Books provide some of us safety, a way of dealing with our day to day drama and the highs and lows that come with it. But it can be difficult to find your escape in someone else's imagination when the reality they draw from doesn't come close to yours. (Often times there's a singular narrative about Africans and people of African descent).

Last week I found myself in the Barnes and Nobles bookstore next to my campus, and right on display on the first bookshelf was Tomi Adeyemi's debut novel, Children Of Blood And Bone. I tried not to scream for joy in the serenity of the bookstore as I picked up the book and ran my fingers across the pages, over and over again like I was holding magic. It wasn't as much disbelief as it was indescribable joy.

Children Of Blood And Bone is a fantasy fiction novel based in West Africa. Allow me to repeat that: A FANTASY FICTION NOVEL BASED IN WEST AFRICA. Now, if we adhere to what the media tells us about Africa, we accept that we're a nation ravaged by diseases, dominated by corrupt leaders, scammers and uncivilized uneducated people who for some reason cannot manage to find clothes to put on - oh, and let's not forget we're so helpless that the almighty white saviours always swoop in to save the day. And yes, while I haven't forgotten that it's all fiction, art tends to imitate real life.

 

More than often, we're seen as not worthy enough of the opportunity to tell our own stories, so these stories find their way into someone else's hands. But we deserve these opportunities. Books about us cannot be written if no one gives us a chance, and they cannot be written by anyone else but us. We need to use our imaginations to create, to breathe life into our home time and again; the right is ours just as much as it's anyone else's.

Tomi Adeyemi when writing her book drew her inspiration from what we all know to be the REAL Africa, a place where people rise up in the face of oppression, a place where its citizens are agitated and restless for change; a place where people do not wait on anyone to deliver, but rather they deliver themselves.

And as Africans and people of African descent, it's important that we see ourselves as more than just one idea, and even more important that the world sees us as we see ourselves. More than often, we're seen as not worthy enough of the opportunity to tell our own stories, so these stories find their way into someone else's hands. But we deserve these opportunities. Books about us cannot be written if no one gives us a chance, and they cannot be written by anyone else but us. We need to use our imaginations to create, to breathe life into our home time and again; the right is ours just as much as it's anyone else's.

And I cannot wait for the semester to end so I can read this book.

Photo by Ian Kiragu on Unsplash