Saturday, 11 October 2014

Of The Caine Prize, Plagiarists and 300K per Month

This week on twitter, Binyavanga Wainana lashes out at the Caine prize. Says we attach way too much importance to it and it's not as important as we say and we need to dilute it because we are Africans and we are writers and bla bla bla.
Well, I think he's wrong. I've never come close to having an entry sent in for the Caine prize, I don't know that I ever will, so I'm just writing this as a follower of the prize. I think it's fantastic. It's fantastic because I don't know of any other African prize that does so much not just monetarily but also in exposing to the world talented writers that would probably not have had a look in ordinarily. Take Noviolet Bulawayo and her short story 'Hitting Budapest' that won the Caine in 2011, I think; and subsequently, her book 'We Need New Names' that got nominated for the Man Booker Prize making her the first black African Woman to ever get nominated, for a good example. This is the importance of exposing African writing and writers to a wider audience which is what the Caine Prize tries to achieve most importantly. I am surprised that Binyavanga Wainana, who once was a beneficiary of this Caine Prize exposure says/is saying differently. Hardly will you find a writer from Africa who is doing well enough that has not benefited one way or another from the Caine Prize, either from being shortlisted or even winning it. His argument, I think (as it was difficult to follow his tweets) was that African writers wash up to the (foreign) Caine Prize, which isn't doing enough to deserve to be washed up to... My opinion is that there is no other literary Prize in Africa that does as well as the Caine Prize. When you set up your own literary award that does everything, then you can tell us to stop loving the Caine Prize. But for now, don't. That's it.

This week on twitter and the Nigerian blogosphere in general, plagiarism. It's kind of a long story and in order to understand this, you have to understand the long story. So I'll try and summarize and give links so you understand. Okay! It all started about a week ago when a man known simply and smartly only on twitter as @MrAyeDee accused Nigeria's number one gossip blogger (who, by the way, is one of my favourite cos she's smart and understands her readers) Linda Ikeji of stealing his intellectual property, simply put, Linda plagiarized his work, she did. Well, after AyeDee tried his utmost to call her out or gain her attention and failed severely probably because Linda was ignoring him or whatever, he decided to report the conundrum to Google, Google then decided to block/take down Linda's blog. And then Linda's fans hauled insults at AyeDee and AyeDee's fans hauled insults at Linda and it was fantastic and entertaining drama for the guys in the middle, like yours truly.
Crazy things happen at night, so at night apparently, Linda and AyeDee had a chat online, like they IMed each other or whatever. Anyway, it turns out that they actually had been friends for like, ever and they had been IMing since like, before God created Heaven and Earth and then suddenly Linda stopped returning AyeDee's IMs and according to Linda, here, AyeDee felt he wasn't getting enough attention from Linda and so sought to bring Linda down. This is my opinion, I like Linda Ikeji, but she plagiarized, that is a sin, a big sin. Google, for this, took down her blog, then they returned it to her. Why did they take it down in the first place then? Google ehn... sometimes they misbehave sef!

Finally, this week on twitter, a lady known sweetly(no pun intended) as @Sugabelly, who actually was one of Linda Ikeji's antagonist in chief, for good reasons, Linda also plagiarized her stuff one time - did I tell you that Linda has been a serial plagiarist? I digress. Anyway, Sugabelly tweeted here and I quote: "To be perfectly honest. You're poor if you make less than N300,000 per month. Not even joking." And then the floodgates of abuses and vitriolics opened. I think we are really fucked up in Nigeria, we abuse people too much and then we start abusing their parents and then we start calling them 'ashawo'. Lol! Anyway, I don't think she's right, or maybe she is slightly right. But then she went on to tweet that "If you make N70k and your potential husband or wife makes N80k, y'all should forget about getting married. Cos you can't raise kids."(rough quote) Okay, so for me, I don't really intend to get married, even if I get married, I don't intend to have kids, even if I have a kid, I don't intend to have more than one, even if I have more than one... and so on. So I'm speaking from a neutral point of view. Sugabelly's tweets maybe true but only for very few locations like the high brow areas in Abuja and in Lagos etc where the cost of school fees for a term is a million and the cost of eating a good meal at a restaurant is half a million. Abuja is a city that I generally consider to be for the rich but it doesn't work like that because poor people like myself also live there, and poorer people, too. So it's solely dependent on location. For instance, my parents didn't raise me while they made 300k per month, in fact, when I was little, going to school, their combined salaries wasn't even close to that and I don't think I turned out bad, or dull or stupid or not knowing how to cross the road or not knowing how to spell, did I? DID I? Yes, that was years ago and the value of money.then is not the value of money now yidiyada bla bla... The truth is, there are more poor people for whom N300,000 will make their whole year in Nigeria today, than rich people, for whom it's just change that they can blow on one dinner date or on champagne or on shawarma or on the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel... And Yes, I said 'blow.' I guess ultimately, it's a case of different strokes for different folks; but @Sugabelly generalized and that's probably what got people angry. For me, I just watched cos I do that a lot, and laughed at the people that had no lives and decided to start calling her names. Anyway, the lesson is this, Your 30thousand is someone else's 30million and your 30million is someone else's 30thousand, you see?
So there you have it. It's the first time I'm doing this 'week on twitter' thing. I'll probably do more if there are interesting weeks.

Till next time,, Keep dreaming!! 

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