COME HOME, AFRICAN WRITER

Writers are intentional. We are divinely positioned, appointed and selected to tell the stories affecting our generation and effect the necessary changes, or at most provide solutions, to them. I take writing seriously, and it’s beautiful that I have naturally come to take good writings and writers seriously, too.

I have come to that point where I can’t help but reject — and even disdain, “writers” whose sole duty as writers is to talk about love, sex and red roses. I personally feel their writing “licenses” should be stripped off them.

Many young writers of this generation are victims of European literary propaganda — of the James Bond, Harry Potter and Hardley Chase fame. Many are victims of American literary sensibilities. So now, we want to write about America and set our stories in far flung places away from home. We have become dehomed and detribalized, so much that we don’t see the inherent beauty in writing for our people, for writing about our people. We now prefer Auriel to Somto, Jake to Okonkwo.

The moment young writers stand up and realize we have eaten the tip of the poisoned chalice given us by European literary propaganda, the better for African literature.

You African, you black! What more insult is it to spit at our fathers’ faces — Soyinka, Achebe, Tutuola, Okri, Okigbo, than to deign to write about the lives of strange men? We must realize we only plant in the garden of a stranger if we continue, as writers, to “write away from home.”
The condition of African literature is still an ongoing debate, I must say, and serious writers draw back the discourse if they continue speaking unknown tongues.
Let’s bring the pen back home where it belongs. Writers, let’s farm on the garden our fathers left us. Let’s come into our God-given responsibility!


EZEMMUO

For my brother,

It is a wonder how you forgot.

His instructions to your heart you shut.

Ezemmuowu said to you as you gripped your locally-woven bag

Your cap perched on your head.

I did not notice. Did the cap cover your ears?

I do not believe it blocked off your hearing

From attending to Ezemmuowu’s voice.

Ezemmuowu had said that it was unwise to leave.

It seems his wise words were foolish to you.

Nothing of his sayings did you sieve.

You let his revered words drain down uncaught in the basket of your mind.

I recall Ezemmuowu said,

“It is a foolish son that abandons the farm of his father to till the land of another man.”

Were you not skilled in the art of riddles and proverbs?

You should have understood Ezemmuowu’s words.

But, Chinedu, you left that same evening

As we bent our backs

Forward to extricate ourselves

From the hold of his revered hut.

It has been exactly ten years you left that hut.

Now you are back to Ezemmuowu.

You are back to the hut you left many moons ago.

But it is no longer a hut.

On that same spot you found a brick house.

You come back haggard and

Defeated… penitent.

You do not have to bend your back forward to go in now.

We go in together the same way we did many nights ago.

Ezemmuowu is still there,

He sits on the same aged stool

His wrapper, although changed now, is still wound over his lean buttocks.

Ezemmuowu smiles at you

He knows the reason you returned.

Ezemmuowu says to you without preamble

His voice quivers with age, but

His words have never lost Wisdom

“You have finished tilling the white man’s land.”

Words abandon your lips.

They move, but no words come out. Was it a question?

You close your eyes to hold back the tears.

You open them, and Ezemmuowu is gone.

The tears run freely.

Water released from its containment.

Ezemmuowu had never gone.

Ezemmuowu had been with you as you searched the bins for scraps of unwanted food.

He had been there as you were spat on by your white owners.

He had been with you in the cold nights on strangers’ corridors.

Ezemmuowu had sensed your sufferings, tasted your pains.

Ezemmuowu was always there

Ezemmuowu was your conscience

Ezemmuowu was you.

…the groit who returned.

3 thoughts on “COME HOME, AFRICAN WRITER”

  1. Hmmm. Interesting piece. However, we can’t strip the European influence on our very own existence. It’s a painful fact, but the reality, nonetheless.

    Like

  2. Perhaps it is this feeling of wanting things that are supposedly out of our grasp that makes some of us African writers swallow the white man’s literary propaganda without doubt.
    Gbogi, your article is wise and your poem is loud.

    Like

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