Interesting commentary in Saturday’s NEXT.
Ikhide R. Ikheloa writes:
Every now and then, the white man, cursed with too much money in his pockets, rounds up all the African writers he can find and sends them off to a conference somewhere exotic and romantic (rarely ever in black Africa) and instructs them to engage in discourse on the African situation. These writers are usually resident abroad, away from Africa’s unnecessary roughness. I call these gatherings pity parties because after a few glasses of cheap red wine, the writers become weepy and whiny and start making pathetic statements about, the burden of being an African writer or a writer of colour, the limitations such labels clamp on them and their long suffering muses, whine, whine, whine. I wish they would invite me to these affairs. I love cheap red wine.
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 most unprincipled of them hawk these exotica to the delight of bored suburbanites in the West. Distance and time don’t seem to matter to these folks. If you have been in America for three decades, rarely going home to visit, what about contemporary Africa would inspire you to write an African story worth reading?
Indeed, the sad truth is that the story of modern Africa is a single story of deprivation, pillage, abuse and mayhem in the hands of her black misrulers. The white man did not invent today’s single story, we did. He may have come over to our ancestral land to upend the mango cart, but today we are the ones raping, and pillaging Africa and generally making life miserable for our people. That is the single story. It is virtually impossible to write about anything else.
What are your thoughts? Is he right that the story of modern Africa is a single story of “deprivation, pillage, abuse and mayhem in the hands of her black misrulers?” How can we juxtapose his assertions with Chimamanda’s arguments of the Danger of a single story? Can both arguments co-exist? Does Africa have a single story?
Image via NEXT