“Stories matter, many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess, to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity.” This statement was part of the closing remarks to a lecture titled: The Dangers of a Single Story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Indeed Nigerians are showing that stories matter and that is why many people have come together to tell their stories on nigerianfiction.com.
On Nigerianfiction.com, the Nigerian story is being told by everyday people who set down the observations of daily life around them in fiction form. These writers may not have the good fortune of popularity of famous authors like Adichie, Toni Kan, Chris Abani, Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, Tolu Ogunlesi and so on, but they have succeeded in creating a readily available repertoire of the dynamic Nigerian experience. Judging by the quality of the stories posted on the website, it can be observed that it is a forum for the development of the boundless creativity of Nigerians, and a platform for emerging writers. Certainly, not many stories on the site carry the literary flourish associated with the master story tellers, but their words are still able to tell stories that will entertain, shock, amuse and educate the reader as much as the great novels.
Nigerianfiction.com is “a community for reading, writing, and reviewing user-made fiction from or about Nigeria.” All stories posted on the site are set in Nigeria or contain Nigerian characters as the main protagonists or antagonists. The site does not publish non-Nigerian stories. Registration for intending members is free as well as posting of stories. It allows for creation of a personal profile for each member, inclusion of author’s notes, favorites and review of members’ stories. There are however, strict regulations concerning content of the stories and other issues such as grammar, ratings, accompanying disclaimer, titles, plagiarism and scenes containing sex with minors.
Punitive measures ranging from story deletion to profile deletion are consequences for non-compliance with the site rules. It is worthy of note that these strictures have a merit in apprising an aspiring writer with important ethical considerations obtainable within the global writing community, so a member who understands and follows them will be better prepared for a broader literary career. Among the rules, there is an interesting one (trolling) which gives the writer the liberty to mock Nigerian movies, while desisting from mocking Nigerian literature. Not every reader or visitor may find that acceptable or objective, especially fans of Nollywood. Stories on this website range from adventure, historical, romance to fantasy; a vast collection of stories well categorized for the reader’s pleasure. There are stories that belong to the “Top Ten” categories, which include longest stories, shortest stories, most reviewed stories and more. It is a site that would indeed keep the reader captivated for some time.
Some of the recently posted stories cut across several themes and the storylines are quite engaging. Eko Ile by Jennphar is a sorrowful narrative of a girl who comes to Lagos with hopes of studying at the University, but is disappointed when she becomes an object of abuse by the family that promised to cater for her. Another member registered as El Divine attempts to construct the June 12 drama in a single scene story titled Transition involving a politician protesting to the military dictator over the unfairness of his annulled election.
Later in a phone call, the dictator contacts his chosen successor on the arrangements for transition. In Landing in Paradise, the exciting beginning of long holiday in Lagos is narrated by a Nigerian-born British girl who discovers that the homeland may hold pleasant surprises for her after all. Chidinma by Adaobi Nwoye is an inspiring story of hope and perseverance that reveals the power of a name. Born to Die by Funmi O a well-written story with words that create a vivid imagery, making the reader feel like a character in the story. The story explores the sad experience of a Yoruba girl branded as abiku and thus neglected by her parents, rejected by villagers and abused by men in her search for love and care. The Joy of Motherhood by the same writer tells the story of a young woman who has just suffered her fourth miscarriage and is confronted by her frustrations, the anger of her mother-in-law, her mother’s faith and the love of her husband, in which she finds no comfort. Stories are also told in verse on the website. In a poem titled Let thunder strike you! by NakedSha, a woman vents her anger on a hard, abusive husband.
There are many other stories on the site that communicate a variety of experiences, emotions, challenges and successes, from which the reader may draw inspiration or simply be entertained. All these authors are telling the many-sided Nigerian story in their own way, using their own words and creating a rich repository of the Nigerian life in fiction.
While not everyone may be able to write and have their stories published by the limited literary magazines, webzines and book publishers, those who persist in pursuing their inspiration and desire to write are given a chance to be read on nigerianfiction.com with the possible hope that one day they would launch out from that platform to a greater level. An ambitious but not improbable possibility is that the site may evolve one day from an amateur writers’ forum, to a recognized professional literary centre featuring the best of Nigerian fiction as well as nurturing emerging writers.
The creators of this site deserve commendation for providing an opportunity for the many Nigerians who wish to tell their own stories, nurture their creativity and show the world different views of Nigeria through fiction. Visit NigerianFiction today at www.nigerianfiction.com