Parresia’s Abubakar Adam Ibrahim with Siyanda Mohutsiwa

Parrésia author, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, was recently interviewed by Siyanda Mohutsiwa in South Africa’s Mail & Guardian. The eponymous story from his debut short story collection, The Whispering Trees (Parrésia Books 2012) was short listed for the 2013 Caine Prize for African Writing. He is a Gabriel Garcia Marquez Fellow.


‘I don’t think there is a universal accord on what the purpose of African literature is, or the literature of any people or nation for that matter. Literature is relative and always will be, and the purpose for producing any work of literature is dependent on the creator of that work and its intended consumers.

At the onset, the purpose was to talk back to the damning portrayal of Africa and Africans in the literature of the West and hence [Chinua] Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Then we had the movements such as the Negritude posse that tried to use literature to justify Africanness when being an African was made to look like a crime.

The concept of “African literature” is already being challenged. Until there is an agreement on what African literature really is, I don’t think there will be an accord on its purpose. And this is very unlikely ever to happen because I don’t think, when writers sit down to write, they have it at the back of their mind that they are writing an “African novel”. They just write and, most times, the focus is local; the themes and concerns may be particular to a remote corner of Africa, which is a huge continent with many countries and many peoples with different cultures and concerns.

So there is no singular purpose to African literature but there is purpose to every writer’s work.’

Read the full interview HERE and #SHARE


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