I have observed with interest and then consternation how the African literary landscape has been dominated with fiction in the past two decades or so. Fiction is now the in thing, and there are not a few awards available, including awards from western patrons. Yet, while Africans, especially youngsters on social media, entertain themselves with fiction, and basking in the illusion of intellectual awareness, ignorance continue to rise in leaps and bounds.
Ignorance of actual history. Ignorance of key international political, cultural and policy issues that have great consequences on the African continent and on individual citizens.
And no I am not slating fiction. It has its place in advancing literacy and in illuminating the complex dynamics of attitude and emotions of the human personality. It often play critical role in its imaginative portrayals of the human condition, and even history. Fiction has its place, but it is fiction.
Ok, so what brought about the mid morning “rant”? I was looking for books (especially those written by Africans) on the French colonial pact. The only title I could find was “The Servitude of the Colonial Pact” by Mamadou Koulibaly. I could not find any link to purchase the book online, only an interview of its author. Yet, the issue book addressed is one of the most significant issues of modern times, on the same level, if not more so, than the apartheid in South Africa: how France continues to, in effect, colonise more than a dozen African countries, 5 decades about proclamation of colonial independence. It sounds a much worse tale than that of 100 years segregation after the American proclamation of independence.
Throughout history, proponents of evil ideologies try to reinvent or reposition themselves and their evil ideology. Slavers repositioned themselves under segregation. Racism reinvents itself to apartheid. Nazism is now transforming itself to identity politics. Fascists are the new patriots. The French ended colonialism only in name. Now they called it a pact.
All of this is going on while you amuse yourself with the next seedy story in a paperback. It’s alright. No, it isn’t.
If you have come across any good non fiction, especially one written by an African, please Indicate in the comment section below. And I hasten to say I have absolutely nothing against non African authors of fiction. In fact, most of the non fiction I’ve read are by non African writers. I am asking simply because non fiction writers from the continent are hard to come by (and I’m not talking about lightweight self-help books). So please help. For my part I am making a commitment for the next 12 months at least, that three out of four books I will buy will be non fiction.