…a people of beastly living, without a God, lawe, religion … whose women are common for they contract no matrimonie, neither have respect to chastitie … whose inhabitants dwell in caves and dennes: for these are their houses, and the flesh of serpents their meat as writeth Plinie and Diodorus Siculus. They have no speach, but rather a grinning and chattering. There are also people without heads, having their eyes and mouths in their breasts.
It was a landmark rebellion. Here was a whole class of young Nigerian students, among the brightest of their generation, united in their view of a book of English fiction in complete opposition to their English teacher, who was moreover backed by the authority of metropolitan critical judgment.
People have sometimes asked me if I have thought of writing a novel about America since I have now been living here for some years. My answer has always been “No, I don’t think so.” Actually, living in America for some years is not the only reason for writing a novel on it. Kafka wrote such a novel without leaving Prague. No, my reason is that America has enough novelists writing about her, and Nigeria too few.
…is the strongest vote of confidence we can give our writers and their work - to put them on notice that we will go to their offering for wholesome pleasure and insight, and not a rehash of old stereotypes which gained currency long ago in the slave trade and poisoned, perhaps forever, the wellsprings of our common humanity.