Thanks, But No Thanks.

Commonwealth Foundation

The commonwealth does it again! How can we thank you? How can we convey our gratitude and thanks for the consistent and persistent support you have shown for African writers?

In case you are reading this and do not yet know, the shortlist for the commonwealth book prize for 2013 includes FOUR African writers. Three of them are Nigerian and one is South African. Each author should be esteemed for writing excellent work in a language that is not their own tongue – which in and of itself is a great achievement – and hopefully tons of movie rights will follow.

Sarah House, Ifeanyi Ajaegbo – human trafficking, prostitution, slavery, pimps, thugs.

The Great Agony & Pure Laughter of the Gods, Jamala Safari – war, rape, child soldiers, violence, thugs, refugees, hunger.

The Spider King’s Daughter, Chibundu Onuzo – ancient traditions, corruption, violence, struggle for modernity.

Sterile Sky, E.E. Sule – mindless religiosity, violence, sweltering temperatures.

I thought the famous essay “How to Write About Africa” by Binyavanga Wainaina was satire and not to be taken as aserious blueprint for story development, but I see what you’re doing there. You highlighted it as a guideline for the World outside Africa. I’m so pleased I finally understood the message and the general requirements for consideration. My writing will be commonwealth worthy, I promise you that.

To show you that I understand what you require I’m going to blow your mind with my subject matter. I can combine all the “African” topics for you to drool over and store on your shelf along with the curios you purchased from your last visit. I can write a story with a child prostitute who worked her way up the ranks in a guerrilla gang deep in the humid impenetrable forests of Africa, to become the top human trafficker who used religious establishments to take orphans whose parents died of AIDS when they were just little babies. To make it even more interesting I’ll throw in a corrupt politician, dusty unpaved roads, violent rape, preteen pregnancy and a particularly threatening, dark-skinned, wide-nosed, tall and imposing thug with a harrowing mean streak called Afande.

Thank you once again for telling authors in Africa, who seek recognition in a wider arena, what topics and subjects they should cover in order to be noticed by you.

African Writer.

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