Your attitude as a writer towards a particular subject or issue is conveyed to your readers through your diction – choice and use of words- and writing style. This is what is referred to as Tone and can depending on your attitude towards the subject be humorous, serious, formal, sad, optimistic, or pessimistic.
A wrong tone can, however, set a totally different message to your work. Hence, the need to be careful of your style and use words in passing across your message.
As a writer, Characterization is a key means of employing the African tone in your work. Through your use of words, your characters represent your feelings or views towards various issues – motherhood, illiteracy, leadership, patriarchy, poverty, female circumcision. When you lay bare and make relatable underlying hurdles, beautiful moments and daily but rarely noticed events, through your writing, you not only connect with your readers but also are you portraying and preserving the African way of life.
Below is an excerpt from Voice of America by E.C. Osondu,-
‘Mama, don’t you see that most of them are drug addicts and drunks – who knows the kind of sickness they are harbouring?’
‘Everybody who needs a baby in Lagos comes here to patronize them, and there has never been any complaint concerning them.’ Her mother in law replied.
‘But mama, for these people, it is only a business, and a baby should be conceived in love. A child is not a commodity you know.’
It is you who will give the baby love when he is born. Not these people. My daughter, it is because I want to carry your baby on my knees before I die – that is why I am doing all these things. Don’t forget that I am getting old and I can’t be with you forever,’ she said to Ijeoma in a tone that sounded woebegone but wheedling.
From the excerpt, E.C Osondu creatively through his characters depicted the African attitude towards childlessness and the extent some Africans are willing to go to conceive.
Proverbial expressions are core part of African culture and are instrumental towards you employing that African tone as a writer in your work. Proverbs not only help to enrich your works but also help to drive home strong imagery in the minds of your reader. Chinua Achebe, Ngugi wa Thiong’ o, Steve Biko, Buchu Emecheta, and Chioma Okereke are definitely recommended authors for reading.
Lastly, to read works written by African writers is to consciously and unconsciously employ their tone. Read and most importantly keep writing.