Why African Literature (& Culture).

By Marcelle Mateki Akita

Some of you may not be ‘bookaholics’ but literature of any kind, of any history, and of any culture does not limit itself wholly to the media of writing and print. Literature is an art form, and within its own bounds of beauty, cannot and should not have a restricted remit. You may think I’m a hopeless book-romantic and I am not ashamed to admit that. But it’s not just about books, it’s about the life and shape each literature takes and leaves with you. Afrikult. aims to present African Literature in its many forms. We believe that all literature from the African continent (and the African diaspora/descent) carry a part of our identities, an undeniable story, poem, song that relays our shared history, culture and philosophy. I was once a part of the large group of people in the West, of African-Arab descent, who was ignorant of the existence of African Literature (strictly in print). And through my discovery, the stories and conversations I have indulged in have had me (and still very much do) mind-blown.

I come from a mixed-background, constituting African, Arab and European inheritance. Did I grow up confused? No. I knew who I was; and if anything the constant reprimand from my parents and grandparents to speak Ga and Spanish fluently was always followed by a dish of fufu and lightsoup, contumbre, plantain and yam, or paella, or shawarma, or jollof rice (Ghanaian style of course). I was in love with the variety and infused with this confidence that I was literally what I ate. On special occasions, my father performed stories of Kwaku Ananse (the infamous shape-shifting trickster from Ghanaian Ashanti folktales) in my childhood and I remember going to a school book fair in year 3 and my mother found a collection of these stories in The tales of an Ashanti father by Peggy Appiah. My parents had no idea how much their investment would ground me to today. And this is what I find these stories do, they ground you in your understanding and appreciation of the diverse African continent, the histories, cultures, identities, polities and structures which irrefutably attract us to discover and learn more.

Then I matured into reading the likes of Achebe, Emecheta, Sabatini, Ata Aidoo, Dangaremba, Gordimer, wa Thiong’o, Mofolo, Mgqwetho and these writers challenged and groomed my appreciation of the continent and its subjects.

This is what Afrikult. is for. To challenge your perception of literature from the African continent and diaspora, to open up your understanding and appreciation for the various medias and languages the literature is packaged and presented to you (the listener, the reader, the viewer). To educate you on many misconceptions and popular debates illustrated within the literature and making it relevant in today’s society.

We are always learning ourselves, and hope that our discussions with you, and through your contributions, that we will also learn immensely from you.


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