Page 20 - May 2021 Litterateur
P. 20

Around the world
                   Other notable examples of ‘immigrant literature’ include:                                    Afroplitanism, Diasporic
                   Behold  the  Dreamers(2016)  by  Imbolo  Mbue;  How  to                                   Literature and Africa’s Secret

                   Read  the  Air  (2011)  by  Dinaw  Mengestu;  On  Black                                             Literary War
                                                                                                                       Alexander Nderitu
                   Sister’s Street (2007) by Chika Unigwe; Open City (2011)

                   by Teju Cole; Foreign Gods, Inc. (2014) by Okey Ndibe;
                   Harare  North  (2009)  by  Brian  Chikwava;  The  Beautiful

                   Things  That  Heaven  Bears  (2007)  by  Dinaw  Mengestu;

                   The Consequences of Love (2008) by Sulaiman Addonia;
                   and        the       much-touted             Americanah             (2013)         by

                   Chimamanda  Adichie  Ngozi.    Speaking  at  The  PEN

                   World Voices Festival (2017), Chimamanda Adichie said:

                               ‘My sensibilities were largely shaped by Nigeria. I didn’t come into the

                               US until I was 19. There’s a kind of distance it affords me when I look at
                               the US.’




                   There’s  anything  wrong  with  immigrant  literature,  per  sé.  Suspicion  and

                   frustration  come  in  when  Diasporic  literatures  and  scribes  are  seemingly
                   privileged over their continental counterparts. For example, in 2018 nearly all of

                   the nominees for the Brunel International African Poetry Prize were based in the

                   Diaspora! A scathing article titled ‘Brunel Shortlist 2018 Controversy: The Politics

                   of  Being  Too  Black’,  published  online  by  Information  Nigeria  news  portal,
                   encapsulated the frustration felt by continental literati. ‘The events of the past few

                   days have convinced me to believe that Brunel is a pseudo-African platform,’ the

                   article said, in part, ‘…with a twisted view to ridicule, re-colonise and downgrade
                   African writers domiciled in Africa. If a poetry competition as Brunel (I had rated

                   as impressive) stoops so low as to shortlist poems for its poetry prize based not

                   on the basis of excellence but who has had “access to creative writing education

                   and a literature development culture outside of the continent, especially in the US
                   and  UK”…then  African  poetry  is  dead  on  arrival…What  it  means  in  layman’s

                   language is that a majority of African writers who are talented will be ignored for

                   the fact that they are not privileged to have access to creative writing education

                   abroad.’  Strong  words,  but  the  author  appears  to  have  a  genuine  point.  And
                   apparently,  the  learn-about-Africa-by-proxy  system  shockingly  extends  even  to

                   academia.  In  an  article  titled  ‘Her  Mission:  to  Bring  African  Books  to  a  Global

                   Audience’,  Henrik  Alfredsson  quotes  British  publisher  Mary  Jay  (African  Books
                   Collective) as saying:


                                   ‘Surprisingly  few  are  aware  of  the  importance  of  encouraging  and

                                   supporting  African  publishing,  even  in  the  academic  world  of  the
                                   Global North. Today in many UK universities, and probably elsewhere

                                   in  the  world  as  well,  you  can  take  a  degree  or  master’s  in  African

                                   Studies without reading a single book published in Africa.’

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                             REDEFINING WORLD
                          EDITED BY SHAJIL ANTHRU
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