It’s 2118 and you’ve arrived in Lagos for a book festival. When you step out of the airport, what is the first thing you see?
I sincerely hope that the sight will be a lot better than what I currently see. I hope I can see well paved roads, with a tramline running on both sides, organised roadsides, and decent looking structures, well-kept and orderly. I hope to see order and not chaos!
You’ve been selected for a mission to the moon. Which African author are you taking and why?
Sefi Atta and Chika Unigwe. There is just something about the way they write that gets me!
What invention do you think would change the lives of Africans today?
It’s not an invention that we need, but if we will call it that, it will be nationalistic minded good government. Oh, as per invention, well, electricity still looks like something that does not exist in most parts of Africa. So, if someone would please invent a cheap, quick to deploy sustainable source of electricity for Africa, then we would be on way to modernisation!
Two things you’re doing when not reading or writing?
Listening to music and watching football, mostly.
To what extent has African literature envisioned an African future?
To my mind, African literature up to the 80s still showed a lot of colonialist Africa with a bit of culture and a lot of nationalism. It showed the African journey from a grossly undeveloped people and continent to a new class of educated people and developing continent. However, today, Africa is only a location in the minds of the African writer, as most novels dwell on personality rather than the setting.
What book do you think best captures Afrofuturism?
What’s that? Just joking. I don’t think I really have read anything that sincerely does justice to that concept as defined originally by Mark Dery (himself a white man). I think the concept of Afrofuturism by definition is an oxymoron. Science or Science Fiction is not traditionally the focus of most African writing. Our history is almost all rubbed off the pages of any books right now, and the continent, more than ever, is a bit lost and torn between who we are and who we should be. Perhaps a better way to capture Afrofuturism will be to embark on the capture, and to consciously document our history by ourselves.
You wake up one morning to find that you’ve grown a pair of wings. What do you do?
I will freak out, naturally. What is not natural to man is difficult to embrace by man!
Name one book that made you think differently about the world.
I will say ‘Why Nations Fail’ by Daron Acemoglu.
What is the most difficult part of your creative process?
The experiential part. You write based on what you have experienced, seen or imagined. Taking these from that plane to the written word in a way that will also capture the imagination of the reader (and a diverse selection of readers at that) is a tough one.
What’s your African dream?
That is tough. But I just want an Africa, that will grow up, put itself and the prosperity of her continent and people first; an Africa that develops on his own terms, like China did; and finally, an Africa that is willing and able to stand up and be counted.