Nigerian Lola Shoneyin is well known as the writer and poet whose biggest claim to literary fame is her 2009 book, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives where talks about polygamy. She has also written published poetry, short stories and one children’s book called Mayowa and the Masquerade. She is also the director of the Ake Arts and Book Festival .
A bare footed Shoneyin was the surprise speaker (surprise for me) at the Africa Connected awards event (which was won by our own Sitawa Wafula) event that happened at the Villa Rosa Kempinski Nairobi on Tuesday afternoon. She was at the event to give an address on unlocking the African story.
I learnt a lot of things from that half hour or so address. For one, she teaches young kids as a major part of her career progression. Which encourages me as we want to see more teachers coming out as writers on this continent. They (I have never known who this “they” is) say that “those who can’t do, teach” but I suspect that we have more doers in our teaching fraternity.
Also she touches on the African Story as we know it. We have very few stories online most of which were written by early explorers or being collated by bodies external to the African continent. We fail to see the importance of these tales from our past so much that in Nigeria for instance, history has been removed from the list compulsory subjects. This was an example but it is a horrible situation.
There is some hope however, with the tools at in our hands specifically social media and the wider web, we as Africans can ensure that we too can play our part in ensuring that we too get our stories out there.