See the World Through My Eyes

Unnecessary Jargon

“He just lay there motionless. His right hand hang lifelessly from the edge of the bed as a thick steady flow of blood connected his twitching index finger to the cold floor. He could feel his body jerking slightly as life drained from his veins. All the while, his eyes wouldn’t drop their gaze on her. His mouth was dry and he could taste the salty-metallic character of blood and bile. A stream of tear ran down his temple from his right eye. He couldn’t feel any pain yet he knew it was the last stroke. Visions of his life’s memories flashed in his mind’s eye as he struggled to keep his sight fixed on her. He felt hollow and hopelessly sad. He had loved her with his life and this was how it was going to end.

Lexi sat on the floor at the far end of the room with the knife still held in her hand. Her face displayed no emotion. Her big eyes were now beady and she didn’t blink regardless of how much her make-up glazed her eye lids. She couldn’t figure out what she was feeling. This scene had played in her mind over and over again and now the veil between her dreams and reality seems to have been lifted. She couldn’t hold back her tears and sighs each time he choked in his own blood as he struggled to breath out her name…”

I have been trying to figure out if this is the type of book I’d write in order to stamp my mark in this tough world of writing. It’s every writer‘s dream to do a book that will eventually be shot in film. But being from Africa, what are my chances? Who would want to publish me? Would you want to read my book? Have you noticed that as much as we have some of the most talented writers in our continent we still have very few readable books? Much of African writing is paralyzed by the selfish urge of our authors trying to show off their command of language. I have tried time and time again to read  African literature only to give up midway. We use English that the English themselves would find hard to understand. Instead of communicate, we obscure and confuse. While we are busy showing off our command of foreign languages, the rest of the world is talking, communicating and entertaining! We believe that sophisticated wording will earn us awards [which it does sometimes]. We still live in a world where we immortalize writers who’s books our future generations will never read. In the end, we shut the world out and we shut ourselves in. What a waste! Don’t get me wrong as I rant. I respect those who paved the way so the world would listen to us but is it wrong to ask that we change with the times? Is it a crime to ask for just one piece of literature that doesn’t feel like solving Rubik’s cube? Let’s do literature that children can read and enjoy. Let’s communicate in a simple manner so that our next generations will be proud to be African.

Have you noticed that Hollywood has run dry and is recycling its content? Every film feels like Déjà vu? Every book you read from the first world feels like a regurgitation of another book written before. As the first world slides into monotony, our history and accounts fade away. Africa is home to the most intriguing stories the world will ever hear. We live in color. We have so much we can talk about. Did you ever read Waris Diries’s Desert Flower? Well don’t just sit there, google it!  Get it! We have what it takes to do a good script. All we have to do is just communicate in a manner that is easy to understand. The world is holding its breath waiting for the next big book, film or story from Africa.

When we were young, my father bought us a wall plaque that was a picture of 3 cute kittens shot from a low angle. The inscription  below the picture read, “If you do not raise your eyes, you will always think you are at the highest point”. Let’s fight the urge to stun our readers with unnecessary jargon.

This post is dedicated to all of us who dream of becoming celebrated authors someday. Just write and communicate in a manner that we can all understand.

If you ever come across any good African writer that is easy to understand, do alert me.

4 responses

  1. Ham

    So true…… some of our stories have such difficult english you end up spending more time looking for meanings of words through a dictionary than understanding the story itself!!!!!


    June 25, 2012 at 3:51 PM

  2. Willy

    Binyavanga Wainaina’s memoir, one day i’ll write about this place is a masterpiece, you should check it out and you can as well have a go Chimamanda’s work if you haven’t already. I really liked the captivating intro on this post, i would love to ready the rest of story, don’t let it remain unwritten.


    June 25, 2012 at 7:22 PM

  3. actually it’s one of the reasons i don’t find african literature captivating that and sometimes the story gets lost in the verbosity


    June 26, 2012 at 9:13 AM

  4. “But being from Africa, what are my chances? Who would want to publish me? Would you want to read my book?”

    I’d consider your chances being fairly high sir, it’s the age of the African book. As the ‘Africa rising’ story keeps on getting purveyed and investors swarm here by the dozen, the Western world wants to understand the ‘new’ Africa. Their prism of poverty and disease having been edged out, they are looking to understand how the continent makes sense of itself, its self conception, and this is where writers come in, they articulate that voice. So that buzz and the fact of higher literacy rates and many other factors combine to make this particular time one of the best to be a writer from these parts. (Plus everywhere else has been fairly much explored- America, Europe, Latin America, Asia etc)

    Even more important though, there are so many wisdoms, paradigms, perspectives that are waiting to be unveiled from the continent that can potentially further humanize the world.

    Your writing is very real, straight up truth bila pretension or trying to impress, just real life laid bare. Its very resonant for me and i for one would want to read your book.

    An African writer that is easy to read- I recently read Lola Shoneyin’s ‘The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives’ which was simply SUBLIME. Simple, brilliant, sparkling writing, lots of humor, strong characters….. just a beautiful story with no pretensions to be anything else.


    May 15, 2014 at 9:01 PM

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