Essays in TheLagosReview 2023

Our literary essays are a showcase of exegeses, analyses, investigation, tributes, grand-standing, provocation and book excerpts.

As home to the best writing in these parts, we present our audience informative, thought-provoking, interpretative, provocative and envelope pushing prose narratives that challenge assumptions and open up conversations.

This year was no different and we share a few of those from Mohbad’s death to Onyeka Nwelue’s misadventure at Oxford to tributes and book excerpts. We had it all.

Who is Afraid of the Mafia: Do authors of crime novels face danger? — Onyeka Nwelue

I have never given serious thought to how writers of crime and mafia novels fared with safety. The books were a delight for me—from Mario Puzo and Tom Clancy to David Baldacci and Ken Follet. Let’s not talk about Stephen King and Jeffrey Archer. Oh, and there were a lot more than I have mentioned, all of whom I read and enjoyed. Never for once did I stop to enquire whether they were threatened or lived in fear of Mafiosi, … Continue reading

Benjamin Zephaniah: poet, writer, musician, actor & trouble maker (1958 – 2023) – Toni Kan

I met Benjamin Zephaniah, once, in Lagos… He was tall, dreadlocked, animated and charming. His British accent had a tinge of the Caribbean twang and as a young poet and writer; it was as always a pleasure to meet a celebrated writer… Continue reading

To kill a mockingbird and the addled mystics of paraplegic socio-economic organisations — Michael Oloyede

After a lavish puff of perfume at home, I made it for the African literary festival, Oxford; the brainchild of the entrancing Onyeka Nwelue – the ousted visiting scholar and Odogwu of Oxford. I need not share the details of the kerfuffle. We know even the lonesome skies are kept company by dark clouds and a life could not have been truly lived without tribulations… Continue reading

Mohbad: Death as the ultimate promotion – Toni Kan

The question everyone is asking is – Who killed Mohbad? But the question no one seems to be asking is – what do we do when we find out who killed Mohbad? No Nigerian musician has been mourned with such an overwhelming outpouring of emotion verging on hysteria in the manner that MohBad, (Ilerioluwa Oladimeji Aloba) aka Imole has been mourned since his passing in controversial circumstances on September 12, 2023… Continue reading

George Orwell’s “1984” and our present reality – Muhammed Alfa Belgore

George Orwell’s 1984 (1949) is a dystopian novel set in the year of its title. It is set in a fictional country called Oceania, where the citizens are brainwashed into mechanical obedience to their leader: Big Brother. Orwell’s central ideas as espoused in the book have, somehow, found their way into today’s society. I will briefly outline some of these ideas and their place in our lives… Continue reading

Yebo Gogo Man: A Tribute to Kole Omotoso — Uzor Maxim Uzoatu

The news that came from Johannesburg, South Africa on July 19 was heartrending: Kole Omotoso is dead! The lionised writer, Kole Omotoso, was my teacher at the then University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, for four years of my study there in the Dramatic Arts Department with Professor Wole Soyinka as Head of Department.  My first encounter with Kole… Continue reading

How to build an oil producing company — Austin Avuru

On July 1, 2002, I moved into a modest 3-room office on the 3rd Floor of Bankers’ House in Victoria Island, as Managing Director/CEO of Platform Petroleum Limited. The space was availed to us by one of our shareholders, Wilbahi Limited who was the lessee of the entire floor. As staff, I only had my secretary, whom I hired to start work on that day and my driver who moved with me from Allied Energy Resources Limited… Continue reading


Remembering OJ Ekemode – Michael Kolawole

When Afrobeat is mentioned, the late iconoclast Fela naturally comes to mind. But for the true devotees of the genre, the easygoing singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and bandleader the late Orlando Julius Ekemode, a pioneer with a significant impact on the genre, is equally held in admiration as his iconoclastic contemporary.  In the 1960s, Ekemode’s innovative fusion of highlife and other African styles with American influences revolutionized the Nigerian music scene, resulting in highly successful and groundbreaking blends… Continue reading

The Uses of Others: Onyeka Nwelue and African Literature in the Age of Cancel Culture — James Yékú

Questions of cancel culture and African literature, in the frameworks of the contentious politics of digital literary networks and communities, illuminate how the toxic polarisation of a social media culture of algorithmic outrage often gets assimilated into literary discourses on Africa. The current Onyeka Nwelue saga powerfully illustrates a similar saturation of contemporary Nigerian writing on the internetwith discourses of cancellation and literary controversies… Continue reading

On Onyeka Nwelue and the Implications on our Collective Conscience – Ikenna Okeh

Very few news items have dominated the Nigerian media space as much as the dramatic termination of Onyeka Nwelue’s association with the British academic establishment. For days, this sensational news item almost eclipsed the rigged Nigerian Presidential elections and further announced Onyeka Nwelue to the few who had neither heard of him or encountered the impacts of his achievements within African and global cultural spaces… Continue reading

The Enigmatic Onyeka Nwelue — Akachi Ezeigbo

This is an intervention I consider very appropriate at this time, following a brief period of hibernation from active participation in the Social Media. I have gradually emerged from the shock I experienced when I read the avalanche of mostly unpalatable utterances that suffused the Social Media spaces, especially Facebook, since the news broke that Onyeka Nwelue’s appointment as Academic Visitor was terminated by the two United Kingdom’s top tertiary institutions – University of Oxford and University of Cambridge… Continue reading

Onyeka Nwelue and Oxford University: How it all fell apart – A special report by The Lagos Review

This might be a good time to ask how did Onyeka Nwelue; university dropout, filmmaker, energetic cultural organizer, “tireless champion of African literature, significant and prolific author” get to Oxford?… Continue reading

Celebrating Akachi the Mother of Books — Uzor Maxim Uzoatu

Quietude sits well with Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, and calmness is the word for her, but the music was so compelling that she had to stand up and dance.  The mellifluous music issuing forth from Gerald Eze and his Ichoku Ensemble put a smooth smile on the face of Prof Akachi and soft dexterity to her dancing steps. Prof Akachi-Ezeigbo’s sister, Prof Chinyere Stella Okunna, who had been sitting beside the celebrant was held in rapt awe by the phenomenon… Continue reading

Pelé and Africa — Nduka Otiono

In the last months before the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown I chanced upon the autobiography of Edison Arantes do Nascimento in a local thrift store in Ottawa. Titled Pelé: The Autobiography (2006), it was one of the books I read during my sabbatical which coincided with the early part of the pandemic… Continue reading

Poet of the People: Niyi Osundare — Uzor Maxim Uzoatu

Poets from all over the world today do not come any loftier than Nigeria’s Niyi Osundare. In my book, he is the next poet destined to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Lovers of intellection are thrilled that on Wednesday, December 7, 2022, Professor Niyi Osundare will deliver his Nigerian National Merit Award (NNMA) Winners Lecture in Abuja… Continue reading












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