By Adebiyi Olusolape

‘But, Ahmed Maiwada will never back out of this fight; it is his vow to sanitise the contents of Nigerian literature until all works put out there represent the honest and genuine efforts of the writers putting them out.’— Ahmed Maiwada

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

And, it is the self-appointed sentinels that we should be most wary of, for the road to perdition is paved with good intentions.

If we are all now accountable to Mr. Maiwada, to whom is Mr. Maiwada accountable?

‘I am working towards releasing my essay on this matter on Monday, by His grace. So, stay tuned and be blessed.’

That was written by Mr. Maiwada on Wednesday, the 23rd. To my knowledge, the essay tarries, but there are many Mondays hence, until the end of the world.

If this were a purely intellectual matter as is being claimed by some and not an ethical, moral and spiritual attack on the person of another writer, why didn’t his critical essay precede his accusations?

Nonetheless, I have tried to compile, from Mr. Maiwada’s Facebook post and comments, what may be the kernel of his argument, and I will now begin a point by point response to them.

In my responses, I will rely primarily on the text of Rotimi Babatunde’s ‘Bombay’s Republic’, Biyi Bandele’s Burma Boy. Those two texts I will compare with a control, Melvyn Bragg’s The Soldier’s Return. All three are fictional narratives related to the Burma Campaign, and Melvyn Bragg’s The Soldier’s Return is chosen arbitrarily out of a ‘population’ of fictive stories related to the Burma Campaign, in a bid to introduce some element of randomness into my comparative exercise.

Since we are in a world of secondary orality, I will also make reference to Barnaby Phillips’s The Burma Boy even though it is non-fiction and film. In a similar vein and as further acknowledgement of the times in which we live, my second reason for including The Burma Boy is that it is freely available here, on Youtube. Melvyn Bragg’s The Soldier’s Return may not be so easy for readers to lay their hands on.

I will now let Mr. Maiwada set the ground rule:

[A]ccording to the Black’s Law Dictionary, (Eighth Edition), Plagiarism means, “The deliberate and knowing presentation of another person’s original ideas or creative expression as one’s own.”

In keeping with this definition, it is important for me to point out where I think the lines are. For the purpose of this piece, I think it is necessary to preserve a distinction between facts and interpretation however, in the end, pointless that may be.

I take to be the facts any similarities or dissimilarities between texts. However, anything beyond noting the existence of similarities or dissimilarities is not a fact but an interpretation.


In light of this, one possible interpretation may be that two texts are ‘too similar.’

However, there is, still, a discontinuity between being ‘too similar’ and an interpretation of plagiarism. Plagiarism, as the definition above points out, goes on to include the deliberate and knowing actions of an individual.

Similarities between two texts may be evidence of actions, but similarities, no matter their degree, do not give us a sure handle on whether the actions were ‘deliberate’ or done ‘knowing[ly].’ It seems that one needs other kinds of evidence, apart from similarities between texts, to establish a charge of plagiarism beyond reasonable doubt.

It only stands to reason that other kinds of information, outside the similarities between two texts, are more than necessary because similarities may be due to different types of deliberate actions. Plagiarism is only one of many possible actions. For instance, a high degree of similarity between two texts in English can be due to the action of translating the two separate, English texts from the same source text in Efik by two different individuals and without any plagiarism.

Let me be quick to point out that although I accept that definition furnished by Mr. Maiwada, from a legal dictionary, my own concerns are literary. If you wish to read a legal response to Mr. Maiwada’s claims, I recommend this piece by Emmanuel Iduma.

Now, I have done my utmost to separate Mr. Maiwada’s arguments from the kind of fallacy that the literary critic, W.K. Wimsatt, calls the ‘Intentional Fallacy’ but I have failed.

And unlike Mr. Maiwada, I am also doing my utmost to steer clear of the abyss of some of the more radical formulations of the ‘Linguistic Turn’ in which the entirety of the social world is reduced to mere language games and discursive constructions.

I believe the logics of actions and behaviours, although they can become related to the internal logics of texts, are not bounded by the logics of texts nor are they limited to the degrees of freedom available within texts.

Indeed, we can reach some kinds of higher level realities by extrapolating from texts. However, some other kinds of higher level realities will remain beyond us no matter how much information we can garner from a text. We can learn a thing or two from the work of Michael Polanyi.

It seems to me, then, to be a leap over the edge of a cliff if one goes from textual similarities alone to an imputation of plagiarism.

But, I am getting ahead of myself. What sort of similarities are there? Mr. Maiwada says:

The storyline of Babatunde Rotimi’s ‘Bombay’s Republic’ is too close to that of Biyi Bandele’s Burma Boy; it is too close for comfort, too close to pass as an original!

The storylines are very, very different.

In terms of other kinds of similarities, I have counted no less than 35 similarities of various kinds between ‘Bombay’s Republic’ and Burma Boy, and I think the stories are not even close at all!


Furthermore, the weaving of the historical, aesthetic, stylistic and thematic threads in ‘Bombay’s Republic’ are such a tight weave and of such integrity as to make the story a fantastic tapestry.

Here again, we have facts and an interpretation of those facts, mine and Mr. Maiwada’s. I will leave you to decide which is true after you read the two stories. Please, I would love to read your thoughts on this matter. Do publish something, on your blog or as a Facebook Note. Thank you.

I can count you no less than 35 similarities between a Benz G Class SUV and a Volkswagen Beetle, but since they are both products of German brands, since they are both automobiles that should have the customary spare tire, since I am not a Martian nor a time traveler come from the Iron Age to see ‘wonder chariots’, I wonder why I would want to read any significance into the 35 or more similarities between a Benz G Class SUV and a Volkswagen Beetle beyond the fact that they are ‘cars.’

Are ‘Bombay’s Republic’ and Burma Boy stories of Africans in the Burma Campaign in WWII? Are words like ‘leopard’, ‘leeches’, ‘flies’, ’stench’, ‘Calcutta’, ‘Bombay’, ‘Chindwin’, ‘Irrawaddy’, ‘monsoon’, ‘flame thrower’, ‘Bren’, ‘Charles’, ‘Lance Corporal’, ‘Colour Sergeant’ etc. to be found in both stories?

I encourage you to read both stories critically, but more importantly, read other stories about the Burma Campaign. I am convinced that the more widely one reads about war, especially battle stories, about WWII and the Burma Campaign in particular, the more absurd the claim that ‘Bombay’s Republic’ is ‘too similar’ to Burma Boy becomes.

Here, again, is a link to Barnaby Phillips’s The Burma Boy. No, Mr. Phillips does not mention Biyi Bandele or Burma Boy in this true life story of the Nigerian Burma Boy, Isaac Fadoyebo. Biyi Bandele and Barnaby Phillips acknowledge their use of the resources of the Imperial War Museum, London, and although Olu Fashanu (Pash) in Burma Boy and Isaac Fadoyebo are both Yorubas, and are both injured in Burma, in the leg, the knee to be precise, I would be lying if I claimed The Burma Boy and Burma Boy are ‘too similar.’

Let me now provide you two quotes from Melvyn Bragg’s The Soldier’s Return, a novel about a man who ‘returns in 1946 from the “Forgotten War” in Burma to Wigton in Cumbria.’

‘That ambush when almost a third of the company had been slaughtered…Yoke and Buster, two of the nicest lads you could meet, dead within a foot of each other…’ (p.36-37).

‘[T]he puddle of brains seeping out of the skull of Andy, who was less than a yard away when he caught it.’ (p.37).

I could claim the ambush in which Ko Ye and Guntu are killed, in Burma Boy, is similar to that in which Yoke and Buster are killed. I could claim Biyi Bandele has only ‘presented dramatically and by padding here and there in order to seem authentic’ what Melvyn Bragg wrote. I could claim that Biyi Bandele’s Ko Ye is Yo Ke in ‘heavy cosmetics’, but you would be right to question my literacy, my powers of comprehension and my judgment if I did.

I could go further to say that Aluwong in Burma Boy is no other person than Andy in The Soldier’s Return, again ‘in heavy cosmetics,’ but it would be a gratuitous insult to Biyi Bandele if I did. Worse, it would be an insult to the intelligence of you who read me.


Mr. Maiwada continues:

So, how did it, [‘Bombay's Republic’], manage to make it through to the final stage of the Caine Prize? It is either the judges are not critical readers, or they are no wide readers at all, or they cannot tell between an original story an (sic) the plagiarised.

I know that the Caine Prize, as part of their programme for 2012, have chosen the editor of Biyi Bandele’s Burma Boy to chair a panel that will discuss ‘Bombay’s Republic’ with Rotimi Babatunde and the other writers whose stories made the shortlist.

Here is what Biyi Bandele wrote of Ellah Allfrey in the ‘Author’s Note’ in Burma Boy, ‘[A]nd my editor, Ellah Allfery, who encouraged me to write this book and who made it a better one.’ Here is a link to information about the event at which the same Ellah Allfrey will be discussing ‘Bombay’s Republic’ with Rotimi Babatunde.

You will agree with me that the qualities of a good editor include the ability to read a manuscript critically. Similarly, I believe it would be in the brief of the chair of a panel of discussants, whether implicitly or explicitly, to read the texts to be discussed critically and to interrogate the authors of the works.

Whether Ellah Allfrey and the judges of the Caine Prize read widely, I will leave to you to decide. You can begin you research by following the link I provided above. I believe some information about Ellah Allfrey will be found on that page.

Mr. Maiwada insists:

I thought you should trust my judgment on the difference between inspired and lifted text.

Of the 35 similarities between ‘Bombay’s Republic’ and Burma Boy, I found not one single instance of lifted text.

Again, Mr. Maiwada:

Yet, it is far more than a coincidence that both Ali Banana of Burma Boy and Bombay of Bombay’s Republic will go through the same experience in Burma, be denied the opportunity to go headlong into battle, initially, fall into the ambush of the Japs while in transit, etc, etc.

Mr. Maiwada returns to the matter of the denial to soldiers ‘the opportunity to go headlong into battle’ elsewhere, so I want to address myself to the matter of ambushes here.

If like me, you spent an inordinate amount of time in your childhood reading the WWII comics published in D. C. Thomson’s Commando series, Fleetway’s War Picture Library or even the Micron series, you will know that ambushes are a staple of battle stories. One of my quotes from The Soldier’s Return, above, speaks of an ambush. In that novel, ‘ambush’ becomes a metaphor for the fear besieging the main character, Sam Richardson, that British civilian life was lying in wait for him.


It is not only in fictional narratives that ambushes feature prominently. They do too in historical narratives, oral or literary. By the way, if we have learnt anything from the works of Michel de Certeau, Paul Ricoeur and Jacques Rancière isn’t it that ‘scientific’, historical narratives are related to fictional narratives in more ways than one?

The story of the Gbánámú War, which was passed on to me orally, relates how the outgunned Ibadan warriors and their allies lay in the undergrowth until their enemies had reached where the Ibadan men were lying in wait. Then, the Ibadan soldiers rose from the forest floor and quickly grabbed the guns of their adversaries so that Gbánámú, the name given this ingenious stratagem, was decided by machetes and hand-to-hand combat.

Please, read the ambush in ‘Bombay’s Republic’ to understand how being low on ammunition and rising from the ground with pangas reminded me of the Gbánámú story. But, I see a significant difference as well. It is the enemy, the Japanese, who spring the ambush in ‘Bombay’s Republic.’

Of the three ambushes in Burma Boy, there is a Japanese ambush. Ayaba is the only member of D-Section who escapes  with his life because of the most wondrous Deux ex machina of a stream that appears out of nowhere.

How most of the members of Bombay’s squad, if not all, get out of their own Japanese ambush unscathed is no less wondrous an event, but more importantly, it is used to reel in another stereotype about Africans which was current in the Asian theatre of war.

Beyond ‘ambush by Japanese’ I do not see any other similarity between the last ambush in Burma Boy and the ambush in ‘Bombay’s Republic.’ Please, watch The Burma Boy and tell me whether a surprise attack does not occur in Isaac Fadoyebo’s story.

Mr. Maiwada tells us:

Nevertheless, I disagree with the notion that Burma Boy is not about “war makes us mad.” In fact, that particular conclusion, amongst other things such as the tone of Burma Boy, some episodes in the jungle of Burma, the very character (chattiness) of Bombay himself, can only be from Bandele’s Burma Boy.

The story of Private Ayaba (Ali Banana) as it is told in Burma Boy is divided into four parts: ‘Hailakandi’, ‘Aberdeen’, ‘Tokyo’ and ‘White City.’ In ‘Hailakandi’, Ayaba is introduced to the reader as very talkative. The author serves us lengthy monologues delivered by Ayaba, and the narrator and other characters in the story comment on Ayaba’s loquacity.

There is a marked reduction in how much the author gives Ayaba to say in ‘Aberdeen’ and ‘Tokyo’. In those parts of the novel, the narrator takes up more space and the other characters in the story are developed.

This is also part of a ‘showing’ style that allows the reader ‘see’ the accumulating effects of privation and war on Ayaba. Although,in ch.7 of ‘White City’, the author still has Ayaba say (p.168), ‘But I like talking to people.’

Towards the end of Burma Boy, the chatty Ayaba begins to return, but his speech increasingly indicates derangement.


The eponymous character in ‘Bombay’s Republic’ is described at one point as ‘taciturn.’ He is said to respond to queries with ‘cryptic sentences.’ In my opinion, he is not chatty, at all.

‘Bombay’s Republic’ is a very ambitious story and in order to cover all the ground it does in less than 8,000 words, diegesis is evident throughout. The narrator ‘tells’ most of it, and Bombay is mostly portrayed as thinking, not speaking.

However, in one of the remarkable instances of ‘showing not telling’ that you will nevertheless find in ‘Bombay’s Republic’, we watch the descent of a haughty (racist) Captain into animal depths.

I would like to point your attention to the fact that the words ‘mad’ and ‘crazy’ do not appear, even once, in ‘Bombay’s Republic.’ Instead, what is emphasized in an incident that clearly has to do with derangement is the descent into animality.

Animals and animality, the reversal of the direction of the evolution of species, the twin motifs of metamorphoses and possibilities, the totem of leopards, which cannot change their spots, within a world in flux is one that recurs throughout ‘Bombay’s Republic’, this fact is not secondary but central to that story.

It may be useful to note that although the character Bombay is clearly very eccentric, he is very self-possessed. One can say the same for the Janar in Burma Boy, and I do not know if anyone would argue that the drug-induced suicide attempt narrated in the prologue of Burma Boy is an instance of madness.

However, I want to point out here that in Burma Boy it is the main African character that loses his mind.  In ‘Bombay’s Republic’ it is the racist European officer that loses his mind. In the portrayal of Africans, I doubt you will find any two stories more dissimilar than ‘Bombay’s Republic’ and Burma Boy. This is something Mr. Maiwada will return us to, below. So, I will let him continue:

As for Bombay’s Republic, I am afraid it says nothing different from Biyi Bandele’s Burma Boy.

Let’s ignore form, that one of the texts is a short story and the other a novel. Thematically, you cannot have two more dissimilar stories. And while Alterity, Seasickness, African Nationalist politics, just to mention a few, are tackled directly in ‘Bombay’s Republic’, they merely hinted at and are barely given any treatment in Burma Boy.

Again, at least 40% of ‘Bombay’s Republic’ narrates the course of Bombay’s life after his demobilization. Ayaba’s story, in Burma Boy, ends in Burma, there is no ‘after the war’ for Ayaba, at least not in Burma Boy.

It’s possible that after his breakdown, Ayaba could have been taken back to the hospital in Bombay. This of course may not be part of ‘after the war’, but it is interesting to me nonetheless. Perhaps, the loss of Ayaba’s virginity will help restore him.

Danja is the one who scopes out that project, who provides its justification and who had taken on the responsibility for its supervision but Danja dies in that fateful ambush.  After the ‘war’ was the Malayan Emergency. The loss of virginity is central to Leslie Thomas’s Virgin Soldiers, but I digress


Here is one similarity between ‘Bombay’s Republic’ and Burma Boy: the narrators make references to books that are published after the ‘war’, Things Fall Apart in ‘Bombay’s Republic’ and the memoirs of the officers of the High Command of the Imperial Japanese navy in Burma Boy. In The Soldier’s Return, which is set after the war, an historian indicates his interest in writing about Burma, especially because all the books coming out were focused on Germany.

In what ways does Burma Boy take on the theme of the Burma Campaign being a ‘Forgotten War’ within its 216 pages? This is given explicit treatment in ‘Bombay’s Republic.’

‘Bombay’s Republic’ does not mention one single place name on the African continent and no national adjectives are used throughout. Whereas, ‘Preetown’ (Free Town), ‘Darban’ (Durban), ‘Gambian’ and ‘Nigerian’ are some of the distinctly African nouns and adjectives to be found in Burma Boy.

Private Ayaba (Ali Banana) is one of the Chindits, a special force tasked with operating behind enemy lines. Bombay sees action with the regulars. The battles in which characters in the two stories fight are set in different sectors of the Burmese war theatre.

Ayaba signed up as a child of 13. I am led to conclude that Bombay signs up as a young man.

For African soldiers in the Burma Campaign, India is the one place they all seem to pass through at one time or the other. This is true of the character Sam Richardson in The Soldier’s Return .  Indeed, the significance of the Burma Campaign can be traced to the fact that India was the jewel of the British Empire. Ayaba spends time in India, one week at a hospital in Bombay and no less than a month in Chiringa. Colour Sergeant Bombay never sets a foot in India, and this seems deliberate if you read Rotimi Babatunde’s interview with PEN International here.

According to Mr. Maiwada,

This interview by Biyi Bandele, hilarious as it is, sheds light on when he commenced the Burma Boy projects, and the authenticity of his created characters, settings, themes (especially of madness), tone (of the story), etc.

In The Soldier’s Return and Burma Boy you will come upon foreign words like ‘chaggle’ (spelt ‘chagul’ in Burma Boy), the phrase ‘tik hai’ (rendered ‘thik hai’ in Burma Boy), but Burma Boy doesn’t have the word ‘doolally’, which occurs over and over again The Soldier’s Return. ‘Doolally’ means mad.

Madness is also central to Melvyn Bragg’s Burma novel. In the first chapter of The Soldier’s Return, we are told of the look of fear in Jackie’s eyes. Throughout that novel, we see how Jackie’s condition deteriorates, the impact of his condition on his family and by p. 246 we have to accompany the main character to see Jackie in the madhouse.

Madness is not unique to Burma Boy.


Guntu pumps bullets into his own shadow, and we are witnesses to Ayaba’s gradual mental collapse, but I think Burma Boy devotes some thought to stupidity also, and this is important for one significant difference between ‘Bombay’s Republic’ and Burma Boy.

Ayaba (Ali Banana) is quite stupid. Danja comes across as very hospitable to strangers, but that fisherman reveals an unfortunate streak of stupidity in displaying his generosity. Bloken lives a charmed life, but the narrator and Guntu insist that it is because Bloken is stupid. In the end, Guntu decides that stupidity is the religion to which he wishes to be converted.

As I said, I want to point out a difference between African and European characters in Burma Boy: stupidity seems to be the preserve of the African characters. In ‘Bombay’s Republic’, Africans are presented as clever, no less so than their Imperial masters.

Mr. Maiwada asks:

How old was Biyi Bandele in 2007, when Burma Boy was published? Forty years or so. So, Biyi grew with this story, perfected by his researches. So, it was not in 2007 that the Burma Boy story just dropped from heaven; it had grown with this writer. So, way back in 2005, when Babatunde Rotimi claimed to have first “written” the Bombay’s Republic (imagine this fantasy!) Biyi Bandele’s Burma Boy was in existence.

There is no longer a debate over the fact that ‘Bombay’s Republic’ predates the publication of Burma Boy. The form of ‘Bombay’s Republic’ in 2005 is documented. Bombay serves as a porter and muleskinner before he is posted to a combat unit to shut him up. I rely on the testimony of Dami Ajayi and Emmanuel Iduma.

It will be great if Mr. Maiwada can provide evidence of the objective form in which Burma Boy was available to him before 2007.

And now, we come to the most serious piece of ‘evidence’ that Mr. Maiwada has provided till date:

‘While reviewing Burma Boy, I had this to say about the principal character, Ali Banana, whom Biyi Bandele clearly states is his own creation, in page 216 of his novel:

“In the absence of his co-performers, who go off with the 5th NR, Ali Banana becomes a frustrated bore. He insists, at Chiringa where the West African Base and Rear Headquarters reside, on entering into the warfront as a rifleman. Instead he is offered to join the 12th NR as a muleskinner to fill a vacancy created by a cobra bite the previous week. Ali’s response is: “Do you think that Ali Banana, the son of Dawa, great-grandson of Fatima, has crossed the great sea and travelled this far, rifle strapped to his shoulder, to look after mules?”

Now, see what Babatunde Rotimi wrote in his Bombay’s Republic, after Burma Boy’s publication:

“At first Bombay’s tasks were limited to mule driving and porting baggage. If there are people trying to kill me, it would be stupid of me not to be in a position to kill them also, he repeatedly grumbled to his superiors. To shut him up, he was posted to a combat unit.”

Questions: was Ali Banana posted to a combat unit, just to shut him up? Yes!’

This is why you have to read these two stories.

I am not sure whether Mr. Maiwada’s comparison is deliberately mischievous or evidence of unsound judgment, but this is a grievous distortion, if the wider import of Mr. Maiwada’s accusations are considered.


Considering the thematic concerns of ‘Bombay’s Republic’ which I have directed your attention to above, it seems only consistent that ‘Bombay’s Republic’ reveal that Africans were used as mules and muleteers in the Burma Campaign.

In The Burma Boy, Barnaby Phillips says, ‘It was almost impossible for an African to become a senior officer…’, but Africans were to be found in the lowest ranks and employed as beasts of burden.

In Burma Boy, Private Ayaba (Ali Banana) leaves Africa as soldier in the 5th Battalion of the Nigeria Regiment. The 5th NR is also the battalion of Yusufu and Iddrisi. It is because of this two that Ayaba claims he joined the army in the first place. Yusufu and Iddrisi are the only brothers he has known since he was 7, and when they signed up he found a way to join them even though the two tried to prevent him from doing so.

The 5th NR goes to into action in Burma by way of Bombay. In Bombay, Ayaba contacts chicken pox and is left behind.

After his chickenpox is cured, Ayaba proceeds to the West African Rear Headquarters in Chiringa to await a chance to rejoin his comrades in the 5th NR. We are told that the 5th NR is doing exploits in Burma while Ayaba is waiting. Ostensibly, this news reaches Ayaba, and he’s hungry to join his brothers and also ‘killi di Janpani.’ At this point in the story, Ayaba’s desire to see action is not separate from his desire to rejoin the 5th NR.

Ayaba begins to pester his superiors in Chiringa so that he can rejoin the 5th NR. However, the 5th NR does not want Ayaba back, for a fear of chickenpox infection that the men express (there is more to this than meets the eye, but you will have to read Burma Boy for yourself). The officers of the 5th NR, sensitive to anything that can affect the morale of their men, tell the authorities in Chiringa never to send Ayaba to rejoin the 5th NR.

When Ayaba’s demand to rejoin his comrades does not wane and the 12th NR lose a muleskinner to a snakebite, an opportunity to send Ayaba to join the Animal Transport Division of the 12th NR presents itself.

Ayaba is sent to Hailakandi, to join the 12th NR. On reaching Hailakandi, the first thing Ayaba does is to tell the officer to whom he reports that he wants to fight, not tend mules. In the end, Ayaba is posted to a combat unit. Please note that Ayaba never serves as a muleskinner or a porter.

In Bombay’s case, he completes his basic training in Africa. He then sails to Sri Lanka (Ceylon) where he receives jungle combat training. He then goes to Burma where he is first serves as a muleteer and porter. It is only after repeated grumbling that Bombay is posted to a combat unit.


Let me provide a transcript of a section of Barnaby Phillips The Burma Boy which I believe to be illuminating:

‘Barnaby Phillips: I went back to Britain. I wanted to talk to Professor David Killingray, an expert on the Burma Boys…He could explain why Britain turned to Africa for help in the war.

Professor David Killingray: They were trained, particularly West African troops, in carrying, erm, stores and supplies, ammunition by head in forested areas. And therefore, you had this carrier potential which would be very useful to deploy in the steep valley slopes that were wooded, in Burma. And so, they performed rather well, particularly in forested terrain, and probably without them and their head-carrying capacities, porters, the war there would have been prosecuted much more slowly.’

Some of the various manifestations of racism in the conduct of the Burma Campaign are the issues which ‘Bombay’s Republic’ tackles head on and which Burma Boy glosses over.

I think it’s very important to say something about the allegiance to King George’s cause that African characters display in Burma Boy is one not shared by the real life Isaac Fadoyebo of The Burma Boy or by the Africans who sign up in ‘Bombay’s Republic’.

The Africans who sign up in ‘Bombay’s Republic’ do so to defend themselves and their countrymen from the threat of Slavery. Is this not in keeping with the theme of historical relations between Africans and Europeans that I have argued is central to ‘Bombay’s Republic’?

The vision of King George dressed in the garb of the Emir of Zaria may be a telling symbol for the politics of Burma Boy. To be sure, there were different strands in the political awakening of Africans in the British colonies. There was a strand of acceptance of the Imperial order in which even resistances were a form of collaboration. There was another strand which was self-determination.

Perhaps, it is to the former that the politics of Burma Boy belong. Colour Sergeant Bombay represents self-determination with a one-man emphasis on ‘self.’

I do not think that ‘Bombay’s Republic’ is guilty, at any point in the narrative, of what Eric Hobsbawm refers to as ‘reading the desires of the present into the past’ or any such Postcolonial anachronism.

Again, I recognize a Kingi Joji dressed in the robes of the Emir of Zaria as the patriarchal figure who stands at the head of that Genealogy of the Durbar which Andrew Apter writes about in his The Pan-African Nation. However, ‘Bombay’s Republic’ is that Pan-African nation in all its bracing complexity.


There exists a number of closely related texts and substance in these two texts, despite Babatunde Rotimi’s attempt to hide them, principally by narrating what Biyi Bandele has presented dramatically, and by padding here and there in order to seem authentic.

I am still waiting for Mr. Maiwada to publish these ‘closely related texts.’

Name calling is the least of all insults. Are there worse insults than calling an honest man by name and saying that that man is a ‘stupid thief’? Thief because the false accusation is that the honest man has stolen the ideas of another. The insult is to state that the honest man is doubly stupid for not having ideas of his own while trying to pass off the stolen goods as his.

Should it be surprising that Mr. Maiwada reaped a full harvest of that which he sowed?

Now, Mr. Maiwada , after farting in our mouths, insists that we must open our mouths again to lick the salt he offers to sweeten the fart. He says:

See how desperation to win the Caine Prize at all cost has brought me this?

Please, someone tell Mr. Maiwada that his false accusations and the responses they have prompted are not about the Caine Prize. This was always a matter of Integrity.



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