part-time musings

Tag: Nigeria

Selling books streetstyle

Being the publishing history geekgirl that I am, I’m fascinated by the variety of places where books are sold. Most people in the world can’t pop into their local branch of Waterstones or Barnes & Noble to buy the books they want to read or the textbooks their kids need for school. A large proportion of the world’s publishing output is sold in street markets. Seeing as it’s Friday, and we’ve all been so good, and it’s 50 years since Nigerian independence, I’ll treat you with this photograph from the 1960s of the Onitsha market, one of the biggest traditional book markets in West Africa.

‘the climax is unexciting’

It’s for work and it’s a bit complicated to explain, but I’ve spent a significant proportion of this week investigating African pornography.

For the sake of simplification, let me just say that the local production and consumption of ‘pornographic fiction’ was a concern to British administrators in Nigeria in the 1950s and 1960s.

They were extremely devoted to investigating the subject.  And they also knew proper porn when they saw it.  For example, this dutiful official was unimpressed by what he’d found at Onitsha market:

I found no sign of pornography or any pornographic books. There were very few books with pictures or with lurid covers – women in low evening dresses lying on couches and divans with bottles of champagne handy and leering men in attendance. The few I glanced at belie their covers, and are of the boy-meets-girl type and the climax is unexciting: in the last one I looked at the climax came in the last sentence, which was “They kissed”.