Wednesday, November 04, 2009

TONIGHT ON THE TERRORDOME: African Writers on the Misrepresentation of Africans






Wednesday 6pm Mountain Time
FM88 Edmonton
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Because of the horrifying history of medical experimentation against Africans as documented in the book Medical Apartheid by Dr. Harriet Washington, many Africans in North America remain profoundly suspicious of the medical establishment.

That suspicion, however well-founded, sadl
y stands in the way of life-saving treatments. Today, 30 African-Canadian patients are literally waiting to die because they don’t have a stem cell donor.

Stem cells, harvested from bone marrow, are indispensable in the fight against leukemia, but compatibility for do
nors in based in part on race. That crisis motivated a group of Edmontonians to found the Nega Alem Memorial Leukemia Awareness Society.

I spoke with event organisers Gary Yemene and Tigi Truneh by telephone about this Saturday's event.








WHAT:
The Stem Cell
Transplant and Leukemia Awareness Event in memory of Nega Alem Abraham
WHEN: Saturday, November 07, 6 PM
WHERE: The Africa Centre is at 131st Avenue and 127th Street
WHO: Presentations by Dr. Loree Laratt and Nan-Cox Kennett
HOW MUCH: $10, or $20 for a family. Advance tickets: (780) 461-2091

African Writers on the Misrepresentation of Africans

Steven Biko once said, "The most powerful weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”

That’s a p
owerful statement about how a conqueror’s perspective, like a computer operating system, can overwrite most of the knowledge, attitudes, culture and historical awareness of the conquered.

That overwriting centers the colonial subject’s mind on the world of the conqueror. In the modern era, that means many educate
d Ghanaians, Kenyans, South Africans and Nigerians have Eurocentric ideologies. Writers from their ranks often find themselves reflexively writing from a European point of view.

In tonight’s discus
sion, African Writers on the Misrepresentation of Africans, we’ll hear from Nigerian author Chimananda Adichie on what she calls “the danger of a single story.”

We’ll also hear a conversation I had wit
h Nigerian-American fantasy and science fiction author Nnedi Okorafor in which she discusses her famous essay, “Stephen King’s Super-Duper Magical Negroes”.

But we’ll begin with a reading by actor Djimoun Hounsou of Benin from a celebrated essay by Kenyan writer and editor Binyavanga Wainaina. It’s sarcastically called “How to Write About Africa.”

The Nairobi-base
d writer Wainaina is the founding editor of the literary magazine Kwani?. He won the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2002, and an award by the Kenya Publishers’ Association for service to Kenyan literature.

Wainaina has written for The East African, The New York Times, the Guardian, National Geographic, South Africa’s Sunday Times and Granta. He’s also an expert on the various nati
onal cuisines of the countries of the African continent, having collected over 13,000 traditional and modern recipes.


STEPHEN KING'S SUPER DUPER MAGICAL NEGROES

Last January, I spoke by telephone with Nigerian-American author Nnedi Okorafor about Afrofuturism, a branch of science fiction that features, rather than excludes or tokenises, African characters.

A prof
essor of creative writing at Chicago State University, Okorafor is the author of the 2005 novel Zahrah the Windseeker about a highly technological world based on Nigerian myths and culture.

Zahrah the Windseekerwon the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature, was shortlisted for the Parallax Award and the Kindred Award, was a finalist for the Golden Duck and Garden State Teen Choice awards, and was nominated for the Locus Best First Novel Award.

Another novel of hers, The Shadow Speaker, was a finalist for the Essence Magazine Literary Award and the Andre Norton Award. It’s also an NAACP Image Award nominee, a Tiptree Honor Book and a Locus Magazine Recom
mended Book. Okorafor also won the 2007-2008 Macmillan Writer's Prize for Africa.

THE DANGER OF A SINGLE STORY

For tonight’s final speaker in our feature “African Writers on the Misrepresentation of Africans,” we go to Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Adichie’s debut novel, 2003’s Purple Hibiscus, was shortlisted for the Orange Fiction Prize and won the 2005 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book.

She’s released a second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun. She spoke at the TEDGlobal Conference in Oxford on July 23, 2009, about “The Danger of a Single Story
f a Single Story.”






THE PAN-AFRIKANIST’S LIBRARY

Today’s entry in the PAL is unusual--we’re going to hear from an author about his own book. Nathan McCall, the journalist and author of the acclaimed autobiography Makes Me Wanna Holler, has written a novel about gentrification and the threat of de facto ethnic cleansing in a historically Black neighbourhood in Atlanta. It's called Them.

Nathan McCall on his new book



Nathan McCall on gentrification