What is the purpose of “African literature”?
Folks should simply read what they fancy, and not feel pressured to read “African literature.” Some of it is good, please enjoy; however, much of what passes for “African literature” in books, is self-serving minstrelsy for the benefit of a Western [read White] paying middle class. It neither entertains nor informs the African readership. They have social media for that.
I wish people would stop asking me the question: “Why won’t you write a book?” Na who book epp for Africa? Who will read my book? I have zero interest in satisfying Western middle class craving for minstrelsy dressed in pretty prose. Random House will not see a sentence from me, nonsense. My house is burning and you want me to ignore the hell and make you happy, abi? Why should I lecture Babylon on their prejudices when I sit atop mountains on black on black oppression in Nigeria? Why? I say to the West: Keep your money jor. I don’t need the money, I am independently destitute.🚶🏿
Thank God for Facebook and Twitter. Millions of Africans are reading and writing there. Entertaining and educating themselves. Mostly for free. Last week, I was telling Aaron Bady that I found something really fascinating he’d written on African literature in a “journal.” I was made to pay almost $20 to read it, I could not print it, I could barely copy excerpts. For $20! How many Africans can afford that nonsense? I should at least be able to print what I paid for. How’s that helping African literature? Someone else, I forgot who just wrote a book, and is charging almost $90 for the book. Who will buy it? Not me. And I can afford to. We are fooling ourselves!
My mother is an avid reader but she will not spend 3,500 Naira on a book. She would call that madness. All we are doing is entertaining middle class white folks. And that’s fine, let’s just call it what it is!