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African market literature collection

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Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Nigeria was under British control from 1861 through its independence in 1960. It became a republic in 1963. Military groups led the country from 1966 to 1979, and there was a civil war between the federal government and the region of Biafra from 1967 to 1970.

Onitsha market literature refers to the popular, sensational, stories that made up Nigerian pulp fiction in the years before and immediately following Nigerian independence.

It was named for the Nigerian market and city in which it was written, printed, and disseminated until Onitsha lost its printing presses in the Nigeria-Biafra War. Before the war, however, independent publishers produced thousands of pamphlets that were distributed across Nigeria and Anglophone West Africa.

The literature was often moralizing, specifically alluding to the dangers of casual sex and women. These pamphlets serve as evidence of the transition and search-for-self as Nigeria was working towards its independence, "the weight and optimism of independence is everywhere in the pamphlets, which grapple with the contradictions of becoming moderns or 'New Africans', without sacrificing too many old ways in the process. They contain a palpable enthusiasm for city life, moneymaking, self-creation, and self-improvement." (Shields)

Onitsha writings are described as both having a fascination with Westernized urban life and warning of the moral threats and dangers that accompany it. This literature served an additional purpose of improving the English of its audience, of teaching readers how to live in an urban environment, and of guiding readers through the reconciliation of urban life and rural values.

Sources:

Shields, Derica. "Vintage 'Africa' (pt.4): Nigerian Pulp Fiction," Okay Africa. Vintage 'Africa' (pt.4): Nigerian Pulp Fiction - Okayplayer (okayafrica.com)

"Onitsha Market Literature." Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, inc., www.britannica.com/art/Onitsha-market-literature. Accessed 14 Nov. 2023.

The African market literature collection measures .66 linear feet in two boxes and dates from circa 1950s to 1974. It comprises 67 pamphlets and books, published in Africa, mostly Nigeria, which represent popular literature, history, and, "how to"-style publications.

This collection is of use to anyone interested in African and Onitsha market literature and popular culture representative of immediate pre- and post-independence era Nigeria.

This collection is organized into three series: I. Literature, [fiction, non-fiction, short stories, and poems] II. Government-generated works and works about countries, and III. "How-to" booklets.

The first series, I. Literature, [fiction, non-fiction, short stories, and poems], is arranged alphabetically by the author's last name and contains works by authors including Chinua Achebe, 'Remi Adadeji, J. Benibengor Blay, Speedy Eric, Highbred Maxwell, Okenwa Olisah, and Kole Omotoso.

The second series, II. Government-generated works and works about countries, contains works by or about Kenya, Malawi, and Nigeria. The Nigerian government-generated works about Nigeria's history, government, and military make up the bulk of the material in this series.

The third series, III. "How-to" booklets, contains eleven booklets with information ranging from hosting meetings to writing contracts to writing love letters.

Sold by Fugitive Materials (Brooklyn, N.Y.), 2023.

Publisher
University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Kelin Baldridge Smallwood
Finding Aid Date
2023 November 13
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Collection Inventory

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Achebe, Chinua. Beware Soul Brother. Nwamife Publishers Limited, 1973.
Box 1 Folder 1
Achebe, Chinua. Beware Soul Brother and Other Poems. Nwankwo-Ifejika & Co., 1971.
Box 1 Folder 1
Achebe, Chinua. Arthur Nwanko, Samuel Ifejika, and Flora Nwapa. The Insider: stories of war and peace from Nigeria. Nwanko-Ifejika & Co., 1971.
Box 1 Folder 2
Adebiyi, T.A. The Beloved Bishop: A biography of Bishop A.B. Akinyele. Daystar Press, 1969.
Box 1 Folder 7
Adedeji, 'Remi. The Fat Woman. Onibonoje Press, 1973.
Box 1 Folder 3
Adedeji, 'Remi. It is Time for Stories. Onibonoje Press, 1973.
Box 1 Folder 3
Aka, S.M.O. Mid-Day Darkness. Onibonoje Press & Book Industries, 1973.
Box 1 Folder 7
Akinlade, Kola. Ajayi the Bishop. Onibonoje Press & Book Industries, 1973.
Box 1 Folder 7
Akinsemoyin, Kunle. Stories at Sundown. George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd., 1965.
Box 1 Folder 7
Azikiwe, Nnamdi, Dr. Respect for Human Dignity, 1960.
Box 1 Folder 7
Blay, J. Benibengor. Alomo. Benibengor Book Agency, 1969.
Box 1 Folder 4
Blay, J. Benibengor. Be Content with your Lot. Benibengor Book Agency, 1971.
Box 1 Folder 4
Blay, J. Benibengor. Coconut Boy. West African Publishing Company, 1970.
Box 1 Folder 4
Blay, J. Benibengor. Dr. Beniga Wants a Wife. Benibengor Book Agency, 1972.
Box 1 Folder 4
Blay, J. Benibengor. Love in a Clinic. Benibengor Book Agency, undated.
Box 1 Folder 4
Blay, J. Benibengor. Stubborn Girl. Benibengor Book Agency, 1968.
Box 1 Folder 4
Blay, J. Benibengor. Tales for Boys and Girls. Macmillan & Co. Ltd., 1969.
Box 1 Folder 4
Dunbar, A.R. Uganda's Famous Men: Omukama Chwa II Kabarega. East African Literature Bureau, 1965.
Box 1 Folder 8
Ekesiobi, Eddy N. True Love: Fineboy Joe and Beautiful Cathe. V.C. Okeanu, 1971.
Box 1 Folder 8
Eric, Speedy. Mabel the Sweet Honey. Membership Bookshop, undated.
Box 1 Folder 8
Ezeobi, Theophilus O.S. Nigerian Fables and Stories for Beginners. Rota Publishing Company Limited, 1973.
Box 1 Folder 8
Fitzjohn, Willie. Chief Gbondo: A Sierra Leone Story. Daystar Press, 1974.
Box 1 Folder 8
Gbadamosi, Rasheed. Echoes from the Lagoon. Onibonoje Press, 1974.
Box 1 Folder 8
Gecau, R.N. Kikuyu Folktales: Their nature and value. East African Literature Bureau, 1970.
Box 1 Folder 8
Konadu, Asare. Night Watchers of Korlebu. Anowuo Educational Publications, 1968.
Box 1 Folder 9
Kwakwa, B.S. Anthology of Poetry for Secondary Schools. Ghana Publishing Corporation, 1974.
Box 1 Folder 9
Leshoai, B.L. Maslio's Adventures and Other Stories. Longmans Green & Co. Ltd., 1968.
Box 1 Folder 9
Mac Donald, Ayo. The Labour of Man. A. Onwudiwe & Sons, undated.
Box 1 Folder 9
Maxwell, Highbred. Adventures of the Four Stars. Students Own Bookshop, circa 1950s.
Box 1 Folder 5
Maxwell, Highbred. Forget Me Not, circa 1950s.
Box 1 Folder 5
Maxwell, Highbred. The Gentle Giant "Alakuku". Students Own Bookshop, circa 1950s.
Box 1 Folder 5
Maxwell, Highbred. Guides for Engagement, Chinyelu Printing Press, circa 1950s.
Box 1 Folder 5
Maxwell, Highbred. Our Modern Ladies Characters Towards Boys, circa 1950s.
Box 1 Folder 5
Maxwell, Highbred. Wonders Shall Never End. Students Own Bookshop, circa 1950s.
Box 1 Folder 5
Omotoso, Kole. Fella's Choice. Ethiope Publishing Corporation, 1974.
Box 1 Folder 6
Omotoso, Kole. Miracles & Other Stories. Onibonoje Press, 1973.
Box 1 Folder 6
Momodu, A.G. The Course of Justice & Other Stories. Onibonoje Press, 1973.
Box 1 Folder 9
Nwala, T.U. Justice on Trial. Onibonoje Press, 1973.
Box 1 Folder 9
Nwankwo, Mazi Raphael D.A. The Bitterness of Politics and Awolowo's Last Appeal. A. Onwudiwe & Sons, undated.
Box 2 Folder 1
Nwapa, Flora. This is Lagos and Other Stories. Nwankwo Ifejika & Co. Publishers, 1972.
Box 2 Folder 1
Obiechina, Dr. Emmanuel. Literature for the Masses. Nwankwo Ifejika & Co. Publishers, 1971.
Box 2 Folder 1
Oduyoye, Modupe. The Planting of Christianity in Yorubaland. Daystar Press, 1969.
Box 2 Folder 2
Olagoke, D. Olu. The Incorruptible Judge. Evans Brothers Limited, 1962.
Box 2 Folder 2
Olisah, Okenwa. The Life in the Prison Yard. General Printing Press, undated.
Box 2 Folder 2
Oluwide, Baba. On the Current Divergencies. The Spark Publications, 1968.
Box 2 Folder 2
Omo-Odunlaye. Oracle Answers Your Questions. Wurola Press, 1969.
Box 2 Folder 2
Osahon, Naiwu. The Climate of Darkness. Di Nigro Press, 1971.
Box 2 Folder 2
Osogo, John. The Bride Who Wanted a Special Present. East African Literature Bureau, 1970.
Box 2 Folder 2

Kenya: The Work of an African Chief in Kenya. The Eagle Press, 1960.
Box 2 Folder 3
Malawi: MAU: 39 Poems from Malawi. The Heatherwick Press, Ltd., 1972.
Box 2 Folder 4
Nigeria: history, government, and military booklets, 1970.
Box 2 Folder 5

"How to organize meetings and know the work of a chairman, secretary, treasurer, auditor, financial-secretary, publicity secretary, provost, committees, etc.", circa 1960s.
Box 2 Folder 6
"How to speak and write better English, good letters, receipts, agreements, compositions, business letters, telegrams, and applications", circa 1960s.
Box 2 Folder 6
"How to speak in public and make good introductions", circa 1960s.
Box 2 Folder 6
"How to write all kinds of letters and compositions", circa 1960s.
Box 2 Folder 6
"How to write business letters, correct agreements, telegrams, good letters, and applications", circa 1960s.
Box 2 Folder 6
"How to write good letters and applications", circa 1960s.
Box 2 Folder 6
"How to write love letters, toasts, and business letters", circa 1960s.
Box 2 Folder 6
"Learn how to write good English, better letters, better compositions, business letters, applications, agreements and telegrams", circa 1960s.
Box 2 Folder 6
"Modern handbook in business letter writing, compositions, better sentences, telegrams, important letters, and good English", circa 1960s.
Box 2 Folder 6
"Never trust all that love you", circa 1960s.
Box 2 Folder 6
"Teach yourself good English, better sentences, good letters, and compositions (for schools and colleges)", circa 1960s.
Box 2 Folder 6

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