| Give a Gift |

  • Digital Edition

Everything Follows: An Interview With Helon Habila

Of the Abacha government?
Yeah, this was in 1997, and Abacha died in 1998. So when they saw that picture they arrested him…just because he had a picture of Wole Soyinka. That shows you how paranoid they were. There was a poet that was killed in Lagos. The story at that time was that he had started turning against other poets, informing against other intellectuals, people in the prodemocracy struggles. And I think when the military got tired of using him, they just killed him. But there were a lot of people like that, who became turncoats just to survive, or for material benefits.

How long was your friend in jail?
Two years, or just under two years.

For having a picture of Wole Soyinka?
Yeah, they just kept you in jail without trial.

Was he released then, when Abacha died?

How is it now? Is there freedom of press, or freedom of speech?
Yeah, that is the good thing that has happened with the coming of democracy. People can actually write now what they want to write. They can actually criticize the government, they can say what is wrong with the government. They can express themselves. This was something that we didn't have during the military years. If you did that at that time, you would get arrested. But now, whether it's effective or not, you can say what you think.

In America, to be a writer, all you effectively have to do is have a computer and write a lot. How is Nigeria different?
Nigeria is very, very different. You don't have a computer in the first place. I mean, I'm talking about an average young writer in Nigeria. You have no computer—longhand. And you do it at your leisure time, because you have to work to make ends meet. So you write when you have time. You just create time. Then after that you find money to type it. Then you try to find a publisher. It's not easy. The publishers are just not there.

They're going out of business?
Yeah, because there is no market for books. Times are so hard. Things are so hard that people just can't afford to buy books for pleasure. You have the publishers who would consider publishing textbooks for universities, for schools, for exams. These are the kinds of books that people mostly buy. But it's very hard to find people buying novels just to read for pleasure, or poetry books for that matter.

Article Permissions
Everything Follows: An Interview With Helon Habila (January/February 2003)

In the details box below, please include information about the reprint permissions you'd like granted.

Thank you for your permissions request. We do our best to respond immediately, but it may take up to three business days.

City Guide

by Jen Michalski

Author Jen Michalski takes us on a tour of the many literary sites writers should visit while strolling the gritty streets of Baltimore.

Upcoming Events
University of Chicago - Logan Center, Seminar Terrace 801
October 21, 2014 - 6:00pm
The New School's Orozco Room
October 21, 2014 - 6:30pm
The Poetry Foundation
October 21, 2014 - 7:00pm
Creative Nonfiction
City Lights Bookstore
October 21, 2014 - 7:00pm
City Lights Booksellers and Publishers
October 21, 2014 - 7:00pm
Conferences & Residencies
West Cork, Ireland
Riga, Latvia
Charlotte, North Carolina
Writing Contests
University of Evansville
American Library Association
Magazine Articles

by Mira Ptacin

November/December 2014

Despite struggles, libraries are learning to navigate the ever-changing, and often cost-prohibitive, landscape of digital lending.


by Staff

Politics & Prose replaces Barnes & Noble as official National Book Festival bookseller; new Berryman volume and reissues released; Carlos Lozada named nonfiction book critic at the Washington Post; and other news.

Directory of Writers
Philadelphia, PA
Town of Stuyvesant, NY
Spoken Word Artist, Poet, Fiction Writer
Brooklyn, NY

Subscribe to P&W Magazine | Donate Now | Advertise | Sign up for E-Newsletter | Help | About Us | Contact Us | View Mobile Site

© Copyright Poets & Writers 2014. All Rights Reserved