home and exile-chinua achebe

so you know what’s jarring? hearing casey casem announce stevie wonder‘s number one hit this week, “superstition”. i’m really not sure how sirius pulled that off for their 70s on 7 station (my compromise when the coworkers won’t let me play the groove), but it was hellaweird. this is the same aural situation i am experiencing as i listen to chinua achebe talk about home and exile via the philly free library podcast. not just because it’s like a delayed round of the words i read in my head half an hour ago being read in the author’s voice in my headphones. i’m not gonna lie-i can still hear G98.7 on the radio outside my headphones, because they’ve already played so many of my favorite tunes all evening. but the library must also have some kind of archive system, as among the facts listed in the program’s introduction was, “he has influence the philadelphia hip hop group the roots, who have named their latest album things fall apart…” and, confirming the publication date of 2001, a few choice memories of my life with that album have flashed before my eyes and i am great-full. from rolling my suitcase over the cobblestones in ha noi to the password of my second yahoo email address, the roots were the band i came of age with, and the half of my life that they’ve been in it has been infinitely richer than the first half. it’s no coincidence that we both made moves to stay still at the same time, after a decade of running at the same time.

“That does it for all those beleaguered African writers struggling at home to tell the story of their land. They should one and all emigrate to London or Paris to dilute their Africanness and become, oh, ‘so academic, so perfect.’
The psychology of the dispossessed can be truly frightening.” (71-2)

tariq-you got me. thank you. oh-on a related note-the video of badu‘s 6-minute rendition of on and on for red bull is the epitome of staying power.


One thought on “home and exile-chinua achebe

  1. shit achebe says:

    “In the end, I began to understand. There is such a thing as absolute power over narrative. Those who secure this privilege for themselves can arrange stories about others pretty much where, and as, they like. Just as in corrupt, totalitarian regimes, those who exercise power over others can do anything. They can bring out crowds of demonstrators whenever they need them. In Nigeria it is called renting a crowd. Has Joyce Cary rented Joseph Conrad’s crowd? Never mind. What matters is that Cary has a very strong aversion to the people he is presenting to us.” (24-5)

    “I suppose we an all differ as to the exact point where good writing becomes overwhelmed by racial cliche. But overwhelmed or merely undermined, literature is always badly served when an author’s artistic insight yields place to stereotype and malice. And it becomes doubly offensive when such a work is arrogantly proffered to you as your story. Some people may wonder if, perhaps, we were not too touchy, if we were not oversensitive. We really were not.” (41)

    “For this alternative I am indebted, by the way, to Salman Rushdie, who, I believe, was the first writer to describe the phenomenon of postcolonial literature in four memorable words: The Empire Writes Back. The very idea of presenting all that sensational writing from the metropolis and the angry, bitter response it provoked in the fullness of time among the natives in the provinces as a mere exchange of correspondence is a truly appealing miracle of sublimation.” (76)

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