The year 2020 has been an exhausting and draining one for most people around the globe, and literature, as expected, has given itself as home of and vehicle to the creative’s metabolism. Literature remains a tool for the rampage of writers and artists from all around the world who need to vent, to curse, to fight, to write, to grieve. A case of note is Nigeria’s handling of its own infamy with its ignominious handing over on a platter of blood the lives of the undecided number of young people gunned down at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos on the 20th of October following weeks of nationwide protests against police brutality. But even before and during this thoughtless massacre, the Coronavirus pandemic had literally shut down the world, quarantined us in our spaces and gave the artist ample time to create and introspect on what life truly means. Like the events of the London Great Plague and the Black Death pandemic, the Coronavirus has effected close to the same level of disillusionment, ennui and deep introspection on the fickleness of life, and conversely, too, the great privilege of living.
One of our primary concerns in this issue was bringing our editorial choices close to home to the current happenings in the world today. Being an un-themed magazine, we hoped to find a way to come home to the world’s reality. We could not afford to play insensitive to the mood the world was in. Luckily, we struck this chord.
As has become a usual event in the last three issues, once again, the works in this edition seemed to find in themselves a common motif — in this case, of the pang of loss, destruction, defeat, death, violence, brutality, grief. Essentially, as though from the place of the subconscious, the writers and writings curated for this issue find solace in the peace only the pen and keypads can offer. We find that the works offer varying shades of loss, both on physical and metaphorical levels. In their tackling of these losses, they count their grief. Iquo DianaAbasi’s “Warri of No Worries” details in beautiful local colours the loss of self and true happiness a people feel and the robbery oil companies perpetuate; the narrator in Gerald Obinna Ozota’s “Sadness in my Bone” reminisces on the departure of a mother; Adepoju Isaiah Gbenga’s voice rings out on a transgenerational feeling of grief, loss and death in “A Bridge that Leads to Nowhere.” Likewise in Abdul Hadi Haleemah’s “Joys of Childhood,” we are returned to the past, and we experience adulthood’s thieving of the sweetness of childhood. While Akufuo in Ololade Edun’s For Boys who are the Colour of Water grieves over the loss of a lover, Unego in Juju is Orange slowly transcends into a loss of her Christian faith.
We would then say, quite boldly, that we have — unintentionally, too, created an issue resounding with the tunes of the current times all over the world and in Africa especially. However comical, satirical and even metaphorical the messages in these works seem to be, we gleam the inevitable, conspicuous gloom pervading each of them. So, while some of these pieces are unashamedly sober and biting, others switch their Melpomenic masks and don those of Thalia. In all things, however, many of this issue’s curation envisions hope against all odds, a movement, still; some progress, regardless. We have created a meal far from being drab and colourless. Indeed, gloom itself has its colours, and as you read each story, you experience each of them painted on their unique canvasses.
We won’t end this editorial until we assert our belief that this generation and the ones to come would not ever sit to tell the story of, in particular, the 21st century without a sharp recourse to the stage of 2020 with all its morbid drama and bloody spectacles that bore in us spectators and participants alike the catharsis of a stripping, of despoliation and grief.