May 25, 2024
Review

Okediran’s collection of travel stories as a global bridge builder

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  • April 14, 2024
  • 3 min read
Okediran’s collection of travel stories as a global bridge builder

By Margarita Al

ON February 2, 2023, in Cairo, Egypt, Nigerian writer Wale Okediran was announced as the laureate of the 6th Open Eurasian Literature Festival (LitFest-2023). According to the contest rules, the laureate receives the opportunity to participate in the festival and a voucher for publishing a book in the “Golden LitFest. Writers of Eurasia” series.

For the first time, the award went to a novelist, as previously it had been won exclusively by poets from Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Egypt. The book presentation of the 6th Laureate Wale Okediran subsequently took place on April 5, 2024, in Abuja, Nigeria during the first Congress of the World Organisation of Writers (WOW). Okediran writes in English. Even at the stage of getting acquainted with the works of the festival’s contestants, his works were noted and attracted attention.

To make a decision in the final voting, I had to sit down and translate several chapters of his collection of travel stories. Then more and more chapters followed. Thus, over a year, I translated his book. His creativity enriched my perception of the world and opened a new modern literary Africa to me.

In Okediran’s collection of stories Travels of a Troubadour, I found a unique interweaving of cultures, histories, and experiences, covering various corners of the world. The author, being both a traveller and a literary chronicler, created a mosaic of impressions from visits to countries, regions and cities such as Texas, Istanbul, Rwanda, Abuja, Taiwan, Togo, Kumasi, Algeria, Morocco, Tangier, Pakistan, Alexandria, and a return to Ghana.

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Each story carries a deep personal look at the cultural peculiarities, historical moments, and socio-political context of each place, describing both the joys of discovery and the painful moments of encountering cruelty and injustice.

Okediran effortlessly transports the reader from one city to another, showing the diversity of the African continent and the world as a whole. He does not shy away from addressing complex issues such as the consequences of colonialism, genocide in Rwanda, problems of modern society, and internal conflicts experienced by his characters. At the same time, his stories are replete with descriptions of the beauty of nature, the richness of cultures, and enduring human values.

Travels of a Troubadour is not just a collection of stories but an exploration of humanity through the lens of travel and literature. Okediran skilfully uses his literary journeys to explore and understand complex issues of identity, belonging, and transformation, making this collection an important contribution to the global cultural mosaic.

For me, it is a great joy and honor to be the translator of the works of the distinguished world writer Okediran into Russian.

* Al, a poet, publisher, literary critic and translator, is President of World Organization of Writers (WOW). Review is part of ‘New Perspectives on Modern African Literature and its Contributions to Global Cultural Mosaic

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