An Interview with Prof. Ernest Nneji Emenyonu on Pita Nwana’s Omenuko

AiW Guest: Kalapi Sen

It is a truism in today’s world that ‘African literature’ covers a major portion of literary scholarship, included now on high-school syllabi as well as at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. And one name that has become synonymous with the phrase ‘African literature’ is Chinua Achebe. His thin, classic volume Things Fall Apart (1958) re-defined and re-located the continent’s literature on the global level, propelling him to an almost overnight fame. But in fact, Achebe’s “literary cornerstone” is by no means the first novel written by an African. Rather, it was preceded by many novels written by Achebe’s contemporaries and predecessors.

OmenukoOne such rarely known novel is Pita Nwana’s Omenuko: the first Igbo novel to be written by an Igbo. It was published in London in 1933 when Chinua Achebe, the “founding father of modern African literature” was barely three years of age. While attending the…

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