DISCLAIMER: I’m about to cuss a lot. And my sentences might not be constructed properly.
Okay, so in the early hours of yesterday, someone was hungry, tired and bored, so she decided to make a thread on twitter about African literature that would change the way a lot of people viewed the genre.
No, not the good kind.
She decided to put down African literature in a way that i feel is insulting, degrading and very very presumptuous. Yeah yeah, it’s twitter and yeah there’s freedom of expression, but you can’t just say that shit and not expect to get backlash. But of course, many of us that were not in support, were so nice (except Tony of course) and so there was no real trailer jam.
I will tell you why her tweets bugged me.
At first, when someone brought my attention to the series of tweets, i was like, “she definitely hasn’t read a lot of books” but apparently, she’s widely read and even studied literature in college.
Anyway, i had the whole day to think about it before i decided i was angry. I literally woke up in the middle of the night to write this.
How it all started:
what?? she actually said all the audience wants are old themes of colonialism. When has anyone brought forth any other genre and we said, “please take back your book/story, we only like books written on colonialism, racism, the African abroad (i think she meant the usual immigration porn lol), political turmoil and the civil war.”
Let me explain this to you girl.
The reason why these themes are recurring is many writers want to pass a message across with their stories or books, and as someone pointed out to you, there are too many African struggles to not try to make a change. and even when there are a billion stories on that particular theme, when someone sees there’s a gap that has not been bridged or a perspective that hasn’t been covered, they try to do that with their stories. Bite me. Many of the other diverse books you’re reading do it even if you’re not seeing it. Even Nnedi Okorafor, in her stories, tries to pass across a message. That had always been the point, that’s why Wole Soyinka is so relevant.
I get it too. why isn’t there a story that’s just romance, or fantasy. Oh, but there are, girl. there are.
This was what sparked a lot of anger i guess. I read a lot, and everyday i’m trying to find different types of African writing that have been lost somewhere and so i know these genres DO exist. and i think it’s even more degrading to writers who consider these themes as their niche.
The only problem i will agree with is that many of the themes haven’t blossomed into books yet. Most of them are stories, so you just have to know the right platform to go to, to find them.
Okay, so i didn’t disagree on this one and i think people misinterpreted it. You know how Elnathan John said “Having a glossary in your book is like explaining yourself after sex”? yeah i think that’s how she felt.
How many African novels have you read please????? Because i don’t think polygamous families have EVER been downplayed o. and which one is this ‘stop making men look bad’ thing? i hope she isn’t generalizing because of Chimamanda’s Purple Hibiscus because Chimamanda herself said in her 2009 Ted talk that if you assume that African men are naturally wife beaters, alcoholics, etc, just because you read a book that leaned towards that direction then you have a single story problem.
I swear, if this was about gay literature all along, i would just be more pissed. For real? This was actually how she ended her rant. This is not a legit problem o. I was literally telling my roommate the other day that gay literature is really taking over. Creative liberty and freedom of expression, i guess. This is something i don’t entirely identify with, but seriously, THERE IS GAY AFRICAN LITERATURE EVERYWHERE!
Just google it.
She now tried to downplay it with a shout out! Ha!
There goes Nnedi Okorafor saying my mind. Nnedi was offended. This is her forte. you can’t just be coming in here to tell her trash like i wish there was African Fantasy and sci-fi. She has like a million stories/books on them. She’s one of the writers that actually has books on these genres. You can ask anyone, i have been fangirling so i know.
Yup, she was really upset.
So, because the controversial words were not so factual and were pretty much outdated, i recommend that she get an agent. Someone to recommend good African literature to her since i really don’t know what she has been reading. (Read works from Othuke Ominiabohs, Chinelo Okparanta, NNEDI OKORAFOR, Pemi Aguda, Helon Habila, to mention a few.)
And girl, if you plainly do not like or enjoy African literature, just come out and say so. No one will kill you. (Except, the few that would probably try to change your mind by giving you unsolicited recommendations).
Please don’t tell me to calm down, African Literature is the LOML.
I think i have finished my rant. I will try not to do this too often.
I took the liberty of dropping a few delicious stories on here that i absolutely enjoyed, and do not follow the “usual” theme. Tell me what you think.
Who will greet you at home- Lesley Nneka Arimah (published in the New Yorker)
Birdwoman- Pemi Aguda (published in Omenana)
Rusties- Nnedi Okorafor (published in Clarkesworld Magazine)
Have a bristling-free friday y’all!