The Nigeria literature as it implies refers to the literature domain of the Nigerian people, it entails the good and the bad, dos and donts, which are common to the Nigerian style of writing and the society, created or reformed by Nigerians based on their culture and tradition and directed to the Nigerian audience.
It deals with written works, either imaginary or nonfiction that is not psychologically distant from the people of Nigeria. It portrays our tradition, lifestyle, beliefs, values, politics, citizens, authors and our kind of entertainment.
Some scholars have it that written literature originated with the coming of the white man to Nigeria. We do not dispute this because we might be contradicting the whole definition of literature itself which begins with ‘written works’ but when it comes to creativity and ‘oral literature’, colonialism beautified the preexisting literature we had that includes fables, folk tales, parables, rituals, songs etc.
The fact remains that Nigerian written literature has its roots in the oral narrative tradition of the various ethnic groups in the country.
Today’s laureates and Nobel prize winners in the field would not be distinguished from ordinary writers if not for their inclusion of the Nigerian tradition or culture. Chinua Achebe’s ‘Things Fall Apart’ is a typical example of a literature work that identifies and includes the Nigerian oral literature, with the addition of parables and the indigenous language (Igbo).
Contemporary Nigerian literature is more promising than past literary works that have been produced, authors are being recognized outside the borders of the country and awarded for their efforts, most of this works are written in English language, making it accessible to both Nigerians and foreigners alike. Although this could have some negative effects in future if treated with frivolity, every young writer in other to gain international recognition writes to soothe international standards. Indigenous words are being italicized and in other cases erased. For example words like ‘Fufu’ and Akara, because they might sound strange to foreign readers, (even though we use them everyday) they are removed and in their place is cassava flakes and bean cake respectively in other to soothe external audience. This is a little below standard, if you were reading a foreign novel and come across tortilla or wasabi they are usually not italicized and if you wanted to know more you can browse about them, that like wise should be the standard for a Nigerian novel too.
Words like that are part of the beauty to our literature and writers should not be carried away by the need to satisfy the international market. The use of English should be the central bone to uniting the northern, western, eastern or any other literature in the country and not to extinct the beauty of the Nigerian culture and societal values or words common among the citizens, this includes the use of pidgin English. This is Nigerian literature.
Although one can not discuss literature the Nigerian style without a mention of oral literature such as folklores, rituals, parables, riddles and other African means of entertainment. This will be discussed fully in separate articles, the major concern here is establishing the meaning of the Nigerian literature.