Lemona’s Tale by Ken Saro-Wiwa


Lemona’s tale by Ken Saro-Wiwa

Nigerian literature

Source – personnel copy

We begin our day by the way of the gun,
Rocket propelled grenades blow you away if you front,
We got no police ambulance or fire fighters,
We start riots by burning car tires,
They looting, and everybody start shooting,
Bullshit politicians talking bout solutions, but it’s all talk,
You can’t go half a block with a road block,
You don’t pay at the road block you get your throat shot,
And each road block is set up by these gangsters,
And different gangsters go by different standards,
For example, the evening is a no go,
Unless you wanna wear a bullet like a logo,
In the day you should never take the alleyway,
The only thing that validates you is the AK,
They chew on Jad it’s sorta like coco leafs,
And there ain’t no police…

I choose one my favourite songs of recent times K’naan what is hardcore maybe captures life under a regime of terror in His home land Somali .

I should put this up yesterday sorry Lisa (Anzlitlovers ) but as I came to write last night I was just to tired to write much so here is my Indigenous week book Choice . Ken Saro-Wiwa a Nigerian writer , was a member of the Ogoni people a small indigenous population from South east Nigeria , Ken Saro-Wiwa held various government post in his country during the early eighties ,.But a regime change and his own worries about what was happening to his people and their land lead him to lead the party that represent them . He fell foul of the military government in the early nineties arrest on a number of occasions , in the end he was sentenced to death and died in 1995 . A fact that chilling makes this book so much more powerful  to the reader .

“Lemona .Lemona . Beautiful woman .Exquisite .She’ll be hanged tomorrow .You know that , don’t you ?  And you insist on seeing her ? Well , I have no objection personally .But I don’t know if she’ll agree to see you .That’s the problem .That’s woman is an enigma .

The opening lines of this book on her last day .

Lemona’s tale is a tale of a woman who had spent 25 years of her life in Jail .She like Ken is a member of the Ogoni .This day we see is the last day of her life she is about to be executed .What we see is the day slowly drawing out , whilst at the same time she recounts her life story and how she end up in jail and how various males she met lead to this .She started of in a Village but has been one of those woman who seems to end up at the wrong side of life and is used by those around her  .This leads to the event that saw her get jailed , but carries on even after she gets to jail as she is abused by those in the jail .

He always refrained from speaking about his family , particularly his wife , to me . I respected that , because I was likely to get jealous if he spoke about her .Indeed I remember that once when he dared to mention Aduke (his wife ) , I threw a tantrum , most uncharacteristically . I don’t believe he thought me capable of anger . I displayed on that occasion .After that , “The family ” became the code for his wife .

She was a mistress , but is this a glimpse of something that happens later ?

This book is a powerful slice of recent history in Nigeria .What makes it so haunting is that my  book was first published her the year after Ken Saro-Wiwa himself had been executed in his homeland for Murder like Lemona , a charge he denied ,unlike the heroine (not sure that is the right word , but she lived through her trouble life ) he said he hadn’t done the murder he was accused off .Lemona’s tale is not just the story of the Ogoni people but a hundred small tribes and people who fell foul of regimes and dictators then and still now in some places in Africa .I find it scary that we in the uk tend to hear less news from Africa and what is happening in places than we did twenty years ago when there would often be stories about Nigeria and numerous other former british colonies .I feel if we still reported the news her we would maybe understand the current Refugee crisis in more depth !!This is first of a few african books in the next few weeks ?


Weekend reads Kassel revisited

Well this is a feature I have been doing a few weeks featuring the books I hold the spotlight on two books I plan to read over a weekend , not that I do but on  whole it is what I read that weekend .But today is a perfect example of what happens , best laid plans and that I had originally had another book in mind , but after work I was checking my emails and saw the library had email to say this had arrived .


The latest book by Enrique Vila – Matas called The Illogic of Kassel ,I so pleased this came today so I can get to it straight away .This again is a piece of Metafiction with Enrique Vila-Matas going to the Germany city of Kassel to the Documenta (this is a collection of modern art piece around the city every five year ) ,I used live in Germany and my Partner of the time father lived in Kassel , which we visited during one of the Documenta’s the city has a number of pieces around it by Joseph Beuys which strangely came from the city I actually lived in Germany at the time  Kleve .So you can imagine a book describing this city and visiting it plus modern art is just amazing .A bonus being one of my favourite writers as well


My good blogger friend Lisa is to blame for the second book this weekend she is running her Indigenous week on her Anzlitlovers blog again .I picked this classic of African fiction Lemona’s tale by Ken Saro-Wiwa a member of the Ogoni people of Nigeria , he was a spokesman for them during his life this follows last day in Lemona life as she sits in a prison .The writers own life was mirrored somewhat as he was arrested and killed in the 90’s by the military Government of the time .


April 2021


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