The Greatest African Writers and Why
One infallible fact about Africa is the implausible amount of talent within it. For artists, Africa is hailed as a major growth market and it is such for several other professions. When it comes to writing, there are a vast number of talented writers spread across the over 50 states in Africa.
In a continent as ethnologically diverse as Africa, it comes with little surprise as to the amount of literature that has emerged from expert writers. The contribution of these writers to the literary space in their various countries and Africa at large can never be overemphasized. Though I cannot explain WHY, the premise for choosing the names below as few of the greatest African writers are clear; their contribution to the literary realm in all facets of life across the world.
Below are some of them:
Though late, no well-meaning individual who claims to be a fan of literature would deny knowing this widely recognized and praised icon. He is what breastmilk is to a child to most of the literary text in the 20th century. He was a poet, novelist, professor and critic. He is the brain behind the most widely read book in modern African literature today, “Things Fall Apart”. Some of his other works include, No longer at Ease, Arrow of God, Anthills of the Savannah and so on. In 1979 he won the Nigerian National Order of Merit Award, St. Louis Literary Award in 1999 and the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize in 2010.
His works usually revolve around themes like culture and colonialism as seen in Things Fall Apart, Masculinity and Femininity and so on. He is often referred to as “the Father of modern African writing” and Africa’s greatest storyteller. How Wole Soyinka won the Nobel prize for literature ahead of him in 1986 remains a mystery to me.
Known for her heavy words when it comes to feminism addressing gender inequality, the Senegalese born writer is one of Africa’s most influential women authors. A victim of the many prejudices facing women, she struggled to become educated and ended up becoming one of the greatest wonders of the pen.
Her first novel, So long A letter won the debut of the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa. Her second novel, Scarlet Song, which was published after her death in 1986 gained international attention maybe basically because it deals with the urgency for women to be empowered. She was a strong and powerful feminist to reckon with.
Ngugi Wa Thiong’O
Ngugi Wa Thiong’O is an influential and important postcolonial writer whose writing revolved around postcolonial themes in Africa. A cause he was imprisoned for without trial for more than a year. As a means of advocating language as the key to decolonizing the mindset and culture of African writers and readers, he committed to writing in his native language, Gikuyu and Swahili.
His works plays, novels, short stories, and essays. One of his books, Why Humans Walk Upright has been translated into 94 languages around the world. A badger of a dual professorship in Comparative literature and Performance Studies, he taught at Yale University, University of California, and at New York University. He has 6 notable honorary degrees from various Universities across the globe with over 8 international awards to his credits.
To complete this story without a mention of this man should be treated worse than a felony. Wole Soyinka is a Nigerian born playwright, poet and essayist. He was the first Sub-Saharan African to win the Nobel prize in the literature’s category.
Following the restoration of the civilian rule in 1999, he was made Professor Emeritus of Comparative literature at the now Obafemi Awolowo University then University of Ife. Like other famous writers who were politically active, Soyinka was also imprisoned for 22 months.
Despite his imprisonment, he continued to write and in 1967, The Lion and the Jewel were published in Accra. Two months later, Trials of Brother Jero and The Strong Breed were produced in the Greenwich Mews Theater. He also has a couple of poems to his name.
He has 19 international honorary degrees to his name and a couple of awards for his outstanding contributions to the literature space.
The Greatest African Writers and Why