It’s been such a crazy year thus far, that I completely missed the release of You’re Not a Country, Africa. I’ve been looking forward to this book since the manuscript won the non-fiction category of the 2010 Penguin Prize for African Writing.
The publisher, Penguin SA, says:
“In this groundbreaking collection of essays, Pius Adesanmi tries to unravel what it is that Africa means to him as an African, and by extension to all those who inhabit this continent of extremes. This is a question that exercised some of the continent’s finest minds in the 20th century, but which pan-Africanism, Negritude, nationalism, decolonisation and all the other projects through which Africans sought to restore their humanity ultimately failed to answer. Criss-crossing the continent, Pius Adesanmi engages with the enigma that is Africa in an attempt to make meaning of this question for all 21st-century Africans.”
“Nigerian born Pius Adesanmi is an acclaimed literary and cultural critic. He currently resides in Ottawa, Canada, where he teaches literature and African studies at Carleton University. He is one of Nigeria’s major intellectuals and writes two weekly columns for the influential Sahara Reporters and NEXT newspaper. His first book, The Wayfarer and Other Poems, won the Association of Nigerian Authors’ Poetry Prize in 2001.”
The Witness reviews the book in Insights from an insider and outsider.
The title is from the last stanza of Abioseh Nicol’s poem The Meaning of Africa:
You are not a country, Africa,
You are a concept,
Fashioned in our minds, each to each,
To hide our separate fears,
To dream our separate dreams.
Taking on the question of what Africa means to us is some task. Certainly, the intellectual and erudite Adesanmi’s attempt will make for interesting reading.
My thanks to African Literature and News for alerting me to the book’s release.