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The Naked Gods


A display of power and self-aggrandizement of academics in the quest for the position of the Vice-Chancellor of the newly established Songhai University temporarily headed by an American, Dr. Mal Wilson.

The Naked Gods was first published in 1970, one of a series of novels by Chukwuemeka Ike. It can be described as a sophisticated African campus comedy and is set on the brand-new campus of a first local (and therefore “national”) university in the mythical country of Songhai, where a four-way tug-of-war is underway among two ambitious local academics, the American faction (led by the vice-chancellor) and the British lobby (led by the registrar).

A prize-winning author in his country of origin and also king of an Aro town in Eastern Nigeria, Ike is an alumnus of Ibadan University and his writing has a sophisticated satirical edge. The topic of education clearly lies close to his heart: not only does it feature in several novels of his substantial fictional oeuvre, but it is also the topic of his scholarly text University Development in Africa: The Nigerian Experience, as it is of a book which he co-edited – University of Nigeria 1960–85: An Experiment in Higher Education. Ike is therefore as eminently suited to write about the intricacies of local university politics as he is about the (inter)national political and cultural dimensions of setting up and developing an institution of higher learning in an Anglophone African country as the text of The Naked Gods proves him to be.

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