The time we write in demands that we sidestep the general and enter into the specific, an art and act that is at once inquisitive as it is ambitious. The challenge we face is not that we cannot simply generalize, or that we are not readily given to generalization. The imminent difficulty is that we have become conscious of the multiplicity of the specific, and the various nuances of our narratives.
But there is something even more complex. What are we? When we call ourselves ‘African’ what are we saying? Achmat Dangor – “…there is something noble about being an African, despite all the inherent contradictions. It is an intuitive sense of being and belonging, intangible almost. A ‘feeling’ more than a knowledge, and hence capable of transcending all the painful contradictions, and given the right conditions, of healing the deep ethnic, linguistic and religious schisms that Africa as a people.”
How, then, do we confront intangibility? Because we can replace ‘African’ with ‘Nigerian’ or whatever other nationality.
In Mia Couto’s African Issues: Fleeting Identities, a number of assertions are made:
- Being a border creature favours me: between races, cultures, religions; between the universes of the oral and the written. And as I am Mozambican, another border exists: that between the West and the East.
- First of all, the obsession with classifying what is and what is not African, starts in Europe.
- No one knows exactly what to be ‘authentically African’ really means…An African writer faces a demand never made of a European or an American. He is obliged to prove his authenticity.
- …we may have a name, but we do not have individuality, we are “Africans.” As if everything were the same within this plural term. As if Africa did not have the right to diversity and to its own multiculturalism.
- The “white man” invented the “black man” in order to dominate him better.
- What is known today as “Africa” is the result of European racist invention. The Africans adopted this same concept without questioning it from a historical point of view.
- The absence of nation was imposed on us by colonialism; the urgency for it is being imposed on us by neo-colonialism
- The opposition between what is traditional –seen as the uncontaminated side of African culture –and what is modern (where literature has its place), is, in great measure, a false contradiction.
- Africa has an absolute right to modernity.
- To be both inside and outside is a privilege in a world in which frontiers are disappearing. To be at the same time indigenous and alien puts them in the position of a privileged visitor, the seamstress of different cultural cloths.
- Colonial domination invented a large part of the past and of African tradition. Ironically, some African intellectuals, wanting to negate Europe, opened their arms to some of these old colonial concepts.
For Saraba 13, we expect that with ‘Africa’ as our theme, prospective contributors would share our dilemma, incomprehensively stated above. We only accept poetry, fiction, nonfiction and photographs that take our submission guidelines into consideration. The deadline for submission is November 15, and the Issue would be released in January 2013.
For questions on the forthcoming issue and general enquiries, please write our Managing Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org.