Reimagining the Gods
Saturday 6 July, 15:30 – 16:45
British Library Knowledge Centre, Bronte Room
With Inua Ellams, Sitawa Namwalie and Dr. Louisa Egbunike & Dr. Marion Wallace.
An interactive discussion on ancient African deities in contemporary spoken, written and illustrative literature. With an introduction to British Library Africa collection by Dr. Marion Wallace.
Explore how Yoruba and ancient Greek gods inspired Inua Ellams’ The Half-God of Rainfall and the conflict between belonging and identity with Luhyia gods in Sitawa Namwalie’s Room of Lost Names; discussion moderated by Dr. Louisa Egbunike.
The Half-God of Rainfall is an epic story and a lyrical exploration of pride, power and female revenge by Inua Ellams. There is something about the boy. Half Nigerian mortal, half Grecian God: Demi is the Half-God of Rainfall. His mother, Modupe, looks on with a mixture of pride and worry. From close encounters, she knows that Gods are just like men: the same fragile egos, the same subsequent fury, the same sense of entitlement to the bodies of mortals. The Gods will one day tire of sports fans, their fickle allegiances and their prayers to Demi. And when that moment comes, it won’t matter how special he is. Only the women in Demi’s life, the mothers, the Goddesses, will stand between him and a lightning bolt.
In her play Room of Lost Names Sitawa Namwalie weaves old Luhyia myths to tell a contemporary story. The play revolves around a young woman who arrives in a mysterious place ruled by two contrasting gods, Gumali is the god of darkness, mischief, evil, whilst Omuwanga is the god of light, goodness, purity. The young woman soon realises she is dead. To secure her exit from this realm the dead young woman has a simple task, to return her name to the gods. However, no matter how hard she tries, she finds she cannot remember her name. To help her recover her name, the gods break protocol and take her back to the circumstances of her death. What will she find?
This event is open to all. If you are a writer, researcher, or someone interested in African cosmology then make sure you attend to hear about the rich resources are available in the British Library Africa collection.
Missed this event? Read Dr Marion Wallace’s blog piece on African cosmology resources at the British Library.