More than any other Nobel Prize, the Literature Prize creates every year a mixing of expectation and enthusiasm in all African or Afrocentric artistic milieus. Not really because it is the most important, but due to the mere observation that it seems to be the only one at Africans ‘reach. However, as editions go by, a general feeling of disappointment progressively gains ground as this Prize too tends to be as accessible as desperately out of African writers ‘reach.
Though some Africa-born writers, namely Wole Soyinka (1986); Naguib Mahfouz (1988) and Nadine Gordimer (1991) have been honoured by the most prestigious recognition in literary art, Africa still stands at the bottom of the table in term of representatives, amongst the five continents. Nobody can forget “Chinua Achebe’s disillusionment” that affected the African audience, for after his death, many critics believed that Achebe’s legacy (mostly his novel Things Fall Apart, incontestably a Masterpiece in Postcolonial literature) would be rewarded by a Nobel. However, as years go by, that recognition looks more chimeric than ever ! More recently, Kenyan-born Ngugi Wa Tiongho has also captivated the literary attention with his postmodern satire of Africans’ rush for power (“Petals of blood”, “The Wizard of the Crow”…). And to him, it will also be a “NO!” that in our opinion sounds more like “YES, YOU CAN’T!” This annoys the more as we realise that a musician has been preferred to him…
The capable Africa
These successive jerks back to reality should not delete in our minds that since many decades, Africa has been able. Successive generations of writers have proven to the face of the World that Africa is an outstanding writing continent. An emerging generation (Imbolo Mbue, Yaa Gyasi, Tomi Ademeyi…) has definitely taken the torch and is eager to walk on those “inaccessible” grounds.
As my country-people use to say, one day one day!