re about Africa. Take Mister Johnson by Joyce Cary for instance, that is not African literature. We know it because, as Chinua Achebe said, Mr. Johnson might have appeared stupid to the white man, but when he gets to his home, he is a big boss and he tells them what to do. And yet Joyce Cary was never able to capture that other life of Mr. Johnson; the only one he could capture was the one he saw from his white man’s point of view. He didn’t know that the blackman was playing games with him; you know that when he is with the white man, he behaves in a particular way, but when he goes home, he behaves like the real person he is. Just like a chameleon, if you are near, it takes your colour, as soon as you move away, it changes its colour to (match) its normal surroundings. That’s the way we are. Yeah, we have African Literature.
when they get to the stage where they can say these things, they have already lost the urge to say it…that is, when they become professors. In Nigeria, when you are a professor, it means, bye-bye to work, go to bed, sleep, cover your head, enjoy your house, your car; ‘no more work no more play’, as they say. Whereas, abroad, when you get to professorship, you will continue working. In fact, work starts when you have become a professor, because they have a different system; you will see a young man of thirty, and on the basis of a book, just one book that he has written, he is made a professor. It is the promise in that book that made him a professor, and not in the cumulative work he has done. They expect that now he is a professor, he can now sit down … there’s no more rush to publish. So he can sit down and really bring out his innermost thought so that when anybody sees it, the person will say, that is from Professor So and So, and will open it and read. In our own area, it’s different. By the time you get to the stage where you can write, you are already dry and have forgotten what is to be written. So, my thinking is that, unfortunately, our critics of African Literature have not reached that position that the critics of other world literatures have reached, particularly American, British, French and German. And I say this with unhappiness because the critic is supposed to be the midwife to the writer. The writer is pregnant, it is this midwife that will help the writer deliver. Without the midwife there might be either obstructions or the baby might die or it could be still-born, or even suffer from other kinds of complications.