Emmanuel Iduma was born and raised in Nigeria. Emmanuel is the author of The Sound of Things to Come. He received an MFA in art criticism and writing from the School of Visual Arts, New York. He is a co-founder of Saraba Magazine and co-editor of Gambit: Newer African Writing. Follow him on Twitter @emmaiduma.
While in university, the highlights of stories I wrote occurred to me during strolls. My parents lived on a university campus in Ile-Ife, at the edge of the staff quarters. It would take me twenty minutes to get to school from our house. I walked mostly at night. Done with the day’s work, and so fatigued I sometimes dozed on the road. I saw the value in being somnambulant, and the promise stupor held: the right name for a character on the tip of my tongue.
Someone asks: Why did the world ignore the Baga massacre? Why was the Nigerian government swift to respond to the Charlie Hebbo attack and hesitant about Baga? The answer, which I share plaintively, is bracketed by a word, “numbness”—the numbness that comes from a repeated and stupefying devaluing of human life.
Nguyễn Ngọc Loan executing Nguyễn Văn Lém on February 1, 1968 (Eddie Adams)
The Kiss (1935) by Man Ray
The first dream is of a dry kiss. Her lips touch mine but something does not pass in the process. It was a hesitant affair; we were waiting on the sidelines, waiting to be taught. I have failed to imagine how she looked at me afterwards. How dissatisfied were we?
I think now, we hadn’t been taught to kiss.
The Lonely Ones (1935) by Edvard Munch
“In traditional societies, everything that made sense of the world was real; the surrounding chaos existed and was threatening, but it was threatening because it was unreal. Without a home at the center of the real, one was not only shelterless, but also lost in non-being, in unreality. Without a home everything was fragmentation…
René Magritte's The False Mirror"(1928)
I have to be conscious that I am getting an American education, and this wasn’t an inevitable choice.
I ask my sister to ask my Dad to send the winter coat he had used in the early ‘90s.
I am writing longer essays now like it takes all that time to make an object into a subject – writing is also making – and all that time to make finer and finer distinctions between what I think a work of art is saying and what it is actually saying.