Sunday, December 27, 2015

Did African Decolonization Set Africa Backwards?

Why is it that each time Robert Mugabe is criticized for being a dictator he turns to accuse Britain and the West of having colonized Africa?

"Decades after the end of colonialism, Africa seems well positioned to evaluate the successes or failures of Africa as a continent of liberated people. Nearly all analyses of African liberation movements have rightly highlighted the glories of decolonisation; very few have stressed its pitfalls. This article examines the negative moral consequences of certain philosophical assumptions of the African decolonisation process. Of particular interest in this inquiry is the frame of mind of African actors of decolonisation who eventually became the political and intellectual leaders of their countries. How might we conceive of the African moral subject within the contexts both of decolonisation and as a member of the global community in the twenty-first century? What, if anything, can Africa learn from the missteps of the decolonisation process?"


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Afropolitans Are Coming

What does it me to be Afropolitan?

Finding beauty in otherness: The issue therefore is no longer how different we are from others, but rather what we can learn from them, from what we have in common with them. This implies a conscious effort to affirm something in others and to seek to relate to them. Let it be the starting point of encounter. The first question Afropolitans ask when they encounter other people is: what do I (or can I) have in common with this person? The next question is: what is beautiful or admirable in this other? The third is: what can I learn from this person? By the time they have answered all these questions, the issue of how they are different from that person would have taken care of itself. Difference becomes merely a reference point of individuality and respect rather than a point of exclusion of the other.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

African Poetry Book Prize


The submissions are open now through December 1st. Here's the submissions information—if you wouldn't mind posting? The below text has links included to the Submittable account where writers can submit their manuscripts:

Every year Prairie Schooner's sister organization, the African Poetry Book Fund, publishes the first book of an African poet. The inaugural Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets was awarded to Clifton Gachagua of Kenya for his book Madman at Kilifi. The 2014 prize went to Somalian-American poet Ladan Osman's The Kitchen Dweller's Testimony. The 2015 winner was Ethiopian-American Mahtem Shiferraw, whose book Fuchsia is due out this coming spring from University of Nebraska Press and Amalion Press in Senegal. This trio of books represents the exciting range of new and dynamic African voices that are being heard thanks to the work of the African Poetry Book Fund.
 The Sillerman Prize is again open for submissions through December 1st, so if you’re eligible, please send your manuscript (and if you know any other writers who are, please spread the word). The winner receives USD $1,000 and publication through University of Nebraska Press. The contest is judged by the African Poetry Book Fund Editorial Board, including Kwame Dawes, Chris Abani, Matthew Shenoda, John Keene, Gabeba Baderoon, and Bernardine Evaristo. Only poetry submissions in English can be considered. Translated work is acceptable, but a percentage of the prize will be awarded to the translator. Manuscripts should be at least 50 pages, and eligible writers may submit more than one manuscript. Finally, no entry fee is required to submit to the contest. Click here for more details.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Reverse Missionaries: Are African Churches Exporting Homophobia to the West? - Leo Igwe

In recent years, the issue of gay rights in Africa has generated intense debate and discussions. Some countries have tried to tighten the laws against homosexuality and prohibit same sex marriage. They claim homosexuality is an evil, corrupt and immoral lifestyle which western societies are trying to impose on African nations.


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Feminist Empathy -African Feminism

My article on Lola Shoneyin's important novel, "The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives."

How can best appreciate the works of the new generation African women writers?
This is my take on one of them, "The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives"


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

On EC Osondu’s This House is Not for Sale, jollof rice and all that jazz - Ikhide

Osondu toys with innovation in this book and he is successful at it. The mansion “Family House” that houses all these characters is a living, breathing, brooding character in its own right, ruled by Grandpa, the patriarch, mafia don, fixer and enforcer. It is a rowdy house, the reader gets the impression that it is a house of umpteen rooms. Many people come to this house in this mythical city to try their fortunes, seek solace from terror, flee their demons, and in a few cases, their crimes. “Family House” is a not-so-mute witness to life, dishing out opinions through its many characters that live in her. As an experiment in writing out of the box of orthodoxy, Osondu pulled that off nicely." Ikhide

Monday, August 10, 2015

Chigozie Obioma’s The Fishermen – and sordid tales

Chigozie Obioma’s debut work of fiction, The Fishermen, Chigozie Obioma’s is a work of muscular industry and prodigy, and it is also an incredibly frustrating book, more on that later.  Obioma is one powerful storyteller. In this book, things fall apart in the worst possible way, over and over again for a Nigerian family of eight, with the first four sons the chief protagonists in this story from hell. This unusual book documents the family’s free fall into one grim tragedy after the other. This family is a country song, a sad country song.  The Fishermen is a powerful and tragic coming of age book and Obioma writes as if he is looking through hell’s windows. As an aside, Obioma is incredibly well-read, his vocabulary is intimidating; that alone is enough reason to buy the book, your SAT scores will soar.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

African literature: Caine Prize winner stages small 'mutiny' by sharing bounty

The Caine Prize Winner shares her prize money among her fellow shortlisted writers.

Speaking to the Monitor after the prize ceremony, Serpell praised the form. “For me the short story is a feminist form, and that’s for a very simple reason: women often don’t have time to write in more than short bursts, and short stories are more amenable to that than novels. Because it’s so contained, it’s also a form that has the potential to be extremely powerful as a form of political and social critique.”


Monday, July 6, 2015

Why are Nigerians terrified of same-sex marriage in America?

At the October 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Perth, Australia, British Prime Minister David Cameron told African leaders that if they resisted homosexuality in their countries, they risked losing aid money from the United Kingdom. Those words registered quite highly on the scale of African indignation. From Ghana to Zimbabwe to Uganda, commentators, columnists and government officials encouraged Cameron to zoom off to hell with his aid.

A good read.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Taiye Selasi: stop pigeonholing African writers

In November last year, I joined Chinelo Okparanta, author of the collection Happiness, Like Water, on a panel called “In This Way Comes Morning: New Writing of the West African Diaspora”. It was the second of a series. (Note: where the other six readings matched writers on the basis of their writing, for example Claire Vaye Watkins and Ruth Ozeki on “Weaving Fact into Fiction”, we were paired for our African-ness alone.) At the reception, Okparanta spoke of a reader who criticised her story “Runs Girl” for its depiction of a Nigerian hospital plagued by power outages. Okparanta, who lives in Maryland, spent weeks with her aunt in a Port Harcourt hospital; she explained that her description was accurate. The reader was implacable. “You’re writing poverty porn,” he insisted.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Liberating ourselves from our liberators

Yes, April was the cruelest month in South Africa in recent history. In the mid weeks of the month, too many pictures stirred up bad memories. A black man in his late twenties kissing a sparkly machete. A young man crouching by the side of a wall, holding a sharp knife, ready to use. A group of angry black men brandishing hatchets. Three white policemen pointing their guns at a bloodthirsty mob. If a picture is worth a thousand words, the last one is a dictionary. Three white policemen ready to shoot black men, who were after other black men in South Africa. There can be no greater irony. You can hear Queen Victoria saying: I told you so. These people needed to be protected from themselves


Friday, May 15, 2015

Coming of Age in the Time of the Hoodie

"Before we were married, my husband asked me if I identified as “black.” I remember thinking this an odd question. I thought it should be obvious that I identified as black even though I was, “technically,” half black and half white. But right there, in the making of the half-black and half-white observation, was, perhaps, where some of my husband’s concerns lay. What I didn’t fully appreciate at the time was the history behind my husband’s question. He had grown up in apartheid Rhodesia where he experienced segregation and racism very much as African Americans would have experienced it in 1960s America. It was important, therefore, for my husband to feel reassured, especially for the sake of any future children, that they would feel secure in their “race.” I, in contrast, raised in Nigeria during the 1970s and ’80s, did not grow up with race as a defining element of my upbringing or identity. Nigeria has no history of apartheid and no established tradition of societies structured along racial lines"

Sarah Ladipo Manyika

Insightful essay. Worth the read.


Monday, April 27, 2015

South Africa is not all about Xenophobia

Watching the news recently, one would be tempted to believe that South Africa is just about the angry Zulu boys going after blacks from other African nations. It is ugly. There is no getting around that fact. It is also sad that South Africa has Zuma as her president. One can only hope that Z is truly the last letter in the English alphabet.

Zuma's time will come to pass. The question is: what next? What ideas will guide Zuma's successor? And that brings me back to the idea that South Africa is more than spontaneous violent outbursts of xenophobia. South Africa is still the land of Mandela and Tutu and of TRC despite its flaws.

In the past two decades, South Africans have produced  more comprehensive ideas about the future of the continent than the whole of Africa combined.

I have put together some brilliant ideas by some of South Africa's leading thinkers on the future of their country, Africa, and the world.

"Transcultural affinity: thoughts on the emergent cosmopolitan imagination in South Africa."


Saturday, April 25, 2015

South Africa Turns on Its Immigrants

The recent outbreak of xenophobic violence (in South Africa)is a direct consequence of (the political) compromises (of the early 1990s). Usually labeled a “miracle transition,” the early 1990s were actually a period of tremendous violence in KwaZulu-Natal and around Johannesburg. The unrest was fueled in part by the apartheid government’s efforts to sustain itself by promoting rivalries between the country’s “traditional” or tribal authorities and the nationalists affiliated with Nelson Mandela’s A.N.C.


Friday, April 24, 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015

"Ghana Must Go"

Thirty years ago, Nigeria ordered up to 2 million illegal immigrants to leave the country within a few weeks.



Sunday, April 19, 2015

Belonging–why South Africans refuse to let Africa in

In the early years after I got ‘home,’ it took me some time to figure out how to respond to the idea that Africa was a place that began beyond South Africa’s borders. I was surprised to learn that the countries where I had lived – the ones that had nurtured my soul in the long years of exile – were actually no places at all in the minds of some of my compatriots. They weren’t geographies with their own histories and cultures and complexities. They were dark landscapes, Condradian and densely forested. Zambia and Kenya and Ethiopia might as well have been Venus and Mars and Jupiter. They were undefined and undefined-able. They were snake-filled thickets; impenetrable brush and war and famine and ever-present tribal danger.

An interesting read.