I wish I could remember the first…I can only guess what it could have been. What I do remember about African literature from back in the day was my sentiment about how heavy the stories and themes were. I don’t know if it’s because colonialism and its after-effects were still fresh in the minds and lives of Africans such that it comes as no surprise the writers of that day and time wrote about living life invaded by the white man.
Aside the heavy feel of the plot, one thing I noticed was the use of big words by African writers. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was intentional of writers of that period to ‘show off’ how well they know the English language by writing long sentences with long words making up paragraphs.
Honestly, it was sort of a turn off for me at a point especially after having read some books by westerners and enjoying the stories despite the use of short sentences and simple words to convey the message.
However, one book carrying the soul of Africa that birthed in me the love for African literature was Chinua Achebe’s classic novel: Things Fall Apart. Unlike other books that you can read some pages and still be wondering “what is going on?”, the story captured my attention from the very beginning. I loved how the story unfolded with just the right amount of suspense to go with it.
I was drawn to it also because it was the one book my mother referenced having read and enjoyed and there was one line in it that she would often quote – unfortunately, I don’t remember it now. Although I read it way later, I understood why my mother couldn’t forget the book. It is indeed a work of art.
Thanks to Chinua Achebe and his contemporaries, the desire to tell stories of our homeland was unearthed in us, storytellers of this generation to keep history alive.
What was the first African literature you read and how did it influence your mindset towards African writers and works? Kindly share and thanks for reading.
© Josephine Amoako 2022