As a journalist, author of ‘Edo State’s Struggle for Meaning’, Ope Adetayo, often encounters misconceptions about Africa: ‘I read a lot of reports on the so-called Global South, especially “Africa”, and what we have come to glorify is bad news, tragic news.’
First Draft is our interview column, featuring authors and other prominent figures on books, reading, and writing.
Our questions are italicized.
What books or kinds of books did you read growing up?
To be honest, I did not grow up around books. I grew up in the streets of Mushin in Lagos, where books and reading are strange because people are only trying to survive violence and poverty. In secondary school, I was in science class throughout. I recently transitioned to the humanities in the university where I am currently studying English after making a rebellious academic detour caused by my fascination with language and its ability to process my imagination in a way nothing else can. The only book I retained the memory of reading as a child is I.E Ufondu's The Fruit of Honesty. But in my teenagehood, I developed a habit of reading after coming in contact with Wole Soyinka’s Abiku, it was the first major literary piece I read and I was drawn into its vortex of meaning and mysticism. I then began to read African classics like Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Arrow of God; Wole Soyinka’s Kongi's Harvest, Death and the King’s Horseman, The Lion and the Jewel; Camara Laye’s African Child; Peter Abraham’s Mine Boy; Biyi Bandele’s Burma Boy; Buchi Emecheta’s Joys of Motherhood; Niyi Osundare’s Village Voices and Elechi Amadi’s The Concubine.
This first draft is available to online subscribers only. To read, buy a yearly subscription plan here and get 50% off your first year. Subscribe with the discount code: REPUBLICFLASH