By Yinka Olatunbosun
First, the Nigerian literati noticed the Minna-born Abubakar Gimba in 1983. Then, he was being launched by his publishers as â€œthe Northern answer to Achebe and Soyinkaâ€. The publishers, Delta Publications (Nigeria) Limited, insist that they were vindicated with this claim in the wake of the record sales that the six Gimba titles under their imprint recorded across two decades, and the household name â€“ both in Nigeria and off-shore â€“ that â€œembellished the rubric name of Abubakar Gimbaâ€.
Despite over 600 titles under the Delta imprint since the companyâ€™s inception in 1981, most of which are said to have enjoyed meaningful sales, CEO Dillibe Onyeama admits that besides the celebrated Nigerian novelist Christopher Abani, whose first novel Masters of the Board was published in 1985 when the author was just 16 years old, Delta has not fielded any more big-time novelists since Abubakar Gimba.
But now the publishing house is confident that their luck is about to change when they launch the second novel of Amina Abdulmalik Giwa, Wasted Generation, on Thursday, June 28 at The Nicon Luxury, Abuja. Amina, a Data Analyst with Nigeriaâ€™s Central Bank since 1993, is also a native of Minna and made her debut in serious contemporary fiction in 1995 with her novel Painful Surrender.
Described as â€œa taut, moving novel of love and matrimonial heartbreakâ€, the novel laid bare the authorâ€™s rare courage by her challenging the validity of dated chauvinistic Islamic traditions that â€œcontinue to repress the dignity of womanhood in a modern enlightened eraâ€. The book was launched with great ceremony at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, and attracted the cream of the military class, from which the authorâ€™s husband is a retired General, with the new Emir title Taimakon Nupe. Delta Publications report that the book enjoyed healthy sales, mainly in secondary schools, and has been reprinted as back-up for her new novel Wasted Generation, which describes the harrowing challenges facing a holier-than-thou hero who is bent on wiping out corruption and injustice in his fatherland.
Amina laughs off suggestions that this is a veiled reference to the ongoing war against corruption, and that the hero, either by coincidence or otherwise, personifies our own President Muhammadu Buhari.
â€œI had planned the story way back in the nineties, long before the advent of the present administration,â€ she says breezily, but admits that she had been inspired by the â€œwar against indisciplineâ€ of the khaki days of the Buhari-Idiagbon junta. â€œI hate injustice of any kind, and my writings will always represent a war against the ungodly,â€ she says. â€œI hope Wasted Generation will be recognised for the clear ring of truth that it represents. You could, if you want, describe me as a protest writer. I like to see fairness prevail.â€
That pretty much summarises the mission of the hero Hannafi, who was born into royalty, but denies himself the trappings of luxury of his privileged class in order to live and breathe the harsh realities of the outside world. He is traumatised by the experience, but hardened with the resolve to change the evil system of his wasted generation. He finds himself a lone voice in the wilderness of a ruthless society whose citizens are motivated only by the rules of the jungle and not yet ready for honest leadership.
Amina is praised again by her publishers â€œas a â€˜masterâ€™ of serious contemporary fiction as she takes the bull by the horns in this courageous exposition of man at is most savage and depravedâ€. On-Line Editor of Delta, Manuela Charlotte, discloses that Amina Abdulmalik Giwa was first introduced to the company by the late Abubakar Gimba, and described the theme of her writings as being â€œin the great tradition of Abubakar Gimbaâ€ with her commitment to fighting the cause of the underprivileged. â€œThis new book is a masterpiece of unprecedented proportions,â€ she says, â€œand we are leaving no stone unturned in the quest to to push Mrs. Amina Abdulmalik to the top rung of the literary ladder.â€
A mother and grandmother with three adult children, Amina commits her spare time to reading, fish-farming and jotting down ideas for future works of fiction. She is further secured by a sound academic background that saw her as an alumnus of the University of Ghana, Legon, and University of Sokoto, Nigeria, in the process securing her BA in English, a diploma in international computer science and management, India, and MA in International Affairs, Ghana.
But the intellectual prowess is suppressed by a shy self-effacement, despite the congenial smile. Her arresting beauty, enhanced by a remarkable youthful appearance, evokes awesome reminders of the 15th-century Warrior Queen Amina of ancient Zaria, who chose to hone her military skills from the warriors of the Zazzau military. Many accolades, great wealth, and increased power resulted from her numerous military achievements.
While it was Amina Abdulmalikâ€™s husband who took up that gauntlet as a discipline, however, Amina seems possessed of a zeal to snub her warrior namesake with the answer that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword.