By Wale Okediran
Veteran Writer, Prof Ngugi Wa Thiong’o has reiterated his well-known position on the use of Language in African Literature with a new charge to African writers to write in African languages.
In a correspondence addressed to Dr Wale Okediran the Secretary General of the Pan African Writers Association (PAWA) over the weekend, the eminent US-based Professor of Literature expressed his aversion to the current spate of celebrations of what he termed ‘Euro African’ Literature by many African Writers.
Prof Wa Thiongo’s letter was written in response to an invitation extended to him to present a Keynote Address at a PAWA event scheduled for 2023.
As he put it: ” I really hope that the next big Writers Conference will NOT be a repeat of the 1962 Makerere Conference which spelt a literary disaster for the continent”
”If you want to celebrate Euro-African literature, please go ahead. But African literature is that literature written by Africans in African languages”
While accepting that African intellectuals including himself have become prisoners of English and French, Prof Wa Thiongo strongly believes that African languages are urgently in need of its writers and intellectuals.
According to the renowned author: ”English and French Literature which our intellectuals are promoting are multi-trillion industries for Britain and France. Dont you think it is time that PAWA did something for the continent?”
It is on record that the debate on what constitutes African literature has been on as far back as the 60’s.
Unfortunately, the matter has remained unresolved with different writers giving their diverse opinions on the matter.
While Chinua Achebe was a strong supporter of Writing in African languages, he also believed that in view of Africa’s multilingual state , it is only the languages introduced by the colonizers that can serve as a common language.
Since its inception in 1989, the Pan African Writers Association in addition to its official languages of Arabic, English, French, Portuguese and Swahili has also encouraged Literature in many indigenous African Languages