Monday, 14 November 2016

Professor Kalu Ogbaa, who attended the April 1980 Gainesville (Florida) conference of the African Literature Association that featured the conversation between Chinua Achebe and James Baldwin (posted on rethinkingafrica, Sunday 13 November 2016), reflects on the historic occasion…

(Kalu Ogbaa: ... fond memories of the great literary Africana Renaissance in me...)
Kalu Ogbaa, professor of English, Southern Connecticut State University, writes:

Thank you so much for publishing this 
( It conjures up fond memories of the great literary Africana Renaissance in me. I took active part in that conference and presented a provocative paper titled “The Critics of Chinua Achebe”. The late Professor John Povey of UCLA [University of California, Los Angeles] took issues with me for describing African unwritten literature (oral performance or orature) as legitimate literature; whereupon I challenged him for daring to call Homer’s and (to an extent) Milton’s works literature for they chanted their poems orally but were later on transcribed and published by their daughters as written literature. From the reactions of the audience, I thought I won the debate.

Also, during that conference, I had the opportunity to interview Achebe. The content of that interview was so seminal that Bernth Lindfors published it as a lead article in the special volume of Research in African Literature, Vol. 12, #1 (1981), 1-13, devoted entirely to the criticism of Achebe’s works, and thereafter reissued as a chapter in Conversations with Chinua Achebe, edited by Bernth Lindfors (Jackson, Miss: University Press of Mississippi, 1997: 64-75). “The Critics of Chinua Achebe” article was also published in Commonwealth Quarterly, Vol. 14, #39, 1989, 19-31). I think both works laid the foundation upon which I built my reputation as an Achebephile.

I read all the things you have been publishing in your notable rethinkingafrica. They are music to my ears and a balm to my sometimes troubled soul. Remain ever blessed!

Kalu Ogbaa

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

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