One of the prime tasks of the literary critic is conservation; conservation of a tradition that has been formed in part by the books that have come from that very tradition. Yet this is a function that is wanting, alerts Professor Tony E. Afejuku, in African Literary Criticism.There are too many books in the inventory and not critics enough to catalogue them for the public and scholars. Another problem is the provincialism, nationalist and ethnic, that prevents African critics from identifying as such. What can we, the patron-saints of underrepresented books, do to help you, Professor Afejuku?
Why do our contemporary critics wait for the West to applaud our writers before they themselves do so? We must now learn to discover our writers (and critics) for the West rather than the West doing the discovery for us. This is imperative for the growth of our contemporary literature and criticism. Indian literary scholars have been doing this for years. They do not wait for the West to tell them who is a good or talented Indian writer. They objectively and faithfully sell their writers to the West. Doing what I am hereby recommending will give Nigerian (and African) literary community its greatest happiness in no distant time.
Big Brother comes in two forms:one censors, the other patronizes. Afejuku writes before the closing no-thanks extracted above about the various ways in which critics at home can help African literature rise to its natural dignity, which means not depending onthe Western patronage that feels so solicitously obliged to dispense its charity. Could we atleast applaud that, Professor?
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