My fascination with communing in conversational spaces with African storytellers comes from my belief that there is an astounding wisdom in the minds of writers, that translates into the powerful stories they write. Stories have always been important, but African stories in particular, are important because they are avenues and mirrors that stand to expand us into new understandings. When we go the extra mile, and celebrate, witness and introspect on these stories, we stand to, once again, remap, rebirth, retell and reflect further the worst and best parts of ourselves and our communities.
Introduction by Gaamangwe Joy Mogami
If you have read the stories on The Caine Prize Shortlist, you know by now, that the African imagination is boundless and limitless. Because Arinze, Magogodi, Lesley, Bushra and Chikodili have written stories that go beyond our ideas of language, narratives, philosophy and reality. By just writing their stories as they are, they have reflected back to us our potentiality: we can write and read stories that are like dreams, like alchemy, like meditation, like myths and like our lives.
This collection of interviews with the Caine Prize shortlisted writers is only a quarter of a fraction of my attempt to explore with all the writers the infinite stories that exists within their stories. Say with Arinze, we explored the unbearable lightness of tenderness and the importance of performing self-determinism, or at least trying. With Magogodi, she reminds me of how primal language is, and how we must write ourselves, as a way to defy this long overdue existential denial we have experienced as Africans. With Lesley we wonder, what will we discover when we take the familiar and place it in a strange place? And how far will someone go to get what they want? Bushra is interested in fascinating things like; the existence of human beings, and characters that can be anything that can be found in the universe. And we continue on otherworldliness with Chikodili. She says “what if we are the otherworldly ones?” and we end, in reflection: there must be a reason why folk tales have survived this long. And we know, whatever the reason, we must keep writing African stories. Perhaps, because all human stories and realities and histories are important, and the part of us that triumph our mortality.