Monday, April 15, 2013

OFILI: How to dress like an African Writer

Every fiction writer out there is trying to become the next Chinua Achebe or the next Chimamanda Adichie, who can blame them though. Based on the startling success they have both had it is difficult to imagine any other way for an African writer to write. So authors young and old write like them, sound like them and even begin to dress like them.

I know this for a fact…I have attended several book readings in African and they normally are carbon copies of the previous one. The writer is talking about one imaginary village in one corner of Nigeria or Africa. The big words are spilled mercilessly and liberally across each paragraph, the only rest we get is not from comma’s or full stops in the book but when the author or authoress pauses to adjust their large traditional attire or dreads that got in the way of the words.
Sadly this carbon copying phenomenon is not limited to only fiction writers, non-fiction writers are even worse. If you dare write a non-fiction book without quoting 5-7 bible verses you are toast! No publisher will look at your book. Now I am not against bible spilling verses in books, but after sometime it becomes quite overwhelming and quite fake. And then the testimonials! Let me not even go there…ok ok let me go there…if you don’t get testimonials from the top 2 or 3 motivational speakers in Nigeria your book is not complete. At least that what most authors think as they stalk and sometimes buy testimonials from these motivational guru’s. And for what so they can have that authentication that their book is like every other book out there!
I mean, why does every writer have to be the same as the next. Why can’t they be different?
Why can’t you be different? Why can’t you write a story set not in a village but in outer space? Why can’t you show up to your book readings decked up in cute hot and sexy dress! Why can’t your lead character have special powers like those mutants in x-men? Why? Why can’t our book stores have a variety of books with different settings and messages instead of the same old ish?
I have no idea why to be honest…I just know that my goal is to tell people out there that it is okay to be different, to write differently, to sound differently and to dress differently. Because the world appreciates uniquenss and the world appreciates you.
Keep writing and remember whatever you do…write different


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