African Literature Today
ALT MOURNS CHINUA ACHEBE
CHINUA ACHEBE JOINS THE ANCESTORS
We, at African Literature Today, mourn the death of Chinua Achebe, one of the greatest writers of all time. He chose for his moment of transition (11.51PM, March 21), not a mere coincidence, during the 2013 annual conference of the African Literature Association (March 20-24) at Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.A. His novel,Things Fall Apart (1958), initiated the Heinemann African Writers’ Series which laid the foundation for what today is known as African Literary studies, which is the central focus of African Literature Today’s publications. We convey our condolences to the family of Prof. Chinua Achebe at this difficult time. We mourn his death, we celebrate his legacies!
Things Fall Apart, one of the greatest novels in living memory, like the Comet that its creator was, appeared and streaked into the heavens and stayed there, and as we all know, it will for ever stay, palpable and immoveable. Achebe executed for the world to behold, a mandate of destiny that will remain out there without parallel. Chinua Achebe, bards come and go, but we know here that the courage and dignity which you exhibited over the years, will like the stories you told so well, endure in our sight like the grand iroko tree in our consciousness upon whose greenery you remain, majestic and grand in well-deserved immortality.
Like the inimitable character in your Things Fall Apart, we bid you farewell in your own words:
If you had been poor in your last life, we would have asked you to be rich when you come again. But you were rich. If you had been a coward, we would have asked you to bring courage. But you were a fearless warrior. If you had died young, we would have asked you to get life. But you lived long. So we shall ask you to come again the way you came before!
Chinua Achebe, the Eagle on the Iroko, the Comet of African Literature, your kind appears once in a century. We say, ‘Go in Peace’. Most worthy son, may the ancestors cheer you with drums into the Hallowed Hall of Illustrious Ancestors!!
Founded in 1968 by Heinemann Publishers, London, African Literature Today, is the oldest international journal of African Literature in the world. It began as a twice-annual publication but changed with its fifth issue on “The Novel in Africa” in 1971, to a once-yearly publication. For three decades it was edited by one of the most versatile literary critics of the 20th century, the Sierra Leonean-born Professor Eldred Durosimi Jones. In 2000 when Professor Jones retired as Editor Emeritus, the editorship passed on to Professor Ernest N. Emenyonu whose appointment was held as ‘a very good omen for African Literature’ by Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, and by Africa’s legendary leading novelist, Chinua Achebe as, ‘a most appropriate and logical development, and a very happy event for African Literature.’
As an annual publication, African Literature Today covers single topics and extensive book reviews in each issue. Contributions come from literary scholars and critics all over the world. Topics covered since 2000 are: ALT 24 New Women’s Writing in African Literature (2004), ALT 25 New Directions in African Literature (2006), ALT 26 War in African Literature (2008), ALT 27 New Novels in African Literature (2010), ALT 28 Film in African Literature (2010), ALT 29 Teaching African Literature (2011).
ALT 1—14 were published from London by Heinemann Educational Books and from New York by Africana Publishing Company. ALT 15—25 were published by James Currey Publishers, Oxford and Africa World Press, Trenton, New Jersey. With ALT 26, James Currey Publishers joined Boydell & Brewer Ltd. James Currey /Boydell and Brewer’s North and South American distribution is available through The University of Rochester Press, New York. A Nigerian edition was published by Heinemann Educational Books Nigeria from Vol 24 to Vol 25; from Vol 26 onwards HEBN Publishers have continued with the series. The journal is currently published simultaneously in the United Kingdom, Nigeria and the United States. The Editorial Headquarters of African Literature Today is the University of Michigan-Flint.
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ALT 31: Writing Africa in the Short Story--in print
ALT 32: Politics and Social Justice in African Literature
(See Call for Papers below)
CALL FOR PAPERS
African Literature Today (ALT) 32
“Politics and Social Justice in African Literature”
In 1965, Chinua Achebe, in his classic essay, “The Novelist as Teacher”, declared that the “African past—with all its imperfections--was not one long night of savagery from which the early Europeans acting on God’s behalf, delivered them.” That assertion included a still reverberating sentiment generally shared by the first generation of African writers that it is possible to reclaim that distorted past creatively in order to show and understand ‘where and when the rain started beating Africa’.
It has since remained an exciting, long and arduous journey from the past to the present with all genres and forms of literary and cultural production re-calling and recording, charting and constructing, assessing and critiquing, blaming or exculpating, re-configuring that past and projecting a new confident African future steeped in all the fundamental values of self-determination. The spectrum of that complex engagement could be rightly said to encompass critical issues in politics and social justice in all their ramifications. The next issue of African Literature Today will focus on these debates and the impact of politics and social justice on modern African Literature.
The Editor invites contributors to join in that exercise of what really amounts to a re-definition with its muted undercurrent of diffidence and confidence.Where did the West go wrong with Africa? And how did African writers respond or how are they still responding through African literatures? Since the publication of Things Fall Apart (1958) which set the tone of Africa’s repudiation of European distortions of African realities, some African writers after Achebe ( Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Syl Cheney –Coker, Ben Okri, Yvonne Vera, Kojo Laing etc.) have moved this debate on through unique forms of creativity. Not all the writers of the new generation see the terrible trap of a re-done universalism in what we generally call globalism. We need to arm our hermeneutics with both skepticism and suspicion while trying to answer the following question very carefully--What is the status of that contest in the African imagination today?
Articles not exceeding 5,000 words should be sent as e-mail attachment Microsoft word to the Editor at: firstname.lastname@example.org to reach him on or before November 30, 2013.
Ernest N. Emenyonu, Ph.D.
Professor/Editor, African Literature Today
Department of Africana Studies
University of Michigan-Flint
Flint, MI 48502-1950, USA
Tel: +810-762-3353; Fax: + 810-766-6719
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