Novelist and Playwright Chris Abani Tells Stories About Our Shared Humanity

I’ve seen this recording in various video collections on You Tube, and yeah, when something like this pops up several times in my line of vision, there’s a reason why.

Some of what Abani says is almost like Buddhism. You could say that he’s a preacher of ubuntu. That is, the only way that he can be more human is to have his humanity reflected through the lives of others. There is no way, he says, that we can be human without other people. He says that we are “never more beautiful than when we are most ugly, because that’s the moment when we really know what we are made of,” and that “the world is never saved in grand, messianic gestures, but in the simple accumulation of gentle, soft, almost invisible everyday acts of compassion.”

This is his Wikpedia entry:

Abani’s first novel, Masters of the Board, was about a neo-Nazi takeover of Nigeria. The book earned one reviewer to praise Abani as “Africa’s answer to Frederick Forsyth.” The Nigerian government, however, believed the book to be a blueprint for an actual coup, and sent the 18-year-old Abani to prison in 1985. After serving six months in jail, he was released, but he went on to perform in a guerilla theatre group. This action led to his arrest and imprisonment at Kiri Kiri, a notorious prison. He was released again, but after writing his play Song of a Broken Flute he was arrested for a third time, sentenced to death, and sent to the Kalakuta Prison, where he was jailed with other political prisoners and inmates on death row. His father is Igbo, while his mother was English born.

He spent some of his prison time in solitary confinement, but was freed in 1991. He lived in exile in London until a friend was murdered there in 1999; he then fled to the United States.

He is a Professor at the University of California, Riverside and the recipient of the PEN USA Freedom-to-Write Award, the 2001 Prince Claus Awards, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a California Book Award, a Hurston-Wright Legacy Award and the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. Selections of his poetry appear in the online journal Blackbird.

Not only enjoy, but take notes.

~ by blksista on January 31, 2010.

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