At this time last year, I was working as an editor in a prestigious newspaper in the United States. I lived in a nice apartment, I had a car and I enjoyed the company of a warm circle of friends. Then, I lost my job, I lost my work permit and I moved back home to live with my parents.
How had it come to this? I mean it had all seemed so much clearer when I was young.
My father was a diplomat with the Nigerian Foreign Service. Growing up, we lived in seven different countries. Books were my anchor in a sea of constant goodbyes. From my mother’s African Writers series to my father’s Great Books of Western Literature collection, I devoured them all.
Though the decision to study English language and literature in college seemed as natural as breathing, the hard part was figuring out what I wanted to do afterwards.
I had always tinkered with stories — I began working on my first novel when I was thirteen — but my writing never felt entirely legitimate. My parents worked their way from poverty to the middle class and they wanted to assurances that their dreamy daughter would not starve. When I entered college as an English major, it was with the implicit understanding that I would become a college professor. But I was not yet ready for academia.
I knew I wanted to be a writer and I figured the best way to make a living as a one was to become a journalist. I got an M.A. in journalism and I fell into the newspaper business in the U.S. working as a Web editor. It was a good living, but all the while I was plagued by a quiet feeling of stagnation.
Oddly enough, losing my job has returned me my clarity of vision. I realize now that while I enjoyed meeting people and telling their stories, I had been neglecting my own. I have a new job (still a newspaper editor), a new circle of wonderful friends, and most importantly, I recently rediscovered my interest in speculative fiction - science fiction, fantasy and horror - from Africa and the African Diaspora.
I think that many African writers are moving beyond the activist literature that chronicled our struggle for independence. Modern writers like Nnedi Okorafor, Helen Oyeyemi and Nalo Hopkinson are using issues of gender, migration, culture and religion to expand the perspectives of the genre.
So I’ve started this blog to explore these issues and how African and Diaspora writers of speculative fiction are doing some of the amazing things they’re doing. I’ll take some detours, but I know it’s going to be a fascinating journey and I’m finally ready to take it. I’d be glad if you joined me; I wouldn’t mind the company.