Literature, The Media and The Society: An Analysis of the Triangular Relationship in Habila’s Waiting for an Angel

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Life, Fiction and Journalism according to Conley (1998:56) represents an effective triangulation­­. Habila in Waiting for an Angel deploys this position in the creation of Morgan Street (which eventually becomes Poverty Street), Lomba and The Dial Magazine.

  This is portrayed in the diagram below.



 Lomba as representative of literature is a brilliant student of literature who dropped out from school. He goes into writing of a novel to express his disillusionment about the society which in essence contributed to his frustration and leaving of school. Lomba is not idle as he goes into teaching Literature and English but still life was altogether miserable to him. In his words:

For the past two years I had been locked in this room, in this tenement house, trying to write a novel. For my bread I taught English and Literature an hour daily, minus Sundays, in a school Cert preparatory class run by a woman who always looked at me suspiciously, as if wondering what I did for a living. I looked at the papers spilling out of a thick folder on my table. The words and the sentences joined end to end looked ominously like chains, binding me forever to this table. I felt a deep, almost fanatical loathing for them. Two years, and still no single sentence made sense to me. Standing by the window, staring at the manuscript, I felt, with epiphanic clarity, that if I sat down and picked up my pen and added a sentence more to this jumbled mass, I’d die. The uncompleted novel would grow hands of iron and strangle me to death (82).

Habila uses Lomba to reflect two things about literature. First, a great deal of writers of Literature after graduation hooks on to Journalism, some leaves it and go back to their writing career after having a footing while others remain and become the best in the profession. Conley (1998) reveals that “Australia’s early Novelists could not write fiction without the prop of Journalism in providing supplementary income” (47). In addition newspapers were and remain forums for critiquing, promoting and publishing literature. The Media also have served as a training ground for some of literatures greatest novelists including Dickens, Twain, Zola, Hemingway, Chinua Achebe (Currey 2008:27), Osofisan, Niyi Osundare, Kunle Ajibade etc.

Habila presents this relationship with Lomba the frustrated writer who eventually finds succor in the Dial Magazine. The Dial correspondingly becomes a mouthpiece and medium for Lomba’s creative ingenuity and feelings which he had long been waiting to express. The society at the last rung of these relationships that had been in a sort of sleeping mode quickly swings to action with Lomba’s article. Meanwhile literature is the reflection of the society meaning that society influences literature and correspondingly literature influences the society. Habila justifies this with Lomba who had lived on Poverty Street and influenced by it as a creative writer, he gets employed in the Dial and utilizing it as a media, Lomba re-influenced Poverty Street (Society).

          What Habila therefore shows in Waiting for an Angel is the fact that Literature and the media cannot be divorced from each other as they work hand in hand to impact positively on the society and ensure the masses’ rights are not denied them. No wonder their practitioners are both addressed as the conscience of the society. Habila hence scores high in this triangulation as portrayed in Waiting for an Angel.

***An Excerpt from Representations of The Media.. A Thesis by The author


Habila, H. 2002.Waiting for an Angel. Abuja: Cassava Republic press

 Conley, D. 1998. Birth of a Novelist, Death of a Journalist. Australian Studies in Journalism.        7: 46-73

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