Celebrated Nigerian poet, essayist and dramatist Niyi Osundare is a strong believer in the power of words to inspire and transform, and this has been a fundamental facet of his writing for years, as well as his artistic activism and role as educator at numerous colleges, including the
TALLAWAH: Today, literature from the Motherland is creating waves on the international stage, much more so with the emergence of an exciting new crop of young African writers with remarkable stories to tell. What does this mean to you?
Niyi Osundare: For a long time, from the beginning, literature was one of the channels through which
TALLAWAH: One of your fundamental beliefs as a son of
Osundare: The very notion of the writer is political. The colour of your skin is political and determines you in the eyes of the world. Those who say you are not to be political are being disingenuous.
TALLAWAH: Is this your first visit to
Osundare: Yes, it’s my first time here, but actually my fourth attempt. I am definitely coming back (Laughs).
TALLAWAH: You should try and make it back for the Calabash Literary Festival at the end of the month.
Osundare: Colin Channer spoke to me and asked if I could delay this trip to later, but I have another engagement lined up for the end of the month, so I won’t be able to make it.
TALLAWAH: Another Nigerian will be here for Calabash. Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka. What are your thoughts on his contribution to African letters?
Osundare: He was my teacher. (Laughs). [His contribution] has been both fantastic and monumental to African political consciousness. He has walked the walk and talked the talk.