precision and sometimes unsettles you with the turn of event. It is a must read for the new year.
3. Carved by Zakiyyah Dzukogi
Carved by Zakiyyah throws you in a frenzy of poetic maturity. The words in her poems her livable, livid and in a reverie of great philosophical acumen.
4. Winters & Summers by Zakiyyah Dzukogi is at the fourth of the summit. Having won the Nigerian Prize for Teen Authors (Prose Category, 2021), her second collection is in suit with the energy of her previous collection.
She has gone further in her literary drive with more than thirty publications across various International journals and anthologies in 2021. Her two collections are luscious with thought provoking lines, iridescent metaphors, subtle evocations and sublime aura of poetic beauty.
5. Uloma by Testimony Odey
Odey’s prose collection “Uloma” drives the reader through the Igbo cultural millieu. The clash of culture, the superiority chasm of tradition, and the effervescent uniquness of the African Communal life.
Odey was the second place winner in the Nigerian Prize for Teen Authors (Prose Category, 2021).
6. Rewrite the Stars by Sunday Saheed
Sunday’s poetry reverberate with the inundation of one whose voice seeks to intrude your thought process. The poems covers your head down to your feet. The spontaneity of his words are in tune with contemporary themes.
7. 50 Shades of Black and White by Zainab Hussaini
Zainab’s debut collection was published by Krafgriots. Her poems dazzles with a majestic cadence of one who is conscious of her words. She treats every poem in her collection with the scalpel-patience of a surgeon. Her collection is richly flavoured in metaphors and strongly built with other figures of speech. She was also the first place winner for On-the-Spot Poetry Writing (HIASFEST, 2020).
Others on this list include:
8. Memoirs of a Dreamer by Ibrahim Saleh Maina
Saleh was one of the winners of the Nigerian Prize for Teen Authors. His story surrounds his nostalgic encounter with Nigerian Nobel Laureate of Literature, Wole Soyinka. The events of that encounter were artistic captured in his prosaic travelogue.
9. From my Windowpanes by Suleiman Adamu
Adamu is the third prize winner in the Nigerian Prize for Teen authors (Poetry category). His poems captures his environment and issues prevalent in Northern Nigeria. He writes from Gombe State.
10. Memoirs of my Alpha Journey by Maimunah Muhammad Alfa
Alfa sits at the tenth of the list of the top ten teen reads for year 2021. Her poetry collection is brings the reader to her journey as an individual, the twists and bends, the pain and the brimming hope which has continued to live with her.
These ten published books by teen authors are statements of the level of creativity embedded in young people if harnessed and utilized.
In conclusion, the growth of these teenagers is as a result of the availability of platforms that can help them grow their craft. For instance if a teenager published per state and the FCT in a year, it equals thirty-seven (37) books. If it is consistently done for ten years, that is three hundred and seventy (370) new authors. This will definitely add positive advancement to the society and to the individual authors.
Consider these words by B.M Dzukogi (2021) as these closing words for this article:
“Creativity is the only thing that is inexhaustible on earth. It resides in man and each soul has one that is profounder than the rest in him; hold on to it. You must be remebered for one profound thing in life, at community or national or continental or global stage. Locate something small in you and take it to its limit, bit-by-bit, and day-by-day. A society is its little things.”
—Hilltop Creative Arts Foundation
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