23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023
Portrait Sylvia Ofili
© Hartwig Klappert

Sylvia Ofili

Silvia Ofili was born in 1984 in Nigeria and lives in Lagos, the former capital and now most populous city in the country. The author, who describes herself on Twitter as a dreamer and teacher, uses more than tweeting to speak out on topical social and political issues; she also writes articles for the Nigerian edition of »The Guardian.«

She uses satire as well as analogies with everyday life to explore events, such as in her 2011 article illustrating the absurdity of a law that had been recently passed in the Nigerian senate. The law forbid homosexuals to marry, under penalty of a jail sentence. Ofili first pointed out that not a single same-sex couple had ever applied for a marriage license in Nigeria, since there was no legal basis for doing so. She used the analogy of a law forbidding her to eat eba, a staple of Nigerian cuisine, in her own kitchen even if she didn’t have the ingredients necessary to make it. At the end of the article, Ofili scathingly wondered whether the law expressing hatred of homosexuals was perhaps, in the end, the only thing on which Christians and Muslims in the heavily disputed north of the country could actually agree. Ofili also writes regularly for the website »Brittle Paper,« a platform aimed at helping to (re-)vitalize African literature and literary culture. Her 2013 short story »Just Another Story In Adichie’s Mailbox,« which appeared there, is a parody of an interview given by Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie that caused an uproar in Nigerian literary circles. Adichie made derogatory comments in the interview about the Caine Prize for African Literature and the quality of the short stories that were nominated. She went on to say that if she wanted to read material from the best African authors, she would rather go to her mailbox every day, where she would find the stories sent to her by students from her writing workshops. Narrated from the point of view of one of those stories, Ofili launches an ironic plea for the defense to critics of Adichie’s pronouncements. She describes the hard life of a text trapped in a mailbox, whose high expectations of one day being acknowledged (by winning a literary prize) and reaching the promised land in the form of a printed story, will most likely never be fulfilled. The author succeeds in turning the imaginary journey of the story itself into a literary artwork.


Welcome: The New Nigerian Refugees


Emergent Africa


Just Another Story in Adichie’s Mailbox

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