I am reminded of six years ago. I had just flown into Johannesburg from Kampala. I was in Johannesburg to do a screen test for a TV series about Botswana. Before the screen test was over I had already landed one of the lead roles. Of course I was elated, mostly because even though I was enjoying an award-winning acting career on-Broadway and off-Broadway in New York City, I still had the firm desire to do something at home. A week later I was in Gaborone, script in hand, and ready to film. Then an email from the series producers popped up on my phone saying that after “much careful thought and consideration” I had been dropped from the production for “not looking African enough.” The news was more infuriating than disappointing. I found myself wishing they had told me that I had been dropped because I had not been a good enough actor during the screen tests, or that I was asking for too much money. But to say that I did not fulfil some British self-styled Africanist director’s zoological notion of what an African looks like was to abuse even my ancestors. I tell you, Upright African, you and I must write and perform many-many stories about the Africa we know where my perfect teeth are not remarkable.
A rough gem long abandoned on the wayside waiting to be known. The Trouble Causer sends us on a journey into the wilderness of the African past, where land, man and animal shares close communion. It tells of the tale of Bugeiga, a rich cattle herder of the Mugirakwe clan whose vanity and pride results in a cycle of bitter rivalry, forced migration and disharmony between clansmen and old friends. Reminiscent of the ancient tales told around the fire side, the Ugandan writer, Solomon Kubeshenga presents an intricate web of history, myths and fables that beautifully unravels the customs and traditions that bind precolonial African societies together. Continue reading “Bite-size Review: The Trouble Causer | Solomon Kubeshenga”
‘I am not African because I was born in Africa but because Africa was born in me’ – Kwame Nkrumah
There is no denying that when Africa is mentioned an image or sense of familiarity hits each and every one of us. Concerns towards the state of Africa transcend fixed geographical contours on the globe, stemming from various global constituencies; those associated with the continent by interest, birth or descent. When speaking of Africa, it is often personal and in fact affective. Continue reading “Who Named the Continent?”
Over the past couple of years, I have spent a big chunk of my reading-life, reading and even sometimes re-reading books authored by Africans. This has got nothing to do with me being over-patriotic or too nepotistic but rather in a nutshell as a means of self-rediscovery, or in other words rediscovering my African-ness. The relish with which I jump unto my next book or at an opportunity to buy quality African books at a bargain price has grown fervently if not dramatically with time. The question on why African literature is important, is one that has lingered in the labyrinth of my mind for quite sometime and I find this medium offered by Afrikult. requisite to word my thoughts on this very topic.
My journey towards African literature began with; Homer, Shakespeare Kipling, Conrad, Hemingway and Naipaul. From their works, I found disturbing depictions of Africa and African people. Yet in fitting with the hegemonic cultural trends of my age, I doggedly charted along the English literary canons, hoping to earn the mark of a literary esthete. I learnt of the magnificence of Greek civilisation; arts, politics and science, perused the brilliance and fragility of the Roman Empire and pathologically admired the ‘civilised’ callousness of western powers, especially in the fervent days of colonialism. Continue reading “Why African Literature: In Search of the Self.”
Every so often the debate on African literature redraws the discursive boundaries in attempt to either redefine or reinforce what African literature is or should be? The drama often commence with a celebrated writer exhorting common and emerging textual trends as transgressive. Continue reading “In Defence of African literature!”
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. Continue reading “Why African Literature (& Culture).”
Exquisitely executed, Cole offers a fresh voice and talent to the African literature scene. His debut novel Open City presents an insight into a young Nigerian doctor who encounters and recollects conversations that he had with strangers and patients. Each conversation reveals meditation of history, social class, culture and the individual experience. Continue reading “Bite-size Review: Open City | Teju Cole”
House of Hunger as the title of Marechera’s novella effectively captures the cynicism and despair of Zimbabwe’s sociopolitical reality at the time of Ian Smiths controversial administration. Society is ‘hungry’ for political self-determination and retribution; yet through the skilfully crafted narrative it becomes more than just a comment on society, Marechera unapologetically forces his reader to critically engage with the enormity of colonialism’s impact. The repetitive use of visceral language combined with the powerful imagery it evokes creates a stagnant and cramped environment in which the unnamed protagonist and his counterparts attempt to survive. Continue reading “Bite-size Review: The House of Hunger | Dambudzo Marechera”