In my travels around the global literary scene, the question of a writerly identity has never seemed more precarious, conflicted, and urgent than with writers from Africa. More often than not, it is the writer—not the reader—who is fixated on the question: who or what is an African writer?
Perhaps it is the effect of four years spent as a DJ on my university's radio station, but events in the news often make me think of songs, and the coverage of France's Mali mission is bringing to mind the song “Franco-Unamerican” by the seminal California punk band NOFX. The song was written in 2003 and drips with sarcasm over the neo-conservative/interventionist foreign policy of then President George W. Bush.
‘An elemental narrative’ is the description we should use for a story that transcends genre. Our understanding of ‘elemental’ relates to what is ‘essential’ or ‘a basic part.’ It means that our elemental narratives always bear the premise that we are writing a ‘basic’ story that touches at the heart of who we are and what we have become. The goal of the writer will be to write a story that is as elemental as a shared humanity, those recognizable qualities that makes us human, and sometimes inhuman.
Ayodele is one of the most consistent Nigerian writers of the last half-decade. She’s the oldest writer in the Gambit series, although I wouldn’t want to ask her if she’s comfortable being grouped with younger colleagues. I figure that question would be answered with a wave of her hand; Ayodele gives the impression that even the most obvious of borders doesn’t exist. Meeting her in person, I was drawn to her infinite knowledge about everyone and everything in the literary world.
I first found Abdul’s name on African Writing, I think. I was then searching for writers to include in this project, writers who were, should I say, ‘within reach.’ Indeed, Abdul was. This conversation demonstrates, in an interesting way, how his creativity seems bared, in an open-ended way, so that it seems possible to discover the extent of his nuances.
It is best that Richard speaks for himself, that I present this conversation without remarks. For suddenly, in need of an introductory note, I find that I have none, and that Richard’s responses sparks of completeness. In fact, I had no reason to respond to his first responses – perhaps silenced by the lengthiness and profundity of each response. And knowing Richard, knowing him as the Chief Operating Officer of Parresia, publishers of my first book, and having met him only once, yet feeling that I have known him for a much longer time, I daresay that I expected to be knocked down by the weight and compulsiveness of his erudition.
Political violence has flared ahead of May 26 Lesotho elections, but Archbishop Desmond Tutu urges candidates to keep the peace and respect election results.
MASERU, Lesotho – Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the legendary anti-Apartheid activist and Nobel laureate, is officially retired from public life.
We began with an oral conversation, recorded with my phone, in her sitting room, since we happened to be in Ile-Ife together at the moment. A conversation that cannot be made public, at least for now, for the simple fact that we were so self-aware, so within the cocoon of our ‘literary ties.’ When I used those words – literary ties – Ayobami had a good laugh; earlier I had mentioned that I couldn’t extricate our friendship from our creative comradeship. This friendship, which has now spanned close to five years, began simply, when I asked her if she writes.
Their meeting made for some uncomfortable visuals as Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf defended a national law that criminalized homosexuality in front of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, long an advocate for gay rights, who was visiting Liberia in his capacity as the founder of the African Governance Initiative (AGI), a nonprofit dedicated to building the capacity of African governments. But the terse exchange masked a deeper, more serious question: should Western leaders try to impose their mora