Saturday, October 07, 2006

Hot Discussion: on the unknown generations

Editor: I have read this article.What do you think?

Ayanda Abeke: I would have loved to hear your view first but I have no choice than to answer your quest. Thanks for reading it. I think in my own opinion that African literature in entirety will go no where if we(writers) continue to write with a language we have no grip on. The first generation of African writers did so well using English as their writing tool because they got quantitative learning of the language directly from the owners. However, the uncategorized generation who write in their mother tongues did so well that none of the English written literature of today can compete with dear ideology, philosophy and the down to earth communicative skill. Wole Soyinka had not done better even with his boring vocabularies. This I read in the article that was part of the problems of the third generation writers. Although we don't know how to classify writers of my age. Well, we await our figure...but claptrap, cnn, bbc, yahoo, generation x and stuff I will never take for our generation which one of us had admitted. You can read his poem in submission and confirmation of these aghast names on my blog:

Another thing that contributed largely to the problem is thematic preoccupation in the present day African writers. The first and second generations had colonialism, imperialism, neo-colonialism, civil war(s) and others to discuss in their literature but all we are left with are Love, Relationships, HIV and AIDS. That is the reason why they find us to be difficult to understand and as well to trace. We talk about so many things: day after day because diversity became the order of our day. Take for instance Nngugi wa Thiong'o, many of his books that I've read only based of colonialism and imperialism. At least I have read close to five of his works: plays, prose and articles on this subject. Ocot p'Bitek is another person who has no other theme to threat than colonialism. Yet, 1,2 and 3 generations look down on us. They never take interest in our versatility.

Dear Editor, I never prepare for this and my time is running out. I will like to hear your view and we will continue from there.

Editor: Hello, Ayanda Abeke, I understand your thoughts perfectly.

This generational issue.

There does seem to be a link between massive political issues and the production of poetry.

For example, anti-colonialism in Nigeria created a whole generation of important writers.
For example, the first-world war in the UK created major breakthrought: Eliot's The Wasteland.

What happens when these monents of crisis pass?
They seem to haunt the imagination like shadows.

For example, in Nigeria, there is a desire to talk about colonialism still
For example, in the UK, there is still a wish to re-live the second-world war period. The media still produces drama about this period. Critics still write about poets of the first and second world war, Owen, Sasoon, Douglas etc, as if they have to be known about because they wrote about these great events.

I have a problem with this.
I think you have a problem with this attitude too.

Tolu Ogunlesi has this attitude...the present generation are the fingers that cannot reach the water. He is describing Decadence. At the close of the nineteenth-century, poets of The Decadence sighed the same sighs as Ogunlesi: everything has been done, all that we can do is look back, our generation is wasted. Then Pound , Eliot, Carlos-Williams ripped poetry into a new dimension with free-verse.

Ogunlesi says that "Google is the new Godot".
It sounds very clever, but he does not really understand the phrase.
In Waiting for Godot, Beckett, Lucky speaks of the degeneration of the human mind. Ogunlesi seems to think that Lucky is speaking about Godot and Godot=the superficial human mind=Googling the net.
Godot is God and Goodness.
Interesting that Ogunlesi attacks the superficial thinkers but thinks carelessly himself.
I have not read much of Ogunlesi's poetry, but what I have read seems to be a product of what he hates: the superficial Google, unknown, Generation X.

So...colonialism has poetry must look to new areas of conflict.
So...the great world wars have poetry must look to new areas of conflict.

HERE IS A BIG DIFFERENCE, one that has prevented me from understanding you at times and for this error I apologise.

Contemporary UK poetry, has turned from global events towards the self--the global world inside the human.
Contemporary African poetry has not gone this sees love, the psyche, AIDs, human relatonships, as things not worth talking about. But they are. Colonialism was a physical and mental battle waged through death and words.

Ogunlesi sees the present generation as a world without mind. That is his mindless problem. It is HIS fingers that are too short to reach the water. That is HIS problem. It is the work for greater poets to find a new mind for Nigeria.

I suggest a basic problem. Ogunlesi was born in the UK. Ogunlesi can speak the white man's English. So, he writes fluently. Because he writes fluent English people say "Hey, here is a man writing well, he is a poet". But is he? I look at samples from his Gecko book and am bored. His English does not impress me. I can read his English all around me. I look at his thoughts and yawn: Google-man!

You are right to be suspicious.