Sunday, February 6, 2011
Of African Writers and their Uncles
I love Ikhide. I truly do. He reminds of me of one kind of masquerade in my town, Amokwe, called Obute. Obute embodies energy in any way you choose to think of. Whenever it arrives at a gathering he sends every one, man, woman, old young running for their dear lives. Some sprint like the Jamaican Usain Bolt; some others just manage to hobble out of Obute's way. In the end though, when the Obute-storm is over, people gather to laugh about it, happy to have experienced that cathartic moment. That's one of the reasons we have masquerade festivals.
Whenever Ikhide writes, people's hearts palpitate. You have to laugh, sigh, curse, praise. Some said he's a child of God; some others claimed he must be the anti-Christ. Some have even told me they would love to punch him down below, eh? You know where.
Okay, the point is this: Ikhide knows how to rabblerouse. And he is not afraid of stepping on people's toes: See, for instance:
"When you examine African writing or writing from the writers of African extraction, one thing is clear; it is blessed with an abundant narrowness of range and vision. There is the understandable obsession with everything African. In their writings, huts, moons, stars, fearsome masquerades, wars and malevolent spirits come tumbling out, chased by constipated army generals."
The introductory part of his essay seems to have been specially designed to wake the slumbering Jack. He talks about the white man organizing parties for African writers:
"I call these gatherings pity parties because after a few glasses of cheap red wine, the writers become weepy and whiny."
Okay, these African writers become whinny after downing glasses of red wine?
The last sentence of that paragraph is confessional: "I love cheap red wine."
One might wonder whether he also loves to whine.