You know you’re an African writer if….


You are currently reading this because this was the last page you had open when your internet stopped working.

The gods of technology created the internet so that writers all over the world could have an ocean of information to drink from at a moment’s notice. But not us African writers, no reader. You see, after decades of underfunded libraries and secondhand book stores that only stocked the copies of Danielle Steel novellas favored by 80s backpackers, the gods are quite sure that this sudden access to adequate information would be simply too much for the average African writer. And in any case, they assure themselves, where there is lack of information, there is room to create. Let us look to the African journalist, who even in the age of has absolutely no qualms with murdering the cousins of comedians while they sit safely in their homes. For years, some African journalists have found the world of unlimited information a distraction, really, from the business of creation. Who needs the internet when you have an imagination? The African writer should adopt this as his own Ancient African Proverb.

You are reading this over the din of a coughing generator that spluttered to life after today’s second power cut.

Ah, nothing stokes the fires of inspiration like the sound of a generator cheering your every word. When the power goes out, instead of crying and cursing the gods, I thank them for giving me a chance to really hear myself think. And although my first thought is usually: “why do my thoughts sound like a generator?” my next thought is always: “how nice it surely is to have the gentle hum of a machine in the background that encourages me as I try to shove my annoyance with inefficient government systems down and focus on my writing.” And if you are an African writer this feeling is as familiar to you as the sting of a rejection letter.

You are reading this on a laptop you had to fight a thug to keep lest he run off with your precious manuscript.

I may not be as good as Teju Cole, nor as well-traveled as Lerato Mogoatlhe but I did let a nyaope-addict punch me in the face and take all my money just so he wouldn’t rob me of my laptop and punch a hole in my clumsily-put together literary ambitions. And if you are an African writer then the thrill of walking through dangerous places without looking like you’re carrying something special (it’s just your laptop filled with short stories you thought were absolute shit just this morning) is part of your DNA.

The African literature section of your local bookstore is the site of your revolution.

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7 thoughts on “You know you’re an African writer if….

  1. The generator that is making noise in the background as I read this, is not mine but my neighbour’s it sounds like a freight train is parked outside and I can not hear myself read, I dont know how its rigged up but it keeps running long after the power has come back late into the the night and I cant write or sleep.

    My WiFi router backup power runs out in a few minutes so this is the last page I will probably have open when the internet stops, who needs internet when you have imagination you say, well I say why cry when you have WiFi

    I am using a borrowed laptop because unfortunately mine was Nicodemusly fished out the window after I fell asleep with it open, the window that is, fortunately I had backed up my drafts to a cloud storage service so I retrieved it missing only the recently added bits

    Question though what is an African writer, someone who writes in Africa or writes about Africa or simply born in Africa?

    its been interesting stumbling upon your blog via some throwback post and all ^_^

    PS its 2300hrs and the power utility company still hasnt graced us with electricity so the next chapter will have to be hand written ;-/

    1. Hahahah! What an ordeal! Yep, it may just be experiencing all of those problems at the same time while being in Africa that qualifies one as an African writer. I am not necessarily the expert on this one hahah. Nice comment!

      Sent from my iPhone


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