Raping Africa

Chinweizu is a powerful and persuasive writer, and his views on Afrocentrism are extreme—as they rightfully should be. But for those who know little of this vociferous person and his singling out and attacking Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka’s Eurocentric Africanism, here is an excerpt from a poem of his (in the anthology that he also edited: Voices from Twentieth Century Africa):

Ah, this land

This black whore

This manacled bitch

Tied to a post and raped

By every passing white dog

The dog of the crescent sword

The dog of the militant cross

The dog of the red star!

Listen! Listen to the pack

Of scavenger dogs from white heartlands

Snarling in their gang rape of Africa!

excerpt: Admonition to the Black World

This anthology contains gems of African writing that are difficult to come by, including oratory tales, folktales, poetry, excerpts from translated novels and so on. Highly recommended for any avid reader of African literature.

 

Samir Rawas Sarayji

Advertisements

The Black Voice on Being a Public Text

I had the opportunity to attend a reading done by Roxanne Gay for her new memoir, Hunger. She began with this explanation of the book’s origin: “When you are fat, especially when you are fat and black, your body becomes a public text.” It resonated with me, as I was steeped in my own otherness at all times, held up to a harsh light and appraised from every angle through a loupe. The black writer knows that our otherness defines us, and that otherness creates our public text persona. The way we might talk about a new film with friends and strangers alike, the way we might have a roundtable discussion about a classic work of literature or a salient opinion piece, the black body must survive in that space. We are personified in all forms of media, and yet our own selves remain a mystery. It is tenuous place between the realm of being unknown and being constantly seen; a driving force in much of African American literature is the liminality of this running commentary. I would like to examine two poetry texts that really dig into this notion, but I would argue many texts talk about the running commentary of the white imagination placed upon African Americans, works as diverse as Kevin Young’s essay “Blacker than Thou,” the classic novel Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, and even the hip-hop album To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar. The anxieties and pressure of being a public text are found within these texts, but by focusing on Citizen by Claudia Rankine and There Are More Beautiful Things than Beyoncé by Morgan Parker, I hope to illuminate how the African American writer uses their work to reconstruct life underneath this microscope. Read More

Discovering a New Library

I moved house this year, and I only just managed to get to the central library of my new home city. I was stunned when I walked through the doors. The setting is really impressive. I did a quick Google check when I got home and learned that it is considered to be one of the best libraries in the Netherlands.

Here a few pictures to give you an impression:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personally, I prefer old-fashioned libraries with spiral staircases, rusty ladders to access the top shelves and lots of areas for private reading. But this space does inspire too. It’s huge and even when it’s full, it’s quiet. Books and writing are central—everyone working independently on a common love.

I think I can do some writing here.

Vanessa Deij

(All photos courtesy of Bibliotheek Eemhuis, the Netherlands)

How to Read More Books

StockSnap_T4W98A54R5“I havent read a book in over two years,” I found myself saying to anyone who asked me what I was reading at the moment. Two whole years and 0 books. I went from reading (or listening to) about 5 to 10 books a month to 0 books. How did this happen, considering how much I love reading? Well in the space of two years, I went from having a lot of time on my hands to having two children. Lots of people have children and read you might say. But, for me, it was impossible. I just couldn’t find the mental space to do it.

Bear in mind that I didnt stop reading everything, I read short articles on the internet, Buzzfeed is a wealth of information you never knew you were interested to know. But most of the information is fluff and none of them were stories or novels.

Once my second child turned one, the crazy nights and utter exhaustion started to wane. Yet I still didn’t read books. I think that the time in which I read before having children was now taken up by other things. I had convinced myself that I had no time to read, because I had to care for the children, do household chores, and prepare for the classes I teach. Read More

Quote of the Day

All of our days are numbered. We cannot afford to be idle. To act on a bad idea is better than to not act at all, because the worth of the idea never becomes apparent until you do it.

—Nick Cave, 20,000 Days on Earth

 

Learning to Accept Critique

Anne made up her mind that the next time she wrote a story she wouldn’t ask anybody to criticize it. It was too discouraging. (…) In imagination Anne saw herself reading a story out of a magazine to Marilla, entrapping her into praise of it – for in imagination all things are possible – and then triumphantly announcing herself the author. 

– Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery

I love how Anne imagines being a published author and the struggles she encounters to become one, in the series Anne of Green Gables. One of her struggles is dealing with critique—people who ‘don’t get it’; people who have nothing positive to say; people who have a vague comment like ‘I didn’t like that bit’ without explaining why. It can indeed be very discouraging.

That doesn’t mean that as a professional writer you can do without critique. The right people – usually other writers – can help you see the flaws in the language and in the story. But finding the right critics is only half the battle. Most beginning writers have to learn to accept critique. No story – however good you are as a writer – is flawless after the first draft. Read More

The World’s Most Mysterious Book

Some time ago, I signed up for TED talks, as a fun and somewhat time saving way to learn new things. It’s certainly  fun, although I haven’t watched as many videos as I’d like. Despite the videos not being too long, it’s rather hard to sit down and view them on a regular basis, what with a child and all. But last week, my interest was triggered again.

‘The World’s Most Mysterious Book’ — now how could I ignore this video? It describes the Voynich Codex, a peculiar book from the fifteenth century that still keeps scientists puzzled.

After watching the video I searched the internet and found the following website that shows scans of the individual pages.

The Voynich Codex is shrouded in mystery simply because we do not have an inkling on what it is about. It makes me curious whether the author has made it all up to confuse people back in those days. Perhaps the language was created like J.R.R. Tolkien’s Elvish, which might confuse future scientists just as much if all they have is a single text without any context whatsoever. Whatever the reason might have been, it is fun to fantasize about its origins.

Cecile Koster

Trope or Cliché

Courtesy of Literaryterms.net

Who here knows what a trope is?

How about a cliché?

How about the difference between the two?

Did the last question leave you stumpped? Me too! So I went on a digital spelunking quest into the unknown. I also looked into other vintage sources like a dictonary or two, and do you want to know what I found out? Well… No one really knows, it’s kind of vague.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What is a trope? How do you pronounce it [troup]? Heck, I’ve been pronouncing it [troupy] because that’s how I learned it, the thing is, outside of literature university courses, you won’t hear many people speak it out loud, and if they do… case in point. It’s a little like genre, I honestly thought it was pronounced [genier] when I read it in articles until I realized genre was what I’d heard fancy people refer to as belonging to a style, or category = [jánre]
  2. What is a cliché?
  3. Which one is bigger? I ask this because it seems like cliché fits into the great encompassing shadow of the mighty trope. Trope, such a grand word, in the same category as genre, canon and the like. But, cliché just sounds right out bad.

Read More