My books have done extremely well, I know. But I don't honestly feel much different from when I began to write. I still think we have a long way to go. I suppose my name means more in Nigeria today than it did five years ago. But I feel the job that literature should do in our community has not even started. It's not yet part of the life of the nation. We are still at the beginning. It's a big beginning, because now we are catching the next generation in the schools. When I was their age, I had... Read more »
Ogbuef Ezedudu,who was the oldest man in the village, was telling two other men when they came to visit him that the punishment for breaking the Peace of Ani had become very mild in their clan. "It has not always been so," he said. "My father told me that he had been told that in the past a man who broke the peace was dragged on the ground through the village until he died. but after a while this custom was stopped because it spoiled the peace which it was meant to preserve.
The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.
In America there is really very little knowledge of the literature of the rest of the world. Of the literature of Latin America, yes, But that's not all that different in inspiration from that of America, or of Europe. One must go further. You don't even have to go too far in terms of geography - you can start with the Native Americans and listen to their poetry.
What I can say is that it was clear to many of us that an indigenous African literary renaissance was overdue. A major objective was to challenge stereotypes, myths, and the image of ourselves and our continent, and to recast them through stories- prose, poetry, essays, and books for our children. That was my overall goal.
My position is that serious and good art has always existed to help, to serve, humanity. Not to indict. I don’t see how art can be called art if its purpose is to frustrate humanity. To make humanity uncomfortable, yes. But intrinsically to be against humanity, that I don’t take.
The Novelist As Teacher”: “I would be quite satisfied if my novels (especially the ones I set in the past) did no more than teach my readers that their past – with all its imperfections – was not one long night of savagery from which the first Europeans acting on God’s behalf delivered them.
But I liked Yeats! That wild Irishman. I really loved his love of language, his flow. His chaotic ideas seemed to me just the right thing for a poet. Passion! He was always on the right side. He may be wrongheaded, but his heart was always on the right side. He wrote beautiful poetry.
Mosquito [...] had asked Ear to marry him, whereupon Ear fell on the floor in uncontrollable laughter. "How much longer do you think you will live?" she asked. "You are already a skeleton." Mosquito went away humiliated, and any time he passed her way he told Ear that he was still alive.