E.C. Osondu: African Literary Prizes & the Narratives

In this euphoric burst of prose, E.C. Osondu who won the 2009 Caine Prize for African Writing with his story “Waiting” talks about African storytellers in a fond but deeply inspiring way.

This short essay is a wake-up call to what African storytelling could be in the coming years. Read it here as E.C. Osondu shared on Facebook:

When you hand over an important prize to professional literary hustlers, expect nothing but a downward slide into an incredibly shrinking prize.

The late Binyavanga Wainana, astute as always, was right. We as Africans must begin to claim ownership of our stories, narratives, prizes, awards, festivals, venues, etc.

Our mantra going forward should be- For Africans, By Africans- FABA.

Years ago, Chimamanda Adichie, said that the more interesting stories she read that year were from a different quarter, many were puzzled.

Adichie was right. Sometimes an elephant births a mouse.

The most interesting contest short story from Africa I read this year was “Ghana Boy” by Frances Ogamba.

So raw, so heartbreaking, so true. It does what the best fiction does, it swallows you, chews you up and spits you out transformed and beatified. Praise Be. Hallelujah.

Down with pandering derivative stories and those who midwife and champion them.
Africa may be considered poor by some, we may have many problems, but stories and storytelling are not one of our problems. Storytelling is to us what swimming is to fish, a liquid state, our natural habitat and our ecology.

My short story “Waiting” remains the most homaged, imitated, mimicked, aped, simulated, etc etc. You get the idea.

There is the Writivism Literary Initiative. I know.
There is Storyday Africa…I know.
There is Ake…I know.
We should have more. Our name should be Legion.

There is this thing that bothers me. We are only allowed a place in the literary world as Africans if we accept to be one thing and one thing only. We can and should be writers of Graphic Novels, Crime Fiction and even writers of uncategorizable genres and non- genre conforming works.

One love.

Las, las, we all gonna be alright.

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