So I’ve been working on a piece that I thought was going to be a simple blog article highlighting my own refusal to join voices that suggest African Literature can be categorized into two head branches: Achebe versus Soyinka. This is not only wrong but downright shallow, a reductive element that I believe has roots in western thinking, as I intend to explain later on. The danger of condemning a whole continent’s literature or writing style into dichotomies is very much alive in the North American mind. Think of all the North American writing that is categorized as minimalist versus … as if writers and literary critics in the United States, in all their diversity, could be satisfactorily confined into two writing types. Sometimes I laugh at such incongruous and insalubrious labeling.
Back to African Literature, it is the same unhealthy confinement that has assumed the task of classifying the continent’s literature as Achebean or Soyinkan, going as far as asking emerging writers to identify their allegiances and fasten their masts on either ship. Incredible! What is worse is that some writers have taken it to heart and are doing exactly that. I’m not done with my piece yet, which is beginning to resemble an essay with endnotes and what not. While it waits, I came across this Soyinka interview in the Vanguard and said whoa, it hits home, and breaks the mold of being silent about the dead, or the debates worth having. Would like to know what the voices out there think.