Sotonye Dan on the Brittle Paper, Obi-Young Impasse

Sotonye Dan

Not too many people are aware that I am close friends with Otosirieze Obi-Young. At least not in Nigeria’s literary space, especially as I hardly would identify as a writer. I was one of the handful of his friends privileged to read his first manuscripts—from A Tenderer Blessing to Mulumba and to other titles I no longer remember, and he in turn in no small way contributed to the development of my writing. We waited on acceptance emails, most of which were rejections (and we know the sentiments surrounding rejections) until Transition Magazine published A Tenderer Blessing, and The Threepenny Review published Mulumba.

A couple of times, taking our usually long strolls on the streets of Akure, he shared with me the ideas which would inspire Enter Naija: The Book of Places published on Brittle Paper, and in which my story About What Was: A Story of Port Harcourt is one of those in the anthology. It is the book of places and other essays he submitted to the website which endeared Ainehi Edoro to him and the subsequent offer to join her at Brittle Paper.

As much as I like to think that Brittle Paper did offer the writer and former deputy editor an opportunity for growth, nothing justifies the manner of treatment meted him even when there is the uniform testimony that he, in the past four years, has given his all to the growth and for the greater visibility of Brittle Paper.

To be treated and kicked out in such an embarrassing manner after several attempts by him to reach an understanding is in no small way demeaning and deserving of protest by all voices of conscience and truth, especially because it is the literary community we deal with here.

Hardly would you find young persons willing to participate in the vision of another so much that it begins to seem as though they are forgetting theirs. This, I believe, explains the frustration of Otosirieze and his statement on leaving Brittle Paper [].

While Ainehi’s response [] is a fine attempt to turn the tables, sympathy looking her way already, I like to think that it is intentionally erroneous thinking on her part to say that she pulled down the post because she feared a possible libel suit against Brittle Paper. And the legal angles, I have discussed with my lawyer friend, Okparaolu Chris, who insists that Ainehi’s clutch on the fear of a libel suit against Brittle Paper holds no water, as there was nothing libelous about Obi-Young’s expressed opinion over they way Thisday and Operanews chose to report the incidence that led to all this. For if Ainehi had genuine fears of an impending libel suit against Brittle Paper she should have expressed the same to Obi-Young, and they both probably would have consulted a lawyer who would have roundly dispelled such fears as there are defenses to libel.

To discard an employee in the manner Ainehi did contravenes all decency, and stands in mockery of all artists Brittle Paper claims to give a voice.

Beyond issuing a statement to tell her side of the story, Ainehi Edoro owes Otosirieze Obi-Young an apology, and until this is done I also request that every work bearing the name Sotonye Dan should be pulled down from the site, equally restricting the blog rights to use my stories in the anthologies I am published in, which are in turn published on the blog.