Anyone else have it? I certainly do. But phobias, though terrifying have their uses. They protect you from an even worse potential situation.
Abibliophobia usually means I have a fortress of books around me, waiting to be cracked open. It was supposed to protect me from the apocalyptic situation where I might find myself with absolutely nothing to read. But last week orders got delayed, libraries were not visited and my beside table was gloomily empty. Not a book in sight.
Enter, the internet. It’s a great time for African literature online. There are many incredible literary journals publishing stories from established and emerging writers on a daily basis. Photo essays, science fiction, travelogues, memoir – it’s all there. For Africans, by Africans.
Here are some of the short stories, narrative non-fiction essays and poetry, I’ve been reading. They’ve have been tiding me over during this bookless time.
First, a Africa’s Future Has No Space For Stupid Black Men is one beautiful elegy for a friend. Pwaangulongii Daoud sketches out an underground scene in peril and an activist dispensing his kindness in what are precarious days for gay men in Nigeria.
“It was the night that I’d last see C. Boy, for a couple of weeks later, in March, he would be found dead in his backyard. The night was full of energy. The kind of energy that Africa needs to reinvent itself. Fierce. Electrifying. Full.”
– “Africa’s Future Has No Space For Stupid Black Men” by Pwaangulongii Daoud in Granta 136: Legacies of Love
Second, “Sisters’ Fight” a harrowing tale of sex-trafficking, sibling rivalry and survival.
Blessing and Sharon spent the week in Dakar in a state of heightened courtesy. No prying questions. All talk was general. What Blessing observed, she did not comment on. Two bottles of Ribavirin antiviral pills on the white bathroom plastic shelf. Cigarette burns on Sharon’s shoulders.
Third, “75” which is not like any of the dystopian tales, you’ve come to expect. Tender, humourous and so human. Abiola Oni looks like a writer to watch.
“They cackle loudly to the night. Being here, smoking with Kayode, it feels like 1972 again. Before the marriages and the children. Before they filed away their dreams and accepted that in Britain they could only live an average life.”
– “75” by Abiola Oni (Winner of The Guardian and 4th Estate BAME Short Story prize)
Fourth, vivid poetry by Chibuihe-Light Obi. This is a quote from, Bloomsday.
“i re-imagine silence
as a white cloth sailing
in the wind
as a lake of blood in a dying child’s eyes
who has seen the shape of pruned tongues or karma coming after dogs”
Fifth, “Gaddafi” by Jude Idada about how love can take unusual forms.
Their love affair was a whirlwind. It consumed them: blowing fiercely and laying to waste all that stood in its way. Aisha’s parents were also carried along as they fell prey to the easy charm of Ghaddafi. They had worried over the growing liberal nature of their daughter: her willingness and eagerness to explore and taste of the world around her; her need to escape the yoke of religion and the burden of culture.
Sixth, A wry little story about customer service and revenge in “How I Got My Head Straight”
The chunks of meat that were delivered were cut into little pieces. Whoever was in charge of the abattoir clearly botched their job. The pieces looked like the work of a tired, high on glue, old rustler using a rusty and blunt machete.