African literature is experiencing a paradigm shift from the old ideals to new ones. It is in a stage of rediscovery as it sheds off old notions of humanity and adorns fresh garments of new shades of colours.
It was at a round table discussion—a tête-à-tête, I could describe it—with Temi Etomi, the MD of RedWire Media Consulting and another lady who I assumed was her PA. I had been invited for an interview with them. In a twist during the questioning, Temi, her face screwed up in the manner of many job interviewers around here, asked me: what fascinates you most in the world today?
At that moment, I didn’t think this question to be so important, but I’d learn its importance soon enough. My answer, admittedly, was one that stemmed from the place of a cornered animal, but an answer, too, that had lain fallow but well-tended somewhere in a part of my mind. I replied: African literature and the growth of the African writer. I explained that the growth of the twenty-first-century African writer has been outstanding. As a reader, I felt as though, increasingly, I plunged into a refreshing vista of African writing, in particular, prose fiction—which, though many may dispute, I believe is the most common and read literary genre in Africa today, asides poetry, of course. African literature has grown, is growing.
Africa is the birthplace of timeless stories. From the hieroglyphic writings in Egyptian monuments to the stories passed down from word of mouth by sages long gone, Africa has always told stories. We certainly can’t ignore the masquerade dances, rituals and festivals where beautiful stories were also told in performances and songs. The Eyo, Ojude-Oba, Iwa Ji festivals in Nigeria; Kundum, Ohum, Danyiba festivals in Ghana and numerous others are only few examples.
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