I used to bring up topics for discussions and even though participation is sometimes low, I enjoy the few comments that do come in. We need to do a lot to promote African literature.
There is a trend among African writers which if not corrected could prevent some wonderful writers from being seen. The majority of Contemporary African writers live outside the continent. (And before anyone takes me on on what I mean by 'African writers', I refer to those writers whose names, when they should come up for awards, would be linked to a country on the continent. Some Africans have chosen to be Africans when it suits them.) It seems that if you are a writer on this continent and you have not won any major prize - especially the Caine Prize, you will remain anonymous forever even if you have been lucky enough to have been published by a publisher outside of the continent. Consequently, most writers either dream of winning some major award or of migrating to live partially or permanently in the United States or the United Kingdom so they could realise their dreams. Usually, this has nothing to do with talent. At least in Ghana, where I live and can back this statement with examples, a large majority of published authors live outside the continent. Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, Ayesha Harruna-Atta, Nii Ayikwei Parkes, Kwei Quartey, Taiye Selasi (if we claim her from the Nigerians) are a few of the Ghanaian authors living outside the continent. It is as if writing from the continent does not make one an author. I read somewhere that Teju Cole had a publication in Nigerian before his US publication of Open City, yet when this book came out it was described as a debut novel.
What is the cause of this? Is it the dearth of publishing houses? At least in Ghana, I know this is likely to be the case. Or is it that being published by big publishing houses expands the path to fame? Or is it the much touted excuse that 'we don't read'? What exactly makes writing from this continent add another layer of difficulty to an already difficult job of writing? What can be done to rectify this?