Table of Contents | 100 African Writers of SFF — Part Two: Writers in the U.K.
(An earlier version of this chapter was published at in November 2016.) In Part Two of 100 African Writers of SFF, you’ll meet: a crime writer whose grandfather was a king—one who made a Western artist a priestess in the Ogun religion. A white South African anti-apartheid activist whose sister was tried under the security laws—and introduced him to the work of Joanna Russ. A Rastafarian from Zimbabwe whose experience of life under Mugabe has made him a free-market neoliberal. A South African rap/ jazz-rock star, illustrator, and author who models his look on the Wicked Witch of the West. And I look at two or three books I consider to be stone cold masterpieces, just to answer the question why read African SF? You can read through the whole chapter by following the "next" links at the end of each interview, or jump to a specific interview by using the links below. Start with the introduction. You can always return to this chapter index by clicking on the "100 African Writers of SF—Part Two" link at the top of each interview, and return to the overall project index by clicking on the 100African category, or clicking here.
This is the hypothesis for now: conditions for African writers now resemble the conditions in the early twentieth century that led to the USA taking over from Europe as the centre of science fiction and fantasy. One of those conditions is diaspora.
"I didn’t consciously set out to say I am writing science fiction. At that point I wasn’t thinking in that frame of mind. I was just telling stories that came naturally to me."
An update on the contributors' work since the anthology, according to Ayodele.
"I’m very interested in ancestry and how little of it most of us know. We have lost the art of asking questions, I find."
“What African writers might bring to SFF? For me, I don’t want any African writer to feel under any pressure that he needed to bring anything new to SFF apart from the story that matters to him, which he alone can tell."
"One of its first readers said that Kintu is the kind of novel that would become a national book … It tells a Ugandan story in an Ugandan way."
"I made my own two shitty films. I found that I hated directing, so I helped a friend producing, and just kept on doing it. I found I loved producing."
"For a long time my access to fiction was all very literary—James Baldwin, Toni Morrison. The few African writers I could find came across as quite literary. I was being conditioned to think that’s what I have to write."
"It started off as a dare: you can’t write complicated things in Shona. But it’s not true that you have to write science fiction in English."
"I had to do a lot of work around about what it means to be white. You need to confront and manage whiteness if you are going to write speculative fiction in Africa."
"What I love about Burroughs is that he’s not making any statements. Neither am I. I like whatever I like."
"You cannot leave your context and stay the same person. The people who migrate always say, ‘We’ll go back to Nigeria’ but you change if you live in a different place, you become a hybrid, not accepted here or there."
"One of the difficulties is talking about African writing, when for most people, the ideal model is a Western mode. African markets are radically different."
Ashley Jacobs, Biram Mboob, Gavin Chait, Helen Oyeyemi, Nii Parkes, Michael Oshoke Irene, Sarah Lotz, and Tosin Coker.
If a sharp break with traditional culture is one of the things that inspires fantasy and SF writing then Africa might be an epitome of the modern experience of moving through change.
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