[To be read in your best 'T.D. Jakes voice.]
Now these begin the chronicles of the My Boy Saga. A story of great moral value to those who desire fame or are at risk of falling prey to it.
1. It came to pass that a certain Ngozi wrote a book called Amerikana which was widely talked about around the whole world. Many regarded it with awe and some with exasperation. As a service to the Bostonrearview, a great teacher of African literature, AB did interview Ngozi about the book. Their interview went most amicably until it happened upon the subject of new African writing and the Caine Prize.
To which, in part, Ngozi replied
“Eli was one of my boys in my workshop.”
“What’s this over-privileging of the Caine Prize anyway… it is not the arbiter of the best fiction in Africa. It’s never been. I know that Chinelo is on the short list too, But I haven’t even read the stories–I am just not very interested.”
“I don’t go to the Caine Prize to look for the best in African Literature. I go to my mailbox. where my workshop people send me their stories.”
3. Eli did read of Ngozi’s comments and he was sore displeased. For he was a Man who had by much hard work and practice, attained his place on the stage of New African writing.
4. In the throes of this displeasure he did tweet most forcibly his pain. His displeasure remained so he proceeded to write on his blog, a post which in part, read thus.
“You imagined [Ngozi's] skin in terms of taste. You thought it could have the consistency of small cocoyams, the ones that overcook a little in between the big hard ones, the ones that slide out of their skins when held with some pressure at ones fingertips…. Your man boobs would not even let you entertain the thought of eating small cocoyams….”
“Some words of congratulation(s) feel like warm spit in the face instead of a gentle pat on the back.”
“You would have sent her an email to ask why. Or even joked about it, But she no longer replies your emails. There is no palm oil left for this cocoyam. It dries in your mouth.”
“…you think of how silly this cocoyam analogy is. You spit it out, the cocoyam. This is the consequence of loving Ngozi: you get free publicity in the Boston Review.” [ Edited in some fashion for clarity and decorum]
5. The blogpost was shared on Twitter and the Nigerian Twitter Litterati were up in arms.
6. For though Eli hath not many prizes, fellowships and genius grants to his name, he was well loved by many upcoming Nigerian writers who saw him as a symbol of what one could achieve without famous mentor, godfather or mother. He was their man. They took his insult as theirs.
7. Then the war of words began, with lines drawn across the length and breadth of the Twitterverse.
8. In minutes, a tweet from Kenya emerged calling for “All Men To Unite Against Ngozi.”
9. JJ tweeted that Ngozi made a mistake.
10. Some notable feminine handles began a great debate on the lack of tact, pride, condescension and disdain contained in Ngozi’s words. While some did defend Ngozi with great might and conviction, others remained unimpressed.
11. TheSheOfBoki opined that the term ‘My Boy’ was appropriate.
12. Familoni sought means to send his writing to Ngozi’s email whilst stating his undying love and a desire to be her boy.
13.MsW noted that Ngozi resented being called anyone’s girl hence her attempt at ‘boying’ El was unacceptable.
14. Many unknown, unrecognized writers cried out “Mummy Ngozi! Mummy Ngozi! Make me your boy!”
15. Their cries were not heard, for Ngozi dwelt not on Twitter. She had ‘de-internetised’ herself. She was probably at LIB. But no one could be certain of that.
16. LaraWood applauded the discourse. ‘No one should be so big as to render their ideas incontestable.” She tweeted. And for that, gat many retweets.
17. The Twitter Igbo Writers Association frowned upon the post Eli wrote. They asked
“Was Ngozi thinking like an Amerikana or a Nigeriana?”
“Did our sister drink a little palm wine?”
“She is our daughter and we stand firmly behind her.”
18. At the borders of the Litteratti, confusion reigned for many had no clue what the hulabaloo pertaineth to.
19. Self appointed counsel arose both to prosecute Ngozi and to acquit her.
20. The defence failed, Ngozi’s prosecutors drew blood with every stab.
21. Other ‘Fine Boys’ previously known to be friends of Ngozi were called upon to intervene. They were unable to take the stand, under the circumstances.
22. Another post appeared, this time from South Africa: @BooksLIVESA Shortlistees React To Ngozi’s Disregard For @CainePrize.
23. An attempt was made to launch an #Adoptaboy campaign. It went not well with it.
24. All the while the haroldwrote handle chanted #Cocoyam #Cocoyam #Cocoyam. #MyBoy #My Boy #MyBoy
25. Rants concerning Eli’s post rent the air. It was called ‘Tasteless’ ‘Epic’ ‘Fabulous’ and ‘Unnecessary’.
26. Various tweeps tried to get a word in sideways about many happenings around the world. They were ignored like wall geckos.
27. By now the war had been running for 6 hours straight.
28. Some boys sought Pa Kwam’s coverage and were told ‘Pay For Workshop Before You Call Yourself My Boy!”
29. As fire from the prosecuting handles got more intense, Ngozi’s supporters retired, preferring to call it a day.
30. No mention was made of this year’s Caine Prize winner.
31. Much blood flowed on the streets of Naija twitter, many followers were lost and gained.
32. Many who were off Twitter joined in as they arrived. The nays overtook the ayes and it was decided:
That Ngozi had spoken unwisely… or perhaps it was an error of the interviewer.