Page 17 - May 2021 Litterateur
P. 17

Around the world

                               Afroplitanism, Diasporic

                     Literature and Africa’s Secret

                                                      Literary War

                                         Alexander Nderitu,Kenya

                A line from the recent, much-hyped rap battle between Math Hoffa and Method

                Man  made  me  think  about  contemporary  African  literature.  Hoffa,  a  battle  rap

                veteran, said: ‘There’s no love for over there, just this side.’ He was implying that
                although  his  opponent,  a  Wu-Tang  Clan  member,  is  more  famous  and

                accomplished, he (Method) is a tourist in the world of creative verbal jousts and

                would therefore never be fully embraced by its purists.

                Which  brings  me  to  the  Cold  War  pitting  modern  African  writers  living  on  the

                continent  against  those  in  the  Diaspora.  In  African  literary  supplements  and

                literary blogs, there is a growing sentiment by African-based authors and poets
                that their Diaspora-based contemporaries are being given undue attention at the

                expense of writers who actually live and work on the continent. Some of these

                ‘diasporic writers’, they argue, have lived abroad so long that their ‘Africanness’

                must  have  been  diluted.  They  therefore  lack  the  moral  authority  to  represent
                African  views  or  sensibilities.  If  you  want  to  experience  African  literature,  they

                ask, why don’t you read or listen to the words of a scribe who actually lives on

                the continent?

                Some diasporic authors  (some  of  whom  earned  literary  recognition  by  winning

                Africa-centric foreign awards) initially travelled abroad in order to pursue higher

                education,  to  find  work,  as  refugees,  or  on  fellowships/scholarships.  The
                problem, their detractors say, is that they stayed there so long that they might as

                well consider themselves residents of their adopted countries.

                Another  category  of  ‘diasporic  African  writers’  consists  of  academics/scholars
                who have long-term jobs in universities/institutes abroad (or are in exile) and who

                have         lived       there        so       long       that       they        are       considered            ‘visiting

                professors/scholars/intellectuals’ when they return to continental Africa! Some of
                them have lived abroad for decades and have families there.

                  Litterateur                                          17

                             REDEFINING WORLD
                          EDITED BY SHAJIL ANTHRU
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