Reflections on "Everyday Africa"

“They could be paintings”

Award winning Nigerian author Helon Habila reflects on the photo blog "Everyday Africa"

© Andrew Esiebo

By Helon Habila

 

“Everyday Africa” is the brainchild of Peter Campo and Austin Merrill, both Americans, who felt there was a need to correct the often negative portrayal of Africa and Africans in the western media. Through instagram they publish pictures from all over Africa, taken by individuals using
handheld devices.

When I was approached by them to curate this particular segment on Nigeria I was happy to do it. The images take me back to the Nigeria I know, without the biases and the denigrations and the intentions. Some of the images are so beautiful it is hard to imagine they were taken with mobile
phones; they could be paintings. This is a giant step in showing Nigerians, and Africans, as they truly are: just regular people going about their daily business as human beings.”

In 2001, Helon Habila’s short story “Love Poems” won the Caine Prize and in 2002 his first novel, Waiting for an Angel, was published by Penguin/Hamish Hamilton.  The novel won the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Novel (Africa Region) in 2003. In 2006 he co-edited the British Council’s anthology, New Writing 14. In 2005-2006, Habila was the first Chinua Achebe Fellow at Bard College, New York. In 2007 his second novel, Measuring Time, was published. The novel won the Virginia Library Foundation’s fiction award in 2008. In the same year Habila’s short story “The Hotel Malogo” won the Emily Balch Prize. “The Hotel Malogo” was also selected by the Best American Non-Required Anthology, edited by Dave Eggers. Habila’s third novel, Oil on Water, which deals with environmental pollution in the oil rich Niger Delta, was published in 2010 and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize (2011) and the Orion Book Award (2012). It was also a runner-up for the PEN Open Book Award (2012). In 2011 Habila edited The Granta Book of the African Short Story.  Habila lives in Virginia where he teaches creative writing at George Mason University. He is married with three children and is currently spending a year in Germany as a DAAD Fellow, working on his next novel.

 

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