We live in a dismal period, and it seems like we can do nothing to change it. The ones who have plunged us into this period have rendered us powerless. They always take us for granted. They think we are small. For the most part, we are dormant, not because we have chosen to be, but because our leaders have conditioned us to be.
There is something tragic about the voiceless. Something invisible — almost dehumanising — about scrambling for a voice. Those who have no voice are powerless. They answer to the oppressors who yoke them.
Let us go back to the colonial period when the Europeans caged our people. Remember how they muffled our people, how they forced them to comply. They coerced our people to work on farms, appropriated our land, and exploited them. Remember what the Europeans did to strip them of their languages, how they forced them to adopt a new culture, how they made them forget.
But, remember the nationalists who showed Europeans that Africans had a voice. Can you recall their dissident nature: the boycotts, the warfare, the rallies, the strikes, the demands? They employed the voices of the people and through that, our countries gained independence. Regrettably, most nationalists mirrored the behaviour of the colonialists. And this behaviour cascaded into the present political class.
Our political world speaks of tyranny, not democracy. As Africans, we are accustomed to news that shows our backwardness, dependence, and helplessness. Now, when we complain, the leaders ignore it. When we protest, they disrupt it. When we persist, they kill us. And so it has been after nationalists used the voice of the masses — an underestimated tool — to expel the colonial masters.
It is easy to silence people, but inexplicably hard to break away. Nonetheless, regaining our voice is possible. To restore this voice, we must start regardless of where we find ourselves.
No matter what country you are from, you know what it feels like to have everything ruined by a government and have them plunder your resources. Your struggles are relatable. That is why we have curated this chapbook, titled We Are Not Small Pieces. We recognise the need for a medley of voices capable of speaking against our political atmosphere. So, we present you with a set of conversation starters, of voices. From My Country, A Trope for Here is Bub by Eniola Abdulroqeeb Arówólò, to Nothing Will Happen by Shedrack Opeyemi Akanbi, to Fusca by Martins Deep, all pieces recognise that change begins by acknowledging the root problem and acting on it. The artists invoke their voices because art is potent. The voice originates from art. Without this power, there is nothing we can do.
We Are Not Small Pieces is filled with the experiences and perceptions of different African creatives because we know what it is like to be affected by African Politics. Here, you will find that you are not alone.
Funmilayo Obasa & Oyekunle Iyinoluwa Toluwanimi
Curators, We Are Not Small Pieces
Ola W. Halim
Ola W. Halim is a Pushcart prize-nominated writer and teacher who has been shortlisted for the TFCN Teacher’s Prize for Literature 2019, the Sevhage Short Story Prize 2019, and the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2021. His work appears or is forthcoming in the African Writer, Dwartsonline, the Kalahari Review, Tuck Magazine, Lolwe, Brittle Paper, Black Pride Magazine, Iskanchi, adda, Isele Magazine, and elsewhere.
Rahma O. Jimoh
Rahma O. Jimoh is a creative writer, photog and journalist, a 2021 Hues Foundation scholar, and 2020 Pushcart Prize Nominee. She is a lover of sunsets and monuments and has been published or forthcoming in Isele Magazine, Lucent Dreaming, Olongo Africa, Blue Marble Review, Native Skin, Agbowo & others. She edits Poetry at Olumo Review and reads poetry at Chestnut Review.
Facebook: @Rahma O. Jimoh
Abu Bakr Sadiq
Isaac Miebi Mendez
Mohammed U. Yusuf
Muiz Opeyemi Ajayi
Eniola Abdulroqeeb Arówólò
Mhembeuter Jeremiah Orhemba
Shedrack Opeyemi Akanbi