Winner of the 2013 Caine Prize for African Writing, Tope Folarin is the recipient of writing fellowships from the Institute for Policy Studies and Callaloo, and he serves on the board of the Hurston/Wright Foundation. Tope was educated at Morehouse College, and the University of Oxford, where he earned two Master’s degrees as a Rhodes Scholar. He lives and works in Washington, DC.
Our heads move simultaneously, and we smile at the tall, svelte man who strides purposefully down the aisle to the pulpit. Once there, he raises both of his hands then lowers them slightly. He raises his chin and says let us pray. “Dear Father, we come to you today, on the occasion of this revival, and we ask that you bless us abundantly, we who have made it to America, because we know we are here for a reason. We ask for your blessings because we are not here alone. Each of us represents dozens, sometimes hundreds of people back home. So many lives depend on us Lord, and the burden on our shoulders is great. Jesus, bless this service, and bless us. We ask that we will not be the same people at the end of the service as we were at the beginning. All this we ask of you, our dear savior, Amen.”
The pastor sits, and someone bolts from the front row to the piano and begins to play. The music we hear is familiar and at the same time new; the bandleader punches up a pre-programmed beat on the cheap electronic piano and plays a few Nigerian gospel songs to get us in the mood for revival. We sing along, though we have to wait a few moments at the beginning of each song to figure out what he’s playing. We sing joyful songs to the Lord, then songs of redemption, and then we sing songs of hope, hope that tomorrow will be better than today, hope that, one day soon, our lives will begin to resemble the dreams that brought us to America.
Continue reading at the The Magunga.
- “Tope Folarin Finds His Place in the Literary World” by Krissah Thompson. The Washington Post. 23 July 2013.
- “Nigeria: What Caine Prize Means to Me.” Daily Trust. 14 July 2013.
- Interview. Brittle Paper. 5 June 2013.
- “The Caine Prize’s Prehistories: Tope Folarin’s ‘Miracle'” by Jeffrey Zuckerman. The Airship. 31 May 2013.
- Interview. How Rhodes Scholars Think. 14 November 2007.
Living in a Precarious World: Art, Labor, and the New Economic Precarity | April 1, 2014 Writing Precarity
Seminar | February 11, 2014
Reading | February 11, 2014
Tope Folarin has participated in: