African Literature on Facebook

A few weeks ago a dear friend asked me if I could help admin a page on Facebook.


It has taken over my life! I LOVE IT.

Our little family has grown by leaps and bounds, and the people who have joined and are actively participating in discussions surprise me with their passion every day.

Africans have long been accused of being the bane of African Literature. We are accused of not reading it, not buying it, not supporting authors, not selling it, not distributing it… we are the reason it is not as successful as literature coming from other places.

The problem is we have believed these lies about ourselves, which is a pity.

While it is true that it is difficult to sell books on the continent, the reasons are not as clear cut as everyone would make it seem.

  1. English is a difficult language. The objects and verbs come in weird places in a sentence. But imagine interpreting one book in 55 different languages for just one country!
  2. Authors understand their audience and their point of view. It is difficult to sell a story to someone from the West unless it tells of war, of poverty, that explains some strange quirk of the culture they come from. This is not interesting to audiences in Africa (generally speaking). There is a reason why Nollywood is such a huge industry. Here are stories that the local population understands. 
  3. New books are EXPENSIVE and understandably so. Turning trees into paper is an expensive project, printing can be expensive too.  By the time all the expenses are tallied, the book agent, distributor, printer and publishing house get paid (oh wait! We haven’t counted the author and illustrator) the book is too expensive to purchase.

Africans are thirsty. We want to know, to read, to understand. What is someone from Zimbabwe thinking about something we’re all concerned about in Nigeria? What about the bruhaha over the other thing that happened with president so-and-so? How is the government in Mogadishu going to deal with the minerals they just found in  Seylac? 

We want to know and it is evidenced by the sheer number of people asking to join the group on a daily basis.

I hope someday they will all know, it is my honor to serve. Come and join us!


Black holes close by


How are you? I hope you are well.

Recently, I sent a request out to join a group of people in an online social group. At first the experience was incredible because people there seemed to like the same things I liked. I chatted and talked and gave my opinion to anyone who had the opportunity to read it. I was so excited! ┬áNormally I post interesting tidbits of scientific research and innovation on my facebook page and you can literally hear the internet crickets calling for mates. This was the opportunity I had been waiting for… or so I thought.

After a short while I realized something about this group. They did not really purport to be the people they had advertised themselves to be and so I did not really fit. Intelligent rational discussions about a topic quickly deteriorated when people felt attacked because there were dissenting voices and no one could be heard.

It literally took Friday, Saturday and Sunday for me to be DONE! I find that a part of me is a little sad to see that once again, there isn’t a community of people with whom I would fit snugly. I’ve thought of creating my own, and maybe I will when time permits.

For now, here is one tip from me to you.