I began writing early – very, very early… I was already writing short stories for the radio and selling poems to poetry and art festivals; I was involved in school plays; I wrote essays, so there was no definite moment when I said, ‘Now I’m a writer.’ I’ve always been a writer.
One’s own self-worth is tied to the worth of the community to which one belongs, which is intimately connected to humanity in general. What happens in Darfur becomes an assault on my own community, and on me as an individual. That’s what the human family is all about.
There is not a special imposition on writers to be activists. All that does is encourage writers to write propaganda. Propaganda can be written by anybody, including dictators.
There is something really horrific for any human being who feels he is being consumed by other people. I’m talking about a writer’s critics, who don’t address what you’ve written, but want to probe into your existence and magnify the trivia of your life without any sense of humor, without any sense of context.
The Sudanese government has been playing games with the world, with the Africa Union, in particular, have been playing for time in order to conclude its mission of ethnic cleansing in the Sudan.
Probably to me the greatest singer, female voice, is Billie Holiday. And one of the most moving for me, I don’t know why – maybe it’s nostalgia, maybe because my life is one of constant partying, whatever.
Trading and religion have always been aligned together in the history of the world, and especially on the African continent.
Those nations that say it’s a crime to preach your religion are making a terrible mistake. All they’re doing is driving underground other forms of spiritual intuitions and practices.
All religions accept that there is something called ‘criminality.’ And criminality cannot be excused by religious fervour.
Military dictatorship, you can focus on it, you can fight it directly. It’s a band of power-driven people.
My father was a schoolteacher, and so I had the advantage of both western educational instruction in the school, as well as what you might call the process of imbibing the traditional processes of education instruction around me.
The problem with literature, with writing, is that it works sometimes in terms of correction of social ills. Other times, it just does not suffice.
My understanding of the creative process is simply that all cultures and all concerns meet at a certain point, the human point in which everything is related to one another. That has been my creative experience. I never know who’s influencing me at any time.
I am convinced that Nigeria would have been a more highly developed country without the oil. I wished we’d never smelled the fumes of petroleum.
After the death of the sadistic dictator Gen. Sanni Abacha in 1998, Nigeria underwent a one-year transitional military administration headed by Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, who uncharacteristically bowed out precisely on the promised date for military disengagement. Did the military truly disengage, however? No.
No writer has a right to make that much money. Indeed, without diabolical assistance, no writer can.
Writers and intellectuals have a duty to humanity. It is to insist that the human entity remains the primary asset in overall development; thus, it must be safeguarded.
Some of the greatest uprisings and consequent civil wars in Mexico have centered squarely on the ownership of land.
Some African leaders actually dare to suggest that democracy is a concept alien to traditional African society. This is one of the most impudent political blasphemies I can think of.
The phenomenon of creativity, we know, is closely related to the ability to yoke together separate, and even seemingly incompatible, matrices.
History teaches us to beware of the excitation of the liberated and the injustices that often accompany their righteous thirst for justice.
I’m not sure I’m trying to communicate a message. I’m just trying to be part of the movement away from the unacceptable present.
There’s no way to escape the culture that has evolved, from which we ourselves have evolved. Naturally, we stress it, break it up, reassemble it to suit our own needs. But it is there – a source of vital strength.
Nigeria has had the misfortune – no, the fortune – of seeing the worst face of capitalism anywhere in Africa. The masses have seen it, they are disgusted, and they want an alternative.
Art is solace; art is vision, and when I pick up a literary work, I am a consumer of literature for its own sake.
You go to conferences, and your fellow African intellectuals – and even heads of state – they all say: ‘Nigeria is a big disappointment. It is the shame of the African continent.’
An excessive amount of my time is taken with political involvement. It’s unavoidable; that’s my temperament.