WHY WE NEED MORE AFRICAN LITERATURE

WHY WE NEED MORE AFRICAN LITERATURE

 

I started reading at a very young age . Most of the books I was exposed to were foreign books. They were lovely but as  young as I was and even as I grew, it was hard to imagine a lot of things. The snow, and the weather, summer and winter, when I had never experienced it before. It was great to read foreign literature. It informed me about the lives and stories and of  others. I was also exposed to the wonders of the world beyond my boundaries and imagination.

As I continued to read, I felt an aching need to read something more about myself. To read a book and feel connected to the protagonist or even the antagonist. To understand their struggles and feel their pain because it was familiar to me. The words of Chimamanda Ngozie greatly describes the feeling of reading something that truly relates to you.  “My early writing mimicked the books I was reading: all my characters were white and all my stories were set in England.  Then I read Things Fall Apart. It was a glorious discovery. I did not know in a concrete way until then that people like me could exist in literature. Here was a book unapologetically African.”

 

My discovery

Over the past couple of years, I have spent  a big part of my reading-life, reading books authored by Africans. This had lead me on a path  of self-rediscovery. I have learnt a lot about my roots, the vague stories have been made clear. I have  also stumbled on some hard and bitter truths along the way. The themes of African literature is very diverse. Spanning from Colonialism, Liberation, Nationalism, Tradition, Displacement and Rootlessness to Patriotism. gender, human rights,Religion and politics.

African literatureconsists of a body of work in different languages and various genres. It ranges from oral literature to literature written in colonial languages (French, Portuguese, and English). Literature is a vital component of a community’s culture. It plays a huge and in the way of life of a particular group of people. This is exactly what African literature does, it holds the fabric of society together.

 

Famous African Writers

Famous  African writers like Wole Soyinka , Chinua Achebe , Ousmane Sembene , Kofi Awooner, Agostinho Neto , Tchicaya tam’si, Camera Laye set the pace for African literature to flourish. They showed us that our story matters. Their stories filled us with a sense of pride and belonging.

Chinua Achebe, one of the greatest African writers of all times said, ” African literature provides a necessary critical perspective on everyday experience. It  educates us on the meaning of our actions.  And offers us greater control over our social and personal lives as African.  African literature brings into light, the daily life experiences of the average African.

 

Why we need to read more African Literature

African literature is a representation of who we are, who we were and what we can become.  Shadreck Chikoti, is a  contemoporary malawian author. In his novel “Azotus the Kingdom”  he talks about how Africa would be in 500 years from now. Yaa Gyasi’s homegoing is an eye opener on the days of slavery in Ghana . Chinua Achebe’s Things fall apart counters images of African societies and peoples.  As they are represented within the Western literary tradition and reclaims his own and his people’s history.

We need African literature because no one can tell our stories better than we do. Through literature we can tell our stories and clear all doubts and misconceptions of the African continent. We can show the world outside what the real Africa is all about.  Our dreams and innovations, our successes and challenges.

African literature is essential because it will set a pace and encourage more writers to write about Africa. It will empower our voices , the voices of the young and old. It will give us a seat at the table and unearth the hidden talents of our young ones.  African literature essential to the pride and dignity of Africans. The best we can do as a people is to continue patronizing African literature. This will obviously encourage both the established writers and the up-and-coming writers not to give up on their trade. We need African literature so we can learn more about ourselves and about others.

 

 

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