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?
The Nigerian President and the Nigerian Poet Laureate welcoming us at the gates. I would love for Lagos to be a cloud city.
You’ve been selected for a mission to the moon. Which African author are you taking and why?
I would take Chris Abani and Kwame Dawes because they would make sure that the moon would be the best African literature colony in the galaxy. What they don’t know about literature is not worth knowing. On the other hand, what they do know, you better write down.
What invention do you think would change the lives of Africans today?
Fast high speed Internet accessible to the whole of Africa for free.
Two things you’re doing when not reading or writing?
Checking out good art on my travels is a must, and I also like running in cities I travel to. It is a great way to capture a city’s real beauty.
To what extent has African literature envisioned an African future?
I think we are at the beginning of an African Renaissance. There are many signs that we are witnessing the first fruits of the expanding African canon.
What book do you think best captures Afrofuturism?
On a poet tip, I would recommend ‘Electric Arches’ by Eve L. Ewing; or for a beginner’s way in, read ‘Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora’ edited by Sheree R. Thomas, as it has stories, essays, and novel excerpts.
You wake up one morning to find that you’ve grown a pair of wings. What do you do?
Call Ozwald Boateng to tailor me a suit to match my wings, tell Oprah Winfrey and Ta-Nehisi Coates I am ready for my interview, and ask Ryan Coogler to cast me in Black Panther 2, 3 4 and 5. I would do my own stunts, of course.
Name one book that made you think differently about the world?
As poet there are three books: ‘Breaking the Alabaster Jar: Conversations with Li-Young Lee’ – these interviews helped me understand my inner workings as a poet and why I chose this path; ‘White Egrets’ by Derek Walcott and ‘Life on Mars’ by Tracy K. Smith are two examples of near perfect collections.
What is the most difficult part of your creative process?
The most difficult part of the creative process is keeping the elixir of self-belief and self-discipline present in your emotional reservoir. It is the only way to stay in the game when failure, rejection or success try to distract you.
What is your African dream?
I hope that to every nation in Africa the image of Wakanda is not just a dream or metaphor but something we can achieve in the near future across the continent. On a practical level that means I want an Africa where our lowest standard of living is the middle-class, and our currency is on par with the pound and dollar.