Does ‘African Literature’ Really Exist (Part I)?

While creating this blog, I struggled to pick the appropriate words to explain its purpose. A book review blog for African Literature?. Or perhaps one for literature written by Africans. In all my effort, I was trying to avoid the term ‘African Literature’

This is why…

I’d first like to begin by saying that this post was solely inspired by the Ake Review Magazine (2013 Edition) published in celebration of the Ake Arts and Culture Festival 2013. Several authors were interviewed, and among the many other questions asked, one prodded my mind, throughout the entire week.

It plagued my intuitive beliefs with an infirmity, which has not rendered my vision of Africa myopic or deafened me to the amplitude of Africa’s literary profoundness but given me another paradigm to view the art of native story telling.

‘Does African Literature exist?’

Does it? It does right? If it didn’t, what injustice it would be for Africa’s writers to be checked into the ‘Others’ box. It surely can’t be.

Does it? It doesn’t. How could it ? How could the earth’s most multi-lingual continent be labelled with such ingratitude of its diversity. How demeaning, for a plethora of ethnic groups, dozens of religions and thousands of languages to be contained within a meagre intersection? How could it be compressed into a mere check box, ‘African Literature’.

When we talk about amazing contemporary authors who have set the bar for budding writers like myself, it is not geographical location that is the criteria for their validation, we simply see them for  the peculiarity of their work.

Suzanne Collins’ ‘The Hunger Games’ Trilogy isn’t termed American Literature at first reckoning, although it was written by an American

Let’s delve back a couple of centuries
Neither is Charles Dickens’ ‘A Tale Of Two Cities’ (a nineteenth century novel) slipped into the continental classification ‘European Literature’.

Continental Cookery, perhaps,
but Continental Literature?

Nah.


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