Spears, Sorcery and Double-Consciousness- Part II

16 thoughts on “Spears, Sorcery and Double-Consciousness- Part II”

  1. Excellent as always. I have been curious about Africans writing fantasy fiction. But I believe I can say they are out there. The story The Generals’ Daughter in Griots was written by Athony Kwamu, a young brother born in Nigeria and raised in Cameroon. I came across Anthony after seeing his fantasy book, the Timbuktu Chronicles, on the shelf at a local Barnes and Noble. We also received a number of submissions from Kenyan writers. And then there are my many young Nigerian artist friends creating fantasy images derived directly from their culture.

    I believe the situation is just like you and I writing our own versions of African based fantasy while never knowing about Charles R. Saunders. The African fantasy writers are there. We just haven’t discovered them yet.

    1. milton, great point! and i can’t believe i forgot to include anthony kwamu! an inexcusable oversight. i went back and added him to the blog. thanks for the brain jog! all these disparate individuals creating and we manage to stumble upon them by chance or circumstance. i think an atlantic black fantasy coalition–for the specific purpose of outreach–might have to be called into order…

  2. Even marginalized, this Western voice is inherently privileged and speaks from a distinct lens that may function to silence non-Western voices.

    This is true.

    I’m pleased that you mentioned Ben Okri’s Starbook, before I happened upon that paragraph I was thinking about how a lot of African books that could be termed “speculative fiction” are marketed as “magic realism”.

    1. agreed. i think it’s hard for those who may be denied power in one dynamic, to see that they may be granted privilege in others. regarding african writers…many popular african authors do use folklore (i.e., chinua achebe) but don’t go as far as developing full-fledged fantasy novels. even ben okri’s starbook is more fairytale than fantasy (though as u point out, it could still at least be marketed as speculative fiction–interesting that it’s not). then there’s amos tutuola’s classic “palm wine drinkard” (one of the wildest reads ever!) which also fits magical realism and speculative fiction, but ends up in the african literature section. the idea by marketers is that those interested in african writers will be reading these books–not speculative fiction fans. placing them in both might make most sense, but many bookstores treat this as sacrilege.

      1. I think it struck me a few years ago how many fantasy like, or just plain weird books by African authors exist out there. You’re right in that they are not full-fledged fantasy…I wonder what it’ll take for magical realism to be lumped under the speculative fiction genre. Sometimes I feel with genre labelling, perhaps Western bookstores don’t know where to place a book that otherwise takes place in a modern African city but talks about sighting and hunting mermaids or being transported to an alternate plane while spinning around a house. It is easier to place such books in the African literature section.

  3. A very enlightening article . And an honour to be mentioned.To the prosperity of true African Fantasy! Cheers!

  4. NIIIICCE!!! Would you consider the translations of oral epics as historical fantasy? They do have both the aspects of sorcery/magic interwoven with historical events. Like Gassire’s Lute, which I have along side Beowulf.

    1. yes. here we get deep into the notion of the western lens. i’m a historian by trade, and i’m supposed to distinguish between “facts” (more so perspectives on past events than anything scientific) and the fantastic/supernatural. yet in many pre-modern histories, weaving in the fantastic with the historical is common—whether it’s the epic of dausi or herodotus’s histories. is this segregative privileging of one over the other as “historical reality” in its own way a modern-western bias? i tend to look at these stories more as literature (written or oral) that give us cultural social understandings rather than strictly “history” in our contemporary sense. i also borrow the *heck* outta em’. 🙂

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